Monday, August 31, 2015

Dirty Legs Sure, But Crazy?

Somewhere, sometime, not long ago I promised (or threatened depending on your perspective) a legs photo. Maybe you were hoping for some other legs but, no, these ones will have to do. This was following the Dirty Chain Gang ride of two weeks ago, and proves that you don't need a lot of water to arrive back home dirty and muddy. Good thing too, because there is not a lot to go around during the long dry season. Sometimes the mixture of dust and sweat is all that is required. 

Head on out to the hills and mix up some of your own. Reminder: There will be another beginners mountain bike ride for the women, at Bonelli Park, Wednesday evening, 8 September. Dig up all the relevant information here.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Sergeant Wagner

Move it, move it. That bike is meant to be ridden, princess, so get on it and pedal. And don't tell me it's hot, it's only ten o'clock in the morning. You want to see hot, come back in three hours, then maybe you can complain.

A lot of folks riding Bonelli dirt this morning. For a second consecutive weekend they were checking out the 2015 Turn and Burn, Six Hour Race course. Some were taking their time about it, while others had ramped up to a race pace. Race is set for late October this year so, hopefully, that will mean some cooler temps.

i just throw this one in because the clear sky made for a nice reflection at the reservoir

Friday, August 28, 2015

Abandoned Places

My road bike takes me places. My mountain bike takes me other places. My cyclocross bike, I have discovered, is adept at taking me places in between those other two. I would not be as comfortable, nor as confident if I let the road bike attempt to take me to these places; the mountain bike could do it, but these places also, and often, involve some pavement miles, the type of miles that something a little less mountain bikey are better at.

Some of the places, once useful now abandoned, carry a weight of historical interest, places like the folly of Shoemaker Canyon, while others are more utilitarian in nature and, well, not so interesting. Like this old piece of road in the channel of the San Gabriel River. 

Its surface is buckled and pocked, its edges crumbled and undercut. Floods have washed over it, rushed along its foundations. Piles of dried brush, carried downriver have washed up against its sharp edges, pushed over the top by the current and look like outsized rats' nests overflowing from the surrounding brush. Yet it remains (such as the remains are). Considering some other, more modern roads I frequently travel, I feel I must say it: They just don't build them like they used to.

Archaeologists and engineers both, would note the exposed layers - hard and sun-baked surface, aggregate base, larger aggregate sub-base, compacted native soil. Along a river course - not an especially great place to build a road in Southern California - but, and without studying early maps, my guess is it followed along the river up to the canyon. Until someone wised up, built the levee, and other roads on higher ground. Maybe it was travelled by outdoor enthusiasts during the Great Hiking Era of the 1930s, maybe by urbanites heading to one of the old East Fork resorts for a weekend retreat during the 40s and 50s.

By Sunday Mother Nature is supposed to lift the lid off the broiler we have been cooking in the past few days, and blow a little cooling wind our way, so get out and discover something new, something you haven't seen before, maybe something abandoned that you have been wanting to "discover".

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Cycling Claremont: The Knoll Tree

I was riding the Cross Town Loop last night after the flat mishap forced me to call Tuesday nights (the usual night for the Cross Town Loop) ride short. Heading through the Pomona College woodland I noticed this oak. It had no id tag so, for obvious reasons I decided to call it the Knoll Tree. 

notice the yellow-painted spigot

The Knoll Tree may be the most determined tree I have ever come across. Picture it: Growing from a seedling, a spout just poking through the leaf litter. The concrete water hydrant with some sort of concrete dog bowl, must have dwarfed it at first. The seedling gradually grew, neither slower, nor faster than others of its generation in the woodland and somehow the human caretakers of this land missed this little one growing where it shouldn't. The little tree continued to grow, eventually (maybe) even more quickly than the others nearby. In fact it sprouted with such gusto that it quickly grew around the hydrant, enveloping it completely within the rough, broadening trunk.

I had to check both a second and third time to be sure of what I was seeing. I noticed the bowl with the name "Knoll" etched into it first. I walked around the tree and saw the large concrete post (hydrant) in the middle, then back around to the bowl where I noticed the spigot protruding above it. There are big gaping wounds, rends in the trunk where the concrete is exposed; spiders live in one, a bee hive is in another. At this time I had to check again - yes the tree is real, yes it is alive. Green leaves, gnarly branches like any oak worthy of the name. Determined to live against all odds.

Next time you are in the woodland look for the Knoll Tree, you can get there by foot, or bike.

hard to tell, but that is the tip of a huge piece of concrete with a swarm of bees above it

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Mid-Week C&V: 1987 Panasonic Team Europe II

Campagnolo Victory everywhere you look

spotless shine

I can't be sure if this is an '86 or an '87; from what I can decipher, the Team Europe II was offered in the blue / white color scheme both those years, as well as the Campagnolo Victory groupset. See it, while you can, at the Velo in Claremont.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Shared Path, or Learning from the '70s

A football, a field, and two groups, each wanting to use them. It was the 1970s, a time when most kids still spent most of their playtime outside. We would gather all the kids from our street, then maybe fill out our numbers with kids from other nearby streets, and head over to the high school to use the fields or courts, depending on the season. One day we sent a runner over to Tupper Street to get Brad - we needed his football and would accept him into our scrimmage to get it. Well, Brad also played for this organized team called the Valley Matadors, and this particular day they showed up wanting both Brad's ball and the field we were already using. A bit of a deadlock ensued. The Matador coach settled things by suggesting we play against each other - it was good for both sides; they got to play a game, rather than another intra-squad practice, and our ragtag team of misfits got to play against the Matadors.

Spring forward, just a few years, to the weekend recently passed. The group is heading down the San Gabriel River Trail from Duarte. When we get to the dam at Whittier Narrows that group pictured in the photo above comes onto the path from the Rio Hondo. Deadlock - in science class we learned that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. As in the past, so it was this day. A little competition was suggested - one group is the rabbit and attempts to stay away, the other chases. A win for both (although in this case, it appears that only those three way out front took things seriously). Whoever said there is nothing to learn from the '70s clearly was not paying attention.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday Blues: Pedaling Big Blue

The race is on. If you can pedal it, you can race it.

I've never ridden/floated/pedaled one of these and wonder if the energy expended to make them move would be worth the hourly charge.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Slow Sunday Scenes from Bonelli

 I am sorry to have missed Vynessa's Birthday Ride with the Psycho-lists headed down the SGRT to Seal Beach today, but didn't feel like I had anywhere near the required seventy-two miles in my legs. Attempting it would, probably, have left me curled up in fetal position on some desolate, hot concrete river embankment with twenty miles still to go, and mumbling an incoherent "why, why, why."

Yeah, it was going to have to be a slow day for me and, while the Village may often be a good place to spend a slow Sunday morning, Bonelli is as well.
quiet morning on the lake

believe it or not, the slough has not reached its neon brightest yet - give it another week, then shine your black light across the surface, and watch it come alive

the bike location where i dropped it, suggests i rode the well-worn edge

where is SUP at Bonelli on this Sunday morn

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Dirty Chain Gang Rides Again: Back in the Saddle

The call of the dusty trail was never more loudly given than it was today, and completely to be expected; it is the middle of the dry season after all. Unless I miss-counted, a record number of the Gang saddled up to ride the loop across the hills and through the canyons of Claremont and La Verne. Also not unexpected, record numbers of other trail users seemed to have heeded the call - walkers, horses and their riders, cross-country runners from the local schools, other groups of riders - all made an early start to the day in order to avoid the heat that would be rising later. So yes, there were great clouds of dust kicked up in to the air, sucked into the lungs, the usual rocks and ruts kept riders alert, while the stream through Marshall Canyon spattered legs with mud, cast it in trails up backsides and across the faces of those who followed closely to the first wheel ahead.

always a time for the finger

Has it truly been a month since I last rode with the Dirty Chain Gang? I thought I might have missed two rides, but no more than that. Huh, time can fly if you let it. Well,

"I'm back in the saddle again, out where a friend is a friend,
Where the trail is up, or the trail is down, no time for a rest
I'm back in the saddle again.

Ridin' the range once more, spinning my old twenty-nine
Where you wind through the oaks into the sun shining bright
Back in the saddle again.

Whoopi ti yi yo, rockin' to and fro, back in the saddle again
Whoopi ti yi yea, I'll go my own way
Back in the saddle again."

Friday, August 21, 2015

Spongebob Ghostlypants Update


Sea sponges, in their natural habitat have a life duration of about ten years. The fictional sponge of television and film comedy, Bob, has beat his more natural brethren by some six years. The hand-painted caricature that existed on the wall of this underpass had a far shorter lifespan, probably measured in mere months. Truth is, I don't see how that new plain white splotch is any improvement over the fanciful creation that previously occupied the same space.

then (three weeks ago)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Summer Interlude: Kings Canyon Flow

Campfires roared, flames holding back the darkness, a staccato of light around the grove. Around one gathered a group engaged in a lively contest of charades. The groups around two other nearby fire rings sat in more quiet conversation. There were other mini celebrations taking place in more distant sites, heard but not seen. Through the dark spaces between bits flicker of flame bobbed three white lights. A few hours earlier I watched as a stick tossed into the river bobbed around rocks, up and down over riffles, pushed by the visible flow. Now, the three lights reminded me of that stick; I knew they followed the road winding between trees and campsites, but those were unseen in the dark, and instead the lights seemed to flow in an invisible current.

I watched their progression as I had the previous two nights, having come to expect their appearance at this hour. One light belonged to a boy, another to his younger sister; I knew that much after the first night, the first time they rode past, when the boy, in no uncertain terms, told his sibling to stay behind him when she showed her spunk in attempting to sprint around him. The third light, of course, belonged to the mother, last in line, always the shepherd. It was their evening routine; the three would ride past, then thirty minutes or so later come back. I think they went for ice cream at the little store by the lodge, across the river, through the woods. When they did return, they did so quickly and in silence, wheels spinning, flowing up, then down one curve, two, and out of sight.

mountain bikes are overkill in Kings Canyon, as they are in most National Parks. the most dirt mine experienced was being rolled off the road to a dirt verge beside the river, to be propped up and posed before a nice background view.

one evening another mountain biker rode up to our campsite to talk bikes and trails, asking if i had found anywhere to ride. it was when he said he had ridden a part of the Don Cecil trail that things got awkward. should i have called him out for poaching a trail open only to foot traffic?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Cycling Claremont: Pitzer College Green Bike Program

The Green Bike Program. Many colleges and universities have one, or something similar. I have done a couple posts about this one at Pitzer College in the past. They have moved a couple times over the last couple years, or so - from a little shed-like structure, to temporary digs across the street, to this new facility, moved into during the most recent school year. As you can see they have installed a new Dero Fixit Rack bike repair station outside the roll-up door for riders in need of assistance when no one else is around. I wonder if it has had a lot of use already, the pump didn't seem to move air all that well - if you are riding on your rim, though, I don't think you would mind too much. By the way, the building looks like a great, light-filled, work space. 

Even though I was good no matter the implied suggestive requirement, I don't believe it is mandatory that your bike be green at the Green Bike Program.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Surfacing, Up for Air, Part II: 2015 Ta-Hoe Nalu Paddle Festival

early Saturday morning, the beach beginning to fill

It is good to get away from the bike. There, I said it. Countless number of teeshirts have been printed, Facebook posts posted, etc, extolling the "cycling is life" sentiment. But dig deeper and everyone will tell you the thought is something less than true. Balance is key. Carve out slices of time for other activities you enjoy as you would carve around a tight turn. The good thing about the bike - it is always there, always waiting for the next turn of the cranks.

It is good to get away from the f'ing computer. That is obvious, and goes without saying. Except, of course, that I just said it. Every moment spent in front of the screen trying to come up with something to say is time away from riding. Every post makes you wonder if it is worth the effort. Every race you attend in order to cover it for the blog is time away from riding. Those realizations hit in stages, at different times, and add up like a weight. They slow you down because, well, because you are not riding as much.

> º < 

Don't the waters of Lake Tahoe look refreshing? Of course they do! While I was refreshing in them, and being refreshed by them, the "homeland" was sweltering beneath the stifling weight of 100º F days. I didn't think about the heat, I didn't think about the computer. I did occasionally think about the bike - mostly mostly in the sense that it was good to see so many other people out riding around on them.

> º <

I often envy some of my fellow cycling bloggers who have signed off, content that they have said all there is to say, maybe finally convincing themselves that they would rather spend their time riding than writing. Though the idea has flashed across my mind numerous times over the past five and a half years, it has never taken hold. I just can't get myself to do it.

And so little breaks, like this, in the routine take on added importance. They offer up a chance to refresh and recharge. The Ta-Hoe Nalu Paddle Festival, cofounded by Uncle Ernie (who by the way, and as I found out, is known by that moniker well beyond the family confines) was founded in 2007, making it (as their website notes) the oldest stand-up (SUP) paddle board event of its kind. The activity, as you may have noticed by visiting virtually any waterway, has exploded over the years. SUP'ers are everywhere. It is not difficult to understand why. SUP has challenge. It has adventure (Uncle E has SUP'ed on the Amazon, not to mention Lake Tahoe in the middle of winter, and will soon be SUPing on never-before SUPed upon backcountry lakes). You can race SUP, tour SUP, or simply cruise SUP. Like cycling, mobility is pretty much up to the pedaler on the one hand, the paddler on the other. 

Many of the world's best SUP competitors attend Ta-Hoe Nalu each year to race in five and ten mile events, but it also offers beginners and novices an opportunity to try the activity on boards produced by some of the finest makers around. It is a complete three days worth of festival atmosphere, with food, music, vendors, padding, where it is oh, so easy to immerse oneself and willingly float away.

SUP'ing with mans best friend

off the board and sprinting for the finish - you must cross the line with paddle in hand, but not board

in to the finish

Goal Zero sponsored a headstand competition, with the winner taking home one of their mobile solar recharging devices. The victor is in this shot, but to find out who, you'll need to check the Flickr album, a smaller one and far from representative of this three day celebration.

charging in, a water level view

the helper crew brining in the boards

By the way, if you like the Ta-Hoe Nalu Facebook page you will find more, and much better, photos of the event.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Monday Blues: Northstar Lite

The Blues: Spending a couple nights at a mountain bike park and riding for an hour, maybe an hour and a half, maximum. Like Mammoth, Northstar has developed quite a network of trails to entice mountain bikers to visit during the warm months. While most of the bikes were of the hardcore downhill variety, the cross-country breed was not without representation, heck I even caught an old school steel hard tail coming down the mountain.

During the summer Northstar hosts a CX, DH and Enduro race series, as well as the Tahoe Trail 100. There are women-specific evening rides throughout the season, which tops out with the Pumps on Pedals Women's Weekend in August.

Oh well, riding was not the main reason for this latest visit to Tahoe, that would be the Tahoe-Nalu Stand-Up Paddle Fest, but this short visit has left me inspired for "the Next Time".

nearing the bottom of what I believe is 'Liftline' trail

'Mineshaft' [?] trail emerging from the forest

the days last run

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Surfacing: Up for Air

This place is about as wide open a space as you will find on the urban plane. 

The paths I travel here are equal parts dirt and gravel. The dirt is predictable. Even where rounded river rock adds a level of topography, the surface is still hard-packed, baked to an iron-pan denseness by the summer sun. Wheels can spin with assurance, with confidence. 

Then there are the little surprises of sand; move fast enough and you can get your heart to skip a beat, your breath to catch just below the trachea with the shock of suddenly coming upon, and riding into, one of them.

Patches of sand are deep enough to cause the rear wheel to fishtail from side to side. Fine grains are washed into hollows and depressions by infrequent flows of water, or blown by the incessant wind. Nor is the front wheel immune to the mutability of footing. Since it leads the way through I suppose "fish-tailing" is not quite accurate. Fish-heading? Dr. Demento comes to mind, and I silently sing, "fish heads, fish heads, roly poly fish heads…" all the while tightening my grip on the bars while willing the arms to remain loose. There is a delicate balance in the sand, but in a way it is predictable, it is expected. It is expected that handling will be more of a trick, pedaling more of an endeavor.

The gravel is what gets my wheels to intentionally slow a few rpms, at least at first. I never know what to expect. Will the little chunks of aggregate roll and take my wheels with them? Or will they crunch, firm in place, beneath my weight? Not so bad on the straight and wide, but to have it happen going into a turn could send you home with shredded kit, picking feldspar and granite from a bloody thigh. Trust your tires, pedal through, and don't forget to breath.


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