Sunday, November 29, 2015

2015 Turkey Trot Cross: The Wild Life

For the second time this season, the SoCal Cross Prestige Series returned today to the craziness that is Glendale's Verdugo Park. I am not sure what it is about this place, but races here seem to be a little more lively, a little higher in energy.

That gully, or drainage ditch, that runs along the base of the hills creates a rather abrupt, and jarring, transition - racers drop down the steeper hillside into a 'v' shaped bottom resulting in a frequent and clearly audible "clunk" if their choice of line is slightly inappropriate. Only once was that clunk the result of a wooly chewbacca-like creature dropping from the high branches of a redwood, and adhering itself to a startled racers' back. After that lone incident riders were wary and no more of the creatures were seen. However, I understand from a moderately reliable source, that Dot and Jeff may have enticed a few more, with bells and shiny baubles, from a lofty perch at the opposite end of the course, then shipped them straight away to the doorstep of J. J. Abrams. "His problem, not ours," Dorothy was heard to exclaim, as the ringing of cowbells was drowned by the grunts of wookie appreciation. An impromptu taxi, the Naked Juice truck didn't leave around noon because they were out of juice.

If that were not enough to enliven the scene, the racers contributed by dressing in everything from tuxedos and colorful vests, to wearing, clearly undercooked, turkeys on their heads, and racing on small-wheeled cargo bikes tempting, I suspect, the good-will and patience of their fellow course-mates of the moment.

A couple years ago, I believe it was, I described this race as being like a circus. Clearly it has not in the least cleaned up its act. Thankfully!

the Master, Monsieur Robert Paganini (volunteering today)


no, not the racers - the S.W.A.T.er


host team handicap?


the Wild Life


¿que? well, I am not sure this was the best bike for the circumstances
(that said, check out some more about this bike here)


what's on your back?

You will find one hundred fourteen photos in the Turkey Trot Cross Flickr album, about one-seventh of the number of times I snapped the shutter. If you don't see what, or who, you were looking for in the album, let me know and I will see what I can find. If you see a photo you like, feel free to download it (credit where credit due, of course). You can also contact me via email and I will gladly send a full size jpeg file of the image. As usual, I don't charge for photos, but do appreciate it when someone purchases a copy of the annual (link at top of page). Until next time, good riding. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

An After T-Day Serving of Potatoes

apparently I haven't taken enough self-portraits lately (not really my thing) - i'll make up for it this post

Three weeks or so, the road bike hangs from its spoked front wheel. Three weeks during which the mountain bike, the cx bike pound the meagre miles on dirt and, inevitably, some pavement. The Cogswell Dam ride would have been nice this morning, but for the road bike hanging by a hook for three weeks. So, and instead, the ride up Potato Mountain filled in, a few hours in the saddle and out. It is nice up there this time of year - cool, maybe even cold, dramatic clouds racing across the sky, or floating lazy like, clear skies with views south across the valley, or north up canyon to the Old Bald One - snow-flecked, snow-cloaked, maybe even snowed-upon in the moment.

Potato Mountain - there is but one way to get there, and so I climb that road, the one that winds in and out of the upper reaches of numerous canyons - Little Palmer, big Palmer, others unnamed and, largely, indistinct but for the sensation of moving in toward, enclosed by, the mountain (Sunset) and back out again. Whether in or out, it looks like early winter up here- damp earth, rich in color after the passing rain, yellow leaves bright against the contrasting dark, ever-green of Oaks; further along toyons' red berries, always a sure marker of the season and, inevitably, the cloud-shrouded pate of Baldy, brief glimpses of snow, whitened flanks.

The group ride would have been nice today, but truth be known, I think I wanted this solo one instead, the quiet, the solitude, the introspection.

a pause at Coyote Howl Point, headed over that way

I can hear that Javier dude now, "stopping again?"

Santa Ana mountains across the valley

the Castor Bean plants are going to be a problem along parts of the route (hear that City of Claremont) I pulled a few decent sized ones out by hand, and a bunch of smaller ones, but there are many more that need shovel work - simply cutting them down, which is what appears to have been done in the past, just does not do the job, they grow back.

Baldy in the clouds

pockets of autumn yellow

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thankful

Laying in a little before the winter. Riding before the feasting. 


Low clouds along the mountains, quiet along (and on) the lake, but the trails were alive with people walking, running, riding, including Javier who chided me for, as he said "stopping again." But I couldn't help it - the views were spectacular. Thankful. Enjoy your day.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Up the Road: Tour de Tryptophan


Mountain bike? CX Bike? Long weekend? Too much to eat on Thursday? The Twelfth Annual Tour de Tryptophan might be the ride you're looking for.

Fullerton Loop from noon Friday to noon Saturday. Donations benefiting those advocacy/action groups listed on the poster get you a tee shirt. A portion of your day (or night) gets you a fun time.

Upper lot at the Fullerton Courthouse, Berkeley & Harbor.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Mobbin's 2015 Ganesha Hills Circuit 4: It Smells Like Door Hinges

What? 

Say that one word as many different ways you know how, with what ever inflections you can think of, even the long drawn out whaaaaaaaaaaat? of Moe Sizlack. Now you have a good idea of all the varied reactions of those gathered around when that thought - "it smells like door hinges" popped into one riders' mind and slipped right out their mouth. It was so off the wall and unexpected that it took a full moment for the statement to register before the expected laughter and "what the hells" could be made. And it's not as if there wasn't a certain, pungent odor wafting through the air; puffs of smoke were not being released through the exhaust pipes of motors passing by on the I-10. If you know what I mean. This is a fixed gear race, and you never know what you will get.

Honestly, "it smells like door hinges". It was the perfect summation, (or would indictment be the better word?) of what you get at these fixed gear races - they are full of surprises, and you just never know what to expect. Back in the day people might have said things like "far out", or "it's beautiful, man"; either one of those is still pretty descriptive of the scene, but there is a different lingo today. 

Irregardless of the "never know what you will get" attitude, there are other things about these races you come to expect, and right at the top of any such list is the inevitable delayed start to accommodate racers who arrive late. Sometimes I feel like good old Mr. Hand, and I can hear his voice now "don't you people own a watch?" It's all good though; after all, if not for the delay, I (we) would never have been made aware that door hinges are scented.

at the end, too exhausted to even sit up for a drink

Fixed gear racing, like other forms of bike racing is continually evolving. This was a topic I briefly discussed with Demi (you all know Demi, yes) when I ran into him a couple nights earlier. And so I went back and looked through photos from the first Mobbin' Monday Ganesha Hills race I was at, in 2012. Back then, far more of the riders raced in baggies, cut-off jeans, teeshirts, and wore packs while racing. There were plenty wearing team kit too, but the pendulum has definitely swung and the kits predominate now. More and more, the organized teams are making their mark, and dominating the podiums. It is unlikely that this will change, but fixed gear racing will continue to offer opportunities to the local kids who want to compete without committing to the "official" racing scene. That is another thing that has not changed, the grass-roots nature of the racing, that welcomes anyone to give it a try. Congrats to Mobbin' on another good time, holding a fun, challenging race, and keeping it going, as well as to everyone who came out and gave it a try.




The Flickr album for the race has eighty one photos in it - check them by clicking that link. If you don't see what, or who, you were looking for in the album, let me know and I will see what I can find, though at only three laps I didn't get as many race photos as usual. If you see a photo you like, feel free to download it (credit where credit due, of course). You can also contact me via email and I will gladly send a full size jpeg file of the image. As usual, I don't charge for photos, but do appreciate it when someone purchases a copy of the annual (link at top of page). Until next time, good riding. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

2015 CXLA, Day One: Another Notch in the Top Tube for Nash



In a way I feel some empathy for some of these racers who arrive in town from colder climes - Europe, Colorado, even Northern California has experienced some winter-like weather by now. They come here for CXLA, to nearly 90º temperatures, to merciless sun. They may have believed they were finished with choking dust for a few months, hoped that blowing soot out of their noses would become a faded memory. But no, CXLA brings it all back for one last gasp. Not that it seemed to bother any of those riders - of the top five finishers in the UCI Elite Womens' race, two were from Europe, and two from NorCal. Not until the fifth spot did a SoCal rider crack the podium. 

France's Caroline Mani grabbed the hole shot when the mad rush traded the paved start for that familiar gopher-infested grass that defines most of the Long Beach course. By the time the race had completed most of the first circuit, Katerina Nash had taken over at the front. That is until just before the sand, and coming out of a turn Rachel Lloyd jumped to the lead. Those two out front were followed closely by Courtenay McFadden, Mani, and Elle Anderson. Gaps were beginning to show between the contenders, but they were still small. The second lap confirmed that today would not be a runaway victory for anyone - Anderson, Nash, Lloyd, McFaddan, Mani, and Amanda Nauman were all, still, quite tightly bunched at the head of the race. Eventually, slowly but surely, Nash and Lloyd pulled clear, gaps once measured in wheel-lenghts grew to multiple seconds. At the end Nash claimed the win by a mere nine seconds over Lloyd, with Mani coming in at thirty-three seconds, Anderson at fifty-two seconds back, and Nauman at a minute thirty seconds for fifth place.

Due to the spread out nature of the Long Beach course, races there often tend to be something less than exciting, but this women's race was one of the best to be run at El Dorado Park - a kick ass race, by some kick ass women.

Other victors from day one included James Driscoll (UCI Elite Men), Tobin Ortenblad (UCI U23 Men), Denis Faye (Masters Men 35+), Bob Downs (Masters Men 55+), John Ruger (Masters Men 65+), Jose Vigil (Men C), AJ Sura (Masters Women), Victor Sheldon (Masters Men 35+), Greg Turner (Masters Men 45+), Garrett Follmuth (Men B), Ryan Dahl (Non-UCI Men A), Barrett Schreiner (Masters Men 35+ B), Travis Robertson (Masters Men 45+ B), Katie Clouse (Non-UCI Women A), Alicia King (Women B), Ashlee Weimar (Women C), Cameron Beard (UCI Junior Men 17-18), Lucas Rowton (Collegiate Men), Amy Benner (Collegiate Women), Wes Biesen (Men C), Brad Bingham (Single Speed Men A), Kenten Harris (Single Speed Men B), Lynn Kennedy (Single Speed Women).







The Flickr album for this years' CXLA contains ninety-seven photos - check it out. If you don't see what, or who, you were looking for in the album, let me know and I will see what I can find. If you see a photo you like, feel free to download it (credit where credit due, of course). You can also contact me via email and I will gladly send a full size jpeg file of the image. As usual, I don't charge for photos, but do appreciate it when someone purchases a copy of the annual (link at top of page). Until next time, good riding. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Precision Fit Open House at Jax, Claremont

So Jonathan held a fun little open house event this evening, explaining to a standing room only group of cyclists, just how the new Precision Fit apparatus works. There was food, drink, and raffles at the top of every hour with jerseys, teeshirts, energy bars, lube and cleaning products, and grand prizes of a three hour session on the fit machine. It was informative, and a good time was had by all. Thanks for hosting, Jonathan Chang, and the Jax crew.

While Jonathan explained how everything worked

his volunteer pedaler had a beer pedaled. Oh what the heck, she did both very well.

Explaining how it all contributes to perfecting bike fit and set up.

Raffle time.

A whole bunch of Claremont Cycling Club people showed up,
but with the lens I brought I could only fit this many in the shot. Cheers.

The Rock and Sand Club Loop Today: Woe is Me

Well, in light of recent events worldwide, my misfortune on the Rock and Sand Club Loop this morning was at best a minor inconvenience. But it was certainly not what I had planned, nor hoped for.

It was a beautiful day for a ride (or walk)

Short and sweet - one flat, one flat spare tube, two useless, empty tubes of vulcanizing glue, emergency glueless patches no-where to be found, and a nice walk along the dirt trails I would have preferred to ride. That slower pace allowed me time to compound the misery by noticing that the lake at Santa Fe Dam is absolutely disgusting - you will notice that sickly brown color of the water. It kind of looks like it is just along the shoreline, but that is just a trick of the light, the scummy water extends out into the lake. I say the County should close it down, drain it and clean it, just as the City of Los Angeles has done with some of their city parks. With no real inlet, and no outlet, the water just sits and percolates in the sun like some cesspool that people, never-the-less, swim and fish in.

Later during my unplanned walk I came upon a cactus with blue pads. Wondering why someone would paint them blue I took a closer look - I am not so sure it is paint, maybe some kind of disease, as much of the sprawling plant was rotted.




Before things took a turn for the worse, I came to a crossing of the San Gabriel River and, as you can see, there is water in the river. A lot of water. Woo-hoo! I love when there is a flow of water in the river.

CXLA on Saturday, Ganesha Hills Circuit 4 on Sunday. Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Talk to the Horse

At first I thought she was getting a bit snarky with us, a little too insistent that we talk. Apparently the wave of my hand in greeting as she approached was not enough; what, was this the approach of some descendant of the late great Mr. Ed, who would amaze us with the wit and wisdom of her conversation? Would the horse she rode in on, or at least around the bend on, take offense without a verbal "good morning, how is the ride going? Nice day to be out, isn't it?" As interesting as it might be to hold a conversation with a horse, to hear it from the horses mouth as the saying goes, I really didn't think this one would care, one way or the other, whether we spoke a word as she drew nearer.

We were taking a breather at the top of the most recent high point in a series of hills, giving our lungs, which had fallen out three-quarters of the way up, a chance to catch up. The road, though dirt, was wide enough here, even more so after I motioned my companion on this ride to move over as the horses and their riders came closer. A precaution. The lead horse, a big bay, while not appearing skittish did seem wary, with big, staring eyes turned in our direction. The woman in the saddle wore the shirt of the volunteer Mounted Assistance Unit - used to mountain bikers, but you never know about the horse.



What I thought might have been a bit of that old equestrian vs. mountain biker animosity you occasionally read about but seldom see firsthand… wasn't.

Horses don't see well, she said - unrecognizable forms in the near distance, wearing bright colors could scare them. Talking as a horse approaches helps put them at ease, helps them realize the forms are human. As a, hopefully, good steward of the trails, I have long been familiar with rules and courtesies of riding around horses and pedestrians; I have often talked to mounted riders as they pass, maybe more it they briefly stop, but the trick of talking as they approach was a new one to me. Good thing to know.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Upcoming: Palms to Pines River Ride

One of my favorite rides seemed to disappear from the calendar this year. Every time a new LACBC newsletter arrived I checked it. But there was nothing, nor were there any emails from ride organizer, Jon. It was a riddle (pun intended, sorry Jon), I just couldn't figure out on my own. Surprise. I received an email at the end of last week with a gratifying explanation. Ride leader, and author of Where to Bike LA, Jon Riddle, let me know that those monthly rides, temporarily suspended so that he could devote time to training as a California Bicycle Coalition ride leader, will be returning. First up is the Palms to Pines ride along the San Gabriel River Trail, this upcoming Sunday. Starting at El Dorado Park in Long Beach (site of SoCal's only UCI ranked cyclocross race this very same weekend), the ride will take the salmon's way, upstream to the mouth of San Gabriel Canyon, before turning around and returning to El Do Park where you may be able to catch the elite races at the end of the day. 


scene in Griffith Park from last years LA-Roubaix ride, hosted by Jon Riddle

If interested check out the Palms to Pines River Ride info on the Facebook event page.

Monday Blues: Blue Falls Down


It was mortifying, I tell you. They said I was a little shaky, squirrelly on the ride home last night, like I had ridden far further than I was ever made to. I was exhausted, no longer could I stand on two wheels, so after I locked up for the night I just collapsed. There I lay, all through the dark, until a bright sun and chatter of birds returned me to life. There were murmurs, disapproval. The three-wheeler turned away; yeah, as if she ever suffers with this problem. Give me a third wheel and I could stand forever too.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Free Tacos and a Day with the MWBA

Free tacos. Two words. That was all it took to clinch it, to seal the deal. Free. Tacos.

my lucky raffle ticket was good for a shirt, socks and hat combo, but I wondered what would have happened if I had won the grand prize. Something like this, I guess.

But I am getting ahead of myself, and in order to sink my choppers into those free tacos, I first had to get to them. That meant climbing up the Mount Wilson Toll Road to Henninger Flats high above the cities of Pasadena and Altadena. Now I don't know if you have noticed but there has not been a posting here about a Friday GMR or a slog up to Potato Mountain in a long time. For that matter I haven't done Monroe Truck Trail since crashing on it earlier in the year. It is not because I have been doing those rides, but not writing about them. It is because I plain have not done them. In fact, I haven't done any kind a sustained climbing ride in a good six months, if not more.

That deficit came back today to bite me on the arse. Or maybe it was a tarantula hawk, I don't know, but it hurt like heck, I tell you what. Funny thing is, my legs weren't the body parts paying the price for half a year of easy rides - it was the lungs and the heart that had a rough go of things. I was really hoping (first time to have ever ridden it) the Toll Road would be kind of like the climb to Potato Mountain, but no, it was twice as steep in half the distance.  It truly did kick my arse, but through it all, those free tacos kept me pushing on.

The free tacos, as well as the ride to claim them, was a part of the Mount Wilson Bicycling Associations (MWBA) annual membership drive. I don't know how many of the riders signed up (as I did) during the day, but at the peak of the afternoon, after all those who climbed, and all those who descended had arrived, there had to have been at least a hundred riders there. Some came and went, but most stuck around for the free tacos, the raffle, the bike talk, the camaraderie. No one was wasting talk about the political campaign circus, or the horrible events in France; it was a day to escape all that, spend a few hours doing what we love to do on a weekend morning. 

If you are not familiar with the MWBA, they are not so much a bicycling group as they are an advocacy and action group composed of bicyclists. They build and maintain trails in our local mountains, especially in and around (though not limited to) the San Gabriel Valley area. If you hike or bike along the San Gabriel frontage, you may very well owe them some gratitude for all their work. It was awesome to see so many come out to recognize the service of the MWBA today, some of whom got to shuttle up, and ride down, with Kyle Strait and Brian Lopes, while the rest of us got to hang out with them at the Flats. Of course, while it was good to have those people come out, to lend their name and presence to the event, ultimately it didn't really matter who you hung out with, but rather thet you were simply hanging out for a good cause. 

Whatever you did today, hope it was just a satisfying. 


a long way down

taco time

mwba

"Frenchy" rode in on a fat bike. that got my attention, and because of that I now know that there is going to be a "Megavalanche" style fat bike race at Big Bear in December. 

rainbow stripes of a world champion

filling up Henninger

edge of the world.

Jump to a smaller Flickr album (fifty-three photos) by clicking hereIf you see a photo you like, feel free to download it (credit where credit due, of course). You can also contact me via email and I will gladly send a full size jpeg file of the image. As usual, I don't charge for photos, but do appreciate it when someone purchases a copy of the annual (link at top of page). Until next time, good riding.

Friday, November 13, 2015

It's the Weekend


Yes, sir, it is. Whether your weekend rides are loud and festive, like the Tour de Foothills or the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association Fall Membership Ride, or something a little more on the quiet and serene side, like the white suited dude on this unidentified postcard scene I found today at the Pilgrim Place Festival, have a good one.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Upcoming: The Road Ahead Ride for Mark Scott


 I received an email for this event a few days ago. You may have received the same, or maybe have already read, or heard, about the ride from somewhere else. Never the less, this is also one of those times when more publicity is better, the more people who share, the more we widen the net, the more riders and good people we ensnare. Funny word ensnare, it makes this sound all so diabolical, but I assure you the Road Ahead Ride is all about beneficence, helping a fellow cyclist in whatever small, or large, way we can. Even if you can't make the ride on Sunday morning you can still help out. Just visit https://www.gofundme.com/markscott, for all the info.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Happy Veterans Day

Dad was a howitzer guy in Korea, but posed here with something a little easier to hold.

I used to work at a place that recognized Veterans Day and gave us the day off to duly honor our vets. For me, that honoring took the form of one extra long ride during the week. The way I figured it, the military veterans of my fathers' generation, my grandfathers', and those even further back served, at least in part, with the hope that by doing so the next generations (their children and grandchildren) might not have to. The way I see it, the fact that I could get out on a ride on this day of remembrance was an affirmation of that hope. Sure, President Ray-gun compelled me to register for the draft, but a letter and number with the Selective Service was as far as that went.

These days, employment does not come with the day off from work, and so I will spend nine hours not thinking of the nations' veterans. If you are fortunate to have the day off from labor, or school, go for a long ride and revel in the miles of freedom provided by their sacrifices. You could volunteer to help with a Veterans aid organization today and, admittedly, that would be a far more honorable way to spend the day. Baring that, though, a good ride may be the next best alternative for recognizing the deeds of our fathers. So, think for a moment of me, grumpy at work, but mostly, think of the many service personnel who have fought the horrors of war with the hope that their children, or potential children, would not have to.

I may not get my long ride, but I can still recognize the sacrifices of America's military veterans. Remember.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Monday Blues: Shaka Like You Mean It

 

I can't begin to tell you how many Hawaiian shaka's, hippie peace signs, waves, or simple pointing of fingers have been directed my way at races this year. For some reason, almost every single one of them, like the one above, have travelled through the lens and imprinted themselves on the sd card in a less than ideal blur. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

2015 Anza Crossing


If the FBI, or the CIA, or the Department of Homeland Security, or the Mossad, or even some local coppers were to pick you up off the street (for no good reason), run you through a series of torturous sessions and then, to make matters worse, charge you for the privilege, you would sue, am I right? You would call up the ACLU and claim "cruel and unusual punishment". So why do the organizers of cyclocross races get let off the hook?

Because you are having fun?

Are you?

This may not have been the first time SoCal Cross has visited the Martha McLean Anza Narrows Park, in Riverside, but it was the first time I had ever been to the hillside above the Santa Ana River and, right off, I could see why they chose to come back here. The hillside allowed them to inflict all kinds of personal suffering. The sand, the barriers, the gopher holes, they were the proverbial icing on the cake. The real substance, the bamboo under the fingernails, was that hillside; no matter how much speed you might manage to pick up heading down the grassy slope, you were guaranteed to loose all your momentum in the turn at the bottom. The turn that swung you right back up the hill. I have to admit, that stuff was great from my perspective - the straining muscles, the grimaced faces, the curses, the heckles from those around me, the sound from frames ready to break in half, all that made for some terrific viewing. Because of that, because I want to watch again next weekend, or two, don't look this way for assistance in finding a good lawyer.













Congratulations to Ron Lawson, victor in the First Timers race, Brody McDonald (Jr. Boys 15-18), Tydeman Newman (Jr. Boys 9-14), Kylyn McDonald (Jr. Girls 15-18), Ashley Lopez (Jr. Girls 9-14), Nolan Allinson (Youth Boys 6-9), Sofia Lawson (Youth Girls 6-9), Carey Downs (Masters Men 55+), Dean Ferrandini (Masters Men 65+), AJ Sura (Masters Women 35+/45+/55+ CX 1-4), Daniel Perez (Masters Men 35+ CX 4-5), Victor Avila (Men C), Adam Roberts (Masters Men 35+ B), Bill Harris (Masters Men 45+ B), Nicole Brandt (Elite Women).

All right then, the Flickr album contains one hundred eleven photos, much like the ones shown here, representative of the seven times that number taken during the day. If you don't see what, or who, you were looking for in the album, let me know and I will see what I can find. If you see a photo you like, feel free to download it (credit where credit due, of course). You can also contact me via email and I will gladly send a full size jpeg file of the image. As usual, I don't charge for photos, but do appreciate it when someone purchases a copy of the annual (link at top of page). Until next time, good riding. 

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