Thursday, December 31, 2015

Its a New Start

It is the last day of the year 2015. Seven days ago, following a hellish twelve hour drive (yes 12) I arrived at Lake Tahoe in a raging snowstorm, feeling beat down and a little feverish. It didn't take long to realize that the next few days were going to be a complete wash out; the rest of the family had a, mostly, good time and so, though in the grip of misery, I could still find some satisfaction in their enjoyment. Besides, I had taken the entire next week off work, and could look forward to all that free time. Well, it has now been four more days of forced-inactivity - the best, the only, good thing to come of it is being able to read through the latest book on David Brower; the others I received for Xmas still at Auntie D and Uncle E's snow-encased house at Tahoe, forgotten in an addled state of mind. In the immortal words of friends from some old Scouting days, such are the "breaks of life".

Still, four wasted vacation days. Son of a … Well, things could be worse. I am ready for something to change and, after all, that is what the New Year is all about. Change. For me, I look forward for finally ridding myself of this bug that has been chased from my lungs, and is now cornered in my head. Then I can begin to think about bikes again. Riding. 

You know, 2015 was probably the lowest mileage year I have had since graduating from university nearly thirty years ago. I am not envious of that statistic. For someone who regularly touts the health benefits of riding as among the many reasons to do so, I am aware of the irony.

Any time of the year could be the right time for a change, to start something new, start riding more, start riding period. It does not need to be at the New Year, but if this transitional time makes it easier, grasp it and run with it, or ride. I look forward for more opportunities to see each of you out and about, on the road and trails, during the year 2016.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

How to Wear a Cycling Cap

Like a Campione

I am not sure who this is, the rider #6 at the 1964 Ras Tailteann, but his photo is one of many vintage images in the Irish Photo Archive (link is to the home page, and once there you can enter which ever search terms you want). There is quite a lot to see there. Check out the images of Stephen Roche's return to Dublin after winning the Tour de France. Crowds of well-wishers packed O'Connell Street from building face on one side to storefront on the other side. A hero's welcome, indeed.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Nash, The Multi-disciplinarian

A four day trip to Tahoe, arriving in the middle of a snow storm, sick as a dog the whole time, and only managed to wander outside for a few hours on Christmas Day. No Nordic skiing for me, not even any fat biking. Not what I had envisioned leading up to the holiday, but such are the twists of life. The one day outside was to send the family off on a cross country ski adventure at the Tahoe Nordic Ski Center. Once they were on their way, and before I tottered  back into the warmth of the lodge, I checked out the big map of the trails, and what appeared to be a listing of champions for a race.

I was amazed, but hardly surprised, to notice that the most recently listed (2013) women's champion of the Great Ski Race is the, one and only, Katerina Nash. Cyclocross, mountain bike, road, and Nordic. Anything else? A lot of people pick one activity and focus the heck out of it; some people possess enough talent to win across multiple disciplines. It has me looking forward to the upcoming race season.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Seasons Greetings

Sometimes you have to conduct extensive forays, ride far and wide, before you find something that says Winter, Christmas in these parts. The "pose of dominance" aside, Toyon does the job, and this year there was quite a bit of it growing along the climb up Potato Mountain. 

I never know how much time I will have to get posts out during the Christmas season, so I am doing this one while I can. I wish you an amazing holiday (whichever you celebrate) - of course with both Hannukah and Winter Solstice already done, those wishes will need to be belated - good times, and good rides.


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

From the Library: Fat Tire Flyer, Repack and the Birth of Mountain Biking

I believe the highest praise you can give a book, or any piece of literature really (since "book" form is not a requirement) is that it either 1. inspires you, or 2. takes you to a particular place or time where you relive, or otherwise feel part of some event(s). 

It takes more than a few years, time enough to look back, realize that you were not only around during the birth of something, but a part of its creation. Looking back decades, maybe, later and realizing "yeah, that was something pretty amazing" while at the time it was simply doing your thing. Author of the Fat Tire Flyer, Charlie Kelly, was one of those people fortunate to be there at the beginning. No, not of time. Geez. At the birth of mountain biking which, come to think about it, some people may very well regard as the beginning of time, or at least life as they / we know it.

Kelly was there - For the piecing together of the first mountain bikes, the refinement of those very same bikes, for the first Repack race, the Appetite Seminars, Crested Butte to Aspen, NORBA, people with names you know, like Ritchey and Fisher and Breeze, and many others with names you may not know, including some of the earliest women mountain bikers, like Wende Cragg. Kelly was there, a part of what has become history and lore; he is there in the photos, and there in the tales, and because of that we, thankfully, have this book

How Charlie managed to hold on to all the mementos and documentation from the era of paper, and print photos could be a tale in itself. That he did so, and has been able to present it to us, that we can relive the birth and early development of mountain biking, is a clear boon in my book. Incidentally, don't end your reading of Fat Tire Flyer where the appendix pages begin. Those pages offer a collection of some of Kelly's early writing (beyond FTF) and, from their historical perspective, are every bit as relevant as the bulk of the book (all be it, without the photos).

Returning to that first sentence up above, Kelly's writing coupled with the myriad photos did indeed transport me back to a time and place, an incidental witness to the birth of a passion I give thought to each day - mountain biking.

Kelly, Charlie   Fat Tire Flyer: Repack and the Birth of Mountain Biking  Boulder, CO: Velo Press, 2014

Monday, December 21, 2015

Party Time with the PVBC

Not everyone forgot it was Sunday evening, that twenty-four hours previous was the normally scheduled night for a party, that tomorrow was the beginning of another, all be it shorter, work week. Some people said, heck with it, bring another round. The Pomona Valley Bicycle Coalition (PVBC) held a fun little holiday get together for folks who either forgot (unlikely) what evening it was, or figured it simply didn't matter. Any excuse for a party?

Well, of course there was more involved that just the beer and the burgers. It was as much about making new acquaintances, connections, reaffirming friendships, solidifying community. All that, which when you think about it is actually quite a lot, happened at the Old Stump Brewing Company. Funny name aside, the Old Stump, the regions newest local brewery is well situated to meet the beverage needs of Pomona Valley cyclists. A location directly on the Citrus Regional Bikeway (Bonita Avenue) in Pomona provides certain advantages when untold numbers of solo and rider groups pass within fifty feet of the door each day. Anyway, check the brewery out as you will.

Contrary to popular belief, I have never been much of a talker, preferring to leave that to people who are good at such stuff. To compensate I listen, observe and record, either by writing or taking photos. So it was somewhat surprising to find myself spending more time talking than standing back and taking photos. Trust me, it was as big a shock to me as it was to anyone else.

Events like this holiday party, or periodic and regular rides, are more than mere occasions to have a good time, they are opportunities to make connections and share thoughts and ideas. Sure, I knew some of the folks going back numerous years, people like Rudy, one of the oldest readers here, and going back to the days of the Claremont Cyclist, Erik, Walt, Jim of the Claremont Senior Bicycle Group, John and Sarah of the PVBC, Sam and Rachel, who leads rides with Coates and Girlz Gone Riding, Doug who recently started the Facebook group Cycling Around La Verne. Perhaps just as important are the people I hadn't met until this weekend, like Ash, Paul whose students at Harvey Mudd will be engaged in quite the interesting bicycle transportation project beginning in January, and Frank Neal, California Triple Crown Hall of Fame member, and long time cycling advocate.

So yes, the beer, the burgers, the company, the party was all good and made for a fun night, but it is the potential opportunities arising from the various connections that can result in something more lasting than a single night of fun. If you are not familiar with the PVBC, check them out, or their parent organization, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition - they both do a lot of good.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Party Time at Sunset Cycles

Sunset Cycles opened its doors officially for the first time last night. It was a grand excuse for a party and, accordingly, there was food and drink to go along with the bikes and the socializing. Someone, over the past week, got busy and all those Linus's had been removed from their boxes and built up - all clean and shiny, they lined the railing outside the wide open front doors. The nice looking Medici and an equally nice Moser hanging from the ceiling trusses were a nod to classic cycling. If you take a minute to watch the slideshow, you might guess that I was taken by an unbuilt Nagasawa frameset. They got some kit in - it blends so well with that orange wall, that I almost didn't see it.

It is good to have another bicycling enterprise in town, another spoke in the wheel of what makes the City of Claremont such an attractive place to be a bicyclist. Congratulations to David and Sean. I look forward to witnessing how their plans develop and proceed. If you couldn't make it to the grand opening, stop by and check out the shop, see what it is all about. The owners are good listeners and are open to hearing ideas about how to engage with the community; I am sure they would appreciate the input. 

[Frustration setting in, right about… Now. After a couple attempts at inserting a decent looking slideshow here, I have given up and opted for the old tried and true Flickr album. Access it by clicking here.]

Don't forget the PVBC hosted holiday party tonight at the Old Stump Brewery, on Bonita in La Verne. I will be there, so be ready to smile for the camera.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Hidden Bonelli: Life and Death Atop BEverest

Standing atop the summit I surveyed the distant views, taking each direction in their turn - West, South, East, and finally, North. Bonelli's boundaries were pretty clearly defined; a hill here, a freeway there, the dam, it was one of those "big picture" type of views. As far as I could tell, this summit was the highest point in the park. A few others might have been close in elevation, but this one appeared to be the pinnacle; the plane created and projected outward from my eyes detected none higher. This was, indeed, the Everest of Bonelli - BEverest, if you will.

In somewhat fitting fashion, I suppose, I had passed along the shores of two small lakes, crossed a stream, rode through a jungle, and a copse or two of pines. I don't believe the approach to Everest suffers from the proximity of multiple freeways, but the din from the nearby network is clearly discernible from the top of BEverest. Being in plain view, I guess this is not quite a hidden Bonelli feature, but it didn't seem as though many riders make the ascent - I couldn't discern any single track trail dropping off the concrete cap at the top, though I would have expected the dh guys to have been all over this one.

Nothing to make you feel alive like a good breathless, muscle-searing climb to a summit. It wasn't Everest, it wasn't even Potato, but on this day BEverest was just fine. Find your peak and make it happen, it is turning out to be a great weekend to ride.






Thursday, December 17, 2015

How to Wear a Cycling Cap: Rolf Golz

Rolf Golz, aka Turbo, shows how to wear one while winning la Flèche Wallonne in 1988.

Take a step back, though, to 1987. That was a good year for Golz, a year during which he claimed eight victories including the Vuelta a Andalucia (for the second time), the Tour du Haut Var, Zuri-Metzgete, a stage of the Tour de France, and numerous wins on the track. But 1988 was an even better year. 1988 saw him up his win tally to nine including the Tour of Ireland, Vuelta a Asturias, Flèche Wallonne, another stage of the Tour de France, Paris-Brussels, Milan-Torino, and the Giro del Piemonte. Other wins, before and after those two big years included the World Amateur Track Team Pursuit (1983), Silver and Bonze medals in Individual and Team Pursuits at the Los Angeles Olympic Games (1984), the German National Road Race Championship (1985), a second win at Milan-Tornio in 1989, the Trofeo Baracchi (1990), and the Tour Mediterraneen (1992) to cap his career.

Golz recalls his first race: As a twelve year old who had just taken his smallpox vaccination he was not allowed to enter a short race, organized by the local cycling club, along the dirt road between Bad Schussenried and Otterswang, then back. Determined to have a go at it, he snuck off from home, entered and won.

After retirement from racing, Golz has remained closely connected to the bicycle, as a television race commentator, sport director of Team Gerolsteiner and, most recently, as bike shop owner in Bad Waldsee.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Hidden Bonelli: The Fatt Hill Shell Midden

Well, technically and from an anthropological perspective, it is not an actual midden since that implies some correlation to human activity. Unless someone hauled a bunch of bucketfuls of beach shells from the coast all the way over here for a little clam bake, I think it is safe to assume these scattered remains are the result of earth upheaval and more recent erosion. If you have ever thrown the Fatt Hill loop into your ride at Bonelli you may have seen this congregation of white shell littering the ground - its spread is pretty extensive and hard to miss; unless you always ride in a speed vacuum where everything around is a blur.

I don't know enough to recognize these as either fresh or salt water shells, but it is still a fun little geology lesson to realize this hill was underwater at one point, and that over unknown millennia has been raised to the height it is now. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

The 2015 CLR Effect Annual: Its a Wrap

Assuming everything works the way it should you can now preview the 2015 edition of the CLR Effect Annual. This year you will find a greater percentage of photos from mountain bike races (but then if you have followed posts throughout the year you already knew that). You all provided some great shots this year, too many in fact - it was not easy making a relatively few selections from the many thousands of images. At least now I can lighten the load on the hard drive, for a few more weeks anyway, when it starts all over again. See you at the races. In case the preview does not show up below, clicking the link should take you directly to the preview on the Blub website.

Monday Blues: Tumbled

Truth is, I have never fallen prey to a tumbleweed, things are not that hopeless. I just needed a spin for the Monday Blues, so when this tumbling weed appeared in my path I saw the opportunity. Hey, if candidate Trump can fabricate his own truths for his own ends, what is to keep little ol' me from doing the same. All the recent (and older) posts about not being able to clear certain stretches of trail, while being possessed of some truth also lean, just a bit, toward the fiction. I mean I have cleared all those stretches before; only a mental block, a vision of failure keeps me from doing so each pass. On the road, fifty-mile per hour descents, are slipping so far into the past as to become incidents of myth and legend, not to be repeated. I don't know if it is due to some sort of cyclist PTSD resulting from a lifetime of crashes and near misses, or caution brought on by age and responsibility. Maybe something else entirely, or a combination of factors.

Many riders balk at certain obstacles (heck even riding the streets is a fearful obstacle to many) and might find the knowledge of experience useful - my question then is, what cycling-related obstacle have you overcome, and how? Did you attempt it over and over again, until getting it right, until practice made perfect? Did you slowly make your way to success, like climbing a ladder, one step at a time, increasing the challenge until, voila, you one day did it? What about hypnosis to overcome a fear?

Lets hear your story.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Good Day to Ride

Yesterday was a good day for mountain biking, huh? By my rudimentary, finger, method of counting I tallied two high school league teams, and one good-sized group representing Serious Cycling, sharing the trails at Bonelli Park this morning. So lets see, thats pinkie, ring finger, and middle finger. Yup, three. Then there was Javier and his friends, who just had to pass me at the one point where I was, again, pushing the bike up a rocky steep. The same rocky steep Javier caught me walking a couple weeks ago. The same rocky steep that I know my mind makes worse than it actually is. At this rate he may wonder if I ride at all. Ah well, I expect this is just the beginning, and there will be many more weekends when I spot high school teams at the Park, working on building strength and technique, preparing for the upcoming season of races. Technique, good thing to work on. And, if you were wondering, yes every one of those high school rider rode the section I walked. Dagnabit.

A well, there is always today, another good day to ride.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Claremont's Newest

Newest bikeshop that is.

So David and Sean, perhaps against better judgement, decided to open the doors to their new shop at the Packing House. They were both busy doing other things when I stood up against the glass doors, like some little kid looking in the window of a toystore, just long enough to grab their attention. A few moments later and I wandered in. The visit was unplanned, or at least, I had not let either of them in on the plans that I had made, but David guessed who I was and the ice was broken. I got to take a few "in progress" photos and talked a bit about their bike shop plans for the near future. Most of those plans I don't really want to mention because, well, because those plans are theirs, and they will come about as they see fit, and/or, are able over the course of time. I will throw out a few, though, because they are either 1. obvious, or 2. so general as to leave things up to your imagination: 

Full service bike shop, including what I (and they) believe is the only local Linus dealership outside of LA. Linus is a well-regarded, well-built bike, especially noted for the commuter models. They also put out some good looking and functional accessories. 

Club house.

Community outreach and involvement.

DIY venture. No loans or anything to get off the ground. These guys are doing it all themselves.

Used bikes? Since I have known the city's used bike dealer for a goodly number of years, I had to ask about the used bikes and frames they had around the shop. Each of them is from the collection of one owner or the other, non-sale, filler bikes. After all, what is a bike shop without bikes? When they eventually get the shop filled out with Linus's and Rocky Mountains, and what ever other brands they bring in, I hope some of those older frames still hang around. Just for appearance sake.

Sean and David had just finished putting together the first two Linus bikes, while boxes for another ten or so remained unopened. The first thing you may notice upon entering the shop is the one, brightly colored wall - it is opposite those high-up clerestory windows, catching all that light that comes in from them. Or, maybe you will notice the open ceiling first, allowing all that light to come in.

If you show up for the grand opening, on the 19th, pay attention to some of the details - David does metal (steelwork) and the two of them designed and built all the furnishings in the shop, from the display case to the funky log coffee table. I asked if that ability has ever carried over into bike-building? Not yet, but on his mind if, and when, between family life and new business, he can ever find the time. While David is relatively new to the bike biz, Sean is the mechanic whiz - if you ever brought a bike to Incycle for repairs or maintenance, you may recognize him from the work pit of that shop.

There are many challenges to be met and overcome when starting a new business, but they seem to have a plan that will give them some flexibility to grow, while avoiding conflict with longer established bike businesses in the city, and locally. I hope to make it by for the grand opening, to see how it all turns out, they still have much to do in the next week. Maybe I will see you there.

That, for now, is the something that is going on.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Those Shoes: Vittoria Rock mtb

I haven't completely given up on the fast life, so I want a shoe what will keep me out of the slow lane. For what cycling shoes cost, I certainly do not want to buy a new pair every year, so I want a shoe that is durable, nor do I want something that will contribute to leg fatigue on those longer hillier rides, or have me hobbling around afterwards because they are just plain uncomfortable.Those are the three characteristics I look for in a good cycling shoe - performance, durability and comfort. I guess style makes the list as well, though a ways down from the other three - I am that guy who prefers teeshirts and shorts, remember.

Anyway, these are the brand new Vittoria Rock mtb shoes, I mentioned picking up at the Encino Velodrome quarterly swap meet a few days ago. They combine all three of those most important qualities I look for. Rubber at the toes and, typical of Vittoria shoes, the hard plastic (lower half) of the heel keep those two fast-wearing areas from opening up prematurely. The combination ratchet and wire closure mechanisms allow for good secure fit - important for both performance and comfort. The wire dial, though considerably larger that the dials on Vittoria's road shoes, also seems to work significantly better.

You know, for years and years, shoe manufacturers' one concession  to comfort was to let the wearer buy an aftermarket insole insert from the local drugstore. The insides of those model shoes tended to be board flat and thin, bolt those cleats on a little too tightly and you would feel each one on the balls of your feet. Look inside these shoes and you will notice the extra padding for comfort and support where you want it (and did this just start to sound like a bra commercial?) The mesh venting helps keep your dogs cool and dry, as I found out when I chose a deeper passage through a stream crossing on their maiden voyage.

The Rock mtb shoes come with a little packet of studs that screw into the sole at the front - I haven't decided what they are for yet, but don't think they would do much for traction (unless you are maybe in snow), so perhaps they add an extra level of protection against rocks while pedaling, much like a chainring bash guard does. I don't know.

Vittoria may not be quite as widespread a name that some of the other manufacturers are but, whether you ultimately decide to go another route with your shoe choice, don't overlook the Vittoria Rock mtb shoes. They have a lot going for them.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Hidden Bonelli: The Izaak Walton League Grandmothers Grove

It took multiple years, and who knows how many loops around Bonelli Park trails, before I discovered this plaque commemorating Grandmothers Grove. I am still not sure, but I suppose it marks the cluster of pines growing in a hollow below Fatt Hill - the only grove-looking congregation of trees in the area. As you can see, there is no date, nor can I find any information on the marker or commemorative grove on the internet, though there must be something either in the archives of the Izaak Walton League, or lost in the bowels of some Los Angeles County archive.

The Izaak Walton League (as per their website) was "founded in 1922 to conserve outdoor America for future generations. The League's 54 founders, who were avid anglers, named the organization after Izaak Walton, the 17th century author of "The Compleat Angler," a classic book about the art and spirit of fishing

Monday, December 7, 2015

Monday Blues: Wheel Deflection

Wheel deflection. Sometimes a rock, a boulder, a curb or other immovable object. A pothole casting a dent into one of a paired hoop. Or maybe as little as an accumulation of miles, of bumps in the road, or ruts in the trail. A slight wobble in a previously straight rotation, a rubbing of a brake pad in regular rhythm.

The fix is… easy? A tightening and an opposite loosening to correct the flaw, perfect the track. 

Or make it worse.

We hope to never suffer a full taco collapse, in the back country, forced to wield a rock as hammer pounding out some semblance of round. Fortunately, this time, this distorted, deformed, something less than optimally round, is merely a shadow of the real wheel.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Cycling Claremont: Something Going on Here

Upstairs at the Packing House, across from Flappers - something called Sunset Cycles. Something with bikes on the wall, bikes leaning against the wall. Something with someone cooking on a backpacking stove in the background. Something that will be having a Grand Opening Party on December 19th. Something clearly cycling related. Something, and someone, called sunsetcyclesca who posts photos on Instagram, where you can see better shots of the, current, interior. It was after hours, the doors were locked, and I decided not to disturb the occupant in the middle of cooking but, 

I look forward to the 19th, when something will be more clearly revealed.

Let me give you a little update: Sunset Cycles will be a full-service shop, with both Lunus and Rocky Mountain currently in their line-up. They are also looking into adding the German brand, Bombtrack. Sounds pretty nice, huh? Check 'em out at their grand opening.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Encino: Go for the Swapping, Stay for the Racing

This morning was the quarterly Swap Meet at the Encino Velodrome, followed by some low-key racing in the early afternoon. Either by itself might not have been enough to convince me to make the drive out to the Valley, but the two combined seemed like a good opportunity. I know, I know, it was a big cyclocross day at the Greek, but those CXer's don't give me any love lately - no sharing of posts, or photos. No thank you's. The fixed gear folk, on the other hand have done right by me all year - from the Temple Crit, to the 700s, some Summer night racing, and right through to Ganesha Hills. So yeah, jealousy and spite… or no, I mean bike swap and racing brought me to another fixed gear event, this time on the track.

The swap was full of good stuff - truthfully, I got there late, and some sellers were beginning to pack up, but I saw a bunch of old and new Campy stuff, all kind of wheel sets, a Dave Moulton Fuso, a track bike used in a Junior World Championship, old high-top leather shoes,  and Christie and Frank of selling old team stuff in preparation for a new season. I think I scored with a seat post, socks, and a brand, spanking new pair of Vittoria Rock mtb shoes at half price, and my size! So stoked. Anyway, a good meet to look for when it comes around next time.

As for the racing, "low key" was the optimal term - Henry Shibata was there to direct the program, the group was small, but composed of some seriously fast competitors, just the right combination for some speed, some fun. A little bit serious, a little bit laid back. The concrete was running smooth and fast, the winter sun casting some interesting shadows across the banks and the straights, the air was calm and cool. With a little last minute adjustment, even a late arrival, bikes were made ready and so were the legs. Time to race.

I've got your Flickr album right here, and it has seventy-two photos in it.

infield waiting

the match-up I was waiting for - Dante (spelled right?) and Ronnie - check the Flickr album to see how it turned out

Friday, December 4, 2015

The 2015 Annual: An Update

The CLR Effect Annual for 2015 is progressing nicely, though I am probably a bit behind schedule. If I can do a little, either photo selection or text addition, each day, it will get done about when it is supposed to at the end of the year. By the by, Blurb is offering free postage on any books purchased before December 31, so now is a pretty good time to order editions from either 2013 or 2014 - simply use the code: FREESHIP2015 when ordering. Additionally, I believe, you can save 30% on the cost of a book (before December 11) by entering code GIFTS30 when ordering. So get on it. By the way, if you click on the preview button for either edition and it does not seem to be working, click on that sentence "Have a slow connection?" at the lower right of the preview page - seems to solve the problem for me. See you at the races.


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