Friday, April 29, 2016

Five for Friday (and Psycho-lists Too)

I have always liked this view at the canyon's mouth with the grass in full bloom...

too dark, but classic vulture pose...

fire crews getting in a little pre-season training...

for months (years?) I have watched the construction at this little triangle of land between the 605 and the Santa Fe Dam, but it never seemed like it was becoming anything, and so I convinced myself that it was a construction training site. This week I started working on the construction documents (CD's) for a new Lynwood High School baseball field (located at Lynwood Middle School). So today, as I rode across the top of the Dam and looked down, what they are building here became as clear as day. Funny how it wasn't obvious before...

beauty and danger all in one.

All the things I spied this morning, however, paled in comparison to my sighting of the elusive Psycho-list Friday morning bunch. Mind you that is not because they are rare, or hard to find, even this far from their home territory. No, it is just they are so darned nimble - one moment you see them, the next moment they are gone from view. If you are not equally up to speed, well... you'll be left, like me, with a lack of evidence to document their passing.

Enjoy your weekend, whatever it involves (though I hope there is a bike in there sometime).

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

2016 NAHBS: The Brodie Whippet

Yup, I still have some of NAHBS stuff to show. Paul Brodie has been turning out bikes for more than twenty years, first tagging them with his own name (Brodie Bikes) and most recently, as Flashback Fabrications. Since 2010 Brodie has been teaching a frame-building class at the University of Frazier Valley, in British Columbia (the Whippet was being shown at the UFV booth). His piece-by-piece recreation of the 1888 Whippet is one of the most curious, if not interesting, hand-built bikes you could ever hope to see, and gives a whole new meaning to the term "full suspension."

Rather than regurgitate a bunch of information that someone has already had the pleasure of writing about this bike, I will simply direct you to a story at, and another at Flashback Fabrications from the 2012 NAHBS which contains many further links to information about the Whippet.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Ibis Nights: To the Frank P. Brackett Observatory

The Cross Town Loop takes me right past a cluster of buildings known as the Frank Parkhurst Brackett Observatory. The observatory, which includes two larger domes, nicknamed Whitney and Brackett, and a third smaller dome called Robodome. Whitney Dome sits atop a stone building, and is the one seen in these photos. I can't seem to find a name for the tin-sided structure on rails, let alone whether it is capable of movement anymore. The observatory complex is managed (if that is indeed the right word) by the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Pomona College and dates back to 1908. While the observatory fills a clearly academic need, they are also periodically open for public events, as well as an annual open house. Click for more information.

And if you were wondering, yes Frank Parkhurst Brackett is the same person for whom nearby Brackett Field (adjacent to Bonelli Park) is named after. He was one of the earliest of Pomona Colleges' faculty.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Ride to Send Samantha to the Paralympic Trials

Too frequently we cyclists get together for special (non-everyday) rides to remember someone no longer with us, or to raise funds to fight some dreadful disease. So when an opportunity comes around to get together for a reason on the opposite side of the emotional spectrum it is an extra special pleasure.

So it was for today's special ride hosted by the Competitive Edge Cyclery in Rancho Cucamonga. The reason for the celebratory mood among those gathered was to raise funds to help local athlete, Samantha Bosco (if you read the earlier iteration of this post I used Samantha Heinrich here because when searching for a list of her palmares that is the name USA Cycling was still using- I guess I can be more up-to-date), cover the costs of getting to the Paralympic Cycling Trials. Bosco has been racing at the top levels of the sport for a few years and has tallied an impressive palmares including a Bronze medal in the time trial at the 2013 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships, wins at the UCI Para-cycling World Cup race at Matane, and the US National Criterium Championships (USA Cycling Amateur & Para Road Nationals), and most recently, the Gold Medal at the 2016 Parapan American Games in the road race, and the Silver Medal in the individual pursuit.

As riders began to arrive in the early morning sun, deposit a donation into the mussette, grab a cup of coffee in one hand and a baked good in the other, it quickly became apparent that there would be far more people than the twenty-six or so who responded on the event's Facebook page, set up by the Psycho-lists' tireless organizer extraordinaire, Mr. Mayo. Heck I think the SC Velo Junior Team almost made that number by themselves - seeing them all ride in as one mass was a pretty cool show of support - way to go! SC Velo and the Psycho-lists were not the only teams/clubs to be represented on this ride. There is much overlap between groups, riders belonging to multiple so that it may be impossible, and unnecesary to categorize, but based on kit being worn the Cycling Connection had their usual strength in numbers, Coates were well represented, the Back Abbey, Inland Empire Women Cyclists, Jensen USA, Cadence, and a whole lot of others. APX provided some pre-ride energy drink which riders seemed to be gratefully taking advantage of.

Greetings, some conversation, the pre-ride talk, photos, and then it was time to roll. The riders spun away from the shop in a positively charged mood, and why not, it would have been impossible to plan a more beautiful morning. The fact that we could all say we were there helping a fellow cyclist meet a dream was the icing on that cake.

Ride to Send Samantha to the Paralympic Trials

Friday, April 22, 2016

Riding. Talking. Sharing.

Like many of you I frequently state to myself, and on occasion to others, that "I don't know what I would do if I couldn't ride." I can't imagine ever freely giving it up, and I think I might prefer to give up speaking, something I have never done much of anyway, rather than be forced to give up riding. It is a statement how ingrained certain activities may become to our daily lives, that these activities become an integral essence of ourselves, and may define our very being. 

Lately, mom's ability to speak has rapidly deteriorated to the point where she almost can't anymore. At first she would break down in laughter when, in the middle of a conversation, she could not say what she wanted to. Early on, it may indeed have been a bit funny, but it did not take long to realize that the laughter was born of frustration. Most recently the frustration brings her to the verge of tears.  See, mom loves to talk - not the individual act of making sound, but the social act of engaging people, finding out how they are, what is new in their lives. Me, I could take the hermits vow of silence without a second thought... well, without a third thought anyway. But for mom, not being able to talk, to share in that way with everyone she knows and loves, is kind of equivalent to being forced to give up riding.

Regrettably, the inability is snowballing into other areas of her life. At this point I should note that the problem is not a mental one - she knows what she wants to say, the words just will not come out, and as a result, whether due to embarrassment or sheer frustration, mom has given up much of what she has long liked to do - book club, church, visiting, going out, simply talking with more distant family on the telephone (something texting just cannot replace). Of course, everyone understands and would simply enjoy seeing her, but right now that concept escapes her, that verbal barrier blocking the way.

Another weekend is upon us - no better time to get out and revel in the rides and conversations with friends, maybe family too. Spring is unmistakably in the air and opportunities to share will abound for months to come. Regrettably, it appears I will not be able to make the Pappas Artisinal event to End Child Hunger at the Old Stump tonight (the Mrs. will confirm that I have been mopping about it all day), but tomorrow brings more opportunities - Claremont Earth Day, the Kohoutek Music & Arts Festival at Pitzer College, and then on Sunday (if I don't go to a race) there is the ride to help Samantha get to the ParaOlympic Trials, leaving from the nearby Competitive Edge Cyclery or, yet another event right here in town, the Ride to End Epilepsy. All these events are public ones. Whatever you end up doing, maybe it will be with many other good people around you and, even if just for a moment, you will think of mom, and it will remind you of what is truly important in our lives.

The pathway is open, just follow it. Oh, and have a great weekend.

what appeared to be a pretty impressive fog bank over at the coast this morning quickly dissipated

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Cycling Claremont: J. Brown Violin Maker

A couple years with a trombone in junior high school, and a half-hearted attempt to learn the piano before that (which was probably measured in weeks) convinced me that, while I might like listening to music, I was never going to play it. Sometimes I think it would be nice to know how to play the violin (until memory of those early attempts snaps my head back), just so I could say "Violin? Yeah, I have a J. Brown." The J. Brown Violin Maker studio and shop fits right into the Claremont arts scene - handmade craft at this level is definitely an art. 

Truthfully though, my interest in the J. Brown building generally transcends what can be found inside. For me it is that nice shaded porch. I think it may always be shaded and because of that, if I had the nerve, I would like to pull up after a long summer ride, a smoothie from the Jamba across the street in hand, take a seat, and just relax in that wonderful shade.

A short (five minute) video about J. Brown and his violins can be seen here.

The Cycling Claremont series of posts highlight some of the local businesses I have been known to frequent because I like what they offer, because they are bicycle friendly, or because they provide something unique or interesting, and which visitors to Claremont may also like.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Ibis Nights: Prophetic

No, look again, it says prophetic, not pathetic. Although the inglorious version might be appropriate as well. Let me take you back in time, sixty-seven minutes in the past. I was in the homestretch, three short turns away from the door. I was hopeful there would be dinner there. Rounding the park is when I spotted him headed toward the first of those three turns. He was Buzz Lightyear; though shorter than I would have expected, I knew he was the real deal - it was too light out for it to be Halloween after all. Instantly I thought "wow, pretty cool seeing him just out for a walk in the neighborhood." But then he turned and saw me coming down the street. I caught a little gleam in his eyes, with just the hint of a smile. Or sneer. His arms went straight out from his sides, and with them those wings with the flashing lights on their ends. That short little Buzz took off at a run, and the challenge was thrown. I had some momentum built up on the bit of down hill street, but when I tried to pick up speed, the legs had nothing left; all the slow and go accelerations the Cross Town Loop had dished up left them depleted. It was, yes, pathetic - nipped at the line by a short little Buzz Lightyear. 

No one wants to talk about those moments, but you know, you will always get the truth here.

Prophetic - was it not just last week that I implored you to enjoy Powerline while you could? Why yes, I think it was. And just like that it has been graded. Or at least half of the distance has, the service road portion between towers. The opening portion is still good as gold - I guess the utility trucks access the area from a different entry now.

Up the Road: The Fifth Plain Wrap Ride

The Plain Wrap Ride is one of the big events held in support of bicycling throughout the greater Pomona Valley / Inland Empire region. Riding in the company of friends is also a great way to get those morning miles; the food, drink, live music, and general party atmosphere is a great way to cap it off.

If you want a little refresher of last years ride, or at least the post ride shindig, click here for that report.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Slow Sunday Scenes from the Village

You know, I have long held a belief that Claremont is situated in a kind of wind shadow, a lot like a rain shadow, only with regard to wind. Mom has said that the old family homestead, in the middle of the San Fernando Valley, has been battered by some crazy strong winds lately. Go a little way to the east of us, and you will find those same winds howling down through the Cajon Pass and pestering Fontana, Rancho Cucamonga, and the cities out that way. What I have noticed around here during the same few days has largely amounted to a gently waving of leaves. It is that wind shadow. But I never had any proof.

Then, one night, I was watching some weather report on the newsertainment and there it was - one of those active maps showing wind currents curving this way and that across the region. They were really moving pretty much everywhere I looked. Except for Claremont and immediate areas. The wind, as represented by those arrows, would sweep down from the north, hit the San Gabriel Mountains, and then bend around east and west, leaving us mostly unscathed. It was interesting, but mostly I was stoked to have my theory confirmed. (Keep in mind, this does not mean we are wind free here. In the evenings we get the last of the winds being drawn inland from the coast, and then there are those other inexplicable days, when they come in from the north. But those are anomalies, and don't affect my theory in any way. I think the newsertainment will back me on that).

Anyway, the past few days have been pretty amazing, in a typical Spring weather kind of way. No races, or other events to go to today, so it was time for a nice easy ride around the Cross Town Loop and into the Village for some Slow Sunday Scenes:

If that little gal rolled with the Coates Ride today, she may have quite a future in cycling


fast, going slowly

traffic stopping

Claremont's cycling Mayor rode in to the Village, to talk a bit (I think) about the Claremont Educational Foundation raffle of that Scion you see parked there

and rode out the other direction, or I could have got a better shot

mountains' majesty


I think he did that motorized conversion himself

blue hibiscus

done shopping

the kids are alright, because the kids all ride

parasol sunny

crooning with guitar

parting shot at Bonita and Yale, but oh that rear tire could use some air.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Bonelli Park Mtb: Riding the Flume

It was such a nice day, my only regret is that I couldn't ride well enough to equal it. What ever insignificant ride I did yesterday didn't seem to leave much energy for today - maybe it is a good thing I didn't ride with the Dirty Chain Gang. Anyway, I think I will continue that "lack of energy" excuse and just leave this as a photo post. 

pockets of poppies beside the trail

helipad reservoir overflowing via the spillway

the flume trail - quite a rush coming down that thing

the water seems like it has receded a little - the bridges are for a triathlon tomorrow - if you usually ride there on Sundays, you will be sharing some of the trails

Herbert picked that mustard up a week ago - a little drier now, but still there.

And... No. See I know what you have been asking yourself. What I meant by that up above, is - quite a rush of water. Not adrenaline. Although I am sure adrenaline would have been rushing to if... but no.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Ibis Nights: Tree #2026

Oak 2026 is a gnarly old dude, it's got that weather-beaten skin that is scored and cracked with deep crevasses. I half expected to find a bee hive settled back deep in that big scar. And that is his good side, the other is a split and fractured patchwork, a map revealing the ravages of each winter tempest and each scorching summer. I don't know where this old man ranks in the aged pantheon of the Oak Woodland, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that he is one of the more ancient; his girth at the bottom of the trunk is as wide as the Ibis is long, a distinction that not many others on the Cross Town Loop can claim.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Sharp Edged

So the first incident of maiming by disc brake rotor during a road race occurred this past week. What may be worse than the physical injuries Francisco Ventoso sustained in the crash, however, may be the slings and arrows fired at him by the internet crowd simply for speaking his mind about this "new" danger. There seems to be a widespread belief that Ventoso should just keep his mouth shut. That's logic for you - not only do you see a problem and the first-hand experience to go with it, yet the wittiest of the gathered audience believe you should just keep quiet.

Then there are another group of spectators who contend that disc rotors are no more likely to cause injury than any other part or component protruding from a bike frame. You know what? They are right. Chain rings are a definite hazard; for my own part, pedals and cranks have been responsible for an unusual amount of broken skin, bruises, and unusual lumps. None of which, really, carries any relevance to the argument. Were all the usual road bike appendages a danger during mass crashes before the introduction of disc brakes? Certainly. By introducing another sharp edge to the equation are they now more dangerous? Very likely.

Is this going to be another wedge, driving people away from racing and other mass start events? No, or at least I doubt it. Since my own road racing days are a thing of the past I have been ambivalent about the whole "to disc, or not to disc", debate - I don't have that personal connection any more. I certainly don't see the necessity of them, though I, and at the same time recognize their advantages. What I am less ambivalent about is the appearance of the corporate hand pressing down and forcing the issue - road bikes were the last avenue of market expansion - disc brakes had already become widely established in mountain, cross, and touring, while trackies and the fixed-gear gangs, lucky dogs that they are, sit back and wonder what all the yelling and name calling is about. Too often prudence takes a back seat to profit - you need look no further than the automobile industry, who continue to introduce more, unnecessary, and added-cost distractions into their products

As bad as Ventoso's injury may be, there is something even more ugly to be seen here. It is the backlash against him speaking out. I can't help but see the same faces who shout the old "American, love it or leave it" invective at those others who dare to notice flaws, inconsistencies, and outright problems, or at least the potential for them, and who then suggest that a reexamination may be in order.

*And as you may have already read from any number of sources, the UCI has decided to suspend the use of disc brakes in road races pending a second look.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Equal / Unequal

I suppose it is simply a matter of having attended one of the most bicycle friendly campuses in the state; I am always comparing and judging and, generally, those being judged come up short. This past weekend when I and the family visited the University of California at Riverside (UCR) campus for Highlander Day, and though it certainly was not the raison d'etre for the visit, I couldn't help but take note of some of the bicycle features around campus. From there it was a short step to compare with my own alma mater (UCSB).

Instead of a criss-crossing network of bike paths reaching into every conceivable corner, nook, and cranny of campus there are, instead, a smattering of on-street bike lanes. Instead of bike racks quantified by the vastness of "acreage" there are, instead, (mostly) single racks and parings here and there.

Now, that said, there are some positives to the bicycle infrastructure at UCR. First, the air compressors - sometimes all you need is a little air. I happened to notice the one located outside the Student Recreation Center, and cannot be sure how many more might be scattered around campus. Second is the secure parking - I noticed two types, locked rooms within buildings (at the dorms, if I remember correctly), and the locked outdoor enclosures with roofs and tubular steel fencing (bicycle cages) available for graduate students, staff and faculty. Both offer protection from the elements, and greatly increase security.

The differences between the two campuses might make for an interesting study in the allocation, or distribution, of resources. Investment at UCSB appears directed more to transportation, getting around campus and linking to surrounding areas (Isla Vista, Goleta, Santa Barbara). Meanwhile, investment at UCR would seem to be geared more to post-transportation, parking in other words. My guess is that this difference is largely due to differences in the size of each respective campus. Though Riverside is a good sized, and growing, campus it is still quite easy to get around on foot, especially in the core area; as the school's academic standing and popularity continue to increase it will be interesting to see if there is an infrastructure shift toward the "movement" example of UCSB.

Keep in mind that this was a first visit to UCR, that my focus was on other things, and I did not see the entirety of the campus. There is very likely more waiting to be discovered on a future visit.

An unsurprising commonality between the two campuses - bikes left out in the open racks, where they are subject to the misdeeds of both weather and vandals, apparently suffer the fate of bikes left out on university campuses everywhere.

Monday, April 11, 2016

2016 US Cup / Kenda Cup, Bonelli Park

Though they were out there during the Cat 3 race, I am not sure they were each from the same age class, but the three racers shown in the sequence above showed the competitive spirit by sprinting to the finish of their race. That spirit can be difficult to capture in photos during a mountain bike race because, by nature, the races tend to break apart quickly over the ups and downs and roughness of the terrain. Make no mistake, however, it is there, sometimes outwardly apparent, while other times it lies in wait. Get two or more racers together, or in close proximity, and the spirit of competition will rise to the surface.

From about six hundred fifty photos a selection of ninety are in the Flickr album. All are from the Cat 3 and Cat 2 races on Sunday. No pros this time, and it you don't see who, or what, you were looking for in the album let me know and I shall look through the rest to see what I can find.

These teammates blew the Cat 2 race apart on the very first lap.


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