Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Ibis Nights: Tree #3351

"... To shield me from the sun a sheltering cloak ..." (The Oak, Bernard Shaw)

Those hot summer rides when opportunities for relief, from the relentless sun, can be limited and difficult to locate. We seek out the shade, or most of us do, as the easiest, most accessible way to cool down. Has anyone not ridden on a flat, just to reach that first spot of shade, be it cast by a wall, an overpass, a bridge, or a tree, before breaking out the tire levers and spare tube? With their full, and often dense, canopies, oaks are among the most effective of the summer shade makers. One with three trunks - well, that is just three times the spread, three times the shade.

It may be mildly ironic that tree #3351 grows outside the Haldeman Pool at Pomona College since, when it comes to cooling off, jumping in a pool may be the one thing better than standing in the shade of a tree.

resting in the shade (well, mostly) Mulholland Drive, September 2012

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Slow Sunday Scenes from the Village

It seems everywhere you turn these days there is talk of building walls, of inclusion and exclusion. It seems that the loudest of all that talk comes from the mouth of one person who I am not going to help publicize by repeating his name. This person loves to talk about himself walls, some of which are physical barriers, while others are metaphorical ones separating the Us from the Them, but both types serving the same purpose - to divide, and isolate. What a strange place, I think, that we find it necessary to recycle these failed ideas every so often, forgetting to remember that such beliefs have never resulted in success, or growth, or a return to anything or any time, resembling a perception of greatness. You do not attain those things - success (by what ever means it is measured) or growth by placing barriers and instituting limits. To the contrary, diversity is key - diversity creates the opportunity for the exchange of ideas, opens the doors to new ways of thinking, expands possibilities.

What if our cycling community were to suddenly disallow people with different ideas of the activity, or different ways of participating in it, or the opportunity for an individual to view him, or herself, as an active part? Cycling would have died off years ago. When I stand on the corner taking photos for a Slow Sunday Scenes post I witness a great diversity in our community of cyclists and recognize in that a microcosm of society that will grow as long as it does not limit itself, place constraints on who constitutes the Us and, perhaps most importantly, welcomes and encourages the Other to join. So will society.

coming and going

i don't recall ever seeing so many large bouquets leaving the market

basket. full.

the kids are alright, because the kids all ride

Friday, June 24, 2016


On the fifth day I traded pavement for dirt

Something had them upset - the crows, I mean. There were three of them, the jet black of their feathers soaking in as much heat as the blacktop melting my tires. They circled around me, flew ahead just a little and landed, took flight as I got up to their momentary perch, then repeated the whole process, again and again. All the while their mouths were wide open, and from which they unleashed a very loud, plaintive caw. Sometimes, when they perched their wings would droop down and behind them; if you were to un-focus your eyes it looked like they were melting. I was sure it was an attempt to keep cool, just as I was sure their vocalizations were pleas, expectations that I could do something about the heat, provide some relief to their suffering. 

For four days those crows, always three, always the same three, always at the same place, engaged in this little drama between the four of us. Although they were pitiable rather than threatening, I thought of Alfred Hitchcock, their behavior was very unusual. On the fifth day my legs took me elsewhere. When I had finished riding on that fifth day my arms hung limply at my sides, shoulders too tired to remain upright, sweat dripped from my nose, my brow, my fingertips, the toes of my shoes, and when I blinked it rained down from my eyelashes. If you were a crow perched nearby and had unfocused your eyes it might have looked like I was melting.

some people will go to lengths to get a shot

Dan "Leader" Aul (3/25/46 - 4/5/16)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

CHWP Closure Extended

The weekend is almost here, unfortunately the red flag closure of the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park, begun last weekend due to excessive heat and high fire danger, has been extended through Monday the 27th of June (scheduled to reopen on the 28th). Of course with fires still raging nearby, and temperatures expected to top 100º for almost all of next week, I expect there is a possibility the closure will be extended beyond the 27th as well.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Lines of Sight

The other day I had to make a little detour from my regular route through the Colleges. A new layer of slurry seal was being laid, and if nothing else, I did learn from the only other time I rode through that kind of mess - to never do it again. Anyway, that detour took me through the double-arched passage shown above. There is nothing special about the forms themselves, though the reveal around the arch and the lines in the concrete left by the forming do add some textural interest. More significant, I think, are the combination of the two arches, and the view - through the first arch, over the wall, above the red-tiled roofs, to the Smith Memorial Tower. The combination establishes an effective progression through space, the eyes move from one point to another. And where the eyes lead, the body follows. Ride and seek.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Triple Digits

"Triple digits," as a statement its meaning is clear. Its use is a warning as much as anything. Or is it an excuse, an explanation or reason?

 The lakeshore filling to capacity well before noon; a tiny town of tents and pop-up easy-ups. Music, laughter, loud talk, the blare of a vuvuzela above it all. Swimmers pack in to a roped-off area of the lake, a school of sardines splashing around in shallow waters. I can't help but smile at their enthusiastic play. A hundred feet away the trail veers away from the water edge, the crowds suddenly gone. The hills are not where people want to be this day and untrodden dust rises from a single pair of passing tires. Heat presses down and radiates back up, two times the sizzle. Tactile and auditory at the same time. I can feel the heat, and hear it? It is a trick the cicada's like to play. Or is it a trick? After all they only emerge when the days are the hottest. They are as much a part of the sensory impact of the summer season as the heat, the sun, the dry grass, dun earth, rising dust, thirst and sweat.

a day for an easy ride, nothing more strenuous than the climb of Fatt Hill

okay, so I ain't gonna to wake one morning to find my name on no list for
grammatarian of the year but... my what is there, now?

Saturday, June 18, 2016

PSA: Heat is a Coming

They say it is going to be hot over the next few days in our inland areas. That is hot with a capital HOT. Of course, if you are reading this from Phoenix you'll need to change that to scorching. Temperature rise does tend to happen this time of year, so I doubt anyone is really surprised. Some people love the excessive heat, others dread it. I don't seem to have the tolerance I once did, but still don't mind a little heat and won't feel compelled to get out at 5:30 or some other ungodly early hour. People acclimate to heat at different rates. Everyone, though, is ultimately affected by it. Know your limits, what you're body can take and plan your rides accordingly. See you out on the roads and trails.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Season of the Ride: Levitt on the Lawn

apparently, at least a few others rode in as well

For a long time I was a dedicated bike commuter, every week, year in and year out. Not every day, two or three days a week at best. More than that seemed like a level of commitment that was out of reach and, at the time, impractical. It nags at me that those weeks have become few. I have tried to make up for the lack by running as many short trips around town by two wheels as I can. All those short errands we do daily, or weekly, or even occasionally. Like last night. Once again Scripps College played host to another of the Levitt on the Lawn concerts - the Levitt Foundation is "dedicated to reinvigorating America's public spaces through creative placemaking and creating opportunities for everyone to experience the performing arts" - to that end the Foundation funds a series of free performances throughout the year and across the country, including at three local venues, in Los Angeles, Pasadena, and here at Scripps in Claremont. The Railsplitters, hailing from Colorado, created more than just a little stir to the air - their eclectic bluegrass harmonies energized that little patch of turf with some foot-tapping, head-nodding, cartwheeling fun.

The four mile round trip was unbelievably easy to make by bike in the cool evening air. With the summer season well upon us, opportunities to leave the motor in the garage in favor of walking or riding, are multiplying quickly. Friday Nights Live, the First Saturday Art Walk, the Summer Concert Series at Memorial Park, the weekly farmers' market, 4th of July festivities, and other untold events in the Village, or at the Colleges are all within easy reach from virtually any point in town, and even from some of the neighboring burgs. Who, these days, really wants to drive (uuggh) when they don't need to? So go ahead, commit to arriving to at least one of the local summertime events, by bike this year; I think you will discover how pleasant the journey can be, and you will be setting one heck of a good example.


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Ibis Nights: Honey

It was a honey of a ride. No. It wasn't. In fact there hasn't been a honey of a ride in a while. Decent is the most promising description I can manage, so clearly, my name for this bird did not take its inspiration from my riding as of late. Instead she is named for the rich golden honey color of her plumage. In not a single one of the five photos of her I took did she look my way. I don't believe that is due to any shyness, however, but rather due to a dedicated focus on plucking at whatever little morsels were hidden in the straw around her feet.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

From the Library: The Badger

"Keep your bike straight... Keep your fucking bike straight." Quite a story to tell the grandchildren, yeah, there I was riding along, my first sportive, when someone behind me starts yelling. I turn around and there is Stephen Roche, but he wasn't the one doing the cursing, he points to the rider next to him as if to say, not me, it was him. So I flick my eyes over one rider and, holy crap, it's Bernard Hinault. I said, "I'm not used to riding in a peloton," to which HInault replied, "You'd better get used to it or this could be your last time." The moral of that story: If someone is going to tell you that you suck on a bike, better it be Bernard Hinault than some ordinary schmuck. 

In writing "The Badger" Fotheringham clearly undertook much research, and conducted extensive interviews in order to bring a readable account of the life and racing career of le blaireau. The book's pages are stocked with accounts like the one above, though most of them come from Hinault's compatriot racers, those who both competed with him, and against him. You may not find the detail that you do in Richard Moore's Slaying the Badger which, after all is more specific in its focus, while The Badger is more broad. You will flip the final page with a clear picture of why Hinault became the peloton's final true patron, and why he was, and remains so many years after his retirement, a dominant force in the sport.

Fotheringham, William   The Badger: The Life of Bernard Hinault and the Legacy of French Cycling   Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2015

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Cycling Claremont: Of Chalk and Chaparral Graduates

One of my favorite of local traditions is the annual chalk art / messages drawn onto the sidewalk for Chaparral Elementary School's graduating sixth graders. As graduation day approaches, family and friends draw these, sometimes, artistic and elaborate messages along the route taken by the graduates between school and the Colleges, where an annual swim party takes place. It is great fun for everyone, and I have always stopped during my riding to look at some of the more elaborate ones. This year my survey is tinged with a bit of melancholy, what with the son graduating from the high school. Six years ago, the Mrs. and I left our own message on this sidewalk, it just does not seem that long ago. Time does fly.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Monday Blues: Ciocc

Always good to take note of a steed with a venerable name such as Ciocc hitched on up to a post, while on a stroll through the Village. I must say, though, that when a saddle is slammed all the way down like that, it usually means the bike is a bit too big. But - Ciocc; nice ride.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Better Late than Never?

You know, I had initially hoped to do this story a long time ago, I mean the consummation of months of community meetings, design and inevitable revisions, happened in October of last year. I could never find a good link to provide, though, which gave an adequate description of all that transpired, and will come about over the next many years, that will transform Claremont's section of Foothill Boulevard into a complete street. Anyway, the story was put on the back-burner, and eventually forgotten about. Fortunately the good people at Streetsblog LA somehow got wind of it and wrote their own story, which was then picked up by Ted at Biking in LA and, closer to home, by Doug at Cycling Around La Verne (both of whom are good folks in their own right). Beyond these there were original stories in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and multiple ones in the Claremont Courier (in fact if I looked back through posts at Bicycle Revolution I would probably find something there as well). After all that, and still not being able to find photos of very many of the design illustration boards (of which there had to have been a plethora), and knowing that I can't fool anyone this far after the fact, I am billing this as one of those "better late than never" posts. 

Well at least I can look forward to being more punctual with follow-up of the actual construction process. Good things are on the way...

Foothill Boulevard looking west, just west of Mills Ave.
Harvey Mudd College to the left, Bernard Field Station on the right.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

How to Wear a Cycling Cap: In a Crowd

The year was 1975, Eddy Merckx was riding for a sixth Tour de France crown, but it was a victory that would never come. Merckx was leading, and few would have bet against him, but on the way up the Puy de Dôme a punch to the gut from a spectator at the side of the road during the 14th stage, hastened the failure of his quest. That, and a stage seventeen crash in which Merckx broke his jaw, opened the door for Bernard Thevenet, who claimed the Yellow Jersey following stage 15, and held it to the end.

Judging by the photo above, that Tour, or maybe just the mid-1970s in general, were a great time for the venerable cycling cap.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Five Riders

Five bicycle riders were killed in Michigan yesterday by the driver of a motor vehicle who, from all initial reports, appears to have been driving while impaired. "They shouldn't have been on the road, they don't belong there." You may know someone who said that, or something like it, in response. You may know someone who has said that, or something like it, at some other time, in regard to some other incident. Undoubtedly you have read comments expressing that very belief - many times.

Five bicycle riders were killed in Michigan yesterday. Statistics tell us, that ninety-two occupants of motor vehicles, whether drivers or passengers, were killed on the roadways of the United States, while 3,287 motor vehicle users were killed around the globe, all on that very same day. I must have missed hearing people say, or even reading someone's comments, stating "they shouldn't have been there, they don't belong."

Five bicycle riders were killed in Michigan yesterday. Five, versus three thousand two-hundred eighty-seven. Tell me again exactly where you believe the problem lies.

Five bicycle riders were killed in Michigan yesterday (and it took me longer to type that sentence each time). I think the heart of every cyclist sunk just a bit lower, skipped a beat, eyes dropped to the ground upon hearing that news. Our community mourns with the survivors, families and friends of the victims of, yet another, senseless and needless moment of road violence.

Debra Ann Bradley
Melissa Ann Fevig-Hughes
Fred Anton
Lorenz John Paulik
Suzanne Joan Sippel

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


I don't remember now what I was searching for, at work one day, when this image came up, but I saved it right away for some future use. Shown, is a lone rider crossing the main canal of the Farmer's and Merchant's Irrigation Company, near Lexington, Nebraska. I don't know anything about the rider, and certainly can not identify the bike, but I can tell you that the FMIC was organized and incorporated in July of the year of 1894. It was a very small and local company then, but its system of canals and ditches grew to become one of the largest in the country at the time. The system included eighty-three miles of canals, irrigating some sixty thousand acres of productive farm land.

I suppose riding narrow bridges was a trainable talent in the 1890s just as it is today.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Hey, That's Right

That's right, today is June 6, which means tomorrow is June 7, the day that the So Cal High School Cycling League will be making its stop, on the Summer Outreach Tour, at Jax Bicycle Center in Claremont. If you are a student, the parent of a student, an administrator, teacher, or someone else with an interest in finding out how to get a mountain bike team started at your local High School or Middle School, this is your chance to find out how to get it done. Tuesdays meet is the only scheduled stop of the Tour in the east Los Angeles County / west San Bernardino County / north Orange County area. No reservations are required, just show up. The League is bigger than ever, and still growing - so now is the time to get your school in on all the action.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Fifth Plain Wrap Ride

Saturday morning, bright and early for some, less so for others, the 5th Plain Wrap Ride rolled out from annual sponsor and host, Coates Cyclery. (The Plain Wrap Ride, if you did not know, raises funds for various regional cycling organizations and their projects benefiting the cycling community.) The skies were clear, sunny, and before long, turned very nearly scorching. I talked to a number of riders who left before the scheduled 8:00 or 9:00 start (depending on which distance was being ridden), some as early as 6:30, just so they could avoid the heat. Practically speaking, for just about every one else, that avoidance was an impossible dream. I don't know if anyone else noticed, but all those bike suspended on the racks by their saddles, reminded me of a Salvador Dali painting complete with melting tires, dripping to the pavement below. The riders who rode in on those steeds, meanwhile, sought out what shade could be found whether it was a narrow band of shadow cast by the shop building, in line for a cold beer provided by the Last Name Brewery (formerly Dale Bros), or gathered under the big tent where misters sprayed constant relief upon the heads and shoulders of weary riders.

I must say, though, that except for a brief moment when a beer supply problem caused some fear to run a shudder of panic through the throng, there was nary a frown, nor disparaging word among the gathered. Even the one casualty of the day, whose Pappas Artisanal employees were busy cooking up dishes beside their blistering grill, could joke his way past a skinned-up leg and the chill of a massive ice pack draped over his shoulder. The ever cool sounds of the Claremont Blues Society no doubt cut through a lot of the discomfort, as did the beer and other cool drinks, but when all has been said and done, the main reason for all the good times in evidence, was simply due to the good people we found ourselves surrounded by.

I don't normally do slideshows, just because they are extra work, but I decided, for the Plain Wrap Ride, to group some of the photos into one. If you forgot that the day was a warm one, you can turn on your volume and let Frank Sinatra sing to you about the Summer Wind. You will also find the same photos (and more) in the usual Flickr album.
medium from Michael Wagner on Vimeo.


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