Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Fortune 700 Experiment

GLK took over the organizing duties for the 2016 Fortune 700, and in doing so, sought to emphasize the team nature of our sport. I called it an experiment in the title of this post because that is basically what it was, a "beta test" of some features intended to make the racers think as a team, rather than individually. Kept intact from past years' running of the event was the basic format - an opening three-person team time trail on the three-mile circuit outside the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, followed by a fifteen minute break, and then a six lap circuit race which, at the outset, was to include the ascent of Salvia Canyon each lap. Apparently, however, and due to some strategic complaints, the climb portion of the race, and its complimentary descent was cut back to a single ascent. I am not sure what the complaint was, but it easily could have been the climb, or the descent (this is a brakeless, fixed-gear race remember), though it just as easily could have been the weather. It is hardly surprising considering the time of year, but right on cue, upon reaching the August doorstep, the humidity has spiked. Standing around in the shade was no safe haven, sweat from my brow, a soaked shirt, and why the heck did I wear bibs under shorts anyway (I should have known I was not going to get a ride in) so you can imagine what the conditions were like on the bike.

LD Labs - sticking together

before the fun

triple T


Anyway, LD Labs, Engine 11, Leader/Undefeated were the largest of the teams who showed up to challenge the home GLK riders. On to the TTT: The strongest teams did not seem to have much trouble keeping together, at least long enough to get their second rider across the line at the end of three laps, as it was that riders' time that stopped the clock. Nothing really unusual in any of that, pretty typical ttt stuff. It was the circuit race where the twist most affected the goings-on. Each person on a team was given a different colored wrist band - green, red, yellow. The rider wearing green was supposed to lay it all out for the intermediate sprint on lap #2, red wrist band took over on lap #4 for the climb of Salvia, and yellow saved it all for the grand finale to finish lap #6. After each rider, in turn - green, then red - finished their sprint, they could drop out, or choose to remain in the race to help their remaining teammate(s). As you can see, it was in some ways a cool concept, favoring the teams that worked best as a group. In practice, the format proved to be a bit convoluted, and as GLK said, it probably won't be back next time. I have to give them kudos, though, for attempting to shake things up. I also consider it worth mentioning that they decided to keep the association with the late Chris Cono, by continuing to hold the event in his memory.

Alright, that is it. A selection of one hundred thirty-one photos has been made made for the Flickr album - you can check them by clicking.



fifteen minute break


one lap into the circuit race

red sprint - up Salvia Canyon


Neu York - yellow sprint

women's podium - yes, the women had their own race and, though there were only five competitors, there was no slacking off

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Slow Sunday Scenes: Obi-Wan, Our Only Hope

There was no lack of bicycle travelers in the Village Sunday morning, indeed there may have been more than normal. Normal; that is an important word in bicycle advocacy. Just as the great masses of recreational cyclists have helped to make it normal to expect to see bicyclists out on the roads, so too do cyclists dressed in everything from cutoffs to baggie shorts, teeshirts, blouses, and pantaloons help to normalize two-wheeled, human-powered transportation for everything from few-minute errands to longer work commutes.

On any given Sunday, if I am not mistaken refers to football. But since that activity is a third of a year in duration, it might just be better applied to cycling. On any given Sunday riders of all types, varying experience and ability, riding a menagerie of mechanical machines converge on the Claremont Village. They come in for breakfast, to shop, for the farmers' market, to socialize, just to enjoy being outside. How can something that is so normal on one hand, seem so revolutionary on the other?

closing the gap

arriving 1

arriving 2

arriving 3

moon over rhino

seen on the community bulletin board, self-explanatory

arriving 4

arriving with musical instruments

arriving by schwinn

leaving with flowers

the well-dressed cyclist

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Up the Road: Pomona Bike-In Movie Night

Co-sponsored by the Pomona Valley Bicycle Coalition and the Pomona Valley Film Society, ET, The Extra-Terrestrial includes the great escape, a perpetual listee on any survey of "best of" bike scenes. It will be a hyuuuge evening, a clear winner of a way to spend a couple hours, beginning at sundown. Check the event page for more info.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Monday Blues: The Rise in Bike Theft

Bikes are popular. I know that because the rate of bicycle theft around here rose by up to 80% (depending on location) between 2013 and 2015, the most recently complete statistical year. During that year, theft of bikes from the College campuses increased 81%, from 81 stolen bikes in 2013 to 147 in 2015. Within the City of Claremont bicycle theft increased 69%, with 59 bike stolen in 2015, up from 35 in 2013. An additional stat highlights how college and university campuses have become magnets for bike thieves - of the 59 bikes stolen within the City (excluding the Colleges) during 2015, 43 of those thefts happened within three blocks of the Colleges.

Those statistics and rate increases point to an unfortunate fact - bikes, even when locked up, can be easy targets. Officers of both the city police department and of campus security department stop suspicious individuals riding bikes, as well as vehicles (particularly pick-ups) carrying multiple bikes but, without any way to check for a rightful owner, there is often nothing that can be done. Because of this the police highly recommend registering your bike with the National Bike Registry.

The use of "bait bikes" is another tool the police have used to combat the rise in theft: "We have been using bait bikes and have had some success with these bicycles being stolen and being able to locate the suspect and make arrests. Unfortunately, the word is out that the College campuses are a target-rich environment for bicycle thefts and it will take some time to counter this belief among the thieves that frequent both the campuses and our nearby City streets."

I share this information not to scare anyone, but rather to emphasize the need to be aware, and to take precautions when we park our bikes. Many are the times I have ridden up to a cafe, left it outside (with plenty of people around watching me do so) and gone in to order drink or grub, trusting to the honesty of those people and my helmet lock - the effectiveness of both being questionable. The few seconds of inattention, as I place my order, is all it would take. Similarly, I don't know how many times I have ridden through the Village, or the Colleges, and spotted improperly secured bikes, others with wheels missing, or wheels only, remaining.

What can you do to combat bike theft?

1) Buy a good lock and use it. 2) Whenever possible, bring your bike inside. 3) When locking outside, I tend to favor locations that are active with a lot of passing foot traffic, rather than secluded areas. I don't recall every reading a study about the relative effectiveness of different locations, but a publicly visible one seems more secure than a secluded one. 4) Be aware. 5) If you see something suspicious, report it. 6) Register your bike through the police department, or National Bike Registry.

Thanks to Walt for providing a copy of the Police Commission Report from April of 2016

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Making an Impact

You know, I don't get out to the road races like I used to, but if I did, I would be seeing riders from a team in orange and white stepping up to the podium on a regular basis. They are very good at what they do. Impact Racing p/b 1 on 1 Financial believes in more than just having a good ride, however. They believe in helping others to have a good ride as well. To that end the team regularly donates to various causes. For instance, and during the first half of this year alone, the team contributed funds to the Bear Valley Trails Foundation to help maintain the Skyline Trail up at Big Bear, and another significant donation to the Marshall Canyon Service Project. On this Sunday many of the team rode into the Village to present Rio Olympian Samantha Bosco (member of the Paralympic cycling team) with a big $500.00 check to help defray the cost of transportation to the Summer Games. 

Though I had planned to be present at some point during the day-long fundraiser, I was especially pleased that my timing coincided with the arrival of the Impact guys and gals. The moment was a classic example of the meaning of community, coming together to help a fellow member meet a goal.

All day long, everyone who bought a bagel, a sandwich, a cup of coffee at 42nd Street Bagel Cafe in Claremont, and whether they were aware of it or not, were making an impact with 20% of their purchase. That is significant and deserving of recognition. Now, I couldn't take photos of all those people but I am going to guess that they are just as proud as the team in orange and white, to extend a helping hand in true meaning of community.

Impact Team riders with Samantha and Andrew Bosco

Saturday, July 23, 2016

White Flakes and Red Dots

White flakes drifted out of the sky. They speckled the tabletop, upon which they'd fallen during the night. I had to brush them from the chair before I could sit down with my morning cup of coffee. The fragile white spots were incongruous with the color of the sky. These were not the flakes of winter's snow; winter was another place, another time. These flakes were born of something altogether different, carried in from an inferno sixty miles distant.

Red dots speckled the air quality map, a localized cluster of them grouped right around home - Pomona, Chino, Ontario. If Claremont had been shown on the map it would have been colored the same ominous shade. Unhealthful for everyone. One nagging voice told me to heed the warning - read, catch up on some bike maintenance, turn up the music and chill. If I hadn't recognized its disguise, I might have confused it with the voice of reason. Few would find fault with the take it easy plan on a day such as this. But then came the counter argument - you already missed riding yesterday, and do you really want to miss two days consecutive?

I didn't think so. 

Many of my local trail riding mates are up north - a week-long Ride-a-palooza as they call it - Oregon and then Mammoth. I promised myself I would not miss out this year, and, well... here I am, breathing in who-knows-what, while riding a shortened route around Bonelli on a Saturday mid-morning. 

Speaking of Bonelli, Pokemon hunters have invaded the place though they, fortunately, don't seem to be particularly adventurous, keeping to the paved areas around the lake. Their numbers also seem to be greatly decreased, whether because of location or because they've have begun to realize the futility of searching for imaginary monsters, I don't know. Flash fads, I gave this one a week, but suppose it will last longer. I wonder if those who were focused on their phones noticed the real life creatures all around?

a lot of buzzards turning circles up in the sky this morning

grim sky, grim face

which ever way you breathe, the air is one quarter smoke

the mountains might have been a good place to ride this morning,
a close-by escape from the worst of the heat, but a smoke haze was dissolving them

Red Flag: CHWP is Closed

Due to a regional red flag warning, the Claremont Hill Wilderness Park, which was closed Friday, will remain closed through Saturday. Scheduled reopening is Sunday 24 July.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Ibis Nights: Tree 2012

"Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky." - Kahlil Gibran

Normally a Tuesday ride (because there don't seem to be any other regular local rides happening that night) Ibis Nights fell on a Wednesday this week. Not that Ibis Nights are not flexible, and often vary between the three most mid-week evenings. Anyway... tree 2012 - though its massive branches (veritable trees in their own right) begin to diverge from the trunk way down low to the ground, and kind of create the impression that the tree may not be all that big, those splayed branches give this tree a big and far-flung canopy. Slightly off the Cross Town Loop's beaten path Tree 2012 can only be approached by crossing an extensive sink of leaf litter. I had no ruler to pull out of my jersey pocket, but I an confident that sink exceeded six inches, and probably more than eight in places. Much as sand makes it exceedingly difficult to pedal, so too do leaf sinks; without any momentum, and with little leafy twigs sprouting from between my spokes, I was quickly brought to a standstill while trying to make my way to that patch of day's last light.

The weekend is here and, hot as it is going to be, get out and enjoy what life has to share.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Peppy with the PVBC

Where were you? Emphasis on where, were, and you. Some people showed up, but it was Tuesday, and there should have been more. Were you watching the RNC? Please, that is just a gigantic pep rally, and you are not going to learn anything there (and fair being fair, you won't learn anything by watching the DNC either. Pep rally too).

If you had joined the PVBC tonight you would have stood a much better chance of ending the day better informed and, thus, better off. The meeting of the Pomona Valley Bicycle Coalition was preceded by an easy (emphasis on easy) ride around Bonelli, just enough to, maybe, let you enjoy a guilt-free, brewed beverage at the La Verne Brewing Company where the evening meeting took place. You would have been better informed because Doug, of Cycling Around La Verne, gave a quality talk about, well, about the state of cycling in La Verne. You would have found out about the upcoming Bike-in-Movie being sponsored by the PVBC, and about Safe Routes to School funding from a genuine Caltrans employee. You could have learned even more by spending a few minutes to talk to the local bike shop owner, the verifiable original PVBC member, the Pomona educator looking for knowledgable bicyclists to help at their own movie night, and the CSBG rider who is also active on Claremont's Transportation Commission. 

And then there were the rest of us who were simply there for a ride and a beer. Which is alright; we seat-fillers have a role to play too.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Monday Blues: Ride the Blues Away

Alright, so it does not happen on Monday, but still, its not too late to turn the week around, set it on a good course. How? By joining the Pomona Valley Bicycle Coalition with a casual road ride around Bonelli Park, followed by a gathering and meeting at the La Verne Brewing Company. Guest speaker for the meeting will be Doug Strange, of Cycling Around La Verne. I could be wrong, but I bet all that beats sitting around staring at the tv. No. I take that back, I couldn't be wrong. See you there, at some point.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Mobbin's 2016 Pomona Crit

It was a nice day for a race, good thing the guys who bring us Mobbin' Monday, were holding their annual Pomona Crit. Yeah, it was a good day for a race - it was hot, it was humid, it was probably smoggy although, come to think about it, I could see the water tank across the street at the Metrolink station, and even all the way to the mountains several miles away. So maybe scratch that last part about it being smoggy.

Also as usual, there was a lot of really bad music. I didn't hear a single Black Sabbath chord, no psychedelic lyric from the Airplane, no screech from Aerosmith, not even a wail from the Dropkick Murphy's. My old-timer's brain didn't know what it was hearing, but didn't really mind. The younger people were out and doing their thing. That thing, for a couple hours at least, and as you might have been led to believe these past few days, did not involve any Pokemon hunting, although I believe I heard that a wayward Squirtle was to blame for the race's one and only crash.

Lets go back to music for a minute - some time ago, and taking place gradually, I began to realize that I tend to like the earlier productions of the groups I like. For instance U2's Boy album, Alice Cooper's Lace and Whiskey, the earliest of Sabbath's albums, they all tend to have a more raw, unrefined, less-than-finished sound - try Cooper's Fields of Regret from the Pretties for You album, and you'll hear what I mean. What does that have to do the race on this day? These fixed-gear road races are kind of the same. They have a different energy, a different vibe, they are more raw, if you will, as opposed to many of the USAC races, which are much more refined, controlled. There is a laissez-faire attitude, a laid-back, come what will atmosphere. That is until the race starts and competition takes over. For instance look through the photos in the Flickr album, particularly look at the lap cards - they are awesome. Handmade, raw, and big, you can't tell me that they are not easier to spot and see than the dinky little, refined, ones at the local USAC crit. And, they are held up by who ever happens to be close by, which gets the spectators involved. Not that I have ever noticed spectator involvement to be a problem at these races - they don't run without help from the gathered, whether it be extra eyes at the finish, or having someone at the intersections for traffic control. People step up and do what needs to be done.

An early break during the feature race of the afternoon meant the destruction started almost right away. Some of the racers' legs just were not up to the game. Never-the-less there is much more equalization these days, and the main bunch remained quite large. The break appeared strong and I was not sure they could be brought back, but slowly, gradually, lap by lap the gap was closed. Contact, of course, set off a counter attack, or maybe a flurry of small moves, until the Leader guys (whose team hap pretty much been the instigators during the early laps, rode clear yet again. I don't mean to ignore the efforts of the other teams, many of whom put in much effort during the chase scenes, but Leader was clearly the strongest, and best prepared this day. I can tell you, I am looking forward to see which teams, or individual riders, step up to challenge at the big Temple Crit in August. 

Alright, so what you have been waiting for is the link to the rest of the photos. There are a selection of one hundred and one shots in the Flickr album. Mostly, I consider them to be the better ones, however I took almost four hundred, so if you don't see who or what you were looking for in the album let me know and I can check the rest.

Lastly, let me acknowledge Luis and the Mobbin' bunch for hosting - it is always a good time. See you all at Temple, if not sooner. Oh, also a shout out to Demi, ever the mechanic, who got the Ibis's front brake back together, after the cable slipped out during the ride over.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Friday Query: Defacto the Matter

Someone please show me the law of survival, or at least the rule of social imperative that says in order to get through this life one must have a drivers' license. True, when I grew up it was a given, a de facto right of passage, but these days things are different, young people are less compelled to feel they must meet that requirement. 

De fact o' the matter is I am beyond frustrated with various people (ie. [cough] family [cough]) who keep applying pressure, or announcing their displeasure with the son's lack of interest, questioning his decision, in conforming to this outdated standard. You may be familiar with all the inferences: "So, are you driving yet?", or "so, has He got his license yet?" All those typical, and seemingly innocent, questions that started two years ago at that magical, mystical age - Sixteen. I mean should we not be encouraging people to embrace alternative modes of transport in order to avoid compounding the problems that the single mode (motor vehicles) have inflicted on our world.

He is no dummy and, in fact, when you consider the reasons for the decision, I would say he is the exact opposite of a dummy. There is the extra, and extensive annual expense. There is the hazard, after all he has had a young lifetime of witnessing poor driving on the part of others he would be sharing the road with, the after-effects of collisions, and is aware of reports on the rising level of aggression and hostility on the public roadways. The natural, and widespread, reaction should be "why would any sane person want to be a part of that?" In other words he has considered the pros and cons, and come to the conclusion that one side is wanting.

For the most part I have been the one regular supporter of his decision, and have grown weary of the number of times I have had to tell people that it is possible to prosper without the motor vehicle crutch. I list the numerous people I know who prove the point by living motor-free themselves, I tell them that rail and other public transportation will continue to expand their networks, and that ride services greatly decrease the necessity for motor-ownership. That said, I have convinced him that knowing how to drive, whether you do it on a regular basis or not, will be a beneficial skill for some time yet to come - most notably, for someone of his age group, it does provide the opportunity to share the burden - and it has become one of his summer goals before heading off to college. So, yes people, he may succumb to the idea that driving is a necessity. My hope is that he retains the knowledge, and will, recognizing that it is not the only way.

I know the auto industry and all its related industries will bitch and moan, but quite frankly we need to move past coercion, making young people feel like they are lazy, or somehow less than successful if they choose not to drive. Thoughts or experiences with similar situations?


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