Friday, September 30, 2016

Postcards from the Rock & Sand Club Loop

In honor of this opening weekend of the SoCal Prestige Series of cyclocross racing (Krosstoberfest, at Whittier Narrows) I decided to take the Ibis out around the Rock & Sand Club Loop. I keep reading forecasts calling for dropping temperatures, but it seemed pretty damn warm out there to me; the relentless sun, the dearth of shade, the choking dust, the jarring rocks conspired to sap my strength and limit me to a three lap ride. Man it was a great start to the weekend.

Not much you have to watch out for in that wide open basin - low-flying helicopters, coyote poop, hidden dust puddles and pallets in the middle of the road...

oh, and maybe trailside cholla.

Lakeside shade - watch for that too. A nice place for a rest.

A lot of tracks on the Loop, just not sure if they were made by recreating riders or homeless living in the more secluded areas.

This seep seems to be permanent. From a broken pipe, or a shift in the earths crust bringing water from an aquifer to the surface?

In case you forget - it is the weekend after all.

What ever riding you do this weekend, where ever you do it, make it good.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Where Did They Go?

Sometimes things are clear, like a straight line across a plain, while others are not so well defined, like why throwing an S-curve into the pattern might be better. This morning, or was it yesterday, I opened up the blog to notice that the lists of other blogs that I like, that I had [painstakingly] assembled, had mysteriously disappeared. Why Blogger, or Google, or Anonymous, or whoever, chose to delete them I have not a clue. Mostly, those lists were for visitors to the CLR Effect, like yourself, a sharing of information. There was also some cooperative spirit involved, you know, "you share my blog, I will share yours" kind of thing. I have those other sites on my reading list, or bookmarked, so I can always check in those other ways. If you were one of the few who used those links to find other sites I apologize (although I had nothing to do with their disappearance). Who knows, maybe some day they will return just as suddenly and mysteriously as they went missing - another strange S-curve without explanation or comprehension. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The New Tuesday Evening Ride

I have been looking for a nice mellow, evening, mountain bike ride. I used to satisfy those three requirements by riding the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park, but it closes at sunset which kind of limits it to Spring and Summer. A few weeks ago, maybe as much as a month, I noticed a new ride leaving from the La Verne Brewing Company on Tuesday evenings for a short, easy ride through Bonelli Park. "Sounds like what I am looking for," I thought. 

Sure enough, it was. The Tuesday night road ride meets at the same place, same time which forced the roadies and the mtbers to mingle for at least a little while before rolling their separate ways. Fortunately the old rivalry between the two groups is mostly a thing of the past, and I didn't notice any punches being thrown this night. Anyway, five of us chose the dirt route which, tonight, included the Puddingstone single track, Sailboat Cove, Fatt Hill, and the Jungle; nothing more technical than a few curb hops and a log drop, some climbs and descents, and a goodly amount of flow. There is no official ride leader, nor a set route - the ride simply rolls out with one rider out front and everyone else following, route determined along the way. It was a perfect way to end a Tuesday.

a little pre-ride mingling of the tribes

heading out, not much sun left

evening glow

 faster across the dam

watching the sunset, okay, but then...

I remembered that a flash will really bring out the color

some kindly passers-by allowed me to get in the shot

tunnel of darkness through the Jungle


Sunday, September 25, 2016


I was pretty confident that we were far enough into the year by now for that cursed Raging Waters to be closed. But no, the never-ending supply of drivers, all (yes, all) of whom exceed the fifteen mile per hour speed limit, and most of whom exceed it, seemingly, by a factor of three were out bulling their way across the dam to the detriment of a peaceful morning ride. 

Well, thankfully our knobby tires provided the means to escape all that. Funny thing is (not) some of those areas of escape may not be as quiet as you might think. During a brief respite atop Fatt Hill I looked down to spot a pickup hauling a trailer of jet skis along the closed-to-motor-vehicle pedestrian and bike route along the south shore. "You've got to be kidding." There is just no escape from drivers who can't, or are unwilling, to follow simple rules. The irony is that none of those speeding drivers are there to use the park, but are simply passing through it to get somewhere else. Sounds a lot like an old complaint about Griffith Park being used as a freeway alternate to the detriment of the experience of legitimate park users. Grump out.

from atop Fatt Hill even the jet skies are distantly quiet

serenity now - ducks floating lazily on the water, and moored tomol (if in fact it is a tomol)

Friday, September 23, 2016

Clack Clicking to Waters Edge

Water flowing, rushing swirling, eddying. Water falling, sheeting, cascading. Water gurgling, bubbling. Water placid. Water bringing life. Water like a mirror. Water quenching thirst. Water transforming. Water soaking into a summer dry bed of bleached sand, cracking thirsty rocks. Water softening hard edges. Water soaked up by parched roots, on the verge of brittleness, through sapwood or stem for new growth. Water for frogs croaking in shallows. Water for deer drinking on banks. Water for ducks swimming along reeds and grasses. Water to reflect the sun, the sky, the clouds. Water a fragile plane between two worlds. Inviting; a cyclist waddles clack, clicking in steel cleats and rigid soles down a steep bank to waters edge to dip fingers, break surface, merge. 

Like perennial courses in any arid region, our San Gabriel River is a completely
different entity when it carries water.

CHWP is Closed

It is a Red Flag weekend and the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park is closed Friday through Sunday, reopening Monday morning. Adjust you biking and hiking plans.

Update: Looks as though the closure will be extended - the park will not reopen until Tuesday.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Cross Town Loop: Walking the Dog

Some pretty big writing projects have been cutting into the blogging time, but posting photos doesn't exactly consume the spare minutes:

The clouds have been blowing up from old Mexico the past couple days. Some have been pretty dark, but have yet to drop any rain, at least on this side of the mountains. They do shred themselves on the higher peaks though.

Walking the dog along a quiet street.

Up the Road: Cyclocross Season in Southern California

Some might say there is not much to see, or read, with this post. I guess that is a matter of perspective. The preliminary calendar is out for the fast approaching SoCal Prestige Series of cyclocross, and I see a goodly number of interesting venues to get excited about. A lot of fun times when you read between the lines.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Monday Blues: Watchin' the Sun Bake

Saw this one at UC Riverside yesterday and knew it was perfect for chasing away the Monday Blues. The name itself suggests it might be a rolling party, and I think this is about as brand spanking new as a bike can get - nothing out of place, and not a speck of dirt on it. 

Kent International markets their Margaritaville in both mens and womens models. Normally I would not think that a bike with a price tag under $200.00 would be very fun to ride. Thing about the Margaritaville is that fun is a requirement , it is written into the purchase contract. If an owner is discovered not having fun, the bike is confiscated and given to someone else. The parrot bell fits right in with the theme and, in case you were wondering, seems to come standard. 

I just wonder if Jimmy Buffet gets any royalties.

"... Wasted away again in Margaritaville,
Searchin' for my lost shaker of salt.
Some people claim that there's a woman to blame,
But I know it's nobody's fault ..."

Sunday, September 18, 2016

UCR: Its a BreezeR

Student move-in day at UC Riverside came with special arrival directions taking us through the Corporate Yard this morning. As we drove through I chanced a look to the right and noticed boxes and boxes marked Breezer. Someone is going to be getting around campus on two wheels and someone is going to be up late putting them all together. Good to see the commitment to bicycle transportation at the campus.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Pro's Closet / NAHBS Trade-Up

Did you read about the new collaboration between the Pro's Closet and the handmade builders who show their wares during the annual NAHBS convention? If so your ears may have been attuned to the sound of those thousands of jaws hitting the floor (mentioned by Padraig at RKP), one of which was my own. It was pretty loud, and still hurts like heck. Fortunately the thought of a new bike, partially paid by getting rid of an old bike (or two, if possible) is quite an effective salve.

Friday, September 16, 2016

True Stories of the Bicycle Repairman

The other day the son and the mrs had some errands to do. I had the vehicle that the mrs usually drives because the one I usually drive was in the shop. Again. Another part, another leak. But that is another story. Anyway, the two had convinced a kindly neighbor to give them a ride so that they could accomplish some errands. The drive, for all that it was not a ride, had gone well enough until, nearing home, they spotted a kid standing with his bike on the ground beside him, frantically waving his arms, attempting to attract someone's attention. "Stop, stop" they say to the kindly neighbor-driver. The three pile out to uncover the source of the kids' apparent distress. The kids' bicycle chain had come off and wedged itself against the frame; not as serious as all the frantic arm waving might have led someone to believe, but still, enough to make the bike unrideable. 

Being now close enough to home to walk, the son and mrs thank their driver whose kindly neighbor duties now completed, continue on her way home. The son and the mrs, the kid and his newly arrived friend, through all their tugging and pulling, are unable to dislodge the chain. At this point the son emphatically states that he knows what needs to be done, telling the others he will be back in a minute. With that, and thinking all the while of Monty Python, Bicycle Repairman springs into action. Up the street he jogs, around the bend in the road, around corner one, around corner two, to home. Taking a couple tools from the garage was the expected part of this story as it was related to me, but then Bicycle Repairman hefts the pretty big Park workstand up on his shoulder and returns to the scene of the bicycle break-down. A few minutes later the kid can continue on his journey home from school, bike repaired, thanks to Bicycle Repairman. I know there are many mobile bike repair operations around, but this is the first pedestrian-oriented one I am aware of.

Two more days and this particular Bicycle Repairman heads off to university - I don't know that I can claim any credit, but the son's willingness to help, compassion when he sees someone in need, and his ingenuity in solving a problem, suggests he has grown up alright. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

On the Road with Karen and Don

Know what they have a lot of up in the northeastern corner of California? They have a lot of those Share the Road signs, although they are in orange, rather than the yellow ones posted along the roadways down here. I can't be sure if that is a sign of friendliness, or if Caltrans, recognizing that the area is favorable to bike-packing / cyclotouring, or perhaps local governments, have stepped up positively. Anyway, this is not the first time our campground neighbors have been cyclists while we have stayed at the Lava Beds National Monument. I take that as a sign that this must be an especially good place for riding.

The mrs. is adept at locating nearby cyclists. It seems to be a knack that she has perfected. The day of our second evening at the Monument she had hiked up the hill to the visitors center where she discovered Don and Karen, who had ridden south from Oregon, inquiring about camping. Of course she nudged her way into the conversation, noting that there was an open spot next to our own. A few minutes later the pair were rolling up to site B27. That night, saying it was a nice change of pace, they added homemade tomato soup to whatever bike packing fare they had brought, and in the morning banana nut muffins straight from our quickly diminishing larder. The mrs. has always been a generous giver of food to hungry, traveling cyclists. That is a good thing, as it helps round out the nutritional requirements of freeze-dried food, and keeps me from gaining weight. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Monday Vintage: Finely Weathered

Lookee here, the folks at Bodie State Historic Park knew I was headed up that way and placed this old ruin out where I would see it with a little looking. Or maybe not. Anyway the finely weathered frame, or what remains of it, fits right in with all that finely weathered wood at the old ghost town.

I don't know what brand this bike may once have been, but nothing special would be my guess.  Maybe it came from a Sears catalog in the early to mid-1900s. The joining of the tubes, at the front especially looks pretty rudimentary. With broken fork and broken stays, and a deep rust patina, its most functional purpose now will be as an artifact.

Although it has been a number of years since my last visit I don't recall seeing this leaning against one of the old houses at Bodie anytime previously. Maybe it is a recent addition.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Garden Bike

Bike have, often, curious afterlives. As likely as not, they tend to get parted with the removed components going on to serve functional purposes on new bikes. Some may be repurposed as wall art, coat racks, hat racks, t.p. hangers, etc. Others are frequently "put out to pasture" in their intact form. These garden bikes often glow with a deep rust patina, but can also be brightly painted to match the spring to match the bouquet of spring flowers which spill from filled baskets, or reach skyward from around wheels, pedals, and chains. I suspect there is not a single town, large or small, across the country that does not have at least one garden bike gracing a front yard flower bed or cafe patio. This one is outside Trout Town Joe, in the small village of June Lake.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The White Dust Bikes

I saw the first one in Alturas, or maybe on the road leading into that small town in the far northeast of California. Little did I realize they would be the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Over each of the next five days I would see more of them. They would be in the even smaller town of Tule Lake, at the Lava Beds National Monument, and spread out along hundreds of mile of roadway south to June Lake, and beyond. The white bikes. My initial reaction was, "what the hell, someone is stealing Ghost Bikes en masse." Everything on those first ones was white - frame, tires, handlebars. But then I made a more studied appraisal. 

Those first ones were packed into a box trailer. Later there would be more such trailers, while others were stacked on the roofs of cars, of vans, or piled above cab-height in the backs of pickup trucks. Some were loaded onto bike racks, seemingly far beyond their recommended carrying capacity, though there were a few singles and pairs as well. Most were easily identified as of the beach cruiser variety, though there were also some mountain bikes, many bmx bikes, and the occasional road bike. Each of the vehicles used to transport the bikes was white as well, to varying degrees perhaps, and that is when I realized that the bikes were not white in, and of themselves, they were coated in white dust. What bike event took place up here that I missed out on, I thought. Then I remembered photos I have seen, and I knew it had to be Burning Man. Being focused on the bikes, I had not noticed the people steering back towards home, after their time in the Nevada desert, and I could not confirm the dates, but I was sure, it had to be Burning Man.

Four days later, pulling up to the market at June Lake, we were followed in by one of those tell-tale vans with trailer filled with bikes and other accoutrements. If I were to give a brief categorical description of the young couple to would be Millennial Hippies - he with the tattoos and piercings, she with the sexy, shear flowing clothes and long dreadlock hair. Up to this point the Burning Man connection had always been a best guess; being able to associate riders and bikes was the final piece of evidence.

The last of the white dust bikes I saw were packed into a trailer, being driven southward, somewhere along the 395 south of Lone Pine. Some color was returning to them after all those highway miles but the tell-tale white dust was still clearly evident. I wondered if the dust would be washed off at the end of their journey.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

From the Library: The Coyote's Bicycle

When I, like most people, visit a bookstore there are specific topical sections I am drawn to, and others I completely ignore. Social sciences, history, current events - yes. Romance, religion - no. Sports - yes. Magazines - yes, though only the cycling section. Fiction, literature - yes, though only (normally) to look for Roddy Doyle's Oh, Play that Thing, the second book in a trilogy that I can't finish because I can't find the middle book, and though the third book has been sitting on the shelf, unopened, for a couple years at least. Beyond those, the strategy is simple - look for books with bikes on their covers. The sports section usually has something, though most of what is there is old news, already read, or uninteresting training manuals. Finding cycling books in those other sections is pretty rare, so I was pleasantly surprised when I recently found multiple copies of a new release - The Coyotes Bicycle - in the social sciences area.

The Coyote's Bicycle follows a story woven by the author as he traces the life-cycles of thousands of bikes used to bring migrants north from Tijuana across the border into the United States. 

It begins with discovery: "...Anything professional in our demeanors ... evaporated with each step we made into the heap. Bikes for every stage of our lives lay mashed together." In the wrong hands the information could have been presented dryly and mostly un-relatable, but Taylor shares his research in story form providing a sense of connection between the reader and the dramatists portrayed in his words. Which is as it should be. Immigration, after all, is a human construct, filled with hopes, dreams, desperation, legalism, barriers, contrasts between poverty and wealth.

"Can you imagine, I asked McCue, a migrant bombing down into the American dream, from one of these hills, on a bike called the Free Spirit?" 

It would be impossible, if not downright deceptive, to erase humanity from that story. Underlying all, though, is the story of how the humble bicycle became the means by which thousands would attempt to change their lives, and of how the idea developed in the mind of one young Oaxacan, how his bicycle empire evolved from suspected, though never actually confirmed, stolen property, through the hands of mechanics, furiously pedaled by migrants, ditched, collected by local ranchers and federal agents, passed between prisons and military training facilities.

"So why? I asked. Why are the bicycles successful?" "The sensors, Abbott said.The Border Patrol has seismic sensors placed all over these canyons... They sense thumping, pounding, jarring, running, walking things... They don't detect rolling things."

 Truthfully, though the bicycle brought me to this story, and though there are some powerful images of them conjured by words, "...And Jimmy's mind gathered a picture of quiet, unnoticed ghost trucks traversing the great western night, as smooth and silky as drips from a leaky faucet, draining America's bicycles south," it is the story of the people who will end up providing the most lasting impression.

Taylor, Kimball   The Coyote's Bicycle   Portland, OR: Tin House Books, 2016

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Couleur d' Automne

I like this time of year. In fact it may be my favorite time of year - late Summer through Autumn - though there is certainly something to say for Spring as well. I like this time of year for any number of reasons, not the least of which has to do with the light, particularly the light of morning and evening. The world may not have the wealth or vibrancy of colors that Spring brings with it, but there is a certain richness to the earth tones that seem to be everywhere, a richness that is enhanced by the increasingly slanted rays of light, and the lengthening of shadows. The same shadows that give added definition to ridges whose apparent knife-edges separate canyons, reaching top to bottom on the mountain slopes. Up close, russet and buckskin mingle with evergreen, while the texture of wood and softly rounded granite fit right in.

Powerline and the dirt Thompson Creek Trail run roughly east / west, and when I ride those sections I head in a westerly direction. No matter how "into the ride" I may be, I rarely forget, or otherwise fail, to stop to look behind me, or over my right shoulder where the mountains rise, where the richer couleur d'Automne spring from the ground, as if summoned by the late-day rays of the sun.

You know, Powerline, could be called Powerlines, since there are two distinct transmission lines - one of the large steel towers, that I have frequently shown. The second is much smaller, is composed of the smaller wood posts, and branches off from the main line, heading into a residential area. A couple old poles have been slowly revealed over the past number of years as plants around them have receded or died back, derelict beside the trail. One has, basically, been hollowed out by fire and made quite a good stand for the Hakkalugi on this particular day.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Cycling Claremont: The Kube at Night

Not the first time I have photographed the Kube, but since I normally ride through the Colleges during lighter hours, this is probably the first shot I have taken at sunset. The Kube, of course, is the single story, moat-surrounded, glass-walled building, dwarfed by the multi-story Kravis Center of Claremont McKenna College. With students moving in as I took this photo, it was probably the Kube's (described as the College's living room)  last quiet night of the semester.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

From the Archives: Jocelyn and Desira' at San Luis Rey, 1996

Team Xtreme took another step forward in 1996 when a few women signed up to join in on the racing fun. Included among them were Jocelyn Nicholsen and Desira' Utzig. After a paltry eight months of saddle time, and thus still a relative novice, Desira' finished 9th in the women's race this day. Super strong rider.


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