Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Montrose Minute

I almost forgot about this only-relevant-today blast from the past.

You all know Steve Lubanski. Right? His Open Road Bicycle Shop was a long time Pasadena institution before he decided to pick up and move to a higher-dena, as in Altadena. Anyway, months ago I was searching through the old training journals for some information when I found an entry from 30 November 1996 and, though I almost forgot and missed the opportunity, it relates to an incident on the Montrose Ride exactly twenty years ago. During the week leading up to the 30th I was tasked with moving from Pasadena to Alhambra, sleeping in the former while shifting stuff to the latter. Because of that, essential bike stuff was in two places which caused me to miss my traditional Trader Joe's meet-up. Instead I waited along the curb on Huntington for the bunch to arrive. Fortunately my resting spot was at a red light which, apparently, was exactly what the peloton was waiting for. When they came to a stop, the assembly immediately broke into song - a chorus of Happy Birthday Steve to be exact. All the drivers around looked at us like we were nuts too long on the tree and, of course, wished they were a part. I never did find out if that exact day was Steve's birthday, or if it was just in the general region, but the moment stuck with me - one of those incidental events in the local peloton.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Two Wheel Tuesday: Bigger Stones

In about 1985 the Beat Farmers sang about rolling Bigger Stones, a song I have always taken to be about something other than rocks. Something like having bigger huevos and doing things in our younger years, things that we may be less likely to do as we get older. Wiser? I don't know if twenty-five years would have made any difference - sucking at descending is likely the same at whatever age. What I have noticed since I started showing up for these night mtb rides is that the stones (rocks in this case) seem smaller, less intimidating. That may be due, in part, to the shadows, but it may also partially be due to a narrower field of vision. The combination of the two means that I am more likely to just bull my way down the trail, rather than attempting to ease my way around protruding rocks. It is funny, and certainly not the way I expected it would be; I would have assumed that the darkness would have equated to increased caution. But maybe that is just me - what to y'all think about it?

Like a skunk running out of the darkness beside the trail, this is just another surprise of the night-time Two Wheel Tuesday rides starting from the La Verne Brewing Company. Thanks to 3941 Tamales for coming out tonight, their motto, "Notcho Ordinary Tamale, Bigger is Better" is true; I could have been satisfied with one.

Herbert and the Gang

that is one bright windbreaker

attacking from the front

checking out the lights

over that bedrock outcrop, Crosby Trail

down to Bracket Field

Seems like we rolled bigger stones back then
Seems like we rolled bigger stones.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Monday Blues: Tireless in Claremont

Selective thievery, or a fairly ingenious way to deter would-be thieves?

Blue: A color, a mood or emotion, a genre of music. Tune in each Monday for another installment of the Blues, with a cycling twist.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Trippin' on the Tryptophan

It has been, I don't know, ten years - at least - since last I rode the Fullerton Loop. So, when earlier in the week, I received an email about this years' edition of the Tour de Tryptophan, I set aside the afternoon on Friday for a, long overdue, visit. Those other, past, times riding Fully were during the heyday years of the SoCal Trail Riders, when they were the group to ride with. Since STR was a big group, with members all over the southland, their rides were also far-ranging, and took me to places that I would have otherwise been unaware of. Like the Fullerton Loop.

riders come and riders go at their own pace

Now, the Fully Loop is not Marshall Canyon, it is no Monroe Truck Trail, nor Bonelli Park, but being an entirely urban loop linking numerous city parks, along multi-use dirt paths, disused railway lines, skirting the fringes of a golf course, winding through a flood control basin, and similar and otherwise unused areas of a city, it is different and completely unique.

Technically the garden expansions, from the adjacent residences, along this popular opening stretch of trail and probably illegal encroachments upon the public space, but as long as they don't inhibit use (such as that steep side trail) I don't really mind. Some of them are quite attractive.

Chiquita Bandita, looking to hold up a train?

table and chair, just... there

abandoned line, luckily

Since it had been a few years, there were turns that I remembered along the, mostly, unmarked route, but others that I did not. On more than one occasion we (the mrs. and I) relied upon the kindness of other riders to keep us on track. One rider, in particular, took the time from what was his everyday ride, in order to guide us along the golf course, along the flood control channel and through the network of trails crisscrossing the basin, and back to our start at the court house. That was the first lap, and his guidance was enough to get us through a second lap on our own. Anyway, it made for a great day (quite frankly, and though I love having Bonelli so close, it can get kind of staid riding the same place all the time). Money raised during this years' Tour de Tryptophan benefits the SHARE Mountain Bike Club, the Orange County chapter of the International Mountain Bike Association, helping to maintain and promote the trails of the OC. Worthwhile. If you still need something to do on Saturday, or even tonight for that matter, the ride goes until noon on the 26th. Organizers, and SHARE have their trailer and table set up at the court house in Fullerton, upper parking lot. Look for them there, sign in, pay a few bucks, pick out an event tee, and ride. Just ride.


another garden

turn about

garden art

mailbox art

Laguna Lake and park

another passing rider

another passing rider

different tracks

through the tunnels

putting my feet up, with a view - why yes, that it Mt. Badly back there

event tee

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Wow what a morning for a ride. While most people were out on one of the many Thanksgiving Day group road rides around the area, I decided to opt for a more quiet, sedate pace. Not that I was alone in thinking that way, there were plenty of trail riders out - with conditions that can best be described as "crisp and clear" - it was easy to understand why.

Enjoy your extra days of riding this weekend, your feasting tonight, the company of family, of friends, and maybe I will see some of you out at the Tour de Tryptophan tomorrow afternoon.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Up the Road: Tour de Tryptophan 2016

I know a lot of you like riding the Fullerton Loop - maybe you like the convenience, maybe you like the varied terrain lacking in long, or even medium, climbs, maybe the only way to explain it is by the the word "fun". If one of those people is you, this may be THE weekend to hit up that venerable Loop. For the thirteenth year, the annual Tour de Tryptophan will run for twenty-four hours beginning at noon on Friday. For a donation -as much or as little as you want or can afford to give - you will get an event teeshirt and all the Fullerton riding you can pack into a single day's ride, the proceeds from your donation going to charitable organizations. One lap, or more, the choice is yours. It has been a few years since I last rode Fully, so this may be the time to give it another go. 

The Fullerton Loop on Facebook does not appear to be especially active lately, but there is enough information to help you get to the Courthouse for the start.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Two Wheel Tuesday: Spirit in the Night

There was no Crazy Janey, no Wild Billy or Gee Man, no Hazy Davy, and certainly no Killer Joe, but there was OTB Larry, Mutton Chop Ed, and Mark the Ringer. I ran out of lame nicknames at that point, but Barbara was there and, of course, Ever-ready Janet was too. In the song Billy may have slammed on his coaster brakes, but here we were all riding discs, and the hilltop fire reservoir had to make due for Greasy Lake (though I am not sure why anyone would want to visit a place called Greasy Lake anyway).

As for the rest, there was definitely a lot of spirit in this night. Some recent rain made the trails oh so nice. A little chill at first, but some quick spinning, and those short hills and frequent bumps, corrected that problem as soon as we left the road and hit the dirt. Yeah, another Tuesday evening, and they just don't get any better. The circuit went quick and when the riding was done there was only one thing left to do - enjoy a pint of beer at the La Verne Brewing Company. Usually I go for the Old Flathead Oatmeal Stout, but tonight I decided to branch out with the Nitro Old Flathead Oatmeal Stout. Either way you can't go wrong. Extra thanks tonight to Kar, who ordered an extra large pizza. Good thing too, as my growling stomach was just about to get loud and out of hand when I reached across for a slice.

So now that all that reading stuff is out of the way go ahead and load up the Boss (Bruce Springsteen) Spirit in the Night, close your eyes, put your head back, and picture riding those flowing trails, stars shining up above, city lights blinking below, and a good bunch of people, friends, to share it all with. 

Two Wheel Tuesday road and mountain bike rides - every Tuesday at 6:30, departing from and returning to the La Verne Brewing Company.

Ride in Peace, Frank Neal

I can't remember now where it was, had to have been within the past year, but Frank Neal was there, and I had the occasion to, briefly, talk with him. Very enthusiastic, very passionate, ready and very willing to talk about cycling. Ride in Peace Mr. Neal.

Photo, and a much more complete story
can be found at the California Triple Crown blog.

at the PVBC Holiday Party, 2015 

Now I remember - the occasion was the PVBC Holiday Party, almost a year ago. Frank had come out for the event at the Old Stump Brewery, wearing his CaliforniaTriple Crown Jersey, and with what must have been two tables full of information. The mrs. was impressed with the array of cycling literature, and that Mr. Neal could talk so informatively about it all. The Southern California cycling community has most certainly lost one of its masters.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Seen While Riding


With a great sea of foamy clouds sweeping in and, mostly, clear distant vistas opened up, it would have been easy to miss what was under your wheels if you didn't keep your eyes moving this weekend. Saturday, then Sunday. Both were long-view kind of days with those clouds that encouraged the eyes to follow them to the most far, most distant points on the horizon, points like a city's downtown buildings spiking upward, massive when standing at their feet, yet minuscule in comparison to the mountains bulwarks in another direction. Yet the stories told in those more distant views were clearly defined. The mysteries this weekend were in the stories of the closer up views. An athletes number erected like a little pup tent on the verge. Did it come loose, pins failing in a rushing breeze of movement? Or was it ripped loose during a passing fit of despair? When did it happen? During the running part of competition, or riding? Would the volunteers let me take one of those pumpkin pie slices, plates filling tables, forks stuck upright and awfully inviting. And what of the RCP - the Revolutionary Cyclists Communist Party? What made that little patch of asphalt an appropriate place of the hammer and sickle? What is the asterisk for? Is gaping polarization going to become the new norm, the same polarization that has ripped countries apart elsewhere?

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Afternoon

Squirrel cursed me, as I passed below, from the safety of a high perch in one of those trees whose branches intertwine with trees on the other side of the trail, like a natural bridge for small scurrying creatures. "Come down here and say that, you bastard" I yelled upward at the unseen foe. That just encouraged him to hurl even more abuse my way, his loud barks a warning to nearby others of his "kind". But I was just passing through and had no interest in filling out a pot of hillbilly stew this day.

Later. It must have been watering hour at the nursery for when I reached the stream crossing it was clear a wave of water had recently washed through, and still in full flow, taking the mooring for the far end of the plank bridge with it. Not that I would have ever resorted to that course anyway. I was pensive of the blue-green rush, its shimmering surface and clear depths for just a second, before splashing in to discover the sandy bed far enough down to soak both feet for the remainder of the ride, the neon yellow outer skins washed clean of a summers worth of dust. The full experience, a life returning to the water, for a heartbeat.

Not quite a winters silence, yet quiet all the same. Abandoned trails, excepting cyclocross Ken passing the other way, over the dam, calling out in recognition, each (he and I) intent on our own directions, paths to travel, times to keep. Then veering back to the dirt, down the switchbacks. Quiet again, and solitude, into the oaken draw where no sound enters, and none escapes.

The old codger. Geez, put an electric motor on a recumbent bicycle and an eighty year old dude suddenly thinks he is fifty again. Watch out for that guy, Evel Knievel reincarnate. Surely, though, he doesn't take that thing on the dirt. Does he?

Down to the trail around Sailboat Cove where I smile at the girl in the pay booth while gliding past on two wheels. Her head usually down, studying words in a book, but not this day, and she replies with a wave. A heartbeat flutters.

not quite as clean as I thought they should have been after that drenching

switchbacks down into the oaken draw

entry on the Michael Antonovich Trail

riding on the edge

photo bomb


Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Good Red Road

The Good Red Road. That could be some prelude to a reading of the Communist Manifesto. It could be the title of a song recorded by Timothy B. Schmit. I could be talking about that philosophy of how to live your life, or I could be talking about that area of ochre-colored dirt in the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park. In this case, though, I am talking about none of those (at least not directly) but rather about the book by that title. Funny that during all those years as an anthropologist, all those years of work in an American Indian research library, I never had occasion to read the Good Red Road until I found a copy just a few years ago.

As I read through books and find passages that are especially relevant at the moment, or one that I think might be relevant in the future, I tend to write them down. Buried in the middle of one such notebook of notes I wrote the following piece of conversation from the Good Red Road: "She bought something for him, a cigarette lighter, and somebody liked it, and he gave it away. And she was mad at my boy for it, but I told her, 'You just don't understand our ways. We came into this world without anything and that's the way we're going to go out.. We don't put a dollar sign on what we have or own. And if somebody likes it and is gonna enjoy it same as you did, fine - give it to him because it'll always come back to you again." (pg 41)

People these days, and I am no different, are rarely satisfied with what they have. We strive for something more, something better. Want trumps need until house walls bulge outward with excess. Honestly, this post would have nothing to do with bicycling, if it were not for that concept of giving (it is that time of year after all). Cycling stuff, everything from old kit, to N+1 bikes that have not been ridden in years, old components switched out for newer models, water bottles lining shelves like beer bottles in a college dorm room retain their usefulness long after we have given up on them. High school mountain bike teams, bicycle cooperatives and wheelhouses, in particular, can always use donations, donations that could help get one person on the road, or keep another person on the trails.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Bring on the Night, and Donuts

Yeah, donuts. In fact lets start with those donuts. The chefs of Pappas Artisanal, and the soon to be Grizzly's Biscuits and Donuts, brought a big box of, still warm, donuts for our post ride feast which included yuuuuuggggly good tacos by MMM Tacos to go with a pint of the La Verne Brewing Co's finest amber-colored brew. Donuts, not just breakfast food, these ones make a fine and appropriate dessert too. The typical looking round glazed one, that I had, was anything but typical tasting, a little more dense, but super soft, melt-in-your-mouth stuff. I'll be counting the days to the opening of the new Claremont location.


Reggatta de Blanc. It was the second album by the Police (I guess I just wasn't hip enough to be into them when their first album came out a year earlier), and it was unlike any of the music I had been into before then - you know Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Kansas, Peter Frampton, Aerosmith.. that list goes on. Among the songs on Reggatta de Blanc was one called Bring on the Night, and though I don't believe I have heard the song in quite some time I can still hear each note, each intonation in my head (or at least the chorus part); for some reason that song came to me tonight.

"The afternoon has gently passed me by
The evening spreads its sail against the sky
Just another day...

Bring on the night
I couldn't stand another hour of daylight..."

Yes indeed. If it is Tuesday bring on the night because with it comes another Two Wheel Tuesday.

While Ed takes some photos of his own everyone else shares some laughter while taking in the amazingly clear view over Pomona

full moon riding

not much dust being raised at this point, that is just a dirty lense.


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