Saturday, December 31, 2016

End of Year Message

This may be the most recent wall painting (I hesitate to call it a mural due to its smaller size, though perhaps that is not a requirement) at Pitzer College. I don't recall seeing the artists name anywhere; maybe that was intentional, an unnecessary distraction to the message. Anyway 2016 seems to have been a more hostile and violent year than most in recent memory, vitriol against "others," those with different beliefs, genders, sexual orientations, and yes, even choice of transportation, seemed to bring levels of hatred to an all time high. I thought this might be an appropriate way to close out the year.

A welcoming 2017 to everyone.


*If you came to this post earlier, you are right, it did have a different title. But, thanks to Erik for providing the information I lacked, I figure I should use their proper name - the URB-E. Clicking the link will take you to the URB-E website and more information about them. 

The other day we took the Gold Line in to Pasadena to spend a few hours. Disembarking at the Memorial Park station we were greeted by the sight of a photo shoot taking place at the platform for these little adult strider-type bikes. I snapped one shot, looking across the tracks, of these two, but then failed to get a close up of the ones on our side of the tracks, trusting that I could remember their name. Ha! So much for that. The only thing I can remember is that the first letter of the name is an 'E', and the name is about four letters long.

What is most interesting about them, I suppose, is their foldable compactness - they take up less space than a typical folding bike, such as made by Dahon, or Brompton. At the same time, the lack of pedals makes them less versatile, especially with regard to distance. My guess is the maker is looking to slot into a niche between walking and pedaling, which is interesting (in a marketing kind of way, I guess) since all the models were young and looked as if they were quite capable of being mobile by either of those other modes.

You will notice that the bikes are hand-brake equipped, while some even had attached baskets. My initial, and quick, impression (and this is probably shaped by the age of the models) is that "fun" or "recreation" is the main marketing angle. Yet the inclusion of a basket broadens the scope and function to more "utilitarian" especially, perhaps, for people
 who due to health reasons, are unable to walk long distances. That may be the more significant marketing angle, if you ask me.

So, and perhaps obviously, knowing what I now know, this would have been written a little differently - the electric motor gives the URB-E more versatility and a longer range - up to twenty miles on a four hour charge. While there is still a clear recreational aspect, this range also increases their viability as a medium range commuting option. You will not convince me they are better than pedal power, but they are worth considering as a transportation option.

Friday, December 30, 2016

How To Wear a Cycling Cap: Ferdi Kubler

Multi-time Swiss National Champion, World Champion in 1951, Tour de France Champion in 1950, Tour de Suisse Champion in 1948 and 1951, winner at Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Fleche-Wallonne, Tour de Romandie, Bordeaux-Paris, Milan-Turin, and others.

Ferdi passed away yesterday, 29 December, at the age of 97 years. Ride in Peace Mr Kubler, one of the best of his generation.

Ferdi Kubler wearing Yellow alongside Louison Bobet

Testing, Testing, 2.35

It was time to replace the old Racing Ralph that wrapped the 29ers rear wheel - the tread had been worn pretty smooth along the center and at least one knob was completely sheared away. It was starting to get flats. The tire to be replaced was a 29 x 2.25, already quite hefty for a rather standard XC, hardtail bike, but I thought I would try pushing things just a bit further by upsizing to 29 x 2.35. Turns out that is just about all this frame is going to handle; another good smack against a rock, and another degree out of true and it won't spin between the stays at all.

Why the bigger size, anyway? I don't know exactly, but the increased contact surface and correlative positive impact on comfort and traction were certainly not being overlooked. So, where to give it a good test run? Bonelli, of course. We have had a few dry days now between rainstorms so I knew I would be able to find nice long dry stretches of trail, mixed with great big puddles and mud wallows.

Verdict: The new tire - Kenda Slant Six Pro is very similar to what it has replaced - just slightly larger. It rode excellently where the riding surface was dry or tacky. Once the mud became sticky, however, that lack of clearance was very noticeable. I figured the build-up between the outside treads would eventually clear if I continued to ride, and while little missiles of mud did fly off other areas of the tire, globs along the outside fringes of the tread held firm, rubbing against the stays. I stopped three times to clear it by hand and glove, before I was satisfied. 

Keep in mind this is not a critique of the tire per-se; it is more a caution against choosing a tire that may be too large under certain conditions (even the old 29 x 2.25 bogged down in extreme mud). We, fortunately (or not?) live in a location that is dry most of the year, and where the tire will (and did this first time) perform quite well. As intended. Throw a little sticky mud into the mix, though, and I may find myself wishing for a smaller size.

enough rain to cause some little landslides...

and lingering mud wallows

so sticky you could use it as mortar

downed limbs and mud through the jungle

the vantage from Bonelli's hight point, looking down on everything but the higher distant peaks

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Better When the Sun Don't Shine

In their latest album the Drive-By Truckers sing about liking "it better when the sun don't shine." Now, if you made it out on the bike today you already know, but if you didn't spin at all, let me tell you that today sucked for riding. For the life of me I could not find a single good view anywhere, and I looked a lot. In fact I stopped so many times hoping to find a picturesque vantage that I ended up doing much more stopping than riding. But this is what happens around here when we reach the winter months - the smog clears out, so that you can see things - it's just no good at all.

I don't know if those Trucker guys actually believe in the lyrics of their song, but I really did not think I had a chance of convincing you, even without the accompanying round of photos. There is truth to that stopping part, though. Every time I raised my head from the mystic point three feet ahead of my front wheel there was another vista, another reason to stop. As usual, the far away views from the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park (CHWP)) were dominated by the valley below and the peaks above - snow capped Ontario Peak and Cucamonga Peak, and broad-shouldered Sunset Peak closer at hand. Lower down, the hills' green cloak is really beginning to show through last summers hollow stalks of dry grass

le tetons du Claremont

across the valley to the mountains of Santa Ana

degrees of verticality

one day I will stash the bike in some shrubs and explore those wooded draws coming down the near hillsides

twin towers

abrupt transitions

Puddingstone, a little patch of blue between the trees at center

I was there

rear wheel

not a bad view anywhere


"discovered" a new hilltop - outcroppings of granite, a couple nice oak trees for shade. I don't meditate, but if I did, this would be the spot. I did sit for a while, listening to the birds, the breeze, the (unfortunate) ever-present roar from the Valley, the same roar that drove Coyote away...

oh, and soaking in that view of le tetons du Claremont.

not the only rider out there today

and since the one view lacking at the CHWP is the one of Mt. Baldy, I cut through the little park on the way home and snapped one of the old man.

Monday, December 26, 2016

A Plan to Fall Back On

The whole plan to pirate around on the open seas still has not worked out. Neither, reverting to the past, did the plan for an independent nation of Baja California. The US never got behind me on that one - granted, Nixon was out, and Reagan was still a few years away. and, well neither Ford, nor Carter possessed the hawkish nature of their peers. And then, of course, I was only thirteen or fourteen when the idea was hatched, and that may have had something to do with it. Good thing there was always the university to fall back on, although multiple changes of "major", whether formulated in advance or on the fly, supports the delusion that there were options to fall back on before finding just the right one. Back up plans. Where would I be without them.

Today was a back up plan kind of day. I've worked on the mrs' shifting a lot lately, perfecting it time and again, at least once each week for, oh, I don't know, lets just say a few weeks now. Smooth shifting. Least ways until she rides and the problem returns. I perfected it again last week. Smooth shifting. So, when we reached the hills and she said "the shifting is not working again" my eyes did that roll thing and I thought, not about my clearly advanced mechanical skills, but about what she could have done during the previous two mile ride to get here. Naturally, I did not believe her, and hopped on that pink Marin to show her it worked just fine. Knees splayed out to the side, I rode around and around, pushed and pulled on those little levers and... got no response beyond, maybe, the three or four smallest cogs of the rear cluster. "Damn, is she jinxed" I thought, while realizing the ride was all but over. Four or five hours later, having loosened this cable, and replacing that one, screwing and unscrewing every screw in sight, and even a couple hidden ones, led me to another plan to fall back on - a free tune-up coupon found hidden inside that water bottle I won at the PVBC holiday party.

And that is how a nice relaxing ride around the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park became breakfast at the Euro Cafe on this first day of the winter holiday week.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Holidays

I was kind of hoping that I would wake up this morning and it would be pouring rain. I would snap a quick holiday greeting shot of drops splashing off the ground, dripping from the bell, making everything soggy. But no, the storm spent all that fun stuff while I slept, and it is now a bright, sunny and fresh new day. That is okay too; people will be able to get out and ride.

Anyway Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah (I would say Sunny Solstice too, but that granddaddy of all holidays at this time of year slipped past when I wasn't looking), and in general, have a joyous time, on and off the bike.

Friday, December 23, 2016

French Red Devil, Julien Raoul: An Update

Julien Raoul, you may remember, was a racer on the Six Day and track racing circuit in the United States and Europe, including events in Los Angeles during the 1930s. If you don't remember the story, or never saw it to begin with, you can refresh your memory, or become acquainted with his story, by reading the post French Red Devil: Julien Raoul. [By the way, Blogger's search mechanism completely sucks - entering Julien Raoul and French Red Devil, either singly or combined, returned zero results, while a Google search brought the post up first. Lesson? Don't rely on that Blogger search box on the home page.]

What you see below is the contract between Mr. Raoul and race promoter William Spencer for the April 1937 Six Day Race held at the Pan Pacific Auditorium. Assuming that Raoul would finish the race, he would receive the sum of $150.00. Equally interesting are the various conditions for fulfilling the contract, and reasons for disqualification and withholding of payment, either partly or in full. We've all seen the photos during races, photos of the victories, seen the results, but you don't really see things like this in history accounts, so I found it to be especially interesting. It adds an extra dimension to the photos, a different layer to the story.

Needless to say, since I am both a history nerd and a bike nerd, the combination of the two, as represented in this document (contract), has been especially fascinating for me, and I want to, again, give much thanks to Julien's son Marcel for continuing to forward information about his father, and through him, providing a rare glimpse into the track racing scene during its peak years.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Added Message

I have mentioned before my belief that any bike on the road is a message in and of itself - "if I can do it, you can do it", "the better way", "give a hoot, don't pollute." Oh, no, wait that one belongs to Woodsy. "Why sit in traffic when you can ride around it", etc, etc. etcetera. Most of the time that is enough, but sometimes one might want to be even more obvious in expressing their beliefs.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

One Way Wrong Way

You see the ONE WAY sign. You see the approaching vehicle's headlights. You see something wrong with this picture. To borrow the words of Ted Rogers, "yet cyclists are the problem?"

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Two Wheel Tuesdays: Two Times as Good

How many people does it take to make a good ride? By my calculations, it takes one. So, again by my calculations, if you have a ride with two people, you're doubly ahead of the game. I can't guarantee it works like that all the time, but it was definitely the case tonight. I don't know if you have noticed, but the past couple weeks have been kind of rider-sparse, even for the roadies. "Tis the Season" kind of gets in the way this time of year. Never-the-less, two was two times better than if it had just been myself. One advantage of "two" is that it makes for a quicker ride - not as much stopping, in fact only twice I think - once to shed wind breakers and arm warmers (what did happen to the cold temps of last night anyway), and once to look over all those lights of the Pomona Valley. One additional advantage is getting back to the La Verne Brewing Company tasting room quicker, quicker even than certain course-cutting roadies. Tis the Season for that too, which it okay - they are always good company to share a pint with.

So what happens when, after the new year, everyone returns to the ride? Will it be six times better? Ten times as good? More? I don't know if I can handle that much of a good thing. Thanks for riding, Carla. I am certain It would have only been half as much fun otherwise.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Fast Digs: An Update and a Question

To start, the question: I am forwarding this from a reader who is looking for a photo of Harold Ade. Ade was a member of the four-rider Pursuit squad that raced at the Rose Bowl during the 1932 Los Angeles Summer Olympics - it is a bit of a long shot, but you have figure as prominent as the Olympics have always been, there should be a photo somewhere. Anyway, if anyone knows of a photo, or a good lead on one, let me know so I can pass on the information. 

Next, while conducting my own little search, I came upon a 1988 oral hisotry interview, conducted by George Hodak, with Russell Allen, another member of that same 1932 Pursuit quartet. The interview was one of a series made under the auspices of the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles. In the interview Allen is asked numerous questions about the bicycle racing scene in southern California leading up to, and after, the 1932 Games, and then during the time of the 1984 Games. 

After commenting on the importance of San Jose as the center of cycling in California and the West, Allen was asked about promoters in the Los Angeles area. His reply noted  Tom Gallery, a fight promoter, who after the Olympics "staged the first six-day race in Southern California at the Winter Palace at Melrose and Van Ness. He promoted several races at the Winter Palace. There were sprints on Wednesdays and Saturdays and six-day races twice a year."

Allen then goes on to talk about racing before the Olympics: "In 1929 I belonged to a club called the Crebs Cyclists Club of Long Beach. Our trainer and promoter was "Musty" Crebs, a professional cyclist from Salt Lake City, who took over the Culver City board track and held races there every week."

For the Olympics "the sprinters were selected from the East and from the West. They had the tryouts at the track built in the Rose Bowl. For the four-man pursuit team, they picked the four best of all the riders." Those four were Eddie Testa, Ruggero "Red" Bertie, Harold Ade, and Allen. *Note that official USA Cycling records record Jack McCoy as being on the team, not Bertie.

This is just a small snippet of the fourteen page interview in which Allen also talks about track racing in the United States and Europe, what it was like to be a track racer, the bikes, and some family information as well. If the history of track cycling is of interest to you, this oral history is is worth the read.

Pursuit team from Great Britain at the Rose Bowl, 1932

Canadian cyclists at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics

As I have done in the past, this information is being presented in its own post, before being added to the Fast Digs.

By the way, if you have not seen it this short 1:08 clip showing the Italian cyclists training at the Bowl in 1932 is vintage cool.

The 2016 PVBC Holiday Party: Ticket to Fun

I was walking home last night, and it was dark. I guess that goes without saying this time of year since typically it is rather dark at 6:30. Crossing the street after leaving the brewery and walking that concrete ribbon the city has felt compelled to put up signs about - uneven sidewalk, they warn. I know what you are thinking, what you think comes next, but no, I was clear headed. Even so I heard singing from a little way up the street, not someones loud radio, mind you, but a real live voice, higher pitched. A woman's voice. The singing stopped abruptly, and someone said "all women." Well, actually there was more said, but all I could make out at this distance was the "all women" part. Huh, what, I thought? Not hearing the rest of the conversation that was all I could think of to think. I didn't expect an answer, and didn't get one, but next the voice asked, "do you know me?"

Oh, right. Right, right - Granite Creek, of course. I could see the string lights from their outdoor Christmas festivities up ahead, back on the other side of the street. I thought the people over there were probably enjoying their evening, bundled up with blankets against the cold air, watching, participating in, a church nativity program. I wondered if they were enjoying their evening as much as I had enjoyed mine. I wondered if the two were comparable, or if it was even necessary to think such things.

You see I had just come from the Pomona Valley Bicycle Coalition's (PVBC) annual Holiday Party, the second, this year held at Claremont Craft Ales, which was opportune, since I could walk there.

If you missed it, well, tough, right. I mean you did have adequate warning. I guess it is kind of like how I get all lazy sometimes and miss out on a Dirty Chain Gang ride, see photos of the ride, kick myself and say "dang it." But if you missed out it was also unfortunate because a good time was had and well, you know, the more the merrier, especially during the Merry season. Apparently people from the other room had that same idea and would sneak in every once in a while to share from our snacks, laugh like they were part of the party, and then quietly leave again. 

The festivities were well underway by the time I arrived, having walked, but I was still early enough to benefit from one of those, prized, free pint tickets. There was a lot of bike talk - various rides, and routes, Claremont, LaVerne, Pomona but, eventually, even avid cyclists move on to other topics - topics such as Cokie Roberts, Star Wars names (I can't tell you mine, not because it is a Jedi secret or anything, just because I don't recall the formula for figuring it out), apple fritters, Christmas lights, donuts and Peru, though not both at the same time. At some point the talk stopped and there was just a lot of laughter - during the raffle, I believe. When I won the first prize of the night, I hoped it would be the beginning of a streak of good luck, but no, Marcus won the free pint grand prize.

The PVBC hosts various rides and social engagements periodically during the year, they advocate for local cyclists, participate in the annual Operation Firefly, teach cycling savy and safety to school children, and other stuff that you will know about once you take a couple minutes to join. Now that is a ticket to fun.


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