Monday, January 30, 2017

Monday Blues: One Last Bikeshop Candids from Coates

Remember that first time you were invited back into the work area to be shown one thing or another. Walking under that Employees Only sign made you feel special, like you had been admitted into an exclusive club, or welcomed into the family. You might have been a kid when it happened, and afterward it became one of your favorite places to go. Of course, and just as likely, you may have been an adult and, well, the outcome was probably the same. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Lord Give Us Peas

The sun filled, cloudless sky, bursting blue to the horizons, its down-turned dome matching the up-turned bowl of the lake, filled to the brim with rain and run-off from small streams, continuing to drain hillsides soaked like sponges. Tentative riders, like ourselves, on a reconnaissance mission of rediscovery; rain changes much, however temporary. Even five days after the last fall, water flow and mud slicks force on the spot changes of plan, altered routes. Soupy mud spatters, sticky mud clumps, launching from rotating wheels where dry patches of earth, or pavement, allow speed to increase.

Above all Baldy, at a distance it appears might have shaken his shoulders, an overnight deposit of white upon the water, fading in the light. A lone sail glides sometimes, mostly bobs side to side among ducks, geese, and other fowl, a behemoth in the flotilla. Others waddle side to side along the flooded shore where picnic tables, submerged, resemble concrete piers above the water, lapping in a breeze, gentle as this morning. Elsewhere roadrunner speeds across the dirt road, thinking he is too fast to be seen, while small hawk flies low, and slow, surveying the ground for sudden movements, a late morning meal.

not the deepest I have ever seen, but no tracks went in,
and there didn't appear to be any exiting on the other side

really wanted to change a couple of those letters


it appears this pier's a dock

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Where Will I Go Now?

"No! This can't be," I yelled out loud. It was lunch hour at the office and, luckily, most people were out. Those who remained however, jumped, raised their heads over their cubicle walls, and even ran over to see for themselves what the distress was all about. Understandably, most thought I was crying in disbelief at those who still support Trumple-Thin-Skin, even after all the death and destruction his actions, during just his first few days as someone's president, will surely bring down on all our heads. But that wasn't it.

Imagine their shock, then, to discover that my distress related to something as insignificant (to them, not me, obviously) as the shuttering of a bike-shop's doors. What they failed to realize is that this was not just any bikeshop, it was my LBS - MY LBS. I have bought bikes there for the mrs., for the son, and for myself. I have built and outfitted bikes from the frame up at that shop. I have outfitted myself with the shops kit. I have done their rides (less frequently than I would have liked) and even raced with them as my racing years sputtered to a close.

That sort of stuff you can do at any shop, you know? What made this shop special, transformed it into my Local Bike Shop had nothing to do with the stuff found enclosed within the walls and roof. Only people can make a shop more than a simple collection of things, and this shop has been full of good people who I came to like, people who I came to trust when my own efforts at maintenance, or building, did not quite live up to expectations. You may recall the varied problems I encountered when building up the Hakkalugi, and how the staff helped me overcome those obstacles. 

My initial thought was where am I going to go now for all that stuff, where am I going to get my kit. It was so convenient to hop on the bike, and in a few minutes, walk through the doors to pick up whatever little thing I needed. Then I thought of all the rides, the classes and community events they sponsor, or have sponsored over the years, all the teams, clubs and riders' groups they have supported over those same years - 80 plus years. And, of course, I thought of all the people I have come to like and trust.

Thanks Corey, Coates, and everyone for all the help and good times you have contributed to over the past many years. Support your local bike shop while you have one.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Looks Like Crow's Back on the Menu, Boys

Because of the old nursery rhyme I know that four and twenty blackbirds make for a pretty good pie. I am not so sure about crow.

I made a comment the other day, in that GMR Clean-Up post, in which I specifically called out drivers for the deposits of trash alongside our roads in general, and that one road in particular. Well. Those energy bar wrappers and 700 x 21 tubes don't decorate the verge due of the actions of drivers. At this point in the debate, I considered arguing percentages, but the truth is, one Gu wrapper is all it takes; the blame must be shared.

Of course that only accounts for half the crow on tonights dinner table. The rest comes from a failure to realize that drivers may, and many times do, have the same concerns as we riders.

I decided to check out the list of people "interested" in, or "going" to the clean up. What I quickly noticed rounded out the menu, the remainder of the crow. Yes, a goodly percentage (I won't go so far as to say half, but still, many) of those respondents, judging by their avatars, are drivers, specifically, I guess, drivers who use GMR. Apparently word has made it to them, and they are stepping up. I am still not going to appreciate the sound of revving engines approaching from behind, or up ahead, but I can certainly appreciate this helping hand.

Probably because I know Michael, the clean-up organizer, first as a cyclist, I assumed this was going to be a cyclists' endeavor. Instead, a broad coalition seems to have formed, one composed of cyclists, drivers, bikers, at least one equestrian, and probably some walkers/hikers/runners as well. This may be the most satisfying revelation of all - the coming together of a diverse group of people, with a single goal for the benefit of a single space used by all.

While I don't want to make a habit of it, eating crow never tasted so good.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Monday Blues: In Kind

I can't be sure how long this old Huffy has been sitting out in the rain and the cold, but looking at how leaves have kind of taken shelter and collected in its shadow, I am thinking its elemental exposure has been significant. You may not be able to tell from the photo but both tires are flat, which may have something to do with its current demise, and however temporary that might turn out to be. There was a time when leaving a single flat on a bike of mine, for as little amount of time as overnight, would have been anathema. I would have expected to ride the next day and, not one to wait until the last minute, expedited a changing of the tube.

And so, as I surveyed this wounded warrior of campus byways at the Colleges this past weekend, I was suddenly troubled by a certain similarity. You see my trusty mtb developed a case of the flats two weeks in the past and remained disabled until, inspired by the derelict Huffy, I finally took action during an extremely rainy Sunday. Two weeks of calculated thought, determining how long before the next ridable day, when work, family, rain, or mud would allow a couple hours pleasure ride.

Clearly Labann found a quote from another time, a different winter. This winter's few bicycle excursions have been less about victories, and more about desperation - how much off the bike time can I take, how long can I defer, and remain sane? (Admittedly, Saturdays Cross Town Loop, on the Ibis, did take the edge off). Well, it may have been blue, the Huffy in its own desperate straits, but the sight also inspired me to action, and in that, I suppose, there is some victory

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Seen While Riding the Cross Town Loop

You can't see it along the Powerline section of the Loop

but you can see it, a little, along the Thompson Creek Trail; I kid you not, there may have been more people were walking, running, riding in the mud beside the Thompson Creek Trail than were on the paved path, causing me to wonder why pave at all?

It is odd, isn't it, going for so long with all the visual evidence pointing to a lack of water, and then to suddenly see problems associated with too much water - the roots of this poor pepper tree couldn't take it any more.

I have often wondered why the Thompson Creek Trail was never extended beyond Towne, under Baseline, under the I-210 to this locked gate - a natural off-street corridor linking the residential area with the mountains/CHWP.

Today was supposed to be the final pop-up donut shop before the Claremont grand opening. Original plans today did not included riding over to Pappas Artisanal yet I, like many, have been feeling the lack of riding time and was more than willing to make a little detour from the standard Loop.

A nice sky backdrop to the sign this morning.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Up the Road: GMR CleanUp Day

That old faux American Indian, Iron Eyes Cody, used to get all teared up when he would see all the trash littering the landscape. Least ways the ads on television would have those of us of a certain age believe that he did. Sometimes when I am riding along one of my favorite roads, paths, or trails I find it hard to not get all teary as well when I see trash beginning to accumulate. It is enough to make a sensible person cry. Or get mad; one day maybe fifteen or twenty years ago, I was riding my Inverness Loop out by the Rose Bowl when, all of a sudden, trash began to fly out the window of a car that had just passed me up. Well since the road was downhill and twisty I had no problem revving up the legs in pursuit. Catching up at a stop sign I let the driver know what mischief her precious little ones in the back were up to, but all she had to say about it was 'f' off. Or something like that. I didn't cry that time, but I let anger determine my course of action. Sometimes there is a third alternative.

Like being proactive.

Anyway, one local rider, racer, photographer, dad, etc (man of many hats, in other words) has decided to do something about the trash deposits along a little twisty, curvy stretch of asphalt known as Glendora Mountain Road (GMR). GMR is to folks out this way what Mulholland is to folks in the San Fernando Valley and the west side, or Gibraltar Road is to riders in Santa Barbara; it is one of those iconic bucket list roads for most riders in the greater Los Angeles region. Sunday 5 February will be GMR clean-up day, an opportunity to give a little back by picking up some of that trash that can collect along the verge. Show the community of road riders, walkers, hikers, runners, show the forest, show those drivers who throw stuff out their windows that, yeah, they might make you mad, but that you can also rise above and set the example. Sure they can throw it down - any damn fool can do that; but you can pick it right back up. Not everyone can do that.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Winter Storm Closure: Claremont Hills Wilderness Park

Now, there are some areas of our San Gabriel Mountains that can get some pretty severe weather conditions during the winter months, places and conditions that might prompt Del to remark "mother Gue never raised such a foolish child" to anyone thinking of being out and about in those worst of storms. While I am not necessarily sure the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park (CHWP) is one of those places, there have been large landslides and downed trees during severe weather events in the past.

If you want to challenge the elements this weekend, don't think you can do it at the CHWP, which will be closed beginning Friday, and remain so all the way through Tuesday. At this time the Park is scheduled to reopen on Wednesday, 25 January.

*The next pint of beer to the first person who can tell me where that quote came from without looking it up.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

How to Wear a Cycling Cap: Roger Pingeon

You might be forgiven not being able to remember the winner of the Tour de France fifty years ago, because the most noted event to transcend the decades since the 1967 race remains, not the victor, but the death of Tom Simpson on the Mont Ventoux. 

The 1967 TdF was an interesting one in that it saw a return to the national team format - France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Great Britain, and Switzerland/Luxembourg, all had teams entered in the competition, with Belgium, Spain, and Italy each entering an additional second team, and France entering an additional two teams. Roger Pingeon would win the race that year by more than three minutes ahead of Spanish rider Julio Jimenez. Some of the other prominent racers in 1967 included Pingeon's teammates, Raymond Poulidor and Lucien Aimar, as well as Felice Gimondi, Herman van Springel, Jan Janssen, and Jean Stablinski.

Though the victory was the crowning glory of Pingeon's career, the ten years in which he raced as a pro were not without other moments of merit. In 1969 he won two stages of the Vuelta a Espana as well as the overall title, and finished 2nd overall at the Tour (behind Eddy Merckx), with a stage win. He also won a stage at the 1972 Criterium du Dauphine Libere, and in 1974 the Grand Prix de Plumelec. Pingeon was a climber of no small ability winning the KOM at the 1969 Criterium du Dauphine, and finishing 2nd in the climbing competition at both the Tour and Vuelta that same year. Beside those there were numerous top ten finishes at such notable races as the Grand Prix des Nations, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and Tour of Romandie.

I am not sure when the above photo was taken, or its attribution (the only link I could find does not seem to work), but it is certainly in the classic style - grime-covered face reflecting long wearying miles on the road, and accentuating that far-away look of the eyes. And, of course, a well-worn cap perched atop the head.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Monday Blues: A Beautiful Ride

Mom has always said that she regrets not being at the hospital twenty-four hours a day when, as a tyke, I had my tonsils removed. Fact of the matter is, I couldn't tell you if she was there for one hour each day, or for twenty-three. What I do remember is visiting the toy store beforehand, and getting to pick out a few things - those few things being, a stuffed spaniel of some sort which I named "Freckles," a bunch of those iconic little green army men, and a box of little plastic war planes with which I had a great battle as I ate my jello and ice cream. Oh, then there was that psuedo-dream of waking in the operating room, seeing things I didn't want to see, and promptly going back under - real, or memorex? I will probably never know.

Anyway, the tables were turned these past seven days, moms turn to spend some quality time in the hospital, with the family sitting with her. Very few people seem to escape the accumulative problems of aging.

We have long known the many, and various, physical benefits of exercise and active living. More recently, strong connections linking exercise and mental health, have begun to be documented in earnest. I suppose there is no guarantee that all that exercise will be enough to counter any flaws of genetics, or damage accrued from all those runs from scrimmage, or hitting the deck on the weekly ride, but as old Ben Franklin apparently said "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Behind many old wives tales, and catchy quotes, there is often a measure of practical truth.

This year has not gotten off to the start I had hoped it would - two days of riding within that two week period. In fact more than anything this year, so far, appears to be a stagnant continuation of the entire previous year, the lowest mileage year on record. According to my records. Fortunately, and now that things have settled down, there seems to be enough of the year left that, with a little effort, things can be turned around.

Get out and ride.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Trackies of the World, Unite!

This March the Para-Cycling Track World Championships, as they did in 2012, will return, and be run, in Los Angeles, when the Velo Sport Center plays host to athletes from around the globe. Five years ago I was able to make it out to first and fourth days of the Championships, and was able to witness some of the most exciting racing action I could have imagined. The Velo Sport Center can really rock when the worlds best cyclists come to  town in competition.

As you may already know, the four day Para-cycling Championships are not a singular honor for the velodrome in Carson, a mere two weeks before those World Championships take place the Tissot UCI Track Cycling World Cup Los Angeles will take place over two days. The last time Los Angeles hosted a World Cup event was 2008, so this is a big deal.

the Para-cycling Track Worlds start off with some pomp and ceremony
honoring all the athletes and the countries they represent

Monday, January 9, 2017

2017 SoCalCross Fever: Corriganville CX-XC Showdown

You never know what Corriganville is going to throw at you - it is such a fun place and I, for one, am glad Dorothy brought the venue back again as a part of the Cross Fever series.  Although there were some stand-out runaway performances during the days racing, there were also plenty of duels taking place in among the ruins of old Corriganville, as well as up, and back down, that oaken draw leading to the start/finish. Capping all though, had to be the dramatic rescue of one young racer, a daring feat of agility and speed on the part of yours truly, as the young gun held on for dear life, a one-handed grasp at the edge of a precipice. But, more on that later. 

they say there are places on the Great Plans were the tracks of wagon trains can still be seen, a hundred and more years after their passing. At Corriganville it seems those old movie wagons left their own marks in the bedrock, now ridden over by cross and mountain bikes.

Regrettably I was unable to stay as long as I would have liked - it was Sunday and there was a need to get the kid back to the U for a new Quarter of Monday classes. And so I settled for the morning races, everything from the Juniors to the Mens A/B, which was still plenty of good racing. Take the Mens A/B, for instance, where the 2nd and 3rd places (Ricky Jensen and Garnet Vertican) finished three seconds apart, with 4th and 5th (Emilio Cervantes and Arin McGinigle) a mere two and three seconds back respectively. Pretty close stuff. I don't think any of those quick draw shoot-outs which once took place here could have been any closer.

Anyway, you are, no doubt, waiting to read about that nick of time rescue: Riders were circling the course, testing lines, sliding out in the wet oak leaf litter, splashing mud an anyone following too closely in between races when a couple of the youth racers came up along the bottom of the old lake, over that berm, and face-to-face with that steep wall, the only way out. One, the older of the two [?] powered up with seeming ease; the other, however, surveying the monumental bulwark of concrete dismounted at its base and, as I had, admittedly, done minutes earlier, began to climb up afoot, pushing his bike ahead of him. Just as he was about to reach the top his footing gave way and down he went. Thinking clearly, and reaching quickly, he stretched out his left arm, managing to grasp the concrete lip, arresting his slide while still holding onto the handlebars of his bike with the right hand. True cyclist there, I thought in that instant - refusing to save himself for the sake of his bike! There was no easy way out of that predicament - at that point either the bike would slide, or both would, so up I jumped from my photo perch on the lip nearby and, carefully, so to not compound the precarious situation by slipping and sliding myself, reached down for his bike like some lycra-wearing Clark Kent and hauled it up. Free of the weight, the young man scrambled up as well, saying something that sounded like "golly mister, I'm sure glad you were there." "Glad I could help out, cowboy. You best be on your way now." And with that he remounted his steed and rode on back toward town, while I settled down once again, to ponder the reclaimed serenity of that quiet place beneath the spreading oaks.

while Nils was not the young rider in need of rescue,
his climb from the lake bottom shows the steepness of the slope

There is one more race to finish off a winters-worth of SoCalCross. That race takes place this Sunday, 15 January, at Moreno Valley. From what I heard the City of MV, like so many around the country these days, has come around to the realization of a sense of making their municipality bike-friendly. "Bikes" and "bicycling" are key buzzwords, and the city is very interested to see what this cyclocross thing is all about. City representatives, including council members are supposed to be in attendance for this last race, so it would be a boon to see a huge and enthusiastic turnout of racers and supporters. The SoCalCross grounds crew has already begun their work at transforming the venue into one of their usual custom, challenging courses. 

Finally, a selection of 103 photos can be found in the Flickr 2017 Corriganville CX-XC Challenge album.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Saturday Spin: Olin at Los Portales Whittier Grand Prix

I first posted this photo up at the Claremont Cyclist back in 2010 as, what may have been the first, From the Archives post. This past week, out of the blue, it popped up on my Facebook feed. A "hey, thats my photo" moment. Even though social media makes it more likely to happen, I still am surprised when one of my photos unexpectedly shows up like that. Anyway, this one was always one of my favorites from back in the day and, I guess, the fact that "there it is again" shows that this one, like the lead rider - Olin Bakke - has some legs. There are some fun, additional comments here.

The photo was taken during the Pro/1/2 race at the Los Portales Whittier Grand Prix in 1993. Right behind Olin is a rider for the American Commerce National Bank / Canyon Velo Team, and then Jamie Paolinetti of the Chevrolet / LA Sheriff Team.

There is no question that doing some of those old training rides with Olin raised my game - it is the truth in the old saying that to improve you should train with people better than yourself. But, in some way, I suppose I am glad to have been confined to the lower and middling categories, thus never having to compete against him (or any of the others trailing behind him, for that matter) with money on the line.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Rock & Sand Club Loop: Take Care of This Place

A little place, now, of mud and water, a seasonal compositional transformation. Puddles and wallows tantalize, encourage splashing, but sliding in slippery goop discourages the young girl, loosing momentum, stopping with foot down and wet, while the older brother taunts to "keep pedaling." Dad watches until the last, willing the daughter to make it on her own. I watch from behind, trapped by the narrow trace, not wanting to temp the deeper, messier passage around. As do I, so too does time wait, enough to notice red-orange stalks rising straight from ground above, as much a contrast to winter brown as summers dusty loop is to winters wet one.

A message scrawled by passer-by, in congealed mud, over-ridden by tired tracks. But time allows a turn-about to see and read and ponder what. "Take Care of this Place." I wonder at the scope of the authors' thought, the meaning of "place." Was it limited, inclusive to this small basin in a larger drainage system? confined by barriers of man-made rock on one side and earthen stone on the other. Or was place more broad in scope, this earth our home.


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