Saturday, February 25, 2017

Riding Rough with the Dirty Chain Gang

I can hear your words of incredulity now, or maybe they are words of shame, or pity: "Wait, you mean you cut out, like a longhorn culled from the herd and destined for the slaughterhouse, right at the point where the ride was going to get fun?" Yeah. "You must be a special kind of crazy."

The Dirty Chain Gang (DCG) rode the CHWP and Marshall Canyon this fine, bright morning. The last time I rode out around this foothills loop with the gang I had to chase from the get go; let me tell you, it is much easier to arrive on time and forego the chasing part. Anyway, conditions up in the Wilderness Park are pretty darn good right now - there might be a few new eroded ruts in the road, and some others may have been deepened by the winters' rains, making the riding a bit rough for us hardtail riders, but the hillsides are green, the skies are blue, the dust is down, streams are flowing and primed to be splashed through.

The gang rode strong, the gang rode well. Trail walkers were awed as the riders ground out a steady uphill tempo, only occasionally surpassed by a speedier trail runner. Every turn opened up a new vista - mountain, canyons, sky, people enjoying the day, all the reasons Claremont established the Park - preserving hillside open space and providing a place for people to get outside.

The gang rode well together, no inflated egos spoiling to one-up each other; comrades of the narrow saddle until that rival gang rode by. Then the talk grew silent, the air still, faces grim, light talking, joking banter ceased, eyes became narrow slits of suspicion as the two groups sized one another up. Helmets were tilted down further over the eyes, shading faces, hiding intent from the gaze of these others. A tragic shoot-out was averted largely due to the others continuing past, and on down the trail. Crisis over, the DCG moseyed on to Marshall Junction where a trio of us cut out from the group, hightailing it back to town, appointments, or what ever else awaited to fill up the day.

Descending through Cobal Canyon, a bunch of young riders climbing uphill, the CHSMtbTeam out for a training spin, probably pretty thankful to have this loop just up the road. It would have been a little too challenging to attempt a one-handed descent while pulling the camera out.

up Mills Avenue

up Burbank Canyon

regrouping at the saddle

on again

up at the shelter

representatives of the CSBG, riding with the DCG today

warily watching as the rival gang rolls past

Friday, February 24, 2017

Mixed Signals

Perfect Spring day today, well, excepting that technically it is not Spring yet. But never mind that.

They were testing the latest home brew today at work (yes, we have a brew club) but, even though I had paid my membership fee, I was the contrary one running away and out the door so that I could get home to hop on the bike.

The signal was clear - "a perfect day, go for a ride." Little did I know, and as I feared when I installed that just-barely-fits-between-the-stays-tire, someone did in fact, and deed, take a rubber mallet to the rear wheel, knocking it just enough further out of true, causing the knobby tread to rub against the frame with each rotation. This signal was the exact opposite of the first, saying "don't ride until you resolve this problem."

I put up with the clatter and wearing away of rubber for a bit, even stopping at one point to slightly skew the wheel (didn't help at all), but ultimately called the ride short. Yes, I am pretty sure there is a spoke wrench somewhere in my camelbak, but couldn't be bothered to search for it. Guess I will have to do twice the distance tomorrow to make up for today.

It is often said that Bonelli holds its water like a dead man holds his secrets - forever. I don't believe the puddles have diminished at all in the past week or two. Some things don't change, like the downed pine blocking the trail along Puddingstone. Other things do change, like the beach-sand-banks along the stream (seemed like someone had dumped a load of new sand there), a cyclocross sand pit fantasy, or the recently exposed water gauging station - I have ridden by the upstream check dam, and downstream gauging station countless times, have never seen either, yet both are in plain view. I think rushing water, and maybe a little maintenance help, have exposed them from a covering of trees, brush, grass, dirt, etc.

Enjoy the weekend, there is more rain a coming, or so they say.

cool bi-wing at Brackett Field getting ready to taxi out

still blocking the way at least two weeks after it came down

check dam upstream

gauging station downstream


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Fast Digs: The 1937 Los Angeles Six Day Race

What is cool about this photo is that the only others I have seen from the Los Angeles Six Day Race of 1937 are of the track in an otherwise empty Pan Pacific Auditorium. This one captures the texture of the wood track, the racing action, spectators, even a couple derny's for motor pacing.

Like the previous (practice) photo, this one was contributed to the Calisphere system by the UCLA, Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library. The annotation on the nitrate negative sleeve notes: "Cyclists compete in a six-day bicycle race at Pan-Pacific Auditorium. The race included thirteen teams who competed in the 147 hour continuous ride. A 7-Up advertisement is painted on the track."

Fast Digs

And, just a reminder, you may not be able to see racing at the Pan Pacific, nor even the auditorium building, anymore, but you can still see world class racing in Los Angeles. Tickets are available for this weekends Tissot UCI Track Cycling World Cup at the Velo Sports Center.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Drink Local Coffee, Visit Local Bike Shops

Ah, that double-flat Saturday was salvaged with a visit to Augies on the way home where I was fortunate to find a little table "outside", looking up at the bikes outside Sunset Cycles, and wander up for a closer look. The hot coffee and cinnamon roll pairing made sitting there easy, watching people peer in the windows and open door of the Circus Studio; either I should have got out of my seat to look, or a class was just about to end, because there were a lot of spectators. I guess it was a bigger kick to head up the stairs to Sunset anyway - always fun to see what they have going on, and whether I can set any kind of low score record on the PacMan machine. An Iron Horse caught my eye, still can't decide if it belongs to a time when IH was a company of some renown, or after they were sold off into big-box obscurity.

Monday, February 20, 2017

2017 Beach to Boulders

For the fourth consecutive year Beach to Boulders at Lake Perris State Recreation Area has been the season kick-off race for the Southern California High School Cycling League. I had never been to the Lake Perris venue for a race, in fact had never been to Lake Perris for anything else, so I didn't really know what to expect. But since the lake is roughly in the same Inland area as Vail Lake I thought there might be some similarity. But no, not too much. Vail's technically challenging ups and downs, along a route full of twists and turns, is a contrast to the one long gradual climb and descent at Perris. It did not take long for me to realize the reason Lake Perris was given its spot on the calendar; it is a good place to acclimatize new, and returning, racers for what will come later in the season.

The grey, mostly doom-laden sky didn't really seem to have any negative bearing on the enthusiasm of the gathering. Indeed, the ground was as close to perfect for racing as you could hope for, the green covering the hillsides, and the broad plain stretching between hills and lake, was a seasonally fleeting treat, while the cooler temperature was probably preferable for most of the racers than the more typical heat. With everyone there providing loud vocal support for friends, family, teammates the enthusiasm was, as usual, infectious and wide spread. 

The Freshmen races were underway when I arrived and I had to leave before the Varsity boys finished, so didn't even get to see the JVs who raced last of the day. If what I saw in between proves to be indicative, 2017 should be another exciting one from start to finish. As infrequently as I seem to be able to make it out to these races (regrettably the next probably will not be until the beginning of April), I never fail to be impressed by the strength, handling skills and, often, teamwork, camaraderie, and tactical savvy on display during the heat of competition.

As usual it was heartening to see so many athletes in general, from so many different schools, and from my two most local ones in particular - Claremont, of course, and Damien. Both the Wolfpack, and the Spartans, are continuing to grow and progress, gaining experience with each passing season. I won't be surprised to see some of the riders challenging for top spots in their respective divisions soon. Since races take place every other week, through to the state championships the second weekend in May, it is never too long (although it may seem like it to the racers) before the next opportunity to test against all challengers comes around again.

You'll find a selection of one hundred forty-six photos in the Flickr album.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

As the Sun Sets on Coates Cyclery

The value of a business far exceeds however much money it makes per annum, or however many people it employs, or whatever economic impact it may bring to the community. There are often intangible connections, unseen and immeasurable, things we call loyalty and friendship. Some of that you can see in the newspapers and social media outlets who have run stories about the closing for the past couple weeks. There is nothing like walking through the doors, though, to bring those connections to life. The past few weeks have kind of been like a farewell tour, the long goodbye of a band saying thanks to their fans, and the fans getting one last live performance. Though it is not quite time to lock the doors for good, Saturday's potluck was indication that the end time is closing in. 

A week ago I said how sad it was looking inside the old shop, once full of the goods and merchandise we would drool over, scheme of ways to save up enough money to purchase, but now a quickly emptying shell. For a couple hours, maybe three, all the gloom of closing was replaced. People came from all around to fill the space once again; some were there the entire time, others came and went as their evening plans allowed, food and drink were shared, talk exchanged, laughs and music flowed through the open doors. Almost as if in answer to that, Mother Nature showed up, creating an amazing sunset, drawing the curtain down on the evening, as well as an era.

well now, this was a twist. somewhere along the line the evening turned into a lingerie party

the lyrics "green eyed lady, lovely lady, strolling slowly toward the sun" came to mind...

but then it was funny face time; lovely ladies.

Larry tried to quickly exit stage left

some Irish sounding tunes when I arrived turned to steel drums and reggae later

a line up of usual suspects

classic tilted bottle


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