Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday feedzone...

Quite the busy week included representatives of the cycling community meeting with Chief Beck of the LAPD to express their/our concerns including the disturbing case of city employee Ed Magos, left lying in the street by a hit and run driver; vigilante bike messengers chase and catch a bike thief in downtown; the great Irish racer Sean Kelly and his latest efforts in support of the next generation of Irish racers; Ft. Worth, Texas, yes Texas, pursuing a progressive bicycling plan directed by a mayor who calls car-centric planning of the past a mistake; then, something a little lighter just for fun, a short clip of Red Green making one of his handy creations, this time a bike chopper; and finally, though totaly unrelated, this unemployment map charting the increase in unemployment as it spread across the country like a cancer.

My Favorite Routes I: the Palmer-Evey...

Two miles up the road from home is the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park. In a place as big as metro L.A. that makes it close enough to be considered my backyard. The CHWP is centered upon a five mile loop trail (dirt road) through two canyons, Burbank and Cobal. Additional roads and trails branch off this main loop leading to the grassy hillsides of Johnson's Pasture (also part of CHWP) with its stand of stately Italian Stone Pines, the well-known single-track of Marshall Canyon and, my destination today, the Palmer-Evey road.
Just a moment to take in the view

Since this is a dirt fire road, it is not the type of ride that mountain bikers go out of their way to do. Never-the-less, it does have it's attractions, some obvious, some hard to find. Leaving the CHWP, the Palmer-Evey climbs and dips in and out of the canyons of the San Gabriel Mountains' front range. On clear days, like today, the views out across the valley below and to the distant snow-covered peaks, Mt. San Gorgonio and Mt. San Jacinto, are spectacular. Up close, wildflowers often cover the hillsides in a petaled mosaic of purples, reds, golds, yellow and white. About 3/4 to 1 mile after leaving the CHWP loop the road delves into one of the larger canyons, though unnamed as far as I know. The slopes of this canyon are deeply shaded by a large extended family of oaks. This is the only canyon along the Palmer-Evey through which a stream flows year-round. That means that a small cluster of Alder grows here, and the local deer herd can often be seen grazing during the hot summer months. While the CHWP is daily invaded by crowds from the urban area, the Palmer-Evey is rarely visited.
Lupin, Spring's first showing

After leaving this canyon the road wends ever upward, passing a small Angeles National Forest boundary sign until it eventually reaches a saddle and road junction where a small stream can be heard gurgling by. This is usually my minimum turn around point, though when my legs are willing, the strenuous climb to the top of Potato Mountain beckons, err taunts. Other seasonal views along the Palmer-Evey.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The way it is done in Hungary...

These short commericals supporting the Bike To Work campaign in Hungary have been popping up on many cycling related blogs and websites today, and are just too good not to share again in case you haven't seen them. Really fun and imaginative. Why is it I have never seen anything like this on our airwaves where, instead, every other ad that pops onto the screen seems to be auto related. The last clip is a bit racey, though; best to turn down the volume at work.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rain gets in my eyes, err, on my glasses...

Even here in sunny SoCal we get rain from time to time (and we seem to be into our weeend pattern lately). As one who wears glasses and finds himself out in the rain occasionally, I have had to deal with obscured vision. My response to the falling wet stuff has always be to pull my trusty cycling cap lower. That takes care of most of the drops, but has little effect against road spray. So, it was with interest that I read through this post from; might as well go to the experts for advice, and who is more knowledgeable about riding in the rain than our two-wheeled brethren up north.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ghost bike...

20 February, Joseph Meeks, San Bernardino. Hit and run.

Bicycle Culture...

Mark your calendar for the 2nd East Hollywood ArtCycle event, scheduled for March 13, 2010. Looks like fun if you are in the area.

Ride 2 Support Yoshio

The ride was run over the weekend. Some 41 people had affirmed their participation beforehand, but I think even more showed up and contributed to Yoshio's medical fund (he remains in a coma). It was cool to see so many riders come out to show their support for one of the tribe. Tip of the hat to Coates as well for arranging and hosting the ride, tee-shirts, and post ride taco feast.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Out of the stable...

Well, it has been quite a while since I have let the 29er roam from the stable, and with rain forecast for the weekend, I wanted to be sure to give it some room and time to roam. So, we headed up to our local Claremont Hills Wilderness Park where the streams still held water, the color green was dominating the hillsides, and the rain clouds were moving in, obscuring the higher peaks of the San Gabriels.Little mojo blending in with the frame.

Handlebar shot and the green hills of Claremont
There is a city down there.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bicycle Culture...

Many cyclists, myself included, have a love-hate relationship with automobiles; we dream of car-free roads, yet use our cars to get to distant trailheads, favorite group rides, or races. Blasting the American auto-centric culture is almost a favored past-time and one that I certainly encourage. I am especially fond of the term "auto-dependant syndrome"(ADS), an affliction of the masses where even simple errands as little as five minutes away cannot be undertaken without driving. The ADS afflicted person becomes oblivious to the damage done by automobiles to our environment, our society, and our communities, the noise, pollution, land use problems, health consequences, etc. A person with ADS
must drive, and so they therefore block out all the detrimental side-effects. In this spirit I present the above drawing. It and others like it can be found at this Flicker photostream page of Carbusters magazine.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New kit...

has arrived.Picked mine up this past weekend. It is always a good feeling, especially when starting with a new team/club to finally be able to show who you are riding with; a matter of pride I suppose.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ghost bike...

15 February 2010, Unidentified cyclist, Compton, California. Hit and run.There is no excuse for this. If you are driving, you have one job only, to pay attention to the road. Update: Victim was Ovidio Morales, a father of five who was crossing the street in a crosswalk. The driver was reported to have been seen talking on a phone and ran a red light.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Some weekend...

yes, some weekend we had around here; 70º weather (I think it even topped 80º on Sunday). The skies were blue, the trees were in bloom, and the bike racks were bursting; everything as it should be.
The bikes around here come in all shapes and sizes; well represented are the "townie-style" such as this bright red and white Schwinn Legacy with improvised basket for toting all those textbooks around. Parked outside the 1963 Garrison Theater on the Scripps College campus, Claremont Colleges, the Schwinn's simple design contrasts with the intricate mosaic mural by Millard Sheets depicting scenes from Romeo & Juliet, King Lear, and Antony and Cleopatra.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday feedzone...

Another week has come and gone. This week's feedzone fill includes Khal, who argues that the handfull of deaths attributed to mechanical issues in Toyota cars over the past decade is small potatos, how about the 400,000 deaths resulting from poor driving practices, and what we really need is a recall on negligent drivers. The Round Rock School District in Texas uses cycling and computers to encourage kids to exercise in the battle against childhood obesity. If a city the size of Missoula, Montana can get behind active transporation, why is it so hard to do in the City of Angels? And finally, the Tour of California unveils a whopper of a stage - stage 6, from Pasadena to Big Bear, 135 miles and over 12,000 feet of climbing.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cycling Claremont: Infrastructure...

In 2008 Claremont became one of only 27 cities in California to earn a bronze or better rating for bicycle friendly communities by the League of American Bicyclists. So what bike infrastructure exists that makes Claremont an attractive place:

1. The city's compact size where necessities like groceries and bike stores, and luxuries such as theatres and restaurants are all within easy biking distance from any point in the city.

2. Most major, and key secondary streets, contain bike lanes.

3. Narrow streets within the core "Village" area contribute to lower vehicle speeds.

4. An active student population (the Claremont Colleges) for whom bikes are a quick, efficient and inexpensive transportation option for local errands.

5. The new bikestation at the Claremont Depot with access to Metrolink service.

6. The Thompson Creek Trail, a paved multi-use trail along the base of the foothills.

7. The Claremont Hills Wilderness Park with its miles of dirt roads and trails set aside for the exclusive use of mountain bikers, hikers and equestrians.

8. Bikes are highly prominent; especially in the Village area, and on weekends it is rare that a minute passes without a bike gliding by.

9. Access to the Pacific Electric Trail, a multi-use trail running through the cities of Upland, Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana, and Rialto. The trail ends at Claremont's eastern border.

Yes, there are some infrastructure omissions as well, and I will look at those in the future. For the most part though, Claremont has been able to work around these to create an attractive experience for its large group of resident and visitor cyclists.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Show of support...

Just a heads-up; "Ride 2 Support Yoshio", Saturday, February 20 from 8:30 to 11:30. Separate road and mountain bike rides will take place, both leaving from Coates Cyclery. A $20.00 minimum donation will help defray medical costs of Garcia who was hit by a car on January 14 and remains in a coma. Tacos and refreshments will be served post ride at the shop. For more information see link, or contact Coates Cyclery at 909-624-0612.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Bicycle Culture...

In "Bicycle Culture" I will present occasional images of bicycles as presented in popular, avant-garde, and over-the-edge culture. "The Ride", featuring the Midnight Ridazz and 30 Seconds to Mars singing their song "Kings & Queens" shows the Ridazz doing what they do best along the nighttime streets of downtown Los Angeles. If the Ridazz in their sometimes outrageous outfits don't make this a worthwhile view, the visual imagery - bikes and riders in sole possession of downtown streets, nighttime and sunrise perspectives of the city, and the aptly entitled accompaniment put this video over the top. It's worth the view.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The 2010 Tweed Ride

Well, today was the Claremont Tweed Ride. Tweed rides are organized in many cities around the world, some of the largest being held in London and San Francisco. As the name suggests, riders dress in as much tweed as they have. I could only manage my Irish tweed cap, with a shirt, tie and non-tweed vest, while Tamera was able to find a jacket at the last minute. Not only are there a bunch of people dressed from days of yesteryear, classic bikes hit the streets decked out in their finest accoutrements as well; the classic winner today being a shining silver steed dating to 1937. The Claremont ride is still in its infancy (I believe this is only its second year) and is organized by Dale, of TheVelo, the "worlds smallest bike shop. About 18 people and their rides came out, meandered around the Claremont College campuses and the streets of the Village, and ended up at the Packing House Wine Merchants for a little

taste of the grape (thanks J.P. for treating); others opted for the coffee house, and the underage group preferred frozen yogurt. A lot of fun, the tweed ride is purely a social happening and clearly beats sitting around filling up on chips and dips while watching the Stupor Bowl (actually, we did finish in time to watch the second half).

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday feedzone...

A handfull of the weeks intersting or informative stories:

A city council approved plan to close 200 street blocks in the center of Geneva, Switzerland to automobile traffic gives new meaning to the term liveable streets.
Second, two new bikestations are set to open in the greater Los Angeles metro, and yes one of those is at our very own Claremont Depot, where it will provide secure bike parking for Metrolink commuters. Grand opening festivities are scheduled for February 24.
Third, do I feel safer on the streets when the callous crime of a hit and run is treated as a misdemeanor simply due to the fact that, luckily, no severe injuries resulted?
Finally, the recently released book "Carjacked: The Culture of the Automobile and its Effect on Our Lives" caught my attention not just for the topic, but also because one of the authors, Catherine Lutz, is an anthropologist. I will need to get my hands on a copy.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

From the archives: Stephen Swart and Dave Mann...

Stephen Swart (left) and Dave Mann wait around prior to the start of the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix, ca. 1993, the year that the race was won by Mann. Being a lowly Cat. 4 with the Chevrolet-L.A. Sheriff club at the time, I was partial to the old green and yellow, but it was quite impressive the way the Silver Bullets dominated so many of the races they entered.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


The winter, evening rides in the dark continue, though I can see light, literally, at the end of the tunnel. And none too soon. The season's first race, and the first race of my "long anticipated"comeback, being a week and a half away, I still feel woefully unprepared. It is much easier to get out on longer rides when the sun is lighting my way, rather than the headlight.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

In the beginning...

...there was an idea. Welcome to the ClaremontCyclist inaugural post in which I will attempt to present a glimpse into the Southern California cycling scene. Expect to read my comments on all aspects of cycling in Claremont and the greater Inland Empire / Los Angeles region, on topics ranging from racing and recreation, to commuting, political activism and social change. Check in often, or occasionally, for the "view from my saddle".
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