Wednesday, June 30, 2010


is just early summer still, no?

So what was with all the autumn leaves yesterday? I had stopped against the curb to snap a photo, and only then noticed all the golden and yellow leaves arrayed in their windblown repose, a compliment to my bike.

"The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold
I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sun-burned hands I used to hold"

Johnny Mercer

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I guess I have missed the earlier installments of this series over at Bikes and the City, but had a good mid-morning laugh over the current post. Get these two some bikes, maybe a tandem. It is amazing to me how insidious all these little gadgets become in peoples lives. I say this as I sit in front of a computer monitor, accepting the ipod's help in get through the day, and until such time as I can get back on my own bike. No matter how prevalent gizmo's may be, it is important to remember that the simple things hold the most meaning; technology is just so much fluff cast about by the wind looking for a place to settle. And no, my parents are not, nor ever have been, hippies.

Monday, June 28, 2010


Monday mural. Pitzer College student creation with a literary reference.


of bicycle love by the seashore.

So another weekend has come and gone  - another fine opportunity to ride to the coast. We tend to to that a lot during the warmer months; not surprising really, though we are yet to have any really hot days inland. Anyway, it was a spectacular weekend to set your wheels to the SGRT and follow the river to Seal Beach. Past the sand, past the umbrellas sticking out of the sand, past the people playing in the sand, and past the perpetual surf crashing onto the sand, the horizon was almost complete obscured by red, blue and white sails. Not sure what the occasion was, other than maybe it just happened to be a fine day, but I had never seen so many boats tacking around out in the big blue. At one point they seemed to converge on one of the oil drilling platforms as if in the midst of a wind power protest. On the landside, things did not seem to be quite so crowded - the River's End Cafe had empty tables at lunch, but we opted instead for burritos at el Burrito Jr., and savored them while sitting at the park across the street. This is a great spot for people and bike watching, being right at the end of Main Street and the pier, there is a continual tide of riders coming and going, ebb and flow.

I see sailboats

riding left to right, and

back again, but what happened to the basket?

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Friday, June 25, 2010

49th MBGP...

The 49th Manhattan Beach Grand Prix is this Sunday, June 27. This is one of the best spectator races in SoCal, always attracting a large enthusiastic crowd. It is also one of the most prestigious races, drawing the top regional and national teams, as well as the occasional international rider. Besides the pro and amateur races, there is an expo area, kids races, and the oval course is walking distance to the beach, and pubs and restaurants of downtown M.B. Great excuse to escape the inland heat. Unless there is a successful break, the races usually end in fast bunch sprints where you never know what will happen. And, needless to say, that is why you never saw me on the podium; though I did look forward to the race every year just for the thrill of racing in front of the large crowd.
The inevitable crash in the final turn, 1993 edition

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A travesty...

By now you may have heard about the infamous Chicago Two, who in a fit of idiocy, intentionally set out to run down cyclists with their car, even stopping to change seats so that each could have a turn with the fun. By now you may have heard how the esteemed Justice of the Court saw fit to deliver a knockout sentence of 10 days jail time for one the the outstanding citizen drivers, and a whopping two years probation for the other.

Is this just another example of the perversion of the justice system in this country? How can any right thinking individual, either legally or morally, conclude that the actions of these two deserves anything less than the maximum allowable jail time? How is intentionally attacking a [160 lbs] person with a 2000 lbs machine anything less than attempted murder?

Is this another example of how entrenched car culture has become in this society? Would the outcome have been any different if a gun was used? I think so. Seeing a car as anything less than a weapon in instances like this and delivering punishment commensurate to the crime is nothing short of a breakdown of justice.

And by the way, how was this not classified as a hate crime? By definition "hate crimes occur when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her perceived membership in a certain social group," in this case bicyclists. Hate crime, pure and simple.

I believe (correct me if I am wrong), that in this country, if a person commits a crime with a gun, then that person cannot legally obtain a firearm again. Will this mean that these two will never be able to drive again? Ha. They will be back behind a wheel in no time, if they are not already. I remember some number of years ago there was a campaign in California that basically said "use a gun (to commit a crime), go to jail. We just need to change one word. Car for gun.

I have brought this up before; no one benefits by allowing people like these two to drive. They have been given their chance, and been found wanting. Wanting in compassion, wanting in common sense, wanting in the ability to maintain self-control, wanting in the capacity to function as human beings. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Photos on the road...

When I am doing any type of riding other than cruising around, or if I specifically set out to take photographs, I carry my more compact, not-so-good camera. Such is the case when I commute to work by bike. Thing about this camera is I can get some photos along with some lousy photos. I also seem to unwittingly press buttons from time to time, not realizing it until I get home later. This set were all taken while moving, either to work in the morning, or back home in the evening. Because of that there were plenty of blurred photos, photos that should have had riders in them, but turns out they don't, and photos that are half obscured by the sun. For all that some of them came out somewhat interesting.
spot the rider

working class rider

side by side on the Pacific Electric Trail

sidewalk riding on Euclid Avenue in Upland

obviously I hit the sepia button beginning here. I do like the ethereal quality the sun creates

headed up College Avenue, Claremont

there is a rider way up ahead

rounding third and heading for home.

Chasing Legends...

If this new film is anything like Director Jason Berry's two previous, 24 Hour Solo and Off Road to Athens, I would expect good things. Check the film showing schedule here, there are two coming up in Orange County (thats as close as they get); and a write-up here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday's mural...

There are a plethora of these small murals on building columns and balcony walls of dorms and other buildings around the campus of Pitzer College. For the most part they are student creations, and I suspect for that reason very few have any documentation. This one derives from a well-known portrait of Dakota leader Medicine Bottle (Wa-kan-o-zhan-zhan). Medicine Bottle participated in the war between the Dakota and United States, known to US history as the Minnesota Massacre, in 1862. Following the war he escaped to Canada, but was discovered, drugged and brought back to the United States, where in 1865 he was hanged.

I don't know if it was because today was the first day of summer and the sun was shining bright, though not hot, but there were a lot of folks out on bikes during the evening ride home. It was awesome; whatever was going on, lets have more of it. Wish I had a way to keep my camera in a more handy location, it would have made an interesting excercise to take a photo of each person I saw.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fathers and bikes...

First off, happy father's day to all my compatriot dads out there. Anyone have any remembrances of their fathers and bikes. Other than the fact that I am sure he had something to do with picking out my first two bikes as a kid, the Huffy with banana seat, and then the AMF Roadmaster, I really only have one that springs to mind. I remember being out mowing the lawn one fine summer day, my dad must have taken the AMF for a spin around the block and had just pulled up. The elder of the smart-ass Robart kids, who lived on the next street, came riding by and said something, well... smart-assed. Needless to say my dad spun around and the race was on. Being barefoot at the time, there was no way I was going to keep pace, but I set out in pursuit anyway. A short time later my dad came riding back. Not sure, but I believe youth triumphed and the Robart got away, and probably had a good laugh. Remember thinking that I had never seen my dad move so fast though.

For the coaster brake riders...

Never been to one of these events, but have read about them, and they sound like a lot of fun.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The yellow Basso...

Found some old photos of the Basso from approximately the early 1990's when I bought the frame and built it up. The frame itself, I have been led to believe, is a 1990 model Paris Roubaix. The story of the yellow Basso: My history with the Basso began in 1992, maybe 1993, when it was brought into service to replace a short-lived Bottecchia which had been destroyed as a result of a high speed colision on a mountain road. I had stopped in to a shop at which an old high school (and earlier)  friend worked, and there it was, up on the wall a beauty to behold. As I was racing with the Chevrolet / L.A. Sheriff squad at the time, a club whose colors were green and yellow, I knew at first sight that the Basso was for me. We raced together for another couple years during which we were steady performers lacking in significant results. By 1995 the Basso was stripped down and shoved into a corner, replaced by a new model GT.

Here we are at the Red Cliffs Mall Criterium, Tour of St. George, probably 1994.

And the latest incarnation. It has been retired from service, stripped down to the frame, and then brought out of mothballs at least four times over the years. Though other bikes have taken its place, it has always been willing to wait for it's chance to comeback.

Random images...

from the first half of the weekend
my bear bell hangs off the back of my camelback and, even there, is surprisingly effective.

test riding the chopper bike

sidewalk scene

at the Back Abbey, a Belgian ale house. Frites and excellent burgers as well. Nice place to end a long road ride, or after coming down from a run through the canyons, like today

in the garage, a cyclist lives here.

Friday, June 18, 2010



with this


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Quotable link...

The devaluing of a human life for the sake of automobility. Just be prepared to be outraged if you follow the ink:

"The perceived devaluation of the lives of cyclists has long been a point of contention for riders, and leaves many of us feeling that lawmakers consider us as little more important than deer."

On a more upbeat note:

"Thursday is gonna be a GREAT day! The Velo will be open, the weather is gonna be beautiful, and THE LAKERS ARE GONNA BE WORLD CHAMPIONS AGAIN!!!
Stop by and say HI!!!"

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cycling Claremont: Infrastructure...

A problem spot. The intersection of First Street and Claremont Blvd. is arguably the worst in the city for cyclists to navigate in an east to west direction. What makes this especially problematic is that this intersection handles all bicycle traffic from the Pacific Electric Trail. Legally, the only way for a cyclist to travel westbound through the intersection (red line) takes riders across the path of cars turning left from First onto northbound Claremont. More than once I have had to hit my brakes hard for drivers refusing to give me the right of way. Any number of reasons might explain this: 1. the distance for drivers turning left is shorter than the distance for a cyclist going through the intersection, 2. drivers do not anticipate cyclists traveling through the intersection due to the odd alignment, 3. inattention. I suspect a combination of all these are to blame. As a result I have found it much safer to make a quick left going against traffic and quickly swing around to move into the left turn lane (blue line). Yes it is illegal, and yes it comes with it's own hazard - briefly going against traffic, but in my experience it is still the safer option. 
In this image Claremont Blvd goes from top to bottom, 1st  Street comes in from the left, the P.E.T. ends at the beginning of the red line to the right. The Citrus Bikeway will start of the end of the P.E.T., travel along 1st before jogging through the Village.

What could the city do to solve this problem. A couple options spring to mind. Convert the current right turn only lane (green line) allowing traffic to travel west bound through the intersection in a mostly straight line. This would put cyclists in a direct line of sight with cars in the left turn lane directly opposite. This would be more in line with standard intersection design, and might allow drivers to better anticipate the presence of cyclists. Signs indicating the presence of cyclists would be another appropriate safety measure. A second option would be to adjust the traffic signal pattern so that cyclists moving west through the intersection would have an exclusive green light while other directions are stopped.
The street level view through the intersection is deceptive, giving the appearance of any "normally" aligned intersection, exaggerating the path a cyclist must take as seen in the aerial view (red line).

This intersection already sees considerable bicycle traffic, students coming and going from the colleges, families riding on the P.E.T., and other morning and evening commuters; with the city set to commence construction of the Citrus Regional Bikeway, this traffic may multiply even more. The hazzards here are real, I have experienced them firsthand and the city needs to take a close look at resolving them before a serious incident occurs.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

It's a parade...

Come one, come all. Decorate your bikes, decorate yourselves. Claremont's Fourth of July parade always kicks-off with a mass bike ride along the parade route. Instead of sitting on the sideline, be a part of it this year. This is not an official "Bring Out Yer Bike" event, but it is a good excuse to ride.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mad for M*A*S*H 2010 report...

Sunday morning our small group of riders hit the trail at Malibu Creek State Park bound for the M*A*S*H filming site. With riders ranging in age from 8 to 48, and of varied experience, we were not sure what to expect. But, since this was billed as a fun ride and time was not of the essence, no one really cared. Neither the one big hill, nor the rock garden trail could stop our youngest who gave an all-out effort to conquer the obstacles - some hike-a-bike, it is true, but even the best have to resort to that at times. The interpretive exhibits set up at the site were informative and we took some extra time atop "Radar's Hill" remembering familiar scenes from the show and trying to place them within the landscape. It was about this time that Corporal Radar O'Reilly showed up... no, wait, that was our best dressed winner. The return ride went a little more quickly - less climbing, more downhill, and we were rewarded with a barbeque to slake our hunger and thirst, and some squirt-gun action to cool down. Seemed like everyone enjoyed the day, and that after all, was the whole point. Until next time.

Monday's mural...

Of all the murals in Claremont this is the prize, the grand-daddy of them all. It is actually a series of nine panels painted along the interior courtyard wall of the Margaret Fowler Garden, Scripps College. The murals date to 1947, and were painted by Mexican muralist Ramos Martinez. More information here.

What makes this series of murals especially unique is the setting in which they are found, the Margaret Fowler Garden. Here the yellow Basso leans against a column almost completely entangled by a massive wisteria vine.

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