Monday, February 28, 2011

The San Gabriels, Where Balloons Go To Die...

In a previous post I believe I noted how during any given ride up in the San Gabriel Mountains you are bound to run into a balloon or two while pedaling along. Usually I will come across them while mountain biking; today's sighting was on the road, lower Mt. Baldy Road to be exact. 

I appears that not even Tinkerbell could give Dora enough lift to help her over this chainlink fence, and so her goal of reaching the mountains fell a bit short. All she could do is look through this stand of California Black Walnut at the snow covered peaks in longing, and hope for a big gust of wind to come along to render some assistance.

Monday's mural...

This mural, painted above an entrance to Mead Hall, Pitzer College, was painted by students Darci Raphael and Aaron Rhodes in 1995. I can't seem to find any additional information, such as title, inspiration, etc., but this mural apparently has served to inspire students to create additional smaller murals and paintings along nearby colonnades.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Car = Weapon, storyline Brazil...

My god. Just saw the video of the Critical Mass tragedy in Brazil which was posted over at Ride the Black Line; 

Reprehensible, disgusting, a complete lack of humanity on the part of the driver. How could you not view this without coming to the conclusion that cars are indeed weapons necessitating much more regulation than is currently required. What kind of absolute hate and disregard for life must it take to drive your car straight through a group of people?

Dare to Race GP 2011...

the 13th Annual, today presented by Pacific Sunset Velo.

Men's 50+ race:

Mark Hoffenberg, victorious

Women's Pro/1/2 race:

Jennifer Valente, victorious

Men's 45+ race: Fast, you betcha. Consider who was in it, Steve Hegg, former Olympic Gold Medalist, Thurlow Rogers, former Master's World Champion, Richard Meeker, former National Champion. And they are my competition. Thats all.
Meeker throwing his bike to take a prime ahead of [?] and teammate Rogers.

 Hegg (l) and Meeker

Craig Miller, victorious

This young woman won the women's Pro/1/2 race; pretty good right? Then you watch as she does a roll-out for the official, and you realize she is still a junior. Now you're impressed.

Fun to go to races after some number of years and see people from long ago. Ray Moreno and I were both with the Chevy/Sheriff club in the early 90s.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Another Vintage Allegro...

This is the second Allegro I have spotted at the Velo. Unlike the first one I saw, this one is frame and fork only, it will be interesting to see how it gets built up (that is unless someone buys it as is). 
Allegro was a Swiss manufacturer, and their bikes would have been quite common in Europe between the 1930s and 1970s. That makes them old enough that, unless you find one that has been well taken care of, some restoration work will likely be required.

A well written, informative account of a Allegro restoration project can be found here.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Stand out...

Go ahead, be different. Stand out from the crowd.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fluff photos...

Because I have been attempting to get a little extra research done these past couple of days, I have been putting up what I tend to call "fluff posts", the kind that don't really require a lot of thought; mostly just photos taken during the day or, like yesterday, something seen elsewhere on the web. 

Now, I use the term fluff half jokingly. Anytime you can show, or document, people getting around by bike on a daily basis, and doing so without the use of a motor, is contributing to the greater good. I am a believer in the thought that motors are overused in today's society, from the obvious ones in our autos, to the ones that blow leaves into the street, to the little ones in our toothbrushes. We (society in general) tend to view these as making our lives easier, when in fact all they really do is provide convenient shortcuts. Sooner or later the bill is going to come due for payment, it could be a health issue resulting from a over-sedentary lifestyle, or any number of other health, economic, or environmental consequences. One way to rebel against this over-motorization is to use a bike (or your feet) for the various little errands we all have to do at some point during the week. As inspiration I present you with these images of people doing just that:

Finally, there is this new little exhibit up at the location mentioned in a previous post. This one has a bit of an ocean theme going on:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Me and My Bike...

Not the hip-hop fan, but this short video is cool. Kenyan youth promoting the benefits of bicycles as transportation (and the hip-hop is not obnoxious, in fact, considering the message it really works):

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cycling Claremont: Fresh Paint and Signs of the Times...

I was all set to comment on how some of our city's bike lanes have been loosing their luster, becoming a bit indistinct through wear and tear. Instead I came across newly painted lines on College Avenue above 6th Street. I also noticed that the paint is full of little flecks of shinning material; maybe I have never noticed before, or is this something new, something that makes the lines more reflective and thus visible at night? Anyone know?

At the same time, but a little further down the same street, it was impossible not to notice that the city's first sharrows have been installed, complete with signage and lane markings. The Bike Priority Zone sign is a nice addition as well - I will have to make some trips around to look for more, although they may only be going up bit by bit as different phases are completed. The sharrows run between 6th and Bonita, in both directions. If you checked in at StreetsblogLA this morning you may have noticed a photo on that site as well (they beat me to it, and I was not planning on a second post today, but felt pressured into it). One thing to notice about the sharrow symbols; they are not placed in the actual middle of the lane, the space between curb and center line, they are place in the middle of the travel space, between parked cars and the centerline, and thus position cyclists clear of the door zone. They got it right.

Now I am going to complain for a minute. A week or two ago another one of those "most bicycle friendly cities lists" came out, I believe by Bicycling Magazine. Why do these types of lists continue to only consider cities of a certain size, leaving smaller cities in the lurch, irregardless of how much they have done to promote bicycling within their borders? I know that changes made in larger cities have the potential to affect more people, but I think it is time to see a list that considers amount of infrastructure, education programs, community involvement relative to size. If you consider everything that has been done, is being done, and is planned within this little burg of 38,000 residents, I guarantee it will match up with, if not exceed, any city ten times its size or more.

Cycling Claremont: a Space Oddity...

I have always been intrigued by this little stretch of pathway which begins/ends on Towne Avenue right at the 210 Freeway exit. Between this point and its other end, the path is little more than a quarter mile in length. Lets say you ride along this short path and come to the end here at Towne Avenue, you cannot safely cross Towne (there is no marked crosswalk), so you either turn right and head down Towne, which is essentially going back the way you just came or, like the cyclist shown below, go left, up Towne and against traffic. This way will take you to the popular Thompson Creek Trail, a multi-use pathway, which starts at the north end of Towne, just past the 210/Baseline intersections. 

Now, as we know, riding against traffic is a no-no, dangerous stuff. It is even more perilous here, because the two right lanes of the 210 exit are right turn only lanes and, while drivers are directed to turn on a green light only, it does not always happen that way.

Next is this neighborhood entry/exit point, nicely laid out, landscaped, I assume at least minimally maintained, and... fenced off. Classical case of NIMBYISM? Why go to all the trouble to design and build, just to fence it off?

Roughly halfway along its course the pathway makes a roughly 90º turn away from running parallel to the 210, and now runs parallel to the Thompson Creek Channel. Again, nicely, though minimally maintained. The path soon ends where Sumner Avenue bends into Ridgefield Drive. If you take Ridgefield, ride for about a quarter mile, you will find yourself back at Towne, almost where, and a literal stone's throw from where, you started.

What would be useful is to have the path continue south along Thompson Creek (right through the gate in the photo below). Instead you get an on street bike lane, which is all well and fine, but the lane is one of those kind in which cars can park, rendering it utterly useless in its intended purpose.

The map below shows the path highlighted in red. From a pedestrian standpoint, I suppose it makes some sense as a connection from the residential area to the Thompson Creek Trail above Baseline, but enough sense to justify the cost? I don't see much advantage afforded by the pathway over the Ridgefield/Towne alternate route. Anyway, there you have this little Claremont spatial oddity. It seems to want to be a part of something more significant, but just feels incomplete and leaves a "what is it for" taste in your mouth.

Alright, so, I was talking to a couple city council candidates this past Sunday and was provided a little more insight. This little section of the Thompson Creek Trail has the potential to serve as a starting point for a bikeway connecting to the San Gabriel River Trail in Whittier. The path would continue southwest along the Thompson Creek channel, connect to San Jose Creek, and then follow that channel to its confluence with the San Gabriel River. I am not aware of any plans in motion at the time to bring this to reality, but wow, what potential. To be able to ride from Claremont to Seal Beach on a dedicated class 1 bike path - where do I sign up? By following these creek channels, the path would be about the most direct route to the coast that you could expect to find. Actually, if you check out the Metro Bike Map you will see that lower San Jose Creek, where it meets the San Gabriel already has a class 1 path; with both ends in place, we just need to fill in the middle, and link to the SGRT over the river. Obviously something like this is an involved process, involving many jurisdictions, numerous right-of-way issues, awkward street crossings, naysayers, and funding issues, but it has been done before, and there is no reason it cannot be done again. With a little effort, this little oddity could be turned into a gateway.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Slow Sunday Scenes from the Village...

I was really intending to do a long ride this morning, or maybe a mountain bike ride through Bonelli with the Psycho-List group, but things don't always work out the way we plan. Instead of either of those two options, I was served up a slow Sunday morning. And you know what, it worked out fine. Breakfast at the Grill, the farmer's market, and talks with a couple city council candidates.

one week later and Valentines is still going strong:

 side by side, walking:

 side by side, riding:

 tie-dyed and single speed:

 water fun:

 the perfect vehicle for the farmer's market:

 woof, woof:


 cross traffic:

and finally, I in no way suggest that you cast a vote simply based upon whether a candidate rides a bike, there is after all more to consider, but...

here are two of our local city council candidates who do ride,

Sam Pedroza, who was on his son's fixed gear today
(I have made several mentions of seeing him riding through town in the past, he has been very instrumental in advocating for bike enhancements in the city, as well as the future Gold Line extension): 

and, Michael Keenan, one of the few people who spends more time on a bike than I do
(got to like the mobile campaign sign hooked up to his bike):

Saturday, February 19, 2011

An afternoon at the Los Angeles Velodrome...

The son and I spent an enjoyable, rainy afternoon indoors at the LA Velodrome watching some of the racing during the first round of the LAVRA Cup. I have been to the Encino Velodrome a handful of times, but never to that tracks younger and more glamorous sister at the Home Depot Center. Indoor velodromes, like this one, lend themselves to some interesting photo opportunities, so while I took some still shots, the boy did some filming. The action was quite fierce, but unfortunately like so many local-oriented bike racing events, they just don't have the draw to bring out large numbers of spectators - it was most definitely worth an afternoon though. Oh, and photographs just do not do those banked turns justice. They are steep.

Los Angeles Velodrome, LAVRA Cup 2011, Round 1 from Michael Wagner on Vimeo.

If you really want to see something dramatic, check out the photo on Ride the Black Line, of the splinter that Malaysian racer Azizulhasni Awang picked up in his leg after crashing. Makes me queasy. To top it off, Mr. Awang remounted and finished third. That's some tuff stuff.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Citrus Regional Bikeway update...

Beginnings may not always look like much, but hopefully they presage great things. For the past couple days work along Bonita Avenue (the future Citrus Regional Bikeway) through Claremont has looked a lot like this:
Not much really, markings on the pavement, digging and utility work has signified the start of the construction phase. Bonita is already a prime route into Claremont for cyclists; once the Bikeway is complete, I expect people will be hard pressed to find a valid excuse to not ditch the car in favor of a bike ride into the Village.

Return of Alexi Grewal...

photo from Back In Among The Wheels

I don't know how many of you are aware of the attempted comeback of 51 year old Alexi Grewal. It has not been big news, though I have been following his blog, via his website Back In Among The Wheels, for a couple months now, and just this morning notice that Velonation has come out with a story. Being only three years my senior, our racing careers have run mostly parallel (though at very different levels) and as I strive to make my own comeback to competitive cycling, I will be following Alexi's progress with great interest. For those who may have forgotten, Mr. Grewal won Olympic gold in the Road Race during the 1984 Games held in Los Angeles, he also had a solid career riding for 7-11 in Europe and then for Coors Light in the United States. His climbing prowess allowed him to win the Bob Cook Memorial Mt. Evans Hillclimb on three occasions, and to take 1st overall in the 1982 edition of the Cascade Cycling Classic. Making a comeback to a sport in which you were once at the top is, I can imagine, easier said than done; whatever the outcome, though it should be fun, and hopefully inspirational. I wouldn't mind glancing to my left some day and seeing him lined up a couple riders away awaiting the sound of the gun.

August 2011 update: If you are reading this, you may have attempted to jump to Alexi's blog Back in Among the Wheels, and found that it no longer exists. I don't recall reading anything specific, but I suspect that as Mr. Grewal came to realize that coming back to a high level of competition, was not progressing as hoped, he pulled the plug, and returned to a life outside racing. If this is true, I think it unfortunate, he clearly possesses a wealth of history and experience, which I am sure would have made for some great stories. 

December 2011 update: Here is the link to a VeloNews story about Alexi Grewal and his comeback attempt. It is a terrific interview in which Alexi explains the factors involved in undertaking a return to racing, the realities of the venture, and his reasons for calling it quits. Very candid, as you would expect from Mr. Grewal. I, like so many others, wish him the best.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...