Saturday, July 30, 2011

Philippe Gilbert yet again...

Another impressive jewel was added to Gilbert's crown today when he ran away with the victory at the San Sebastian Classic. Gilbert seems virtually unstoppable this year; it is rare when a racer can continue winning from one end of the season to the other. It seems entirely possible that Gilbert will do so, and that will add an element of excitement to the Autumn Classics. Gilbert's all-around ability reminds me of Sean Kelly - almost always a threat. Kelly, of course, won the Vuelta a Espana in 1988, and was Points Champion four times. Gilbert finished 3rd in the Point Competition at this years Tour de France; I would like to see a prepared Philippe Gilbert contest the Vuelta. May not be in the cards this year, but I would put him in there with a shot any time.

Juan Herrero photo via

While Gilbert was on his way to victory in Spain, I made my weekly ride up Glendora Mountain Road today, rather than the more typical Friday, and celebrated my own small victory - I caught everyone who came within my sight, and allowed not a single rider to catch me. A small feat to be sure; it is all in the timing. Honestly though, as much as I do enjoy the solitude of the Friday GMR rides, it is pretty fun to have all those other cyclists around. As long as they are not out lolly gagging or sightseeing, you can figure they are putting at least some effort into it, and can pat yourself on the back or, after making sure no one is looking, raise your fists and smile like Philippe.

here i close on a likely victim just before the
first saddle, while mt. baldy looms in the distance

Friday, July 29, 2011

Biking, and Fishing the San Gabriel River...

Just a random shot from the day. I have read there are largemouth bass,
warmouth, and brown trout to be had,

or you could just relax, read the paper,

and watch the riders pass by.

Races to Kick-off August...

Two weeks on from the Tour, and all those riders will still be riding that wave of optimal fitness, and there are two big races on tap this weekend in which those riders can seek out a post-Tour victory. The first of these, run on Saturday, is the Clasica San Sebastian. The Clasica has been raced since 1981, and the riders standing atop its finish podium have been quite a diversely international bunch. Spanish riders have dominated recently, though, winning six of the past seven editions. Look for defending champion, Luis Leon Sanchez, and Samuel Sanchez to contest for victory. The Schleck brothers, Andy and Frank, Ivan Basso, and Philip Gilbert should be strong challengers as well.

Luis Leon Sanchez celebrates victory at the 2010 Clasica San Sebastian

The week-long Tour of Poland kicks off on Sunday. Though it is a short Tour, it has been steadily gaining in interest, if not status in the past few years. After being left off the Garmin-Cervelo squad at the Tour de France, defending champion Daniel Martin of Ireland, is my favorite to repeat. Martin will be backed by a strong support team including, Christophe Le Mevel, Heinrich Haussler, Martijn Maaskant, and Andrew Talansky. Liquigas-Cannondale will be there with Vincenzo Nibali and Peter Sagan in their ranks. Quick Step will be bringing Dario Cataldo, Kevin Seeldraeyers, Tom Boonen, among other strong riders. Those are the strongest teams as I see them, but don't discount the others, including AG2R La Mondiale, BMC, Euskaltel Euskadi, Katusha, Lampre-ISD, Leopard-Trek, Movistar, Omego Pharma-Lotto, Astana, Rabobank, Sky, HTC Highroad, Radioshack, and Saxo Bank SunGard. The Polish riders on those teams, as well as those on the two Polish wildcard teams will be racing for pride of country.

Daniel Martin celebrates with the podium girls at the 2010 Tour of Poland

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What's In A Name: A Question for the Bloggers out there...

More specifically, any bloggers who have changed, or thought of changing the name of their blog. Since the Claremont Cyclist has grown beyond Claremont (which admittedly, was always the intention) I have long been thinking of changing the name of this here blog. This is something I have given some thought to since almost the very beginning. The Claremont Cyclist has also seemed a bit pretentious. I've already got the name picked out, and a design for matching t-shirts to go with. 

The most common way of doing this seems to be to simply close the old blog down by writing up a final post, and inviting everyone to check out the new and improved one. Nothing is lost after all; the posts from the old blog are all archived by Blogger. Hopefully, you don't lose too many readers in the process. I have noticed this method used when the writer goes off on a completely or slightly different tangent, so a new blog makes sense. The content of this blog will not be changing in any way, so I am not sure it is totally necessary.

I guess you could always just put the new title up in the banner, and call it a done deal. It would still have the old name in the address though, so that's kind of awkward.

What's your experience, any issues, problems you would like to share?

Two blocks of wood, poor parking, pairs and TOD...

Just some things I noticed this morning. Some mornings you have it, others you don't. This morning's ride, just a few laps around town seemed more an exercise in futility than anything. There have always been certain physical signs, that once I learned to recognize them, indicate that a good ride is in hand. One of these signs is the ability to easily push a big gear from the moment the cranks start to turn. Today was not one of those days. My legs might as well have been a pair of lifeless blocks of wood. I could not coax them into generating even a moderate amount of speed, even after shifting into the middle, proletariat gears. Too late, I shifted into the small ring in an effort to spin some life into those knotty blocks. It was pointless, and so a moderate training morning turned into an easy Village ride for coffee. 

Oh, and is anyone bothered by the fact that bike lanes have gone missing around town. Berkeley Avenue, no more bike lanes. College, north of the sharrows, no more bike lanes. 210 overpasses on Indian Hill and Mills, nor more bike lanes. Most puzzling are the College Avenue ones since they were just installed (painted) in April or May. The ones on the overpasses I noticed a few weeks ago; I figured it was some CalTrans thing since it looked like some surface treatment had taken place, or was going to take place but, there has been no re-striping still. It is confusing to drivers who, given the width of the road, seem to think there are two motor vehicle lanes now. Good thing the LAB isn't conducting a site visit to judge the city's bike friendliness right now. Lets resolve the problem.

i have noted in the past, the proliferation of cars parked along lower Mt. Baldy Road belonging the the drive-to-walk people using the Thompson Creek Trail or Wilderness Park. seeing cars blocking the bike lane, like the closest one, are common in the morning. but the next car along, decided to take it a step further. i kept wondering if police would drive by and cite him/her, but didn't see anything on the windshield the two times i passed by.

pair one

pair two. actually a quartet, but the two ladies behind let a gap open up

Claremont's latest Transit Oriented Development is progressing, opposite the depot

210 overpass at Mills. lane markings of any kind are a little indistinct at this point

Something to follow...

ROAM: Roll Over AMerica. Coast to Coast by Velomobile. Riders from both Europe and North America will be traveling cross country between July 28 and August 26, from Portland to Washington DC. One of the riders is local (San Gabriel Valley), Nicholas Humphrey. Nick used to do the old Bicycle Doctor Ride when he was just a junior high school kid. His dad would drag him out on Saturday mornings. Now he races cyclocross, road, and does stuff like this. Total bike nerd, if he doesn't mind me saying - and I only bestow that title on people, like myself, who exhibit a certain degree of bikiness. Anyway you can learn about the tour, the riders, and follow along via rider blogs and what not, by clicking the link above.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday Rant: Buzzed on Bud's...

What is it about Fairplex Drive? I think I have had three times as many close encounters with vehicles driven by idiotic drivers, than any other street in the region, since moving to Claremont some eight years ago. Tonight someone passes within six inches of my little chase group during the Bud's Ride. This is a dangerous S.O.B. who cares nothing for the well being of other road users. Speeding, dangerous passing, what are you going to do? You can't legislate responsibility, so how do you catch people like this who refuse to act in a responsible manner before they are granted the privilege of driving? Crap like this reaffirms my believe in the concept that the only good car is a 

dead one (no person was reported injured during the burning of the car shown above).

To make matters worse, the immediate boost of adrenaline didn't even help me close the gap. Close, but no cigar.

Rant over.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hike-a-Bike, with a twist...

If you mountain bike, you are no doubt familiar with the term hike-a-bike. If you are not, hike-a-bike is something you do when you come upon a section of trail beyond your ability; it could be seriously steep, or technical, it could be terrifyingly exposed on the side of a canyon with a long drop down. I imagine everyone has ridden along a trail which contains some aspect which has caused them to dismount, shoulder their bike and carry it, or push it along in front of them.

Well, today I discovered someone who gives new meaning to the term hike-a-bike. The family and I went for a hike into Icehouse Canyon. Instead of riding, something different, for a change. Anyway, we had made it back to the trailhead, and noticed someone riding up the road. He was pedaling along alright, but in his right hand he held a sturdy walking stick (the kind you see hikers with out on the trail) with which he was, at the same time he pedaled, pushing himself along. Two activities at once. I don't believe he rode up the Baldy Road like that, so suspect he was a local.

Icehouse Canyon road, the hike-a-biker by the furthest orange cone

here he comes now and you can see him pushing himself along with the walking stick.
had to have been expending more energy that way, than by simply pedaling.

A number of months ago I posted up a little bit about the Ladybugs of Icehouse, well today the attraction were Columbines. There is one section of trail in particular, for some reason well short of the so-named Columbine Spring, where the slopes, up and down from the trail are covered with a deep growth of the showy flowers. The stream through the canyon is very inviting, especially the deep pools, but the water was almost painfully cold. Icehouse canyon is studded with the ruins of old stone cabins, as well as a few more recent, and occupied ones. The first part of the trail is quite reasonable, following along close by the stream, and well shaded by majestic alders, oaks, sycamores, pines and cedars. Eventually though, the trail takes a steeper turn and climbs in earnest up into the Cucamonga Wilderness area. If you follow it long enough you can bag the higher peaks in the region, including Ontario, Cucamonga, Timber, Telegraph, Thunder, even Baldy, if you are that energetic. All are above 8000 feet, Telegraph almost 9000, and Baldy, of course, over 10,000 feet in elevation. Our goal today was Timber, one of the so-called Three-T's. We have bagged the other two, but still need this third one. Unfortunately, the boy started to feel poorly, light headed, stomach ache; we turned back at the Wilderness boundary, so the third T will have to wait for another day.

ruins of a stone cabin

hikers and a shady trail

columbines alongside a little seep in the canyon slope

columbine, waterfalls and a swimming hole (a small one)

a sign that it was time to head back

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Little BPZ's Sprouting Across Los Angeles County?

What do you think? Sounds good, doesn't it? Citing the City of Claremont's Bicycle Priority Zone (BPZ), the California non-profit organization, Sustainable Streets, would like to see similar BPZ's created around college and university campuses across the breadth of Los Angeles County. The idea for this was passed along via a comment relating to a recent post on this blog. If you visit said post and comment you will notice a link to a Powerpoint presentation given by Ron Durgin, President of Sustainable Streets. I have taken the liberty of reproducing one of the slides from the presentation below, a map, showing the BPZ locations around campuses in the county. 

PP presentations, of course, only tell a portion of the story, and I would loved to have heard the verbal portion as well. Hopefully the idea will take off and I will have the chance. I must confess to being only vaguely aware of the organization prior to this, but will be paying greater attention in the future. The idea is fantastic, and would be a beneficial match to both City and County Bicycle Master Plans. It does not take much imagination to see BPZ's being applied to the downtown areas of the various municipalities within the County of Los Angeles as well. Faced with cut-backs and forced to raise student fees, colleges and universities, should see this as a winning situation. Surface parking, and expensive parking structures are an incredible waste of land and money, which could be better used and spent in other ways. The creation of BPZ's as proposed, would aid any efforts at encouraging students to commute by bike, and relieving pressure for parking. Sounds like something we could all get behind. A link to the Sustainable Streets website is here; I don't notice anything there about the proposal at this time, but will keep looking. As the comment suggests, there may be more information forthcoming in the City Manager's report - when it is made available I shall let you know here.

Alright, so here is the link for the City Manager's weekly report, for 21 July (if you follow the link, scroll down to page 3 of the report for the part about the BPZ). If you are already familiar with what Claremont's Bicycle Priority Zone is all about, you may not find anything new at the link. It is basically an overview of what the BPZ is, some of it's features. The report notes Ron Durgin and the Sustainable Streets proposal to create BPZs around college campuses. I have mentioned the Claremont Bicycle Priority Zone on several occasions in the past; I believe the most comprehensive was here.

Cadel, and some final thoughts on the 2011 TdF...

Congratulations to Cadel Evans. After all the effort he has put into the Tours of the past few years, this victory has got to be oh, so sweet. And it is well deserved.

Cadel's dominating performance in the time trial of stage 20, created a great enough margin over his second place rival, Andy Schleck, that the final stage 21 run into Paris would be muted in terms of the overall standings. A traditional finale was assured. But I was left wondering, as I think many people were; what if the margin between 1st and 2nd were a mere handful of seconds. Would tradition have been cast to the wind? Would the teams have battled for the Yellow Jersey all the way into Paris? In my mind, the 1989 Tour, remains the most exciting Tour of my lifetime. That year the claim to Yellow flipped back and forth throughout the three weeks, and was only settled on the final day. It was exciting all the way through. Two years earlier, 1987, there was a similar excitement throughout the Tour, as Stephen Roche and Pedro Delgado raced desperately hard. The 2011 Tour de France slots right up there in the top three.

But back to the 2011 Tour. What will be some of the lasting images for me:

1. The Garmin-Cervelo team bowing before mighty Thor at the team presentation. Over the top, odd. But, with three stage victories, and what was it, eight days in Yellow, I forgive them.

2. All those early crashes just seemed more dramatic this year.

3. Tyler Farrar, coming back after the loss of his friend Wouter Weylandt, winning a stage, plus victory in the team time trial.

4. Thomas Voeckler. This may go without saying. You have been reading the daily updates to the rider profile of him, have you not?

5. The emergence of Pierre Rolland. I believe he gives great hope to the future of French cycling. He is not the only quality rider from that country, but he sure stood out (excluding Tommy V., of course).

6. Cadel Evans, you proved me wrong. Considering the wealth of talent arrayed against you at the start I really did not think you could do it. But, riding with your trademark grit and determination, you did it. The oldest first time winner of the Tour ever. Good on ya, mate.

7. Andy and Frank Schleck. First time two brothers have shared spots on the podium. But, once again, not the top spot. So close, yet so far. To win Yellow after a brilliant ride in the mountains, and then lose it the next day in a time trial (shades of 1989) might devastate a lesser man. I suspect they will be back for more.

8. Mark Cavendish. We have always known of his sprinting prowess, but he proved himself again with another five stage wins, and capped them all by winning the Green Jersey as well. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Welcome Back Basso...

Every picture has a story to tell, or so the saying goes. Even photos of a bunch of cardboard boxes. What you see here are some of the first of a new crop of Basso's from Italy, destined for an American bikeshop. You may recall from a previous post, that at some point after I purchased my Basso in the early 1990s, they disappeared from American shops. Well, those years of deprivation are over, and you can once again find the legendary bikes for sale in the United States. I took this photo from the Facebook page of Basso Bikes USA. These are available now through two shops, both in Minnesota, Flanders Bros Cycles, and Grand Performance Bicycle Shop.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

un heros de le Tour de France, Pierre Rolland...

Whatever scenario plays out in the Tour de France during tomorrow's mammoth race finishing on Alpe d'Huez, there is a rider who has excelled above and beyond the call of duty, who has done much to animate the race and who, if there were an award given to the race's foremost Super Domestique, would be the clear front runner. That racer, in my opinion is Thomas Voeckler's lieutenant at Team Europcar, Pierre Rolland. Check back through the daily results beginning with stage 12, to Luz Ardiden, the first day in the Pyrenees. Voeckler had won the Yellow Jersey on stage 9, and it had become the job of the Europcar riders to see him safely through each day without losing time to any Yellow Jersey hopefuls.

It is very telling that on each stage, between 12 and today's 18, that Rolland either finished with the same time as Voeckler, or was the nearest Europcar rider to him, meaning that he was the last teammate to leave his leaders side, the last to give that final push of effort, to aid Voeckler in defense of the Jersey. Rolland's story in this Tour is nearly as compelling as Voeckler's. While the spotlight may be rightly, and firmly focused on Voeckler, certainly some the brightness should deservedly be reflected onto Monsieur Pierre Rolland.

Rolland is still a young rider, born in 1986, but will be on everyone's radar following this Tour. He has been a pro since 2007, riding two years with Credit Agricole, and since 2009 with Bbox Bouygues Telecom and its successor teams including Europcar. He has twice won mountain classification titles, in 2008 at the Criterium du Dauphine Libere, and 2010 at the Criterium International. Various stage wins over the past few years, as well as top ten placings, point to a promising future. Pierre Rolland is the type of rider every team leader would want by his side, but don't expect it to last; rather expect to see him as team leader in the near future. I know I have been saying Allez! a lot lately over on my Thomas Voeckler post daily updates, but today I am giving an extra one to Pierre Rolland. Allez Pierre!

Update. Yes, it is official, Rolland has just won the Alpe d'Huez stage, and claimed the White Jersey for best rider in the Tour under 26. Very nice. The last Frenchman to win on the Alpe was Bernard Hinaut, and that was in 1986. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Public Transportation: The Coffee Table Effect...

When I was a teen, a friend and I decided to take the bus to the mall one day. We waited a the stop for oh, lets just say quite a while. When the bus finally approached, the driver slowed, clearly saw us, and continued on without stopping. We were left standing there, gap mouthed and incredulous. It was one brief incident, left a sour taste in my mouth, once I had finished cursing, and has shaped my perception of public transit, or more specifically buses, ever since. That was the late '70s remember, so it has been a while. I have taken rail on many occasions - Gold Line, Red, Blue - I have been happy to leave the car behind. But buses, have just never been an attractive option since that day. Interactions with dangerous drivers of said vehicles, while out riding over the succeeding years, have not helped matters either. Even good encounters - I once had a supervisor offer me a lift when he saw me walking my bike with a flat tire - have failed to ease my ill-impressions. 

Of course it doesn't help that bus stops are among the most unattractive public spaces that you could ever need to spend time at. A simple bench, and often not even that, on a busy street corner, cars speeding by, San Fernando Valley sun beating on you. I am sure you know the picture, or one very similar. And so it was with shock and awe, that I read this post on Good this morning, about what happens when you put a coffee table at a bus stop. Such a simple concept, such humanizing results. Not that they would last for any length of time, but, a transformative idea that shows what a little imagination can accomplish in even a small public space. New York has shown what can happen in large spaces (Times Square Pedestrian Plaza); now this. Urban areas need not be uninviting. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Reason to Ride: Challenge...

I hit that first ramp on the Mt. Baldy Road about 9:30 in the morning, and was greeted by absolutely nothing. No sounds of motors, no whisper of air, no sight of a rabbit up the road to pursue. Too bad, I've been climbing well lately; finally receiving some payback for all those Friday's up GMR I have been riding lately. A number of mountain bikers rolling down the road further back, and a couple roadies standing in the shade at Padua - were they on their way down, or debating the merits and wisdom of heading up? Going to be a hot climb, even this early in the day. It is worth it though; pushing yourself, even when you don't have to. The challenge.

Just the Friday past, I was headed up GMR and came upon a couple women riders. Stopped on the downhill side, with bikes lying in the roadway. I slowed and asked if everything was alright. Just fine, they responded. Then, as I powered up to continue on, they admitted to having set a new personal record. Distance, I guessed, with a photo at the spot to remember. The challenge. Wish I had taken a photo, it would have made a good story. Yes, the challenge, one of many reasons I ride.

I always liked this portion of the Baldy Road. It's about as level as it gets, just before the Shinn junction. A moment of relief. As that hillside on the left kind of passes behind you, Baldy slowly sliding across the horizon reveals itself, your first view of the peak since beginning the ascent.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ten Dam, Another Lasting Image from the Tour...

We are now 2/3 through the Tour de France, a Tour that has produced a wealth of iconic images. On stage 14, while descending the Col de Agnes, Dutchman Laurens ten Dam crashed hard on the side of the road, resulting in another such image (this one I happened to see first on Cycling Art Blog, another story of a rider triumphing over adversity. The photo suggests some serious injury, but they were mostly superficial - abrasions, a good gash across his nose, which according to Director sportif, Erik Breukink, did result in stitches. Ten Dam soldiered on, after receiving medical attention, and finished the stage. Allez Laurens!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cycling Claremont: A New Grate...

Following a flurry of bicycle related improvements last year, and early this year, it has become more difficult to find new changes around town. Today, though I did spot something new (besides the fact that I rolled out on the Basso for a change). Someone put in a new grate on Live Oak Canyon Road where you make a right onto East College Way. Just last week, this grate was the death trap sort, with bars running parallel to the flow of traffic, and no cross bars; the gaps between them wide enough to trap even my mountain bikes tires. Road riders not paying attention there would have been doomed to an inevitable crash. Now, should your eyes be focused elsewhere, you can roll over the grate with little worry.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hot Tubes are Killing It...

the Hot Tubes Junior Development Cycling Team that is. The U.S. team is currently over in Ireland racing the Junior Tour of Ireland, and after four stages are dominating the standings. Hot Tubes riders are wearing the Mountains (Paul Lynch, who is also 5th g.c.), Points (Lynch again), and Overall Jerseys. In fact the top three riders on g.c. are all Hot Tubes riders (Thomas Awrona, Austin Boswell, Yanick Eckmann). Perhaps needless to say, they are also leading the Team Competition. 

I must confess, I am not familiar with the team, but after looking at their website, I am not sure how I could have missed hearing about them. They have been around since 1992, and have graduated 20 riders to the professional ranks. Counted among their road alumni are Jonathan Page, Will Frischkorn, Peter Mazur, and Ben King.

The Junior Tour of Ireland, a six day event, can be followed at where there are daily recaps, and great photos, like the one above.

Friday Quotable Link...

"Guy will serve six months for killing the boy, but Nelson will serve up to 36 months – just for crossing the street with her child."

I probably should not have read this one. It will be on my mind all day now. I'm just incredulous that what passes for justice in this country has become so distorted. Background (the story): A woman and her children are crossing a road (walking) in Marietta, Georgia (metro Atlanta), a car driven by a man who had been drinking, hits and kills the woman's young son, and then flees the scene. This man, it turns out, had previously been convicted of two hit and runs on the same day in 1997. The driver is given a sentence of 6 months (third hit and run, this time resulting in death). And the mother, who has lost her son to a repeat offender - the prosecutor had the gall to charge and win a conviction of vehicular manslaughter against her - she will serve up to 36 months. All hail the mighty car, and those who kill and maim in its name, for they are the righteous, and all others should tremble and bow down before them.

There Was This Austrian Gal...

Super cute. Caught my eye, out of all the others out front on display. Her name was Puch. My favorite color - green. Not new, but very nicely maintained. I met her today when I stopped in at the Velo. She posed for some photos. I am not a one bike, one man kind of guy but, though she was quite a prize, there was no question about her going home with me. It will be up to someone else to be captivated by her allure. I am sure she will show someone a good time.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Now on Facebook...

Some time ago I started a Facebook page for the Claremont Cyclist, but hesitated to make any kind of announcement, since I was not sure of the direction things were going to go. While the blog has grown in scope far beyond Claremont, and may see more changes soon, the Claremont Cyclist on Facebook will provide a means to link to posts on this blog specifically related to the City of Claremont, or immediate surrounding communities here on the edge of the County. I also hope it will serve (and has already begun to serve) as a forum for community members, and others, a way to discuss and disseminate information relating to bicycling and transportation issues in eastern Los Angeles County/western San Bernardino County. Like It, if you like it.

Captain Mellow and his Mobile Observations: Shooting Stones and Other Bikey Sounds...

After all these years of riding around streets and trails, mountains and deserts, canyons of rock, and others of steel and glass, Captain Mellow figures he is pretty in tune with all and any sounds he might hear while perched upon a saddle. Whether it be the chatter of a dry chain, the squeak, creak, rattle, or thunk of something not quite as tight as it should be, the ping as a spoke gives up the ghost, the pop and rustle as a chain breaks apart, and is momentarily dragged along in his wake before dropping off completely, or the varied sounds a tube and tire make as they quickly or slowly lose their composure and deflate. Captain Mellow knows that as long as he does not become lazy some of those sounds can be avoided or quickly remedied by proper and prompt maintenance, and that there is little he can do about those last sounds, they are part of the game. The hiss and wheeze, the high-pitched whistle, the rapid rush of air, or even the deafening boom of a massive blowout in an enclosed garage. These are all sounds directly related to the condition and maintenance of the bike. 

There is another group of sounds related to riding - the hum of tires rolling along nice, smooth asphalt or concrete (each is slightly different), the change in tone depth depending on tire inflation, the crunch of knobbies on a dirt trail, the swish through deep sand, the crackle rolling over dry leaves, the painful thunk as he fails to get his weight off the rear wheel as the rim hits a raised lip or other hard edge. And shooting stones. CM knows the sound by heart, knows almost immediately when he rolls over some little rock just right so that it makes that pop sound as it shoots out from under his wheel. Sometimes that pop is all there is. Other times it is followed by a loud clang, or bang as that little stone connects with a metal sign, guard rail, car door. Occasionally, if he is riding in a group, that stone finds a neighbors bike or leg, which might cause a curse to escape from the victims lips. Captain Mellow knows this sound well, he recognizes it for what it is but, Captain Mellow also wonders why it is, that after all this time he will still, for just the briefest of an instant, think the sound signals a tire going flat, and will sometimes even glance down for confirmation? 

What is it that put CM in the mood to think about sounds? It was this photo from a couple days ago:

He didn't notice it at the time the young woman rode past; maybe he was focused on the big picture, or something like that. That is one heck of a noisy gear selection - the rear derailleur almost doubled up on itself, had to have been creating enough chatter and chain slap to convince anyone and anything in the way to run for cover, or climb the nearest tree for safety. While all this noise is most likely just that, and not really a safety concern, other times a noise may be a sign of something more serious and should not be ignored. About the same day CM took the above photo, he was taking a look at his wife's bike (applying the brakes) and noticed a familiar soft thunk and play indicative of a loose headset. When asked about it his wife didn't know how long it had been like that, and didn't even realize it was loose. This problem could have turned into a safety issue at worst, or a costly replacement issue. The moral of this long winded and kind of rambling story - it pays to know your bike, the sounds it makes, the way it handles, and don't ignore any new or unusual squeaks, creaks or clanks.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Claremont's Women Cyclists...

If you follow news of bicycling around the States, or the world for that matter, you may have read at some point, of the correlation between the numbers of women riders, and the health or strength, of cycling within a given community. Click here for one such story by Elly Blue at Grist. I stopped in the Village this morning for a coffee, and spent about an hour taking photos of people who rode past. By my calculations, slightly more than 50% of the riders I saw were women, which I would have to interpret as meaning that Claremont's cycling community is quite healthy.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monet at Whittier...

A few photos from recent (recent meaning with the past month or so) rides along the San Gabriel River which never quite made it into posts of their own at the time I took them. The colors, lighting and reflections have had me in mind of a certain French artist. Maybe it is just having France on my mind this time of year. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tough as Barbed Wire...

I already posted up the video of the horrific crash involving Juan Antonio Flecha and Johnny Hoogerland during today's 9th stage of the Tour de France as part of the Thomas Voeckler profile post. Flecha, who was smashed to the pavement after being hit by a television car, and Hoogerland who flew through the air into a barbed wire fence, with enough force to break a wood post, shred his bibs, and suffer deep gouges up and down his legs, both got back up and finished the stage. We read about things like this each year, riders crashing hard, but continuing on, some with extensive abrasions, broken bones, concussions. Seeing Hoogerland's leg as he disentangled himself from the fence, who would have faulted him if he had stepped into a team car or ambulance and called it a day? Courage, dedication, the man has it. Two-hundred fifty pound men smashing into each other fully padded up have nothing on Johnny.

Hoogerland after the crash

and breaking down on the podium after accepting
the Polka Dot Jersey as the Tours best climber

On a related note, incidents like this, involving race vehicles are nothing new. Riders are frequently injured, knocked out of a race, spectators have been killed. This is now the second collision within the first week of the Tour. We all live to watch the videos or live feed, but are some of the driving maneuvers worth the well being of racer and spectator alike. Like many, I suspect we will hear something from riders, teams and race organizers, concerning who gets permits to drive, how many, and where in the race. At what point does the risk become unacceptable.

Update: In case you have not yet read, or heard Jean-Francois Pescheau, the Tour Director of Competition has announced stiffer regulations regarding the race convoy. First, vehicles following the race are to maintain a minimum two minute gap, depending on road conditions (that last part sound like a loophole to me); second, only eight vehicles, four race officials, and four media will be allowed behind any breakaway group; third, media vehicles must have a minimum of two journalists, with press passes; fourth, vehicles can only overtake a break one at a time, and in a safe manner, following directions of race officials. Presumably failure to follow these would result in sanctions against the offending person(s). Both drivers involved in the two incidents this year have been kicked off the race, and may be subject to additional legal action.

On the positive side, Johnny Hoogerland's rest day did involve some riding, a positive sign:

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