Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Favorite Routes VII: Bonelli Park Loop (mtb)...

Back to Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park for this edition of My Favorite Routes. Start with a stat: A good 75-80% of the time I head out for a spin on the mountain bike, I'll be at one of two places - Marshall Canyon / Claremont Hills Wilderness Park, or Bonelli Park. Truth be known, I can think of better places to ride the dirt, but due to their ease of access, and thus the frequency with which I ride there, they make the list. There are some similarities, for instance riding in both areas is dominated by dirt access, or fire roads, and trail use can be heavy. Mostly, though, each area is distinct from the other. There is only one stream crossing in Bonelli, the climbs are shorter and generally less steep, there is little single track, though I would say what s.t. there is is more technical.

view from Lower Beehive Trail

someone cough up a lung? - no, just a dried up cactus pad

On with the description. The hills of Bonelli Park are criss-crossed with trails. There are some nice ones near to the south shore of the lake, but since these are quite short, you would really have to combine these with others to get in a decent ride. The route that I tend to take is basically a perimeter loop of varied terrain. Every trail ride needs a starting point, and at Bonelli you have several options. You can enter the park from Via Verde and use any one of the ample parking lots along that road, you can forgo the entry fee and use the park and ride lot near the west Via Verde entrance, you can even park at Brackett Field near the restaurant. The last time I rode the loop I parked in the lot on the north shore (it must have been a weekday, since I didn't have to pay), and that is where this description starts (note the "S" in the white circle on the map). It is easy to pick up the trail here as it runs along the planted strip between the parking lot and Puddingstone Drive. It is fun and fast through here, basically singletrack; let it run. After passing the boat launch parking area you will make a sharp right onto a road that quickly turns to mostly gravel and circles along the edge of a retention basin, before dumping you down onto the paved road that crosses the dam.

Take this paved road over the dam, checking out the view across the lake to the left and the water slides of Raging Waters to the right. Watch for the occasional auto traveling the opposite direction on this one way access road. Once across the dam, merge onto Raging Waters Drive, keeping the lake on your left.  Watch along the right of the road, in a short distance you will notice an old asphalt road branching off at a spot marked by some trees, and yellow gate posts with a chain strung between. Punch it up the short hill, but make a quick right at the dirt road switchback. This is the Lower Beehive Trail, which climbs and descends gently, and offers some nice views of the lake and San Gabriel Mountains. Before long you connect to the Upper Beehive Trail, which is steeper and takes you up to the high point on this side of the park. There always seems to be mountain bikers up here taking a rest; you can do so as well, or go straight into the descent off the top. You will bottom out with an option to go left and back to the paved Raging Waters Drive, or up a slight incline. Go up. This will take you to the tunnel going under Via Verde.

Exiting the tunnel take the wide sweeping turn left and run downhill behind the park headquarters. Being near the park entrance there tends to be many walkers and trail runners here so keep your head up and eyes open. You eventually come down nearly to Via Verde with a parking lot across the way. There is another yellow post and chain barrier, but you don't want to go there anyway. Instead keep to the dirt road which starts a gradual climb off to the right. At the next junction go right to keep climbing. You will shortly reach another junction, this one signed. This is an optional side route marked in yellow on the map and heads to the fire department reservoir at the top of the hill. It looks like a giant swimming pool with a view, but is enclosed by a fence, and is of course, off limits. There are some pine trees up here and on a hot summer day is a nice place to stop for a moment. When you have had your fill of rest head back the same way to the main route.

not the swimming pool

10 - 57 freeway interchange and Cal Poly Pomona

Shortly, and after a little downhill you reach a sharp turn marked by a transmission tower. I will often stop to take in the view of the I-10/SR-57 interchange and of the campus of California Polytechnic University, Pomona beyond. Continue down, along what is now the Coyote Trail, sections of which are steep and loose. Take this as slow or fast as your ability allows. You are riding along the 10 freeway now and its roar is an almost constant companion. Eventually you reach the low point along this road; off to the left is a wooden bridge, no longer used. The dry stream coming down from the hills here probably has some water when it rains, but I've never seen it. From here the road turns up again, the longest climb on the route; the grade varies, but nothing is especially taxing. Avoid any turnoffs until you practically reach Via Verde again. At that point, merge to the right and punch it up this short but rocky (bedrock, not loose) bit and notice the wide singletrack trail heading off to the right. Take it, though you could continue on the dirt road. 

This is the longest bit of technical trail you will deal with on this route. There is a lot of cactus alongside you and some rocky sections to navigate and overcome. Steel your nerves and ride as much as you can.  Keep your eyes peeled for a steep section leading up hill to the left, one which I must confess to never having ridden up - too steep and loose for me. Up top, at the end of the steep, is some sort of radar [?] facility. I used to ride a circle this taking in the views, but notice that they have now put up signs warning people not to linger due to radiation exposure, so now I hop back on the bike and quickly head down the paved access road. This takes you down to an intersection with Via Verde again, just outside the parks' east entrance booth. Cross the road looking for the obvious continuation of the dirt route, or take the equestrian undercrossing, and then pick up the trail again heading gradually up around the perimeter of the equestrian center. There is an interesting rock outcropping at the top of this section of trail with some colorful lichen covering the large rocks. Might be worth a stop if you are into that sort of thing. If not, just continue down.

This next portion of the route I have seen called the Crosby Trail, or the Rocky Trail, and it does indeed become quite rocky near the bottom. The rock is good solid bedrock, unforgiving, with some challenging ruts, but is doable, even by me. If you are not into that though, soon after topping out at the lichen rocks, take the detour to the left, the Corkscrew Trail, and marked by a sign. This detour is steeper with a loose surface, but is also less of a challenge. The two trails meet back together. Which ever you decide, check out the spot light on the tower to the right near the bottom. I have never been sure if this is some sort of relic, a part of the airfield, or used to find wayward golfers on the back nine of the adjacent golf course. I am guessing a combination of the first two, but the last would be much more fun. After things have leveled out, and at the junction go left. This will wind around below the public rv park, and come out at a paved access road running alongside the airfield and into said rv park.

some of what the Crosby Trail has to offer

the Jungle

At the locked gate hit the dirt service road on the right and fly down the little decline below some camp spots and into the Jungle. The road through here is clear and smooth, but deeply overgrown along its sides, in fact so deeply that the trees and shrubs form a tunnel enclosing you. You may catch glimpses of water and think you have entered a swamp, hence this sections popular name. Sometimes fluff falls from the cottonwoods; it is almost surreally different from anything else along the route. At the exit from the Jungle you reach the one stream crossing in the park. Sometimes this is easy, others it can be quite deep with wheel sucking mud at the entrance. Either way you have to cross, so do, go right on the access road alongside a picnic area, cross over the drive aisle / parking lot at any point and pick up the trail that runs alongside Puddingstone Drive. This is the same trail you started on, so take it back to the start, circle the park again, or hit up some of the other interior trails. There is a lot to offer. The loop as described finished off at slightly over 10 miles and slightly under 1400 feet of elevation gain.

House to Eliminate Dedicated Funding...

Direct from Safe Routes to School National Partnership: 

It’s so much worse than we thought. Today, the House releases its transportation bill, the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act. We expected the bill to be bad news for bicycling and walking, but we didn’t think it would go so far as to reverse allprogress we have made in the past twenty years.

The House Transportation Committee will vote Thursday, February 2, on whether to approve this bill or amend it to include bicycling and walking programs. Take action now—tell your representative to restore bicycling and walking in the Transportation Committee.

Why the urgency? House leaders are exerting pressure to completely cut bicycling and walking out of transportation. Lawmakers seem to have gone through line-by-line to gut programs that make streets safer. Some of the more devastating provisions in the bill include:

  • Destroys Transportation Enhancements by removing the dedicated funding;
  • Repeals the Safe Routes to School program, leaving communities without basic tools and funding to protect kids on the trip to school;
  • Allows states to build bridges without safe access for pedestrians and bicycles; and
  • Eliminates bicycle and pedestrian and Safe Routes to School coordinators in state DOTs.
But there’s still a chance to save federal bicycling and walking funding. This week, Representative Petri (R-WI) plans to offer an amendment that restores dedicated funding for Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to School. Rep. Petri can only be successful if you and everyone else with a stake in safe sidewalks, crosswalks and bikeways contact their Representatives today.

This is as urgent as it gets. If members of the Transportation Committee are going to stand up to House leadership by supporting biking and walking, they will need to know their constituents are behind them. Please contact Congress today and ask them to preserve dedicated funding for biking and walking.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Cyclo-banter: Trash Talking, Jest or Jibe...

Scene - the weekend group ride. You're climbing one of the many small hills along the route. You pass an older gentleman in full pro-team kit, and riding a nice bike. As you pass you put out your hand and give the peace sign, to which he responds with a "good morning". Mere moments earlier the front of your group (who had made a light further back while you did not) passed the same rider. You don't know if there was any exchange of pleasantries. There is a general regroup at the top of the hill, and as you're waiting the solo rider comes up and slows to give a quick hello to the group. One of the group quips "see you in a couple minutes." Challenge! Was it a cheap shot, or simply the good-natured ribbing that roadies frequently engage in? I know, you can't realistically be expected to answer; there is too much you don't know, or can't see from the information provided. But, if you were on the receiving end, what would your reaction be? You don't know these guys who blew by you on the climb, you were pleasant and said hello, yet one of them seemingly throws a challenge in your face, belittling your ability.

I have been around roadies long enough to know there can be an almost constant stream of back and forth trash talk, usually all in jest. It is part of the camaraderie amongst friends, battle brothers, not really meant to be taken seriously; but does this type of banter extend beyond the group? I have never known it to do so. I also know that groups like this (by which I mean the kind where you have to be seen as paying your dues, before being accepted) tend to be rather inclusive, not readily accepting of outsiders. So there you are, real event, hypothetical question. I was neither giver nor receiver; I was a stand-by witness. I'm not accusing, simply pondering a question. Like the others I momentarily chuckled, but at the same time thought that the comment was unnecessarily harsh. If you were the outsider, how would you view such a comment? If you were one of the group, could you ever see yourself making such a comment to someone you did not know? I think trash talk has its place among friends and acquaintances, but directed at a stranger it is too likely to be misinterpreted, taken the wrong way, a black-eye to the group.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Yet Another Psycho-list Ride...

to close out the weekend. I understand there have been some larger Psycho-list pelotons, but today's twenty-five or so riders was the largest I have seen since I started riding with the group. This meant there were more competitors at the various KOM spots along the route. Today's route was an out and back along the foothills to the upper San Gabriel River Trail (SGRT), down to the Whittier Narrows Dam, and then back the way we came. If you know the route, you will know there are no prolonged climbs, just some short, sometimes steep, sprinters' hills. Cursed Jorge, on his single speed, was just too powerful and kept me from claiming top spot at any of the top of any of the speed bumps. I think I managed second or third on most of those hills; not bad I suppose for the extra years I have on 'em. Some fast people kept it interesting the whole day. 

bunch of psycho-lists obstructing my view of the mountains

We made it over to the Santa Fe Dam with an average speed of over 19 mph which, considering some stretches of soft pedaling to allow regrouping, was pretty good. While a few riders turned off at this point, the rest of us rode on down river along the SGRT with Greg drilling it out front all the way into the Narrows. Construction on the path is still ongoing along there, but the asphalt is laid, nice and smooth and, being the weekend, it was unobstructed - no detour necessary. Turning around we found the headwind, not like a couple days ago, but enough to get the legs burning. With Greg and, I think Jorge, causing mayhem at the front again, I took a more relaxed position at the back, where the youngest rider in the group (14) was beginning to tire. Props to his dad though, for getting him out. My own 14 year old was probably still asleep at that point. Next time I secretly set the alarm in his room. The finishing miles melted beneath our wheels, and after a last regroup at the bottom of GMR there was one final split. Thing about the Psycho-lists, once they smell the finish (maybe lunch cooking at the Euro Cafe) it's every man for himself. A trio got a bit of a gap in the homestretch. I couldn't let that happen unchallenged, so I tucked in, powered up one final time, and managed to bridge up. Being able to find a nice reserve of energy at the end of a ride is something to be stoked about. Yahoo, now beer me.

nice and smooth, new asphalt. painting still needs to be done,
but the end of construction may be in sight

beautiful day for a ride

i like the colorful new signs along the SGRT, but "Emerald Necklace?" Boston's "Emerald Necklace" has been around for 100 years or so. i think a more unique name would have been better.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Searching for the Psycho-lists...

GMR Friday turned out to be that and more, much more in fact than I was planning on. Psycho-lists left just a bit too early for me, but I knew where they were planning to go, what route they would take. That route was supposed to be up GMR - down East Fork - down Highway 39. Assuming that wouldn't change somewhere along the way is what got me into trouble. I figured that if I rode that route backward we would cross paths, probably along Highway 39, maybe the lower portion of East Fork; I could turn around at that point and ride back with them from there. It would be a relatively easy ride, perfect since I had ridden miserably on a short ride yesterday. So much for best laid plans. I kept going along East Fork, further and further, without seeing them, finally realizing their plans had obviously changed and I was going to have to alter mine as well. I could either turn around and still have a relatively easy day, or go ahead and tackle that butt-kicking East Fork climb. If you have guessed that I chose to continue climbing, you guessed correctly. In reality there was really only one way to go once across the East Fork Bridge, and that was up.

Oscar pulling along the East Fork Road, the river on the left, and serious climbing ahead.
just past Williams and Hudsons Bay Camps. not a single vehicle passed from here up to GMR

Fortunately I had been joined further down along Highway 39 by Oscar, who had caught up to me, I am thinking easily, although he said otherwise. Oscar is a strong climber who probably could have left me behind at any time, but rode at a comfortable pace that was doable, even after my back started giving me some grief. The Santa Ana's were forecast to return today, and that they did, hitting the mountains hard. As it was they were at their worst where we made the switchback to begin the steeps of East Fork. One second they were giving us a helping push from behind, the next they turned face, hellaciously pounding us from the front. I swear during one of the sudden transitions from helpful to tormenting I was nearly blown over the side. There is no detracting from the beauty of this route, and the winds not-withstanding, the day was a stunning one up in the mountains. 

And the Psycho-lists? We did eventually cross paths - I was about four miles from home, they, almost back to their start point in LaVerne (after GMR, they did GRR to Baldy, down San Antonio Canyon and back). A fine day either way - for me 56 miles, 4600 feet of climbing, 3.5 hours.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

CicLAvia-style Event for Pomona?

The City of Pomona was a recent recipient of a grant from the Los Angeles County Health Department to promote a CicLAvia-type 'open streets' event. Consultants will be holding a stakeholders meeting on Tuesday, January 31, 6:00 to 9:00 at the Cal Poly Downtown Center. It would be great to see something like that rolling through historic areas of Pomona. If you like the idea, they want to hear from you; all you have to do is show up at the meeting and let them know what you think of the idea. Even if you don't want to talk, simply being one of a large group of supporters in attendance will get the point across. There is a Facebook page with more info.

NBR: Historic SUP...

I have a special affinity for the historic aspects of cycling, the stories and images of past times. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are a part of a long tradition. Realizing that, I think, provides a little extra interest. My uncle, who organizes several stand-up paddleboard events on Lake Tahoe each year, such as this one coming up in March,  recently posted up this very cool photo from 1921.

Completely non-bike related, I know, but stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is a hell of a fun, and complimentary, activity for the off-season. Or as a little break during the long in-season. The upcoming event seems to be more race-oriented, but another event held during the late summer is a big festival where you can try out various boards, listen to live music, soak up the sun and the blue waters. Ride around the lake, or the mountain trails. Hmmm, anyone up for a Tahoe trip this year?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Video from USA vs. Canada, Round II...

Round II of the Canada vs. USA races at the Home Depot Center Velodrome took place this past Sunday, and as much as I would like to have been there, I couldn't convince myself to make the drive. I have been waiting to see some photos of the action and luckily local rider, Mark, whom I recently met on a Psycho-list ride, was at the 'drome and put together this great little video. Nice camera work; I have shot some video there in the past, but it did not come out with anything near the same quality. Enjoy it, and Mark, thanks for letting me share it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Slow Sunday Scenes...

and other random shots from around town over the past week.

simple and functional

things kept getting in my way (though i will only bore you with this one example)

keeping the citrus regional bikeway clear

passing by

passing through

hobbling along

long-stem roses?

to market, to market

to market

there's Joel Harper with push bike. if you are not familiar with his book All the Way to the Ocean, a children's book about the effects of pollution, check it, it's good no matter your age

finally, some snow covering for Baldy. if you look closely you can see
the snow blowing around up at the top. windy

the Pomello Pump House. i don't know how many times i have ridden past,
lets just say a lot (five times a day if i am doing laps) but have never turned my head to the left at the point i pass it until just today. it was built in 1913 by one of the small water companies serving the area. more recently [date?] the Southern California Water Company restored the building including matching
the original blue paint trim around doors and windows, new tin roof, and
seismic strengthening of the fieldstone walls. (info from Claremont Heritage website)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Upcoming: San Dimas Stage Race 2012 (and growing the sport)...

If you did not notice it, registration for the 2012 San Dimas Stage Race (SDSR) opened, I believe, on Thursday of last week. SDSR is a three stage event falling this year on March 16-18. This will be the thirteenth edition of the race, originally known as the Pomona Valley Stage Race, and throughout its history the race has been an early season magnet attracting some of the best local talent and top professionals. You can check the list of past victors on their new website, a list which includes names such as Chris Horner, Scott Moninger, and three time winner, Ben Day for the men; Kristen Armstrong, Ina Teutenberg, Lynn Bessette, and Amber Neben who won the first edition as well as the most recent, on the women's side.

Regardless of the attraction of witnessing the professionals performing at a top level, the action tends to be fast and exciting no matter what category happens to be on the course, flashing past at any particular moment. This is no more true than during the third stage circuit race along the streets of downtown San Dimas. The crowds always come out for this Sunday race, lining the finishing straight along Bonita Avenue, and scattered along the back streets where the drama often unfolds. 

Regretfully, and as was announced on the race's Facebook page, one group of racers who will not be participating this year are the women category 4's (unless I am wrong I don't believe there was a women's 4 race last year either). With many local races becoming weighted toward the older, more experienced side of the spectrum (and not that I mind having so much opportunity to be able to race) it was unfortunate to hear that there would be no women 4's race. For those of you who do not race, in women's racing, Category 4 might be described as entry level. In practice, many women do start out as Juniors and gain experience at a younger age, but for many other women who come to the sport at an older age, Cat 4 is where they begin. As someone who cut his teeth in racing in an era predominated by short criteriums, with an occasional road race sprinkled in, the annual pilgrimage to Utah to participate in a three-day stage race there, was the big highlight of my racing year. For most of us who race, or have raced, these short stage races are the closest we will get to the big-Tour experience. Three consecutive days of racing, three different disciplines, and the challenge of mastering three different courses is a thrill.

I am not sure what the reason was to withhold the women's Cat 4 race this year; whether there was one overriding reason, or several factors in combination, is irrelevant at the end of the day. The race organizers have said that the decision was out of their hands and I don't see any reason to dispute that claim. The organizers have always put on a quality, exciting race, one that has been both racer and spectator friendly. As the peloton continues to age, we need to see more opportunity to attract and hold fresh blood, so to speak, to provide a quality racing experience. It is hard to say where the answer lies. If races have to be cut, for what ever reason, where are the cuts made? Do you reward the Masters 40+, 50+, and 60+ racers, the people who have provided the backbone of local racing for the past 20, 30, or more years by cutting into their races? Do you cut into the middle groups, the Cat 3/4's, the largest block of racers? Or do you cut into the entry levels and risk losing athletes and hampering opportunities for the growth of the sport. 

It can likely be argued that one race won't make a difference, that there are plenty of other races, and thus opportunities, for the women Cat 4's. The problem is there are not plenty of other stage races and the unique opportunities that they provide to experience a type of racing not available at the local weekend criterium, or even one-day road race. I would love to be able to look back on this a few years from now, and view it as a symptom of growing pains, as the sport trying to figure out how to handle and balance the needs of an aging group of veteran road warriors, a active core in the middle, and the group of newcomers attempting to make their way into the sport. The problem is, we know that without entry-level opportunities, growth can stagnate. If you look closely at the sport of cycling, there is reason to be optimistic for its growth, but the governing bodies of the sport, the smaller race organizers, and on down the line to the local clubs, need to assure that opportunities for newcomers to experience the thrill and excitement, the camaraderie and cohesion remain available.

Alright, enough of that for now. The 2012 San Dimas Stage Race is coming up - less than two months away. So, after extolling the virtues of the small stage race, will I be doing it? I just don't know; I will want to see some rapid improvement over my performance of a week ago at the season's first race, before I make that decision. Which ever way it goes, whether I race or spectate, it is going to be good. Don't miss out. See you in San Dimas, if not before.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Stuff Someone Said: Sean Yates...

By now you may be well aware of how I continue to use a written journal to document the happenings of daily training rides. I have long supplemented these with apropos quotes by more famous personalities in the sport, and thought it might be worth sharing some of these here. Today's quote comes from the great British racer, Sean Yates:

"You can't participate in the bloody race if you're not at the front, can you boy." It doesn't get anymore straight forward than that.

photo from the January 1997 edition of Cycle Sport,
the Yates Special Issue in honor of his retirement from racing

This quote was brought to mind as I watched the video of the 1994 Tour de France while yesterday's rainstorm passed through. Miguel Indurain was still in his heyday, winning his fourth Tour that year, but I also remember the edition for what happened to Yates. Sean was wearing the Yellow Jersey at the time and was preparing to contest for a time bonus during an intermediate sprint. He was prevented from doing so, however, when another racer (who I had previously admired, but whose image is now forever tarnished) grabbed hold of Yates' jersey, and prevented him from moving forward. Needless to say Yates did not gain the time bonus, which instead went to a challenger for yellow, and co-incidentally, teammate of the "jersey-grabber". Yates lost the jersey that day.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

An Interesting Bridgestone Step-thru...

You know me, I don't really have much affinity for the "sensible" bike. The step-thru is just not my thing. This particular model, though, has some features which raise it to a whole different level of interest. The bike has many features which are typical for the type - motion generated headlight, skirt guard, rear rack, chain guard, fenders, and internally geared hub; but also has some which are a little more unique, but no less functional. Among these are a rear wheel kickstand which secures to each side of the rear axle, raising the wheel off the ground and holds the bike steady for loading and unloading; there is also a combination rear wheel / handlebar lock (see photos), and a cool child seat / basket. I was not previously familiar with the term but, I believe this is what in Japan is known as a mamachari. Not sure of the date on this thing so it may not qualify as vintage just yet, and classic is often in the eye of the beholder, but it certainly has some unique aspects to it. Check it at the Velo.

the complete picture

rear wheel view

this is where it starts to get interesting. turn the key and a bolt slides out from an enclosing sleeve preventing the rear wheel from turning. but there is more; you see, there is a cable running from the rear lock mech to another locking mechanism up front (the head tube/steerer to be exact), so when you lock the rear wheel the handlebars also lock at a 45º angle or straight ahead. the photo below shows the indicator for the front lock - you can't really tell from it, but when the indicator shows blue you are free to ride, when it shows red, it is locked. seems like overkill to me, i mean the handlebars either turn or they don't, but there you go.

the second feature of interest is the child carrier / basket. it has this rotating part - folded up, as in the first photo you have a child carrier; rotate it down and it becomes a basket. it also comes with a footrest for each side; when Dale showed me the bike we weren't sure how they attach (I just held one up for the photo), but they help keep the child's feet away from the rear wheel.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday with some Psycho-lists...

our little group headed up into San Dimas Canyon

Nice ride with the Friday morning group - Phil and Brenda I have ridden with on past rides, also out today were Mark and Scott. Little bit on the cool side to start, and since Baseline is basically downhill heading west, there is not much chance really, to warm up. It was cool right up to the point where we turned onto Esperanza, that hill there, of course, provides quite a shock to your system and is guaranteed to warm you up right quick. That is if it doesn't shut you down entirely. The KOM there was mine, whether gifted or not I don't know, and it is not really a question you ask. Just accept it and move on to the next hill. We cruised along Golden Hills Road, down through the closed section, and then turned up San Dimas Canyon. It has been a long time since I was last up that way and is such a nice climb up that canyon; if only it connected with some other road and actually went somewhere, instead of dead-ending. Anyway, rather than continue onward in the dirt, we turned around after regrouping, made our way over to Bonelli, Mile Hill (I think that is what people call it), some more descending through the hills to Covina, and then mostly flat back home. Ticked over a little more than thirty-seven miles; as I said a nice Friday morning ride. Psycho-lists on Meetup.

over-the-shoulder shots don't always work.
got Scott and Mark anyway; only half of Phil.
shoulder proves I was there

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rest in Peace, Dave Melrose...

I understand our local mountain bike community lost a good friend following his long battle with cancer last night.
I can believe that nobby tires turned silently at the moment when
Dave Melrose found final peace.

Now is as good a time as any to show some support to the cancer fund of your choice.

USA vs Canada, Round II...

I've got a ton of posts lined up and it's messing with my one a day game plan. First up is the second-go-round of the head-to-head races at the Home Depot Center Velodrome between Canada and the United States. I am sure the action will be fast paced; lets hope there is no problem with the power this time.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bicycle Film Festival...

Sometimes there is so much happening in the world of bicycles that, for any number of reasons, you can easily miss stuff if you are not careful. If not for receiving an email this afternoon about this one I would have missed out on passing along this information. Bicycle Film Festival is in Santa Barbara this weekend - Thursday to Saturday. Events are taking place both in Santa Barbara proper, as well as IV (Isla Vista for those of you who did not attend UCSB, or are otherwise unfamiliar). Additionally, and though it is not on the flyer of the BFF, there is a bike swap scheduled to take place at UCSB's lot 23, Saturday morning. Check that link above for full schedule. As nice as it is to spend a day in Santa Barbara, if you can't make it, don't fret, the Bicycle Film Festival will be in Los Angeles, September 8 to 11.

Party on the PET / CRB in May...

Yes, May. I am giving plenty of notice. May is a big month for cycling events in these parts. We don't go quite as far as Santa Barbara with their annual cycleMAYnia, even so there are plenty of fun events. The Amgen Tour of California will make a local stop again this year, with racers competing along a route between Ontario and Mt. Baldy on May 19. The l'etape du California will again cover the same route as the professional racers, three weeks earlier, April 28. May is Bike to Work month, and you can expect to see the Bike Pit Stop at the depot again this year. New for this year will be a special celebration of the Pacific Electric Trail/Citrus Regional Bikeway. Planning is still in the beginning stages, but the City of Rancho Cucamonga will be hosting an event on May 12; Claremont will be doing likewise. Whether the other cities along the PET step up and do likewise remains to be seen. Montclair? Upland? Fontana? Rialto? Come on. Fill in the gaps and make it one big linear bike riding party.

Look for more information as the event draws closer. Just think, people from points further west can ride Metrolink into Claremont, disembark at the depot, ride the PET (some 50 miles round trip end to end) and take the train back home. Just something to think about.

Is Censorship Ever a Good Idea?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bikes in film: The World is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner...

Here is another that caught my eye thanks to the bike on the cover. The World is Big is a 2008 film out of Bulgaria. Following a car crash, in which his mother and father are killed, a young man (Sashko) embarks, in the company of his grandfather, on what might be called a journey of recovery. Bai, the grandfather, grown weary of the way doctors are treating Sashko's amnesia, convinces his grandson to leave the hospital, and together they travel by tandem from Germany back to Bulgaria in an attempt to reawaken memories of the past. There is more story intertwined throughout - political persecution, attempts to start over in a new country, friendships, and tying everything together, the game of backgammon. Pretty darn good with some fun cycling scenes. English subtitles didn't subtract from it at all. Now why does the lead actor (grandfather) remind me so much of Walter Matthau?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Ontario Series GP: Let the Season Begin...

I left myself an out by not previously mentioning that I would be racing this fine day, first of the year, first in - how many years has it been? I will answer that for you - ten years. February 4, 2002 was the last time I raced a local criterium (any kind of road race actually). I didn't mention my plans for the day so that if things didn't go at least moderately well, I could just pretend to ignore the fact, pretend it never happened. Who would know, right? But that is not fair to myself or you all. I have never intended to hide stuff on this blog. Cycling is often a series of ups and downs. You have some good days and some bad (of course you try to minimize those).

Jr. Men 15-16 line up beneath grey sky (as did we all)

Not only was this the first race of the new season, and my first in ten years, it was a special day for another reason as well (read that word special with as much dripping sarcasm as you can add). You see, for the first time my racing license lists my racing age as 50. Yup, I get to race with that very veteran group, and was welcomed into the fraternity with all the compassion of a pack of hungry wolves on the scent of an easy kill. Not especially pretty, from my point of view. You see, the 50+ group is not broken up by category (there is no 50+ 3/4 race for instance), so there I was all lined up with the likes of riders who had made their names on the national and international circuit twenty and more years ago, and who have been able to continue their winning ways ever since. I don't mind, really. Racing against people at the top of their game, brings out the best in the rest of us as well. Eventually. Not today.

Today was all about reacquainting myself with the whole concept of racing. I woke early this morning with thoughts delusions of breaking away, or at least placing after unleashing a powerful sprint. Ha. Reality had other plans, and things turned out a wee bit different. Funny thing is the race started off well, maybe too well, I was perhaps too relaxed. I had none of those pressure nerves I recall from the past, waiting for the whistle to sound. I looked back over my shoulder (there were 84 racers in the 50+ race) and there was Thurlow Rogers and teammate Roger Worthington. I glanced to my left and there was Michael Burditt, who had already won an earlier race in the morning. Were I readily able to place names to faces I would have recognized some serious competition, maybe even enough to make me nervous. But I wasn't. It is just the beginning of this comeback, a year-long process, and I really had nothing to prove at this point.

Michael Birditt claiming his first victory of the day

and Michael Birditt claiming his second victory of the day

The first few laps went very comfortably. But then a series of prime laps (3 or 4 consecutively, I am not sure which) caused the pace to quicken. Soon enough I was cast adrift. Dropped. I was not the only one, and I don't think I was the first (small victories). Being dropped, I was then able to shoot the final two laps, and while I do consider being tailed off a bad thing, the photos are at least a small plus. I procrastinated away an entire season last year, while I debated whether or not I was fit enough to join in. Well I have beaten that devil at the first race of 2012 and now have my eyes fixed upward regardless of how many national and world champions line up next to me. The bug has been caught and is firmly in my grasp. Bring on the next race. And maybe a little fast-paced training before then.

The usual photo catalogs are here:

finish sprint of the Masters 55/60+
last couple laps of the Masters 50+
Misc. portraits, etc
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