Friday, November 26, 2010

Turkeys Ride

There is an annual tradition around here called the Turkey Ride. Every Thanksgiving, a big swarm of mountain bikers descend the Sunset Ridge Fireroad. "Descend" is sometimes used as a technical term to mean "haul buns." I don't own a downhill bike. (You know, those beasts with 7 inches of suspension travel that look like a motocycle without an engine) But what my bikes lack in technology, I make up with poor handling skills. The result is that I prefer to "ride down" rather than "descend."

I know of one guy who rides up Sunset Ridge each year, just to show the "shuttle-monkeys" what they're missing. But I didn't hear from him. So I called my so-called "friend" who often rides with me. "Friend" and I are what you could call "uphill suttle-monkeys." We'll climb just about anything, provided you have a jeep parked at the top to get us down safely. Neither of us had the time to climb Sunset because we had out-of-town turkey feasting plans. So we made plans to do the "pavement shuttle."

The whole premise behind the "pavement shuttle" is the fact that road miles are easier than dirt miles. Some will go so far as to say that one should disconnect their computer (odometer) before riding on pavement. Because ROAD MILES DON'T COUNT.

These miles don't count for MTBers. And roadies don't sag.

The climb from Mt Baldy Village to Cow Canyon Saddle
 As my "friend" and I found out, we were not the only ones riding to the ride. A lot of the folks we saw on Mt Baldy Rd were dressed in club kits. Or at least they were dressed like they knew what they were doing. I really should have handed my camera to someone for a shot of me, because I looked more absurd than usual. I had my Kona "technical pants" on for the snowy climb. Then when we got to the sun-exposed descent, I stripped down to my lycra. Fortunately, the bike fashion police were nowhere to be seen.

A well-dressed cyclist

We are developing frostbite...
 and this guy is complaining that his jacket is making him sweat.
So, we had a great ride. We got cold and hot and muddy and sweaty. I was late for a family obligation, but that is just like a mountainbiker. I arrived before dinner was served, so all ended well.

We're just trying to work off our dinner.
Wait, we didn't eat yet...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I finally made it to the TdF!

Ever since I was a wee lad, I've wanted to ride in the Tour de France. Well, not exactly. More like "since I was old enough to be someone's grandfather, but still in posession of my childish energy and abandon" And I've never wanted to ride in the Tour because that would hurt a great deal.

So it's quite fortunate for me that the Tour de Foothills has the same initials as le Tour.

Lots of tandems today!

Le Foothills, that I was touring today, ranged from Irwindale to Fontana. The ride also included some nice climbs in the San Jose Hills. The other riders were some excellent people. I chatted with quite a few, because what else are you going to do on a bike for seven hours? The volunteers were very supportive, telling us "You're doing great; keep it up," etc. One guy at Fontana Park (about the 85 miles mark) was walking through the riders asking if he could take our banana peels and empty bottles. Can't say I blame him. We probably didn't look like we could make it to the trash cans by ourselves at that point in the ride.

Oh that reminds me. The one negative thing I can think of was the wind. Out in Fontana it can get bad, and today was the worst I have ever seen it. I would easily trade a couple extra reps up Mt Baldy Rd for the stretch to Lytle Creek Rd and Sierra Ave. I was going slower on flat ground than I had on the "tough climb" of the course! Even worse were the gusts that blew me sideways.

That was all Mother Nature's doing. If I were making the route, I would have included that wretched section, myself. It's a classic stretch for cycling. It's just the weather that ruined it. In fact, the whole route was classic. As I rode along Baseline to Mills and up Mt Baldy Rd with some new friend from the westside, I felt a local pride. As if I were showing him the best riding we have in my town. And in an indirect way, I was.

Maybe a massage will help...

This year was the first time the organizers included a full century. Other routes were the metric century and the metric half century. I couldn't go the whole day without cracking wise about the riders doing "just" 31 miles. But that's simply because I was afraid they'd eat all the food before I got a chance to finish. My fears were unfounded.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mt SAC Fat Tire Classic

We have changed back from Daylight Saving Time which means that the days have been getting short enough to be mildly depressing. And with the change, we will have no evening. Go straight from work to night. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

Fortunately, this blow is softened each year by one of the most fun MTB races around. The Mt SAC Fat Tire Classic. A nice mix of fireroad and singletrack that is grueling at times, fun at others, but offers plenty of places to recover or pass. There are unique metal trophies made by the welding class. There is the fact that you can't ride the course any other time of year because it goes through gates that are locked to keep the cows in. You can even be late and still race, if you forgot to reset your clock!

Not very flowy except on race day...

So cute!

This year, it was a disappointing day at the races for me. I rode my rigid singlespeed against the Cat 2 "Sport" racers of my age group. I came in 7th place. Had I been racing in the Singlespeed category, I would have been 4th. Doesn't matter, trophies went to the top three. The disappointing part was the fact that my camera had no memory card in it.

My friend, Quinn, was racing alongside this 14 year old girl who was racing MTB for the first time. That is always neat to see. First times are special. Looking at her face afterwards, you couldn't see the supercharged emotions that (I'm guessing) she was not about to let Mom see. All I know is that my first race made me a giant exposed nerve to my emotions.

Maybe it was different for this racer. She races crits and track. Track, like at the velodrome, fer cryin' out loud! I didn't know what a track bike was when I was 40, let alone 14. She also has a mother that will not only pace her, but reply to "Mom, I can't breathe!" with "You can talk; you can breathe."

What a different life than the one I had! I hope she likes it.

I must say, if you are female and considering racing, do it. 14 year old newbie, her mother, and Quinn all got trophies. I saw my friend Sue after the race. She had won as usual, but she told me with a grin, "...and I beat someone this time." The trophy to competitor ratio is wild. Go and get some!

Some things just don't make any sense if your not a racer:

You might understand how arriving early, being excited and nervous, and having to wait for the scheduled start can make one want to pee. Quinn wanted to know if she had time to go to the bathroom. Of course there's time, I told her. Then she wanted to know if she should go to the bathroom. I'm still not sure what distinction she was drawing, but I said that pissing would make her lighter. End of discussion. She went.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Over the River and Through the Hoods... Grandmother's house I go.

This is my twice-a-month commute, and I really enjoy the opportuntity to see so much of Los Angeles and its metropolitan area. I doubt I could ride my bike from Pomona to Culver City and back, but with the help of light rail trains, I do just that. Plus I get to make a loop of it (and ride 10 miles along the beach as well)!

Unfortunately, I don't like to get up early. So I have only one picture from my outbound trip. I had to get there on time for lunch which is served promptly at noon. Fortunately, I was planning a little extra time. So I was able to suffer a flat tire and still live up to my reputation (always being on time to a free meal)!


I wasn't expecting to see this array of antennae in Culver City.
I just had to snap a shot...

On the way home, I took Venice Blvd towards downtown. My Grandmother talks about the Helms Bakery trucks that used to deliver to people's homes. So I thought I'd get her a picture of the bakery now.

I didn't know what to make of "H D Buttercup" so I looked closer. Turns out the whole place is a furniture bazaar. I asked my buddy H.G. Wells what he thought "manutailer" meant (zoom in on the sign above). He said something about "adspeak double plus ungood."

Not like Grandma remembers...

Union Station has its share of  "adspeak" going on.

I don't remember the billboards on the collumns.

When I step outside to the garden, the station's charm seems intact.

From Union Station, I rode the train to Pasadena. From Pasadena, I rode my bike home. A nice leisurely Sunday with the riding broken up with train rides and a lunch-visit. Like it says, I crossed the river (San Gabriel or Ballona Creek, take your pick) on my bike. But "through the hoods" refers to the communities from Norwalk to El Segundo when I was merely looking out a train window...