Sunday, May 25, 2008

Who’s Reaching Out to Capture a Moment

This was what it looked like when I went out today.

And this was what it looked like by the time I got back.

When I find whoever it was that had the idea of dialing up a huge headwind after I had pedaled myself 37.5 miles downrange—to come rushing at me, arms flung wide, to welcome me home—I’m going to open a can of whupass and use it to top up the 55-gallon drum I’ve got ready to pour into a bathtub of medieval, which is where I intend to hold that party under until the bubbles stop coming up.

Other than that, it was a great ride. Oh—that, and the rear brake pad rubbing on the new rim for about 2/3 of each rotation. Little things. But the brake pad can be realigned.

Just once, would it kill the weather to cooperate with one of my routes?

(Incidentally, if anyone has a shred of doubt left about whether I’m a major whiner over little baby troubles on bike rides, have a look at this description of a real ride. It’s exciting times this month over in the boot-shaped peninsula called Italy, which is standing in for the Tour de France this year, since the Tour has decided to invite only second-tier riders for the July rides around that country. Today’s stage, after a difficult set of climbs yesterday and before a rough mountain stage tomorrow, was 95 miles long, in the rain, with about 15,500 feet of climbing. That’s how real cyclists roll.)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Friday, May 16, 2008

Makes You Stronger

Some people love sleeping in tents. They go to great lengths, and to great distances to wake up under canvas, or rubber, or oilcloth, or whatever they make tents out of these days.

Me, not so much. I’ve got nothing against tents, understand. I just like my coffee machine too.

But I did have the opportunity recently to sleep in a tent.

Officially, of course, it was discouraged. But they’re mostly telling you not to sleep inside because they’re afraid that inhaling the gas so deeply might give you superpowers.

Like a big Christo project, they started wrapping my domicile in the early morning hours, and they were finished turning it into a cultural attraction before noon.

They did warn us that the gas would kill houseplants. I took some with me, left others behind. (The ones I left behind didn’t do well, but that could be from the gas or because the water was turned off.) So our complex courtyard temporarily became a lush botanical garden.

Finally it was safe to return.

Monday, May 12, 2008

This Wheel’s on Fire!

Need gears!

Got gears!

Got spacer!

Too much room!

Got more spacer!

Mo’ bettah!

Need torque wrench!

Need special tool! With matching splines!

Need socket and adapter for torque wrench to drive special cassette lockring tool!

Got gears!

Old and new!


Saturday, May 10, 2008


The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

(Words by Carl Sandburg)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Guten Tag

I get clumsy around rules.

Instead of six random things and six people, I will offer twelve carefully chosen sentences.

I liked that meme better, and I forgot to do it last year.

Later on maybe I'll splice together a panorama with a half-dozen sunsets in it, but for now I'll keep using these little red arrows.

It's been busy around here.

Europe got a full lunar eclipse today.

First of all, a big shout-out to NBC for bringing us a world-class cycling event live on regular broadcast TV right here in the U.S. of A.: today’s U.S. Open Cycling Championship in Virginia.

Last Tuesday—a week ago yesterday—I set out for a quick morning spin on the velocipede and suffered a sidewall blowout less than half a mile from home.

There’s nothing but truth in Tennyson’s lines from “Locksley Hall.”

Note the direction of travel.

There’ll have to be time for words later.

It’s amusing to see my brother’s rant on bicycle-car etiquette.

I had to be in the Bay Area for something else anyhow.

I have been dabbling in Irving Stone’s 1934 biography of Vincent Van Gogh, Lust for Life.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

First None'll Come, and Then a Lot'll

Two years ago, before this blog had any rust or age spots, I rode through the streets of downtown Los Angeles one fine Sunday morning and posted some pictures from the excursion.

Last year I was neck-deep in handling paperwork from Mom’s estate, so there was no way I was going to have time to make the ride.

This year I extricated myself from a detailed schedule long enough to roll again, on May 4.

This was the route. (It’s supposed to appear here, but in case the graphic link doesn’t work right, that’s a link that works the old-fashioned way, like hieroglyphs in an Egyptian pyramid.)

We started out at the Police Academy, perched just above Dodger Stadium, and darted south and west through part of Chinatown.

Here we ride past the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the L.A. Performing Arts Center.

I still haven’t been to any performances in the Walt Disney Hall, the most prominent Frank Gehry structure in town. From the outside, I like it already.

Past the Disney Hall again . . .

The mid-route rest stop came after the bulk of the flat riding, before we headed up into the hills. I didn’t take pictures all along the way, but this comes after riding a pretty good stretch up Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards; we’re headed north here, up toward (roughly) Hollywood Bowl.

Part of what makes this ride special is that it’s set up with rolling road closures as the riders pour through the streets, so we don’t have to worry about stoplights and cross traffic—all the riders have to do is ride and get a thrill from the surroundings. Without that, most of these streets would be impassable for cyclists, or at least much more problematic.

It takes a large escort contingent to close the streets: a team riding before, to secure intersections; a team riding alongside the riders, to make sure they stay in the lanes they’ve been given; a mop-up team riding behind. This is a benefit ride; part of the registration fee goes toward road closures and permits and food and so on, but part of the fee goes toward the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.

After a spin through Griffith Park and a couple of steep hill climbs, we got back to the Police Academy for a burrito lunch and a welcome chance to take our helmets off and relax. Nice ride.

I had been riding adjacent to this couple for a lot of the course. They said I wasn’t the first one to ask to take pictures of their his-and-hers shirts.

My trusty steed, riding on the back of my other trusty steed, in a Dodger Stadium parking lot that’s as empty as it gets. Wish it were this easy to find parking on game days!

I started the ride just after 8 a.m. and was done before 11, for a total of about 40 miles at about 14.5 m.p.h. For most of the first part of the ride I was stuck behind the front of the escort contingent, which limited our speed, until I got a chance to bridge over to the group of faster riders. All the hills came when I was with the faster riders, which was good: the escort vehicle was farther ahead, so I could set my own pace. I felt in better shape this year than I did the first time I rode this course.

Then again, the second time up any hill is usually easier than the first, when the rise and crest are still unfamiliar.