Friday, January 23, 2015

The joy of a Bicycle

When I take my bicycle out for a spin, it doesn't matter the distance just the freedom it affords me is all I need.

A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr & Instagram
It helps to create an event around the activity, a pub ride, overnight camp or simply chasing a sunset.


A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr & Instagram

Thanks for reading and keep the rubber side down.  

Plans are in the works to switch to WordPress like all the great bloggers. Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Birthday Big "T" Canyon Sunrise Tea Club

What do you do on your Birthday? I decided to do the out of the ordinary for me and rise before dawn and have a cup of tea and watch the sun rise. At 6am  Homer loaded and ready to go, rolled the bike out and noticed the front had a flat! Threw Homer on the stand pulled the tire removed the thorn patched and rolling by 6:30 am. Sunrise was officially scheduled for 6:11 am but in the canyon I knew the sun wouldn't pop till a bit later. Spirited 3.7 mile climb, the cool air was refreshing and I made it to my destination above the wash with views up the canyon before the sun rose over the far ridge.

Pre
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr

The set up
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr


The rig
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr


Home made tea bags
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr


The goods
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr


The Pour
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr

Got cheese
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr


Cheers!
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr


Obligatory color shot
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr

Rolling
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr

Flickr photo's

As always thanks for reading and keep the rubber side down.  



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Caterpillar Crawl Ride

Why does the Caterpillar cross the road?

A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr


Yesterday a cold front moved through Southern California at least what goes for a cold front in these parts, with a high of 70F and 21C for you Euro types. When the temperature drops below 70F IMO it's perfect riding weather.  I decided to get up a bit earlier (I have a really difficult time getting up early with my current schedule) then usual and make a run up the canyon.

With the Hilsen stripped down and running the Soma Xpress tires* a departure from Homer's camping persona I dropped down Wentworth Street a spirited descent and made a right onto Oro Vista which opens up into the mouth of  Big Tujunga Canyon Rd. At this point on  Big "T" it's rollers with a steady gentle ascent passing the Little league field, defunct archery course and on my left I could hear the water running in the wash. Another mile or so I passed the familiar sign telling me I've entered the National Forest...more climbing and then I noticed something out of the ordinary on the edges of the roadway?? I peered closer from atop my Hilsen, is that a centipede crawling on the edge of the road? I looked to the left and back to the right and dispersed at intervals there were others travelling in both directions crossing the road!  I decided to pull over and have a closer inspection. They were in fact caterpillars not centipedes and upon further inspection they'd had mixed results.Strewn across the asphalt roadway lay a great many squished abruptly in their attempt to make it to the other side, or in another way of thinking they did make it to the other side. But on this physical journey they were stopped short by tons of rolling steel and rubber, no pictures taken in respect of the recently departed or the faint of heart.

A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr
So back to the question...why are they crossing the road? Is it a mating thing ? Are they running away from a spouse which makes the other side more attractive and the risk worth it? Is Mother Nature sending a message? The old adage "the grass always seems greener on the other side" and here is the cautionary tale silly human. What ever the reason I'd have missed the phenomenon had I not been on a bicycle.

I continued up to my turn around point found a suitable camp spot for a future close to home bike over night and rode home buffeted by the before tail wind now substantial head wind. All in all a good way to start a work day.

A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr
* Forth coming post on these tires.

Flickr photo's

As always thanks for reading and keep the rubber side down.  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

180° S24o in the San Berdoo Mountains.

Sometime in February I received an email from a rabble rousing fella from soggy PDX. It went something like this, Hey Southlanders Team Smitty has rented a van* and I have a pass to ramble.

The Schmidt Clan see the smiles as they head South.
A photograph by Andy Smitty Schmidt on Flickr used by permission

And a ramble we did! But first there was a bit of logistics to iron out.

The visit date was for late March and the ride around the 22nd and 23rd. There was some mild cajoling to get them down earlier for the RSR** which was planned for March 15th But there were some prenatal wranglings that needed tending. In the land of Auto's were on a day by day alert for this Southern incursion by a Puddle Town resident.  Many an idea was tossed about in search of a suitable local for a rambling bike overnight. Oh and there was a radius to consider as Andy's wife was to drop him off via her visit to Mission Viejo , then picked up on Sunday.

Possible locations were Borrego Springs, Joshua Tree & somewhere in the San Berdoo Mountains. Borrego was discarded as it was too far. While in the planning stages the participation count seemed to swell to twelve but in reality it always drops way off. By ride time there were the three of us for the overnight.

I pushed hard for Joshua Tree as I love the place and have never ridden a bicycle in the park. I made calls to the Joshua Tree Ranger District office for more information and came away with a general sense of why you don't hear about bike adventures out there. Highly restricted, the California Riding and Hiking trail*** is closed to bikes and has been hung up for years in congress waiting for approval. It doesn't help that the information disseminated by these folks on the phone is hardly reliable. For instance, I was told that one could post on a bulletin (basically inform the rangers you were planning on camping in the wilderness for safety) walk your bike not ride about a mile into the wilderness along the Pinto Mountains and primitive camp which seemed like a hassle but in a pinch I'll hike a bike when necessary. There is only a small dirt section called the Queen Mine Road that allow bicycles.

The plan was the Coconut and I would travel in advance to snag a camp site leave extra water and fire wood on Friday and on Saturday meet Andy at Coyote Corner in the town of Joshua Tree and ride the 35 miles to camp. Then on Sunday ride back out. Andy had planned to ride the near 100 miles back to Barstow with an overnight in between at Amboy crater.

So the Strada Rossa came and went which I'll detail on a later post...

Finally got the bike rack loading down.
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr
The Coconut and I headed out to Joshua Tree with high hopes of an epic desert adventure. Arriving in Yucca Valley a bit later than I had hoped for (as after my work week I wasn't moving too fast) we made a few pit stops, coffee beans for the Coconut, extra water, snacks, fire wood and made our way into the Park by way of the West entrance. The first thing that greeted us was a wonderful sign informing us that all campgrounds were FULL. Immediately a sinking feeling in my stomach manifested but I pulled up to the kiosk anyway with a determination that we would find a site. The ranger in the kiosk wasn't helping my resolve in fact he had that meek sort of demeanor, you know the don't kill the messenger look. He informed us there was an uptick because of Spring Break. Spring Break! What the hell! I looked over at the Coconut and he said oh yeah I'm on Spring break too.

I'm a working guy without children. Okay so apparently Spring Break is spread out from mid March to mid April or something I suppose to go easy on the rest of us. The revised plan was to make the rounds through the park and see if some cool students would let us share their camp? This wasn't the adventure we were looking for. After making the rounds we came up empty and made our way to the North entrance at Twenty Nine Palms. I figured I'd do the bulletin registration thing and make camp. No dice, remember earlier I mentioned miss-information, yep that option was off the table. Our only options were 1. Camp at Cottonwood Camp approximately 55 miles on the Southern end of the park. 2. Camp on BLM land North of Hwy 62 in a bleak moonscape terrain. 3. Camp at a private camp ground called Joshua Lake Camp which the rangers claimed was scenic. The Coconut made the call and they were having a private something all weekend and there were no sites available, so we decided to take a room at the Hi Desert Motel with pool and HBO. Returned the fire wood and stopped into the Crossroads Cafe for some fine coffee. My general feeling was all of Los Angeles or more likely the entire Western half of these United States had descended on JT.

Leaving the Hi Desert
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr

Fortunately, I'd had a plan B. I put a call into Cyclotourist David in Redlands and arraigned for us to meet at his home Saturday morning then ride up to Angelus Oaks by way of  Hwy 38 Mill Creek Road, Loch Leven trail and make camp at Thomas Hunting grounds a primitive camp. David sent emails with the change of plans and the new route directions. I'd also put an email out to Andy with the change of plans. I watched the Lakers lose again to the Wizards and the Coconut organized his gear and by the time I fell asleep at 11pm I still hadn't heard from Andy.

Organizing 
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr


7 am Saturday the 22nd woke up, checked out and had a meal at the Country Kitchen. Checked email and Andy was headed to Redlands. Game on!  The word  from Barstow was Smitty had now highjacked the van. So one part of the logistics was solved. Sixty five miles later...

About 9:20 am we all met on David's front lawn and always the gracious host the Cyclotourista served us all cappuccino's.

Hoodlums
A photograph by Cyclotourist on Flickr used by permission

With printed route instruction in hand David and friend Arlo also coincidentally (if you believe in coincidence, I think it's a SAD thing**** ) from Portland escorted us all the way to the Loch Leven hike a bike bypass, a hasty whiskey circle was formed good conversation David and Arlo swooping back down and the three of us Andy, Coconutbill and me continuing upward.

Permit stop
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr


A photograph by Cyclotourist on Flickr used  by permission


A photograph by Cyclotourist on Flickr used  by permission

Onward we climbed with breaks and conversation along the way. Loch Leven is an abandoned road being reclaimed by nature, sort of a "Planet of the Apes" *****vibe. We popped out into the mountain neighborhood of Angelus Oaks and made our way to the Oaks Restaurant. There we had a meal Andy and Evan electing to have a beer and I went with a nice hot tea.

We asked our waiter the distance to the Thomas Hunting grounds camp and he claimed it was about 2.5 miles mostly flat. I said claimed because Andy wasn't buying it... turns out it was 3.5 miles and more climbing. There were some mechanical issues and we elected to make a hobo camp atop a knoll with sweeping views in all directions. Camp was set, water was boiled and tea enjoyed while the last rays of light faded, later we all retired into a balmy night and well earned rest.

A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr

Daylight arrived and we could make out below that the coastal moisture had made it's push inland. As is the ritual we boiled water and the Coconut described the Rivendell sanctioned aeropress process.

The pour
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr


...and press
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr

Don't hold your breath but there might be an up coming Coconut instruction video on the perfect cup of Joe.

A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr
Packed and ready to go we rolled down the hill to the Oaks for pie and coffee while sitting on the porch in the sun. This was at Andy's recommendation and a good one at that.

Evan bombing.
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr

Breakfast of champions
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr

Bike friendly establishment
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr
We did the reverse route rolling down LL with child like glee carving and picking the best line down, there was a bit of photo leap frog bombing...

Getting Gnarly 
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr
Popping back out onto Hwy 38 a fast decent down to an area that the Cylotourist emphasized strongly. That this side route was not to be missed. and worth the time. Entering what was a stalled home development with streets, utilities and graded building pads beyond we entered a large canyon with  smooth round slopes draped with new spring grasses. Turning up a smaller side canyon we ascended up a switch back trail hike a biking above Hwy 38 and Redlands below and in the distance.

A Coconut in a sea of green
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr

LCG
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr

A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr


This was Crafton Hills and as advertised there was a fire road of hard pack that carved it's way along a ridge and swooped downward to Crafton College.

A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr


A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr

A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr
A short five miles later we arrived back at David's with a leisurely walk and conversation to the Gormet Pizza Shoppe, great dishes were had, Hanger 24 beer was consumed and pizza (since I'd been talking about it to the Coconut all weekend ) enjoyed by yours truly.

A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr

A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr
All good times have to end and this weekend was no different, for me they are always bitter sweet and over really fast. Though I'd never met Andy in person he was exactly who I thought he was, a good riding partner with easy banter and mad riding skills. A Northwest/Southwest connection was made and I think it's safe to say that the Coconut was safe and intact. Job well done by all.

One last thing, there was an enormous amount of bike geeking especially around Andy's Jackalope built by Bantam Bikes in Portland. I gotta say I also like the Pass & Stowe front rack super utilitarian, hmm maybe for the Atlantis down the line?

A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr
For more socalpedalpusher Flickr images here.
The Coconut's are here
Andy Smitty Schmidt here
The Cyclotourist here

*The Smitty Schmidt clan goes carless in the puddle capitol.

**The Redlands Strada Rossa ride of consequence. A mere sixty six mile 7200' mixed terrain ride, add a      little heat and let the suffer fest begin.

***The riding part must be referring to horses cause it's off limits to bikes. This trail is approximately 35 miles and runs from Black Rock Campground outside of Yucca Valley to the South and terminates at the North Entrance at Twenty Nine Palms.

****Seasonal affected disorder.

***** Andy at some point had mentioned the movie Planet of the Apes  and I guess it just stuck.

As always thanks for reading and keep the rubber side down.


Friday, February 28, 2014

Current Status

I had hoped to get an S240 in this February but Mother Nature had other plans for me. I've heard biblical proportions and I suppose here in the South land it feels that way. The National Weather Service issued a Hazardous weather warning with possible flash flooding and mud slides inland, nothing to laugh about and definitely not the kind of weather you should be camping in no matter how prepared you think you are.

A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr
So I was forced to pause, relax and enjoy the soothing rain outside while...my steeds were dry.

A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr
I called the Ojai  bike overnight camp trip off early Thursday. Ever since the gloomy weather forecast popped up some ten days ago I've been scheming . So my back up plan was to ride about five miles up Big Tujunga Canyon Road and make a stealth camp around Doske Road in or near the remnant foundation of an old homestead, which is on high ground. I figured I'd wait for a break in the deluge and hustle up Big T make camp and hunker down inside my two person tent with book, radio, letter writing materiel and sandwich. Unfortunately, the break never manifested and instead I puttered around the house waiting for my Atlantis frame to be delivered from the painter. Lots of interesting stuff there but for another post. 

So stuck indoors I got to thinking about what these hardy folk up North do in heavy rain...do they just say what ever, ride get wet and deal with the soggy discomfort? On heavy down pours do they sequester themselves indoors? Instead of riding their bikes walk on errands?  Do they meticulously wipe their bikes down or just do a quick wipe and walk away, living with the fact that the frame and parts will get some rust and pitting...what's amusing about all these questions running through my head is that in my youth I lived in a wet climate which I recall just trowing on a rain coat and going head long into the wet environment. I just didn't have a nice shinny Rivendell. My answer is that in time beausage will develop and perhaps I'll be a bit more caviler.

Back to the storm...still heavy biblical rain...

And now that the S240 a month club is officially done for 2014 I can honesty say I'm okay with that. I've got lots of responsibilities that need tending to, so if there was any pressure it has now evaporated. Now I'm looking with anticipation to March for the Redland Strada Rossa ride March 15th and the following weekend March 22nd and 23rd Andy Smitty Schmidt from PDX is visiting with a S240 in Joshua Tree planned. 

A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr

The unpacking
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr

Exactly the right color
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr

A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr
Just so you all know I love the rain...lots of green coming and the reservoirs are filling up a tad.

More photographs on Flickr here

Thanks for reading and keep the rubber side down.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Necessity is a Mother.

I live exactly twenty one miles from Down town Los Angeles or twenty one miles from work. Home is in the foothills of the Western San Gabriel's with plenty of great back country to explore. That twenty one miles seems an unreasonable distance for bike commuting so I haven't up to this point. Yep that's correct I employ a carbon emitter and I'm not always happy about that. Isn't change only possible when we take it upon our selves to make those individual changes to start the snow ball a rolling.  The past two New Years I've made a resolution to commute to work by bicycle at the least once per week and well you know how resolutions go they get swept under the rug hauled out a year later.

A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr
My commute by bicycle resolution was ripped out from under that carpet and in a big way! But I'll get to that in a moment.

Our homes main waste line has been infiltrated by our lovely liquid amber tree roots...just so happens the six inch transition clay pipe to the cities sewer in the middle of the street has integrity issues and needs to be replaced and then the section under the street thermoform lined to prevent future root infiltration. The work is being done as I type and it's a boat load. Let me put it into perspective, it's a Rivendell Atlantis fully built by Riv buried beneath my front yard, no late night digging parties please; besides the ground squirrels have that job cornered these days.

My digging party
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr

Next up the wife's car won't start, our philosopher mechanic not physic mechanic two weeks ago couldn't figure out what the problem is? It started fine for him, he did fix a bunch of other stuff. So the wife asks about renting a car for a few days? I looked up rental rates and it wasn't too bad, but I had this pervading thought ride your bike to work! Come on you know you want to. It's doable.

Incidentally, I've been getting Homer prepared for the next S240 up in Ojai so he's been fully racked and bagged, essentially ready to commute. Oh and there's rain on the horizon...will my plans to make a February overnight happen or will Mother Nature impede my attempt on the S240 a month club? Stay tuned, I know I'm checking the weather forecast often.

I made contact with the plumber, line cleared and the rest of the work scheduled for tomorrow, so I readied myself, lunch, dinner, clothes, layers for the evening ride, Cygolight charged, rear lights all working blah, blah, blah...I rolled out and onward to a new experience. Climbing and thinking, thinking and climbing...I pedaled 600' out of my house and realized that the pork chop I was carrying might not be refrigerated for a while so the wife brought me a small soft cooler and blue icy thingy. Trudging ahead I stopped at Trader Joe's for some rice chips and then headed down and through Glendale via Vedugo Boulevard... time wise I was doing really well so there was time to stop and take some pictures and generally soak in the route.

A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr

Hollywood extends to Eagle Rock
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr


Los Angeles River
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr
Once I crossed the LA river I paused to take some more pictures and saw a cyclist passing by. later I caught up with him at a stop signal and asked about his commute. He said he was traveling from Orange County. I said your commuting from Orange County?  Smiling he informed me he was retired and could ride all day, the light changed, traveling in different directions leaving me with questions.


A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr

Retired
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr

2nd Street tunnel entrance
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr

A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr

I arrived at work nearly forty five minutes early and reflecting on the ride I was most pleased.

Trusty Homer at rest in the shop
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr

The return ride was diametrically different. A short jaunt to Union Station a short ride on the Gold line light rail to Pasadena and I rode the sixteen miles home, climbing and chasing my shadow the whole way, owning the road.. There was a quietude to the ride that you can't achieve during the day. Arriving home at just after midnight, warm shower, pecked a few words and promptly slid into bed.

A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr



Waiting
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr

February 25th 8:00am

This morning I feel the fatigue but feel surprisingly well. Necessity really is a Mother pushing me to make that resolution a reality. Commute day two ahead, rain looming I am determined to make this Ojai overnight happen.

And my neighbor across the street coincidentally has the same plumbing problem too!

Neighbors digging party
A photograph by Socalpedalpusher on Flickr


More Flickr pictures here.

Thanks for reading and remember keep the rubber side down.