Archive for July, 2006

The Runaround Yields Five Times Around

Monday, July 31st, 2006

Stewing from various trivialities among them getting the brush off from a person I’m profiling for a feature — that’s due Thursday! — I hopped onto the bike and expended some pent-up frustro by working up a goodly sweat riding five times around the Silver Lake Reservoir, arriving back home 56 minutes after I started. Not bad. Not bad t’all

The rescheduled interview — some two weeks in the voicemailing! — is to happen tomorrow morning at 11:15. Please gawd, let’s hope so. That leaves me the rest of Tuesday to transcribe the tape — and I do mean the rest. of. the. entire. day. — and Wednesday to write it. Sigh. Freelancing is anything but free.

I’m also bothered by the changes announced today to the course of the 2007 marathon. For the first time in its 22-year history it’s going a point-to-point route, that is, instead of a loop that begins near where it ends (as has been the case for the last few years), it’s now going to start way the hell over in one place and end way the hell over in another. In this case, it’s going to start near Universal Studios and 26.2 miles later end by the Central Library downtown.

I wouldn’t have much issue with it, and lawd knows the course has changed a lot over the years that I’ve participated, but see once again I’m planning on donning my duathlete hat and doing both the bike tour and marathon and frankly I’ve gotten comfortable with being so relatively close to the action here in Silver Lake these last few years. Now, with the marathon (and probably the bike tour, too) starting practically in the valley and gridlocking a much larger swath of the city it’s going to require an adjustment and answers to a buncha questions: Can I do both events without driving or being driven? If I have to drive and park how will I get back to my vehicle near Universal Studios from the marathon finish in downtown and will I be in any shape to do so? If I can bike or take public transportation to the bike tour where will I be able to change/stow my gear for the marathon? And again how will I get back to my bike after the marathon? Will the the bike tour course include having to roll up through Cahuenga Pass to get back to the marathon start? Is a frog’s ass truly watertight?

Preliminarily speaking I think what’s going to happen is one of three scenarios:

1) I’ll be driving myself and the bike and parking somewhere hopefully pretty convenient to the marathon start line so that I can return to the truck after the bike tour lock up the bike and change into my marathon gear and not have far to get to for the start of the marathon. Then after the marathon Susan will either be kind enough to give me a ride back to the truck or I’ll subway it back across town to it.

2) I’ll park the truck near the marathon finish line, bike or subway it to the bike tour start, secure the bike after that event, find someplace to change clothes, do the marathon and then truck myself back afterward to retreive my bike.

3) Bike/subway it from home to the bike tour start line, do the ride, secure the bike and find a place to change clothes, do the marathon, go home from the downtown finish line, and return the following day to pick up the bike.

With seven months and change until the big day there’s plenty of time for things to change and for alternate scenarios to be planned accordingly. But even this far out, the claustrophia-inducing thought of some 20,000 runners/walkers and some 15,000 cyclists converging all jam-cram upon Universal Studios just seems like not a very good idea to me.

And Then There Were Three Two

Saturday, July 29th, 2006

Susan and I welcomed a charming young lady over to the house who was interested in adopting a pup, and the end result is that we were so impressed with her heart and willingness to commit that the one we called “Squeaker” has gone off to have a new and wonderful home and life with her new guardian. We love you Squeaks!

squeaks.jpg

We have a couple more interviews lined up this afternoon and by the time those are done may be bidding farewell to “”Shortcut” as well. Blackjack’s new family will be picking her up sometime next week.

In anticipation of the exits, I rounded up the quartet earlier this afternoon for a shot in the very box we first photographed them in at our room in the Cliff Dweller Lodge near Vermilion Cliffs in Arizona the day we found and rescued them:

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July 11, 2006

And here are the larger versions of the foursome today:

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July 29, 2006

I find myself surprised at how sad I am in saying goodbye. I know Squeaker’s new guardian is going to give her a wonderful home and life and I’m very proud that we facilitated it, still there’s something really difficult in letting her go… in breaking up the team that I’ve watched grow these past couple weeks. And it’s probably not going to get easier as we see Shortcut and Blackjack off to the next chapters of their lives.

But then there will be Ranger for us to raise in the knowledge that we went above and beyond the call in seeing these pups given a chance to thrive.

UPDATED (5:41 p.m.): Indeed, after the second prospective adopters arrived shortly after 5 p.m. we said so long to Shortcut. Be well and well-loved Shorty!

shorty.jpg

Picture This

Saturday, July 29th, 2006

As I get set to go for a bike ride after this post with plans to be back by mid-afternoon to meet with the first of a couple prospective pup adopters, I’ve been scrolling through the images from our roadtrip vacation and I got the urge to post a couple/three from our Yellowstone excursion for your visual inspection (click the thumbnails for maxified biggification):

bullelk.jpg gbh.jpg rainbow.jpg

MTA Gold Line 1, Best Laid Plans 0

Friday, July 28th, 2006

Well it looked good on paper. It worked, in theory. But actualizing a weekly evening bike ride utilizing the MTA to get us to Pasadena for a cruise back downtown? That’s a rail line of a different color.

It started out well enough with the seven of us getting a timely jump for the three miles from our start point south of the Arts District up to the Chinatown Gold Line station, where we arrived in time to get tickets and up the stairs to the platform with a couple minutes to spare before the arrival of the 8:34 p.m. train

Then it all went dreadfully wrong. The train arrived — and on time, too — but it was only two cars in length and filled pretty much to capacity. Certainly it had room for seven more passengers, but not seven passengers with bikes.

So we opted not to board and instead waited out the 18-minute interval until the next scheduled train. But lo, what yonder doth I see, but a three-car Gold Liner coming towards us out of the darkness only a scant few minutes after the 8:34 train left the station? Alas, “Out Of Service” is emblazoned on its marquee and it screeches on by us. When the 8:54 arrives it’s the same story of two cars, these with even more people than the first. Common sense prevailed and we opted not to board and thus abandoned hope of getting to, and riding home from, Pasadena. And sure enough shortly after that train departed, another three-car “Out Of Service” train scooted by as if mocking me.

I was bummed to say the least. Then I was angry. Where’s the freakin’ logic in cramming passengers into two compartment while the empty triple trains are left to haunt the rails like ghosts of what might have been?

We still enjoyed a decent ride up along the little-used ped/bike passage between the north and southbound 110 Freeway…

110.jpg

…before coming back through Chinatown to Little Tokyo for sushi and such at Joy Mart. But when I got home I was still pissed enough to put aside my need for sleep and write the MTA a letter:

Let me preface this by saying that given my past attempts to communicate with the MTA’s customer service I wholly expect this complaint either to be ignored or its point to be missed entirely, or at best, barely grazed.

But be that as it may I am nevertheless compelled to express my extreme disappointment this evening when myself and a group of six other cyclists I was traveling with attempted to access first the 8:34 p.m. northbound GoldLine train at the Chinatown stop and then again the 8:52 p.m. train. Both consisted of only two cars that were filled to capacity, leaving us stranded at the station.

The painful irony is that following closely behind both the 8:34 and 8:52 trains were out-of-service trains each consisting of three cars.

Had either the 8:34 or the 8:52 train had a third car attached the odds are that my friends and I would have been able to get to Memorial Park station as planned. Instead, after being unable to board the 8:52 p.m. train we just gave up and ate the cost of seven tickets, sadly deciding instead just to abort our plans to visit Pasadena and just stay downtown.

I’m not sure what ridership-to-car formula is used to decide how large a train is for any particular run but that formula failed seven of your riders this time. Twice.

If you’re going to suggest that we should have left the bikes in Chinatown and used the Gold Line without them, please don’t. As a group of recreational cyclists who enjoy weekly rides around the greater Los Angeles area, our plan was to use the Gold Line (most of us for the first time) to get up to Pasadena and then bike back to downtown L.A. and we shouldn’t have to modify it to fit the MTA’s failure to provide a train large enough to acccommodate us.

Strangely I immediately began contemplating next week’s ride involving the Red Line to Universal City — but this time it could really work. Really!

Pix from tonight’s spin can be viewed here in this Flickr photoset.

Of Stupid Signs & Idiot Drivers

Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

With the cancellation of this evening’s group river ride because of lack of a quorum, I filled up my hydration pack and saddled up to go get me a lot of sweat from my beloved Griffith Park Loop ride, roughly 18 miles of varied terrain that goes from urban to riparian to rural and back to urban again and requires some slow and serious exertions getting up into the rural part — especially on a single-speed bike.

sign.jpgWell, when I got to the top of the climb generally known as the “roller coaster” I encountered Mt. Hollywood Drive to be gated, as usual, closed off to vehicular traffic. Cars haven’t been allowed there for many years. But then, a few more yards inside the gate I found this entirely unofficial sign and thought so highly of it that I set my new cam on timer and posed with it and my middle finger (you’ll have to click it to biggify).

Indeed there is some intensive work being done a few bends up the road, and even on the Hollywood side there is a section of open trench and more stuff going on, but its not that rough going. For a road that since its closure to automobiles has been a haven for runners, walkers and bicyclists to now also be summarily off-limits to everyone else is just ridiculous. And from the looks of the other cyclists and pedestrians around paying the warning no heed I’ll bet this is one of the most ignored signs in the entire city.

It was a grand excursion, derailed only a little bit by some jackhole in an old Honda on Vermont approaching Franklin who honked at me from behind as we came up to the red light at Franklin. Coming to a step I pulled to the left, the better for him to roll up so that I could pointedly yet cordially question the guy why he felt the imperative to beep in my general direction.

“Did you honk at me?”
“Yes I did?”
“Why?”
“You were in the middle of the lane.”
“I was in the middle of the lane.”
“Yes, you should be over to the right.”
“Over to the where?”
“You know, closer to the curb.”
“I see. So what you’re saying is that you honked at me because I was in your way.”
“Yes.”
“And that I have no right to be on the road.”
“Ah…”
And by my being where I was on the road prevented you from rolling a few more feet to a stop at this red light.”
“Well…”
“And will you look at that, here I am way over in the left part of the lane.”
“Yes.”
“I must be some sort of idiot.”
“Now…”
“Some sort of daredevil — or anarchist!”
“Wait a min—.”
“But here’s the kicker: I’m none of that. Did you know that California Vehicle Code Section 21202 states that bicycles are allowed the full use of the lanes they occupy?
“Uh…”
That’s right, on this road your car and my bike are the same thing. So whether I’m in the middle or the right or the left of a lane I’m allowed to be there and you can’t just beep at me and try to shoo me out of your way.”
“But…”
“In fact, you’re the one in the wrong twice, sir.”
“What?”
“Check it out: CVC Section 27001 states that motor vehicle drivers may use their horn ‘when reasonably necessary to ensure safe operation.’ Let me ask you, do you think you’re safely operating your vehicle by distracting me with your horn in an attempt to get me to forfeit my rightful place on the road because of your ignorance of the law?”
“Uhhh…
[the light turns green and traffic starts to move]
“I believe the correct answer you’re looking for is either ‘no’ or ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘Wow, learn something new every day!’ Have a nice one.”

Jackass.

UPDATED 07.27: GuessWhereLA Flickr Group master, Death Valley explorer extraordinaire and Echo Parkian Scott writes with unofficial information he’s obtained about the sign that I disparage in this post:

Apparently three things have happened that caused the sign to go up:
1. Bikes were ‘hitching rides’ to the back of the large dirt trucks, getting towed up the hill. This was the initial reason the sign went up with the reference to bikes.
2. The asphalt roadway had been removed and safety was a concern.
3. A bunch of bikers came past the construction site and started screaming at the workers for screwing up the road, the next morning the DWP’s truck tires were reportedly slashed.

Thanks Scott!

Tuesday Morning Bicycle Club

Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

At the IAAL•MAF’s regular weekly ride around the Silver Lake Reservoir, I paused on the westside of the water to snap this inaugural image with my new Olympus Stylus 710:

sunrise2.jpg
[large version here]

And yes, at 6:28 a.m. it was already hot.

Surprise Surprize!

Monday, July 24th, 2006

Cross-posted from Blogging.la

So I’m all set to brave the heat and the madding crowds of Costco just now and I bust out the front door to find a DHL box on the steps. At first I figure it’s something for my wife since I certainly wasn’t expecting any deliveries, but when I pick it up nah, it’s got my name on it. Full of curiosity I see it’s come from an M. McGuire at KFWB-AM and immediately I’m all “no frickin’ way!” loud enough that the old unneighborly neighbor examining his overly manicured front lawn across the street looks up at me dourly as if I’ve just confirmed to him that indeed I am a raving loon.

I give him a half wave and bust back inside, practically giddy. In fact I was entirely giddy because I knew that inside the yellow box was the prize for a contest I had entered around the middle of June, and one that I had figured I hadn’t won since there’d been neither a personal notification sent nor nothing I could find on the KFWB website.

The contest? I can’t remember the exact title but it was something like “Super Shooter” and the station was looking for photo submissions that focused on “favorite moments at Dodger Stadium.” And while I have plenty of fave moments from the many games I’ve watched there over my lifetime, there’s only one that I captured digitally, and that was this one taken Sept. 17, 2001, from the top deck prior to the start of the first baseball game to be played there after 9/11 terrorist attacks.

So I dug it out of the archives and sent it in:

topdeck.jpg

Shot with a dinosaur of a two-megapixel camera I just happened to be in the right place at the right time as the young man in front of me with flag in one hand and Dodger dog in the other did all the work. I just triggered the shutter. And almost six years later it garners me one of these guys somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 retail:

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Can’t wait until the batteries charge so I can see what this baby can do!