Archive for May, 2009

There were 31 days this month and as promised I got on my bike for work or play (or both) on every single one of them for a  total of 849.115 miles — a new single-month distance record, breaking my previous mark of 717.860 miles set in October 2008. Tell ya what… I’m feeling mighty redeemed for the relatively poor numbers (413) posted in April.

But I’m also not immune from thinking “If I’d just biked an average of five miles more each day, I would’ve busted into four-digit territory.” Yep, there is no end to the madness.

But hey, there are worse things to be addicted to. Like meth, or romance novels.

After the jump, here’s what all that pedaling looks like from the log sheet I meticulously keep and update daily:


When I arrived at our meeting place I found past morning riders David, Hap, Helen, Jared and Ian, along with two first-timers Steven and Hanna gathered there and soon the eight of us we were off on the Frank Lloyd Wride for the climb up to Ennis House, the architect’s most dramatic and stunning of his three textile block homes, completed in 1924.

Steven who was riding a foldie got near the Silver Lake/Los Feliz border and realized his choice of cycle was not well-suited to the upcoming elevations involved and bid me farewell at the turn from Griffith Park Drive onto Rowena, and us seven remaining cranked onward north of Los Feliz Boulevard to the winding incline.

From there we came downhill and back across Los Feliz Boulevard south to Franklin where we stopped at Sowden House, built in 1926 by Frank’s son Lloyd Wright.

Staying on Franklin (ha: FRANKlin), which was disappointingly a bit more crowded and thus more bike unfriendly than I’d been hoping, we made a stop at the Monastery of the Angels where I procured a loaf of the nuns famous pumpkin bread, before getting back on Franklin across Highland where we navigated the steep grade up Hillcrest to Glencoe Way where Wright’s Freeman house stands, the smallest and perhaps most dilapadated of the four.

Back on Franklin  to where it deadends into Wattles Gardens, we then took Hollywood Boulevard across Laurel Canyon and up the least taxing of the climbs to Storer House, which is privately owned and seemingly in mint condition thanks to the efforts of previous owner the movie producer Joel Silver.

Ian split off at this point, and the remaining six got on Sunset where we backtracked east. Poor planning on my part getting us off Sunset and up to Musso & Frank’s on Hollywood Boulevard led to a left turn pulled in not the best of places, but everyone made it safely — even my friend David who scared the crap outta me by boldly asserting his right to the roadway and cutting across two lanes of moving vehicles who were not at all happy at the maneuver.

Upon arrival at Musso’s Hap headed for home to Sherman Oaks, with David, Hanna, Helen, Jared and myself adjourning inside for the landmark eatery’s signature flannel cakes. Then it was east along Hollywood Boulevard to Barnsdall Park and the climb up Olive Hill to Wright’s magnificent Hollyhock House, completed in 1921. Hanna and I said goodbye  to Helen and Jared and David and stayed to take the guided tour of the interior, which is looking far far better than the last time I saw it more than 15 years ago.

After that Hanna headed for home while I stayed to take a walk around the home’s exterior before calling it a day.

No timelapse video, what with my cam in for repairs but:

  • The latest addition to Hap’s always excellent photo essays can be viewed here
  • David’s pix, exhibiting his ever-keen eye for detail are here
  • And my collection mostly of the building exteriors is here

So I’m biking home yesterday, eastbound along Del Valle from Crescent Heights in the quaint Carthay District. Arriving at the red light at Fairfax Avenue, a young woman standing at the corner with another lady calls out “Excuse me,” and approaches.

“Do you happen to know where South Orange Grove is?” she asked.

If it was in the area I’d probably biked past it a hundred times, but searching the memory banks proved futile. The only results that came up were streets of that same name located in Hollywood and Pasadena/South Pasadena. I shook my head, apologizing for not knowing and her shoulders slumped a little. Then it dawned on me that I had the answer in my backpack and I told her to hang on a second while I fished out my iPhone and engaged the maps app.

Punching in “South Orange Grove, Los Angeles” and tapping search button, in a few moments we all learned that South Orange Grove Avenue was literally right next door — the next block east of Fairfax. And yes, I had biked by it a hundred times.

Both ladies thanked me for my assistance, with the woman who flagged me down asking me what type of phone I had. I told her.

“That’s it. I’m getting one of those!”

Well, when it rains it pours. First my handlebarcam finally goes kaput Wednesday. Frankly it’s something of a wonder that the Canon SD1000 lasted this long since it first started exhibiting troubles last December after four or five months of dealing with the hostile and unstable environment of being mounted to my bike — which is why I went and bought a replacement SD1100 and after the 1000 magically resurrected itself had the luxury of making my little timelapse vids and having a still cam at the ready.

It was camtastic.

But apparently the 1100 isn’t made of the strong stuff the 1000 was, because no sooner did I timelapse yesterday morning’s commute to work with it, when it malf’ed. Any attempt to power it up and the lens extends just a smidge before it powers down.

So I was cam-less for last night’s ride home, and anyone who reads me knows I hate rolling nekkid like that. Well, I did have my iPhone but anyone with one of those devices knows its cam is just laughably craptacular.

To add insult to injury, for the first time since 2003 I broke a spoke last night.  Right in front of the Culver City Cop Shop on Duquesne. Removing it I then disabled the front brake so the now out-of-true rim wouldn’t rub against the shoes and commenced rolling s-l-o-w-l-y to Orange 20 Bikes to procure a replacement (plus a couple spares, which I installed after I got home. I even managed to re-true the rim enough to be proud of myself.

This morning — which just so happens to be the 45th anniversary of my coming into the world — I’m searching for the the cam’s receipt so I can submit it for service under the warranty still covering it, but of course I can’t find that crucial bit of documentation, so it looks like I’ll be dropping the SD1100 off at Samy’s for repairs. In the timelapse-less interim I’ll be forced to use either of two back-up digicams: an old Olympus which is balky and predisposed to shooting everything in macro mode, and an older Polaroid that’s just a couple steps up from my iPhone cam.

Better than nothing.

UPDATED (6:43): Found the receipt! Happy Birthday to me!

bikemotorI love Google ads.  Lovelovelove ’em! It’s almost endearing how they can be so hamfistedly incorrect in their arrival, like the one above, showing up uninvited and unwanted on the YouTube page hosting my timelapse video of the LA Bike Tour —  not unlike (for want of a better metaphor) the way “Animal House’s” Bluto Blutarski might barge into an otherwise gentile social gathering hosted by the uptights at Omega House and grab a comfy chair with a belch and a smile near the finger sammiches. After spiking the punch. And then drinking all of it. From the bowl.

Because you know, given my sliiiiiiiiight predilection for pure pedal power, pretty much the last thing I’d promote in any way, shape, or form is some sort of goddam after-market internal combustion powerplant that can somehow be mounted to a perfectly good bicycle so that not only does it consume fossil fuels and emit noxious emissions, but it probably pollutes the air with something that sounds eerily like a lawn mower.

In short, I appreciate Google bringing to my attention as the LAST place on the world wide inturnip I’ll ever go shopping.

72Whether you’re a reader who’s just thought about coming along or one who’s been on any of my weekend rides these last few Saturdays and Sundays, I wanted to post this up to let you know what I’m planning for this coming Saturday, May 30:

The Frank Lloyd Wride — Hollywood Session

Very brief backstory: A long while back I got the hairbrained idea to bike from Duarte in the San Gabriel Valley to Malibu, visiting all of Wright’s creations along the way (there’s eight or nine). But because I’m prone to occasional moments of clarity and common sense, that ride never happened.

Thankfully a nicely manageable number of Wright’s residences are relatively close together in Hollywood: Ennis House, Freeman House, Storer House and Hollyhock House.

And while I’ve gotta rub some brain cells together and get a route and time-frame logisticated, basically it’s going to involve visits to those four domiciles. But what I’d also like to include is stops at the Monastery of the Angels because I’m jonesing for loaf of the Hollywood nuns’ famed pumpkin bread, as well as breakfast at Musso & Franks before finishing things off at Hollyhock House in Barnsdall Park because it just so happens that guided tours are offered there.

So the itinerary will go a little something like this:

Unlike all the reading out of a book I did on the Black Dahlia/West Adams ride, I ain’t going goofy with the blah blah this time around (is that cheering I hear?). At most I’ll have basic info about the landmarks, so if you wanna know more you’re on your own.

We’ll meet at the usual place: Silversun Plaza at Sunset and Parkman in Silver Lake. But the time is going to be later than usual. Instead of a 7:30 a.m. start, I’m leaning more towards a 9 a.m. departure.

Last but not least: I’ll be mothballing my singlespeeder and dusting off my multi-geared roadbike for this trek, because there be some hills to be cranked getting up to them there historic abodes. So bring your climbing legs.

And yeah, I’m pretty sure there’ll be a limited number of spoke cards.

PS. Did you know you can’t spell Hollywood without two Ls, an O a Y and a D? Now ya do! Crazy, Wright!?

The 21-mile route itself took me 65 minutes*, but of course the footage of that is bracketed with my 3:45 a.m. bike trip down to the start line and my slow meander back home.

And yes: no I did not go twofer and roll the course a second time. I was pretty much cooked cranking it as hard as I did the first time through.

* I’m pretty damn sure I could’ve broken my record time of 63 minutes had I moved further up through the front portion of the corral, and had my chain not derailed about 4.5 miles in, costing me 90 precious seconds to remount it. Such is life.