Archive for October, 2011

Supersized, yes. But nope, this larger-of-the-large orb weaver’s is not a Halloween decoration. It’s the real deal — and this morning with freshly caught fly wrapped up to go below (click for maximum spiderfication):

I may have a green thumb in the backyard, but this time of year out in front of the house the digit is aaaaaall black, as evidenced by this year’s earlier-than-usual crop of ghouls I just finished planting in the ivy. Six feet under, of course (click to biggify).

Typically I wait until the week before Halloween before I start spookifying the place, but others on our block have started early, and you know me: always have to keep up with the Boneses!

PS. For a taste of what things will pretty much look like when everything’s up, check out my Flickr set of last year’s ghoul daze.

What a pleasure it was to have my daughter Katie over for a visit and for her to join Susan and I during Sunday’s third CicLAvia.

As such we decided to load the truck up with our bikes and drive down close to the route, parking near 3rd and Rampart and pedaling to the course at 6th. Since we didn’t get rolling until after 1 p.m. we stopped for lunch at Mama’s Tamales on 7th for lunch and then casually rolled to the middle of 4th Street Bridge where we hung out for a spell under an absolutely gorgeous day before retracing our steps back to where we started.

And yes, indeed. As evidenced by the photo above ’twas the first time in I can’t remember how long that I rode a bike without a helmet. But if there’s any place where a helmet might be optional, it’s on the CicLAvia course.

Frustratingly I found out after the fact that my GoPro cam’s memory card filled up prematurely, which means I had forgotten to clear it of Friday’s long ride up to Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. As a result, the timelapse video above ends a couple blocks before arriving at the bridge.

All in: 10.10 miles.

What had originally been planned as a short ride Friday, quickly went long (as can happily happen given a bike and a beautiful day). Not only did I pedal to the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, but also shouldered my bike with me up the park’s killer hillside steps.

Sadly, this is the last ride for 8Ball, a 21.78-mile route. I felt something snap relatively early on in the ride, but the bike didn’t start misbehaving so I kept going hoping it was only a spoke. By the time I got within sight of the overlook, the bike was noticeably not right, and sure enough once I’d hiked it up to the top I discovered a massive crack through both the seat and bottom tubes of the frame, just above the bottom bracket… eerily similar to the mortal wound suffered by The Phoenix, my first singlespeed, in 2008.

I know: WHOA. Right? I don’t know what it is with me and bikes. I don’t ride them rudely. I treat them with the utmost love and respect. I guess given my size and my big-ass legs cranking them over the thousands of miles of hard road I roll them over, I just can’t help but accelerate their life spans. This is a track frame, after all. Built for the civilized banked and smooth lanes of velodromes, not the billion bumps of the boulevards. All the while bearing my mass.

Guess we’ll see if will help me out with another affordable frame replacement offer — if so it’ll be a repeat of what they did that allowed me to acquire this frame in the summer of 2009 after my first purchase got disconcertingly unstable but without any visible breakage. But in the meantime if you see me on the road, such as today’s CicLAvia it will be upon my trusty Giant OCR-3 road bike who’s never failed me in what’s coming up on our tenth anniversary together.

Back atop the scenic overlook, after finding the frame’s faultline, I considered my mass transit options in getting home, but since it wasn’t cracked through decided to risk it by riding slooooooowly home. Doing so allowed me my inaugural roll along the freshly painted Expo Line bike lane that’s been laid down between Jefferson and La Cienega and USC. It made it a much less stressful and a bit more somber way to go, and she got me home safe.

Great day. Sad day. Rest in peace, 8Ball.

Getting back in the saddle (after not riding yesterday on account of the rain) I rolled out what’s becoming my standard 12.65-mile route to the LA River and back. On the river bikeway when I came under the Fletcher Drive bridge I caught sight of a great blue heron at the water’s edge looking for a snack and I caught it finding a couple on camera:

Later on and about a mile or so downstream and much to my amazement, a passing osprey cruising upstream less than a hundred feet above the river, opted to grab a resting place in a bare tree nearer to the opposite bank. I commenced an extended marveling session and snapped way too many pictures. Much to my disappointment my new Olympus camera must’ve been set on macro because the least crappy shot I got was (click to doublify, but it doesn’t get any better):

Such a shame to let such a rare sighting go so poorly documented.

No ride yesterday. Sigh. The Bike Everyday In October challenge streak ends at four consecutive days.

I blame the storm, which didn’t really let up between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., and dropped four inches of rain on the area (no, really). When it finally quit pouring I tried to get my hopes up for an afternoon roll, only to have that enthusiasm squelched by the news of Steve Jobs’ death, which hit me a lot harder than I expected it to.

Today’s rainy, but yesterday was just ominously cloudy, and on the fourth day he… cruised 12.25 miles casually from Silver Lake to Atwater Village down through Elysian Valley (but not on the river bikeway) to Chinatown and Echo Park back to Silver Lake.