To make a trip to the Echo Park post office, visit my mom in Burbank and just generally get the hell out of the house to clear my head, I wiped off the two weeks of dust that had accumulated on El Naranja since I last rode it and pedaled to Burbank and back. It proved very successful. The several hours involved marked the longest I’d gone without blubbering about Shadow.

19.67-mile route

For my first ride of 2012, I saddled up before dawn in search of the sunrise, which you’ll see I find peeking out over the hills around Mt Washington/Highland Park east of my location in Griffith Park, about 9.5-miles in to the nearly 20-mile route up and down the Los Angeles River between Griffith Park and Lincoln Heights.

Following up on yesterday’s post about the new-and-improved birdbath, of course I set up a cam right beside it for a three-hour spell Sunday afternoon to capture any increase in avian activity. What follows is waaay too much proof that they like it, they really really like it:

A sampling of the species sipping and splashing about throughout: yellow-rumped warbler, house sparrow, American robin, Northern mockingbird, red finches. Not seen here but seen around: jays, cedar waxwings, black phoebes, bushtits, Nuttall’s woodpeckers, Northern flickers.

Wednesday night’s extreeeeeeeme Santa Anas windstorm was devastating to many communities throughout Southern California. Our house and those of our neighbors got off lucky. With the exception of a bunch of fallen palm fronds, one of the few things that broke in the backyard was a sentimentally valued ladybug pot that had already broken once a while ago and I had glued back. So this morning I pointed the cam at all the broken bits I sat down with some superglue to put the pot back together.

The finished product ain’t pretty, but it’s back in one piece:

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 Bikesdirect.com 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.

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.

Getting a ride in was a bit iffy again yesterday. I didn’t see my way out of the house and onto the saddle until around 4:30 p.m. for what initially was going to be an errand roll to the Echo Park library and back to return a book (“El NiƱo,” by Douglas Anne Munson aka Mercedes Lambert if you are into those kind of details). But once that task was complete I kept the wheels rolling away from the house to downtown to observe the “Occupy LA” protesters at City Hall before scooting east through Little Tokyo, south to skidrow and then back west on 7th Street to pick up the freshly painted bike lane past Westlake all the way to Koreatown. From there I turned north and made my way up to East Hollywood before coming home. Total: 13.66-mile route.

Just for kicks I’ve looked back over this year and found that the ONLY other time in 2011 that I got on my bike over three consecutive days was the Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday of Bike Week in May — obviously because it was Bike Week. To someone for whom every week used to be Bike Week, who used to regularly bite off four and five days riding in a row, that’s tough to swallow.

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