Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Chatillon to Cervinia 26 Aug 2013

Nearing Chatillon, in the Val dAosta, to start the climb to Cervinia.
I finally had to start using the Toll roads ....
but with this view towards Val d'Aosta I'm worrying more about the weather.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Lago Maggiore 25 Aug 2013

Just Checking

Well, yes .... I do have a couple of GPS units, but I had just landed, picked up my car, assembled my bike at the hotel and was starving.
It's Sunday siesta time, everything is closed ..... good thing I brought my Clif Bars.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday: Nichols Canyon, West Hollywood

La Grange Velo Club of Los Angeles' Sunday Nichols Canyon group ride is infamous. The club was established in 1969 and their Sunday group ride has been going ever since.

From the La Grange website, I read that 40 to 100 riders each week meet at 8.00am in Beverly Hills and proceed up Santa Monica Blvd to West Hollywood, where the Nichols Cyn climb starts at Hollywood Blvd. The canyon is 4.4km long averaging 4.5% and ends with a steep last 200m grunt (the wall),  at Mulholland Drive.

The full ride continues along Mulholland, in a series of rollers, all the way to Sepulveda Blvd, re-grouping for the mad rush down, culminating in a sprint opposite the Los Angeles National Cemetery.

I'm immediately interested. To see why this ride has been such a big deal for so long, I decide to check it out. Well ...... Nichols Canyon, up to Mulholland at least.
I know that Sepulveda would probably be carrying too much traffic by the time I get there.  I'm thinking, so too Mulholland .... ?

So I make a plan for this late Sunday afternoon ride ..... and a map for my Garmin.

I pick a convenient spot to park in West Hollywood, with my map taking me up Nichols, then only half the distance along Mulholland to return via Coldwater Canyon into Beverly Hills. 
Continuing along Coldwater, it becomes Beverly Drive ..... the famous palm tree lined avenue where the Beverly Hills Hotel is to be found .... and loads of big, Beverly Hills homes. Rodeo Drive is right where I plan to turn back towards West Hollywood ..... back along Melrose Ave and then the quiet streets to where I parked. 

I thought this would be a much more interesting, touristy route. Following the actual La Grange Sunday ride route was not for me today. 

If you go to the La Grange website there is more info and even a video of this "crown jewell of all the La Grange rides".

Park and ride .... West Hollywood.

Dog Parks LA Style

On Memorial Day holiday I decided to ride from my Culver City motel to UCLA once again, to experience this Monday public holiday out on the streets of LA.

Unfortunately the Venice boardwalk path turned out to be ridiculously over-crowded, so I left it to get some lunch at SEED, a vegan, macrobiotic cafe in Venice that offers a range of great tofu burgers and delicious, spicy, almond milk chai ......

On my way again, via Main St, I spotted this weird park with no grass. In fact it was a sandy, dust bowl, with a few people sitting on the tables looking out over it. Yelping dogs soon revealed what this park was all about. A freeplay park exclusively for dogs !

Drive the dog to the dog park and let it run wild in Venice.
Not much need for supervision required, the dogs were having a ball. No need for high fences, they weren't goin' anywhere.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Rose Bowl to Mt Wilson Observatory

From the Rose Bowl in Pasadena to the Old Observatory on Mt Wilson
.... two tourist spots in one ride, who could resist ?
This is a long, but not steep climb. Averaging 5.2% 27km for 27km, with 1,500m of ascending.
The profile is like a bell ..... all up, then all down for the return.

The forecaster (Shawn) said it was to be a scorcher and my pre-ride enquiries at Helen's Cycles about the traffic on Angeles Crest Hwy (Highway!) and water stops (none ?), did not help ease my concerns.

I was apprehensive about this ride, to say the least. Mostly about the traffic. So I loaded my Garmin with the map I had plotted the night before, slapped on the sunscreen, thicker than usual, mounted an extra tail-light and even bolted on my super bright Exposure headlight, that I use in the dark on Kew Blvd.  I packed as many extra 500ml water bottles in my shoulder bag as would fit - FIVE ..... the report of water at the top was explained " but it could be "bad" .... "

Now, a word is needed here about riding with a Garmin 800.
It is not only about the map giving directions, profile and distance ..... no, it is also about parking.

Parking can be troublesome, to say the least, here in Southern California. You can't just park anywhere. You can get TOWED .... or clamped. On PCH I use car parking lots. My favourites even have restrooms. Planning strategic restrooms is important. Last thing you want to do is get caught peeing by the side of the road by the Highway Patrol ..... this is squeaky clean America, remember !

I also have a spot beside the road on PCH that has a couple of porta-loos nearby. I have used this spot for 3 or 4 rides and each time I have been asked by fellow parkers, where I was going, where I have been ..... I love a spot where the locals park. PERFECT.

For this climb I wanted to park right next to the Rose Bowl ..... just for the photo above. Kit and Remy and most of their local neibourhood mates, are NFL mad. During the pro season they record matches and watch for hours following their favourite teams. They even know the rules. So this photo is for bragging ......

Well, the night before I zoomed about on GoogleMaps for ages, finally selecting the Rose Bowl Lot 1, next to the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center. Guessing there would be restrooms somewhere handy there ..... and I was spot on. Shawn was happy about that after driving 1 1/2 hours to get there.

But there was also a big dog show in Lot 1. Dogs, owners, groomers and professional handlers everywhere. This was a big deal show. Shawn (the vet) confirmed that .... but luckily with our early start, due to the pending heat, we had no trouble and we found good spots with ease.

Caution - the 800 is fussy about making sure you start the ride at the right point. It is essential to make it as easy as possible to find the start of the ride. If you don't get it right, it keeps trying to take you back ... to the start. Which is the last thing you want if you are way out on the ride and you get lost, even just a bit, when you want to get re-assurance to go on.

This time I was spot on and my 800 quickly asked.
"You are near the start of the ride .... do you want to begin"

So off we went, with an extra 7 km to get to the start of the climb, we got to ride around the famous Rose Bowl, up close, then beside the swanky golf course next door. Then along some of the Pasadena bike lanes, with joggers and walkers out early to miss the heat.

Just as I thought, Pasadena is very road bike friendly. Soon enough, though, I was expecting to be riding single file, pushed to the gravel, avoiding cars.

So far so good .......

The Goal .... the two historically important observatories.
The 60" (on the left) was built in 1908 and the gleaming white 100" in 1917.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Samosa House, Culver City

What's been powering me up all the LA Canyons .... ?

Surely not just three Samosas and a Mango Soy Lassi from Samosa House ?

Thick, smooth lassi and hot, freshly fried samosa for brunch .... yum !

Just a block away from Villa Brasil Motel, same shop where I first discovered Barry's Tea.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day climb up Glendora Ridge Road

Yes .... proof that the ToC 2012 has been this way !
Twelve months ago, Farmer Tony and I rode up Baldy Rd from Claremont.
 It was hot .... very hot. We went all the way up to the finish of the 2011 Mt Baldy ToC stage at the ski lifts.

From Baldy village we road the 10 steep switchbacks, averaging 8%, then, where the road straightens out, battled up a final section of 15%, before we got to experience the rough surface of the last five switchbacks.

So, of course, I was glued to the TV coverage of this years stage, armed with our ride from the year before. But this time I really wanted to experience the long climb up Glendora Ridge Rd. The long climb that starts in Glendora and climbs all the way to Baldy Village.

Once again I had a buddy to share the experience with. Shawn, the vet specialist, from nearby Victorville, who I first met at the Santa Barbara Century in Nov 2011 and rode with again in Feb 2012 at the Palm Springs Century.

Link for the 2012 stage profile and here for the 2012 stage report.
2012 Tour of California Stage 7,  126km. Ontario to Mt Baldy

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Santiago Canyon, Orange County

Shawn was keen to get me out to Orange County for my first ride this trip.
70 mins drive to Santiago Canyon, Orange County in the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains .... sounded like a quiet mountain ride was on the go.

Well not quite. We did start with a wide bike lane, but the cars were pounding past at speed.
I was looking forward to turning up into the hills at Cook's Corner cafe. But that proved to be even more arduous. Live Oak Canyon Road was narrow, steep with NO SHOULDER.

Oh well, we continued on. I was riding as close as I could to the edge of the bitumen, without dropping a wheel off into the gravel, hoping .....

Sure enough as soon as we crested the climb, the road improved. Dropping down through a lovely treed area we found Trabuco Canyon Rd, which swept back down to a very new, suburban part of Orange County. I was guessing the locals living here, like many other places around LA, need to commute long distances.

 Looping back to re-join Santiago Canyon Rd, we went under the toll road, until once again came to Cook's Corner. Check out all the motor bikes in the photos. Memorial Day weekend has brought them out in droves .... but instead of riding, this group seems to be drinkin' .......

Santiago Canyon Rd, Shawn and the first of many flags flying for fallen vets ....

Friday, May 25, 2012

I'm back in LA, it's warm and CTD are on the move.

PROGRESS in LA .... CTD have started.
Well ... sort of.
I came here to polish off the details of the 2 scales and double mitre saw that I had ordered in Feb 2012.

The Tour of California was on my mind after watching every stage on SBS and I was determined to not only ride a few of the stages, but also extend my knowledge of local rides from where I had left off back in February.

Well, I thought that was what I was going to do ....... but as you can see, manufacturing here, like the rest of the economy, is still in slow mode.

Pictured is my actual saw being assembled ..... "It will be ready in a few days ....." I was briefed.

It turns out that I had arrived at the start of the Memorial Day weekend.
A National Holiday.
Not only does the workshop stop here at CTD, but Paul the engineer was taking a few extra days off ...... aaah!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Rewards Cards USA

Three Essentials when in Southern California.
When next you find yourself in the USA, don't forget to ask when you are at the check outs for a rewards card.

I didn't bother at first, until some keen VONS SUPERMARKET check out guy simply handed me a card when I replied that I didn't have one. Checking the receipt I could see that my $33 spend had been reduced to $24 !

Well ... my interest was sharpened from there on ....... surely this wasn't limited to VONS ?

Later I noticed in RALPHS SUPERMARKET that Clif bars were reduced from $1.40 to 99¢
But only for customers with a rewards card. This time I asked for one. Sure enough, I was charged 99¢ for the bars. Woo hoo ... we had about 30 of 'em !

These are big savings .... why not take advantage of them, wherever and whenever possible.

RITE AID is a huge pharmacy chain .... prescriptions, shampoo, bottled water, even food and CANDY !
Now most supermarket candy is in HUGE packs that are just way over the top. But RITE AID has small packs that are perfect to buy loads of for gifts. Valentines day ones where still on the shelf, reduced, and Easter versions where available too .... Kit and I loaded up and, of course, with my RITE AID card, we got rewards prices !!