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Okay, it’s not exactly a secret, but Little Tujunga is a rare thing in Los Angeles: A long scenic road through Angeles National Forest with very little traffic, but not so isolated that you’d never get help if you had an accident. I spent 99 percent of the time on the road with no one around, and I could hear cars coming from a mile away. That’s not just a cliché; it was so quiet that a distant engine was totally audible. Well worth the ride!
I like stupid puns and wordplay. A few years ago I realized “Hansen Dam” sounds a lot like “Dancin’ Ham,” and I decided that there should be a store that sells them. And when I was looking for a spokesperson, Danson/Dancin’ was the obvious choice. The fact that people who overact are called hams didn’t even occur to me until I was in the middle of making the ad.
Angeles National Forest is the first National Forest in California. It’s about 700,000 acres. It’s so famous for burning that its Wikipedia page has wildfires listed ahead of the local flora and fauna. The Station Fire in 2009 burned for over a month!
Wildlife, gone away station
If you look behind me when I talk about laughing like Seth Rogen you’ll see some containers and a dumpster across the street. That’s the back of what’s left of the Wildlife Waystation. It used to be a home for wild and exotic animals.
They ran out of money a couple of years ago and the animals were transferred to other locations.
I wasn’t actually thinking of John Denver and Miss Piggy when I sang “Happy Trails,” but I knew the Van Halen version would get me a copyright strike.
Roy Rogers, the guy best known for the song, used to live in Chatsworth in the San Fernando Valley.
I have a bit of serial monomania I’ll find something I like and really focus on it until I get tired of it, then come up with some sort of grand project, then drop it almost completely. Web design from scratch? I used to make new pages every day; now I haven’t made one in years (this page is different because WordPress is doing all of the heavy lifting). Photography? I took thousands of pictures and always had my camera bag with me; now the bag usually just sits on the floor and only comes out when I need to get pictures for the yearbook.
My current focus: the bike. It’s held on a good long time, but I can feel some burnout sneaking in. I don’t like it. My bike is a fun thing, and I’ve been turning it into a chore. That’s not good. So instead of pushing my love of riding to the breaking point I’m going to do a crazy thing: ride my bike for pleasure. I’m still going to set goals (and I’m definitely doing the AIDS ride in June), but I’m going to spend more time away from the bibs & jerseys and goals. More t-shirts, heavy bikes, and slow rides casually exploring. More ice cream is always good!
My Monster Trucker
My heavy and awesome bike is a 2004 Surly Long Haul Trucker. It’s a really popular touring bike. Tough, comfortable, and with lots of places to hang bags and stuff. I saw it hanging on a fence by the freeway one morning and thought “if it’s still there this afternoon I’m going to check it out.” Eight hours later it was still there.
The frame had a big dent in the top tube but was straight. Someone had added random blue “highlights” with spray paint. My guess was that someone stole it, took it for a joyride for a while, then abandoned it. I decided to take it home.
I didn’t want to just take someone’s bike, so I tried to find the owner. I posted the bike online, checked bike registries, and even contacted Surly to see if they could figure out the original owner based on the serial number. (Side note: find your bike’s serial number and register it on bike sites like Bike Index and Bike Register). After a couple months of holding it, I realized I’d never find the original owner. I took it apart, repainted it, and ended up spending hundreds of dollars on my “free” bike.
Free except for the new wheels and tires, saddle, cables, bottle cages, bar tape, saddle bag, cassette, brakes, and paint. Totally worth it.
They Live is a weird movie. Some of it is great. Some of it is awful. Some of it is only great because it’s willing to be awful. My video has about one second of a fight where Roddy Piper tries to get his friend to put on sunglasses. In most movies it would have been a thirty second struggle- a minute, tops. They Live devotes SIX MINUTES to two guys lumbering through a brawl in an alley. No music, no quick cuts. Just six minutes of two guys rolling around in a garbage.
Bike Shop Guy
Bike Shop Guy gushed over my bike. Specifically, he loved that it has rim brakes and quick release wheels. Newer bikes are like newer cars: they’re better performers than their ancestors, but they’re really hard for consumers to work on. New bikes have custom parts that require special tools that ordinary mortal can’t afford and don’t usually need. Bike parts are a lot less interchangeable. Most of the repairs on old bikes could be done with tools in a standard tool box.
That’s actually one of the reasons my Long Haul Trucker was such a popular touring bike. You could bring that thing into any little town and there would be someone around with the tools and parts to fix it. Good luck doing that with your top end Cervélo.
War of The Colossal Beast is the sequel to The Amazing Colossal Man. It’s the story of a sixty foot tall man with one eye who somehow manages to sneak out of an airport and walk to Griffith Park without being noticed. If you’d like to watch it, it’s available in lovely upscaled 4K on Youtube:
Why is the Rose Bowl ride better clockwise? What’s it like to talk to strangers? FIND OUT NOW!
Circling the Bowl
I said that riding clockwise around the Rose Bowl was “prettier” than going counter-clockwise (or anticlockwise if that’s your style), but that’s not exactly right. The real reason it’s better: there’s a consistent dedicated bike path if you go clockwise. If you go the other way you sometimes have to either go against the traffic flow or ride in the street.
Greek, Observatory, Lather, Rinse, Repeat
A great thing about living in the southeast corner of the San Fernando Valley is having a lovely and challenging ride through Griffith Park. A bad thing about it is that it’s really tempting to repeat that ride instead of exploring. Goal: find new places to go!
Some good things I learned on yesterdays ride:
I can keep up with most riders
It’s much easier to keep a steady pace when you ride with a group
talking to strangers probably won’t kill me
I’m almost always a solo rider, so I was really surprised to discover how much I enjoyed being part of a group. I guess I need to start tagging along on group rides.
Darkness is coming
I’m a teacher. My workday often ends early enough that I can get in a long ride after work and still have sunlight. Thanks to shorter days and the coming end of Daylight Saving Time, that’s not going to last.
Ride in the dark after work
Ride in the dark before work
Riding more on weekends
Go pro, quit my job, and ride full time
It’s going to be a mix of the first four (though riding before work is going to be very rare). I move at turtle speed so number five is right out, unless some team wants me to make all their other riders look phenomenal by in comparison.
Your donation goes to The Los Angeles LGBT Center and The San Francisco AIDS Project, two organizations that do great work supporting people living with HIV/AIDS. Any donation helps! My current goal is $3000, and I’d be thrilled if I could cross the $100 mark in November.