Sunday, December 18, 2011


Yesterday I rode my newly restored Schwinn Paramount to work. Otherwise my workday was much like any other. I left at 1pm and rode down to the Bikerowave. I took Culver from Lincoln instead of Ballona bike path. The traffic was heavier but I think it shavevews a good bit off the trip. The bike handles wonderfully, even before adding wide tires it seems to have the ability to smooth out the cracks and potholes in the road. I attribute this to the tubing and the long rake of the front fork. It needs some minor fit adjustment and I think the Q-factor is too wide for comfort but I cannot afford to replacement before the long ride I have planned for next week. I worry still about my ability to complete the 400k, I had a pretty stringent training plan for two weeks that was thwarted by illness and inclement weather. I'm feeling the morning commute in my legs more-so than I usually would and hope I have enough time to get into riding condition and still be able to shake this cough.
I did some work on donated bikes at BRW and waited for Alex and Heidi's arrival to help set up for the Bikeside meeting w/ Austin Beutner, a mayoral candidate for LA. A good cross section of sustainable transportation people showed up to ask him questions. I first asked him about the 3-ft law. Mayor Villaragosa recently pushed through the state legislature but it was vetoed for stupid reasons by Governer Brown. I get the feeling Beutner wasn't too versed in the issue and made some statements about Villaragosa failing in his efforts in that respect then went on to talk about how important partnerships are to have and how the state government has ignored LA. I'm getting the idea that he's really into privatization. I intended to then ask him about his stance on the high speed rail line, before I could he brought the subject up and stated that if he could, he would have LA opt out and focus the money on local transportation infrastructure. Between this and privatization I think my vote will go elsewhere if the other candidates don't mess up too much. I think he represents himself well and will likely do good as far as implementing the Bike Plan if elected.
After the meeting I spoke briefly with Steve about borrowing light mounts then Don asked me if I wanted to join him and this woman from LACBC for dinner at the Hari Krishna center then ride out together. We got to talking about our meeting with Beutner and privatization in general, decided that no-bid government contracts were a joke and directly connected to the rood problem of there being too much money in Washington and that we couldn't change anything without removing that influence first. But how do you remove the influence? What incentive could there be for people receiving the money to turn of the tap? I guess it would have to be the supreme court if anything....
We left around 8:30, rode down Venice together a ways then split off. I had so hoped to be able to make it to the passage ride tonight as the route seemed very interesting but time wasn't going to be on my side this night. The ride was set to leave around 9 and I had no way of making it so I returned home and fell asleep on the couch.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Echo Mt. Ride Report

Lake>Cheney>Mt. Lowe> Echo Mt.
I was a bit late to the start. Shane was already waiting for me at the Purple Line station at Wilshire and Western, mental math took us a little too long before we realized that the $5 day pass would be the cheaper option for the 4 rides we would end up taking. We then portaged our bikes down to the platform where a train was already waiting. I had brought my relatively modern Fuji Touring and Shane had his 80s Shogun tourer. I had fitted the front with 35mm knobby and had attempted to convince Shane to do the same.
I had no idea of the conditions of the road except that it was dirt beyond mile 8 and single track down to Echo Mt's prominence, the whole climb had an average grade of 9% and definitely pitched much higher than that at parts.
The Purple Line was quick and had ample room for our steeds. With a bit of searching we were able to transfer, to wade through the Thursday morning commute and find a spot on the Gold Line. I'm always happy to see how busy the train station has been getting. The gold line was cramped and had no special place to put our bikes but we were able to find a spot and only get yelled at (actually shamed by an old lady) once.
We exited the train at Lake Ave. and knew that the alluvial climb up to the base of the San Gabriel Mts. would get us warmed up for the task we faced. When we got to Cheney Trail (actually a drive-able road, just called trail) we took a short breath and decided that we would be content with turning around at Echo Mt. and not reaching Inspiration Pt. as we had (a bit too optimistically) hoped because of our Noon deadline. After a few rollers and a stag crossing our path Cheney rapidly pitches up. We noted the many sharp turns without any sort of banking and the rails that would ensure our bikes stayed on the road as we soared over them if we didn't slow enough for them. The gradient relents briefly as we round the top, a right turn and slipping around a gate would put us on Mt. Lowe Railroad Echo Mt. Road (gasp). While it is paved, the lower stretches of this road are effectively covered in dirt. After a long left turn the road quickly pitches back up to the 9%+ climb and the pavement reappears. A row of trees on the left show evidence last year's station fire, fortunately green is again starting to show on them. Around the next bend we are able to spot a road far above us and finally get and idea of what we've gotten ourselves in to. The sun was out and it was getting warm fast. We decided it would be best to take breaks whenever adequate shade was found. As we racked up altitude were were able to see the Jet Propulsion Laboratory through a thick haze of smog. The gradient is constant and grueling yet much focus has to be spent on avoiding the sharp flotsam in our path.
At about mile 6 or so we see a turnout on the left with a small building at the end, Shane hopes this is a bathroom but we decide it must be a trail maintenance shed or something. Later I find out this is a place once called The Cape of Good Hope by the tourists. I check our position on my cell phone while Shane scouts up ahead. He reports back that the pavement ends just up a bit and and I confirm on my cell phone that we had missed our turnout for Echo Mt. we should be forgiven for missing the turnout as it is nothing more than a thin line of dirt carved out of the brush. This turns into a ledge along a steep slope at points much less than a meter wide. this is the remnants of the right of way fort the Mt. Lowe Railroad's narrow guage train. Around the turn of the last century this train took thousands of sight seers from Echo Mt. resort to the Alpine Lodge several thousand feet above. Evidence of its railed past is abundant, at some points you encounter rail ties, you see the carved boulders that had stood in its path and the ruins of the trestles that had lead it over deep gorges.
After stopping for a few pictures Shane and I decided to attempt staying on our bikes down this narrow bumpy path. we had to stay on the brakes to keep from descending too fast and only carry our bikes over a few obstacles. The ledge turned into a shaded flat area and we came upon a massive gearing system. this was the pulley mechanism for the funicular that took people 2000' straight up to the priminence of Echo Mt. from the valley below. Further out we found a group of shaded picnic tables on our left. As the trail opened up we came upon the rusted chassis of the train sitting on the only remaining feet of rail. Around a bend stairs appear that take us up to the foundation of the resort. Much of the foundation remains as well as a big cylinder where water was stored but no buildings remain standing.
The view from this point is amazing (would be more-so without the smog). Shane recognizes a coworker below and we were able to compare the merits of hiking or riding to this point. I would have loved to spend more time exploring this area or even continuing up the path but Shane had to be at work later and we had set a hard turn-around time of Noon.
Climbing back up the narrow path to the main trail proved much more difficult that descending it! Our rear tires were reluctant to grip anything until we had gotten up to speed, as soon as we had speed we'd have to stop to get around an obstacle. We ended up matching pace with the two hikers we ran into earlier.
Once we met the main trail it was nothing but descending back to the start. Most of this was spent quickly rolling over the dirt areas and hitting the brakes hard whenever a clear bit of pavement gave my tires purchase. All the while we were attempting to avoid fallen rocks and branches. Apparently I wasn't so good at this dodging bit as I would soon find out that a branch had punctured my sidewalls. Luckily Shane had a tire boot and spare tube handy so I was able to get running again quickly. I had known that my particular tires had thin sidewalls and that this could be a problem the choice had been a compromise because the softer sidewalls also offered a smoother ride. These tires had survived many thousands of miles and I won't think twice about getting them again. Though I should now know to find a more rugged model for this kind of riding and I'll definitely be buying myself a boot kit. After this Shane somehow convinces me to ride to Highland Park station instead of going back to Lake. I can't wait for the chance to do more exploring in this area, next time I think I will go with knobby tires on both the front and rear and hopefully start the ride earlier.

The route
pics soon

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

West LA free school

Free school is something I became familiar with while living in Santa Cruz. I think it's a great way to develop a richer local community while sharing skills, ideas, and knowledge. The basic premise is that you know how to do something other people might want to learn, we help find a place and time to teach people and we help get people to show up. You won't make any money but you're sure to make friends and will likely become better skilled through teaching.

I spent the morning jotting down some notes on this idea and i'm going to put them here for reference. The bikerowave already acts as a community hub for west LA so it will likely be our head quarters. What this means isn't yet established, at the least I think that those organizing WLAFS will hold meetings at this space. I hope that some of the classes can be held there, especially those bike related and this can only happen if we are able to use the space free of charge (though I would encourage donating to all locations for use of space). Once this space is available as the hub we could seek other potential regular locations such as the rabbit hole or a coffee shop or even public parks or parking lots. The first step is to find a core group that wants to be in charge of getting this project rolling (and later organizing the class schedule). 2nd will be finding instructors willing to teach the classes. 3rd work out schedule and find locations for all proposed classes, 4th print schedule, post on website, and pimp the hell out of it.

The core shall be composed of all willing to do the work at this point, at some point in the future I hope elected board members will take this position.

Classes shall be given priority of space and scheduled time based on the level of service provided to the community, how well outlined the course is in the proposal, the amount of times the class is recurring, and eventually seniority.

I hope to encourage the use of open public spaces for appropriate classes. Classes can be a one time workshop or repeat weekly for any given amount of time. I hope to start with a few work shops this summer to get the ball rolling. Depending in the level of support this can be a summer only project or recur seasonally.

To teach a class, you must submit a proposal which includes a class description as you want it to appear in the catalog. A brief description of what the class will contribute to our community, the duration of the class, any location constraints (if you can secure your own location for this it would be good to include that info), the days and hours you'll be available to teach, and a course outline including the method of your teaching and materials needed.

ALL CLASSES MUST BE FREE, a donation can be requested for instructor and space (of no specified amount). Materials for the class can be offered for a cost but it should be with a minimal or non-existent profit margin and it should be encouraged for students to bring their own materials.

The Core shall make itself available in organizing a class and assisting in problems arising in a class. At some point I would like to require the instructors take a course offered on how to teach a course but that can wait.

I have a ton of course ideas that I'm going to make a huge list of, see if anything interests you or come up with your own idea.

Writer's workshop
DIY sewing
urban foraging
intro to bike repair (should be monthly)
Intro to law
DIY signage
foreign languages of some kind
Intro to city planning...
how to organize a group ride
Intro to 3spd/coaster hubs (i'll teach this)
wheel building 101
A series of riding classes from beginner to specialized
Mounting music to your bike
Making freak bikes
Intro to linux systems (tossing apples out windows)
Self defense on a bike

a whole series of sustainibility
-car free living
-water conservation
-DIY gardening
-composting/ vermiculture
-gifting/sharing/ repurposing
-living plastic free
-Setting up a garden sharing network
-setting up a work trade network.

Fun classes
-finger painting
-fort building
-hula hooping
-nature hikes
-fire dancing

There are a lot of options here, chances are you learned something that you'd thought you'd never use, now you can use it by teaching someone else.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

howard hughes airport

Today I rode to what remains of Howard hughes' private airport and factory. The place he actually built the spruce goose among many other planes, they are currently turning it into a collection of corporate buildings and condos but you can still see the spruce goose's hangar(one of the largest wooden buildings in the world) it's interesting because it;s a huge tract of land where the wide blvds have been paved and set up but noone is riding on them yet (except me). It had a very eerie feeling to it and you can see that in just a few years it will be filled in with buildings and you will no longer be able to see the outline of the field and the remnants of the runway will become another street clogged with cars.

notice LMU in the top left.

I took ballona creek to get there and got to see a lot of the new exposition blvd light rail line being built I'm really excited to see a light rail come back to that route, especially since they promised a bike path as well.

Friday, November 6, 2009

"If we teach school children the habit of being skeptical perhaps they will not restrict their skepticism to aspirin commercials and 35,000 year old channelers. Maybe they will start asking awkward questions about economic or social or political or religious institutions, and then where will we be? Skepticism is dangerous. In fact, it is the business of skepticism to be dangerous. That is exactly its function."
-Carl Sagan

Monday, November 2, 2009

Carl Sagan Day Nov. 7th

I'm excited that he is being honored like this, I hope that someday it will be more widely recognized. I would argue that he was one of the most important figures of the later part of last century. Not only was he key in introducing a generation to the importance to science, he also made significant contributions to our understanding of the solar system and universe. On a more humanitarian note, he is largely responsible for spreading the concept of the nuclear winter and putting real consequences in the minds of those who argued for nuclear proliferation.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Is Clinical Psychology Science?

In sum, clinical psychologists and practitioners have been sticking to faulty theories for use in their practices for far too long. This is something I've noticed in my studies and in my experiences with a clinician. This wouldn't be a problem with the professors, but the lecturers who also worked in the field were often unable to represent the efficacy of their practices. If they expect their practice to be covered by universal health care, they'll have to be able to answer for their techniques. I am hopeful that organizations such as the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science or APCS will be able to make a major change in the requirements of certification so that practitioners will have more grounding in science and be able to comprehend and adapt the latest research into something they can use to help their clients. If I was currently in the need of clinical help I would search for a psychologist that has been certified by the APCS in some way or at least quiz them on somewhat recent research or literature. Unfortunately even psychiatrists are only learning about current research from pharmaceutical sales people and do not check the literature themselves often enough.