Tuesday, May 19, 2009

2009 LA Tri Championsip Series #2 - Pictures Posted

I took some photos at the L.A. Triathlon Championship Series race held at Bonelli Park this past Sunday. The vast majority of the pictures are from the bike course. Congrats to all the competitors!

Saddle Peak Construction Update

I must say the crew working up at Saddle Peak is making progress much quicker than many of the other construction projects I pass in the LA area. The work on Sheuren is wrapping up and is generally open to all traffic. The wide road still needs lane markers and some other work, but it is nearly complete. Construction has started on Saddle Peak Road, at the spot that used to be only one lane near the top. The road is technically closed, but I was able to get through Sunday afternoon.

A Friendly Auto Encounter

Riding up Latigo Canyon Road this Sunday, I could hear a car approach me from behind, pull next to me, and shout something. I instantly assumed it was just another road-rage-infused driver, but then I realized the driver was cheering me on! In fact, we chatted for a bit (what a beautiful day, watch out for the motorcycles, etc.) with the lady cruising up Latigo by my side in her SUV. Probably not the safest driving move, but it certainly was a pleasant experience. Too bad most encounters with the four wheel kind are not so nice.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Summer Weekend

It is supposed to be a beautiful weekend in LA, so get yourself outside! Here are a few tips if your bike has been collecting dust in the garage all winter (not like we have much of a winter in LA).

  • Check your tires - Bicycle tires and tubes are vulnerable to sudden failure if the rubber get brittle. If you bike has been left near a heater or exposed to direct sunlight you may find that the rubber is cracked and brittle. If so, it is time to go to the bike shop and pick up some new tires. A tire with old rubber can bust at any time, and this is usually not something you can fix at the side of the road.
  • Lube it - Treat your bike to some protection from the elements. Lube the chain and also drop some on brake pivot points (keep it off the brake pads!), derailleurs, and anything else that moves on the bike. The lubricant adds a layer of protection that extends the life of your components. Don't add too much, though, as the lubricant will attract dirt and grime.
  • Tighten it - Check and tighten the critical bolts on your bike. At the very minimum check the front and rear quick releases, handlebar clamp, stem, front and rear brake attachment points, and seatpost clamp.
Don't forget the helmet and sunscreen!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Saddle Peak Road Construction

There is some major road construction at Saddle Peak in the Santa Monica Mountains. The upper portion of Scheuren Road (~200m) is closed to vehicles, there is some major re-grading going on. I was able to ride on the well-graded dirt road to get through the closure. However, it's not a guarantee that you will always be able to get through, especially if you come through during the week when people are actively working on the road.

Saddle Peak is a massively popular spot for cyclists, as it is the nexus for many classic routes like Piuma, Fernwood, Stunt, and Los Flores. So be aware that you may need to adjust your route because of this closure.


UPDATE April 4, 2009: The construction crew was on site today during the early afternoon, and they were making sure that no one could get through. This leaves Stunt and Saddle Peaks (Fernwood) as the only two options for ascent/descent when construction workers have the road closed.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Surviving a flat tire on a dangerous descent

Last weekend I was cruising down Las Flores in Malibu when I suddenly heard the dreaded hisssss coming from my back wheel. As flat tire is always a nuisance, but it can be downright dangerous on a twisty, steep, 35mph descent. Fortunately, there are a few tips that will increase your odds of staying upright.

  1. Transfer your weight to the good wheel. You are about to start braking, and you need get additional traction on the tire that is still inflated. This means getting your butt way over the rear wheel or else moving your body forward and resting more of your weight on the handlebars.
  2. Hit the brakes. Brake hard on the good wheel, and much more softly on the flat tire. If your leak is not too fast, no need to freak out. But if you have a blowout, you need to slow down in a hurry. On the flats it is not the end of the world if you ride on a flat for a few extra meters, but it is not an option on a big descent
  3. Avoid turning at all cost. This is especially critical if your front tire is going flat. Turning will cause the tire to roll and lose all traction -- it is a recipe for disaster. In most cases it is better to gently roll off of the road onto the shoulder than make a sudden turn and find yourself eating asphalt.
Be safe out there!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hits the hills

For anyone seeking some vertical in the L.A. area, Steve Edwards has a great webpage with a database of climbs in the area. This weekend I tried out Piuma and Fernwood in the Santa Monica Mountains for the first time, it was a blast.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Tour de California pictures

We had a chance to watch the last few miles of the Tour de California today. It was so much fun to see a real bike race in California. A breakaway group had a sizable lead on the peloton, and there were a number of stragglers behind the main group, so it made for a lot of action on the race course. Team Astana was leading the main pack on every lap, so we had great views of Lance Armstrong and the race leader, Levi Leipheimer. I took a few photos and posted some of the better ones on the web, feel free to take a look.

Friday, February 20, 2009

You can help improve the roads

If you ride with any regularity in the Los Angeles area, or anywhere for that matter, you have had to deal with potholes and rough roads before. Not only are these obstacles annoying and uncomfortable, they can be downright dangerous. In fact, I have seen a fellow cyclists carted away in an ambulance after being swallowed by a huge pothole.

Fortunately, there is something you can do about this problem: report it. In fact, most cities are required by law to repair potholes and severe cracks in the road once reported. The city or county can be held liable for damages when a bad road causes bodily injury of damage to a bike, especially if the dangerous spot in question has already been reported.

So please, take advantage of the links below and report any dangers you have seen on the road. Your input will make the streets safer for everyone. When making a report make sure to emphasize that your safety and the safety of those around you is at risk because of this road danger. If you cannot find the right link below try searching the internet for the name of your town plus "department of public works". You should be able to find contact information on your local government's website.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The pros are coming!

This Saturday, February 21, the Amgen Tour de California will be visiting the Los Angeles area. This is our annual opportunity to catch a glimpse of world class cyclists in our hometown! Stage 7 will start at noon in Santa Clarita and take the riders 89 strenuous miles up and over Millcreek Summit in the San Gabriel Mountains to a likely sprint finish at the Rose Bowl. The riders will be doing five laps through Pasadena, giving spectators a better chance of seeing their favorite riders.

I plan to go watch the stage finish, and will hopefully have a few decent photos to share.

Please see the race's official website for additional information: Amgen Tour de California, Stage 7.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Justice on PCH

The following email has been swirling through many cycling and triathlon email list in the Los Angeles area. This incident occurred on Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu this past Saturday, February 14:

This past Saturday, my wife, a few friends, and I set out to do a 45 mile ride in Malibu along PCH. Around mile 35, just after we turned around at Las Posas, I felt a sharp pain in my left side. First, I thought it was a rock kicked up by one of the cars. But then I noticed the passenger of a passing pick-up truck was yelling and waving what looked to be a pistol, while he laughed and taunted us. Then I realized that I had been shot with something from that gun. I turned around and looked at my friend behind me and immediately realized he had been shot as well. We stopped to make sure we weren't losing blood and everything was alright. Thankfully, we just had a few large welts on our behind from what must have been a BB or pellet gun. And even more thankful that we didn't panic when we were hit so neither one of us crashed. We clearly remembered that it was a red Toyota pick-up with a RockStar bumper sticker. We considered calling 911 but decided against it since no one crashed and we just had a few welts. But we did want to report it, especially thinking they may be doing this to cyclists up and down the coast. So we decided to go to the next Park Ranger we see at a beach entrance thinking they will advise us on the appropriate action. We were quickly informed by the Ranger that they ARE Law Enforcement. We also come to find out they are very enthusiastic about this as well and put a park ranger who was on the road on alert. I happened to see that park ranger pull into the park just as we were leaving so I stopped to give him a detailed report and off he went, driving south in search for the truck. I thought for sure the truck was in Santa Monica by now, though. Unless they were dumb enough to pull over at one of the beaches and go surfing. Hmmm...about 5 minutes later, a different ranger pulled up beside me and told me they think they found the truck. I got in the car with him, leaving my bike with my wife and friend. Sure enough, they were dumb enough to pull over, park and go surfing. My friend, who had gone ahead while I was giving the report, had already stopped at the truck and was there with another ranger. The following is his account of finding the truck..."About ten miles pass and I approach a favorite surf spot. Cars are parked all along the road. I see a red Toyota...this one with Rockstar bumper stickers. Jackpot! I stop, look up and whom do I see? A very enthusiastic Park Ranger in front of me. We look in the car and we can see in plain view, the pellets and a bb gun under the seat. Now beach patrol is involved getting the surfers to come out of the water. The driver is the first to come out of the water and confesses everything when just asked to verify his identity. He gives up his friend "the shooter" who eventually comes out of the water. The driver, who owns the two guns found in the car, said his friend has done this many times before. The shooter doesn't think this is serious because he's smiling and chuckling for quite awhile. And quite frankly, I didn't think it was that serious either. I was even wondering if any of the law enforcement were going to take this seriously but I was pleasantly surprised that the Beach Patrol, Park Rangers, LA County and Ventura County Police ALL took this very seriously." The fallout: Both 'kids' (ages 18 and 19) were booked for 2 felonies - conspiracy to commit a crime and assault with a deadly weapon. The conspiracy part is because the driver slowed down to let the passenger shoot. Since both of the truck and our bicycles are considered moving vehicles, and since the BB gun was modified to look like a real gun, the crime becomes a felony. Our understanding is that they will most likely get the charges reduced to misdemeanor counts if they plead out resulting in a fine, and or, community service. Both went to jail Saturday and could have been released on bail. We were told that the parents didn't post bail, though, possibly so the kids could spend the night in jail to reflect? But, as I understand it, if they weren't out Saturday, they stay would stay through Sunday and Monday due to the holiday. That's a long weekend in jail to reflect and hopefully be scared straight. What's to learn? Well, I don't think kevlar riding shorts would be very practical so please make sure if something like this happens that you report it right away. I really expected to just have my statement taken and that's that, but the response and involvement of the Park Rangers, the Ventura County Sheriffs, and CHP was fast and thorough, resulting in justice. We thank them and greatly appreciate their efforts.

Dana Rucker


I would like to thank Dana for recounting this interesting story. The law enforcement did a terrific job and deserve a real pat on the back. It is not every day that such a scary story ends with the bad guys in jail. Please stay safe out there, folks, and remember that the law enforcement is out there to help.