Saturday, September 29, 2012

"Bicycle" by Udo Gattoni

This is the kind of artwork that excites me for multiple reasons.  The format is very innovative a single sheet of heavy cardstock 4 meters in length with drawing on both sides.  So "Bicycle" by Udo Gattoni is really an 8-meter long drawing of my other passion besides art -- cycling, that is.  This is a whimsical, Where's Waldo-type image bombardment that is supposed to be inspired by the 2012 London Olympics.  The other appeal is that it is executed in my favorite medium of pen-and-ink.  I considered framing it but I think this custom frame would cost over $500 and I would need to but another copy so I can display the other side.  Procured from Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

What A Ride (So Far)!

Today is significant.  Both kids rode 25 miles yesterday (Rancho Cucamonga-to-Claremont) and another 25 today (Santa Fe Dam loop).  They've actually been averaging 40 miles per week since mid-August but they decided to go for a 50-mile weekend.  So I started looking at some old photos of both kids, who had been around bikes since the day they were born.  As soon as they could put on a helmet, basically, they were on the Burley trailer being towed by their mom (November 2001). 

Maura taught Sam to ride without training wheels as shown below in our driveway in Pasadena.  This red bike would be handed down to JJ a couple years after this photo was taken as Sam migrated over to his first BMX bike.
One of the nicest bike trail, albeit short in distance of only 2 miles, is the path from Duarte to Monrovia along Royal Oaks Drive.  As with most kids, there was this fascination with all things off-road so they would venture off the paved section and take this short mound of dirt about halfway on the trail. Below, both kids are riding, or at least attempting to ride, their BMX bikes while their mom encourages them to  go hammer those tiny gears.  They reason for this climb?  Of course, the downhill on the other side.
The first time I took both kids to Sante Fe Dam was in 2008.  We drove from Pasadena and parked off Live Oak and just did the short 6-mile loop at the top of the dam.  Although they were riding the same BMX bikes, you can tell they had grown a bit -- different, slightly larger helmets.
Sam now rides Maura's Trek Madone 5.2 road bike as he is tall enough to ride the 54 cm frame and of course, he is loving it.  Ultegra and a carbon frame and Bontrager Race-Lite wheels while JJ now rides Sam's road bike, a 2011 Specialized Allez.  Both kids, however, still ride with their sneakers and just regular pedals.  I told them that as soon as they get 500 miles under their belt, they're getting Shimano- SPD shoes.  The only drawback of this is that both kids have been eating a ton -- especially Sam, who's 14 and normally eats a lot anyway just being a teenager.  Add a 50-mile weekend and his 20-mile weekly commuter miles to school, and I'm looking at a very hungry, growing kid.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Analog Print

I don't think I'll ever stop buying art books.  Digital books may work for fiction or other types of work but for art books, analog is still the way to go.  Nothing like feeling the texture of a large format color print of an art book.  Only problem is, I have to go to Pasadena or LA to buy them.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

3050 Miles!

Last week, I passed 3000 miles on the Trek.  After one year, I had to buy new Continental tires (Gatorskins) but pretty much, this bike had been trouble-free.  I know nothing sprints like my steel frame Eddy Merckx but the comfort of this Trek Madone is unparalleled.  Will I buy another Trek carbon bike again? You bet.  

Monday, September 17, 2012

Back in Time

Montrose is a city just west of Pasadena and has a thriving but small downtown strip on Honolulu Avenue.  Last Saturday was the second time my brother rented the bowling alley for my niece's 9th birthday party.  Eight lanes (I bowled the 2 rightmost and they both seem to have a right-leaning bias) was available to us for a couple hours -- which in spite of having to share with about 25 other kids, was still pretty fun.  No scoring, no bowling shoes, no pressure to pick up spares, bumpers-up, pizza, lemonade but my favorite memory of all, was the velvet Elvis poster on the wall just above the shoe rental booth.  Montrose Bowl, 100% fun.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

European Classic

Bicycles are meant to be simple.  The derailleur was introduced in the late 1800s to allow for multiple gear changes without dismounting.  I think the 1980s were the golden era of European bicycles -- basically, before index shifting, clipless pedals, carbon fiber and aerodynamics dominate product design.  It was also the decade I got introduced to serious cycling when I bought my first Italian bike, an Atala Campione del Mondo with Campagnolo C-Record components.  Since I bought that bike from Helen's Cycles in Westwood, I've had several road bikes of the "modern" designs I mentioned above.  Last week, I did find my Holy Grail of classic European bikes, a 1983 Eddy Merckx and above is a photo of the drive system.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Law of Averages

I put in over 3500 miles since April 2011 and given those miles, I would think I would get a few flats on my bike every now and then.  I was doing pretty good and did not get a flat until July 2012 so to go 15 months without a single flat is statistically a couple standard deviations off my average.  When I used to ride a lot I would get a flat once every couple months.  So, I wasn't sure what I was doing right but I didn't complain.  Then came the first flat.  Downhill on Day Creek Blvd at 35 miles per hour after hitting a pothole.  Next one was on Banyan Street after rolling over a staple.  And then I got a snakebit puncture cornering from Wilson to Milliken.  Three flats in the 60 days of July-August.  Then came September.  I had been riding with the kids and for the past 3 weekends I would do 20 miles each on Saturday and Sunday with them.  However, the last 3 rides I've done with them, I got 2 flats and JJ got one.  Just me alone, that's a total of 5 flats in the past 16 months but all within the last 9 weeks.  (I'm particularly paranoid about flats because I don't really have anyone to pick me up if for some reason, my spare doesn't work -- at least until one of the kids can drive a car.)  Given my luck, I'm expecting a couple more in September in order for me to get to my average of one flat every 2 months.  There's just way too much crap on these roads.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Project Merckx

I wanted to take these photos as a baseline before I start (yet again) another restoration project.  My 1983 Eddy Merckx bike equipped with full Campagnolo Nuovo Record.  It took me a while to find one my size (53cm) and color (blue).  Besides Belgian beer and Belgian waffles, a handmade frame with the name of the cyclist nicknamed "The Cannibal" is the only other thing Belgian that I desire.  The last photo with the sticker that says "MEXICO Km. 49,431" is worth noting.  Eddy Merckx set the world hour record in 1974 at a velodrome in Mexico City and was still the record holder at the time this bike was issued.  The hour record had been broken several times since by multiple cyclists but what stood out with Merckx's record is he did it with drop handlebars, a steel frame and wire spokes.  The world of cycling at the time hadn't crossed paths with the world of aerodynamics yet.  This restoration project is more of a cleaning project.  Most of the original part are on this bike except for one minor item - a missing handlbar plug.  This is my holy grail of cycling.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Junk Mail I Got Today

WTF?!  Why do these idiots think everyone who lives in Rancho Cucamonga buys into all this god and country and family values crap?

Monday, September 3, 2012

A 2-Car/12-Bike Garage

The nice thing about a 3-car garage is the extra space for storage.  But now that I've logged in over 3000 miles on my new bike and gotten the kids to do 20-mile rides, I am beginning to run out of space in the garage due to all the cycling stuff.  I finally found some time on this Labor Day holiday to drill some pilot holes on the garage wall and put on some hooks that I can hang a few bikes vertically.  At some point, I probably need to sell a couple bikes (that we've outgrown) so I will need to deal with Craigslist soon.  But for now, I seem to have freed up some room in the garage so I can keep the dozen some odd bikes in there.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Rum Diary (2012)

Based on Hunter S. Thompson's 2nd novel of the same title, "The Rum Diary" is where Johnny Depp plays writer Paul Kemp set in the 1960s Puerto Rico.  In contrast to Depp's previous roles of odd-ball characters from Scissorhands-to-pirate type, this one is somewhat "normal".  This movie is really about how greed, power and money can control the average person's destiny, which in this case, is about powerful interests shutting down a local Puerto Rican newspaper who had hired Kemp.  That feeling of hopelessness?  Get used to it.  That's how the real world works.  If a powerful person or corporation (which I guess in 21 century America, is a redundant term because every corporation in the U.S. of A gets the same rights as a living, breathing human being) wants you out of the equation, there's not much you can really do.  The movie is depressingly close to reality -- all attempts to print one last edition to expose big business failed, Kemp didn't get the bad guy, realtor Hal Sanderson (played by Aaron Eckart).  I've never read anything by Thompson but if anything triggers my interest in his writing, this is it.  (I'm just afraid the book would ruin the movie.  Or is it the other way around?)