The Lord Giveth…

The Lord giveth…

Another lovely day at the beach in Southern California.
A friendly group of cyclists eager to expend their energy riding with me.
No accidents, no automotive conflicts, mostly good pavement, no flat tires and only one mechanical.

This past Saturday I led a ride for Beach Cities Cycling Club over a route that was 25% new to me. From Redondo Beach we went inland, eventually heading east for many miles on 223rd in Torrance that turns into Wardlow Avenue in Long Beach. Headed south on Walnut into the small city of Signal Hill, which back in the real old days, actually was used for signal fires by native tribes to their kin throughout the mainland and out on Santa Catalina Island. In the past century, Signal Hill has been noted more for the amount of oil pumped out of the ground. Check this 1923 image of more oil derricks than houses:

Signal Hill 1923

Signal Hill 1923

I designed this route with the intention of climbing Signal Hill, which I had not climbed by bicycle since I was visiting the area back in 1974. At that time I was couch surfing at the apartment of my cousin Ted in Long Beach and borrowed his heavy steel 10-speed to make the ride up the hill. He lived south of the hill, so I probably rode up the south side, which is a more of a gradual climb than the other sides.

My riding partners today were Alan, Chuck, Janet, Keith & Kathy (on a tandem), Mario, Mindy and Paul, all members of the Beach Cities club. Our route took us up the west side of the hill on Burnett Street. I didn’t have any idea how steep this street is until we got to the bottom of it. Yikes… I have a triple and I used the granny gear. MapMyRide considers this climb to be a category 5, and I think that is only because it is so short. It’s steep enough to be an HC (hors categorie, French for “beyond category”) climb if it was long enough. Keith and Kathy started up the climb on their tandem in too big of a gear, and they torqued the drive train so much that a chain link broke. Luckily I was still carrying my mini chain tool, which was last put to good use out near Palomar Mountain in San Diego County.

Keith made the fix while everyone else waited atop the hill, then I spun up the hill again with him and Kathy. Down the other side and over to El Dorado Park for a bio-break, then south on the San Gabriel River bike path to Seal Beach. The rest of the ride I have done many times, west along the sand in Long Beach, through Wilmington, San Pedro, and around the south and west sides of Palos Verdes back to Redondo Beach.

bio-break at El Dorado Park

bio-break at El Dorado Park (photo courtesy of Paul)

The Lord continues to giveth…

The ride took longer than I thought it would, so I did not even have time to take a post-ride break at Catalina Coffee. I had made an appointment to take a look at a used Yakima Space Booster 11 between 1-3pm out in the San Fernando Valley and it was already 1:15. The Space Booster is a very useful device for carrying cargo atop a vehicle, and this one was barely used, yet the fellow was selling it for less than 50% of retail. I did get to his house with 15 minutes to spare, took a quick look at it and checked to make sure my downhill skis would fit in it. Great deal – sold! I handed over $150 cash and he helped me mount it on my car.

Space Booster 11

Space Booster 11


Space Booster 11

Space Booster 11

So the day had gotten even better. A really nice ride in the morning and I found a cargo box for my upcoming post-retirement travel at a great price. But, but, but what’s the catch, how/when/where does the Lord taketh away?

Here it is… By the time I got home from the ride it was already after 1pm, so I didn’t even shower (phew), just took off my helmet and shoes, put on flip-flops and a hat, and jumped in my car for the drive. Driving anywhere in LA on a Saturday afternoon is sure to be a nightmare, but I did have a choice of nightmares – the 405 or the 110. Before I left I took a quick look at sigalert.com to check the bottleneck locations, and as expected, the 405 was stop-and-go between LAX and the Marina Freeway, while the 110 was stop-and-go from the 105 north all the way through downtown. 405 it is.

This stretch of the 405 between LAX and the Marina Freeway is notorious for being jammed, and not just during rush hour. Seems like the only time it’s not jammed is in the middle of the night. This afternoon was no different. I got on the 405 a couple miles south of LAX and was doing 70 up to and just past LAX. Then screech and halt, stop-and-go for the next three miles. Grrrrrr. I’m in a rush, trying to make it to the valley before 3pm. Brake, go, brake, go, brake. Behind a big SUV, can’t see past it. Then I violated the rule sung by Jim Morrison of the Doors – “keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel…” Glanced away for a split second just as the SUV jams on its brakes, my subconscious reading the now peripheral vision and screaming at me to hit the brakes as my consciousness is coming back to the forward view. Shit! Hit the brakes HARD and even just going 5mph the front end dives but too late BANG I’m under the rear bumper of the SUV.

32 years on LA freeways and this is my first crash. We pull over and exchange information. The woman is very pleasant, says she has been rear-ended before on this very same stretch, starting to wonder if maybe it’s her SUV. Anyway, her bumper has a few little scratches on it, but my hood is totally trashed, check it out.

crumple zone

crumple zone


crumple zone

crumple zone

It’s only a car, and nobody got hurt, so I guess the Lord was not greedy.

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