7.02.2014

Los Angeles River Ride 70 Mile Playa to Park

The Green Girl and Lexa did the 14th Annual Los Angeles River Ride 70 Mile Playa to Park on Sunday, June 22nd.

The annual LA River Ride is the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition's biggest event and fundraiser.

The proceeds from the ride benefited the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) and Moms in Motion.

The LACBC was founded in 1998 by bicycle advocates Joe Linton and Ron Milam with a mission to improve the bicycling environment and quality of life for the entire Los Angeles region.

The LACBC is part of LA River Corp's collaborative Greenway 2020 LA River revitalization campaign to complete a 51 mile greenway corridor by the year 2020 - a completely car-free uninterrupted bike highway running from Long Beach to Canoga Park complete with sustainable parks, gathering spaces, dining amenities, and potential green energy sources.

The Taiwan Tourism Bureau sponsored the LACBC Taiwan Cycling Festival Sweepstakes.

Everyone who signed up for a LACBC membership in the month of May was automatically entered in the LACBC Taiwan Cycling Festival Sweepstakes to win a trip for 2 to Taiwan to attend the Taiwan Cycling Festival at Sun Moon Lake.

The Green Girl and Lexa at the 14th Annual Los Angeles River Ride 70 Mile Playa to Park
The LA River Ride offered 7 different rides starting/ending at the Gene Autry Museum and added 3 ride options starting/ending at the Aquarium of the Pacific.

Gene Autry Museum 'Park to the Playa' Start/Finish Aquarium of the Pacific 'Playa to the Park' Start/Finish
The route was clearly marked with RouteArrows
Lexa and I started our 70 mile ride at the Aquarium of the Pacific with Sarah aka 'The Pink Girl', Sarah's bike Alice, Sole Runner Cyndi, Cyndi's bike Lil Lexa*, Cassie from Beach Cities Cycling Club, and Cassie's unnamed bike.

From the Aquarium, we followed the colored route arrows north onto the river bed.

The June Gloom started us off with a cool but humid morning.

The Pink Girl parking Alice next to Lexa
The LA River Bed is generally flat with short downhills and uphills beneath overpasses so the majority of the course was fast and flat.

The first rest stop at Mile 17 was sponsored by Bike San Gabriel Valley (BikeSGV) at Maywood Riverfront Park.

Bike San Gabriel Valley (BikeSGV) Rest Stop
Volunteers out on the bike path warned cyclists of the slowing/stopping and quickly ushered us into the park.

BikeSGV provided snacks and information about their organization.

There were porta-potties and a Palomar Mountain Premium Spring Water truck for us to refill our water bottles.

Palomar Mountain Premium Spring Water Refill Station
After a quick break, we continued north on the bike path.

Despite volunteers waving their arms and shouting, and the giant LA River Ride bird logo dangling from a lamp post, Sarah and I somehow managed to cycle past the river bed turn off point. Sarah even bumped the giant bird with her helmet.

Sarah posing in front of the LA River Ride bird she hit with her helmet
When we returned to the turn off, Cassie and Cyndi were there. They laughed when we told them how we missed the turn and Sarah almost took down the official bird.

From the turn off, we continued to follow the colored arrows through the streets of Los Angeles. The arrows took us back onto the river bed bike path near Elysian Park.

Cassie and Cyndi
The cloud cover had lifted by this point and the occasional tree offered only temporary shade from the hot sun.

The Gene Autry Museum with all the LA River Ride tents was a welcome sight.

I was looking forward to eating some real food and the Eco Expo did not disappoint.

Gene Autry Museum turnaround point food
A tent was serving Cajun Ahi Tacos, Banh Mi Pork Sandwich, and Fried Chicken Sliders for $6.

Cassie, Cyndi, Sarah, and I sat at a picnic table in the shade and enjoyed some lunch.

We were all happy to use a 'real bathroom' at the Gene Autry Museum. I washed my face and reapplied sunblock.

Taiwan Tourism Bureau tent
At the Eco Expo, I stopped by the brightly colored Taiwan Tourism Bureau tent before I headed to the LA River Ride merchandise tent.

I had been admiring the event jerseys so I picked one up for myself for $70.

After I stuffed the jersey into my hydration pack, we headed back out.

14th Annual Los Angeles River Ride 70 Jersey
The afternoon sun was hot and even though I'd just reapplied sun protection, I could feel myself burning.

Since it was later in the day, the traffic was also heavier on the city streets - especially in Chinatown.

Once we were back on the river bed, we encountered the expected headwinds but we didn't anticipate how hot the air would be. There would be an occasional gust of hot air as if someone was directing a heater at us.

Pulling over to visit The Frog Spot
Sarah and I stopped off at the The Frog Spot, a bike-friendly convenience store on the side of the river bed.

The Frog Spot generously offered cyclists complimentary ice water. Sarah refilled her bottle while I devoured a fruit popsicle.

The Frog Spot
The rest of the ride home was windy and hot.

The fellow LA River Ride cyclists were friendly and considerate.

Whenever someone was pulled over with a flat, there were several other riders assisting. Several times other riders warned us several times of upcoming hazards - even a questionable transient standing on the path.

14th Annual Los Angeles River Ride Jersey and Medal
At the Finish, we received a medal that doubles as a bottle opener.

The LA River Ride Official Event Photos were generously sponsored by the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and complimentary to all riders.

I want to thank the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition for a fun ride for a great cause.

Lexa and I are looking forward to future Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition events.



*Lil Lexa is actually bigger than Lexa

6.28.2014

Beach Cities Cycling Club Safe Cycling Course

Beach Cities Cycling Club Safe Cycling Course flyer
The Green Girl and Lexa attended a Beach Cities Cycling Club Safe Cycling Course in March.

The course is offered throughout the year to all Beach Cities Cycling Club members at no additional charge. (An annual Beach Cities Cycling Club membership costs $25.)

The Safe Cycling Course was held at Beach Cities Health District and consisted of 3 Sunday sessions from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm.

League of American Bicyclists Smart Cycling Traffic Skills 101 manual
The sessions were a combination of lecture, demonstrations, and hands-on exercises led by Beach Cities Cycling Club founder Jim Hannon and other Beach Cities Cycling Club members.

The course materials consisted of the League of American Bicyclists Smart Cycling Traffic Skills 101 manual, videos, and supplemental printed hand-outs.

Dave Strelka started off Day One with an overview of the course. Then, Ride Co-Director Bob Young went over the parts of a bike using a clever bicycle typogram by artist Aaron Kuehn.

Typogram Credit: Aaron Kuehn

Beach Cities Cycling Club Founder Jim Hannon
Jim Hannon presented a graphical depiction of cyclist versus motorist fault in accidents involving bicycles and vehicles. The pie chart indicated each party was responsible roughly 50% of the time.

This made an impression on me because it made me realize by making an effort to be a safe and predictable cyclist, I can significantly decrease my chances of getting into an accident with an automobile.

4 Ways to Turn Left
Hawk Granville went over the different types of bike lanes and considerations when riding each bikeway.

Danny Hylands covered maneuvering intersections. We learned there are 4 options for making a left turn.

4 Ways to Turn Left
  1. Standard Turn Get in the left turn lane like a vehicle and follow traffic making the left through the intersection
  2. Box Turn Continue straight across the intersecting road, then stop if safe, and turn bike to cross the street
  3. U-Turn Make the easier right turn and then make a u-turn when safe
  4. Pedestrian Turn Dismount and walk in the crosswalks of the two intersecting roads

ABC Quick Check
Peter Richardson kicked off Day Two with the 'ABC Check'.

ABC Quick Check
  • A is for air
  • B is for brakes
  • C is for cranks and chain
  • Quick is for quick releases

Basic Bike Tools for the Road
Craig Barton covered the 'Basic Bike Tools for the Road' and demonstrated how all of the essentials fit in his saddle bag.

Chuck Morton showed us how to properly change a tube and tire.

He suggested we line up the rim logo, tire logo, and valve for consistency and to make it easier to isolate a potential tear.

How to change a flat tire
After the demonstration, we broke up into groups and practised changing tires and tubes.

Once we were all comfortable changing tires and tubes, we moved outside for our first lessons on the bike.

Beach Cities Health District parking lot
The Beach Cities Health District parking lot featured a painted course designed for the bicycle drills.

The remainder of Day Two and all of Day Three - with the exception of our final ride on the streets - took place in the parking lot.

Danny Hylands started us off with the exercises. Another Beach Cities Cycling member, Stacey Timberlake, also helped demonstrate and lead.

Tennis Ball 'Hazards' Agility Test
For each maneuver, the instructor would explain when to use the move and why it was important. Then, one of them would repeat the demonstration until we felt comfortable enough to line up on our bikes and try it for ourselves.

I appreciated how patient and helpful all the instructors were with all of the students - regardless of experience and ability level.

Things We Learned
  • How to ride in a straight line
  • How to make an immediate sharp turn by jerking the front wheel quickly in the opposite direction and then turning
  • How to make a close turn
  • How to do turn signals
  • How to brake in the event of an emergency without flipping over your handlebars
  • How to look back without swerving
  • How to avoid hazards on the road

After going through all the exercises and getting feedback and advice from the different instructors, I felt much more confident about my cycling abilities.

One of the instructors helped me practice moving my center of gravity back for the emergency braking by holding Lexa steady while I applied both brakes, quickly lifted myself off the seat, and moved my body over Lexa's rear tire.

Heading out for a ride on the streets
On Day Three, armed with our newfound knowledge, we were broken up into groups led by the instructors for a ride on the streets.

I was assigned to Peter's group.

Before we headed out, he went over the route in great detail. Once we started riding, he would stop us before each intersection so we could go over what skills from class we could apply to each situation.

Peter drawing a diagram of an upcoming intersection
Lexa and I are much more confident when we are out on the road now that we've attended the Beach Cities Cycling Club Safe Cycling Course. I highly recommend this course to any cyclist who is interested in cycling safety.

And I'm happy to report that my biggest fear - flipping over my handlebars - was assuaged by this class.

4.28.2014

Palm Springs Hamfest 2014

The Green Girl attended Palm Springs Hamfest 2014 sponsored by the Desert RATS Ham Radio Club at the Palm Springs Pavilion back in March.

'Ham' is a term used to refer to amateur radio operators who are licensed by the FCC to use portions of the radio spectrum.

Palm Springs Hamfest
Desert RATS 2nd Hand Shop
I got my Amateur Ham Radio License last January after passing a 35 question exam covering basic radio technology and operating principles. My call sign is KK6BWC.

The $5 entry fee to Palm Springs Hamfest 2014 included access to the vendors in the Pavilion, the Swap Meet, the informational seminars, and an entry into a Grand Prize raffle to win a Alinco DX-SR9T 1.9~29MHz SSB/CW/AM/FM/SDR All-mode Desktop Transceiver.

Palm Springs Hamfest ticket
Additional raffle tickets could be purchased for awesome general prizes like an ICOM IC-718 HF All Band Transceiver, a Yaesu FT-60R 144/430 MHz 5-Watt FM Hand-held, a Puxing PX-UV973 Professional FM transceiver, MFJ MFJ-1728B magnet mounts, or Mystery Gifts, to name a few.

Palm Springs Hamfest raffle prizes
They thoughtfully displayed the winning numbers on the wall so raffle hopefuls didn't have to worry about missing their number.

The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) had a booth near the Palm Springs Hamfest entrance. The ARRL is the national association for Amateur Radio in the US.

Palm Springs Hamfest
I walked around and looked at the vendor booths. I saw amplifiers, cables, antennas, antenna tuners, connectors, DSP audio filters, power supplies, and other radio supplies for sale.

I felt a wave of nostalgia as I visited the Ham Radio Outlet booth - I'd purchased my beloved Yaesu FT-60R from their retail store last year. I discovered Hamfest was celebrating the 10th birthday of the FT-60R.

Radio antennas
I stopped by the Hospital Disaster Support Communications System (HDSCS) booth and met April Moell WA6OPS .

I learned HDSCS is a specialized unit of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) consisting of about 80 Ham Radio operators who have volunteered to provide backup internal and external communications for critical medical facilities in Orange County whenever normal communications are interrupted for any reason. The organization celebrated its 30th year of service in 2010.

National Disaster Medical System Member - Hospital Disaster Support Communications System (HDSCS) Major Activations
The HDSCS members are FCC licensed Amateur Radio operators who have their own portable radio equipment ready to respond to hospitals in Orange County.

April explained the distinction between Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) varies based on geological location.

Hospital Disaster Support Communications System (HDSCS) Major Activations
In some places, ARES and RACES are combined, with members wearing RACES hats during emergency activations and ARES hats for non-emergency public service communications. In other places they are separate organizations, with RACES responding to government agencies and ARES helping non-government entities.

When All Else Fails...Amateur Radio
HDSCS members responded to disasters like the Whittier Narrows earthquake, the Northridge earthquake, and the Placentia train derailment.

I also learned in the event of a widespread disaster in Northern or Southern California that paralyzes hospitals, critical care patients would be transported via airlift from Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base to a functioning medical facility.

April Moell WA6OPS 'Making Your List and Checking It Twice' seminar
April showed me an HDSCS binder which contained all the information a member would need to respond to an emergency including contact information, maps with multiple routes to nearby hospitals, and detailed information to connect to the hospital antenna.

I also attended April's 'Making Your List and Checking It Twice - A check list to help your group provide Amateur Radio support for local hospitals (or any other disaster preparedness)' afternoon seminar.

Homing In's 'Find the Hidden Transmitter'
Homing In sponsored a 'Find the Hidden Transmitter' game. I set my FT-60R frequency to 147.540 and heard a bunch of noise but had no idea how to find the hidden transmitter.

After my failed game attempt, I met a ham who was a SKYWARN spotter for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s National Weather Service (NWS).

The Green Girl trying to 'Find the Hidden Transmitter' with a Yaesu FT-60R
I learned SKYWARN is a volunteer program with nearly 290,000 trained severe weather volunteer spotters who help keep their local communities safe by providing timely and accurate reports of severe weather.

SKYWARN uses amateur radio as one method of communicating with spotter groups and emergency management organizations.

After talking to the SKYWARN ham, I was inspired to pick up a second copy of the beautiful NOAA NASA Sky Watcher Chart.

NOAA NASA Sky Watcher Chart

Old military radio
I saw another ham carrying around an old olive drab military radio. A few other hams stopped to admire it while I was snapping a picture.

I went outside to the RV camping area and admired the antennas mounted on the RVs and the personalized call sign license plates.

I stopped by the Riverside Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) truck and discussed emergency disaster preparedness with the CERT members.

The Badge Works booth
Before I left, I stopped by the Badge Works booth to order a call sign badge for myself as keepsake.

I thoroughly enjoyed Palm Springs Hamfest 2014 and I'm looking forward to future ham events and fests.

The Green Girl's call sign KK6BWC
73,
The Green Girl KK6WBC


2.03.2014

The Green Girl's Hike to Potato Chip Rock

The Green Girl standing on Potato Chip Rock
The Green Girl hiked to Potato Chip Rock with her SparkPeople SparkFriends Jeannie, Kelly, and Leah.

Kelly and Leah invited Jeannie and me to join their Rock Church Hiking with SPF hiking ministry's hike to Potato Chip Rock after Kelly saw 'Visit Potato Chip Rock' was #83 on the The Green Girl's 100 Things in 2014 list.

Potato Chip Rock is located in the Lake Poway Recreation Area just below the summit of Mount Woodson Trail.

The Lake Poway Recreation Area is surrounded by 400 acres of Clyde E. Rexrode Wilderness Area. The City of Poway trails system extends over 55 miles.

Driving Directions
There are two hiking routes that will take you to Potato Chip Rock: Mount Woodson Road (3.6 mostly paved, steeper miles roundtrip) or Mount Woodson Trail (7.6 dirt trail miles roundtrip).

Photo Credit: Climb Poway's Woodson Mountain
Mount Woodson Road (Ramona)
From the east, the trailhead is near the Ramona Fire Station. Parking is available on the west shoulder of Highway 67.

Mount Woodson Trail (Lake Poway)
From the west, parking is available for a fee of $5 in the Lake Poway parking lot. The trailhead is east of the paved path along the boat dock. (Please note: there are well-maintained public restrooms in the parking lot - I highly recommend visiting them before hitting the trail.)
Lake Poway Recreation Area - The Mount Woodson Trail leads to Potato Chip Rock

Lake Poway
We hiked to Potato Chip Rock via the Mount Woodson Trail from the west.

We met in the Lake Poway parking lot, walked down to the boat dock, followed the paved path counterclockwise around the lake, and headed east to the Mount Woodson Trail trailhead.

As we ascended, we were afforded a beautiful panoramic view of Lake Poway behind us.

View from Mount Woodson Trail
Mount Woodson is famous for the boulders that are scattered across the chaparral-covered hillsides.

The trail was well marked and the dirt was hard packed - not overly loose or sandy. Some sections consisted of large, irregularly shaped rock steps.

Line for Potato Chip Rock
I'm fairly certain I spotted the line for Potato Chip Rock well before I saw the actual rock.

As we waited our turn, we came to the realization that we had to leap from a boulder to get to the Potato Chip Rock.

We nervously watched those ahead of us navigate the jump as we made an effort to mentally prepare ourselves.

The leap from the first boulder to Potato Chip Rock
It was nerve racking to witness the acrobatic feats people were attempting atop the precipice. Any indication of imbalance resulted in an audible collective gasp from the onlooking future Potato Chip Rock climbers. The more audacious the attempt, the louder the response.

As I stood in line, I realized the climb onto Potato Chip Rock was outside of my 'Safety First' comfort zone. After some internal dialogue, I convinced myself I could walk halfway out and get that picture I'd so earnestly wished for.

Jeannie offered to stay behind and be our photographer so we left her with all our cameras and phones.

Leah, The Green Girl, Glenn, and Kelly
When it was our turn to climb, I was grateful that Kelly and Leah's friend, Glenn, had joined us. He easily made the leap across to the Potato Chip boulder ahead of us. He then guided us to sit at the edge and envision a running start as we held his hand and threw ourselves onto the side of Potato Chip Rock.

Once on Potato Chip Rock, we cautiously crawled out as far as we dared and carefully posed so Jeannie could snap our respective pictures. We all silently hoped the rock wouldn't crack before we could shimmy back down to safety.

Sliding back down from Potato Chip Rock
I'd expected Potato Chip Rock to be flat and but it was uneven and it slightly peaked in the middle. I peered down to see what was below but all I could see was tree branches and leaves.

Glenn also assisted us with the descent. He instructed me to slide down until it was too steep and then to reach out with my hands and push against the other boulder. He explained I needed to push in opposite directions with my hands and feet to get myself down. When I struggled, he reached up and supported my feet.

From down there, we climbed easily back up to the trail and headed back down.
SparkPeople SparkFriends Kelly, Leah, Jeannie, and the Green Girl hiking Potato Chip Rock
The hike took about 4 hours. It took us 2 hours to hike up to Potato Chip Rock, 1 hour was spent waiting in line to get our pictures, and it took less than 1 hour for us to get back down to the Lake Poway Recreation Center parking lot.

Thank you, Jeannie, Kelly, and Leah, for helping me cross #83 off my 100 Things in 2014.

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