Sunday, August 11, 2013

North Santa Monica Bay Coast

Last week we made a weekday trip from Santa Monica on the Pacific Coast Highway up to Point Mugu with stops in between. It is a lovely drive with ample ocean views. Most of the trip goes through Malibu which stretches out for 27 miles along the coast. Despite the connotations of luxury Malibu brings to mind, it isn't all that swank. There are numerous multi-million dollar homes, but the money is all in the water-front location and less in the ostentatious lawns and landscaping. So, from the road the houses aren't awe-inspiring.

We stopped at Point Dume, but due to filming couldn't get to the actually "point". The beach along Westward (Point Dume County Beach) is quite pleasant if you are just looking for a traditional beach to go for a swim.

After that, we stopped at Neptune's Net for lunch. It is a small seafood place with mostly outdoor seating. The food is decent for reasonable prices. It is across the PCH from the water, but still has ocean views (however, the beach port-a-potties are right smack dab in the middle of the view). The crab cake sandwich I had was good with the best part being the really high quality crab meat. They also have a huge selection of bottled beer and sodas in convenience store style fridges.

Point Mugu is interesting. There isn't much to do at the actual point other than stop and take some pictures. An old road wraps around the rock outcropping, but is blocked off by fences and ominous warnings about it being State property. You can see the Channel Islands from here. It was cloudy and chilly here despite being sunny just a few miles back east, so we didn't linger.

Our last stop was El Matador State Beach. This was the highlight of the trip! There are several sea caves, sea arches, and a few small tide pools. There are lots of birds that sit on top of the rocks (mostly cormorants) and light blue anemones were tucked against rocks at the water's edge.

My phone got set on black and white and I didn't notice due to the sun glare until we got home. I was disappointed because the sky and water were such a pretty blue, but these at least show the geology nicely.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Urban Bike Review

A few months back my bike was stolen from the Expo Culver City Station. It was a cheap bike, so while I was mad that someone would cut the lock and take it, I got over it pretty quickly.

Diamondback that was stolen

Bike theft is interesting because it is so pervasive. There seems to be no correlation between what size city you live in or how low other crime rates are in the area. Everyone I know who bikes regularly has experienced at least one bike theft.

Moving on, I bought a fairly cheap bike as a replacement. I kicked around the idea of getting a nice bike since I use it to commute 4 days a week. I went with a cheap bike with the idea that if it too was stolen, I wouldn't be out that much money.

Replacement bike: Thruster Fixie

After putting a few hundred miles on the new bike, I am very happy with it. If you are in need of an urban bike and don't live in an area with very steep hills, this bike is perfect.


  • Solid frame
  • Tires have just the right amount of tread for a street bike to give it grip on sandy bike paths or wet streets
  • Easy to maintain; very few parts
  • Widely recognized as a "Wal-Mart" bike, which is a deterrent for thieves

  • Wheels/spokes seem a little flimsy. I wouldn't jump a curb with it, but then again you wouldn't with any road bike.
  • Brakes are weak (both pads and the system)
  • No shock absorption
  • Comes in one size. Works great if you are between 5'4" and 6'; it is just a tad big for me at 5'3".

It is a single speed (hence the simple assembly and maintenance). I wouldn't consider that a negative aspect, though, since it is kind of nice to just ride and not change gears. For around $100, you can't go wrong with this model. Don't, however, get suckered into the Thruster Overload model which is $40 to $50 more. You really don't get any more for the money and based on a sample set of 1, it seems to have more problems than the Thruster Fixie model.

Check it out here: and here: (funny that right now the blue/green model is only $85 while the red/yellow one is $120 - same exact bike just a different color!). Notice that the reviews are pretty solid for such a cheap bike.