Sunday, November 30, 2014

Adventure Cycling catalog photos


I've you've read any of this blog you've seen a lot about Adventure Cycling. Tricia and I have gone on many of their tours, and enjoyed them all. I'm pleased that they've used two of my photos in their most recent catalog. One from the Washington Cascades trip and the other from their Columbia River Gorge ride. The photos are also on their web pages (click the links) Now if they'd just have another ride that is on the west coast when we are able to go I'd be ever so happy. Maybe I'll win the lottery or find a large bag of cash on the road and we'll be able to retire and do one of their other swell trips.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Cantilever Brake Pad install — winter is coming

Winter is coming. New cantilever pads may be required, but they are such a pain to install and adjust. #endlesswashers

With winter coming, Tricia thought she should give her Surly Cross Check commuter bike a good going over. One thing she thought it needed was new brake pads, so we spent some time installing them.

If you're a roadie you know that installing road pads is a five-minute job. Just unscrew a set screw, slide out the old, slide in the new and retighten. No big deal.

These cantilever pads are a different story. They are so hard to get just right I don't even have a metaphor or simile for it, and I always have one handy for almost everything.

There are just too many dished washers and angles to make it easy, and everything has to be held in place just so as you tighten it, as the tightening itself tries to rearrange the parts. If you came to this page looking for advice, sorry. I can only offer sympathy.

On the brighter side, the light install went better (see what I did there?) Tricia has a set of MonkeyLectric wheel lights, one of which stopped working last year. After cleaning it and trying several fixes the company recommended, I gave up and hung the wheel on the wall. I finally got a new light to install. When I took down the wheel and tried to figure out which light was broken, they both worked. Perhaps my fix worked, or some hidden moisture left the system. The great news is they work, they are installed, and I now have a light to toss on my own bike.

Here's our ten-second test video.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Carquinez Scenic Drive reopens

Carquinez Scenic repoens fence
I rode Carquinez Scenic Drive back in the 70s and 80s. Even after the road washed out and it was officially closed to traffic it was still bikeable, and fun. Eighteen months ago or so it closed so that East Bay Regional Parks could fix it up, and open it as a trail. Now it's open again to walkers and cyclists. Here's more information.

There's still some auto traffic at the ends, but the middle it closed to cars, and because it isn't a through road, the only auto traffic is people headed out to walk or ride. Once you get past the gate there are no cars at all.

Tricia and I enjoyed the views, as we always do, and were happy with the smooth pavement in the areas that used to have giant wheel-swallowing gaps. But be aware, the roads leading up to the gates still sport some large cracks.

As wonderful as the new pavement is, there are also new fences installed. I imagine this makes the trail more child-friendly, but it also makes the trail feel enclosed. I also miss the wonderful graffiti that used to cover the road.
Before the repairs it was more of an adventure
moon face on road
I miss the art that was "cleaned up."
Carquinez Scenic repoens sign
Still, it's great to have the trail open again. We rode it as a 20 mile loop, but tossing it into the classic "Two-Bridges" loop will make that ride even better too.

And as a bonus, though not actually on the scenic drive, there are gargoyles on the climb out of Port Costa.
Carquinez Scenic repoens gargoyles



Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Vote the bike, or bike the vote

Tricia and I rode our bikes to our polling place.
Yep, the headline makes no sense. But Tricia and I did ride to our local polling place and cast or votes on Tuesday evening. As is usually the case, we are pleased, saddened, surprised, stunned, amazed, shocked, worried and hopeful about the outcomes. But we did get to ride our bikes to the fire station together, so there's that.

We're leaning slightly left. #election

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Giro D' Vino 2014

Pouring for Tricia Lodi wine ride 2014_0484
As always, this wine tasting/bike ride was a delight. No rain, just a little wind, not a hill to be found, and plenty of very tasty wine. What's not to like? Just my photo efforts this year.

I have several cameras I could have taken. I picked the wrong one. Not because my Panasonic Lumix LX-5 isn't a grand camera, it's just that it barely fits in my jersey pocket, and is hard to put back in that pocket while riding. With the cool weather and a vest it was too much of a pain, hence, few interesting photos.

But I did get one I liked. I'd love to have this fountain at Oak Farm Winery in my back yard.
bike lean fountain Lodi wine ride 2014_0512

I enjoyed the cool jerseys of the Reno Wheelmen women, and admire the commitment to safe drinking they exhibited in wearing their helmets in the tasting room.
Reno Wheelmen Lodi wine ride 2014_0514

Though there is a lack of bicycle photos and good stories in this post, rest assured that a grand time was had, much wine was purchased and we'll certainly be back next year. Maybe with a different camera.


Saturday, November 01, 2014

Clouds and trash and what to do

sink
In Antioch we litter our streets with everything but the kitchen sink. Oh... wait... never mind. It seems sometimes that this city has become a dumping ground. Not everywhere. On the same day as all the other photos on this post there are views like this
Diablo view
But there's entirely too much of this
trash1
Trash is so common that this is the photo I entered on the Facebook group "Look At My Bike Leaning Against Stuff"
Look At My Bike Leaning Against Stuff

Tricia doesn't like all this trash either, so she got the Antioch edition GORequest through the iPhone app store. It let's her report community issues to the city. And darned if if doesn't work. Trash gets hauled, graffiti gets cleaned up. It's pretty swell. Or perhaps I should say the city workers are pretty swell.

So maybe we'll get more of this
clouds over Antioch
and less of this
trash 2
eventually. I hope...




Thursday, October 30, 2014

Delta De Anza Trail resurfaced

Trail repaved
Look at this smooth piece of pavement. With no notice or warning several sections of my commute path, the Delta De Anza Trail that runs through Antioch, have been resurfaced. It's just like magic. It's such a pretty dark black, and better still has fewer large tire-grabbing cracks. This morning I could even see new dust footprints of the critters that scramble over it in the night. Skunks, squirrels and who knows what else have left their marks along with the growing number of bike tire tracks.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Black and white challenge, with bicycles

Dark bike commute B&W 3
My old friend and fellow photographer Victoria Sheridan sent me a challenge to post a Black and White photograph every day for five days on Facebook. I took it on, but considering I teach weird hours, have no life, and commute in the dark it's pretty hard to be anywhere interesting. It turns out that if I squint just right, and look in very narrow directions, my daily bike commute can look almost not-so-bad. So two of my three #blackandwhitechallenge photos are from my commute.

The cyclist photo was made behind my college. The water photo is of the canal between the dump and a trailer park on my ride home.

Canal, bike commute in the dark, #blackandwhitechallenge

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Foxy's Fall, 2014

tricia, foxy's fall century 2014

My new aerodynamic vest is so tight that there wasn't room for my camera in my jersey pocket.  Really. It had nothing to do with my winter-is-coming weight gain. I was able to use my iPhone to make a few out-of-focus snapshots that were generally disappointing.

But the weather was wonderful, though it turns out that 100 miles is still a long way, even without a lot of climbing. I'm sure it didn't help that I hadn't trained a bit. Even though this year I have a double century under my belt, and spent two weeks cycle touring I haven't done much lately but commute.

So, this uninspiring post is just to note that Tricia and I did indeed ride Foxy's. Again.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

John Marsh stone house


Tricia and I rode the new Delta De Anza trail out to the newly-reopened Marsh Creek
Trail to get to a community fund-raising event at the Marsh Creek house. The home isn't open yet — it's still surrounded by chain link fence — but the restoration is well underway. If you don't know John Marsh, you owe it to yourself to at least read the Wikipedia entry.

The John Marsh Historic Trust is working hard, but slowly, on the stone house. I'm sure they'll put any money you send them to good use.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Delta De Anza bonus video

When the Delta De Anza Trail between Antioch and Oakley opened, and I made a few photos and posted them on here. Today Tricia and I rode the one-mile trail and I played movie dude with my new iPhone. I even edited my video on the phone. Here it is in all it's glorious 39 seconds.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Delta De Anza Ridgeline Trail opens

Ridgeline Delta De Anza Trail opens_0343

signs Delta De Anza Trail opens_0331At long last the section of the Delta De Anza Trail connecting Antioch to Oakley is open. Cyclists have been waiting years and years for it, and now it's here. I'm not sure what the hold up was, but I'm relieved it has happened at last.

I also like the sign my bike is leaning against. I wish the all trails were signed like this, perhaps also including arrows pointing where they're going. But for now I'll take this, and be happy about it.

The trail connects from Ridgeline Dr, runs past a none-too-pretty water treatment plant and chain link fences, under Highway 4 and out to Neroly Road in Oakley. It isn't scenic in a classical sense, but it's sure beautiful to me.  I don't even mind the slight hill.

I also hope this signals a new awareness of the importance of connecting bike routes and paths.  As nice as many paths are, many don't connect to anything, and just leave cyclist standing over their bikes wondering what to do. Think I'm kidding? Try riding the Mokelumne Trail to Brentwood. It just stops, as in dead ends, right at Highway 4.

But enough complaining. I'm celebrating this trail today!
Delta De Anza trail opens here

Monday, September 29, 2014

What does it all mean?

WTF Shoes I live in Antioch, California. I commute by bicycle to Pittsburg every day. I see stuff I can't explain.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Delta De Anza Trail and Los Medanos College



Why doesn't Los Medanos college make a nice, useable entrance from the Delta De Anza trail? As it stands,  the entrance to this valuable asset is treated like a junky back alley instead of a proud campus feature. In my dreams this video goes viral and encourages those who hold the purse strings to open their funding hearts to the idea of a grand and glorious college entrance. Or at least a paved one. Please help me. Watch my video (it's only four minutes,) get the YouTube link, and share on your own social media.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Da Bears

Ridin' da bears with Tricia.
I managed to get some Pig Farm and Three Bears in with Tricia. Nothing special, but what the heck, it was a beautiful day, so here's a photo and a map. I do wonder how long Pig Farm Hill will be called Pig Farm Hill. There haven't been pigs since the 70s, and the sign is gone now. Will the name live on, and will people wonder what it means, and maybe even make up stories about why? Or will it just disappear?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Instagram, trails and #bitter

Tricia rides the Delta DeAnza trail that's open. Bonus Diablo in background.
Is it wrong that I am enjoying Instagram so much, cheesy filters and all? In any event, here's Tricia riding a section of the Delta deAnza trail near our house, with our favorite mountain in the background. That's the good news. The bad news is that the trail at Ridgeline is still flippin' closed. Even though it was supposed to open in August and the city announced the final walkthrough was 5 days ago. As we hipsters say on Instagram: #bitter
My bike leaning at a trail that should be open by now #comeon #bitter #really #deltadeanza

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Beats doll heads

Last weekend we found doll parts, and a dolls head, on our ride. This weekend it was a goat.

I guess finding a goat is better than finding a goats head, or a goathead sticker in your tire, like the one we found last week.

Monday, September 01, 2014

The rest of the victim

Yesterday I saw this in the road. Today I saw the rest. Oh Antioch.
On today's bike ride I found the rest of the body I photographed yesterday. #antioch

Washington Cascades, Day 14, Sedro-Wooly to Bellingham

Just ridin' Washington Cascades 2014_0021
Read all the posts about this trip in backwards order (or better yet, start at the bottom and work up) here.

After spending the night, (indoors no less) in Sedro-Wolly we started our morning across the street at a coffee drive through. We spoke to another cyclist who had started his ride in Montreal and was headed for the San Juan Islands, putting our heroic two-week trip into perspective. Maybe that's why we missed the first turn and added a few miles to our day.

I don't have many photos from today. I must have been worn out, or thinking I was shooting the same thing over and over. I have no photos of the nice biker bar we stopped in, or the beautiful motorcycles out front. I have no photos of the the two huge guys and one skinny dude who leapt from their pickup to push a broken down car to a safer spot. I didn't want to photograph the woman in the road holding her tiny dog that had been hit by a car, and I didn't have the nerve to take my hands off the bars to shoot the automobile traffic hell in Bellingham.

I did, however, manage to shoot the giant marshmallow ranch as we rolled by.
Giant marsmellos Washington Cascades 2014_0026
I also was greatly amused by the Napoleon Dynamite reference in a local election.
Vote for Pedro Washington Cascades 2014_0030
One of the things we were looking forward to was riding right up to Canadian border in Sumas to make photos.
Canada Washington Cascades 2014 iphone_0517
We had to snake our way through a long line of cars to get here and make our tourist photo. When we finished, being the good cycling citizens that we are, rather than ride back against traffic we crossed the street in the crosswalk well before any gates or markings, as you can see on the left of the photo. As we rolled back down the road a wildly gesticulating boarder guard yelled at us "Go back! You have to go through customs!"

We said we hadn't left the country. He asked "Did you go in the building?" and we said "No. We didn't even talk to a Canadian."

"You still have to go through customs" he announced.

Fortunately Tricia had said we should bring our passports just in case we wanted to duck into Canada for fun, so we had them in our seat bags. I think we'd still be there, or in prison, if she hadn't have had the foresight to have use pack them. When we ask our fellow riders about their experience they said they just turned around, ridden against the traffic, and had no issues. So much for our attempt to do the right thing.
Map canada with words

Tricia and heather with book Washington Cascades 2014_0031Our ride finished in Bellingham where we were directed down the busiest not-bike-friendly street ever. We totally chickened out, rode the sidewalk, and eventually arrived safely at the Best Western.

Heather signed a book for Tricia, we all had dinner together and ended our Washington Cascades adventure.

This looks like the end of the story, but Tricia and I have a reflections, hints, tips and observations. If you're planning on taking an Adventure Cycling guided tour I hope you find this page, and this info helpful.


The ride

We've been on five Adventure Cycling tours before, and this was the hardest one. It wasn't the distances, it was the daily climbing. That said, I lived through it and Tricia thrived. Heather suggested people rode themselves into shape. I think I was just wearing myself out.  Most of the other riders seemed to have experiences more like Tricia's than mine. So it's not like it's impossibly hard or anything. The routes were interesting and the locations stunning, and it was worth every erg of energy I spent. 

Logistics

Some time after I'd signed us up I had to call Adventure Cycling and ask, "Ummm. How do we get back to the ride start?" We'd only done rides that were loops before. They explained they expected people to fly into Portland and fly out of Bellingham. Tricia and I  spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to do. We ended up driving to Portland, and hiring a man to drive our car to Bellingham so we'd have it to do some visiting in Washington when we finished the ride. It cost more than I'd have liked, and the hotel charged us to leave the car parked there as well. 

Eqipment

Let's face it, cycling is "stuff" oriented. Here's some stuff we used.

On our first bicycle trip we took sleeping pads that were "car camping" pads. We didn't know it when we left, but they were huge. They weighed a ton and were a pain to haul around and pack. The next time I dug up my old Thermarest self-inflating pad and Tricia bought one of her own. Size wise it was a big improvement, but they were still among the largest and ungainly items we took.

For this trip we bought Thermarest Neoair mattresses. I hated spending the money, but they are really small — less than half the size of our last pads — and very comfortable. I'd heard they were noisy to sleep on, but I didn't find it bad at all. I read the newer models were less loud, so maybe that's why.

I hate to admit it, but I am a digital guy. I took my Garmin 500 GPS bike computer, my iPhone and ... my laptop. I wanted to upload the ride data as soon as I could. The Garmin 305 I used last tour couldn't hold a week's worth of data, and I lost several interesting days on a week-long trip. I didn't want that to happen again. If I could have found a way to upload from my phone I would have skipped the computer. But there was no way. I understand the newer Garmin 510 can upload from a phone. I wish I had one.

Having two iPhones and two rear blinkie lights meant 4 USB items to charge. I bought a four-outlet USB charger that worked well, and brought a rechargeable "Powerrocks" battery charger for the phones to use when we had no outlets around.

I took my small Panasonic Lumix LX-5 camera. They're cheap now, but cost a bunch when I bought mine as the new great thing. It isn't as small as many point-and-shoots, but it has a high-quality Licia lens that's very fast, and very wide angle as well. It's taken a beating and is held together with electrical tape now, but still works. It doesn't have a very telephoto zoom, but that isn't the way my brain works, so I'm pretty happy with the camera. A lot of these photos are made on my iPhone 4S, and I'm pretty sure you can't tell which ones they are.  I liked being able to post to Facebook and Instagram without having to use a computer. I'd use it all the time, but it limited by the lens, low light sensitivity and the fact it's hard to use while riding.

Bike stuff

Tricia and I both used Sidi shoes and loved them. We use Shimano road cleats that aren't made for walking. It's not ideal, but it also wasn't a problem. We brought cleat covers to walk in, but they are a pain to haul and we ended up not using them. Experienced tourists prefer Shimano mountain SPD cleats that are much more walkable. We didn't want to buy new shoes and pedals so we went with what we knew. Not perfect, but not bad.

We took extra tires, not on the bike, but in our bags, and we're glad we did. We used two. We are fans of Park Tools tire boots as well. Read our tale about them.

Because we had days with 40 miles between water stops, we carried two large bottles each and a "Platypus" water bottle/bag. They hold half a liter and fold up very small when empty. I'd stick one in my pocket and Tricia one in her handlebar bag when we had concerns about water.

We also each used a Cygolite Hotshot 2-Watt USB Rechargeable Taillight. We'd ridden with friends in Portland who had them. We realized in areas with trees where cyclists go in and out of shadows they become hidden in the dark areas. We figured a bright little light might just save us, and it couldn't hurt. These are really bright, even in the day.

We've had our Alps Mountaineering tent several years and like it a lot. It's a four person tent, so there is tons of room. It's easy to set up, has two vestibules and a loft. It hasn't leaked or been knocked over when nearby tents have had problems.

We took clothes for hot weather and cold, as well as rain. Tricia rode in her rain pants when it was cold, but wishes she'd brought her tights as well. We wore all the clothes we brought as there were wide temperature swings. We also brought a lightweight clothesline and plastic clothespins to hang our laundry.

Tricia is a big fan of wool. She says it's comfortable, warm but not hot, as if it knows, and doesn't get smelly as fast.

Some riders rode with small panniers or camelback water carriers. We didn't want to use either, but did admire an UltraSil Daypack that weighs nothing and could be stuffed in a jersey pocket, then used to carry clothes that were shed, or (for a short distance) a bottle of wine picked up on the route. I plan to buy one.

One rider had a wonderful expanding seat bag, the nicest I've ever seen, and he was very happy with it.  It isn't cheap, but I'm tempted to get one if I do another tour. Revelate Designs Viscacha.

I'm sure I'll think of 80 more things as soon as I click publish. Comment or email me me if I can answer a question. If you comment you need to tell me how to reach you!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Antioch, oh Antioch

Another brief break from our Washington Cascade bike ride postings.
We're back, and doing the usual local loops. It seems that Antioch is still very... Antioch
The streets if Antioch hold many a mystery.
Tricia picked up a stick, and we weren't even mountain biking. As Steve noted on Instagram "Dang. That's one of those 'couldn't do it on purpose if ya tried' things." Indeed.
Your bike is making a funny sound, Tricia. #notevenmountainbiking
And we are still waiting for the Marsh Creek connector trail to open. #stillwaiting #stillbitter It looks ready to me.
They really need to open this trail soon. #stillwaiting