Sunday, October 18, 2020

Sing me the Delta, gravel and rivers

When LanceOldStrong suggested a ride, Tricia and I suggested gravel. We'd set up our commuter bikes bikes as gravel bikes for an off-pavement tour in Montana that was pandemic-cancelled and never really got to try them out. Dan, champion route designer, came up with this 20% gravel 20% crap-road route that meandered along the North Mokelumne River on levee roads near farmlands near Rio Vista and Isleton.

Tricia's Vaya with 50mm tires and my Ti gravel bike on 650B wheels and 46mm tires helped keep us from rattling apart on the washboard sections.

But holy smokes, fatter tires are slower than 23mm tires.

At least there was no wind, and a good time was had on our first away from home ride in ages.



Sunday, September 27, 2020

Whoops.

Why are there two bikes on the car, but only one front wheel in the back? How was it possible that I loaded the bike, but forget her wheel? She forgave me. We walked down to the river, watched it roll by for a while, then came home. Oh well.

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Not much riding lately

Smoke, smoke and more smoke. It seems like the entire West is on fire. While I'm grateful to be safe, and grateful that my home isn't threatened, I'm missing my riding. It seemed like it was the one thing I could do during this pandemic to keep myself sane. And now that's on hold as well. It may be time to bring the trainer inside and give that a try. But riding a trainer is nothing like riding outside and feeling the wind in your face, the vibration of wheels on the road, the joy of cresting a hill, and the delight of descending the hill you climbed. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Smoke smoke smoke

Riding in California is a bit tougher these days. It's been so smokey I skipped a couple of days, but there are limits. Riding in a mask like this isn't great, but it's better than not riding at all.And today was actually better than the last few. I'm thankful this is my biggest problem right now, and that unlike so many my home and family are safe.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Tricia's 2020 birthday ride

We can't really go anywhere with the world shut down, so Tricia rode her age on local roads.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Bike to Work Day 2020 COVID-19 version

Our local bike to work day was supposed to be today. We did it even though it was postponed. 45 seconds of commuter bliss.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Sign of the times


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Tricia and get outside for our "socially distanced" bike rides (not from each other, silly) but still are reminded of the seriousness with our current situation. We both are starting to realize we won't be going back to school or seeing our students this semester. Stay safe, youze guys.
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Saturday, March 28, 2020

Red Shift stem and big ol' tires


Gravel. Bumpy roads. They're a real transition for an old roadie. In an effort to prepare for our planned Cycle the Divide ride in Montana this summer I  put big ol' tires (bigger than 23!) on a set of 650B wheels. I have a Specialized Pathfinder 47 in front, but it wouldn't quite fit in the rear, so I tossed a Soma Casadaro 42 back there.

But in case that wouldn't be enough I added a RedShift suspension stem. I've done one ride on it and so far it seems like a winner. It doesn't bounce as I feared it would. Between the tires running at (for a roadie) insanely low pressure and this stem the ride is plush, or as my Path Less Pedaled folk say, Supple. It's remarkably stable as well. On the road the disappearance of road buzz (even with the big tread tires) is almost disconcerting. On the gravel the bike is a lot more fun as I'm not being bashed about.

I also installed Soma Casadaro tires on Tricia's Salsa. Her fame fits 50s, which are huge. It sure looks cool, and she seems happy with them.

We managed to get in a short social distancing test ride in Black Diamond Mines Regional Park. I may never be a gravel lover, but it sure is nice to be out in the green and away from cars.

This weekend the weather is a mess, and I just can't make myself ride in cold rain for fun, so further testing will have to wait.

Sunday, March 01, 2020

Tricia almost wins wheel contest


Our favorite Youtube content creators, The Path Less Pedaled, held a contest/giveaway for a set of amazing wheels, pair of Chris King R45D hubs laced to the super light and strong ENVE G27 rims! To win you needed to write up what you'd do with them and send along a photo. We watched the live announcement.

Here's Tricia's minute of fame (linked directly to where they talk about her)


Tricia was one of the top 10. They read her story and showed her photo. It was fun to see the live comments "Let the teacher win!" From there they drew numbers from a helmet. All the finalists were interesting, and though Tricia would have liked to win, she felt like the winner really deserved it. Fun was had. You can check out all the Path Less Pedaled internet presence in various places, and you'll be happy you did.
PLP Web site
The Path Less Pedaled Youtube

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Wine loop around Comanche and Pardee

We ride a lot out our front. We like not having to drive to get to ride, but the same old routes get old. So in honor of our three day weekend we decided to actually have some fun. We had wine club wine to pick up at Klinker Brick in Lodi, so we took the bikes to the nearby tiny town of Clements to ride around Comanche Reservoir  and across the damn at Pardee Reservoir before collecting our Zinfandel. 



The day was beautiful, though cool, and the wine was a delight. We did have a few closer passes than we would have liked, and one jerk.. well, watch the short video. But overall, it was a win, and our first "away" ride of the year.




Friday, January 03, 2020

2020 Diablo summit


Once again, our pilgrimage to up to the Mt. Diablo Summit with its 3,760 feet of climbing to kick off the year. We cheated a bit and waited until January 2 just to avoid the madhouse of New Years Day. But still we kicked off the year right.

I think it's getting more steep each year. Tricia says it's because the mountain was created by geologic compression and uplift, and is still uplifting. It's happening slowly enough that kids don't notice, but those of us who have been riding awhile can tell it's a little harder to get up every year.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

2019 year end totals


That's 7,231 miles. When nothing goes wrong that seems to be about what I get in a year. Lots of commutes, one good tour (two weeks in Germany and Austria this year,) lots of 30-40 miler on weekends and a few organized rides all adds up.
While the mileage seems to stay the same, I am getting slower. That's annoying, but oh well.

For the record, Tricia hit 5,207. She says she's blaming her grandkids for distracting her. But she's added running to her life, so I don't see her as slacking off at all.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

650b gravel conversion, The Supple Life, slight progress

When we last left our hero he (meaning me) was lamenting the lack of clearance for the Specialized Pathfinder Pros 47mm tires on the back end  of his gravel/commuter bike , whining in general, and wondering what to do.

The front tire fit, so even though I'd have a mismatched pair I ordered a Soma Cazadero in 42 hoping it would fit. It appears to. Yea! And now I have a backup front tire (like that's something I need.)

I also bought an 11-36 cassette and a RoadLink. I've put the cassette on and am going to see if it will work without the RoadLink. Internet research is inconclusive.

I also bought a RedShift ShockStoop suspension stem because it was on sale, I had a weak moment and can't resist innerCaps in product names.

A lot of my testing will have to wait until Winter break as I use my bike in fully fendered glory every day for my commute.

Slowly things are happening, tough I don't know where it will all end. Maybe the whole project is silly and I should have just planned on using my old 90s Cannondale hardtail mountain bike with its triple chain ring and eight-speed drive train. But would that really have been as much fun and stress?

Sunday, October 27, 2019

650b gravel conversion, The Supple Life, endless issues


"Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
—Mike Tyson

I had a plan. I want to ride a gravel tour next summer. I have a bike I’m using as a commuter bike that’s sold as a gravel bike, so perfect, right? I’d even swapped out the compact (50-34) crankset for a 46-30 already, giving me reasonably low gears But I wanted bigger wider tires, having been seduced by the Path Less Pedaled wonderful youtube channel (and also their web site.) I wanted The Supple Life, as they call it. 


With that supple dream in mind I bought a set of FSA 650b wheels. They’re smaller in diameter than the normal 700c wheels that come on road bikes, and my commuter/gravel bike as well. The idea is that you can run big ol’ tires that provide a smooth ride over unpaved roads on a bike they wouldn’t otherwise fit. Disc brakes means there are no worries about matching a rim brake surface as the discs are in the same place on any wheel size. What a great idea. 

I chose, after entirely too much agonizing, Specialized Pathfinder Pros in 47mm width in beautiful natural gum sidewall glory. They come in 38 and 42 as well, but I’m seeking supple, so 47 it was.

I’ve learned lots thus far and still have a ways to go.
  • New wheels do not come with discs (as in disc brakes), which are essential to stopping, so one needs to buy them separately.
  • Mine are held on via “center lock” rather than “Six-bolt.” which means I need a special tool to install them. The good news (you won’t see much of that here) is that the tool is the as same tool for installing cassettes, which I already had. Yea!
  • The wheels came with tape for the insides so I could run tires without tubes. Or so I thought. After exploding a new tube (twice) I realized I needed the tape even if I was using tubes so the tube wouldn’t expand into the recessed dimples inside the rims where the spoke ends are and then blow up.
  • “Seating” the tires is much harder than seating road tires. They just don’t want to be even all the way around, which makes them budge oddly, which makes the ride just stupid. Apparently inflating them to a higher pressure than you’d ride at helps seat them. It also exposes the inner tube to the previously mentioned spoke indentations. Boom.
  • New rotors don’t alway align exactly the same as the old rotors, which necessitates brake adjustment.
Eventually I had the rim tape on, the tire on and seated reasonably well, and the cassette installed. My bike has fenders installed for commuting, and I knew the wheels would be a tight fit with the fenders on if they fit at all. That's OK, it’s just a test. 

The fenders are really too narrow for these tires to work completely as fenders, but there was still room to mount the wheels. 

But.

You knew that was coming, right? Even though there’s enough room “north and south” for the tire/wheel combo, the large tire barely clears the chain stays. As in just a couple of  millimeters. I’m guessing that isn’t enough for the real world where I would expect the tire deflect a little over bumps, expanding to rub the stay.




Ironically the chain stays have small indentations just out of where my tire ends. If I’d used 700c tires the same width they might have actually fit. Maybe.




Now what?

I could just pretend it fits, but that’s stupid. 
I could get new less wide tires and sacrifice some of the much heralded supple life. Then eBay the 47s at a loss. Will 42s fit? Who knows... Or just get a 42 for the back because the 47 in the front is just fine?

I could give the tire wheel combo to my wife to use on her Salsa Vaya. She’d get the 640b supple life advantage and I’d have to figure out how to install the end caps for use with her thru-axel. At least the caps were included.

Update from hell

I'd put a tube in the front wheel and pumped it up to seat it. I did this before realizing the tape was important, but the at least the tube didn't pop. I deflated it to remove the tire and install rim tape. Alas I cannot remove the tire. It is apparently exactly where it's supposed to be. I can't get a tire lever under it, I can't roll it sideways. I was going to try a screwdriver, but it's too tight for that as well, and probably not a good idea anyway. How is it possible to remove this tire? I am so stuck.

If I ever solve this I’ll try to figure out if my 32 tooth cassette is low enough, or should I go to 34 or even 36. And if I do that, do I need Wolfstooth Roadlink, or a new derailleur line Shimano’s GRX 810 that is speced to handle a 34. But could it be stretched to take a 36?

I haven't actually signed up for the gravel ride yet. I've not put down a deposit. Maybe this is a message from the bike gods telling me I'm a roadie and need to stay in my lane and get out while I've only wasted money on wheels, discs, tubes and tires and not a new chain, cassette, derailleur and tour fee.

Update from heck

I finally got the tire off, the rim tape on and the tire back on. I may have figured out how to do it; by squeezing the bead into the center and swearing loudly.

I'll be riding to work Monday with this set up to see how it rolls. I'mm still concerned about that tiny 1mm or so of not-reallly-enough-space for the tire.



Saturday, September 07, 2019

Worst helmet ever or just more Antioch weirdness?

I can not explain this. He rode past as I was waiting at a stop light.No shirt and a sock or something over his head. Maybe it's just the worst helmet ever. Feel free to weigh in with your interpretation.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Riding around Lake Tahoe

I've always wanted to ride around Lake Tahoe. But I waned to do if off peak tourist season and mid-week to avoid as much auto traffic as possible as possible. With my school starting the semester later this I finally got a chance. I invited old friend Dan aka Lance Oldstrong to ride with me because fun is better shared.

We drove up on a Monday, stayed neat the "Y" in South Lake Tahoe and started our clockwise loop early enough to miss heavy traffic over the first climb between the stunning Fallen Leaf Lake and Emerald Bay. I've driven it, and it's terrifying. You feel like you're on a knife edge, ready to plunge off the road on either side. It's not so bad on a bike.

Though there's traffic along the North Shore it isn't horrible and I always felt like I had room to ride.


I was thrilled with the new bike path near Sand Harbor. That part of the road has been a dangerous very dangerous for cyclists. Now it's a delight, with smooth riding, no cars and stunning views.

I was enjoying myself right up until we got to Highway 50 to return to South Shore. I'm glad we picked a low traffic day, because there is either almost no room for cyclists or really no room for cyclists along that busy section. I was very concerned. Thankfully the drivers were kind, with many changing lanes to give us more room. But had I known how little space there was I might not have started this ride.

In the end, we made it back with not even a close call. But still...