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

Washington Cascades, Day 13, Washington Pass

Pass, south Washington Cascades 2014_0085
Read all the posts about this trip in backwards order (or better yet, start at the bottom and work up) here.

The original pre Washington-is-on-fire plan was to ride over Washington Pass from the South. Instead we were going to tackle it from the North as a simple out and back. Our leaders looked us over and figured we were too wimpy to ride from Newhalem to the summit and back, so they elected to give us a head start by driving us part way, thereby making is it a fifty-mile ride. We still got 4600 feet of climbing, so it wasn't a totally slacker kind of day.

Having all our bikes on top of the van looks pretty cool. I kept wondering how many dollars were up there catching the wind, and just how low the trees and anything else we went under were. But we didn't lose anything.
Bikes on roof  Washington Cascades 2014_0102
Before we got to where we'd start our ride, we stopped at the overview for Diablo Lake. It was... well, just look at the photos.
Diablo Lake overall Washington Cascades 2014_0041
We all went crazy making snapshots.
Diablo Lake photo Washington Cascades 2014_0044
Photo making Diablo Lake Washington Cascades 2014_0042
Heather wanted to make a group photo, because even though we are super cool cyclists on a multi-state adventure, we're really just tourists like everyone else.
Heather Adderson photographs Washington Cascades 2014_0043
When I was photographing for the newspaper we referred to this as "Line 'em up, shoot 'em down."
Group photo Washington Cascades 2014_0051
When we finished our "Ohhh" and "Ahhh" over the view, and wrapped up our bit of photographic nonsense, we headed just a short ways up the road and started our ride.

It was about 25 miles of six-percent, which isn't a horrible climb, but is relentless. There's a spot at Rainy Pass with a short steep downhill. It was hard to truly enjoy, knowing that we were giving up hard-earned elevation that we would have to reclaim almost immediately.

As always, there were cyclists out there with panniers just to let us know we weren't that tough. We also saw this man on his recumbent trike, slowly grinding uphill. When we went past he asked "How much farther?" I answered 20 miles. I don't know if that was heartening or depressing for him, but we did see him just short of the summit when we were returning later.
Pass cyclist Washington Cascades 2014_0057
The climb really is beautiful. Tricia and I have been down the North side twice before. It was fun to see it at 5mph instead of the twenty-plus we had coming down.
Climbing up to pass Washington Cascades 2014_0065
Even though I like quoting that "The journey is the reward," really, the summit is the reward (or is it the swell downhill?) Getting to the top feels great and the views are unreal.
Washington Pass sign Washington Cascades 2014_0070
We all loitered around the overlook, marveling at how rugged the mountains here are.
Pass summit gang Washington Cascades 2014_0089
And making a few "photos or it didn't happen" snapshots.
Photos at the top of pass Washington Cascades 2014_0076
As we pushed our bikes back toward the road, Tricia's rear tire exploded. She'd managed to pick up another huge cut in a nearly-new tire. We used another Park Tools tire boot (if you don't have some in your seat bag you're making a big mistake. Read about our experiences with them here) and carefully rolled the 25 downhill miles to the van.

We saw some bigfoot tracks on the road, and briefly stopped to photograph them.
Bigfoot track Washington Cascades 2014 iphone_0534
Having survived the climb, the torn tire, and a possible bigfoot encounter, we all piled into the van and started toward Sedro-Woolley. But before we got there Heather pulled over at Cascadia Farms, and treated us all to fresh berry ice cream and shakes. And thus ends another tough day of roughing it on the road.
Cascadia farms Washington Cascades 2014_0096

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Washington Cascades, Day 12, Van ride and Newhalem

Read all the posts about this trip in backwards order (or better yet, start at the bottom and work up) here.

With fires sweeping through Washington blowing our planned itinerary to pieces, our Adventure Cycling leaders where in full tilt improvisational (but experienced and very clever) mode. Today instead of riding bikes, we'd be in the van and on a ferry, heading for a small campground near Newhalem close to Washington Pass.
rain on windshield Washington Cascades 2014 iphone_0573
Torn map Washington Cascades 2014_0111I'm not a big fan of being in motor vehicles, but this wan't too bad. And being as it was raining a little and the sky was gray maybe it was a good thing. We chatted a lot and made jokes. Jeffery and Mark explained how not to take care of a map, and showed what can happen when you don't.

Best of all, we weren't trapped in the van the entire time. I can see how riding a ferry could get old if you had to do it every day, but for me the ferry to Edmund was like an amusement park ride.
Leaving Port Townsend headed for Edmund on the ferry. #beatsdriving
When we arrived at our campground I guess we could have gone for a ride, but it seemed late in the day after we set up our tent.
Tricia tent Washington Cascades 2014_0171
Tricia wanted to go for a walk. After some arm twisting I ended up going with her. It turned out to be almost magical. Walking down the road we stumbled across a path that took us into a different epoch. It was clearly a portal to previous time in the Earth's history.  Here are too many photos.
rain forest Washington Cascades 2014_0157
Leaf Washington Cascades 2014_0165
walk in the woods Washington Cascades 2014_0124
tricia water Washington Cascades 2014_0140
River Washington Cascades 2014_0146
Fear Washington Cascades 2014_0145
Fungus Washington Cascades 2014_0141
fren Washington Cascades 2014_0117
leaves Washington Cascades 2014_0133
mushroom Washington Cascades 2014_0163
Apparently some fungi have adapted to look like aluminum cans to avoid being devoured.
Trash Washington Cascades 2014_0143
It was our turn to cook again. Tricia made red beans and rice, and cooked up some andouille sausage as well as some apple chicken sausage for the non-pork eaters and a bit of tofu for the veggie folk. We had Mississippi Mud Cake for desert.
Tricia cooks Washington Cascades 2014_0174
The star of the evening was our leader, Heather Anderson, who read a bit from her book, I never Intended to be Brave. We sat around and asked her and Greg serious and silly questions about their adventures until we realized we'd better hurry and pack up the cooking equipment before it got dark. We'd never have made it without the rest of our group pitching in.
Heather reads Washington Cascades 2014_0176
Eventually we got back to our luxurious tent. Doesn't this fisheye make it look downright spacious?
Inside our tent Washington Cascades 2014 iphone_0585