Sunday, November 13, 2016

Partial band reunion tour


Lancd Oldstrong gathered Steve, Tricia and my own bad self together for a reunion tour. We haven't ridden together in ages, and it sure was about time.

We got in 75 miles, from Concord up to an obscure wine region in Suisun Valley.

The most dramatic thing all day was the amazing California November weather. It was prefect. I did get a bottle of wine and managed to fit it in my water bottle holder.  Tricia and I may have to go back with our trailer and do some more serious wine shopping.

A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on

A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on

Giro di Vino 2016

We had another fun year riding the 2016 Giro di Vino on Lodi. We pedaled fro
m winery to winery, tasted a little and bought a lot. It was all delivered to the ride start so we didn't need to carry it.

In years part the ride has been windy or foggy or raining. This year was perfect.

A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on



A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on



A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on



A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Bike names and tilting at windmills





Giant photo on Adventure Cycling van


We thought we were going to the Marin Headlands Hostel to meet up with a tour heading from Canada to Mexico and see the Adventure Cycling trailer with Tricia on it, but it turns out we got a van. I guess we're still on the lookout for the trailer. Still, pretty darn cool. Maybe we should do the same thing to our Subaru.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Bicycle birthday present, part 1


My wonderfully colleague, Jaime, designed a poster of a bicycle made entirely with type. That's right, everything in that bike is from the keyboard. It's too hard to read in my photo, but she also added a key, explaining each bike part, typeface and letter she used. 

Then, for my birthday, she had a shirt made. 

Talk about niche design. It's the perfect tee shirt for a type-loving bicycle junkie. Be jealous, all my designer biking friends.

Hey! It's available for everyone now! You can buy one right here!

Monday, September 12, 2016

My killer weekend

Maybe this post needs more bike content, but I had such a great weekend I'm posting the while thing.

It started Friday night at Los Medanos College where Tricia and I saw "the Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged" I laughed so hard my face hurt.

A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on

We followed that up with a local bike ride and then headed to Auburn where we had a beer at "Crooked Lane" brewery.

A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on



We followed that fine beer with a "Crooked House" concert featuring Walter Salas-Humara. What a blast!

A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on



This folks are so cool they even have a wind up record player and a 78 Hank Williams record.

A video posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on


Then the next morning we rode a wonder route around Auburns back but hilly roads that we found on ridewithgps.com



Life is good. We finished the ride in time to hit a local pub and see the Raiders win their game. I even got home in time to do the laundry.

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Look At My Bike Leaning Against Stuff

I'm a member of a Facebook group called "Look At My Bike Leaning Against Stuff" so of course I made a lot of leaning photos on out South Lake Tahoe to Portland ride. I don't know when, or if, I'll have time to blog the whole 19 day trip, so here are a few "lean" photos.

A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on


A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on
A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on

A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on

A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Alps Chaos tent set up in 18 seconds

Why no posts lately? I've been out riding my bike, specifically from South Lake Tahoe to Portland! That's 990 miles including our Tahoe warm up days, along with 58,341 feet of climbing over 23 days that included a train ride home.

Tricia and I got a new tent for the trip, and we like it a lot. We can set up the Alps Chaos in 18 seconds, if we have a little help from iMovie.



Endless photos and posts to follow.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Mountain bike ride proves I'm a roadie

I've flirted with mountain bike-ism before. My first, a Specialized Hard Rock, lost its life to an out-of-control car, my second was stolen from my garage. I purchased this Cannondale F500 around 1997. I've taken it on the stunningly beautiful Flume Trail in Tahoe, and used it as a commuter bike with slicks. But mostly it waits for some action while I'm out on the road bike.

After our recent overnight at Black Diamond Mines and the difficulty I had with the gravel on my commuter bike, I thought I heard the Cannondale calling me again.

It was all a trick. I'd pumped the tires the night before, but when I went out the front was flat. When I took the tube out the aging rubber rim tape strip came out with it, torn in two. Oddly enough I had some rim tape, so installed that and ended up leaving for Black Diamond Mines half an hour later than I'd planned.

I like climbing on a road bike, but mountain bikes are a different story. I like to stand, but standing on loose ground means the rear wheel loses traction. Usually I can cope, but when the gradient hits double digits it's hard. The steepest section of this ride is a 19.5 % bump at the top of a hill. I can't stand, and sitting is tough as the front wheel wants to lift. And lift it did, so down I went. I like to joke that mountain bike riders like to show off their blood and scars. I didn't get a scar, but I did bleed a little. But, no scar, so I think I'm still a roadie.
Of course, all that climbing means there's a descent. I like the climbing more. I'm just not willing to "just let the bike go" down 12% rutted trails. Maybe I'm a wimp, or maybe I need newer suspension, but whatever the reason, just no. NO.

There is a payoff. The view is grand. I complain about Antioch, but Black Diamond Mine Park is a jewel, and the views are wonderful.

But all in all, I'm a roadie. When I got home I cleaned my titanium road bike and took on on a test ride. What a delight. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Cool ride in Caifornia

A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on


Holy smokes, that was a lot of climbing. And the climbing was steep too. One section had miles of  +10%. Even the short climbs were mostly double digits. Usually a "climbing ride" is 100 feet of climbing per mile. We were slightly over that, but it seemed even harder. Tricia said at one point "You didn't tell me the 4000 feet of climbing was all in three miles." It wasn't, but it felt like it was.

We found the ride near Auburn on RideWithGPS right here. It starts in Cool, so how could it not be.... you know. I downloaded the TCX  file and dropped it in the Garmin. I grabbed and installed the Openstreetmaps tile for the area and we were good to go.

Except something went wrong, The route, showed, but not the turn by turn part. I was smart enough to have printed the cue sheet and map on paper, and with those we were OK, with only a few missed turns. I sure missed the turn notification. But the "off course" warnings still worked —I saw a few of those — and the map showed our path. With the paper it all worked out.

Lesson learned. Check the turn by turn before leaving. And always take paper backup. Just make sure not to sweat it to pieces.


Thursday, June 09, 2016

Using OpenStreetMaps with RideWithGPS and a Garmin 520 in Pismo Beach

Tricia near Morro Bay.
Some people are great at finding new routes, or boldly taking off into the unknown. Not me. I'm not thrilled when I'm out riding and exploring only to discover I've managed to ride onto a busy road with no shoulder. I'd much rather ride with people familiar with an area, and enjoy their secret and hopefully safer routes. But sometimes that isn't possible.

Now I have a solution.

I bought a Garmin 520 mainly because it could upload data from my phone. But my friend Lance Oldstrong showed me that some mapping capabilities that, though clunky and geeky, are also amazing.


On a recent trip to Pismo Beach Tricia and I weren't sure where to ride. Using info from Lance Oldstrong, the DC Rainmaker site and RideWithGPS.com we found our solution.


We found a ride from Pismo Beach to Morro Bay and back through San Luis Obispo by searching RidewithGPS.com. The site has downloadable turn-by-turn queue sheets. Unfortunately it isn't free to download them (you can read them online for free) but what the heck. Better yet, you can download a route file as well.

Here's how it worked:

I downloaded openStreetmaps of the area I was visiting, in this case Pismo Beach. (The Garmin 520 comes with a "base map" that's pretty pointless.) I used the directions provided by DC Rainmaker to download them and get them on my Garmin. The 520 has limited space, so I have to put in just the small area I'll be in. I made sure to save the map the Garmin came with so I could reinstall it later, then loaded the Pismo area map.



I searched RideWithGPS for rides near Pismo Beach and found this one that has turn-by-turn directions. Because I paid for RideWithGPS I could download both the queue sheet to print and the GPX file to put on my Garmin. I used advice from LanceOldStrong DC Rainmaker and the RideWithGPS site to get the files loaded properly. It's weird, but it works.




On the ride I could see either a text screen of the turns coming up or a detailed map with my track that also flashed "turn here" info. It's very reassuring. Best of all, a wrong turn generated an "Off Course" warning.

I was very happy with how it all worked. It was almost like having a local guide us through the safe and interesting roads. It was completely worth the trouble.

Update: I was looking at the RidewithGPS site and saw I could download a KLM file to read in Google Earth. It came in handy when Tricia asked about trees and shade on a ride I proposed. I "played" it in Google Earth and saw that, yes, tress and shade were abundant. How totally cool!



BONUS VIDEO (click to play)

A video posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on


BONUS NON-BIKE PHOTO


A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Our first overnight self-contained bike adventure

Black Diamond Camping_tricia tent

In honor of Adventure Cycling's "Travel by Bike Weekend" weekend Tricia and I rode an entire nine miles to Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve to camp out.

That sounds so simple. Though it was, it wasn't.

We've camped, we've ridden bikes, but we've never attempted to carry our gear and go camping. Still, in the spirit of safe adventure, we booked their one "backpacker" camp site, loaded our tent, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads into our Travoy trailer and filled our commuter panniers with water, dinner and flashlights.

Curtis and trailer

We also packed a small stove, a french press and some coffee. And just because, I packed my camera gear and a big tripod.

We started learning things right away. Make sure one person is clearly responsibility for who packs the pot for boiling water (thanks CVS for having one.)

Trailers are slow. And our stuff weighs too much and is too bulky.

Tricia Black Diamond Mines camping Lumix_0521

There's a reason mountain bikes have fat tires. Commuter bikes do alright on gravel until it gets steep, then the wheels just spin. Knobby tires? Who knew?

Mountain bikes also have very low gears for a reason. My commuter bike, pulling a trailer up a 10% plus hill on gravel with 34-32 gearing is... problematic. But, with a little less-than-graceful pushing we eventually made it.

feather Black Diamond Mines Camping

I'd like to claim we chose where to set up the tent based where we found this feather, but it was just a happy coincidence.

I've always wanted to shoot star trails, but I've never been in the right place at the right time. I brought that heavy tripod for a reason, so I opened it up and, in the dark, fumbled around trying to get the camera controls set up correctly. It kinda-sorta worked.

Black Diamond Camping star trails

Before it got totally dark I had fun playing with a laser pen as well.

Laser Pen Black Diamond Camping_0376

After a delightful smoked salmon dinner and a pleasant night's sleep – Tricia enjoyed the yelp of the coyote pups more than she does the incessant yip-yip dogs racket from next door – we got up and made the coffee we'd dragged a stove and gear out for.

coffee Black Diamond Mines Camping iPhone052

Tricia had brilliantly brought along our early voter ballots so we could drop them off at the polling place, thereby making us not only travel-by-bike bike campers, but vote-by-bike voters as well.

Black Diamind Mines Camping vote1

All coffeed and voted, we headed off on our next adventure, biking across the Benicia Bridge to a birthday party. But that's another story. One without a trailer.


Monday, May 30, 2016

Bonus Memorial Day photo

Tricia wore her Ride with Nelly (Nelson Vails, 1984 Olympic track cyclist medalist) fund raising jersey she got at the Oakland Pedal Fest last year for her Memorial day ride. She found the matching socks at the North American Hand Built Bike Show in Sacramento earlier this year.
tricia red white and blue

A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Tour della Vigne and Tour of California

What a bicycle weekend. The Tour della Vigne in Lodi and Tour of California in Sacramento.

I was sick on Friday night and thought I wouldn't be doing anything on Saturday, but we packed for the weekend just in case. On Saturday at oh-dark-hundred we left for Lodi, just because we'd already paid to ride the Tour della Vigne, even knowing that rain was forecast. 

I thought we should go for the shorter, less-than-onehundred-mile route, but Tricia pointed out the shorter routes all skipped the interesting climbs up around Lake Comanche and Pardee Reservoir. So we started on the long route, knowing that we could trim it just a bit, which we did. I suffered, but enjoyed it anyway. and we did 85 of the 100 miles. We had one now-classic exchange at mile70.


Curtis: I do not always ride in the wind, but when I do I prefer a tail wind. 

Tricia: Head winds Rock! 

Deaf Curtis: what?!?!?

Tricia: I FEEL DROPS. 

Then we got wet as the rain started to come down.



A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on


It didn't last long, an we finished with beautiful weather.

After spending the evening with News10 media star Kellie and sleeping on her floor we woke up and rode to the final stage of the Tour of California. 


A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on



We watched the men leave, enjoyed collecting swag at the "lifestyle festival"  and marveled at the women's circuit race around the capitol. 
Amgen Tour of California 2016
Guest photo by Jaime Young Tamrakar, who we ran into at the race, and whose men's event photos are better than mine, so you, gentle reader, do not suffer but instead benefit from her photographic skills.


A grand time was had, no papers were graded, and the weekend ended too soon.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Commuter bike in the morning

A bonus photo of my commuter bike. A photo student from a few semesters ago, through his girl friend who is a current student, loaned me his Nikon D70 infrared-converted camera to play with. It's the semester end, and I'm really to busy to go out somewhere and play with it. I did at least find time to dip into a park on my morning commute. I'd stopped to photograph an oak tree, but the light was so nice when I was leaving I leaned my bike on my helmet to photograph it.

commuter bike infrared

Here's the oak tree. I'm glad I shot the bike because it's more fun.

oak tree B&W

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

What clothes (and some other on-the-bike stuff) to take on a supported bike tour

Disclaimers: Everyone is different. Expected weather should play a huge part in your decisions. Ride distance and level of support matters. You should treat this as a list of ideas and not gospel. Your mileage may vary. And of course, any list like this will omit something through oversight that is absolutely essential. 

Tricia and I are planning a multi-week bike trip in mountainous regions of California. I’ve been asked what sort of clothing I’ll take. I’ll have support for carrying my bags and tent, so I can be a little less streamlined with my packing. I have options not available to self-contained cyclists. This is my working list, from top to bottom. 

On the bike clothing


Helmet, of course. Do I really need to add anything?

Buff. What a weird word for such a useful piece of head gear. It’s just a tube of fabric, but what a difference it can make. I use one on my early-morning bike commute and it keeps my ears warm without being as hot as a hat. I'll take a fleece hat too, but mostly just in case it gets really cold at night.

Laundry Washington Cascades 2014_0454

Base layer. I love Under Armor. I can’t figure out why it costs as much as it does, but after trying numerous knock offs I like it the most. I wish I could find it on sale. For me, their Heat Gear models are best as I’m not riding in below freezing weather. I find they fit me well and I love how they wick and how quickly they dry. Tricia likes wool a lot. She says it keeps her warm even if it’s wet. I don’t like how it feels on my skin, or how long it takes to dry. I’ll take short sleeve versions for flexibility.

Arm warmers and knee warmers. I like them because I’ll only bring short sleeve base layers and jerseys to wear with shorts. The warmers are great in the cool mornings and can be peeled off when (or if) the day gets warmer. I like DeFeet Kneekers for knee warmers. DeFeet arm warmers are pretty warm, sometimes too warm, I may bring them, and also go with some lighter-weight models.

Jerseys. I like Coolmax/magic-fiber jerseys with gaudy graphics and pockets in back. Like tee shirts, they should reflect your inner philosophy and dreams as well as help people pigeon-hole you quickly.


Jackets.We both have very light-weight jackets. It’s hard to see how lightweight they are in photos, but they fold up very very small and fit in a jersey pocket just fine. They're more like super-thin windbreakers. It's amazing how often just that little bit more is just right.

Gloves. I’ll bring regular half-finger gloves and some glove liners to wear under them on cold mornings. I’m a self-confessed hand wimp. I hate having cold hands. I ride with people who never seem to have this problem. Full finger gloves? Maybe. 

Shorts/Bibs. I realize that people are bib folks or shorts folks. I won’t try to change your mind. I’m bring comfy ones that have tight enough legs to hold the knee warmers on so they don't slip and create unsightly knee-warmer gap. 

Socks. I may not be a wool base layer fan, but I love wool socks. They keep my feet warm when the morning is cold and rarely seem to get too hot. I’ll also bring a few lycra socks for hot, hot days, and because lycra dries quickly. The fact Lycra/Coolmax often have cool designs I enjoy did not affect my decision making at all. 

Shoes. I love, and my feet love, my Sidi’s with Shimano SPD-SL cleats. They’re the big ones that are a pain to walk in. A lot of people like mountain style cleats and pedals for their off-the-bike walking friendliness. If I had tons of cash I might try new pedals and shoes for this trip, but I’ve used by Sidi's on past trips and survived the walk-like-a-duck-on-ice issues, so I’ll try it again.

Toe covers/warmers. These little bits of neoprene can really make a difference if you have well-ventilated shoes.

Rain gear. I have a Showers Pass jacket and rain pants I bought to commute in. I’ve heard that you can try all the other brands, but you’ll eventually get a Showers Pass. Their stuff sure seems high quality. 

Not clothing, but stuff to carry on the bike: 


On-the-bike bags. I have an slightly oversized seat bag that I’ve used before, but it isn’t huge. I bought a Revelate Designs Pika Seat Bag, which is bigger than huge. I’ve tried it on local rides, but not on anything serious. I think it will be big enough to hold the usual tube, tire levers, and patch kit as well as lunch, rain clothes and anything I shed on the ride. It looks really silly, but I have high hopes it will work. Tricia has a handlebar bag. I just can’t do that due to a early exposure to very strict cyclist aesthetics that limits my world view. But Tricia likes it fine. I'll also use a Banjo Brothers "Bento Box" top tube bag to hold my camera. I hate how it looks, but at this point looking cool is just a distant memory.

Water part 1: Polar water bottles provide at least a little insulation. 

Water part 2. Because in the middle of nowhere it can be many miles between water stops, in addition to two large bottles each we carried a "Platypus" water bottle/bag. They hold half a liter and fold up very small when empty. I stick one in my pocket and Tricia keeps one in her handlebar bag when we have concerns about water.


Forks Rain forest Washington Cascades 2014_0268

Rear light. After riding with friends in Portland we realized that going in and out of shadows can make a cyclist really hard to see. We bought Cygolite rear “blinky” lights. They’re USB rechargeable. I’m amazed how bright they are even in the day time. 

Pump. Pumps are for people who need to stop and help CO2 users when they inevitably screw up their CO2 inflaters. Tricia and I both like small pumps with foot pegs. For those of us without massive upper body strength the foot peg is totally rocks, making a small pump more like a floor pump. Topeak and Lezyne both make nice models.

Emergency tire-problem solver. We are fans of Park Tools tire boots as well. Read our tale about them. I think you’d be crazy to leave on any long ride with a couple stashed in your saddle bag.

Bonus thing. I got a Sea To Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack that is super small, even tiny, when not in use, but is expands to big enough to haul some swag from a bike shop or roadside fruit stand. 

Cool, but entirely unnecessary. I love having a Garmin on my handlebars. It doesn’t mean much to me when I’m riding, but having maps and elevation information of where I rode is really fun. And, being a geek, I also like having heart rate and power data. It doesn’t make the ride better, but it makes remembering the ride better. I use a Garmin 520.

Power. (Not carried on the bike.) Having an iPhone, Garmin and rechargeable rear blinky means lots of charging. I have two items to help me with that. One is a 5 port USB charger so I only need to use one AC outlet to charge all my junk. The other is a rechargeable power “brick” that has a USB port that claims to be able to recharge a phone 2 1/2 times before it needs recharging.


Extra bonus comments on stuff. I hadn’t thought I’d go through off-the-bike items. You know you need a toothbrush already, right? But here's one item we’ve discovered that is really good for us, and is worth mentioning.

pads-2

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 our last 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. Space saving and weight saving, with good insulation and comfort makes for a good night's sleep.

Is that enough? It seems like a lot, but sometimes you just can’t buy what you’d like on the road. 

I’m not even going to try and write about what you should take for when you’re off the bike.