Sunday, November 22, 2015

Marsh Creek Trail at Cypress Road in Oakley WTF

Why are these signs here? They don't make my life safer or more easy. JeezelPete.Why not just a sign that says "Don't actually try to use this trial. Get a car. We hate you." Not that I'm bitter or anything.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

ATV on the bike path: Busted!

Yesterday I was commuting home by bicycle when, up ahead of me I saw a four wheel ATV turn onto the bike path near the park on James Donlon Drive in Antioch, CA. I found myself wishing I wasn't so far away I couldn't capture an image on my handlebar mounted camera.

That old saying that there's never a cop around when you need one? Apparently it isn't always true. About half a mile later I came across an East Bay Regional Parks patrol officer stopped in front of the ATV and looking like he was doing police stuff. Yea!

Here's a super short video of me rolling past.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Giro di Vino 2015

Giro di Vino 2015Curtis all wet
This year's Giro di Vino was wet. Not too wet, but wet. At least near the end. We knew we were rolling the dice when we left for Lodi on Sunday morning. The weather reports called for rain, but it was unclear about when it would arrive.  We thought we'd get an early start because who doesn't enjoy wine for breakfast, and who doesn't enjoy starting a ride at 39 degrees?  We started early enough the first winery we rode to hadn't opened yet. We were early arrivers at the second where we found a few other cyclists huddled around the fireplace.

Young women in leggingsGiro di Vino 2015_0467

One thing about cyclists, we all think we look better than we really do in our cycling outfits. Some of us rock the helmet, gloves and shades even when tasting fine Lodi wines.

Wine drinker Giro di Vino 2015_0477

At Oak Farm Vineyards I harassed Tricia by FaceBook posting a photo of her with her wine breakfast.

Tricia morning wine Giro di Vino 2015_0483
Tricia was much classier and photographed her bike by the outdoor fire.

I also made a photo to contribute to the Facebook group "Look At My Bike Leaning Against Stuff." That giant bag is a Revelate Designs Pika Seat Bag. It unfolds even farther to hold more. I'm going to use it on tour this summer and thought I'd test it on this ride. It works, and held my rain jacket and pants with lots of room left over.
Oak Farms Winery Lodi Giro di Vino 2015_0487

Ripkin winery had their pet running about. I understand they are smarter than dogs, but, well, still...
Pig Giro di Vino 2015_0492

We carried along under threatening skies for many miles.
Tricia iunder dark clouds Giro di Vino 2015_0506

At the rides end Tricia was amused/annoyed/alarmed/appalled to find this sign. She posted it with the note: "I hate it when there's a liquor license on the loose! #englishteacher #wrongword "

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

It's gotta be the shoes

I've been using the same clunky but sturdy Shimano shoes to commute in for many years. I saw Giro Grynd Cycling Shoes on sale — and in my size — online and bought them. They have recessed SPD cleats that don't click on the floor, and the look almost like regular shoes. I think I'll like having an alternate pair to wear.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Adventure Cycling photography and bonus photos

The 2016 Adventure Cycling catalog has a full page photo of Tricia! We really love these folks, who are cycling advocates as well as wonderful tour operators. We've been on six of their tours and plan to do more. Plus, they often display excellent taste in photography.

In unrelated news, I check in on the Facebook group "Look At My Bike Leaning Against Stuff" and occasionally post. Here's one of my contributions. Really, it isn't my bike, or even my beer.It's daughter Erin's.

One more. Because I think the dryer is too hard on bike clothes we line dry all our bike stuff. Today I was at it as the sun came up.
A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Flats and tubes, buy stuff, repeat

I patch, lord knows I patch. But sometimes, when the patches have patches it's time to replenish. It seems like overkill, but just look at the Instagram photo below. That's not a hand full of tubes, that's one tube. So I ordered a twenty-pack of tubes.

Plus, here's the important part: Tricia likes new tubes. So, new tubes she shall have. At least for the week or two it takes us to puncture all these.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Ten Thousand Miles on the commuter bike

I turned 10,000 miles on my commuter bike riding home from #losmedanoscollege tonight. #bikecommute

On my way home from work Thursday night my little Cateye computer informed me I'd ridden 10,000 on my commuter bike. Almost all that is commuting to work. My Subaru gets to stay in the garage, safe from the dangers of the road and parking lot, safe from being worn out on a short drive every day. Here's hoping that car will last a long long time.  And that's just one bicycle related bonus. Getting to start and end my day with a bike ride is a treat I'm grateful for every time I do it. Even riding in the dark, the cold or the wet has a certain "I'm alive!" delight that driving never has.

 I got the bike in May, 2012 and set it up with panniers, fenders and lights. It's slowly evolved but remains a Motobecane Fantom Outlaw. Here are some early photos.

clean bike

This is it pretty much as purchased, still with cross tires and the original saddle.

Motobecane Fantom Outlaw commuter bike

Added fenders, changed crankset and saddle, added coffee and lights.

Ortlieb and RackTime rack on Fantom Outlaw commuter
With new Ortlieb panniers.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Tricia on the Bears

We went out on the Bears for a bit of a ride. It's always fun coming down Papa Bear. I have no idea why some folks ride in the middle of the lane oblivious to people behind them.

If Tricia looks fast here, it's because she's pushing 40 mph.

Here's a bonus overdone Instagram photo of her on the way up.

A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

East Bay Regional Parks Police and the Delta De Anza Trail

I was pretty darn thrilled last week to find East Bay Regional Parks Police Officer Josh Harrington patrolling the trail exactly where I was assaulted.  When I stopped to chat with him he said the department had only recently heard of my attack (thanks Antioch Police for not ever forwarding the report like you said you would) and that he was here just checking things out. He said he knew who I was right away by the wound on my knee that's still rather impressive.

It was so comforting to see him there. Here's hoping for an increased presence along that part of the trail. Who knows, it may even contribute to fewer broken bottles, and wouldn't that be nice.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Delta De Anza Trail and Los Medanos College connected at last

Ken Alexander commutes on the new connector between LMC and the Delta De Anza Trail
— Photo by Joey Delano
Los Medanos College now has a paved connector to the Delta De Anza Trail on the South East side of the campus. It's been a long time coming, but with a few student voices and the support of the college president it now exists.

Really, this announcement is a touch premature, but I'm so excited I want to post it anyway. It's early because there are still 10 feet left to pave — the space between the college fence and the trail is still dirt. East Bay Regional Parks gave their blessing, but the Contra Costa Water District owns the property and hasn't given it the green light yet. Apparently there is enough paperwork involved that building a sky scraper wouldn't take any more.

But I don't care. It will happen some day, and in the mean time the remaining trail is a delight.

I hope when it's finalized there is some appropriate entrance signage, but even if there isn't, it's wonderful.

Here's a link to my original advocacy video
Here's the story that appeared in the Los Medanos College Experience newspaper

Monday, September 07, 2015

Tarantellas, Retail Therapy, Recycling and More

Sometimes embedded Instagram images are painfully slow to appear. I have no idea why. But they're worth the wait. Have a coffee, come back.  Or try reloading.
A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on

It's Tarantella season on Mt. Diablo. Though I've ridden there for years this is my first sighting. I understand it's not unusual, but it's still exciting.

Tricia and I had decided to tackle the ride up to the junction and loop back through Danville to see how I was recovering and so I could try out my new retail therapy IAM Cycling kit.

A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on

I'd purchased this kit through the Chinese web site for about $40. Yep, $40. I wasn't expecting much, maybe just a "costume" quality kit I'd be willing to ride 5 miles in. Instead, I'm pleasantly surprised. I bought a large, with is ever so slightly too big, but if I slip and gain a couple of pounds it will be fine. The fabric seems first rate. The chamois a fine. There is a very small, odd triangle of white where I assume they made a printing error. How can this all be so inexpensive? I can guess they don't pay licensing fees, but still. Maybe I should be asking why nice bib shorts can cost well over $150. Though I don't see myself buying more of this stuff, it is a fun kit, even if it did take almost a month to arrive.
Why IAM Cycling? They're a Swiss-registered UCI WorldTour cycling team sponsored by IAM Independent Asset Management SA, a Swiss investment management company. I don't care about any of that, I just like the kit, and IAM Cycling sounds so cool.

Tricia, from a screen grab of my rear-facing Fly 6 video camera.

A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on

On our way home we stopped by Sports Basement to drop off some old tires for recycling.  I tried to tell the sales clerk we were returning them because every one wore out after only a few thousand miles. He was mildly amused.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Death of a Schwalbe Marathon Plus

The Schwalbe Marathon Plus tire is well known for being darn near bullet proof. Even though I live in the land of broken glass and thorns and get tons of road bike flats with "normal" tires, my Schwalbe Marathons have been flat free. Until now. Apparently there are limits after all.
I, thankfully, didn't have far to go on my commute to get home when my tire stopped holding air, but I wasn't happy about losing a pricy tire at all. Then I started wondering what the heck this pointy thing in the tire was.  It wasn't a nail, or much like anything I'd seen before. 

After being mugged while commuting by bike just a few weeks before, my paranoia level is pretty high. I started wondering if this was some sort of projectile, perhaps from a nail-gun like device, and wondering if someone had shot it at me. No one I asked knew what it was, which further fed my fears.

I eventually posted on AskMetafilter, asking what it was. The helpful folks there had the answer. It wasn't a projectile, it was a center punch tool, but missing the handle. Somehow I'd managed to flip it up riding over it just exactly wrong so it would puncture my tire. I'm rather relieved I wasn't a target. I have a new Marathon installed already (Thanks Amazon overnight shipping) and got to enjoy installing it. Read about how much fun that is.

Of course, the all-knowing Facebook thinks, based on my research, that I now want to buy a center punch. They've started putting ads for them on my feed. Yikes.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Photographing the Moon and bicycles

Tricia and the almost full moon v2
In honor of the full moon, a photo assignment I'd given my students, and just for fun, Tricia and I went out with bikes and cameras to make art.

The top photo is from the day after the Full Moon, when it rose 20 minutes after dark. I needed to use electronic flashes with radio triggers to light Tricia. It was all good until I discovered the darn radio triggers didn't have the range I needed and, when I lay on the ground for my best angle, the signal got lost entirely and would not fire the flashes. Tricia saved the evening by "holding" the Moon, or as I termed it, playing with the props. I got closer and it all worked out.

We were better prepared the day before, when the actual full Moon rises just after sunset. There was still color in the sky and enough light that I didn't need a flash. Unfortunately there were low clouds that turned the Moon into a rather indistinct blob. I still like the shot, but it's not what I set out to do. Maybe next month.
Tricia and the full moon behind clouds

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Retail therapy, bicycle version

The best way to speed physical and mental recovery from an unpleasant event, as everyone knows, is retail therapy, better known as "buying stuff." Following my unpleasant event I went in full tilt, and I'm not done yet.

I started with bike cameras. Though having a camera on my bike would have in no way prevented my event from occuring,  it might have been nice, assuming the camera wasn't stolen too, to have a video record of the whole sloppy mess. Plus, being as every automobile on the road is out to kill cyclists and it would be nice to have a record of those actions as well. To that end I recently purchased a Rideye front-facing camera designed for cycling and a rear-facing Fly 6 camera and tail light combo. Now I have still more stuff to keep charged, but I also have some powerful voodoo working for me. Actual reviews? Maybe next post. This is all about spending money.

 My demo video is only 90 seconds or so, and even if you don't like the camera or the action, the music I added is pretty cool.

Team Sky kit

I also purchased this Team Sky kit through the Chinese web site It was shockingly inexpensive. I don't know this for a fact, but it seems highly unlikely they are really Rapha bib shorts, or that they pay Sky a license fee.  It may be wrong to encourage this sort of thing, but I'm playing the injured guy card and asking forgiveness for my $40 potential ethical misstep. Surprisingly enough, the fabric quality seems high, and the pad in the bibs feels great. There are a couple of small missed details, but overall, not bad at at all. The sizing is defiantly Chinese. My medium is really tight, and I'd look better in it 10 pounds lighter. Still, what the heck. It's fun. Enough fun that I ordered another different pro kit, but in large this time. Photos when it arrives. Don't judge me.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Progress and petitions and Slow Pokes Ride

I've recently signed two bicycle-related petitions at I believe they're both important, and though I'm not sure how much affect they'll have I don't see a downside to signing. Have  a look and see if they support what you believe should happen.

Request a safety steps for cyclist and pedestrian along Delta de Anza trail. 
This one is close to my heart. It urges the East Bay Regional Parks police to put more energy into patrolling the Delta de Anza Trail, particularly near the area I was mugged. It's gained  a lot of signatures in the first 24 hours. Please considering adding your signature, and sharing the link on your social media.

Improve Safety for Cyclists and Drivers in Mount Diablo State Park by installing Solid Double Yellow lines on appropriate Blind Curves to reduce collisions between bicycles and/or motorists.
There are too many collisions and near collisions on Mt. Diablo, usually caused by automobiles passing on blind corners.  This petition urges the state park authority to stripe the lanes. Their Facebook page has numerous videos of autos passing on blind corners. Stripes and signs may not cure every instance, but I don't see a downside. Please consider signing it.

In much happier news, I am pleased beyond pleased to be able to report that I took my first spin on a bike since I was injured. It was slow, painful, and not very far, but it was a delight. I rode with Tricia and a group from NorCal in a "Slow Poke Ride" which was exactly what I needed. They were kind enough to ride even slower than slow so I could keep up. Thanks guys!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Lodi Bicycle Summit, Building Bicycle Tourism and the Path Less Pedaled

Laura and Russ of the Path Less Pedaled Lodi Bike Summit 047
We don't live in Lodi, but when we heard Russ and Laura, bicycle travel gurus, cycling advocates and bloggers at would be the keynote speakers at the Lodi Bicycle Summit we knew we'd be going. We'd been reading their blog forever, and much like you think you know your favorite TV star, we felt like we knew them, even though they didn't know us.

But despite that, I hardly recognized them when I saw them because in every photo I've seen of them they're out doing bikeish things, and today they were all spiffed up. They clean up real nice, as grandma used to say.

The event was focused on cycling in Lodi, and even more about how cycling can help Lodi. Russ and Laura's presentation was about how much difference bicycle tourism can make for the economy of small towns. Their presentation was filled with interesting videos, clever explanatory animations and their own interesting stories. You can see some of their delightful work on their Bicycle Tourism 101 page. It's cool stuff even if you don't think you are interested. Trust me, check it out.

Tricia and I realized how much of what they were talking about was what getting businesses and communities to target people like us. We've vacationed in places specifically because of their bicycle friendliness, and as we did, left money behind for local businesses. Heck, almost every time we've been to Lodi was bicycle related, and we sure have purchased a lot of wine there. Even when we didn't ride there, we went because of something we discovered while biking. We've planned trips specifically so we could stay in places like the tiny town of Wallace Idaho and ride Trail of the Coeur d'Alene bike path and the Route of the Hiawaitha, places we'd never have gone if not for their cycling infrastructure. I hope more communities get this message and give me the opportunity to visit them and leave some money there.

I'm impressed Lodi has the vision to realize that bicycle infrastructure will be good not only for cyclists, but for local business and the community as a whole, and even for residents who never ride themselves.

Tricia took part in a short pre-conference ride that featured numerous interesting bikes and people. I saw different types of child carriers, dog carriers, fat bikes, kayak trailers, road bikes  and on and on. I couldn't ride, so I chatted with Laura and Russ while they set up. It was hard not to kidnap and endlessly interrogate them about Bromptons, trailers, gearing, advocacy, touring gearing and all the zillions of other things they have experience with. I did manage to bother them enough to get some information that will help me in the future.

One of the many points they made is that cycling is mainstream and popular enough we see more and more cycling iconography used in media all around us. Surely enough, when we stopped at a winery on our way back there was a large cycle-oriented print for sale in an otherwise non-cycling environment.

Tricia with bike art at winery Lodi Bike Summit 058

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A stitch is out of time: More recovery!

A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on

Progress! My stitches were removed last night at Kaiser Hospital. And best of all, removed by a current Los Medanos College nursing student. I wish I could get her extra credit points. She did a wonderful job.

The front-line staff at Kaiser are wonderful, but dealing with their infrastructure when trying to get paperwork through their system is downright Kafkaesque. Left hand, meet right hand, you two are obviously strangers. Still, through the work of those front line people, it eventually all worked out. My papers are all in order.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Bicycling: Safety and cost

A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on
Here's a surprise. I've been giving a lot of thought to cycling, and safety vs risk. In the past I've mostly worried about being run over, and it's still a concern. I'd also worried a tiny bit about dogs, but I'd never given thought to being attacked. But now that it's happened, I find something new for me to contemplate and deal with.

As usual, I have thoughts on both.

First the people-gone-wild side: If I ride the same trail twice a day for 10 years and get attacked once, what are the odds of that happening again? That depends on how much the situation has changed. Is it the same as it ever was, or is it more dangerous now? There's no way for me to know.

But I do know that not riding will make me gain weight, and be generally less healthy. There all endless studies about the physiological and physiological benefits of exercise. In the end, I'm not sure I'm willing to give up all that up. Of course, I haven't tried riding past my special spot on the trail yet.

My colleague and fellow cyclist Ken Alexander answered a comment on Facebook with what I thought was a pretty good reply:
I am naturally concerned, as Curtis' friend, colleague and fellow cyclist/commuter on that very pathway. Cycling is a choice that we and 1000s of others make every day. ARE we safer in cars? From random violence like this, probably yes. From accidents caused by stupid and aggressive drivers wrapped in air-conditioned, music-filled bubbles? Not so much.
As cyclist, we expose ourselves to these and even greater dangers, because in a confrontation with a car or truck, we lose. With dogs, we can sometimes outrun them. People? That's the wild card. Ironically, one morning after arriving at the College, I asked Curtis if he realized how vulnerable we were to some unhinged person on the trail, simply from a well-timed or spontaneous shove. I was not really thinking about being robbed, but clearly, that supplies a motivation for this method. He and I have talked about how to feel and what to do.
His injuries will heal... we've all left some flesh on the road, but we continue to ride, as I'm sure he will, probably sooner than his doctor advised. I feel the same regarding this "town" (Pittsburg, Antioch, Oakley and Brentwood) but the practical matter of finding safety anywhere seems like a chimera to me. So, as we asked each other... do we continue to commute? Find another route? Always ride with a partner? Ride with greater caution (or paranoia) and turn around when we see anyone on the trail?
I have no answers for Curtis, but for me, the answer to the questions above is probably yes to most (riding with a partner is just too logistically difficult.) We have ridden that very trail, to and from the College, 4-5 times a week, in the day and night for 15 years. I'm no math whiz, I'm not particularly brave or foolhardy and not oblivious to my own sense of privilege and entitlement, but I'll probably cope, as I feel confident our friend will too.
— Ken 
I recently read another piece about cycling that includes thoughts safety and cost that I like a lot. The author may be overstating his case just a little, but generally I think it's spot on.

In Bicycling: The safest form of transportation by Mr. Money Mustache he claims, and has statistics to back it up, that if you look at time spent on a bike vs. time spent in a car you are less likely to be killed on a bike. It's very interesting. He goes on to point out that if you factor in health, riding a bike is an amazing deal compared to driving an automobile. While it may be over the top, I love his sentence "It is not an exaggeration to say that a bicycle is a money-printing fountain of youth, probably the single most important and highest-yielding investment a human can possibly own."

It's an interesting read. Check it out.

In the end, after all the philosophizing and rationalizing, it  sure looks like I'll be back in the saddle, both on the road and the trail, commuting, touring and riding just for fun, as soon as I possibly can. At least that's the plan today.