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. 

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

A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on

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.


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.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Tricia: Bigger than life

As I surfed my Instagram feed I came across this photo in Adventure Cycling's feed. It's their new trailer, which is nice, but who is that a photo of? Why, it's Tricia! I remember shooting that when she got her Ruby. That's Mt. Diablo in the background. 

I've told Adventure Cycling that they can use my photos. They're an organization that does a lot of bike advocacy as well as run tours that we've participated in. But I wish they'd told me about this cool use. 

Apparently it will be in the Bay Area for some reason in  October. If we can, we'll go check it out and post a few photos. In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled and report any sightings in the wild.
Tricia is happy with the Ruby

Monday, April 18, 2016

Primavera Century 2016

A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on

What a difference a week makes. Last Saturday's Cinderella Classic poured on Tricia. A week and a day later it was beautiful, and even warm for the Fremont Freewheelers Primavera Century. We ride a lot, and bike commute daily, but haven't ridden a century for quite a while. But we have summer plans, and figured we'd better see if we can actually still ride. We're still amused that the bump before Calaveras Road is called "The Wall." It's a bump, and a grunt, but The Wall? Really?

A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on

I'm pleased to report we still roll, maybe a bit slower than many, but we can indeed finish a century, even with an odd bike issue or two. It seems Tricia's rear wheel bearings started to die on this ride. They worked well enough for her to finish after a little rest stop love from Livermore Cyclery support. But new wheel innards are in order.

Kudos to the Freewheelers for providing clothing shuttle back from the rest stops,  great on the route support, cool goodie bags, and a wonderful food truck post-ride meal. I also appreciated being able to download their route map with turn by turn directions. With a little help from Lance Oldstrong I was able to download it to my Garmin 520 and get on-the-handlebar directions. We didn't need the paper route sheet once. We are living in an age of miracles and wonder indeed.
We also liked their "distance to the top" signs on the Palomares  climb. They didn't make the climb shorter or easier, but did confirm that we were moving and getting closer.

Tricia and I haven't ridden any organized rides in a while. When we started cycling seriously we liked the feeling of safety we got surrounded by other cyclists, as well as support in case of a problem, and the fact someone else figured out the route. Now we're not as sure about the safe part. We are regularly appalled by our cyclist brethren who, though they may be strong, ride without bike handling skills, common sense, or much curtesy. Between them and the cars sometimes we think we'd be better off riding with just a few friends, or alone.

 Bonus hotel carpet photo. Because I have a series of these and can't stop shooting them.
A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Cinderella Classic from the sidelines

Tricia rode the Cinderella Classic in her new very nice ride jersey, but no one could tell as she covered it with her rain jacket all day long. It was either raining or raining hard the entire ride. It poured enough that many riders didn't show, and a lot that did didn't finish. She's says she often found herself riding alone, wondering if she was off course.

I'd planned to do my own ride as she rode the women-only event, but, well, rain. My excuse is that I didn't have rain pants, I didn't want to devote my Sunday to bike cleaning, I wasn't going to get paid, and she's just tougher than I am. I spent the day doing pretty much nothing while she was out on the road.

We didn't know they had a podium set up for fun photos or I'd have shot her covered in grime with her bike before she cleaned up. Instead I got this.
Considering the weather she still looked pretty good when she rolled in at the finish. Maybe she's smiling because the ride is over. What's that on her glasses? That's just weakness leaving her body and pooling on her equipment.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Quimby Road, San Jose

Curtis running out of air. Photo by Glenn
We in the East bay are always hearing about the great South Bay climbs, Fearless mapper of rides Dan "Lance Oldstrong" Butler decided we should give them a shot. We met up with Glenn Wenig and launched ourselves.
Quimby elevation profile. Ouch.
When Dan told me Quimby Road was about like Mt Diablo from the junction to the summit Glenn laughed and said "It's harder than Sierra Road." Glenn was right. I was amazed how hard it was. This was my first serious ride since being smacked by a truck in December. I was worried about the whole venture. But I had a great day (for me) and crawled up Quimby and its many double-digit steep sections better than I even dreamed I would. It was even fun.

 After the Quimby warmup we rode San Felipe and Metcalf, roads I also hear mentioned all the time. We'd planned on riding the famed Mount Umunhum as well, but due to a slight Garmin mapping fail we made a wrong turn. By the time we figured out what we needed to do it seemed like we'd be out later than I wanted to be on the road, so we headed back.

Another minor error put us on Tully road with 14,756 cars, all driven by the clueless who were also in a hurry. It was a real contrast to the rural roads we'd been on for a lot of the ride.

We did get to see Communications Hill, a weird Soviet Brutalist dystopian-looking twoer on a hill that's now part of a housing development. Of course, being that it was on a hill, we rode up it.
 A big plus for me: Photos of myself! Most of my blog posts are my photos of other people. This time Glenn shot some that make me almost look like a cyclist. All in all, a big win and a fun day. Up soon, I hope, Mount Umunhum.

Downside: Glenn and Dan both have newer Garmin computers than I do. After seeing what I was missing, my 500 is on eBay and my 520 is on order. So this ride cost me a bit.
Dan and Glenn

Lance Oldstrong himself

Curtis on Qumby Road, high above San Jose

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Antioch Wildhorse and Hillcrest intersection dangers

The traffic light where Wildhorse crosses Hillcrest in Antioch CA is extremely dangerous. Often the sensor doesn't detect bikes, even heavy metal commuter bikes loaded with full panniers.

But what's worse is that it often stays green for a dangerously short amount of time. Such a short time it's impossible to cross before it turns red. And still worse, there's no delay before the Hillcrest light turns green, trapping we cyclists in the 45 mph cross traffic.

This isn't unusual. Every light on Hillcrest cross streets has issues registering a cyclists presence. From Wildflower to Golden Bear to Country Hills the lights don't see cyclists, and when they do the change at an impossibly unrealistic speed.

 Consider this blog post a public complaint and a plea to the City of Antioch to correct these unsafe intersections before some tragedy occurs.

UPDATE: I got an reply the Tuesday after I posted this. I could not be more happy.

Hi Curtis.  Thank you for your input.  Changing the short green is something that can be done quickly and I will have it corrected this week at all of the intersections along Hillcrest.  The detection is a little trickier.  I will have the detector loops marked so you (and other cyclists) know where to stop.  Stopping on one of the lines of the loop is the best place to get detected.  They are the old style and it is a fine line to get them to detect bikes, but not lock up and see a vehicle all the time.  I will work on that.  Again, thank you for letting me know.  I'd much prefer to get a "complaint" than learn there was an accident.  Thanks again.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

3D printed bike parts

Rear view 3D printed mounts
When I wanted to hang tail lights, a trailer hitch, a Fly6 rear facing camera and still have room for a seat bag there just wasn't enough room, or a way to do it.

Enter the 3D printing community. It turns out there are people custom designing mounts for lights and cameras and offering them for sale on
I met Bud Hammerton in the Electronics, Lighting, & Gadgets forum on He'd made a lot of things using a GoPro style mount and, at my request, created a twin GoPro mount for my rear rack as well as a GoPro mounts to hold my Fly6, my PlanetBike Superflash and my Cigolite Hotshot. He posted them in his store on Shapeways and I bought them. I'm pretty darn thrilled and find myself what other custom elements my bike could use.
Fly6 Cigolite and Superflash,  Shapeways 3D printed mounts_0011
Fly6 mount, Cygolite Hotshot mount, Superflash mount, all connect to a GoPro mount.
Shapeways 3D printed mount and CatEye SuperFlash mount
Top: 3D printed dual GoPro style rack mount. Bottom: the standard Superflash rack mount.
Side view #D Shapeways printed mounts_0029
Side view.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

It's a beautiful day for a flat... and a walk

Clouds, Empire Mine Road 2
Because rain threatened today, and I'd been working on dialing in my new titanium commuter bike, I took it, rather then the Roubaix, out for today's ride.

I discovered a bike with fenders and a rack in the wind is one way to get a workout.

I also discovered something about my wheel and tire combination when I flatted out on the closed Empire Mine Road, a couple of miles from car access. It seems the Continental Ultra Sport II 700x28C tires and the Tubeless Compatible WTB Frequency CX Team i19 rims that came on my bike make for a very very tight fit. That, and in the hubbub of getting my bikes in order I'd forgotten to pack levers...
Larry saves the day
So I sat on the ground and waited for Tricia to realize she was now riding solo. As I waited, Larry, a local triathlete stooped to offer help. Even with his levers and muscular hands and arms it was a pain. We, (OK, mostly he) got the tire back on, but we'd apparently put a hole in the tube doing it. I gave up and decided to walk out and wait for Tricia to pick me up with the car.

It's amazing how far just under two miles is when you're barefoot, pushing a bike and carrying your shoes. At least it was a beautiful day, and a lot of cyclists checked to see if I was OK.

Now that I'm home I get to make it all work somehow. I think I'll use my almost bullet proof but super hard to mount Schwalbe Marathon that I saved from my last bike. We'll see how long that takes. 
Clouds, Empire Mine Road 3

Saturday, March 05, 2016

North American Handmade Bicycle Show 2016

Entry wrist band 
Handmade bicycles of wood, titanium, steel, carbon. At every turn something more amazing to behold. Parts and pieces, bikes built out of love and creativity, the unusual and the unlikely. That was the 2016 North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Sacramento.

We made a weekend of it and spent hours drooling and dreaming as we wandered through the Sacramento Convention Center.

I took a small camera and an iPhone, but the building and crowds weren't conducive to fine photography, so I mostly just enjoyed being there.

Here are a few of our highlights form the show.
Tricia is still in love with Cielo from Chris King.
SRAM Red (I know, not handmade, but still ever so cool.) Their new wireless electronic shifting system looks amazing. If they ever make a rear derailleur that can handle a 32 tooth cog I'm going to buy it.
wooden bikes
Wooden bikes, both bamboo and composite, that are stunning.
English Bicycle
The beautiful bike from English with a delightfully integrated rack.
3D printed ti lugs
3-D printed titanium lugs
Cut lugs that looked like jewels.
$1400.00 custom shoes that weighed so little I couldn't feel them in my hands.
Pricy tools I want, along with the way way cool $550 Silca pump.
Campy front shifter
A classic Bianchi Paris Roubaix bike with early Campy shifters. Yes, that's the shifter, right next to the chain ring.
magic carbon
Yes, that's a real bike frame, it's carbon, see through, and they swear it's aero and strong. We all wondered how hard it would be to keep clean.
I have no reason for not owning this Velo Orange beer rack
I didn't buy a bike, but I did buy two books of classic bike racing photos from the Horton Collection.
stickers NAHBS
And also managed to pick up a huge collection of stickers.

The event was amazing. I didn't even try to photograph 95% of it. I can only hope it comes to Sacramento again some day.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Catlike: What a crack up

A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on

Apparently, unlike actual cats, Catlike helmets do not have nine lives. A colleague noticed my cool Catlike Whisper helmet has a large crack on the inside, running all the way through the foam, rendering it not-so-protective. Perhaps it happened when I was mugged and I never noticed it. You can't tell from the outside, which is where I was looking. My replacement has arrived, so this one is headed for the trash. It seems a shame to toss an expensive helmet, but those-who-know insist that it's foolish to count on one that has been crashed, or cracked, so out it goes.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Fully fenderized

A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on

Holy smokes are fenders and a rack hard to install. But I've got them on, and just in time for tonight's scheduled rain. I'm still working on getting the Ortlieb QL-3 mount panniers in the perfect no-heal-strike position, but I do at least have the coffee mug holder installed.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day Diablo

We missed New Years on Diablo. And we didn't summit today, we just did the junction loop. Still, it was a beautiful day and it's nice to be climbing again.

I think North Gate drivers are a bit more polite and skilled than South Gate drivers. All my close encounters have been on the South side. Do South Gate drivers just feel more entitled to use my lane?

Saturday, February 13, 2016

We don't need no stinkin' badges

I got the notion to take off the decals from a Youtube video I came across.  I tried it, and it I think looks great. One weird thing did happen, however. Everything came off just as it did in the video. Then I got to the last two letters on the last side. They would not melt off. I tried and tried, but unlike the others they were just there. "NE." would not die.  I ended up razor blading them, then going over the area with super fine steel wool. I have no idea why they were different. I'm glad I didn't start that that end. And all's well that ends well I guess.

Friday, February 12, 2016

My new titanium commuter-gravel-fun bike is here!

Century Elite Titanium Disc
My new ride has arrived. I've got it set it enough to ride it, but it still awaits all the stuff to make a useful, less clean, commuter bike. Fenders, rack, bags, water bottles, lights; the tons of stuff that I need, but hate to burden this bike with.

I'd like to take off the labels and replace them with my own. I photoshoped it as I'd like it. We'll see...
Of course, any bike can look a bit silly once it's ready to go to work. It's like hauling a trailer behind a Porsche. I did it with my Roubaix, and though it worked, it seemed wrong.
Roubaix with Travoy. It's a Porsche with a trailer!
And a bonus photo just for fun.
Century Elite Titanium Disc

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Deadwood: No bicycle content

These photos from the 1870s were recently discovered by a professor of Photography in California. They tell the story of several Deadwood residents, and the hard lives they lead. None owned bicycles, and the photos themselves are completely fake.  But it's my blog, so here they are anyway.

Mouse over and use the left/right arrows. You may need to click the three dots below the images to see the stories.
Deadwood Portraits

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Selle Italia SLK

Look! More pieces for my bike that isn't here yet. I have this model of saddle on my road bike, and also had one on my bike that was destroyed. It's the perfect saddle for me. And as a bonus, I found it on eBay for not-a-ton of money.  I don't think it's made any longer and I'm very tempted to buy another just in case. I've had, like most cyclists, more than  few saddles. They've ranged from cheap to expensive, they've come on bikes, or I've purchased them separately. Finding one that's right for your own buns is so important. This is the one for me, and now it's just waiting for a bike.

As a side note, I used my LED bike light to light this. I may have found a pretty cool, and very portable, photography tool.

Bonus fun: The caption in this Instagram photo is a lie, created just to amuse them, but it was indeed fun to run into these cool folks on our ride.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Hillcrest Ave, Wallmart and bikes

Tricia wasn't happy to have this truck blow past her so closely, even dipping into the bike lane. Especially on Hillcrest Ave in Antioch where we were given to understand didn't allow these big rigs.

So she used the City of  Antioch web site to report this as a hazardous condition using their online form, and asked if it was still closed to trucks.

One day later she got a reply! Thanks Lynne, and the City of Antioch.

Hi Patricia,
You are correct, trucks are not allowed on Hillcrest.  I am the person in charge of the signs and will be making sure they are all in place with the freeway construction, etc.  Your request has been forwarded on to the police department.  If just a few tickets are issued for trucks off of the truck route, I’m sure the word will get around.


LYNNE B. FILSON | Assistant City Engineer

When I made the video and posted it on YouTube I called the truck a "Walmart truck." Minutes later "BigMississippi" corrected me. "That's not a Walmart truck. It was a C.R.England truck pulling a Walmart trailer." On close inspection she's right. However, I can only assume it's a Walmart contractor, which from my viewpoint is darn near the same thing. But, accuracy counts, hence this clarification.