Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Cyanotypes and bike parts

Cyanotype bike parts snap_2344 You may know that in my other life, when I'm not on a bicycle, I'm a professor who teaches, among other things, photography. Lately I've been working with cyanotypes as a way to reconnect with the physical part of photography in an increasingly digital world. It's been fun.

My first effort, at Tricia's suggestion, was to make photograms of bike parts, much in the way Anna Atkins did with seaweed in the 1840s. I liked the results enough that I framed a set. I'm not sure how I'll move forward with this. It might be fun to try making them on fabric. Or maybe use nicer paper. But there will be more.
Cyanotype bike parts snap_framed

Friday, June 12, 2015

It might be art

I'm starting to get angry phone calls in the middle of the night, threatening me with all sorts of bad things if I don't post more content here. I'm hoping to live a little longer by repurposing these Instagram photos....

A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on

Tricia at the Sand Creek underpass in Brentwood. Someone painted it, and now it looks totally cool and is less scary and more cheerful.

A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on

If you haven't ridden the American River Bike Trail in Sacramento you're missing out. It isn't epic, but it is often very pretty.

A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on
I'm in a Facebook group about "Look at pictures of my bike leaning on stuff" so I leaned on this poster in Sacramento.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Sidi shoes vs Shimano cleats

Tricia wore out her beloved Sidi shoes. Too many miles and too many days just did them in. She's replaced the cleats several times, and even the wonderfully replaceable heal piece. But her ruby-red slippers at last came to their end.

We'd looked for perfectly matching ruby-shaded replacements, but I don't think they make them any more.  Tricia, a woman with white bar tape and a white saddle, decided she'd give white shoes a chance.  Sidi, of course. And they do indeed look marvelous.

It would be silly to get new shoes and not get new cleats, so she bought a pair of Shimano SPD-SL road cleats as well. I installed them to match the placement of her old cleats and figured we were good to go.


They wouldn't clip in to her Ultegra pedals. I thought at first maybe they were new and just stiff, so I tried it. No deal. After much frustration, fussing about and looking hard it turned out the problem was the interface between the shoe and cleat. The bottoms of these shoes are more curved than her old shoes. Enough that the cleat bent when I tightened it down, making it impossible to click in.

As far as I know there isn't a custom titanium shim for $189.00 to solve this, so I used a couple of old zinc washers I had, installing them under the front bolt. It took two for each shoe. But it worked well enough that Tricia was able to wear her new shiny white shoes today.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Amgen Tour of California 2015

I think I've hit almost every Tour of California. This year Tricia and I went to the opening day in Sacramento. It was a tough call; whether to try and catch the peloton crossing the Rio Vista bridge and hope for a great photo op, or go to the festivities in Sacramento and see the women's race too. Sacramento won.

 We took our bikes and met our friend Kellie a few miles away, then rode to the start. It turns out I didn't need 80 pounds of locks after all; there was free valet bike parking.

We also tried to ride through the finish line, which is kind of like throwing a football around on the field just before the Super Bowl. We were politely shooed away.

We had fun looking at all the stuff to buy. Tricia was bike jersey shopping for her son's one-year-old. 
Kellie fell in love with a Bianchi.

After the men left for their large loop and we finished watching the women race the city circuit we went to lunch. We rode back to downtown just as the men flew in. We were able to watch the race finish from a delightful beer bar where we could see the actual race go by and watch the TV finish at the same time. The only thing that was less than wonderful: I brought the wrong camera, so I don't have the cool photos I'd hoped to have.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Cinderella Classic vs Calarveras Road

Tricia at the Cinderella Classic 2015
Tricia rode this year's Cinderella Classic, a womens only ride sponsored by the Valley Spokesmen. Not only is she trying to recover from the flu, but her riding friend had to cancel. She ended up doing the 65 mile course by herself. She still had fun.

After I dropped her off at the Alameda County Fairgrounds I took my bike out to Calaveras Road and did my own own ride.

No great tales of anything, just a pleasant ride on a beautiful day.
A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Bonus fun photos

lean Good friday 30DaysOfBiking tricia_0907

There's a swell relief map of the California Delta out at Big Break, a East Bay Regional Parks site. Here it is on Google maps, zoomed in. It's kind of fun to keep hitting the zoom out control and go from the park's map to the Google map. It makes sense if you try it.

Dentist office lean. Yep, my dentist expects me to arrive in cycling shoes. #bestdentist

My dentist expects me to ride in and be wearing cycling shoes. Bike in the waiting room? No problem. #bestdentistever

Friday, April 03, 2015

It's #30daysofbiking month

#30daysofcycling and Diablo Good friday 30DaysOfBiking tricia_0931

Tricia got a new bike jersey in honor of 30daysofbiking. Then she went out and rode really fast. A good time was had by all.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

White Sidi straps

A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on

Sidi replacement straps for the ones I broke cost more than I wanted to pay. I found a supplier who had white ones (instead of the standard black) on sale for much less than half price. Plus, maybe they look interesting. So that's what I have now

Monday, March 09, 2015

I'm too powerful for my shoes

A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on

I blew out my Sidi on Sunday's ride. Yep, that's the kind of power I create.

The good part is that Sidi offers replacement parts, so I went to the almost-local shop and picked up a new strap. Unfortunately when I got home I realized I had broken the other part of the strap, and not the replacement I'd gone out to buy. Oh well. It will all work out eventually. I ended up ordering a snappy white set online and on sale.

I also bought replacement outer heel pieces for Tricia's Sidi shoes. Pro tip: Don't let them wear too far or the screws will become so ground down they are almost impossible to take out. Pro top 2: Tri-flow at least loosens them enough that you may only wreck three screw drivers getting them out.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Diablo summit 2015 at last

Tricia and I normally ride up Diablo on New Years or at least soon after. This year we just didn't get it done. Between fog and cold, and then my getting sick it just didn't happen. Until today.

It was a glorious day, and despite the fact I can tell I haven't spent and time climbing this year and was very very slow, it was still fun.
A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on

Tricia, on the other hand, looked her usual wonderful self as she skipped and scampered up the mountain.

A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on

Here's hoping this bike riding for fun trend continues.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Instagram. And white bar tape.

I use Instagram. There, I said it.

Here's an Instagram photo of Tricia's new bar tape. Expect more. With filters. And special effects. Like borders and tilt shift.
A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on

Monday, February 16, 2015

I don't often get flats, but when I do...

Tricia's Instagram post says: I don't often get flats, but when I do, I get tire-ripping, heart-stopping, bike-wobbling, explosive flats. #antioch #crapfilledbikelanes

I like the part where she told me she flatted in front of a house where a man was working in the yard. He told her "I heard that!" then asked "what are you going to do?" She said "I'm going to fix it." "Here?" he asked. Yep. And she did.

 Tip o' the hat to Park emergency boots. They helped her limp home. Don't ride in Antioch without them.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Not riding is awful

Tricia brought me home remedies. 
Loyal readers of this blog (as if they are a common as unicorns) may have noted no activity lately. Strava followers have surely noticed the same. There's a reason: Illness.

And not just a cold, but a bonus ear infection that even put a stop to my daily bike commute. I missed eight days, which is the longest I can remember being off the bike in years.

My ears are still a mess, and I have trouble hearing. But the Doctor put me on meds that are supposed to help. After my layoff I rode to work today. At last.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Hey guys, let's get the band back together

With only the most minimal prompting from Richard, we put the band back together for a friendly slow poke ride through the Delta. The ride, due the excessive amount of climbing, (more than a stunning 300 feet for over 50 miles) included a lunch stop at Giusti's Place in Walnut Grove.

Tricia and I left Antioch with the thermometer at 34. It warmed up a bit by our 10AM launch from Brannon Island State Park, but never really got warm all day. That was fine as we just rode at a leisurely pace, chatted, complained about Dan's choice of a washboard gravel road, and stopped to admire the amazing flock of cranes honking and flying over the waterways.

Just because there was minimal climbing (actually none) doesn't mean there were no KOMs. We all got Strava yearly cups on the ferry across the river. Yep, some prankster actually made the 100 yard ferry ride a segment.

I've ridden over the Rio Vista Bridge several times and failed to love it. Steve pointed out there is actually a nearly-hidden narrow bike/ped path with a darn near secret entrance under the bridge. I felt a lot safer there, not having to pray cars wouldn't roll up and over me in the lanes.

A new member sat in with the band, standing in for John perhaps, to keep the music metaphor going. David joined us, and survived our bad humor and attempts to politically re-educate him.

The after ride gathering at our house featured even more food. Yep, it was a 50 mile weight gain ride. Mark brought some amazing cheese and paté with olives to share. Riders' families dropped in and we ate the special (and stunning) Slow Pokes World Championship Jersey cake Dan had created by the amazing Alpine Pastery and Cake of Concord

All in all it was a very civilized, non-epic 50 miles.

(Thanks Steve, for making the photos after I'd cleverly left my iPhone in the car.)

Bonus photo of my bike leaning on a bridge.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

2014 year end mileage

Tricia rides Rainer Washington Cascades_0283
The highlight of the year was our Washington Cascades bike trip and the ride up Mt. Rainer

Year end bicycle stats for 2014:
Road bike: 4178
Commuter bike 3077
Total: 7,255 miles 

322,087 feet of climbing (about 61 miles of climbing straight up)
593 hours in the saddle 
That's about 74 eight-hour days

Road bike: 4779 miles
Commuter bike: 1800ish (based on commute days and distance)
Total: 6579 miles

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Rudy Project classic shades

As 2014 winds down I'm trying to tidy up a few spots where items...collect. I came across my now-vintage Rudy Project cycling sunglasses. I haven't worn non-prescription glasses since the 80s, so these are pretty useless for me. I'm not sure why I kept them around so long. Well, maybe I do.

Greg had Oakley shades
I remember buying them. They were so very expensive for a highly price-sensitive youngish lad. I think they were $30, a large investment for a guy on a $200 used Gitane Tour de France. But they had such great facial coverage. And they were cool. Not as cool as Greg Lemond's Oakleys, but close. Now they're old and out of style.

I'd still wear them if I could. Maybe I should get Lasik just so I can. But no, I think I'll seek a new home for them. Perhaps they'll become retro-hip. Or maybe the white ones look Star Wars enough the my friend Kellie will wear them, even though they're older than she is.

Wait: eBay has them for 90 bucks! Maybe I should rethink this.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Adventure Cycling catalog photos

I've you've read any of this blog you've seen a lot about Adventure Cycling. Tricia and I have gone on many of their tours, and enjoyed them all. I'm pleased that they've used two of my photos in their most recent catalog. One from the Washington Cascades trip and the other from their Columbia River Gorge ride. The photos are also on their web pages (click the links) Now if they'd just have another ride that is on the west coast when we are able to go I'd be ever so happy. Maybe I'll win the lottery or find a large bag of cash on the road and we'll be able to retire and do one of their other swell trips.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Cantilever Brake Pad install — winter is coming

Winter is coming. New cantilever pads may be required, but they are such a pain to install and adjust. #endlesswashers

With winter coming, Tricia thought she should give her Surly Cross Check commuter bike a good going over. One thing she thought it needed was new brake pads, so we spent some time installing them.

If you're a roadie you know that installing road pads is a five-minute job. Just unscrew a set screw, slide out the old, slide in the new and retighten. No big deal.

These cantilever pads are a different story. They are so hard to get just right I don't even have a metaphor or simile for it, and I always have one handy for almost everything.

There are just too many dished washers and angles to make it easy, and everything has to be held in place just so as you tighten it, as the tightening itself tries to rearrange the parts. If you came to this page looking for advice, sorry. I can only offer sympathy.

On the brighter side, the light install went better (see what I did there?) Tricia has a set of MonkeyLectric wheel lights, one of which stopped working last year. After cleaning it and trying several fixes the company recommended, I gave up and hung the wheel on the wall. I finally got a new light to install. When I took down the wheel and tried to figure out which light was broken, they both worked. Perhaps my fix worked, or some hidden moisture left the system. The great news is they work, they are installed, and I now have a light to toss on my own bike.

Here's our ten-second test video.