Sunday, January 10, 2021

Round Valley gravel-ish ride

 
As I freely admit, I'm a roadie and not a mountain biker or a gravel rider. But given the events of early January I felt like I needed to be out in nature. I took my commuter bike turned gravel bike with its 650B wheels and wide tires out to Round Valley East Bay Regional Park

The very first hill is steep enough that I couldn't ride it. I don't know if I could ride it even if I had lower gears, which are certainly on the schedule to get. Not that the gears I have now aren't really low. I just need even lower. Then, not being a mountain bike or gravel rider, I found the first downhill pretty intimidating as well. I felt like I was taking my bike out for a walk.

Fortunately things smooth out from there. I was able to ride almost all of the rest of the trail without any trouble. I do have have to admit I'm not a huge fan of those cow hoof holes that make the ride incredibly bumpy. But there weren't too many sections like that.

On the other hand, the setting is absolutely beautiful. Once I got away from the parking lot and off of the terrifying hill I felt like I was all alone in the world. And it's a beautiful world indeed. I didn't even see other cyclists or hikers for most of the ride and felt like I'd been transported to another time. OK, another time with nicely scrapped dirt roads and trail markers. But still, another time.

I was amazed how long my short ride took, but walking and grunting is a slow process. But I'll give it another shot now that I know what to expect.




Friday, January 01, 2021

Year end wrap-up: 2020 pandemic edition

 

And there it is, a year plagued by California wildfire smoke, pandemic lockdown, lost bike commutes due to work-from-home teaching, as well as cancelled bike tours, cancelled organized rides and no group rides at all. 

My 5,670 mile total is well short of my usual 7000+. And I seem to be getting slower on top of everything else.  Oh well. At least I got this much in.

But it's a new year! Bring me the vaccine and get me ready for tour (please, oh please.)  I've already started to focus on shedding the bonus stress weight I gained from working way too close to the fridge during a year of teaching online, first live via Zoom, then last semester asynchronously. 

I have a much lighter teaching load this semester. That should give me time to do things I want to do. In my rich fantasy world I get vaccinated, spend a lot of time riding and preparing for a summer bike tour that will actually happen. I lose the extra pounds, become younger, and the world becomes a happier and safer place for all of us. 

Friday, December 25, 2020

Zwift vs Me

 

 What with the pandemic becoming more and more prevalent I have been reluctant to travel anywhere to ride. It's also been incredibly foggy here. Most of my cycling friends it seems are on Zwift these days so I thought I'd give it a try.

We already have a Kurt Kinetic trainer (it's what they call a dumb trainer: no electronics) But I have a Powertap power meter and heart rate monitor so all I needed to buy was an $18 ANT+ dongle to connect to Zwift.

I've only tried it twice, but I have to admit I don't get it. Though it was fun to "ride" with my friend Jaime and try to keep up with her, I didn't get much out of my solo ride. 

My Zwift-o-phile convert friends tell me that I would like it a lot more if I had a smart trainer that varies resistance based on what the game is showing. But holy smokes that's a lot of money to spend on some thing that I'm not sure that I'd really like or use that much.

But if I had one I'd be able to see people from all over the world ride past me at higher speeds that I can ride instead of just the few local riders I encounter when I'm out in the world. That's got to be worth something, right? But $1000 or so? 

So, the jury is still out. Will I just roll my eyes and move away from it, or will I drink the Zwift Kool-Aid and become a proselytizing convert?

Sunday, November 08, 2020

Patterson Pass with the OldStrongs

 When Dan (Lanceoldstrong) suggested an easy 25 mile ride with his wife Julie I had no idea he was talking about climbing Patterson Pass. I've ridden it before, but holy smokes is it ever steep. And I wish I'd been smart enough to take more clothes so that when the sun went behind the clouds I wouldn't have been quite so cold.

But that's just whining. It was wonderful to be out on the bike again. Plus, hey, we found out today that the Bidens will be moving into the White House.


Sunday, October 18, 2020

Sing me the Delta, gravel and rivers

When LanceOldStrong suggested a ride, Tricia and I suggested gravel. We'd set up our commuter bikes bikes as gravel bikes for an off-pavement tour in Montana that was pandemic-cancelled and never really got to try them out. Dan, champion route designer, came up with this 20% gravel 20% crap-road route that meandered along the North Mokelumne River on levee roads near farmlands near Rio Vista and Isleton.

Tricia's Vaya with 50mm tires and my Ti gravel bike on 650B wheels and 46mm tires helped keep us from rattling apart on the washboard sections.

But holy smokes, fatter tires are slower than 23mm tires.

At least there was no wind, and a good time was had on our first away from home ride in ages.



Sunday, September 27, 2020

Whoops.

Why are there two bikes on the car, but only one front wheel in the back? How was it possible that I loaded the bike, but forget her wheel? She forgave me. We walked down to the river, watched it roll by for a while, then came home. Oh well.

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Not much riding lately

Smoke, smoke and more smoke. It seems like the entire West is on fire. While I'm grateful to be safe, and grateful that my home isn't threatened, I'm missing my riding. It seemed like it was the one thing I could do during this pandemic to keep myself sane. And now that's on hold as well. It may be time to bring the trainer inside and give that a try. But riding a trainer is nothing like riding outside and feeling the wind in your face, the vibration of wheels on the road, the joy of cresting a hill, and the delight of descending the hill you climbed. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Smoke smoke smoke

Riding in California is a bit tougher these days. It's been so smokey I skipped a couple of days, but there are limits. Riding in a mask like this isn't great, but it's better than not riding at all.And today was actually better than the last few. I'm thankful this is my biggest problem right now, and that unlike so many my home and family are safe.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Tricia's 2020 birthday ride

We can't really go anywhere with the world shut down, so Tricia rode her age on local roads.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Bike to Work Day 2020 COVID-19 version

Our local bike to work day was supposed to be today. We did it even though it was postponed. 45 seconds of commuter bliss.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Sign of the times


View this post on Instagram

Tricia and get outside for our "socially distanced" bike rides (not from each other, silly) but still are reminded of the seriousness with our current situation. We both are starting to realize we won't be going back to school or seeing our students this semester. Stay safe, youze guys.
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Saturday, March 28, 2020

Red Shift stem and big ol' tires


Gravel. Bumpy roads. They're a real transition for an old roadie. In an effort to prepare for our planned Cycle the Divide ride in Montana this summer I  put big ol' tires (bigger than 23!) on a set of 650B wheels. I have a Specialized Pathfinder 47 in front, but it wouldn't quite fit in the rear, so I tossed a Soma Casadaro 42 back there.

But in case that wouldn't be enough I added a RedShift suspension stem. I've done one ride on it and so far it seems like a winner. It doesn't bounce as I feared it would. Between the tires running at (for a roadie) insanely low pressure and this stem the ride is plush, or as my Path Less Pedaled folk say, Supple. It's remarkably stable as well. On the road the disappearance of road buzz (even with the big tread tires) is almost disconcerting. On the gravel the bike is a lot more fun as I'm not being bashed about.

I also installed Soma Casadaro tires on Tricia's Salsa. Her fame fits 50s, which are huge. It sure looks cool, and she seems happy with them.

We managed to get in a short social distancing test ride in Black Diamond Mines Regional Park. I may never be a gravel lover, but it sure is nice to be out in the green and away from cars.

This weekend the weather is a mess, and I just can't make myself ride in cold rain for fun, so further testing will have to wait.

Sunday, March 01, 2020

Tricia almost wins wheel contest


Our favorite Youtube content creators, The Path Less Pedaled, held a contest/giveaway for a set of amazing wheels, pair of Chris King R45D hubs laced to the super light and strong ENVE G27 rims! To win you needed to write up what you'd do with them and send along a photo. We watched the live announcement.

Here's Tricia's minute of fame (linked directly to where they talk about her)


Tricia was one of the top 10. They read her story and showed her photo. It was fun to see the live comments "Let the teacher win!" From there they drew numbers from a helmet. All the finalists were interesting, and though Tricia would have liked to win, she felt like the winner really deserved it. Fun was had. You can check out all the Path Less Pedaled internet presence in various places, and you'll be happy you did.
PLP Web site
The Path Less Pedaled Youtube

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Wine loop around Comanche and Pardee

We ride a lot out our front. We like not having to drive to get to ride, but the same old routes get old. So in honor of our three day weekend we decided to actually have some fun. We had wine club wine to pick up at Klinker Brick in Lodi, so we took the bikes to the nearby tiny town of Clements to ride around Comanche Reservoir  and across the damn at Pardee Reservoir before collecting our Zinfandel. 



The day was beautiful, though cool, and the wine was a delight. We did have a few closer passes than we would have liked, and one jerk.. well, watch the short video. But overall, it was a win, and our first "away" ride of the year.




Friday, January 03, 2020

2020 Diablo summit


Once again, our pilgrimage to up to the Mt. Diablo Summit with its 3,760 feet of climbing to kick off the year. We cheated a bit and waited until January 2 just to avoid the madhouse of New Years Day. But still we kicked off the year right.

I think it's getting more steep each year. Tricia says it's because the mountain was created by geologic compression and uplift, and is still uplifting. It's happening slowly enough that kids don't notice, but those of us who have been riding awhile can tell it's a little harder to get up every year.