Saturday, May 31, 2008

Hot wheels and warm arms

Tricia has cool (or maybe warm) arm warmers and a new set of Williams System 19 wheels. They're hand-built, 1430 gram, ceramic bearing, bladed spoke, jewels-- not flashy aero deep dish logo crazed wheels, but light and way cool. She seems rather pleased with them. I'm not sure if it was the arm warmers, a good nights sleep, or the new wheels, but she toasted me today. She also hit a new personal speed record on our standard loop downhill. What have I gotten myself in to?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sunday, May 25, 2008

VeloGirls Bike Skills 101

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.
The Velogirls class I took Sunday 5.25.08 in Redwood city was really fun stuff. It offered very clear instruction with theory followed by practice and critique. I'm sure that most people who take this class, even if they have experience and skills already, will come away with at least one gem that will help them be even better.

I know I can corner better now. Not every time, but I know how it's supposed to feel now. I have things to work toward. It seems funny to say that. I rode over 7000 miles last year, and have road experience back to the mid 70s.

We also practiced a bit of bumping, something I'm still not comfortable with, and ran a few cones to learn how to steer less with the bars and more with the body.

I'm encouraging Tricia to take this class, and hope they run the climbing and descending class when we can take it.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The truth about the Davis Double

It's time for the truth about the Davis Double:
It wasn't that bad.
There was no rain, and most importantly the wind wasn't a major factor.

The first 98 miles are so aren't bad at all. I'm not a climber, but even for me Cardiac Hill wasn't hard. It's just a hill.
Cobb Mountain was a killer. I hurt on that, and the heat and sun didn't help. The fact that there was more climbing after the rest stop was demoralizing.

Though it seemed to last forever, it really didn't. And the downhill that followed was long enough that I felt recovered by the end.
The ride up to Resurrection Hill was a grunt, and the no-shoulder part was worrisome, but after that things got a lot better. There was a steep downhill on a good road that was fun.

Then, coming along the creek, even though there was a hot headwind, it was a long downhill. I didn't speed, but I didn't feel like I needed to work that hard either.
The ride after the Casino was no fun, what with the minimal shoulder and so many cars, but after that we had a very slight downhill and best of all, near the end, a huge tailwind to push us home.

So many things might have been worse. Too cold, rain, a nasty headwind, or a nasty headwind and uphill.
But it was merely way too hot. The organizers provided ice socks (greatest invention since the bicycle itself) and lots of water (and a large dose of moral support) that got us through.

One more climb and I wouldn't have made it, but as it was, ending with 60 miles of at least slightly downhill made this ride survivable, even for me.

Or maybe I've just forgotten the hard parts. Tricia says that's why women have more than one baby; that humans are built to forget pain.

Bonus: Flickr slideshow with too many photos of Pete

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Davis Double: Done!

Davis Double. Yikes. I'd been hearing about this 200 mile ride since I was cycling in the 70s. I never thought I'd try to do it. It just seemed nuts. But peer pressure, the "bucket list" and a big ego can overcome almost any fear.
Executive summary
miles: 200.6
Climbing: 8080 ft (others report even more)
Average moving speed: 14.9
Hours on bike: 13:25
Total time out: 15 hours and change
Temperature: Over 100 (one report had 106)

What worked
  • Hammer products. I pretty much lived on a Perpetium and HEED mix. I drank it constantly, along with endless bottles of water
  • Ice socks. The Davis Club has tube socks filled with ice at the rest stops. I ended up riding with one a lot of the way. Even though they melted quickly in the 100 degree weather, they were great while they lasted.
  • The bike. My Kestrel RT700 ran smoothly. I had no flats, and I was comfortable at the end of 200 miles. Gotta love the carbon fiber. Gotta love a compact crank. I spent too much time in 34-27, but was glad I had it.
  • Sun screen. I'd be a toasted lobster without the gallons I sloshed on.
What didn't work
  • I borrowed Tricia's Trek blinkie light. It fell off the bag and broke apart. I've fixed it, but I had to run without a rear light in the dark for a while. I rode with others who had one, so no harm done
  • I pulled out my minty boost battery powered charger for my my Garmin GPS at mile 98 when the Garmin batteries seemed low. It worked perfectly, keeping it going all day. Sadly, it didn't play well with my wireless computer. It killed it. All my stats are from the Garmin, the Sigma wireless bike computer got confused by the interference the battery charger created.

I roomed with my buddy Pete from We got up at 3am to beat the heat, and because I wanted to finish before dark. We let the parking lot about 4:10.
The morning was grand. I like riding in the dark, and riding in the dark on really dark country roads is a blast. When we hooked up with other riders the bike lights made very interesting shadows. We rode along what must be rice fields as the sun came up. The yellow and red of the morning sun mixed with the sky blue reflections in the water were wonderful.

Our first climb wasn't bad, except for butterfly attack.
Youtube video

Actually, everything went really well. At mile 98 or so I was feeling good. Then it got hot and we came to Cobb Mountain. A mountain where you are thrilled when the grade backs off to 8%. The temperature was starting to soar. It was not good. I kept wondering if it would ever end. I hate stopping, but at one point, no matter how easily I tried to go, I couldn't get my heart rate down under 94%. I hid in the shade until it got to 75, which took way to long, and carried on.
(click chart for readable image) I did eventually arrive at the rest stop. The boom box was playing "Tracks of My Tears" which seemed perfect. As a volunteer was tossing an ice sock on my neck "Respect" came on. It seemed like they'd planned the soundtrack just for me.

Pete had waited, so we took off together. He quickly lost me on a downhill. The downhill was amazing. It was like blasting through an oven. Even at 40 mph it didn't feel cool. I'm not a great decender, and having such a long, steep decent wasn't exactly relaxing. I'd have hit 60 if I'd let the bike have its way. Instead, I tried to stay just under 40.

From there to lunch is just a blur. After lunch we climbed up what they call "Resurrection Hill." It was a long hot grind that seemed like it would never end. I saw a lot of folks on the road side looking baked. I was afraid to stop and carried on. About the worst part of the ride was along here where road construction had removed the shoulder. We had to ride on a high speed narrow road with a cement barrier at our right and no shoulder. I was scared to pieces. If I hadn't have been so over cooked I wouldn't have done it, but my brain was going mushy.
The Davis Club, realizing how hot it was had stationed a guy with water part way up. Even though I had some left, it was getting very hot. He was a life saver.

The decent was again, too fast for me. The road was great and I stayed around 40 for ages. From about mile 145 to 160 was slightly downhill, but with a headwind and really really hot. Painfully hot. Pete and I both ran out of water and stopped at a motor home camp site for more.

Somewhere later we had to ride on a very busy road that went past Cashe Creek Casino. It was no fun. There were lots of cars and a very narrow shoulder. I noticed the drivers with horse trailers seemed to be very careful of us, giving us as much room as they could. Pick ups were more likely to flip us off.

There's a rest stop at a fire house with about 10 or 12 miles to go where they serve chili. Seems weird, but I guess it's a tradition. And darn, it's really good too.

Near the end I was feeling so good I teased Pete into playing Team Time Trial heroes. We had a small tail wind and just blasted off a few miles, then caught a too fast pace line doing 25. I did myself in. I was just so excited.

We rolled in to the finish just as the sun slipped below the mountain.

Driving home was a real pain. My eyes hurt, my body was worn out and the other cars seemed insane. I was so happy to get home.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Diablo, famous person sighting, ride

Saturday 5.10.08 we rode up the Diablo Northgate and down the South Gate, then back around to Walnut Creek. Joyce rode with us. I totally kicked her butt at the 1000 foot marker. She said she was thinking about stuff and not riding hard, but what else could she say? Sure, you can always claim "It's not a race unless both people know it's a race." But I'm not buying it. Not today.
We saw the famed Diablo Scott riding up the mountain. What's next? Madonna?
Tricia and I stopped in Danville so I could get new gloves. Somehow that turned into gloves, socks, a jersey for Tricia and a new blinkie light for her commuter bike.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Minty Boost for Garmin 305

My Garmin 305 is grand. But at the speeds and distances I ride the rechargeable battery runs out of energy before I do. I purchased a Minty Boost kit. It's a small circuit and batteries in a Altiod box that acts as a battery extender. I haven't soldered in years (maybe 35...) but got to do a lot on this project. After more futzing than was really necessary it seems that the darn thing actually works! I had a small problem, posted on the Minty Boost web site and had the solution to my mistake in a couple of hours. I still need to get Velcro and attach it to my bike and find out how it holds up, but we are looking good now. I feel like I did when I finished my Heathkit guitar amplifier in 1968.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Bike to Work Day 2008

Bike to Work Day 2008 is coming up soon. My Graphic Design students designed posters for it. Kyber Jensen created this one. Here are some more in a Flickr slideshow.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Kestrel RT700 creak, Sigma 1606 issues, Batteries

It's always something with a bike, isn't it? Something wears out, or goes out of adjustment. I love my Kestrel RT700 but I've had a couple of vexing issues that aren't the frames fault, but annoying none the less.

Hear now my tales of woe concerning a creak and a speedometer.

Part 1
Those forced to ride near me lately have commented that, though my bike is a thing of art and beauty, the very loud creaking that happens whenever I stand is not art, nor beauty, but downright annoying. Really annoying. Loudly annoying. Imagine how I feel.

I have done everything I can think of. I've put lube on the dropouts, the seat post, the seat post binding bolt, the skewers, the stem bolts for the bars, the stem bolts to the steerer tube, the steerer tube bolt.

I hired a pro who took apart the bottom bracket. He was sure the sound was drive train related. We messed with the dérailleur. I rode past him over and over. We couldn't find it.

In a flash of smartatude I thought "Cleats!" and greased and tightened them.... nope. It wasn't the pedals either.

"Maybe it's the hub!" said I, but no, not the hub or, or gears. I swapped wheels and still had that creak creak creak..

Yesterday in the Wine Country Century my fried Pete (Taxi777) casually said "It's the headset. I had that. You need to grease every washer, then put it back together" and then rode rode off to flirt with someone.

He was like superman ... a "My work here is done" sorta thing.

So the next morning morning, after Tricia and I did a slow 20 mile recovery ride with lots of creaking I did as the Pete suggested -- greased the washers and spacers.

Guess what? Yep.

My map-ignoring, photo-bombing, mad descending ride leader has, with no effort, solved a problem has been vexing the finest minds in the bicycling industry and brought us all one step closer to world peace.

Part 2
I really like my Sigma 1606 Wireless computer. I like the display size, the buttons, and the fact that it doesn't lose info when you swap batteries. But it's been giving me problems. The sensor mount doesn't love my fork. It has twice vibrated askew, been caught in the spokes and ripped off the bike.
Now my computer doesn't sync with it any more. Then it stopped syncing with the cadence sensor. Then it started acting all weird. I guess dropping the head unit and snapping off the front and gluing it back together hasn't really helped it much.

The problem with wireless is that when it fails you are never sure where the problem is; the sensor/transmitter or the head unit.

I've now mounted the wheel sensor on the left fork, and faced it forward. I built up the mount so maybe it won't move, and even if it does the spokes will knock it back and not grab it and tear it off.

I've also replaced all the computer and sensor batteries. It all appears to be working now. At this small moment. Here's hoping all my voodoo pays off.

Part 3
I still need to make the Minty Boost battery booster for my Garmin 305. The battery in it is good for about 9-10 hours. If I use this on the Davis Double I'll need it to last longer than that. Here's hoping I can remember how to solder.

Does this stuff ever end? At least everything seems to be working correctly -- maybe perfectly -- right now.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Wine Country Century ride

The fun started Friday night before the ride when we met up with our internet gang from NorCal We had about eleven of us show up. The food was grand, but the service, with a smile, was slightly screwed up. It didn't matter, they comped a lot of it and we had fun anyway.

The actual ride launched at about 7:00 the next morning from Wells Fargo Event Center. We started out through Santa Rosa farm lands, mostly pleasant small roads with not much traffic. After our first long climb we turned to do a section of the 200K ride that would take us up some stunningly steep hills (20% plus in a couple of spots) with beautiful views then dump us almost into the ocean.

The decent was so steep the ride organizers have a woman in a skeleton suit holding a warning sign and calling in a Halloween voice "Slow down." What a blast.

We had planned on a 100 miler, but our friend Pete, being, well, Pete, had other ideas that involve combining, subtracting, improvising and generally scoffing at the official map. He supplies us with "Pete-isms" as well. Starting up a steep climb he yelled "I'm in the wrong gear!" quickly followed with "No, I'm outta gears!"

After riding with Pete a few times Tricia has started to be able to decipher his comments:
Before starting a climb, when Pete says "It's not that bad" he means "You'll be in your lowest gear, standing up, and will perhaps make it, furthermore, the decent following will be the cyling equivalent skiing double-black-diamond death run.

"It's not that far" translates to "Maybe less than 20 miles."

"We'll be there in 10 minutes" leaves off the "if you were driving a car" part.

Tricia was glad she wore her "We can do it" Jersey as we ended up riding 112 miles out of 100 miles.

The actual ride the organizers put on was well run, the rest stops were stocked with goodies and the rest rooms lines were survivable. The only part I didn't like was riding right past winery after winery and not stopping at one of them. That just seems wrong.

The biggest plus: Tricia's bars didn't slip. Her chain ring didn't fall off, and there were no bee stings.

Flickr slide show of a few photos