Monday, June 27, 2011

Steven Cozza's Giro Bello Ride 2011

giro belo climb1
Just about everything went right and even the things that went wrong went well.

Steve Cozza's Giro Bello is a grand idea for a wonderful cause. Starting in Sebastopol and winding up toward Cloverdale, it's well beautiful and well-organized ride. Even the tee shirt looks good.
You can read about Steve's selfless efforts here.

giro belo Steve and DanI'd checked the weather before we drove up Friday night with LanceOldStrong to meet with Steve the afternoon before the ride. It promised to be cool in the morning and not hot in the the afternoon. I didn't even bring any warm clothes. That night the forecast changed to the 40's for the morning.

But, good thing number 1: I managed to buy a tee shirt to wear under my jersey at the second hand store across from the motel for only $1.00.

Good thing number 2: It wasn't really as cold as the 45 degrees the weather station said it was going to be.

Good thing number 3: My Garmin 305 mount broke on the first major climb. That's bad, but when it bounced it didn't break. I may have a second mount I can use, and even if I don't have it, a replacement is cheap.

giro bello bridgeGood thing number 4: The Geysers climb was really really hard, but I lived through it, and by the time we reached the top I was getting used to moving at 3mph. The temperature was perfect. I'd have hated that climb at 100 degrees.

Good thing number 5: The descent was over some of the most riddled holes I've ever ridden. I didn't crash. Dan broke a spoke, (bummer)  but the wheel stayed round enough (good thing 5a) that he managed to finish the ride. At the lunch stop he asked the mechanic from Healdsburg Spoke Folk if he had a spoke. Ironically, he did not.

Good thing number 6: The unique post-ride meal. We were issued meal tickets we could use at any number of different food vendors. I had some tandoori chicken with rice that was right tasty.

giro blelo late climbWe'd started at 6:30. Steve Cozza started at 7. We had a pool about when he'd pass us, and later a pool about when he'd pass us on the climb. I won pool one, and tied Tricia on pool two. Really, I think he was able to pass us partly because he's a pro cycling god, and partly because he had a motorcycle to carry his water and spare wheels. We carry our own pumps, spare tubes and patch kits.  And our bikes weigh more — partly because big sprockets weigh more than small sprockets. Plus, I'm fatter. So really, who's doing more work? And, therefore it only makes sense to ask: Who's more tough and studdly? Yep. That's right.

Anyway, despite making a wrong turn right out of the parking lot (Hey, shouldn't there be road markers? Where are the road markers? Oh…) and adding a mile to our 106 mile day, we all had a good time at a wonderful ride on a grand course.

giro bello morning

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Perfect weather for an afternoon ride

I managed to sneak a fun 30 mile ride in with LanceOldStrong on Thursday evening. We climbed about 2500 feet, including Old Briones Road off Alhambra. We slid through Lafayette and the secret hills above Walnut Creek.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Two bridges, three murder sites, squirrels and flowers ride

Vallejo CrocketbridgeWhen famed tour guide LanceOldStrong proposed a ride across the Benicia and Vallejo bridges that also included:
  • The Frontage Road behind the Airport in Concord
  • The Sewage Treatment Plant
  • Concord's 100-year-old paupers' field cemetery for the unclaimed and indigent.
  • Three other graveyards along the route
  • County Jail 
  • Bail Bond Row
  • Murder #1: The site of the murder of Dr. John Marsh in 1856
  • Murder #2 a Zodiac killer murder site
  • Murder #3 another Zodiac killer murder site
  • Other points of historical oddness.
How could we not go?
Pachaco Cemerery wallsignsSquirrel
John Marsh murder sire
Our first major site (if you don't count the sewage treatment plant we saw in the distance) was the Pacheco Cemetery. They've recently started locking the gate, and we couldn't fit through the crack in the sad wall. We were reasonably content to peer in over the fence. We also stopped briefly in Martinez by a California Historical Marker (and big rig parking spot) of the murder of California pioneer John Marsh.

From there we rode past the county jail and courthouse on our way to cross the Benicia bridge. We ducked into Benicia and rolled down to the Benicia State Recreation Area where Mr. LanceOldStrong shared his snack with some ground squirrels that live in the sewer there. It was like a scene from Willard.

Leaving the shoreline we rode over about 4 feet of genuine cobblestones, just so I could say "Yes, the Roubaix handles the cobbles very well, thank you." We also dropped in on the Benicia Camel Barns, home of the US Camel Corps in 1863-64.
Zodiac killing siteWe saw the Cytomax factory on our way to Lake Herman Road, site of perhaps the first of the Zodiac serial killer slayings in 1968. It's just a wide spot in the road, but someone had ominously graffitied a nearby sign with the Zodiac's signature symbol.

From there we headed out Lake Herman Road toward beautiful Vallejo, stopped off at the Catholic Cemetery, and eventually passed the "Second Baptist Church." Is that the biggest claim to fame they can come up with, "Second?" After dealing with odd intersections, lights that don't sense bicycles, and interesting neighborhoods we found our way to the Vallejo Bridge, and made our way to Crockett for lunch, where we visited with a couple our real-live touring cyclists headed for Napa.
Cemetery in Vallejo


Following lunch we headed toward Port Costa. We'd been promised history, and Mr. LanceOldStrong came through with a lesson about the Eckley Pier, shipping, trains, wheat growing in Contra Costa. (See interesting link in comments for details)

Riding the The Carquinez Strait Scenic Loop Trail is always fun, and though I'm sure they are illegal, the road paintings always make me smile. The trail, undriveable by cars, makes for a colorful flower-filled ride.

two bridge loop flowers

moon face on road

goats Our last cemetery of the day was Saint Catherine of Siena on the edge of Martinez. I think if I'm ever in a cemetery I'll request goats rather than flowers.

Executive summary: Metric century, touring pace. Lots of looking at stuff, good lunch, much laughing.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Canyon Classic Century 2011 and Ride For Matt fundraiser

canyon classic 1
There might have been a better way to celebrate our 12th anniversary weekend than riding 111 miles Saturday and 72 miles Sunday. Wait...  Nope, I can't think of one.

canyon classic rock
All the cool kids must hang out here.
We started our weekend with the Canyon Classic,  a century ride that starts in Patterson, heads up to Mines Rd, drops into Livermore and heads home through the farmlands of the Central Valley. It's a very pretty ride with wonderful volunteers. Though they apparently aren't aware that "century" means 100 and not 111. After 100, 11 is a really big number. Most of the 5,672 feet of climbing comes in the first 33 miles. After that there's a downhill, this year featuring a huge headwind and some exciting gusts. It was all worthwhile for the endless downhill with a massive tailwind on Tesla Road.

We lunched at Bent Creek Winery. I'm usually rushing Tricia through the rest stops. This time she teased me because I insisted on tasting their wine and buying a couple of bottles. She didn't, however,  seem to mind helping drink them later.
canyon classic wine 3
I didn't really transport the wine back on my bike.

Ride for Matt
We learned through our friend Joel about his friend Matt who'd been hit by a car in early 2011. Matt's friends planned a benefit ride for him. They did an amazing job, from their website to the route markings. We don't know Matt, but because we're only one degree of separation away, as we are with so many Northern California cyclists, we wanted to support the efforts to help him.

We went with our friend Joyce, starting our drive to Roseville entirely too early and way too worn out from the Canyon Classic. We got an early start on the 70 mile route. Though some folks were less than thrilled with the bike path start, I enjoyed riding under bridges next to creeks. It didn't last long, and with our early start we didn't have to contend with much other traffic.

The rest of the route was just right. We'd ridden pieces of this before, and enjoyed them all. We've ridden so many rural Northern California roads that they all seem familiar, like home.

Though I was tired, and not riding fast, near the end I found myself annoyed that I was passed by a few... heavier.. riders. Then I realized I was seeing people who were on the 30 mile loop, and felt a bit better, kicked it in a bit and put a stop to that nonsense. Yep, life is a Cat 6 race.

When we arrived at the park finish it was like being in a small town. There was a band playing old standards and a crowd of riders eating their barbeque lunches. It just felt nice. We had to leave before Matt spoke, but we understand the ride was a huge success, getting more participants than expected and raising a goodly sum for Matt. We wish him well.

Joyce complained there weren't any new photos of her, so here she is with Tricia.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

More on Ultegra 6700 and 6600 shifter problems

Following my last entry and a post on mechanics forum I've learned some interesting information: My shifter problem is not unique.

"200miler" on bike forums, who's provided a lot of support for double centuries, shared some interesting info with me.

Curtis, I've been running across this problem/issue for the last 3 years, or so, while providing roving support on various doubles. I get a minimum of one instance per ride. My DMD instance happened on Mines between the water stop and the Junction after I'd left you folks at the Mines RS.

About 1 year and a half back, I had a phone conversation with Shimano Tech support in SoCal. There was a more than a bit of hemming and hawing, but I finally got, IMO, a tacit agreement that there was a design issue [his words!]. The angle that the cable leaves the indexing rachet retainer and goes thru the brifter housing and into the cable housing causes "undue stresses" and wears the outer strands of the cable until, BINGO, you've got what you experienced with your 6600's. Getting the nubbin out after the cable is broken is as you relate, a real PITA. In some cases the nubbin gets jammed inside and can't be shaken loose; a new brifter is the only solution. Catching the cable in its frayed condition can be a field repair if done with due caution [on Quack events of course!]. With a broken cable it's a crap shoot; depends on where the nubbin is.

The relevant brifters include the 6600 and 6700 Ultegra, and 7800 and 7900 series Dura Ace. I haven't run across any of the 5700 brifters "in trouble" but I think that's only because they are not in wide distribution yet. Note that this applies to 10-speed only; I've never run across, nor heard of, any 9-speed issue. There is no particular cable recommended to replace a damaged one. If a 3rd party cable is used it won't necessarily prolong its eventual replacement. Of course, there *COULD* have been a flying production change on the Shimano production line.....

The only real way to prevent this from being an event-ender is to visually inspect the RD cable on a regular interval, or when ever you sense a change in shifting smoothness.

I've made a permanent page with repair instructions.

Here's a web site that might help

I should point out that I was able to fish out the broken end on 6600 shifter without going to such extremes, but it did take a long while.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Ultegra 6700 shifting badly. Could it be...?

Bad cable makes bad shiftingWhy won't my bike shift well?
New chain? Check
New cassette? Check.
Adjusted with love and care? Check.
What of what could cause the normally-delightful Ultegra 6700 to shift like ... like something that doesn't shift well?

I'm getting ready for some long rides and thought I should do the new cable thing. I got Gore Ride-on brake and shift cables. Son of a gun, when the right shifter cable came out is was frayed as all get out.

New cables = wonderful shifting. And oh, what a pain if it had broken in the middle of nowhere.

I'd had a similar issue with my 6600 Ultegra brake/shifters. The end actually came off and took forever to dig out. I wonder if this is a design problem, that perhaps they route the cable through too may turns. I don't think this should have happened after only 4500 miles.

See this post

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Maker faire and crazy bikes

Whiskydrome death-defying wall of death fun.
Tricia convinced me that it would be a good idea to to, the day after the Davis Double, take BART from Bay Point to Millbrae then ride bikes to the San Mateo Fairgrounds to see the Maker Faire. I guess she was right, but my body didn't entirely agree that day. At least we got $5 off admission for riding there and parking in their very nice bike parking area.
Two Penny postcard
Two Penny is one of several huge and amazing pedal-powered machines we saw.

We went to see all the wild bicycle stuff, of which there was plenty. We also wanted to enjoy the sustainable gardening/farming exhibits, amazing sculpture, steam punk corner, and general wacky atmosphere. I've heard the event described as Burning Man for Geeks, and that may be close. It's very kid friendly and I can't recommend it highly enough.

I found it so crowded I had trouble making clean photos, so only a couple are mine. I did try to make a movie on Tricia's Flip camera, and proved in the process that I'm a still photographer at heart. Here's a Youtube link to the   video.

wooden bikes featured these amazingly crafted wooden bikes. I don't know that I'd care to ride one, but I'd love to have it in my living room.