Thursday, August 11, 2022

Hemlock Lake loop, Lake 6 of #BTFL

Tricia and I cycled around Hemlock Lake as part of our quest to ride all 11 of the Finger Lakes, part of teh Finger Lakes Cycling Club's Bike the Finger Lakes Challenge. #BTFL. We've now ridden all the lake to the west of Watkins Glen where we live. We still have the two largest left, as well as some that are smaller, but farther away.

This ride, according to the club site, "boasts both one of the longest climbs and one of the steepest climbs in the Finger Lakes Region.Yet we survived and even had fun.
As beautiful as the ride was, it was somewhat odd to loop a lake, but never see it except at the start and finish. 
At least I managed to make some photos of my favorite model as well as lake at the start.
It's a treat to have so little auto traffic

There are flowers everywhere here. Zillions and zillions. 

Here's the ride start. If we hadn't climbed a few stairs we wouldn't have seen the lake at all

I'd never seen a sign like this before. I was tempted to follow the arrow, but who knows where we'd have ended up.

It is indeed a beautiful lake.

Monday, August 01, 2022

New chain day and first ride with Finger Lakes group

Putting on a new chain almost feels like getting a new bike. Shifting becomes so smooth. Sure, it may be that I left old my chain on too long...OK, I'm sure I did. But it's all better now.

In fact, it's super better, because I installed two new chains, one on the Roubaix and one on the gravel bike. It took a while, mainly because I cleaned the heck out of both bikes first, and because I couldn't find my Park quick link tool that disappeared in our move to NY.  I used a wire wrapping technique I found on youtube, and it worked. Of course, afterwards (but in time for chain two) I was reminded by a comment online that I have a pair of tire levers that could double as quick link pliers. They worked better than the wire method. And I have the proper Park tool on order now.

Let me rant a bit. I know there are "supply chain issues" but holy smokes, the price of chains has sure gone up. And cassettes are even worse. At least I don't need the multi-hundred dollar 12 speed versions, but still, they are almost $100 now. Crap.

In happier news, Tricia and I rode with the Finger Lakes Cycling Club for the first time on Saturday. They're a nice bunch of people, and gaining some local knowledge is always a good plan. 

Of course, I screwed up a bit. Just as we were leaving a cyclist rode past and told me "You left your van side door open." So I rode back and closed it, then spent too much energy killing myself to catch the group. I did catch them, and just as I did they stopped to regroup. I'd have been fine riding normally. Maybe I should just think of it as a bonus workout.

We look forward to riding with them again. But next time I'll check the doors more carefully.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Beer and the Trek 520 Grando

We ride through Montour Falls, about 2 miles away,  on our regular Catherine Valley Trail ride. Today there was a sign announcing the opening of a new brewery there. OK! So of course we went  by on the way home. It provided a delightful... Diversion.
I installed a Tubus Evo rear rack on Trek 520 Grando. It has a set of lower rails that allow the panniers to ride lower on the bike, making for lower center of gravity. It also frees up the top of the rack to carry other junk. My Ortlieb bags are currently filled with bubble wrap, but next ride I'll add some actual weight and see how it feels more loaded.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Continuing quest to cycle all Finger Lakes #BTFL11

We had to cancel our planned ride Erie Canal from Buffalo to Albany. I tested positive for COVID the day before we were going to travel to the ride start. It was a mild case, I recovered quickly, and best of all didn't infect anyone else.

As a consolation we decided to ride a couple more of the Finger Lakes. It went beautifully. 

We tossed the bikes into our Adventure Van™ and headed to Canandaigua Lake for Tricia's birthday ride. Just joked she was "45 miles old today." as we finished 

We tent camped at a beautiful park and had it all to ourselves. Except for the zillions of fireflies that put on a great show into the evening.

The next morning we rode one of the shorter lakes, Honeoye Lake before returning home. 

Thanks to Finger Lakes Cycling Club for providing a wonderful resource for us. Their Bike the Finger Lakes 11 Challenge web page has suggested starting spots, suggestions for food, road info and RideWithGPS maps. We could even attempt this without them.

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Wild ride of amazing excitment

Michael and William really enjoyed the ride around the neighborhood. They treated it like a carnival ride, tossing their arms in the air. They also said hello to the neighbors we rode past and well as greeting cars, motorcycles, signs, yards and most plants. A good time was had by all. 
I was relieved that hauling them around out flat neighborhood wasn't that much work, unlike the hills in our Antioch home.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Adventure Van and Bike the Finger Lakes Challenge #BTFL11

 When Tricia and I bought our Pacifica last fall we decreed that it was not a minivan, but rather an adventure van. Our plan was to use it to transport our bikes and our own bad selves to fun places. 

We finally had a chance to take it out on a shakedown cruise. As part of our mission to cycle all 11 of the Finger Lakes we tossed the bikes in and drove to the most western lake, Conesus Lake. We still need to perfect how will load the bikes, but just using a couple of bungee cords worked reasonably well.
We managed to not only ride Conesus Lake, but tossed in a second nearby and even smaller lake, Canadice Lake. We were a bit worried because the website we checked said there was a 4 mile stretch of gravel. Gravel could be a dirt path, or could be giant boulders. And we were on road bikes with relatively skinny tires. But it turned out to be an  easy to ride and well-maintained path that we had no trouble with. And, it was even more beautiful than we could've imagined. During the road section I think we saw four cars total. 
As you can tell from the map,we've started with the easier ones. The largest are 82 and 97 miles with a good deal of climbing. But it looks to be a fun project.
Tip o' the hat to the Finger Lakes Cycling Club for putting together a web page with descriptions of the routes, best parking, GPS files and a web page to log your progress.

I'm in a Facebook group called "Look at my bike leaning against stuff." Because of course I am. Anyway, here was my contribution from our ride. So... Look at my bike leaning at (or on) Canadice Lake, one of New York State's Finger Lakes.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Burly trailer test with live subject

Mr. William loves his balance bike and at less than two year old is already flying down the sidewalk. In an effort to continue our indoctrination we took him out in the Burly trailer today. I think he liked it. But it might've confused him. Who knows. He has a lot of words now, which include "Grandpa and helmet," but will have to wait until he can string them together into sentences to find out how he feels about being in a trailer. Overall,though,  it was a success. At least for me.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Can't fix this with duct tape

I took my Ti commuter bike/gravel bike/almost touring bike out for a ride and boom, my derailer exploded/melted/died. It's this bike and derailer setup

I'm not sure what happened. Perhaps I banged it on something and the it hit the spokes when I shifted to a lower gear. But I don't really know.

The good part, if there is a good part, is that it isn't some $800 electronic thing, but a relatively inexpensive item. I even found one on sale and ordered it already. And I do have another bike I can ride.

The derailer I ordered is an S-Ride. It doesn't shift as smoothly as a nice Shimano derailer, but it does handle the incredible wide range of my 11–40 and 46–30 drivetrain. I wish the Shimano gravel derailer could handle a larger cassette. Maybe I could stretch it. But I didn't want to buy a derailer and have it not work and still need to buy a new one. Plus, apparently the are impossible to find. So S Ride it is...

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

It's all uphill from here

I've been here in Watkins Glen NY less than a month. As far as I can tell everything is uphill. Some a bit,  most a lot.

The Catherine Valley trail is slightly uphill for 10 miles. It's a smooth gravel path, 5 miles of which cross no (as in zero) roads. In fact, riding from home we put a foot down only once or twice during  20 mile out and back. 

But the other routes out are brutally uphill. These roads are often double-digit grades that hurt.

My plan: Get stronger or die.

Monday, June 06, 2022

First ride at new home.

Even though we bought our new home in Watkins Glen in October 2021 I didn't totally finish moving in until June 1, having "commuted" back to California to finish my final semester of teaching. But at last I'm totally here. I took my first in-residence bike ride on the Katherine Valley Trail as soon as I could.  After spending 11 days driving a convoluted route to get here and not riding at all it was wonderful to get back on the bike. It's going to be interesting to see how living here changes my riding opportunities. 

Monday, April 11, 2022

Primavera Century 100K 2022

Holy smokes. I rode my first 100K in quite a while. I haven't been riding enough. Between teaching, visiting New York and just being busy with moving, my time on the bike hasn't been what it's been in the past. If nothing else, I'm missing my daily bike commute to work. All this means my simple 100 K ride was completely and totally exhausting. It took a lot out of me. I feel a little silly about that but at least I got it done.

Tricia and I had signed up for the Primavera Century two years ago. But each year it was postponed  due to COVID-19. Now that they finally held it they used our old registration payment so we could ride. Alas, Tricia is in New York while I'm in California. Instead of letting it go to waste, we gave it to our good friend Dan, a.k.a. Lanceoldstrong. He and I wrote it together, me riding as hard as I could and him riding at a very social chatting pace.

I was surprised that they had changed the route this year. We rode out toward Calaveras road from Fremont just as we had in the past, but rather than heading up the access road along 580 and climbing the relentless Palomaras Road to the terrifying no-room-for-bikes Niles Canyon to finish, we instead rode the route as an out-and-back. I'm not normally a fan of out-and-back back rides but getting to ride along Calaveras Road twice made it OK. Although Calaveras Road is weird. It seems like it's uphill both directions. If it wasn't so beautiful it would be downright annoying.

We had great weather, and as always, the support was perfect. But holy smokes was I hurting by the time we got done.

Friday, April 08, 2022

Trek 520 Grando

I installed two panniers on the bike with a temporary rear rack  just to see how it looked. Yes, the bars are rotated up too much. I'll fix that. And add water bottles.

Tricia and I have two self supported rides planned this summer. We've done a couple of rides with just panniers, but not carried food and such. This time we're going full tilt and wanted front panniers as well. 

 I took my gravel-esque titanium bike into a shop near where we recently moved to see about a front rack. (Shout out to Trek Bicycle Geneva NY) and was told "Nope. you don't want to put a front rack on a carbon fork." 

 I lamented that I'd feared that, and told them I'd done research and had thought I'd like to buy a Trek 520 if I could find one, but in these pandemic times I've read tales of people looking for months and then driving states away to get one. I figured I had no chance and that I'd better start working on a "Plan B. "

 They told me I looked like a 54cm size guy and that they had a 520 Grando that would fit me that arrived two hours before I got there. TWO HOURS! 

 So, BOOM, I bought the bike. Right then. 

 I know it's not the usual for touring, but I love brake shifters, which this bike comes with, so I'm thrilled already. Plus, check that crankset. 42-28. An actual useful double! I may see if I can stretch to a 40 tooth max cog in back to replace the 36 it shipped with. I hear it MAY work. It doesn't ship with a rear rack so I ordered a Tubus Logo Evo. I've already swapped the pedals. 

 The rest of my tale is that I got the bike in the Finger Lakes region of NY and promptly flew back to California where I have to finish teaching this semester before permanently moving to Watkins Glen. So I have a new home, and a new bike I can't ride because it's at the new home. It's just sitting there waiting for me until June. 

 But when I do arrive home Tricia and I have planned several rides: The Erie Canal from Buffalo to Albany, the C&O and GAP from DC to Pittsburgh and a week in Cape Cod. Can you tell I'll be fully retired in June?

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Bonus non-cycling East Coast cold photo

After a lovely dinner at The Graft Wine and Cider Bar in Watkins Glen we strolled down to the Seneca Lake harbor on our walk back to new home. It was a bit chilly for this newly-arrived Californian, but not too cold to appreciate the beauty and wonder of my new village on the Finger Lakes of New York. It's been in the 20s and I'm too wimpy to ride for fun in this weather. I've been Zwifting in the unheated garage, which is hard enough.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Spring in February on Diablo

Tricia and I are getting as much cycling in as we can before she heads back to New York State. It's been stunning here this February, so we got a short ride in on our favorite mountain, Mt. Diablo, complete with flowers

Sunday, February 06, 2022

Mr. Steve’s Mystery Route to Danville

Tricia rides through the mystery tunnel under Ygnaico Valley Road.
I'm enjoying getting to ride with Tricia, who's back in sunny California for a month before returning to our new home in Watkins Glen, New York.
Today we rode "Mr. Steve’s Mystery Route to Danville," a route through the rich folk neighborhoods in Walnut Creek, Alamo and Danville ending up at Peets Coffee. I'd have never found it again without loading our previous ride into the Garmin. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Once around Diablo


I'm back in California under beautiful skies while my family is in 11 degree weather and snow in New York's Finger Lakes area. I should feel guilty, but, well...

I got in a classic Northern California ride with my friends Dan and Steve on Sunday — one lap around Mt Diablo via Morgan Territory. Even at a social party pace it's an effort, but it sure was fun.

Saturday, January 08, 2022

Back in California for a while


No, this isn't California. It's from my last ride in New York before I came back.

I'd committed to teaching in the spring semester before we bought a house in Watkins Glen in the Finger Lakes. So I'm staying here. I'll enjoy the warmer weather. It was 11˚ in NY and 50˚ here today. But I'm sure looking forward to starting my new life once the semester ends.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Adjusting to colder temps in the Finger Lakes

As I contemplated the new dusting of snow outside thinking how cold it is I saw a young lad cycle past my house. Apparently I am not a "hard man" at all. 

But there's Zwift! Lance OldStrong, master of route finding in the real world as well, organized a meetup in Zwift France with friend Monroadie and myself. That's me closest to the camera, looking in Zwift pretty much exactly as cool I must in real life, though I wear a helmet in the non-virtual world. That's Lance Oldstrong with the cool hat, and MonRoadie looking as calm as he really does. 

Bonus photos:
It really is somewhat cold. The nearby waterfall is growing icicles. 

We walked downtown to watch the 49er game (it wasn't on any TV I could get) and it started to snow. Even I had to admit it was wonderful.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Rural NY is different than suburban California

From my front sidewalk I can see seven American flags flying on neighboring houses, so I know I'm I'm still in the USA, but it's a different USA.

If nothing else, the weather is drastically different. Yesterday the skies were blue and the temps hit 50. I took advantage and rode the half mile to the check out the harbor on Seneca Lake before my longer ride up a local trail . Yet today it's supposed to lightly snow and rain. Photos on this date from last year show a winter wonderland. 

The Catherine Valley trail, which starts just a few hundred feet from my house is a delight. It runs through the forest on an abandoned rail line. But it has a few features different from any other trail I've been on. 
On my ride I met the landowner, Kirk, and his friend who were taking a break on a trail bench while out hunting. The trail runs through his property. He was kind enough to chat with with me and explain muzzle loading season. If I'd have come across guys with guns on my California trail I'd have been concerned. Here it was a opportunity to learn a bit more about my new home.
It's an adventure for me. But so far everyone I've net has been, from the postal delivery person to the hardware store folks, from the neighbors to the winery folks (this is a wine growing region!) , have been a pleasure to chat with, and have been generous in sharing their stories and their tips for the new guy.

Here's a non-cycling bonus photo of us wine tasting at Atwater Winery.

And another non-cycling photo, just because:

Monday, December 06, 2021

First ride from Watkins Glen house

Watkins Glen in New York is cold. Not cold enough to impress folks used to cold, but cold enough for this Californian. I haven't been warm since I got here. I did try a short ride, wearing fleece tights, several layers under my jacket, glove liners and gloves along with an under helmet hat. Not enough... And this is all before the clouds took the sun.
Today it's raining. It's supposed to snow later in the week. 
I bought a smart trainer, but the tools I need to get it up and running are in California staying warm. 
Oh well. So it goes.