Saturday, November 13, 2021

Lance Oldstrong's tour of Concord and Clayton

After a great summer of cycling I missed several weeks getting ready to move. At last I'm back on the bike. To celebrate my friend Dan (AKA Lance Oldstrong) too me on one of his interesting routes. san's famous for finding hidden trails and surprise cut-throughs.

Today I saw parts of Concord and Clayton I didn't know existed, including a pioneer cemetery, hidden historic path, an 1800-era winery building and even a nature park and arboretum.

All in all, a great way to get back in the saddle. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Foxy's Fall Century 2021

Tricia at the top of Heartbreak Hill
The 2021 Foxy's Fall Century in Davis CA was a weird adventure for us. And our first 100 mile effort in a long time.

We'd stayed the night at a low-end Motel 6 so we wouldn't have to drive, and could arrive early to get good parking and registered quickly. 

The Davic Bicycle Club made the morning easy with good coffee and pastries.
But then things started happening. Our friend who was supposed to meet us at 6 a.m. called to say she was having trouble getting the front wheel off her newish bike. She eventually did, but arrived later than we'd have liked. 

When I helped her put the bike together I realized she had a new-style semi-quick-release thru-axle and didn't need the wrench she thought she needed. All that waiting for no reason. 
But eventually we got started.

It was 40°, so I wore a lot of clothes and was pretty comfortable. It eventually got into the high 80s, so I was thankful the Davis Club's drop bag plan, where they take clothes from a water stop back to the ride start for you. I wish they'd have offered that at lunch and not just the first water stop.

Interestingly, the water stops were great. The last one in particular was well-stocked and friendly. Alas, something went wrong at lunch. Maybe it was because we were at the end of lunch time (but still within the "open" time) , but they were out of almost everything and downright stingy with potato chips. And a bit grumpy as well. Thankfully, the last stop made up for it. 

Our friend Kellie struggled with  knee issue, and we ended up waiting for her a few times before she realized she needed to stop making it worse and sagged back. Between the late start, the too-long break at rest stop 1 and waiting the day lasted a long, long time.

Still, we made it. It's good to know we can still knock off 100 miles, even if it takes longer than it used to.
Before her knee totally went South Kellie was lookin' good.

Tricia, Curtis and Kellie, hanging out too long Rest Stop One.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Goodbye faithful shoes

After years of commuting and a full summer of riding my Shimano SPD SH-M036W just dissolved. I'm pretty sure it isn't that I'm putting so much power into my stroke the shoes couldn't handle it. But I'm not sure what what the heck caused the sole left shoe, and not the right, to just fall apart.

So I got new shoes. Of course, these aren't made any more, so I got something different. I like the new ones, but I don't love them. So it goes.

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Epic 2021 retirement vacation

  • Lasted 11 weeks
  • Drove 8484 miles
  • Visited (or crossed through) through 17 states.
  • Rode bikes 49 days
  • Rode 1427 miles in 9 states.
A few details
  • We rode in Idaho, then spent a week riding gravel along the Divide in Montana with Adventure Cycling's Cycle the Divide tour.
  • We rode the Paul Bunyan Trail in Minnesota
  • We spent a day on car-free Mackinac Island in Michigan. 
  • We rode from Fairport (just outside Rochester) to Niagara Falls and back, carrying our clothes and staying in hotels B&Bs.
  • We took a lap around Lake Keuka, one of the NY Finger lakes. 
  • We rode the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) trail from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, carrying our sleeping bags and tents our first self-supported ride. 
  • We spent time riding the Catharine Valley Trail in Watkins Glen NY
  • We polished it off with a week-long ride with Adventure Cycling around Lake Champlain and into the Green Mountains of Vermont. 
Where are all the photos? There are so many I'm intimidated. I hope to make a Blurb Book. But in a meantime here are a few.

Vermont, gravel roads, green and a bit of rain.

Actual, official Vermont bike trail
Most of our camping looked pretty much like this.

Farmland, Vermont

Causeway, Lake Champlain, Vermont

Great Allegheny Passage, Rails to Trails, Pennsylvania

849-foot Pinkerton Tunnel, Great Allegheny Passage, Rails to Trails, Pennsylvania

Katharine Valley Trail, Watkins Glen, NY

Niagara Falls, 

Erie Canal Trail, New York

Lockport, Erie Canal Trail, New York

Seneca Lake, One of New York's Finger Lakes

They said Cycle the Divide was on dirt roads

Seeley Lake, Cycle the Divide Tour, Montana

Sawtooth Mountains, Stanley, Idaho

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Camping on Mt. Diablo

Tricia gazes out on the valley below at sunset. OK, I asked her to sit there. The light was too perfect to not shoot this.
I've wanted to camp on Mt. Diablo for many many years, but it just never worked out. But at last, thanks to retirement and a desire to try out new sleeping bags we made it. 

We stayed at Juniper campground, around the 3000 level, and 800 feet or so shy of the summit. Yep, we drove. We didn't want to try hauling so much stuff up the mountain on a test outing. But we did take our "gravel bikes" and rode to the summit from our campground. We felt a little guilty about driving our bikes up the mountain, and know we got strange looks from cyclists who were riding that day. But we can report "The Wall" (the last few hundred feet to the summit parking lot) is still steep, even if you haven't done the whole mountain first.

The new bags worked. We didn't need the liners as it didn't get that cold. Our tent is so cozy we both got more sleep than we do at home. Maybe the lack of freeway sounds and general noise helped. Maybe that we were in a shadow when the sun came up. Or maybe our NeoAir mattresses are just that comfortable.

Tricia rode her Vaya and not her usual Ruby.
We've been promised that the bright colors of our sleeping bags, pads and tent render us bear proof.
We are so ready to camp now we even have these cute little ultra lightweight chairs suitable for hauling around on bikes. Yes, I know this photo looks like I'm dead and Tricia is remembering me, but really it's her waiting for me to stop making photos and come sit down.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Our bike camping adventure

Our backyard tent experiment worked, so we loaded up the bikes with pounds of stuff to try a short overnighter. We lived, but it wasn't pretty. Or at least I wasn't pretty.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

First post-retirement ride: Wind and gravel

Holy smokes, riding in huge wind on gravel is sure slow. But because it was my first post-retirement ride, the 58-ish miles that took all day were just fine.
But of all, no getting sideways in the gravel and crashing. 
I enjoyed seeing swans in the distance, and got a good look at some huge river otters (gone too fast to photograph.) I was impressed Dan correctly identified a California wild rose, which I didn't even know existed.
Strava estimates 41 watts average power. But does Strava know about riding low pressure tires on gravel in a huge (and I mean huge) wind? No it does not. 

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Away from home ride, at last

Dand and Tricia in Benicia, overlooking Suisun Bay and what's left of the Mothball Fleet.
Dan aka LanceOldStrong, champion of route design, drew up what would be the first ride away from home for Tricia and Curtis in ages. I didn't know where we were most of the time, and I didn't care. It was so nice to be out in the world again, even if the sky was dark, the wind was high, and it was colder than we anticipated. It was grand.

Sunday, May 02, 2021

Crunch. Creak. Tap. Click.

Crunch. Or maybe creak. Kind of like tapping or clicking on a carbon bike frame. Whatever you call it, a sound like that, even if it's not that loud, over time destroys the harmony of a bike ride. Like the drip drip drip of a faucet when you're trying to sleep it becomes increasingly annoying until it drives every other thought from your mind. 

I was sure it was the bottom bracket. Partly because every annoying bike sound seems like it's coming from the bottom bracket. Partly because that would be the toughest thing to fix, so that must be it.

But I figured I should try simple things first, because I know weird sounds come from weird places. Like the time it took an hour to figure out that a click was coming from my Road ID dog tags hitting my heart rate monitor chest strap.

Chainring bolts? Nope. Cleats on shoes? Nope. Something in the seat bag? Nope. Not a loose water bottle cage bolt either. But with everything that's easily attached now removed the sound was gone.

I tend to forget that riding a bike constantly rattles it, and that  things can and do loosen over time. I eventually noticed my Lezyne pump had managed to become unscrewed where the body meets the plunger. It didn't stand out as much it does in the photo, but there it was, completely disconnected. I tightened it, as well as a couple of bolts on it. Now, once again, the universe is back in balance.  And it didn't even cost me any money.

That little piece of black fuzz? That's a slice of velcro glued onto the pump handle to keep it from clanking on the frame, a lesson from a past find-the-noise adventure. 

Friday, April 30, 2021

Good stuff like this never happens

I'm not much of a mechanic. I can change tires, patch flats, put on cassettes, put on a new chain, but beyond that most bike maintenance is over my head. 

I have a set of 650B wheels and a set of 700C wheels. I recently purchased new derailer to handle a larger that I had installed at a bike shop. I had hoped to be able to swap the wheels back-and-forth painlessly. Alas, when I had the derailer adjusted for the 650B wheels the 700C wheels shifted really badly. They wouldn't go into the highest or lowest sprockets..

I figured it was due to a variation in the hubs or cassettes and that I would have to adjust the cable and put a spacer behind one of the cassettes, and generally do things that would be way over my head. 

I avoided it for as long as I could. With great reluctance I decided today would be the day would work on making both wheels shift equally well. I was not expecting a good outcome. 

 But when I got the bike on the stand I realized the shifter cable tension was just fine. I thought perhaps the derailer limiter needed to be adjusted; perhaps that's what was stopping me from shifting to the largest and smallest sprockets. 

Three quarters of a turn later on the high end and half a turn on the low end of the limiter screws and my 700C wheels now shift perfectly. It was so easy I am still expecting to discover something horrible. But right now I'm happy guy with a well-shifting bike trip

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Bonus photo from Contra Loma

It's been so windy here I've been taking the slower weightier gravel bike out to ride around our local reservoir, Contra Loma. I don't feel bad about going slow, stopping for photos and just doing the cycling equivalent of a stroll when I'm on it. Plus, Contra Loma is rather pretty at times.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Bike Dog gravel route West Sacramento with Kellie

The beauty of West Sacramento knows no bounds. Nestled between train tracks and graffiti laden walls lies some of the chunkiest gravel you could ever wish for, if you were wishing for sharp chinky gravel.

My Sacramento-dwelling friend Kellie got a new Liv bicycle, so I drove up to ride levee you roads with her. She picked out a ride that starts from the Bike Dog brewery, a good call, because it also ended there.

I rode my new 32 mm Stampede Pass Rene Herse tires. A lot of the gravel was a good deal more gravelesque than I expected and I found myself wishing I'd used my 650B wheels with much larger tires.
This is what all gravel feels like when you're a roadie at heart.

This short ride took a lot longer and was a lot more work that a similar ride on pavement. Even with pretty much zero climbing it took 2:45 to complete.  But in the end, there was beer, and Kellie like her new Liv just fine.

Friday, April 02, 2021

Gravel Specific bandages

The fine folks at the Path Less Pedaled and their accompanying Youtube channel sell sell tongue-in-cheek Gravel Specific stickers when they aren't creating killer Party Pace™ content. 

I think they should also market those stickers pre-applied on band-aides for those of us who aren't gravel specific enough and aren't sure how do handle deep tire grabbing crushed rock.

If they don't want to go into bandage production, perhaps they could at least produce a "Beginners  Guide on How Not to Crash in Deep Crushed Rock" video.