Monday, April 30, 2007

The weekend, sans art

It's a photo free weekend, darn it. Maybe I need to get inspired and buy that new camera.
Tricia and I rode to Bay Point, took BART to Pleasant Hill and did the Franklin Canyon-Crocket-Martinez loop, went to a Thai lunch in Pleasant Hill then BARTed back to Bay Point and rode home. 61 miles. We're getting ready for Seattle to Portland!

I got up early and took the new bike to Mt. Diablo just to see how it, and I, would feel. It was a cool morning and I was glad I took my recently purchased leg and arm warmers. I rode to the junction in about 55 minutes and felt pretty good. The decent wore me out. I'm just not as free with tossing the bike into corners as I was at 22. But the good news is that I made it and feel like I'll be able to make one of my goals -- to summit this summer.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bike to work day at Los Medanos College

I've taken on promoting the May 17 Bike to Work Day at Los Medanos College. It's the 17th SF Bay Area effort, but the first time our college has been involved. The folks at are supplying some goodies to give away at our noontime rally and I have my design class making poster/flyers for the event. I know I'll show up, and my colleague Ken will be there. After that, I'm a bit worried. What if we had a Bike to Work Day and nobody rode?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Chico Wildflower Century ride

Really, we did the "Flatflower," 100K of the most flat land I've ever been on. It had rained all day Saturday, and I wasn't looking forward to Sunday, but at dawn the rain stopped and eventually the sun came out and the day turned into a wonderful California afternoon — so wonderful I didn't even make photos. Here's my review:
  • Check in: Organized and friendly. Some cool vendors with good deals on stuff was a plus. I bought a weird jersey for not much money.
  • Free junk: Cool bag we'll use for shopping, neat little cycling pin, water bottle, map printed on cloth. They did not include a ton of paper, which is good.
  • Ride marking: The usual arrows, but there were way cool cutout figures pointing the way. Very nice!
  • Food: Good rest stops with some very tasty stuff, lunch was sandwiches and lots of goodies. I really liked the rice chips and almond butter. Too much variety to report!
  • Staff: Very helpful and friendly.
  • Route: Ours was really flat, as advertised. It went through some very pretty orchards.
  • After ride: Beer available... mmmmmmmmmm. Massage available. Double mmmmmmmm. Jerseys, t-shirts, hats on sale. The jerseys look great, but at 75.00 I went t-shirt.
Overall, I'm already looking forward to next year!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I'm so electric

I have an old Polar heart rate monitor I just made work. Now I need to come up with some sort of clue on the best ways to make it help me become more healthy. Time to send Amazon more cash for books.
We had a health fair at my college today. My cholesterol is just fine, thank you. Their Body Mass measuring device says I'm fat, but I don't think the reading is right. My scales at home don't agree with their little hand-held unit.
But the crappy news is that my blood pressure is still high. I just ordered a blood pressure meter from Amazon so I can see if it really is, or if this reading is a fluke. Maybe I'll give up coffee.
This health stuff is a pain.
Maybe I need a GPS HRM so I can make graphs that include heart rate, blood pressure, cadence, speed, elevation, power in watts and dental records, all in a 3-D animated interactive graph projected on my glasses.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Joyce has new shoes

Here's some news that might slay ya.
Joyce has shoes
that match her Orbea.
She clicks them right in
when she goes for a spin
Now on her bike she's really a playa

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Just a small cog in a big cassette

A small job — Change cassettes from a Ultegra 11-23 to a 13-26.
Step 1: Remove old cassette. Oops. Parts spilled everywhere, but no worry, Shimino has a handy guide online for spacer and cogs. But wait, what are these small clips? American Classic, the hub maker also has an online guide explaining (sort of) the weird little clips. And explaining (sort of) the need for 0, 1 or 2 tiny spacers behind the largest cog. I think I get it...
Step 2: Thank the bike gods the new cassette went on easily and seems to work.
Step 3: Wait for the rain to stop before taking out the new bike.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Bonus Photo Carquinez

Tricia floats over a part of the Carquinez Scenic Loop in Martinez where the road has slid away

Wooly Pulley

I cracked my rear derailleur pulley on my commuter bike so I bought a new set. Who knew they came in 10 or 11 tooth sizes? Not me. And did I get lucky and get the right size? Did I notice only after installing them? And do they seem different than the Shimano Deore pulleys I'm replacing? Does my bike not shift as well as it did with the broken one? Did I save the broken one to put back? This should be so simple, but somehow I'm making it into rocket science. Don't mind me, I'm just busy spending money and making my bike worse.
UPDATE: New 11 tooth pulley arrived. Installing it seems to have cured all shifting ills. And I have spare 10-tooth pullys for future road bike replacement.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

STP insane

I've really gone and done it. Last night it sounded like a good idea, something very possible. Now, in the morning light, it sounds insane. But I put the money down. Even though it's paid for I guess I don't really have to go. I could just forget.
I've signed up Tricia and my own bad self for the Seattle to Portland two-day bike ride. That's about 100 miles a day for two days. It's only April and we'll have until July 14 to get ready.
I'm worried, but if I don't do it this year, when will I?

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Yikes, stripes!

I was out for my ride and found this somewhat confusing road marking. Could it be I'm just supposed to wander all over? That's what I did.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Carquinez Scenic Loop

Tricia and I went on a lazy ride on the Carquinez Scenic Loop between Martinez and Crocket, California. It's a ride I used to do in the 70s before the road was closed, but it's a beautiful as it ever was. If Tricia hadn't had front derailer issues (those darn triples...) we'd have had a perfect day. As it was, it only rated 9.75
We love the road painting where some creative soul colored in the shapes made by the tar patching on the road. A good time was had by all.
UPDATE: I found a map of our route on

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Bike and brake details

The new seat came today. Performance said it would weight 197 grams, but it's 210. Not a deal buster, but why? The good part is that on first short ride it feels great. Looks kinda swell too.
DiabloScott, way cool blogger rider dude, (his April report on the sad destruction of Mt. Diablo made me cry) asked for a photo of my eLever setup. Here it is. (click to enlarge)
So far it seems to be a good idea. In my bike photo you might notice I have the left lever moved around so far it looks like I crashed the bike. It may look odd, but it's working. I still may need to shim the shifter somehow.

My Google Maps

I just found the new My Maps at Google. I made a map of my commute. It seems pretty neat. Here's hoping other cyclists make maps of cool routes and make them public. If you do, let me know!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Many bicycles

Bikes in Florence
Originally uploaded by ccorlew.
In Italy there are bicycles everywhere. I kind of liked it. Except for the sad, lonely ones with missing parts left cold in the rain, awaiting rust and longing for their absent owners.

Bonus photo

She's a juicy tomato. I'm full of beans.

Minor adjustments

I thought I had a plan for the neato little e-Lever from Paul, but it turned out my plan 1: created a tight cable bend that made the lever not work well and 2: made a bump right where I want my hand to be.
Jim McFarland of the Wheel Peddler mobile bike service made it all better. The lever is now in a more normal spot and it works just fine. I can't recommend Wheel Peddler highly enough. Quality work at a reasonable price at your house. What a deal!

Last night I changed the small 36 tooth chain ring for a 34. I'm pretty sure this is the proper step in making my bike perfect and becoming the best cyclist on the whole block. It will also help my old person body uphill better than those higher gears.

I'm still not fully adjusted to my Ultegra pedals. They are easy to get into, but harder to get out of than my old Mavic/Look pedals, even though they are set to the lightest setting. It makes stopping more of an adventure than it needs to be.
UPDATE: Still on order; new seat, 13-26 cassette.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Changes... but

I had to ride twice yesterday. Once in the morning, then again after my new Sigma Wireless computer arrived. The computer installed easily. It has 4 buttons that will take a bit of getting used to, but it looks good, fits the bike, and has cadence, and is extra hip wireless.
That cool looking new seat? It has a higher middle that connects with me exactly wrong. After a quick 60 yesterday morning all I could think was "no." I replaced it with my old seat that's half a pound heavier. So much for the lightweight bike, at least for a while.
I'm also thinking I really don't need a 11 tooth sprocket and I do need a lower gear, so last night I ordered a new seat and a new 13-25 cassette. I'm sure glad I got a good deal on the bike, because extras are costing me.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

First ride

When you ride a bike, what are you riding? The shoes, and pedals, the seat, the frame, the shifters? When I took my new bike out for the first time everything was so different I didn't know what to think. I'd never ridden brake/shifters before. Not once. The Ultegra pedals feel different than my old Mavic Look knockoffs. The seat isn't the one my rear is used to. The wheels even sound different as they hum on the pavement. How can I evaluate this bike? Is different better, worse, or just different?
Tricia went out with me and helped me shake down my new toy.
This bike is one cm smaller than my last bike, but feels bigger. I think it's because the brake/shifter hoods have a larger, longer platform than my last bike which makes me feel more stretched out.
Going from 7 freewheel to 10 cluster is great. The Ultegra shifts like a dream, it's amazing smooth and quick. I still have to think about it too much, as in "Big lever moves to larger sprockets, I want a lower gear, so push the big lever on the right." But I'm sure it will feel normal soon.
We rode in big wind, which made the ride both slow and fast. On one stretch we had a huge tail wind and a mile downhill where I broke 35 and got to try that 11 tooth cog. I may never need it again. I'm still thinking about changing it for a 12-25.
My other bike, an '87 Cannondale, is all aluminum with big 'ol tubes. This bike has carbon forks and makes the ride is so much less jarring. I'm really surprised how much difference it makes when I travel over highly "textured" roads.
But the thing I notice most, and like most, is that this bike is so light. Combined with the American Classic wheels is just jumps when I apply power. Going up hills is more fun, and a bit faster than it was. It could just be the famous placebo effect, but I don't think so.
Still, getting this new bike turned into my bike is going to take some time.
EVENING UPDATE: After 2 rides I broke down and started adding junk to my clean ,sweet ride. Pump, water bottle cage and bottle, seat bag. I guess I need that stuff, but the bike is so much cleaner with it.
NEXT UP: Sigma wireless computer. Maybe a TV and a trailer with a hot tub.