Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Year end mileage and goals 2008

7730 miles
For the record
Commuter bike starting odo: 3072, ending: 5818, total: 2746 commuter miles
Road bike starting odo: 3481, ending: 8457, total: 4666 roadie miles

I sometimes ride the commuter as a mountain bike, or on errands, so those miles are not strictly "going to work" miles.

I broke my Sigma computer part way through the year so I had to guess the odometer miles. I know I'm close, but I'm pretty sure I cheated myself out of a few.

Goals report:
  • Oregon Coast tour (Done)
  • Giro di Peninsula (Bonus, Done)
  • Sequoia Century (Done)
  • Waves to Wine (Done)
  • Tierrabella Century (Done)
  • Wildflower Century (Done)
  • Wine Country Century (Done)
  • Davis Double (Done!!!!!!)
  • Seattle to Portland (Done!)
  • Foxy's Fall Century (100K) (Done)
Tricia's mileage

Commuter bike: 1937 commuter miles
Road bike: 4114 roadie miles
Total: 6041

Monday, December 22, 2008


Maybe it's the lightweight Mavic 517 rim, or the number of curb cuts I ride over, or the weight of the junk I carry. Whatever the reason, I just noticed I'd actually broken the rim on my commuter bike. What a drag.

I had to decide on a new wheel or repair. I went with repair. I'm keeping the XT hub and having the Wheel Peddler build me a new wheel using a Macic 717 rim. I'll cost. I'm not sure I made the most cost effective choice, but I'm hoping it pays off by ending up with a wheel that is well made and will last forever.

Friday, December 12, 2008

I'm so tired of fog

I am I am I am I am so freakin' tired of tule fog. Today it was much lighter, and I could actually see across the street, but all too often it's been at maximum density.

Here in Antioch, the Bay Area, but really on the delta near the edge of the valley, the fog won't stop. I'm not a huge fan of sub-40 riding, but I can do it. Toss in wet yucky fog and all the fun is gone.

Sea fog can be nice, it has texture. It comes and goes. It's sometimes playful.
The fog here is Stephen King style, dark and relentless, with no redeeming values.

Just to taunt us, it hangs in the low areas where we live, but leaves the peaks clear, just so we know what we're missing. Even a drive over Kirker Pass can reveal a sunny crisp sunglasses day before you descend back into the muck.

The dampness seeps into your clothes even more than rain. It collects on your glasses. It drips off your helmet. It makes you, even if you have a geek-style blinky light, invisible to the cars that seem to speed down the road beyond all reason.

In the "light" of the day, and I use the word light to mean "not pitch black" it's still a depressing gray of evil that looks like smoke, but without any warmth. In the dark it makes a hole in your heart.

Bring me rain. Or bring me sun. Bring me fluffy clouds. This has got to stop.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Diablo ride with Bikeforums

Curtis vs LanceOldStrong
The last 200 yards (correction: DiabloScott, master of all things Diablo, insists it's 300 meters) of Mt. Diablo is an 18% straight-up grunt. It's hard enough without having climbed almost 4000 feet just to get there. So Lanceoldstrong and I sprinted. It was a blast.

The NorCal Bikeforums "Work off the turkey" ride was quite an event. It's always fun to see old friends, but toss in the weather and the wind and it becomes quite an event.

I left home in 45 degree overcast. It was mid 60s at the start. I'd worried I'd overdressed. It was warm climbing, but then the wind kicked in and I was glad to be in by knickers.

The weather station there reported:
11am Windspeed 47mph; Peak windspeed 62mph

All in all, major fun.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Fenderized at last

I gave in to winter and bought fenders for my commuter bike. I'd been stalling because fenders aren't cool, I didn't want to have to take them off when I go mountain biking, and my bike didn't look like an easy fit.
But wet is... wet, and just how cool did I think I looked before? So I went ahead. I got advice from the commuter forum to not get clip ons, so I went with Planet Bike Hardcore Hybrids. They were even on sale!

I'm not much of a modifier kinda guy, but the help I got on made me brave.

I ended up drilling a small hole in the bottom back of my fork crown to attach the fender with a very short sheet metal screw and a bunch of washers.

I also bought longer bolts so I could fit the rack and fender in my rear eyelets. (Hardware stores have a zillion bolts that all look alike. Thankfully the hardware store dude was helpful or I'd have bought the wrong size)

I also used zip ties. Everything looks good and doesn't rattle.

The mounting process took way too long. I had thought I'd remove them if I was going to put on my fat tire wheels for mountain biking, but now I realize I'm never going to want to mess with the fender mounting pain again, so they'll stay on all year, forever.

I have discovered that taking the rear wheel off to fix a flat is now a bit of a pain.

I'm also sure I'm causing a drought by being prepared for rain. But at least my bike looks even more dorky than before.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

We can do it

Tricia had an ... at work, so a little bit of motivational poster seemed to be in order. Not that I've ever even heard her threaten to punch someone. It's just a little post-workday hyperbole, for entertainment purposes only. I made it using a Flickr Toy at

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Foxy's Fall Century in Davis

It's so weird to get up so early and drive over an hour to ride a bike. But we do it.
We started just after dawn. I felt like ... well, like not so hot. My plan was to let Tricia and Joyce just go and I'd muddle through. I just felt slow and old. It turns out I was fighting the start of a cold.

But about 20 miles in Tricia's knees started bothering her. After much thinking she figured out that she'd had her bike worked on recently and perhaps the seat wasn't reset to the exact right height. At 40 we adjusted it, but it was too late. Her knees kept bugging her. She wasn't her usual metronome-solid self. At 61 we called it a day and sagged it back.

She's pretty mad at her knees.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Scraper bikes

My sweet wife just saw a video that explains all those extra cool bikes I see near the middle school. They're scraper bikes. They're a movement out of northern California that's starting to get national press.
I just love this video. I'm thinking, can an old white dude retrofit his old road bike and get a look this wonderful? Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


My Sigma 1606 bike computer fell off my bike. I went back for it and got there just in time to see it get run over. Bummer. I really like that computer.
I called Sigma to buy a new head. They asked me for he number on the back, and then said "We didn't like the mount on that version. Send it in and we'll replace it."
Is that cool or what? Go Sigma!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sad, and Happy bicycles

This bike is sad.
My own bike was sad, but is now happy again. Here's the story:

I was out for a much-needed ride when my bike stopped shifting. Completely stopped. I was stuck in the highest gear for my limp home. I discovered my rear shifter cable had broken.
I called the Brentwood Bike Company, my local shop, and owner Bobbi said they'd look at it that day! When Chris (owner-husband-cool dude) got the new cable threaded through the tricky internal sections of my Kestrel RT 700 it still wouldn't shift. It appeared the brake/shifter had broken. That's a major big dollar part. "Oh no" I was thinking.

About ready to spend the money, we discovered that the problem was that the broken cable end had fallen into, and become wedged inside of the lever. Chris polked, prodded then fished and shook until it came out. He recabeled, adjusted a bent derailleur hanger in the process and shazam, all better. Now my bike is a lot more happy than the bike in the photo.

Thanks Chris and your Brentwood Bicycle Company for seeing me right away and figuring out how to fix my problem and not just replace an expensive part!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Waves to Wine 2008

Thanks to everyone for their financial and moral support of our Waves to Wine bicycle ride for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

We wore ourselves out. The 75 miles each day wasn't so far, but the 7000 feet or so of climbing was really tough. This ride was a lot harder than the 100 mile a day ride we did from Seattle to Portland earlier this year. I was worn out Saturday from playing too much tennis on Friday, and really worn out on Sunday. Tricia and i took turns feeling good. She was a rock on Sunday morning when I was sore and trying to feel warm. I started feeling pretty good about halfway through Sunday when the sun came out. Together we pulled each other through.

There was hardly a level spot along the route. We were either going up or down. We spent about five or six hours a day on the bike, though what with lunch and a few rest stops the total trip time was closer to seven.

Our route took us from AT&T park across the Golden Gate Bridge, up Hwy 1 past Tomales Bay and to Cotati for the night.

Day two looped us back toward Peteluma, then up to Sebastopol for lunch then onward to Healdsburg and up to Lake Sonoma for a bus ride back to the start.

We knew we'd ridden a long way when we took the bus back. That darn shuttle took forever!

I didn't make many photos. I was too buy riding and breathing hard.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Antioch cyclist killed in "accident"

An Antioch bicyclist who was struck by a 15-year-old girl learning how to drive has died, authorities said today.
Ralph Cherry Jr., 23, was riding west in the bike lane of Davison Drive in Antioch about 11 a.m. Tuesday when he was hit by an SUV driven by the girl, Antioch police said.

The girl was driving on a learner's permit with her grandfather, who has a license, police said. For reasons that have not yet been determined, the girl lost control of the SUV and struck Cherry, authorities said.

Cherry was flown by helicopter to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, where he died at 5:20 p.m. Wednesday, the Contra Costa County coroner's office said.
I hate it that we live in a country where you can kill a cyclist and then just say "Accident" and all is OK.
In my recent memory we've had a man mow down a cyclist who was waiting at a light in Walnut Creek-- nothing happened
A deputy plow through cyclists -- nothing happened
Now this.

I'm even more rattled because it's just a couple of miles from my house. I ride that road often. I may have been on that road that very day. My wife crosses it every day on her (bike) commute. I'm finely getting our daughter to ride to Los Medanos College for her classes.

I read the comments in SF Gate. It's just depressing. Ralph Cherry and his family get very little love and respect. Instead I'm reading:
  • Accident, oh well...
  • What do cyclists expect, clogging up the road and all...
  • The driver will carry this her whole life (like that makes it OK)

I'll stop ranting now. I'm just really upset.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hills with 1-800-BIKE RIDE

Click for larger images.

Joyce called Saturday claiming to be 1-800-BIKE RIDE and offering a Sunday filled with climbing. 65 miles and over 5000 feet of up. Who could resist? Not me. We rode through Canyon (I got a flat) then up Grizzly Peak (Joyce had brake issues) and on to Wildcat (It was dark and wet and cold.)

But we actually had fun. Dropping down to San Pablo to and seeing sun was a delight. I'd never climbed Pig Farm from this side. It is... how to say.... up-flippin'-hill.

From there we headed to the Scenic Drive between Martinez and Port Costa, then back to Lafayette. Joyce toasted me. I think could have kept up with her on any one hill, but then I'd have been done for the day.

A good time was had by all.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lake Tahoe Flume Trail

There is no oxygen (or air in general) above 7000 feet, and therefore little wind resistance. So if one were to fall from three-foot-wide Flume Trail ledge above Lake Tahoe it would be possible to gain amazing speed as one plummeted to ones death.

We had plenty of time to think about this as we rode through the startlingly loose sand and gravel. How far could we fall? Would we hit the lake? Why did we think this was fun?

At least we’d die with the satisfaction of having climbed up to 8156.3 feet. By climbing I mean blowing out our lungs in the rare air, slipping in the loose dirt and occasionally (much to our annoyance) having so little traction we had to get off and push.

But the trail itself , running uphill from Spooner Lake to Marlette Lake, then along an old Flume and eventually to the old Pondarosa Ranch of Bonanza fame has views that make it darn near worthwhile.

Being a roadie at heart I have issues with climbing 1300 feet in 13 miles and having it take 4 hours. Even our on-the-bike time of just over two hours seems amazingly slow.

Note my extra swell K-Mart shirt. I packed the bikes, teh helmets, gloves, shorts, shoes, but somehow missed the jersey. I know I like those rear pockets, but doing without them really showed me how much I use them.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Black Diamond Mines in the dark

The summer is ending for us. We're getting ready for school again. As an end-of-the-season treat Tricia and I... Well, really just me.... thought it sounded like fun to ride through Antioch's Black Diamond Mines area at sunset and then ride home in the dark. I put the knobby-tired wheels on my mountain-bike-turned-commuter bike, charged up the lights and convinced Tricia that fun would occur.

And it was almost fun, in a different sort of way. We're both road cyclists. Our Mountain riding is really trail riding. I never "take it off any sweet jumps," and "technical decent" is not part of my vocabulary. None the less, off we went up the fire trail. The gravel fire trail. The uphill, loose gravel, who-needs-traction fire trail. It wasn't too bad, but having my wheel slip occasionally was disconcerting.

Then, as the light faded we got to the wall.

I swear I remember riding all the way up it in the distant past. Not tonight. It'd steep, but that's OK. What isn't is how loose it is. Between the gravel and the dust not having my wheels just spin became too hard. I ended up pushing. I hate pushing bikes. It feels like a moral failure. I like riding bikes, not taking them for a walk. Yet there I was, pushing slowly in too many spots. By the time we made the ridge the daylight was mostly gone, so we decided to head North and drop down to the road instead of East and back through the park.

All is good, even though descending, even slowly, in the dark with a light was more worrisome than I'd thought it would be we got to the road and started our nice downhill run. Listening to the knobbies hum on the pavement as we floated down was really fun.

Then suddenly I feel psssttttttt, psssttttttt, psssttttttt. I'd puncutured. The rhythmic escape of air as my wheel turned changed to the sound of floppy tire on pavement and I slowed to a stop.

The day had turned night, as in dark, but we had lights. I pulled rear wheel, checked inside the tire for sharp stuff and popped in the new tube, inflated and hopped on. Psssssstttt. I must have missed something; I was flat again.

We gave up. Tricia started riding home and I pushed my bike a mile or so to the park entrance where I waited an hour for her to come back with the car. When I got up the next morning I realized I didn't have my cell phone. Whoops. I rode back to where I thought I might have dropped it, there it was, right in the road, not run over.

Today I'm going to put the skinny commuter wheels back on the bike.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Waves to Wine 2008

It's that time again. Here's hoping all my loyal blog readers (Dad? Tricia?) will see this and help me out on this year's fund raising efforts.

Click this logo to donate to my 2008 Waves to Wine Bike ride.
CAN 2008 Bike MS Ride - Waves to Wine

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Seattle to Portland 2008

This year's Seattle to Portland ride was a delight. The weather was warm, and got up to almost 90 at the end of the second day. That's not too warm for those who live in Antioch, CA. We had tail winds both days and were able to average 15.5 on day one and 15.75 on day 2. Tricia was a rock, just rolling along at 18 and 19 for long spurts. At one point she was leading a line of guys in Air Force jerseys. We were rolling!

We had no big adventures, but a couple of small amusements.
The night before the ride Tricia asked "Is your rear wheel supposed to look like that?" and indeed, it wasn't. When I wasn't looking I'd let the rear tire develop some darn near rubberless spots. I'd just oiled our chains and hadn't even noticed. I really would have been pushing things to keep riding on it. Fortunately REI is open until 9PM, and I made it just under the wire.

I did make one other screwball move. As I put cycling clothes out on Saturday night I realized I had no shoes. I'd left them on a table back at the midway point party when we got a ride to our host family's home. They were kind enough to haul me back and my shoes where right where I'd left them. I was contemplating how it would be riding in tennis shoes...but I didn't have to.

But it all worked out really well. Heck, we were hardly tired after the ride.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Now I know what went wrong

I had a tough day cycling the other day and couldn't figure out why for a while. Now I know.

I have Sole inserts, which I like a lot. A few months after I bought them I received an offer for two pair of their socks -- for free. I took them up on it, and the socks seemed very nice. I wore them and enjoyed them.

After my rough day, when I took them off, I noticed they were marked, on the inside, "left" and "right."

Now, I can't see or tell the difference, but apparently my body subliminally knew I was riding with them on the wrong feet! Clearly that was the problem. That's a mistake I'll be sure to never make again.

Case closed.

Friday, July 04, 2008

BART Bicycle Priority Area

BART in the SF Bay Area now has areas in the its cars set aside for cyclists. Except the area isn't big enough, they don't hold your bike up and if the lard ass in the seat next to them stays put instead of moving to an empty seat you can barely use them. Our bikes stuck out into the door space because we couldn't flip the seat up. It was filled with people who just couldn't see us, or the empty seats all around them.

I guess it's a good step, but really....

In Portland their transit train cars have hooks for bikes that worked really well. Not that I'm bitter or anything.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Gitane FrankenBike

Perhaps inspired by my friend Taxi777s new Fixed gear/SS he posted about on, I dragged my oldie out of the garage and cleaned it up.

It was my almost-first real roadie. I got it used in 1976 and, like a kid, thought I could turn it into the bike I wish I had by changing parts one at a time as the years passed.

Here's the spec:
  • Mid-70s Gitane Tour de FranceHad it painted and had braze on shifter and water bottle bosses added
  • Fork had problems, so I added a new one, but Columbus instead of Reynolds steel, and a Shimano 600 headset
  • New brakes (Old Weinmans were awful)
  • New seatpost and seat
  • New bars and stem ( I really don't know why)
  • Campy high flange hub new wheels (36 spokes, dude!)
  • Replaced bar end shifters with real carbon downtube shifters
  • I just ordered new brake levers. What's on there now is an old Diacomp tandem lever that pulls both brakes (Don't ask why). I never liked it.
See a Flickr slideshow of all the exciting parts.

It really is a FrankenBike. It has no historic value. But It's kinda cool and I had a ton of miles on it in the olden days. Plus, I think I can't sell it for much, so I should have some fun, right?

But what to do? Whatever it is, it has to be cheap.
Commuter? But the downtube friction shifters are so....
  • Tour bike? But then I'd want a lot of expensive changes....
  • Single speed? I think all I need is a single speed BMX style freewheel.
  • Fixie? But then don't I need a new rear wheel, or at least hub?

What should I do that's cheap and fun?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Giro di Peninsula 2008

Tricia and I decided to ride the "Giro di Peninsula" the night before the event. Despite the smoke in the air from the California fires we thought we needed to get in some big rides before doing the Seattle to Portland ride.
So we got up a four-flippin'-AM and drove to San Mateo to ride 100 miles with our Bike Forum friends.
We had a total climb of 7194 feet, including the famed Tunitas Creek which has some impressively steep sections.
The ride had no major weirdness to report. We felt lost most of the time. It was pretty, but mostly we followed the yellow arrows.
Good stuff: Well marked route, not too crowded, nicely designed T-shirt, friendly folks at rest stops, wonderfully of massive sequoias on a lot of the ride.
Not as good stuff: Some rest stops were short on portable toilets. The food and shirt areas at the end closed too early. They ran out of the good pasta before we finished.

Our buddy Pete did make a photo of us in our matching hats and jerseys.
Link to elevation profile
Link to map

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Oregon Coast

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.
See the slide show in size you can actually see.

We just got back from six days on the Oregon Coast with Bicycle Adventures. I'd hoped to blog about it every day, but our days were too full.
  • Great weather. Stunning weather.
  • Fun ride.
  • Best IPA I ever drank.
  • Too much food.
  • Hiking I actually enjoyed
  • Great Pinot
  • Portland Rocks
  • Pedalpalooza events in Portland
Maybe more words and photos later. Maybe not.

Just in Another slide show: Portland and the Pedalpalooza Sexy Bike Ride along with a couple of other Oregon photos involving bicycles.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Climbing with the Velo Girls

On Sunday Tricia and I took the Climbing and Descending class the Velogirls offer. It's one of their few co-ed classes, so we were able take it together.

We started out in a parking lot right near where the Sequoia Century started. We works with getting comfortable on our bikes and finding balance. It was a blast to be a kid again and hang off one side then the other, drop off the back, lean over the front and generally be 10 years old again.

We also worked on cornering. For me the thing that made a big difference was the admonition to lift my chin and point it where I want to go. I'm no neophyte -- I always look where I want to go, but the "lift the chin and point it in that direction" was something I hadn't done. I really made me feel more solid in the corners.

I guess that's the advantage of a good class -- having someone who's seen of a lot be able to give you specific advice.

We then went out and climbed. I'm not sure where we were, but it was very pretty.
The advice I got was to stop climbing on the hoods and use the bar tops. Considering I've been climbing on the hoods for a zillion years it's pretty hard to stop. But I'm working on it.

The hill we descended on was a delight. I don't know how they found it. A reasonable 2 mile climb, but not a lot of sharp corners and not so steep as to be frightening, or even use brakes on. Just a nice 35 mph ride where I could work on rhythm and balance.

One interesting thing that happened: On our ride out I briefly talked with a rider not in our group . Apparently she thought I was turning right and so she, from my left, jumped and cut right, hitting my front wheel. Amazingly we just rubbed and I was able to bounce off and not smack it in. What the heck, I'll give some credit for my survival to the bump exercise we did a few weeks ago in the other Velo Girls class I took.

Anyway, once again I had a great time, and learned a bit as well.

Now all I need to do is get to work on the engine and I'll be really ready to rock.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Sequoia Century and Sheila Moon

I wasn't going to go, but when Joyce called and said she'd messed up her schedule a couldn't go, and did I want her registration I said "yes."
Tricia had too much going on, so I went on my own. I had to get up at 3:30 am to drive to Palo Alto for my 6 am start. That is so flamin' early, but I did it anyway. I reminded me of the ski trips I did when I was a lot younger.

The ride started uphill. A long uphill along Page Mill road into the fog , followed by a decent through some amazing trees. I'd have sworn I was hundreds of miles from any city.

That was followed by a delightful run along the coast on the way to Santa Cruz. A tail wind pushed me along the ocean and I was ever so happy. That was all to end on Mt. Charlie. I couldn't believe how steep and long it was. It is the land of rich people in grand houses stuck to the side of mountains. I saw it all as my lungs blew up.

The decent after lunch was so fast.It's amazing how long it takes to go up, and how fast it is coming down. i missed turn and ended up ten miles out of the way. I had to call Tricia and ask where I was. She got me headed back along a very busy road with way too many traffic lights. I ended the 100 mile ride at 122 miles.

I liked, but didn't love the ride jersey. But Shelia Moon, way hip designer, had a booth at the finish. After 120 mile someone should get a jersey, so I bought Tricia a very cool, very "Tricia" jersey with what the cool chicks call a "shrug." A two piece jersey. Who'd a thunk it?It's Tuesday night and I'm still worn out.

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

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Contra Costa Bike Commuter of the Year

Tricia was just named Contra Costa County Bicycle Commuter of the Year by the East Bay Bicycle Coalition! I am so proud of her, and she's pretty stoked herself.

We'll be attending their awards ceremony on Bike to Work Day.
Here's what the EBBC posted on their site:

Tricia is a school teacher at Antioch Middle School and is also a dedicated bicycle commuter. She started about three years ago, commuting when the weather was nice. Now bicycling has become her default mode.

Rain, shine, wind or dark she pedals to and from school, taking her students’ papers for a ride through Antioch. Every day she exposes her 140-plus students to the possibilities of bicycling. She parks her bike in her classroom where her students can see it.

Tricia is aware that she is a cycling model for her students. She's careful to obey traffic laws and doesn't get on her bike without her helmet. She even makes a point of hanging her helmet on her bike's handlebars in the classroom. She uses bicycle safety articles in her informational reading lessons. She encourages and inspires her students and co-workers to give bicycle commuting a try.

According to Tricia’s husband, Curtis Corlew, she influenced him and some of his colleagues at Los Medanos Community College to begin bicycle commuting. In a community where riding a bicycle can mean you can't afford a car, or aren't allowed a drivers license, Tricia's commuting is working to change attitudes and perceptions through a positive example.

EBBC applauds the positive examples that Tricia and displays. We know that there are thousands more of you commuting every day. Please let it shine!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Chico's Wildflower Century

"We belong among the wild flowers, we belong somewhere we feel free."

What a beautiful day. Even though I always forget how far away Chico is the Wildflower Century was worth the drive.

We started at 5 AM, loading the bikes and grabbing the free breakfast the motel. We managed to actually get on the bikes on the road about 6:15. With the sun peeking over the horizon we and up headed out of Chico up our first climb, up the very very bumpy Humbolt Road. It's a demoralizing climb because it doesn't look like a climb. Tricia asked me if I'd lubed her chain with glue. But 700 vertical feet later we got to turn around and fly down Highway 32. A delightful 3.4 miles of smooth downhill with barely a turn.

A bit later we rode up Honey Run. I'd heard it was nice, but it is nicer than nice.

Depending on where you measure, it's about 1700 feet in 10 miles with a number of 11% and 12% sections. But it's all protected, out of the wind and shaded. The trees and plants smell wonderful, and the views off the edge are grand. It's a slow enough climb that you can read the road graffiti and fine out who in Chico loves who "4 ever."

After another smooth, delightful decent we hit the 100-mile add-on section: Table Mountain. It had become a good deal warmer, and the climb, though not as high, had steeper sections.
As we rode up there were numerous cyclists stopped, walking or just hiding in the shade. It was like in a war movie where the troops are marching past all the fallen soldiers on their way to battle. We refused to stop and peddled on.

From the top it was a winding, fast downhill over some potholes I glad I didn't hit at 30-plus.

The remainder was a pleasant roll through the crop lands of Chico. Pleasant until Tricia took a bee strike to the head. Somehow the little kamikaze managed to get under her shades and sting her on the side of her head. As always, she bounces back faster than I ever would, and we rolled on to the finish. I'd been hearing a Sierra Nevada Brew calling my name for the last 10 miles, so I was very happy happy to get back to the staging area and find that beer.

Our friend Joyce (Saint Joyce for the rest of the week) got us a shower at her friends house. MMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmm.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Los Vaqueros Dam Time Trial

Diablo Scott and my own bad self.

I don't race. I don't time trial. But when Diablo Scott posted in Nor Cal that the Los Vaqueros Dam Time Trial wasn't drawing many riders I thought "What the heck" and decided to sign up. It's almost in my back yard. It was only fifteen bucks, and I got T-shirt and water bottle. I can live with that.

The course is only three miles long with 321 feet of climbing. It includes a nice steep 11.9% climb to the top of the dam at the end. I'd ridden there before and figured "How bad can it really get in three miles?" Actually not too bad. The most painful part is that my throat hurts from breathing so darn hard.

With the climb and all I was guessing I'd take fifteen minutes or so. But there was a tail wind, and I was pretty excited. I made it in 11.10. (Average speed-15.8) I wore my heart monitor and was surprised to see I was riding around 95% max most of the way, and at 100% for most of of the climb. In my age group of five Diablo Scott took first, and I came in third. I was fifth overall, but it was a very small field.

I had a good time. The folks running it were very nice, as were the other riders. I think this has potential to be a very popular yearly event for the non-racer crowd.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Eighty-five percent of a century

I might have guessed the Tierra Bella Century was going to be "special" when I:
  • Couldn't find my camera charger the night before.
  • My bike computer went all finicky and wouldn't work right.
  • Discovered I failed to place my prescription lens insert in my cycling glasses
None the less, at 7:35 we launched from Gavilan College with our friend Mr. Pete (Taxi777) into a cool morning and a mild headwind.

By the second rest stop the day was turning warmer and starting to feel hopeful.

Tricia and rode through Morgan Hill, did a short but steep climb and then dropped down Anderson Lake County Park. That's where the big climb of the day was going to start. Then...

Tricia threw her chain. She popped it back on and started uphill, and dropped it again. She executed a no-speed fall over, banged her knee tweaked her wrist a bit. When we flipped her bike over to try and figure out what was going on we realized she was missing three inner chain ring bolts on her triple. No wonder she was having problems. (Note to us: check those hard-to-see bolts)

We were now in a low spot, and either direction was a big climb. We did the sensible thing -Called SAG.

After much discussion of possibilities, the SAG drivers, who I swear were Bartells and James, the two goofy guys from the old ads, picked us up and gave us a scary ride. Cliffs on the left, cyclists on the right, two happy goofballs in the front.

They took us to the Sunshine Bicycle Shop in Morgan Hill. The great guys at the shop popped on new bolts and didn't even want to charge us.

We realized we weren't that far from the route, and tough Tricia decided we could just rejoin our ride, and so we did. We got to ride through a very beautiful section near Gilroy Hot Springs, surrounded by green, a river and some delightful rolling hills with a few climbs.

Coming back was another story. By the time we had 20 miles to go the wind had kicked in. We rode straight into a huge head wind that lowered our speed to 9 mph for miles. Then we turned and had it from the side. Twenty to twenty-five mph with gusts. I could actually see Tricia leaning into the wind to stay upright.

It was a relief to turn on the last leg and get all that as a tail wind. Zoom zoom zoom, and back we were. We ran into Mr. Pete and had a good post ride dinner (with pie and ice cream!) We ended up with 85 of our planned 100 miles.

I awarded Tricia a new jersey, purple heart, and new gloves in honor of her swellness and toughness. They do have about the best looking ride jersey I've seen, and Tricia will look extra swell in it.

Friday, April 18, 2008

I heart Davis CA

Check out this video about Davis, CA and bicycling. I could live in a city like this.
Update: The link is broken. I guess the video moved. If you know where I can link it please post the url in the reply.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Mr. Pete's Marin Adventure ride

Mr. Pete lead the usual gang from Norcal on a ride Sunday, April 13. What an adventure. Tricia and I took BART to the City and met the crew at the clocktower at 10 AM. The weather was amazingly warm and we were able to head out over the Golden Gate without jackets, leg or arm warmers. We rode through Sausalito to San Anselmo and on to lunch at Point Reyes Station, enjoying the great views and climbs all along the way. Pete took us through the secret roads of Ross, avoiding most of the heavily trafficked roads in the area. I thought he was just lost, but we ended up where we were supposed to.

The ride went well until sometime after lunch. We'd just gone through Samual P. Taylor State Park and were headed down narrow and annoyingly bumpy section of road. I was waiting for a car to pass so I could drop back and ride with Tricia. When I looked back I didn't see her, and she'd been right behind me just a moment before. I turned around and saw her bike laying by the road and went into a panic. I couldn't see her! I rolled up and still couldn't even see her. I can't think of the last time I was so scared. Then, there she was. Her handlebars had rotated suddenly when she hit a pot hole, tossing her forward and her cell phone into the road. She'd walked back to retrieve it. Pete had tool and her bars were quickly reset and we were all on our way again, like it had never happened, except for the remaining shaking in our hands and stomachs.

After that it was on to the Golden Gate, where the fog was rolling in (Jacket time!) and then through the City to Pete's. He rides there a lot and is comfortable. Tricia and I pretty much hated the whole city riding experience. I'm just glad we escaped intact.

All in all, a great day, 87 miles or so, plenty of climbing.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Safe cycling video

This video should be shown to all new cyclists, and maybe drivers as well. Sure, the voice over guy isn't exactly Hollywood, but the info is good. You just have to love YouTube, don't you?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Two-hundred what?

Yikes, yikes, and double yikes. I just sent off actual dollars to sign up for this ride. It's 200 miles, and it's hot. Unless it's cold. Unless it rains too. And it's a flippin' long way to ride in one single friggin' day. What am I doing here? If there are no posts after May 17 you'll be able to guess why.