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.