Friday, December 30, 2011

The Eve of New Years Eve metric

Dan in hobbit land
LanceOldStrong in Hobbit Land

When LanceOldStrong called to say he had Friday off and ask if I was up for a metric I said "you bet."
As always his routes are top shelf. Even if I know about where we're headed, he always manages to toss in a few interesting twists. This ride started in Concord, went through Danville, popped over to Castro Valley up Redwood road, through Canyon. The redwoods in Canyon are magnificent, and it always feels like a magical place. On a ride a while ago as we rode out of Canyon and into Moraga LanceOldStrong remarked "We're not in the Shire any more." Since then I always think of Canyon as "Hobbit Land."

Our 63 mile jaunt was foggy, cold, fun and generally uneventful until we got back to walnut Creek, where a motorized bicycle passed us on Olympic Blvd. LanceOldStrong, being LanceOldStrong couldn't stand it and had to chase him down, then blow him away. Though he then made a total Cat 6 move by turning right. Sure, it was really our route, but still...

Anyway, what a pleasant way to wrap up the year. It's almost time to compute year end mileages, and set next years goals!

Saturday, December 24, 2011 Christmas Eve Diablo ride

Tricia at Pleasant Hill BART

Taxi777 sightingMan, I'm glad I went on this ride. I'd say I was toast, but toast is warm. It was around 34 degrees at the start. I only made the junction, and even though it was supposed to be to the summit, when I got there I felt as beat as if I'd gone to the top. Tricia (MyLilPony) made me promise to go up new years day. How much training can one do in a week? We'll see.

It was still great to ride with the BF gang and have our old friend Pete show up on his single speed at the junction, and to ride with Dan (below) who hammered out his twentieth ride to the summit for 2011. Yikes!

The mist photos are from a fountain at Pleasant Hill BART, where the ride started, that tosses up vapor on cold days.

Dan at Pleasant Hill BART

Photo note: I traded in my no-internet, no-texting phone when it broke and got an iPhone 4S. I've been enjoying the camera, and used it on this ride.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Delta Pedalers Christmas tree light bike ride

Tricia Christmas Light Ride

When my bike forum friends call for an 8am ride, we leave at 8am. When the Pedalers, bless their hearts, call for a 5pm ride, they mean they'll show up and start getting their bikes ready some time around 5:20. And they're proud of it too! They told me they aren't all uptight, and it isn't a job, it's supposed to be fun.

Christmas bike light rideEventually some riders with decorated bikes turned on their lights and sometime about 5:30 we launched our ride through the neighborhoods of Antioch, checking out the Christmas lights. I was really cold, but only because it was a slow ride with a lot of stops to gawk. I'd brilliantly brought a thermos of Starbucks hot coco, so Tricia and I had a bit of a warmer upper.

The ride was fun. There are a few over-the-top houses that make it all worthwhile. Imagine, FM radio transmitters broadcasting Christmas music, and a zillion lights. There was a two-story inflatable elf with a clear stomach containing Santa and another elf (I never figured that one out) and a house with a Santa photo studio in the garage.

We rode about a bit with our blinky-flashers competing and losing to the Simpson Santa and the part-of-the-decoration large screen TV playing a Christmas video.

Our hearts were warm, but our bodies were freezing. We rode home as fast as we could to generate a bit of warmth, and by the time we got back we were feeling pretty good.

Christmas light ride 2

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Post-Thanksgiving fog and fun

ride with dan_tricia crop
Road? Pavement is for the weak. And those not on a LanceOldStrong tour.
wet bars ride with dan_0653When LanceOldStrong promises a ride with an an interesting local jewel you know it's going to be good. And he wasn't even talking about his road-ends mostly-dirt cut-through after the main feature. Tricia loves going on his custom tours, so we joined him on this forty-three-mile, foggy, cold, post-Thanksgiving Sunday for an adventure.

We spent more time on the multi-use paths than is strictly allowed by real roadies, but it was, after all, a turkey burn off fun day and not a hammer fest. And we looked totally cool, cruising the MUP in our Northern California jerseys.

The highlight of the day was Donald Rd in Orinda/Moraga. I've lived in this area forever and didn't know it was there. It's a big climb off Moraga Road with a lot of double-digit (at least a little 17+) of up-ness.

But the pay off is the view from the top. At least that's LanceOldStrong's story. For us the view was fog.

We finished up with his super-secret sneak through between Pleasant Hill Road and Walnut Creek and got back in time to hear the Raiders start their win over the Bears.

Thanks Mr. OldStrong!

dan with Tricia
Yep, lots of fog to see up here.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Giro d' Vino 2011

giro d' vino 3

giro d' vino 7I was pretty sure it was going to be a good day when BenRidin of NorCal directed us to the most primo, best possible parking spot at the Woodbridge Winery starting point for the 2011 Giro d' Vino in Lodi, California. It was a might chilly, but we dressed for it, and carried our rain wear just in case. We were very happy we didn't need it at all.

We opted for the 100K plus route, and decided that it was a wine tasting on bikes, not a bike ride. The first winery came up so quickly we were hardly warmed up, but at 8:40 AM or so, there we were, tasting a nice Tempranillo and sampling Portuguese cheese at the St. George winery, buying a bottle, and riding on. We'd repeat this pattern numerous times as the day went on.

giro d' vino 1

We hooked up with BigBossMan, Bikingsheer and MarcoPolo from Bikeforums, and spent at lot of time on the road with them, trading insults, discussing the Paleo diet, child rearing and solving most of the world's problems.

giro d' vino 5

Among the highlights of the day was the Cycles Gladiator stop. I've loved their wine label forever, but never bought their jersey. They had last year's Hincapie bibs and jerseys on sale for 65% off. We each bought both, and some wine too. The photo is this year's jersey, you'll have to wait to see us in our new ones.

giro d' vino 9

Not only did we get to taste and buy wine (delivered back to the ride start) but we got to talk with wine makers and label designers as well. There were a couple of labels I just loved. I'm looking forward to sharing them with my graphics students, whose current project is to design a California wine label.

giro d' vino 4 The ride was stunningly flat, but the organizers managed to find what may be the only bump in Lodi. It wasn't long, but it did hit 18%. I was impressed, so I bought more wine.

One flat tire later (Thanks for the tube, BenRidin and sag support!) we were on our way back to the car. Total time: all day. Ave rolling speed: 15.3. Miles 67. Wine purchases: 10 bottles. Rain: Zero. Fun: Max.

giro d' vino 10

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Summer cycling vacation 2011 part 1

Cycling vacation 2011 card 1_2854

I'm having trouble getting motivated and organized enough to post our fantastic cycling vacation of 2011. Tricia suggested I just try to do a lot of short posts. Because I always listen to her, that's what I'll do. Here's part one.

measure for measureWith bikes on the roof, we left beautiful Antioch on July 7, headed toward Ashland Oregon, with plans to visit the Columbia River Gorge, Washington, Victoria and Vancouver, BC, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana, and cycle everywhere we stopped.

Our friend Joyce made us a traveling CD mix (complete with custom cover), filled with songs about bicycling and the places we'd go. I couldn't wait and had it on the CD player by the time we hit Interstate 5. It was a blast waiting for each song to come up.

theater ashland

We'd purchased tickets to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland quite a while before our trip. When we arrived the theater it was supposed to be in was closed due to a structural issue. They had erected a huge air conditioned tent in the nearby park as a replacement venue. We were impressed with the ingenuity, but not as much by the result. Still, the play, Measure for Measure, set in the 70s of all things, was a lot of fun and very creative.

photographer ashland

tricia in spaWe camped at Jackson Wellsprings, a campground with hot springs that feels like 1969. The aroma of sulfur from the hot springs, patchouli oil, and magic medicinal herb floats about the place. There also were some "interesting" fellow campers. We watched a young woman with a 4x5 camera photograph an aging hippie/homeless/strange-agent. She said she was photographing campers in similar places all across America. The hot springs themselves are nice and warm. We didn't stay around after dark during the clothing-optional hours.

ashland cattleWe managed to get in a good bike ride as well. There are some delightful hills nearby, and the drivers don't seem as intent on running over cyclists as they are in Antioch. We saw actual beef on the hoof as we pedaled on roads with names like "Dark Hollow Road."

All in all, Ashland is a delight. They have a charming downtown, a brew pub, bike sharing with covered parking, banjo players in the park and Shakespeare.

ashland banjo

Monday, October 31, 2011

Morgan Territory and Diablo with Bike Forums

Bike forums morgan diablo 1--2011_3

When Bike Forums member Joel from Sacramento posted "I want to ride Diablo" Lanceoldstrong went into action and planned a ride around and up the mountain. Complete with custom route slips (including an elevation profile) 21 of us launched from Heather Farms part at 9:00 am.

I almost didn't go as I was feeling pretty ill, but I'm glad I did. Tricia and I managed to hang in pretty well until Morgan, then the younger, thinner and more studdly took off. They were kind enough to regroup at the top.

This may be the first time I took "the plunge" down Morgan without huge crosswinds. It is still both exhilarating and terrifying. At about 42 mph I was passed by Joel, Lanceoldstrong and company like I wasn't moving.

After a lunch stop in Danville, Tricia and I slogged up Diablo, and back to the parking lot. After satisfying my usual post-ride sushi craving, we headed home.

Thanks BF! A good ride was had.

Bike forums morgan diablo 1--2011_1

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Foxy's Fall Century 2011 and the world's ugliest jersey

Tricia at Foxy Fall 2011

Even though the 2011 Foxy's Fall Century was sold out, we'd heard that if we arrived early enough we'd be able to get in. When we arrived at 6:20 there was a heck of a line waiting to get in, but they were still handing out pens and forms so we scribbled our info in the dark. By the time the doors opened our spot in line looked golden; there were three times as many folks behind us. The line went very quickly once it started moving, and after a bit of panic about "Cash Only" (We had enough. Barely.) We managed to hit the road at 7:15.

Starting early kept us out of most of the boy-racer-without-skills and I've-never-ridden-a-bike-before madness, though I'm always surprised how many of my fellow cyclists think "Share the Road" signs are an invitation to take their spot out of the middle of the lane.

The weather was just about perfect too. Not too hot, not too cold, just right. This ride is different from what we're use to. I think there was less than 100 feet of climbing in the first 25 miles. Still, rolling through the farmlands at dawn near Davis is a wonderful way to start the day.

We had an uneventful but fun ride to lunch. Then, as I ate my peanut butter sandwich,  we heard a very loud, airy explosion and saw a big puff of dust... coming from where I'd put my bike down. Yep, my front tire had exploded! It had blown off the rim. A bystander suggested it was because I parked in the sun. Yeah, I'm sure that was it. Because I never ride in the sun or anything. The tire was OK, we tossed in a new tube, and then I saw it...

I realize there is a wide variety of taste, one man's ceiling is another man's floor, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and all that. But this, this is without doubt, the most ugly. ugly, triple-ugly cycling jersey I have ever seen. It didn't appear to be ironically ugly, or humorously ugly, it was just amazingly ugly. I present it to you here and challenge you to find one worse. If you can, post a link in the comment section

From the fifty-mile lunch stop the ride actually climbs a bit. Tricia and I are always surprised that so many people who blow past us on the flats sections crawl, suffer, blow up and even stop on the hills. But like all hills they eventually end, and we got a nice downhill back toward Davis.

There's a bike swap at the finish, and usually a booth selling DeFeet socks, so we bought a few pairs and went home happy.


Thursday, October 06, 2011

Magazine cover. Kind of.

bike mag cover

I've been working too much to ride enough or even post about not riding enough. But I do have this:

When I gave my InDesign class an assignment to create a magazine cover they complained it was too hard. So I knocked this out in half an hour to show them how easy it could be.

Here's hoping I can ride more again soon, and not become so fat I don't fit my cycling clothes any more. At least I'm getting my daily bike commute in. With the wind and the new sticker-proof extra-fat super-slow tires it is at least a workout.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Goathead puncture vine

It's that time of year: Goathead! AKA bindii, bullhead, burra gokharu, caltrop, cat's head, devil's eyelashes, devil's thorn and devil's weed. They are everywhere, and they feed on bike tire rubber and my pain. They are 19 feet tall, quick as cats and as mean as the meanest thing you can think of. Even meaner.
I pulled this one out of my tire Wednesday. But there are more lurking out there.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A bicycle song. About me.

I met the amazing Ashely at a Journalism conference for community college students. A truck load of students were twittering their fingers off, but her tweets were so insightful and funny I tracked her down just to see who she was. I added her to my twitter followings.

A short while later she tweeted she'd had her iPhone stolen. She was using a fund raising social media site to raise money to replace it. One service she offered in her fundraising efforts was to write a song. I sent money and asked her to write about me and bicycles. Then I forgot all about it.

Today my song arrived with a note:
I wrote two songs for you. One was inside of my now broken computer, but I borrowed a friend's and wrote an entirely different one. It's very short, and for that I apologize. But there is a kazoo in this one, if that helps. If I ever fix my computer, I'll send the other too.
Hope you enjoy, and sorry about the wait.

It was worth the wait. After all, it has kazoos!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Pigs Bears, Wildcat, El Toyonal and some dirt

pigs, bears, more w- dan_in dirt

On July 4 Dan and I planned to squeak in 30 miles at 6 am. Somehow we ended up doing 62, and along the way tried El Toyonal (painfully steep) and a trail off Wildcat Canyon (lacking pavement.) That's right, no pavement. With road bikes.

A good time was had.

Somewhere near Orinda

Monday, June 27, 2011

Steven Cozza's Giro Bello Ride 2011

giro belo climb1
Just about everything went right and even the things that went wrong went well.

Steve Cozza's Giro Bello is a grand idea for a wonderful cause. Starting in Sebastopol and winding up toward Cloverdale, it's well beautiful and well-organized ride. Even the tee shirt looks good.
You can read about Steve's selfless efforts here.

giro belo Steve and DanI'd checked the weather before we drove up Friday night with LanceOldStrong to meet with Steve the afternoon before the ride. It promised to be cool in the morning and not hot in the the afternoon. I didn't even bring any warm clothes. That night the forecast changed to the 40's for the morning.

But, good thing number 1: I managed to buy a tee shirt to wear under my jersey at the second hand store across from the motel for only $1.00.

Good thing number 2: It wasn't really as cold as the 45 degrees the weather station said it was going to be.

Good thing number 3: My Garmin 305 mount broke on the first major climb. That's bad, but when it bounced it didn't break. I may have a second mount I can use, and even if I don't have it, a replacement is cheap.

giro bello bridgeGood thing number 4: The Geysers climb was really really hard, but I lived through it, and by the time we reached the top I was getting used to moving at 3mph. The temperature was perfect. I'd have hated that climb at 100 degrees.

Good thing number 5: The descent was over some of the most riddled holes I've ever ridden. I didn't crash. Dan broke a spoke, (bummer)  but the wheel stayed round enough (good thing 5a) that he managed to finish the ride. At the lunch stop he asked the mechanic from Healdsburg Spoke Folk if he had a spoke. Ironically, he did not.

Good thing number 6: The unique post-ride meal. We were issued meal tickets we could use at any number of different food vendors. I had some tandoori chicken with rice that was right tasty.

giro blelo late climbWe'd started at 6:30. Steve Cozza started at 7. We had a pool about when he'd pass us, and later a pool about when he'd pass us on the climb. I won pool one, and tied Tricia on pool two. Really, I think he was able to pass us partly because he's a pro cycling god, and partly because he had a motorcycle to carry his water and spare wheels. We carry our own pumps, spare tubes and patch kits.  And our bikes weigh more — partly because big sprockets weigh more than small sprockets. Plus, I'm fatter. So really, who's doing more work? And, therefore it only makes sense to ask: Who's more tough and studdly? Yep. That's right.

Anyway, despite making a wrong turn right out of the parking lot (Hey, shouldn't there be road markers? Where are the road markers? Oh…) and adding a mile to our 106 mile day, we all had a good time at a wonderful ride on a grand course.

giro bello morning

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Perfect weather for an afternoon ride

I managed to sneak a fun 30 mile ride in with LanceOldStrong on Thursday evening. We climbed about 2500 feet, including Old Briones Road off Alhambra. We slid through Lafayette and the secret hills above Walnut Creek.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Two bridges, three murder sites, squirrels and flowers ride

Vallejo CrocketbridgeWhen famed tour guide LanceOldStrong proposed a ride across the Benicia and Vallejo bridges that also included:
  • The Frontage Road behind the Airport in Concord
  • The Sewage Treatment Plant
  • Concord's 100-year-old paupers' field cemetery for the unclaimed and indigent.
  • Three other graveyards along the route
  • County Jail 
  • Bail Bond Row
  • Murder #1: The site of the murder of Dr. John Marsh in 1856
  • Murder #2 a Zodiac killer murder site
  • Murder #3 another Zodiac killer murder site
  • Other points of historical oddness.
How could we not go?
Pachaco Cemerery wallsignsSquirrel
John Marsh murder sire
Our first major site (if you don't count the sewage treatment plant we saw in the distance) was the Pacheco Cemetery. They've recently started locking the gate, and we couldn't fit through the crack in the sad wall. We were reasonably content to peer in over the fence. We also stopped briefly in Martinez by a California Historical Marker (and big rig parking spot) of the murder of California pioneer John Marsh.

From there we rode past the county jail and courthouse on our way to cross the Benicia bridge. We ducked into Benicia and rolled down to the Benicia State Recreation Area where Mr. LanceOldStrong shared his snack with some ground squirrels that live in the sewer there. It was like a scene from Willard.

Leaving the shoreline we rode over about 4 feet of genuine cobblestones, just so I could say "Yes, the Roubaix handles the cobbles very well, thank you." We also dropped in on the Benicia Camel Barns, home of the US Camel Corps in 1863-64.
Zodiac killing siteWe saw the Cytomax factory on our way to Lake Herman Road, site of perhaps the first of the Zodiac serial killer slayings in 1968. It's just a wide spot in the road, but someone had ominously graffitied a nearby sign with the Zodiac's signature symbol.

From there we headed out Lake Herman Road toward beautiful Vallejo, stopped off at the Catholic Cemetery, and eventually passed the "Second Baptist Church." Is that the biggest claim to fame they can come up with, "Second?" After dealing with odd intersections, lights that don't sense bicycles, and interesting neighborhoods we found our way to the Vallejo Bridge, and made our way to Crockett for lunch, where we visited with a couple our real-live touring cyclists headed for Napa.
Cemetery in Vallejo


Following lunch we headed toward Port Costa. We'd been promised history, and Mr. LanceOldStrong came through with a lesson about the Eckley Pier, shipping, trains, wheat growing in Contra Costa. (See interesting link in comments for details)

Riding the The Carquinez Strait Scenic Loop Trail is always fun, and though I'm sure they are illegal, the road paintings always make me smile. The trail, undriveable by cars, makes for a colorful flower-filled ride.

two bridge loop flowers

moon face on road

goats Our last cemetery of the day was Saint Catherine of Siena on the edge of Martinez. I think if I'm ever in a cemetery I'll request goats rather than flowers.

Executive summary: Metric century, touring pace. Lots of looking at stuff, good lunch, much laughing.