Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Time Machine

Dan's Bike_B

From the keyboard of guest blogger Lance OldStrong. He originally submitted this short piece to a Bicycling magazine contest. He should have won a new bike. We can only assume the entry was somehow lost, or the contest was rigged. Or maybe they hated the photo I shot.

This basic black bike with its dated top tube must be a time machine. 
This explains how it makes me feel so many years younger. 
No wonder Einstein rode one.

Five years, 25,734 miles, sixty pounds lost. Years. Miles. Pounds. Where did they all go? I've barely thrown a leg over this, my first road bike, and its taken me to where centuries are training rides and I finish double centuries with “The Devil” and “Death” in their names. A Time Machine. It has to be.

But old black needs work more often now; even time machines age. Peering over my bike on his stand my mechanic hints: “Think what you’d do on a 16.5 pound modern carbon bike.” What indeed? Dare I dream of RAAM, or Paris Brest Paris? Me, the former fat guy? Could I cheat time again, only faster? On a new time machine, yes.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Morgan Territory and Junction Memorial Day

When you forget to take your iPhone and camera you can't make photos. Fortunately Steve brought his, and shared with me. Thanks Midland!

JoelS and his wife Bess from Bikeforums invited the BF crew to join them around Diablo on Morgan Territory and then climb Diablo. I'd been recovering from a calf muscle tear for two weeks and thought this ride, with multiple bailout points would be a good recovery test.

Tricia joined me and a whole slew of BF folks, including folks Joel brought with him. We took a pretty leisurely pace, which worked well for me.

I think I'm all better now. Or at least better. The ride felt good. On the climb to the junction from the Diablo South Gate I felt good enough to try working hard and managed hit several PRs according to Strava. Maybe this rest thing can work. I even hit a PR descending North Gate.

That's all I've got. No big adventures, no close calls, no epic Cat 6. Just a nice ride with friends.

Monday, May 21, 2012

New bike (N+1)

Motobecane Outlaw

coffeeI'd been lusting after a Motobecane Fantom Outlaw for a while. It looked like a perfect commuter machine. It has a carbon fork on an aluminum frame, eyelets for a rack and fenders, 30mm tires for a cushy (and a slightly sticker/glass resistant) ride. It had disk brakes, which sounded way ever so  cool to me.

I'd been using my Cannondale F500 mountain bike for a few years, but I wanted my mountain bike back. And after I was named bike commuter of the year I thought some sort of reward was in order. No one was forthcoming with a grand gold-plated trophy, so I ordered the bike.

Of course, the week I ordered it our house was burglarized, and I tore a calf muscle, making me feel pretty bad and pretty silly, about buying a bike. But I will recover, and when I do I will enjoy this fine bicycle just fine.

brakesNew bikes look so clean, so nice. But to be a commuter it needed water bottle (and coffee) cages, a pump, and a rack and panniers. I also added a speedometer/computer. The lights will come soon, and come winter I'll add fenders. I'm thinking I'll get some cool aluminum/plastic SKS in shiny sliver.

The disk brakes are interesting. When I rode it for the first time they barely worked. I was worried. But after a a very short ride they were fine. They just needed to settle in.

I bought Shimano M324 pedals with SPD cleats on one side and platforms on the other. I was tired of putting on special shoes to go get milk. But I love clip ins. Now I have a choice, and they seem to work pretty well. Yep, I'm in full-Fred mode, but I only feel a little bad about it.

It's a cross bike, so the gearing is a bit odd, with no small gears. Someday I may swap out the crankset for something more suited to my riding style, but as a commuter bike on a flat route it seems fine.

Still, A new bike is always a thing of joy, isn't it?

clean bike
Before adding cages, pump, computer and rack.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

2012 Tour of California stage 3: Diablo!

 Even though I tore my calf muscle Friday, forcing me to walk with a cane and cancel my Davis Double Century plans, when the Tour of California comes to your mountain, you go.

I'd ridden Diablo two weeks before in the Devil Mountain Double, last week just for fun, And now the world's greatest cyclists were going to ride the same climb. So I got my mountain bike turned commuter bike out, strapped on the panniers and took the camera on a slow ride to the 1000 foot mark.

It was a glorious day. Tricia and I had planned to ride farther up, but when we got to LanceOldstrong with his kids, and an ice chest, we figured we'd gone far enough. As we waited we say many bike forum friends, and even a few photographers I knew, including Karl Moldon from the Times. It was such a great day even waiting was fun, as was seeing what must have been more than 1000 fellow cyclists on the road.

The pros are amazing. The peloton is amazing. The caravan is amazing. The police motorcyclists are amazing. It's all, well, amazing.

After the few minutes of excitement between the break away group and the peleton  passing it was over. Tricia and I went to Livermore to see the finish, which we almost could. The sprint, even from 100 meters, is frightening and stunning.

The photo award of the day goes to Lance Oldstrong for his picture just after the race of his daughter Erin with cyclist Heinrich Haussler. Here's his story:
When I asked him for a photo he politely said yes, as if resigned to it being part of his job.
Then I gave Erin a little push towards him and told him, "She has a huge crush on you"This made him light up and display the reasons for her crush: twinkly mischievous eyes, dimples and charm. He said, "Now you are going to make me blush" in his delightful Australian accent.
He and Erin sure made a nice couple and there were lots of "ah, how cute" sighs from the clutch of fans hanging out by the Garmin bus.

 Tricia and I followed up with a delightful Greek lunch in Old Livermore where we sat outside and listened to a band play while children frolicked on the village lawn. What a day. Even with a funky leg a great time was had.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Bike to Work Day and Contra Costa Bicycle Commuter of the Year 2012

curtis gets an award
My Big time Bike Commuter Award was delivered at Oaklands Bike Happy Hour BTWD fest.
BTWD Amanda

Bike to Work Day 2012 was a busy but fun blast. My photojournalism student Amanda met me near my house and rode her bike to school for the first time. We stopped at two "Energizer stations" on the way in for hugs, swag and munchies. The ride took a lot longer than usual, but was also more entertaining.

Ole of EBBCThere was also an energizer station at LMC, and a few people actually rode their bikes here.  We live in an area that isn't as bike friendly as it might be, but the weather is perfect for riding.

I went to Oakland for the Bike Happy Hour. It's a journey from the burbs, and just getting there in a timely fashion was an adventure. It was worth it. They had New Belgium Brewery serving Fat Tire, pool tables and Foosball tables in the street, a stage with a DJ and band, and an awards ceremony where I got an award.

lmc btwd
LMC Energizer station with actual cyclist!

BTWD Planet Booty
Planet Booty. Really.

Yep, I got an award. I got to pick it up at the bike Happy Hour
curtis corlew with bike at Los Medanos College
I'm dressed in my best professor get up in front of the LMC Math building.
Congrats: You are our Bike Commuter of the Year for 2012 Contra Costa County
Did you get my email last week about your winning this award? If not, congrats! Our committee was impressed with your nomination and all you do for cycling. Can I call to talk with you about this? We are announcing this today and send out a press release this week. Thanks and talk soon.

EBBC  director Renee Rivera That's how I found out. It's all officially announced on the East Bay Bicycle Coalition site now and everything, and I'm thrilled. I've been an East Bay Bicycle Coalition member, and a supporter for work the organization does on behalf of cyclists, for years.  And after all, Tricia won the award way back in  2008, so it's good that I'm almost keeping up with her on the bike, again.

A month or so ago I'd received an email  saying I'd been nominated, and asking me to write up my bike commuting story. Here's what I wrote.

I was a bike rider in the 70s and then the 80s, but by 2006, like so many, I got a new job, married, a house and a collection of stress and a lack of time. I got… huge. And I didn't ride anywhere.

My wife had started riding her bike to her job five miles away. One day as a lark I rode in with her, she on her old, heavy mountain bike with huge tires, me on my 80s Cannondale racing bike. I couldn't come close to keeping up — and she wasn't even trying to go fast.

I knew something had to change. With her encouragement I started riding to work at Los Medanos College where I teach. At first my plan was to ride when the weather was nice. I liked it.  As the weather got colder I just put on more clothes. I realized that if I could ski in twenty-degree weather then riding a bike in East Contra Costa's mild winter was no big deal.

Then it rained. But I was so used to riding I didn't want to give it up. It turns out that with a rain jacket I just didn't get very wet in eight miles. Even though I bought rain pants and shoe covers, it turned out I only need them once or twice a year.

Cycling has become my default commute mode. It's not a decision I make every morning, it's just how I get to work. Surprisingly, it doesn't take much longer than driving, and I can roll right into the campus instead of searching for car parking. On the very rare days I need to bring in something so huge I can't carry it on my bike and need to use a car, I'm thrown off and usually forget something.

Over the years my bike has changed some. I took off the heavy-treaded tires and put on puncture resistant smooth ties, which roll a lot easier.
I acquired a rack and panniers to carry papers, clothes and my lunch, plus a bike light and rear blinkie for my evening commutes. My bike is nothing special, but it now has over 10,000 commute miles on it.

My students and colleagues all know I ride. They check if I'm on campus by seeing if my bike is in my office. Often, on a cold or wet day, I'm asked "Did you ride today?" When I answer "Yes" I think they're happy that there's something constant in this world.

I admit my bike love spills over into the job. Yesterday I had a student ask me about getting a bike for commuting. I have students and faculty tell me about their cycling achievements and plans. In my graphic design class I have students design "Bike to Work Day" posters (here are their 2012 efforts) to promote the event, and remind the LMC community that we'll have an energizer station on campus that day.

My bike commute has helped me discover what it's like to be a kid again, riding to school, in touch with the light, the aroma and the weather of the day. It's helped me lose a lot of weight. It's helped me get in shape. All this commuting has morphed to include weekend rides and vacations. My wife and I rode our bikes in Oregon, Washington, Canada, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming last summer. We saw Yellowstone in a way we'd never have been able to from a car.

My life has changed for the better, just because I started riding my bike to work.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Diablo Summit ride

all four of us Diablo from Blackhawk_1251
 One week after the Devil Mountain Double my DMD partner announced that following his kid's track meet in Livermore he was riding 50 miles home, and summiting Diablo. I said "Too bad I can't go with you."

The next thing I knew he'd worked out a plan where Tricia and I would meet Steve in Concord, ride to Blackhawk, (halfway between Livermore and Concord) meet and ride Diablo. It was a perfect plan, and we arrived within seconds of each other.

 Steve on DiabloDan billed this as a slow post -double ride, so of course, he and Steve Cat 6 raced each other to the junction. As we started to the summit, Steve and I left a few seconds earlier, and without trying opened a gap as Dan talked with Tricia. We saw Dan decide to catch us, so we waited until he did, Dan had burned a big match doing so, and just as he got to us, we powered away in a perfectly mean, but well timed effort. I was laughing so hard I could hardly pedal. We'd quickly gotten several turns ahead. I didn't think I'd let up, but just before Juniper he came past. So, even doing all my cheatty sneaky stuff I couldn't stay away.

We all met at the summit, rolled down Diablo and ended up at a Thai dinner in Pleasant Hill. Life is good, though Tricia still wishes we could have stayed at the summit for "Super Moon Rise" when the moon appeared 10% larger and 30% brighter. But, as she points out, they don't allow descending Diablo in the dark.
 curtis and Tricia on diablo

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Bike to Work Day 2012 posters

Bike to Work Day May 10, 2012

Bike to Work Day May 10, 2012I gave my Los Medanos College graphic design students an assignment to create Bike to Work Day posters to encourage student and staff to bicycle to LMC on BTWD May 10, 2012. They came up with some nice ideas. I'll be printing  and posting them around campus. Click this here link to see a slide show of them. I'm proud of their efforts, and hope you too will be riding to work this May 10.

Bike to Work Day May 10, 2012