Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Run over, busted and broken

Broken MacBook Pro 

I bike commute every day, usually into a head wind on the way to work. Monday it was cold, but there was no wind at all. Amazing. So I got excited and rode hard — apparently so hard that when I crossed Lone Tree Way I popped my pannier right off my bike. Who knows, maybe I didn't have it attached as securely as it should have been. To make matters worse, I was working hard enough I didn't even notice it was gone until I got to work. I made a very fast ride back, praying I'd see it.

I didn't.

But within a minute of getting home, my phone rang. A very nice woman told be she'd seen my bag in the road, and saw "tweekers" making a move on it. She actually stopped her car and chased them off. Those bad guys were going through my wallet, and got all my cash, but the good neighbor recovered it and saved all my credit cards and drivers license. She also saved my very pricy Oakley Jawbone prescription sunglasses and a backup bike jersey. Alas, she told me, the laptop had been run over. Then, as if tracking me down after recovering my stuff wasn't enough, she drove it over to my house and handed it to me.

I tried pulling out the hard drive and putting it in an external case, and it almost worked. I managed to get some important things off it, but all my mail — some which is important — is gone. I guess having a hard drive run over isn't very good for data integrity.  At least I have a backup, but it isn't as recent as I'd like. Fortunately I keep my gradebook on Dropbox, so I still have a record of my students' grades.

My pannier is pretty well destroyed as well, so I'll also need to replace it.

At times like this Tricia likes to point out "it's only stuff" and I guess she's right. I'm rather traumatized about losing so much email, and all the replacement expenses, but I'm not bleeding or broken myself, and my faith in humanity got a nice boost, so all in all, life is still good.

I just hope I don't have any bicycle expenses for a while...

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Three —
a: Wise men b: Stooges c: Musketeers

The Three —  a: Wise men b: Stooges c: Musketeers. Photo by Steve
What with Tricia gone for the weekend I managed to hook up with Lnce Oldstrong and Steve "Monrezee" Monroe for a "Pig farm, Bears and Bacon" ride. No epic adventures, but I learned a few things.

California Bay Laurel nuts are edible.
Yep. We found a ton at the end of a climb we did just to explore. They were covering the ground at the end of a road just off Alhambra Valley Road. Oldstrong gave a short lecture on them (How does he know all this stuff?) I picked up a few and brought them home. I don't know if I'm brave enough to roast them and try making tea or just munching down. At least there are lots of directions on the web.

How to get a top 3 Strava KOM. 
Here's how: Ride with your two friends to a place no one else rides, but they ride a lot. Because you are only the third person to Strava there, you get a third place KOM just by showing up and being last. Show up. Ride. Profit.

The amazing importance of numbers.
Much like Tricia, these boys like numbers to mean something. So when we finished our ride at about 58 miles they insisted we ride loops around the neighborhood until we had a legitimate metric century. So we did.

My concentration level is so low that doing square laps is beyond me, so I tried to hit every little court to make a nice GPS track image, just to keep it interesting. Alas, I apparently missed one. OldStrong says I have to redo it all to get credit. I'm not sure if he means the whole ride, or just the neighborhood part.

I'm attempting to use Strava's embed feature to show the route, but I've noticed that lately it fails, and gives a broken icon. If you know anything about this annoying phenomena, please post in the comments and tell me what's going on.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Bike fitting and a weekend getaway

Wade calcs Curtis' fit

Tricia's idea for my birthday present was to get me less "stuff" and instead get me something I would like, but wouldn't get for myself. She came up with the perfect idea: a professional bike fitting. Sure, I'd been riding bikes without one for many decades, but really, my adjustments used the classic "Hummm, feels OK, what the heck"  method.

LanceOldStrong had his bike fitted by Wade Hall at Spokesmen Bicycles in Santa Cruz and raves about it, so Tricia contacted Wade and set up an appointment with the man we joking call "Bike Fitter to Stars."

Bike fit machineThe process was amazing. Wade made me feel like I was the most important project ever during the multi-hour session. Before even looking at the bike part I had body parts measured and tested that I didn't know I had, and still can't pronounce. There was lots of range-of-motion measurement, testing which muscles pulled which way with more strength, and how they worked, or didn't work together. I've had broken bones, been hit by cars and have other odd issues, so there was quite a bit of "hummmmmm" going on.

Wade checks measurements Bike fit Santa Cruz weekend_0184All my data, and the measurements from my bike's current set-up were loaded into a computer with a big-screen TV monitor. My saddle was mounted on a bike-like test contraption, buttons were pushed and the device moved the saddle fore-and-aft, up and down, then the handlebars around until it matched my existing bike. As I peddled two video cameras captured my motion from different angles. Wade used his measurements and what he saw to change the set up. At one point is was like an eye exam "Is this better, or is this more comfortable?"

Wade noticed things about my riding I wasn't aware of. At one point he asked if my peddling on the outside of my foot caused any pain. I didn't know I was doing that, but after he added a Specialized shoe insert I could tell I had been, and the new position was a lot more neutral. When I commented the the arch support seemed a bit far forward he explained that, yes it was, and that was because of the difference between running and cycling. Later, out on the bike, I could tell he was right. It felt great, even though just standing on the floor it felt very odd. Bike magic!

Bike fit Santa Cruz weekend_0185Wade made a few other changes as well. I had my saddle pushed as far back on the rails as it could go. He moved it forward significantly, then changed my stem to a longer one. That kept my cockpit about the same size, but changed my position over the pedals. Most importantly, the new stem is white and looks totally cool, not that I'm shallow or anything.

My bars came up just ever-so-slightly, which loses me some cool-dude points (and I don't have many to spare) but does in fact feel better and let's me ride in the drops more comfortably. He also recommended I change my right side knee saver peddle extender from 25mm to 30mm to compensate for my oddly aligned right leg.

Most exciting for me is the stuff that we talked about that he'll explore. My left arm is shorter than my right. I've compensated by moving my shifter higher on the left, but it isn't enough. Wade is looking into 3-D printing a block that would sit on the shifter and raise the height just the right amount. He also thought that modifying a tri-bike aero arm rest might be possible for changing the distance I reach in the drops.

It's all very exciting. On a 32 mile test I rode through Santa Cruz with Tricia the bike felt very natural. I tried to not think about it too much and to just ride, because anything new always feels weird. The only annoying part was that at first I thought I wanted my saddle pointed nose-up just a tiny bit. But I promised myself a couple of hundred miles before I even think about making even a tiny change. Indeed, after riding the next day, even the saddle angle started to seem fine.

Test ride
Tricia met me at the shop and we rolled through Santa Cruz and up Highway 1 to try the new fit. We had one route in mind, but when we got to Bonny Doone and saw a sign that read "Winery 3 miles" she said "Hey!" Neither of us realized that the three miles was up a 10% grade. This isn't the first time she's done this, the biggest being the "Let's turn here and add on" that took us 7 or 8 miles up an 8% grade to Timberline Lodge and ski area in Oregon.

10% grade Santa Cruz weekend_0194

It was a nice climb, and when we reached the winery I thought I'd buy a bottle and stash it in my water bottle holder. Alas, I forgot to bring my wallet. No wine for us. Tricia took it well, despite her glum look in the photo, and we headed back to Santa Cruz.

no wine for Tricia Santa Cruz weekend_0187

Back in October on the Veteran's Victory Velo ride our Bikeforums friend Marco Polo invited us to stay at his home in Carmel and then ride the next day after our Santa Cruz adventure. So that's what we did. After a wonderful dinner, a great bottle of Syrah, a fun visit with Mark and his wife Lisa (and horse dog River) and a good nights sleep we got up to ride, but not until we'd enjoyed what may be the best cappuccino I've ever had. Thanks Mark!

Tricia at the ocean 2
I knew we'd be riding in a nice area, but I'd been so focused on the bike fit I hadn't given our Sunday ride much thought. Holy smokes, the 17 Mile Drive is beyond stunning, and seeing it by bike makes it that much better. It's such a treat to be along the ocean, feel the sea breeze and hear the waves crashing on the beach. Mark made it even better by being our tour guide and providing interesting historical tidbits along the way. I'm usually a keep-moving don't-stop rider, but Sunday I kept pulling over just to be amazed. I'm lucky I didn't run into anything as I played tourist.

Marco Polo explains it all
Mark explains it all
All in all, a totally amazing weekend. Life is good.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Giro d' Vino 2013

Giro d' Vino 2013 wine drinker sclupture
Last weeks Foxy's Fall century registration opened at 7:30, exactly when we arrived. The parking lot in Davis was already full and we had to park a long way away.
The Giro d' Vino registration also opened at 7:30. We arrived at 7:35 and we almost the first people there. That must mean something, but I can't figure out what.

The first winery was not supposed to open until 9 am, but we got tired of waiting to start. I'd already bought a Williams Wheels shirt and socks and tried to convince the guy in the booth that Garmin 800 in his box of "Stuff we had laying around I'm trying to get rid of" was only worth 5-10 bucks. He wasn't having any of that, so Tricia and I launched, all alone in the cold morning. It was nice riding without a big crowd at the start.

Much to our delight, the first Winery, Macchia, was open at 8:30, and happy to pour. We tasted, sipped, chatted and bought tasty wine. The Giro has a wonderful system where they pick up any wine you buy and deliver it to the ride finish. A wonderful system it is!

That was only the first of 14 wineries on the route. Tricia had announced before the ride that we would be stopping at every one of them, even if we didn't taste or buy, we'd at minimum, make a photo. I loved her plan, and that's what we did. I don't think that we ever rode more then five or six miles without stopping all day long.

Giro d' Vino 2013 Heritage Oak pouring2

We'd been on this ride several times before, but I don't think we'd ever stopped at Heritage Oak before. So we stopped. And tasted. And bought some wine.

Giro d' Vino 2013 pipe organ

Giro d' Vino 2013 Pipe dreamsHarmony Wynlands and Harney are almost across from each other, so we stopped at both of them too. Harmony's tasting room is actually a large pipe organ, and this year it was being played a rock-concert volume while we were there. It was amazing. They have a "Pipe Dreams" old vine zinfandel that I've tasted every year and loved, but not purchased. I love the silk screened label too. This year the grapes and bottle conspired and I ended up buying one. I know I won't want to open it, even though the contents are heavenly. And as if it wasn't enough they had great wine, they also had chairs both Tricia and I loved. They were so so comfortable I didn't want to get up. When we realized they were made from old wine barrels we loved them even more. Then we saw the prices. If I had a chair like that it would belong on the patio, but there's no way I could leave a pricy object like that outside.

Giro d' Vino 2013 Tricia with Chairs

From there it was off to d'Art where we tasted, chatted and bought again. They were busy making wine too, and we watched them transfer wine-to-be to the de-steming and skin-removing tanks (not an actual technical term...) It sure smelled wonderful. I very much wanted to taste their raw cabernet juice, but didn't have the nerve to ask.

Giro d' Vino 2013 d'Art

I was still waiting for the day to warm up when, instead, the wind kicked in. I heard a lot of riders complaining, but we didn't find it nearly as bad as it was a few years ago. Still, the up-wind sections were not as much fun as they might have been with the breeze. But, heck, there were no climbs. Tricia likes to make a big deal out of the "Climb of the day" which is a freeway overpass at Highway 99. So, a little wind, with frequent refreshment stops? Not so bad.

Giro d' Vino 2013 Tricia at Ripkin

Giro d' Vino 2013 ricia in vinyard

After a stop at Borra we had lunch at Michael David (where we bought a case of "Seven Deadly Zins" on an incredible sale) we rolled off to Ripkin where we bought yet another bottle before we were off, first to Jesse's Grove and then upwind, to Oak Farm.

Giro d' Vino 2013 horses

Giro d' Vino 2013 Oak Farm

After that we had a minor adventure when we missed a turn. It was actually kind of fun as Tricia settled into a long powerful pull that lasted for miles, until we figured out we weren't ever going to see another turn arrow and found our way back.

One of the great parts of this ride is talking to people, like the girls (they seem like girls because of the giggles and such, but I guess technically they are women) with bread strapped to their packs.

Giro d' Vino 2013 bread girls

We enjoyed several great outfits we saw on the road, including a retro-cool wool jersey, made in Portland (I want one) and some cool socks.

Giro d' Vino 2013 Stockton Bicycle Club

Giro d' Vino 2013 socks

We even ran into our BikeForums.net friend BritPower and made new friends Cycles Gladiator where we bought a bicycle teamed bottle of Bone Shaker Zin.

Giro d' Vino 2013 Tricia and BritPower

Some cyclists can't understand why we'd pay money to ride 50 miles and stop so often. They just don't get that this isn't a bike ride, it's a wine tasting with bicycles. In the end we spend all day to go not very far, spend too much on wine and have a blast.

Giro d' Vino 2013 Heritage Oak drinking

Summary: Fourteen wineries, 53 miles, 7 hours and change, and a car load of vino.