Sunday, December 22, 2013

Ortlieb, Racktime, Thule help my recovery

Ortlieb and RackTime rack on Fantom Outlaw commuter

It takes a while to recover from a bicycle/computer disaster (read about mine here.)  It's been almost a month and I'm almost back to normal.

My pannier was trashed, so I went shopping for a new one. The story among cyclists is that you can try all the panniers you want, but eventually you'll get an Ortlieb.  So, despite the price, I bought one. After a helpful chat with the nice folks at the BikeBagShop I ended up with the Downtown Commuter model.  It's supposed to be super water proof, and it come with a nifty attachment system titled "QL3" (nifty video here) that lets it be used as a shoulder bag and not have hardware rub against you, and also lets the pannier be mounted a bit lower on the rack for better balance. So far it's a winner.

I didn't, however, love how it sat on the rack I had. It was a little high, and made swinging my leg over the bike more awkward than I'd like.  It also meant I couldn't easily bungie things to the rack top. So I went rack shopping.

RackTime rack needed a spacerI ended up with a Racktime Addit. It's made by the same folks that make the crazy-expensive Tubus, steel racks, but this is in aluminum. Of course, having disc brakes makes mounting a pain. Fortunately Ace Hardware had a long bolt in the right size, as well as some nylon spacers. With some bending and prayer (and even a little cutting) I managed to get it on my bike.

It has a couple of nice features. The design includes a lower rail that let me mount the pannier mounting hardware where I wanted it, and it has a recessed mount for my Planet Bike SuperFlash that looks like it will protect it from getting banged up. Pretty swell.

RackTime and Superflash

Of course, I also had computer issues to deal with. In the end I was able to buy an external hard drive case, put my trashed computers drive in it, and recover almost everything. I got a new-to-me Mac through PowerMax and, because I'm totally paranoid now, I also got a super protective case from Thule, the bike rack people from Sweden.

Tricia asked if I was going to mount it on top of the Subaru, but that's just silly. We have a Yakima rack, and putting Thule parts on it could unbalance the universe. I'm not going to risk it.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Mt Tamalpias

The view from Mt Tamalpias

I've had Mt Tamalpias on my list for a couple of years now. It's just inconveniently placed (at least for me) and I never made it here.
 Lorri Lee Lown of Velo Girls of Savvy bike planned a weekend of climbing, including Diablo and Hamilton, and on Saturday, Mt Tamalpias, so I signed on. Lorri didn't make it, but I enjoyed the ride anyway.

Showing up for a group ride where I don't know a soul is disconcerting. Fortunatly I saw a Velo Girls jersey and knew I'd found the right group — there were more than a few groups — near Mike's Bike's in Sausalito.

As the large group left I was wondering "Who is actually in this group? Who do I follow? Why are we rolling at 19mph down the skinny MUP I'm unfamiliar with? What have I gotten myself into?"

But there was a regroup at the top of the first bump, and I hung on through the stop signs and lights. When we reached a coffee/pastry shop in Fairfax it seemed the group had stopped. Oddly early I thought. Maybe it was a regroup. Or was it even my group? Or part of my group? Were we waiting, or what? 

Mt Tamalpias ride lake on way up

I took a quick restroom break and when I came out I saw a small group rolling away so I jumped on my bike and promptly lost them on what was the start of a long climb. I rode alone for the next 20 miles until the summit.

Mt Tamalpias ridge

It was a stunning road, with redwoods and a beautiful alpine lake and then a ride along an open ridge with amazing views of SF in the distance. I hardly saw a car, and only a few cyclists. I had no idea how far I needed to get to the summit, and was faked out several times thinking I was almost there. I took it easy, and even stopped a couple of times for photos.

When I got to the summit I was surprised to see the folks I'd started with, getting ready to descend. I went with them. Four of us (was that how many I started with, and the other 30 were just out for a ride?) ended up getting a burrito a mile from the cars.

Mt Tamalpias ride folks
It was an odd, but delightful, day. I still have no idea what exactly the event was, but it all worked out. The weather was perfect, I finally got to Tam, and best of all, didn't get lost.