Monday, March 28, 2016

Quimby Road, San Jose

Curtis running out of air. Photo by Glenn
We in the East bay are always hearing about the great South Bay climbs, Fearless mapper of rides Dan "Lance Oldstrong" Butler decided we should give them a shot. We met up with Glenn Wenig and launched ourselves.
Quimby elevation profile. Ouch.
When Dan told me Quimby Road was about like Mt Diablo from the junction to the summit Glenn laughed and said "It's harder than Sierra Road." Glenn was right. I was amazed how hard it was. This was my first serious ride since being smacked by a truck in December. I was worried about the whole venture. But I had a great day (for me) and crawled up Quimby and its many double-digit steep sections better than I even dreamed I would. It was even fun.

 After the Quimby warmup we rode San Felipe and Metcalf, roads I also hear mentioned all the time. We'd planned on riding the famed Mount Umunhum as well, but due to a slight Garmin mapping fail we made a wrong turn. By the time we figured out what we needed to do it seemed like we'd be out later than I wanted to be on the road, so we headed back.

Another minor error put us on Tully road with 14,756 cars, all driven by the clueless who were also in a hurry. It was a real contrast to the rural roads we'd been on for a lot of the ride.

We did get to see Communications Hill, a weird Soviet Brutalist dystopian-looking tower on a hill that's now part of a housing development. Of course, being that it was on a hill, we rode up it.
 A big plus for me: Photos of myself! Most of my blog posts are my photos of other people. This time Glenn shot some that make me almost look like a cyclist. All in all, a big win and a fun day. Up soon, I hope, Mount Umunhum.

Downside: Glenn and Dan both have newer Garmin computers than I do. After seeing what I was missing, my 500 is on eBay and my 520 is on order. So this ride cost me a bit.
Dan and Glenn

Lance Oldstrong himself

Curtis on Qumby Road, high above San Jose

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Antioch Wildhorse and Hillcrest intersection dangers

The traffic light where Wildhorse crosses Hillcrest in Antioch CA is extremely dangerous. Often the sensor doesn't detect bikes, even heavy metal commuter bikes loaded with full panniers.

But what's worse is that it often stays green for a dangerously short amount of time. Such a short time it's impossible to cross before it turns red. And still worse, there's no delay before the Hillcrest light turns green, trapping we cyclists in the 45 mph cross traffic.

This isn't unusual. Every light on Hillcrest cross streets has issues registering a cyclists presence. From Wildflower to Golden Bear to Country Hills the lights don't see cyclists, and when they do the change at an impossibly unrealistic speed.

 Consider this blog post a public complaint and a plea to the City of Antioch to correct these unsafe intersections before some tragedy occurs.

UPDATE: I got an reply the Tuesday after I posted this. I could not be more happy.

Hi Curtis.  Thank you for your input.  Changing the short green is something that can be done quickly and I will have it corrected this week at all of the intersections along Hillcrest.  The detection is a little trickier.  I will have the detector loops marked so you (and other cyclists) know where to stop.  Stopping on one of the lines of the loop is the best place to get detected.  They are the old style and it is a fine line to get them to detect bikes, but not lock up and see a vehicle all the time.  I will work on that.  Again, thank you for letting me know.  I'd much prefer to get a "complaint" than learn there was an accident.  Thanks again.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

3D printed bike parts

Rear view 3D printed mounts
When I wanted to hang tail lights, a trailer hitch, a Fly6 rear facing camera and still have room for a seat bag there just wasn't enough room on my seat post, or a way to do it.

Enter the 3D printing community. It turns out there are people custom designing mounts for lights and cameras and offering them for sale on
I met Bud Hammerton in the Electronics, Lighting, & Gadgets forum on He'd made a lot of things using a GoPro style mount and, at my request, created a twin GoPro mount for my rear rack as well as a GoPro mounts to hold my Fly6, my PlanetBike Superflash and my Cigolite Hotshot. He posted them in his store on Shapeways and I bought them. I'm pretty darn thrilled and find myself what other custom elements my bike could use.
Fly6 Cigolite and Superflash,  Shapeways 3D printed mounts_0011
Fly6 mount, Cygolite Hotshot mount, Superflash mount, all connect to a GoPro mount.
Shapeways 3D printed mount and CatEye SuperFlash mount
Top: 3D printed dual GoPro style rack mount. Bottom: the standard Superflash rack mount.
Side view #D Shapeways printed mounts_0029
Side view.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

It's a beautiful day for a flat... and a walk

Clouds, Empire Mine Road 2
Because rain threatened today, and I'd been working on dialing in my new titanium commuter bike, I took it, rather then the Roubaix, out for today's ride.

I discovered a bike with fenders and a rack in the wind is one way to get a workout.

I also discovered something about my wheel and tire combination when I flatted out on the closed Empire Mine Road, a couple of miles from car access. It seems the Continental Ultra Sport II 700x28C tires and the Tubeless Compatible WTB Frequency CX Team i19 rims that came on my bike make for a very very tight fit. That, and in the hubbub of getting my bikes in order I'd forgotten to pack levers...
Larry saves the day
So I sat on the ground and waited for Tricia to realize she was now riding solo. As I waited, Larry, a local triathlete stooped to offer help. Even with his levers and muscular hands and arms it was a pain. We, (OK, mostly he) got the tire back on, but we'd apparently put a hole in the tube doing it. I gave up and decided to walk out and wait for Tricia to pick me up with the car.

It's amazing how far just under two miles is when you're barefoot, pushing a bike and carrying your shoes. At least it was a beautiful day, and a lot of cyclists checked to see if I was OK.

Now that I'm home I get to make it all work somehow. I think I'll use my almost bullet proof but super hard to mount Schwalbe Marathon that I saved from my last bike. We'll see how long that takes. 
Clouds, Empire Mine Road 3

Saturday, March 05, 2016

North American Handmade Bicycle Show 2016

Entry wrist band 
Handmade bicycles of wood, titanium, steel, carbon. At every turn something more amazing to behold. Parts and pieces, bikes built out of love and creativity, the unusual and the unlikely. That was the 2016 North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Sacramento.

We made a weekend of it and spent hours drooling and dreaming as we wandered through the Sacramento Convention Center.

I took a small camera and an iPhone, but the building and crowds weren't conducive to fine photography, so I mostly just enjoyed being there.

Here are a few of our highlights form the show.
Tricia is still in love with Cielo from Chris King.
SRAM Red (I know, not handmade, but still ever so cool.) Their new wireless electronic shifting system looks amazing. If they ever make a rear derailleur that can handle a 32 tooth cog I'm going to buy it.
wooden bikes
Wooden bikes, both bamboo and composite, that are stunning.
English Bicycle
The beautiful bike from English with a delightfully integrated rack.
3D printed ti lugs
3-D printed titanium lugs
Cut lugs that looked like jewels.
$1400.00 custom shoes that weighed so little I couldn't feel them in my hands.
Pricy tools I want, along with the way way cool $550 Silca pump.
Campy front shifter
A classic Bianchi Paris Roubaix bike with early Campy shifters. Yes, that's the shifter, right next to the chain ring.
magic carbon
Yes, that's a real bike frame, it's carbon, see through, and they swear it's aero and strong. We all wondered how hard it would be to keep clean.
I have no reason for not owning this Velo Orange beer rack
I didn't buy a bike, but I did buy two books of classic bike racing photos from the Horton Collection.
stickers NAHBS
And also managed to pick up a huge collection of stickers.

The event was amazing. I didn't even try to photograph 95% of it. I can only hope it comes to Sacramento again some day.