Monday, December 2, 2019

Stacy's K-hound ride

Stacy and Greg Kline are both going for their K-hound award (10,000km of official RUSA rides) this year. Greg already has his, Stacy got hers on Sunday on my Four Rivers 200k brevet. You pretty much have to ride a 200k brevet every week for a year.

It was a beautiful day - 52F at the start with a high of 65F and almost no wind. The trails were quiet and the sunrise was colorful.

We met at Costco and ride down the SART to the beach. The pass under PCH was flooded so we had to walk our bikes around. A little tricky with cleats.

We were both starving when we got to The Crema

and as we sat outside eating we saw the Batmobile drive by

The recent rains had left some puddles but the mountains were heavy with snow.

We ate light at the 7-11 in El Monte so we were ready for a cheese quesadilla at Chronic Tacos. The usual headwind into Long Beach failed to make an appearance which was good because locomotive Greg was busy scraping barnacles off his (boat's) bottom.

The sun was close to setting as we left Belmont. Not quite as spectacular.

This is what you look like when you have finally finished your K-Hound!

Monday, November 25, 2019

Electric Scooter crash

Amber and I rode Back bay on Sunday and came across a young electric scooter rider on the ground with road rash. She was pretty shaken up but surrounded by a group of cyclists who got there before us. I pulled out my Betadine wipe so she could clean up the road rash. I need to get a new one.

She explained that she was zipping along and all of a sudden the handlebars turned and she was thrown off the scooter.

I noticed she had slung her handbag over the handlebars and I have to wonder if that caused the crash. The steering on those scooters is very sensitive and a swinging weight could definitely cause the rider to lose control. This just re-enforces my belief that these scooters are more dangerous than most people realize.

As she was already surrounded by half a dozen concerned cyclists, Amber and I rode on to the Champagne Bakery and were dismayed to discover it has gone out of business. It was always so busy we can't understand how this happened. We feel guilty now for not going more often.

We turned around and rode to the Crossroads shopping center, one of the controls on my Five Rivers 300k. Ha Long makes the best Pad Thai and Amber tried the Garlic Noodles which smelled wonderful.

We ended up with 54 miles, a little climbing, and great weather and food. Next Sunday is Stacy's 10,000th km (k-hound) ride so that'll be a bit of a party!

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Brompton and Crackerswamp

Brompton B75

Some time ago I was looking at a Brompton to make travel easier, but I just couldn't justify the nearly $2000 price tag. This year they released the Brompton B75 which uses some older components (probably left over after they upgraded) to bring down the cost to $995. You give up a few things to get this low price, but if you don't care about those things this is a great deal.

  • Only one color is available - a kind of blue/green
  • Only three speeds are available, no six speed option
  • The gear ratio is -12% - suitable for hills but you lose top speed. You can upgrade the chain ring to a bigger one for $40.
  • Non-integrated gear shifters.
  • Old style M handlebars with more pronounced curves. Gives you more flat places to mount lights, computers, bells etc.
  • No rack or mudguards but they can be added
  • No front luggage block but it can be added
  • Different grips - firmer and push on. Easy to upgrade.
  • Cheaper saddle - most riders replace the saddle immediately anyway
  • Platform, non-folding pedals - most riders replace the pedals immediately anyway
  • Schwalbe Marathon tires - these are great tires
What you get is a real Brompton that folds and rides the same as the regular Bromptons. I suspect once they run out of the old components this model will be retired. A side-by-side comparison of the B75 against a regular Brompton with the same specs shows the B75 is $450 cheaper.

Crackerswamp 2020

Paul has announced he is running the Crackerswamp in November 2020. I rode this in 2016 and we just missed a big hurricane. He's moving it to November to reduce the chance of that happening again. He's also moving the start hotel and tweaking the course a bit. My biggest concern in 2016 was the abysmal hotel he used as ride headquarters. Although it kept the price low, it was awful.

It would be well worth an extra $100 or more on the fee to stay the five nights in a decent hotel.

I'm hoping I can persuade Amber and some other friends to come too.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Will New York become the new cycling Mecca?

I ran across an article on the Guardian website today. It says New York just passed a $1.7bn road infrastructure bill that will pay for more than 250 new bike lanes and 1m sq ft of new pedestrian space over the next ten years.

Although the number of frequent cyclists in New York has risen by 26% between 2012 and 2017, the number of cyclists dying has risen too with cyclist and pedestrian fatalities rising by 24%.

It's promising to note that these new bike lanes will be physically separated from traffic, which makes them far safer. Even a curb height barrier greatly improves protection from texting drivers and are widespread in Europe, but less so in the US. The 250 new miles of bike lanes will be built in the next five years.

The five years after that sees a commitment to a fully connected cycling network. We all know about bike paths and lanes that connect two bike unfriendly roads - that seems to be the default. For example, we have the upper SART that connects Waterman to Arlington - two very bike unfriendly roads with heavy traffic and no shoulders - which greatly reduces the value of the bike route. This bill recognizes the problem and seeks to avoid it.

Hopefully Corey Johnson, who introduced the bill, will get his vision in place, on budget, and on time.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Windy and windier

Starting with some good news, for the French. The French parliament has passed laws limiting use of electric scooters that we would do well to copy.
  • Riding on the pavement will be prohibited unless in designated areas, and then at walking speed only
  • Only one rider will be allowed per device, and no mobile phone use will be allowed
  • Users cannot go against the traffic flow and must use cycle paths where available
  • Riders will not be allowed to wear headphones while on their scooter
  • By next July, the scooters' top speed will be capped at 25km/h
  • Users riding on permitted faster roads must wear a helmet and high-visibility clothing
  • E-scooters will be banned completely on country roads

Any infringement will be punished by a fine of $150, and up to $1,666 for going over the speed limit.

I rode with the Klines this Saturday on a windy 200k. Fortunately Greg pulled us into the worst of it. I tried the veggie baguette at The Crema and it was awesome. Surprisingly it got me all the way to El Monte. 

Stacy wanted to eat somewhere with a view so we eschewed Chronic Tacos and ate at Tequila Jacks which was very busy but Stacy managed to wrangle us some stools at a counter. She ordered a jalapeno margarita which sounded horrible but she liked it. The view was very nice. 

I took the opportunity to try out some new video glasses. They were uncomfortable and had some poor design features. I wouldn't recommend them, but the video was OK.

On Sunday I rode to Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach with Amber. It was even windier today. Amber had the frittata which looked so good I'm going to try it next time. Finished with a sore butt and legs but it was good practice for building up to my Five Rivers 300k next year and maybe Willie's JTree to Vegas 300k.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Gi Fly folding electric bicycle

I came across this fascinating bicycle while reading an article on Argentina's economy. The bike is made in Argentina primarily for the US market. It has a number of interesting innovations such as a belt drive, proximity locking, solid tires, quick, simple folding, and an ingenious fender that rolls up out of the way. I really like that the top electric-only speed is 15mph. If you want to ride like a maniac you have to pedal. It's called the Gi Fly.

And it looks pretty good on the road too.

What's the cost, I hear you ask? A steal at $2,729 - hmm - more than I'd pay, but I bet it would be perfect for a lot of people.

If you're interested, the technical specs are here.

I do see a couple of potential issues though.

  • If the proximity locking is based on being within bluetooth range of your phone, what happens if the bluetooth fails while your're riding? Do the wheels suddenly lock? Ouch!
  • I bet that cool rollup rear fender will snap closed every time you hit a bump!

Thursday, October 3, 2019

New PCHRandos RBA

The Los Angeles chapter of RUSA has a new RBA, Kerin Huber, who took over from Greg this year. The most important change is that we are severing all links with CIBC so we can regain control of our finances. It has become clear that we were charging more for rides than we needed to, so Kerin has decided to introduce a flat $5 annual membership fee and reduce the cost of each ride commensurate with the amount of support being offered. In effect offering a frequent rider discount.

The $5 fee will help offset the costs of our new website which is currently under construction. It will include fully integrated online registration and payment via PayPal, rider and club stats, automatic emailed confirmations, and many other features. Once it is ready we will hook it up to our domain.

Here's a screen print of the home page. Your's truly took the photo at Avila Beach while supporting the California Coasting ride. A modified 400k version of this ride will return in 2021 which will route down this very stretch of road.

Because of insurance issues with RUSA, we will require all riders to be current RUSA members and all riders must be at least 18 on the day of the event. I doubt this will affect many of us. There will be no day-of-the-event registrations. In order to simplify paperwork and avoid chaos at the start of the ride, registration and payment must be completed at least 48 hours prior to the start of the ride, at which time registration will automatically close. We hope these changes will not inconvenience you too much, but in Kerin's first year as RBA we need to keep things simple for the ride hosts.

We have submitted an ambitious ride calendar to RUSA for 2020.
We have a 110k populaire, nine stand alone 200k events, two 300k, a 400/600, and a 200/400/600 event. Thanks to everyone who stepped up. That gives us a full SR series and 11 of the 12 monthly events needed to get you your R12.

I hope we all enjoy hosting our respective events and come back to host more in coming years.