Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Test ride on the upper SART

After all the problems I had on the Santa Barbara Easy I took my bike to Redland's Cyclery to get some work done. I was really embarrassed because Amber and I had ridden a very wet 200k the day before and my bike was filthy but they were cool about it. I got a new chain and the whole drive train cleaned and adjusted. Because the Five Rivers 300k pre-ride is this weekend, I wanted to take it for a spin to make sure everything was good.

I work near the top of the SART so I drove there after work and started riding. About a mile from the start I have to ride around some "trail closed" signs but, like a normal cyclist, I ignore them. I will decide if the trail is closed, thank you very much! Well the bastards have jack hammered the trail for about 10 yards so it is pretty close to being closed. It's all crushed concrete and rebar. They claim they're going to be restoring the flood wall until July but right now it looks like wanton vandalism.

You can currently use E Street which takes you to Hospitality but the signs suggest they're going to vandalize the trail as far as Mt Vernon which means we will exit at Mt Vernon and use Cooley to get to Barton. I'll have to modify my Triple Loop route to accommodate this. It's not a terrible detour - the Redlands bike club uses Cooley a lot. My wife rode the SART just a couple of days ago and, of course, there were no signs up saying they were going to close it, not were there any detour signs. They just force us without warning into heavy traffic without a care for our safety.

I was getting close to Hidden Valley when I saw a car driving along the bike path. This fat cow thought she was OK to drive on it because "she was pulling over for the cyclists". I explained she was not allowed on the bike path and took her photo.

Fat cow

Chasing her at 30mph
I chased her to Martha McLean park just over a mile away at up to 30mph where she exited. I wonder if this is something she is doing frequently - some kind of shortcut she's very proud she found. I've ordered some caltrops from Amazon. I'm going to see if I can encounter her again.

Between feeling strong and chasing her I managed an average speed of over 18mph for the duration of the 30 mile ride. The bike was great - kudos to Redlands Cyclery.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Super windy Four Rivers

Amber and I opted not to ride Stacy and Greg's Four Rivers 200k event on Sunday because the weather forecast correctly predicted I would be driving home in a blizzard so we instead rode on the following Monday, eschewing RUSA credit.

Although Monday was dry it was still very windy with sustained 20-30 mph winds coming out of every direction possible. I still can't understand how a 20mph wind can turn more than 90 degrees in a minute, but that's what happened repeatedly today. I don't know if we were helped or were hindered by the wind but I suspect it was so random it was probably a wash.

It was 61F when we started at Costco - nice in the sun but chilly in the shade especially with the wind. We headed to the beach with a 15mph headwind freshening to 20mph within five miles of the coast.

Monday quiet
Amber's turn to pull
At The Crema I introduced Amber to the veggie baguette which she liked. We added chocolate croissants and Thai iced tea for a pleasant lunch.

Some vintage cars rolled by as we ate
As we headed inland on the San Gabriel trail we were dismayed to find a headwind here too. It's just a coincidence that I took another photo while Amber was pulling. We shared - honest.

It's so windy it's bending the telephone poles!
One of the underpasses was flooded with about six inches of water which we rode through mainly because we had no choice. I wish I had thought to get a photo or even video. Amber's stomach was bothering her so I pulled most of the way to the turn around - no really I did. She had an iced tea which helped settle it.

On the return trip we had a headwind again. How is this even possible. Fortunately it turned into a tailwind for ten miles or so before becoming a powerful headwind again when were still ten miles from the coast. There was a lot of trail maintenance activity which shouldn't have surprised me but it did.

Amber's pulling again in the video below but I really did do most of the pulling - honest!

You can see how windy it was - look at the trees blowing in Seal Beach.

This is a brave unicyclist - he's on a unicycle, on dirt, with a powerful crosswind. I noticed he had a disk brake - surely the last thing he wants to do is stop that wheel suddenly!

I took this ride as another opportunity to learn the Wahoo. It seems if you actually start it at the start of the ride it's pretty good at handling when you go off course. We made several large and small detours from the route I downloaded and it picked up again correctly. I also realized I have to snap the USB connector in firmly to get it to charge.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

The Crema and learning the Wahoo

Amber and I rode The Crema today - we hadn't actually sat down to eat there for some time. As the Wahoo did not perform well on the Santa Barbara Easy 200k brevet last week, I decided to take today to play with it a bit.

The weather started out cold with a strong onshore flow. Heavy clouds came in from the North and it looked like it might rain later.

Today is Superbowl Sunday so Huntington Beach hosted their regular Superbowl full and half marathons. This is a bit of a pain because even though they close PCH for the runners, they're still clogging up the beach path so it can get a bit frustrating. We're only supposed to ride at 5mph when there are pedestrians around but, if we did, the pedestrians would be running faster than us!

Somehow while we were eating the clouds went away and the sun came out. It was gorgeous on the way back.

There's no-one around him so I assume that means he's out front!
It seems if you start the Wahoo at the start of the ride, it navigates quite well. It even managed to figure out where we were when we were forced off course for a while by the congested beach path. If you stay off course too long it eventually gets upset and starts sulking and won't recognize when you're back on course. Always take a paper backup!

I'm in the middle of writing a Xamarin app that connects to rwgps and follows the route giving you cues. I've not done any Xamarin programming for a while and it's quite a challenge. I spent at least 4 hours trying to figure out how to get GPS permissions. Right now I'm trying to remember my high school trig classes because all the conversion from degrees to radians to meters is hurting my head. When you have 4000 line segments and a random point, how do you determine which line segment the point is nearest to? Quite tricky. Plus you have to do it on a low-end processor without melting it.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Santa Barbara Easy 200k

PCHRandos hosted the flat Santa Barbara 200k brevet this weekend so Amber and I signed up to get our SR series started. There were 29 riders which is a good turnout considering all the changes we've gone through in the past few months.

Photos by Stacy and Greg Kline.

We started at Mountain Meadows Park in Moorpark just at dawn in cool weather but with perfect day promised. At least it was dry.

At the start with Stacy
When we got near the coast there was some considerable fog. Being experienced randos, most of us had daylight flashing tail lights which probably helped drivers see us a little sooner. The fog misted up my glasses, and others' too. The biggest problem is it got into Amber and my bike computers and stopped them from working for a while. Amber's didn't recover for the entire ride. Probably need to take the battery out to restart it.

Early morning fog
About 25 miles into the ride my rear tube decided to split along the seam. I had made the number one(ish) rando mistake. I had not taken the time to get all my gear into top shape before the start of the rando season. New tires and tubes, new spares, new chain, and some TLC for the bike.

One of the problems with Gatorskin tires is you don't get flats. That doesn't sound like a problem, but eventually your tubes will die of old age and so will your patch kit. I should make a habit of replacing my tires, tubes and flat kit and checking the spare at the start of the year. Perhaps it should be my New Year's Resolution.

Fixing an unnecessary flat
It turns out an insta-patch on my spare had failed (also with age) so the tire went down again ten minutes later. Fortunately Amber had a spare too so I used that. It held air for several hours but I had to pump it up later.

I can't fault the weather on this ride, nor the route itself. It doesn't get much better than this. The vest and legwarmers came off, the sun came out, and the birds started singing just for us (maybe not). We were feeling so good I tried to ride all the way to the turnaround without eating, but after 55 miles I just had to eat half a pro-bar. Still - 64 miles on 200 calories is pretty good.

Headed along the beach in Santa Barbara
Lunch at Sushi a Go Go on Santa Barbara pier

We returned the way we came out except for some minor deviations like this short bike path.

Santa Barbara bike path
I love this new section of bike path just East of Carpinteria.

At the base of the Santa Rosa climb we stopped to use the restroom and grab a few calories.

I have no idea what I was so animated about. I had just chugged a Monster so it could have been anything.
The climb up Santa Rosa was not as arduous as normal, I wish I knew why. We got to the end at Greg's house about 10:05 after we started - not bad for two flats and a group that wasn't in a hurry.

Hamming it up at the end.
We ate well at the end - pizza, cream cake, and more.

Thank you Greg and Lisa

Monday, January 13, 2020

Possible changes to 600k brevet

I had to ride on my own this Sunday because Amber was working and the Klines begged off for some reason. I've been having second thoughts about the third loop of my 600k brevet because of the climbing and navigation issues I thought some riders might have. The Aliso trail is closed at an awkward point which requires an unpleasant detour so I decided to maybe look at a more coastal route. I rode down to the coast on the SART and then headed south on PCH. It was pretty cold when I started.

A cold and largely deserted SART
I used the Crystal Cove bike path which is a lot of fun except for the pedestrians that are too dumb to get out of the way of an oncoming cyclist.

Yes actually, we do own the entire trail!
I feel the traffic through Laguna Beach was bad, even though it was a Sunday, but I enjoyed taking Cliff instead of PCH through this stretch. RWGPS is recommending Gleneyre street through this town and I think that will help a lot.

I had lunch at Jon's Fish Market which I can strongly recommend if you like fish and chips. They're not really chips, but they're not bad either. PCH gets a bit lumpy as you head through this section but overall there isn't too much climbing on this route.

I rode on south to where the trail goes under I5 and then turned around into a headwind. The lumps got lumpier and I slowed down quite a bit. As I had already ridden the section I wanted to test ride, I decided to catch the train back from San Clemente, only to find out after I had paid for my ticket that there were no trains running because of track maintenance.

So I jumped back on the bike, very aware that the gate at Katella would be locked at 6pm, and headed north retracing my route. I don't know if it was the headwind but the return trip seemed far less pleasant with even more traffic. I thought about heading inland at Crown Valley to return on Santiago Canyon but quickly decided I didn't want to do all that climbing.

In the end I got to Katella an hour before the gate closed, and go back to my car in 9:37 which is pretty decent for a solo, fairly hilly 200k.

In previous editions of this route I have taken the riders inland at the San Juan creek trail and then over to the SART at McArthur. I might try that again this year. The proposed route is here. Amber and I will ride just the loop part next weekend to see how it feels.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Unneeded 200k

Amber persuaded me to ride the Four Rivers 200k again yesterday even though I have already exceeded my 10,000 mile target for the year. I guess it's good training for the Cracker Swamp 1200k next year.

It was a chilly 47F when we started at Costco, but clear and with a powerful tailwind as we headed to the coast. How many times have we ridden into a head wind, looking forward to turning around, only to find the promised tailwind never materializes? At least when you start with a tailwind, nature can never take that away from you.

Possibly because of the coolness, the bike path and beach path were less crowded that usual.

Beach path

We ate at The Crema but they had no veggie baguettes. Apparently they only have one person who can make them and they weren't working that day. Amber had a veggie quiche which gave her serious stomach problems later :-(

Even the San Gabrielle trail was very quiet and when the sun came out, it was lovely.

San Gabriel trail

We ate lightly at El Monte and Amber got some Tums from the Shell. She really wanted Ex-Lax but they didn't have any. She only ate half of her pastry and we gave the rest to a pigeon who must have thought it was Christmas all over again. It probably ate until it passed out in a food coma and was easy prey for the next cat that came along. Oh well.

The trails had shown signs of recent flooding but the top of the Rio Hondo, which is prone to extreme flooding was impassable. We should have stayed on Lincoln and rejoined the trail at the dam, but we're too stubborn for that.

Top of the Rio Hondo trail
 We got to Chronic Tacos in good time despite Amber's continuing stomach issues and had cheese quesadillas and coke - the usual.

As we headed back on the SART I realized our late start meant we would have to hustle to get to Katella before the gates were locked at 6pm. Amber was in no condition to pull so I pulled at 18mph with Amber hanging on  my wheel as best she could. We got to Katella at 5:56! We rode the rest of the way at a more manageable 14mph and still recorded a 9:35 time.

We got so lucky with the wind with only 15 miles of headwind into Long Beach (as usual). The rest of the ride was either still or with a tailwind.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Close call

Eight of us set out on Greg and Stacy's Four Rivers 200k brevet on Saturday. Kerin, David Danovsky, Garrett Eves, and Hoang Nguyen took off in a fast group while Greg, Stacy, and I waited for Debra who was running late.

The weather was perfect, with almost no wind and temps in the 50s.

Waiting for Debra
Riding along Huntington Beach bike path it was overcast and calm - perfect.

Stacy is getting very good at selfies
We rode a very gentle 14-15 mph inland to the Shell station at El Monte.

Happy to be halfway
Headed back on the Los Angeles River Trail we didn't have too much headwind and Stacy captured this rather nice weather effect.

Like a scene from Monty Python's Holy Grail
Long Beach Marina - the sun came out
The fast crowd at Chronic Tacos
The slow crowd an hour later
As we were making our way through Marina Pacifica on 2nd, a speeding car span out of control and missed wiping us all out by about 100'. Take a look at the picture below. We all stopped as soon as the accident occurred. Look how close the car came to some of us. It's amazing she missed two cars, five cyclists, and didn't crash through the guardrail into the water below.

Missed me!
The egg salad sandwich I had at the Shell might not have been as fresh as some. I started having stomach cramps about three hours later and had to spend some time in the rest room at the beach. Fortunately we don't have any photographs of that.

Fast group at the end
Greg waiting for someone to do something