Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Long time no Ride

A series of storms have been lining up to hit Southern California ever since the middle of January, making even leaving my driveway a challenge. Fortunately an hour of snow shoveling followed by a two hour stationary workout has helped keep my fitness level up.

We had a slight break last Saturday so Amber and I rode the last 100k of the Five Rivers 300k. Stacy, Greg, and Martins rode my Four Rivers permanent which covers the first 200k of the Five Rivers. Between us we managed to put eyeballs on almost all the bike paths used by the Five Rivers.

At this time, two weeks before the event date, there are quite a lot of problems to deal with.

1. SART is flooded as it passes under Orangewood but it's easy to cross over the street.

SART under Orangewood
2. The top of the San Gabriel bike trail has flooding over a spillway.

Top of the SGRT
3. The Rio Hondo is gated and closed, the reason is unknown. I will need to investigate further.

Rio Hondo
4. There is some residual mud in underpasses on the San Diego Creek bike path and there are some unnecessarily closed gates. The mud is rideable with 28mm tires and the gates can be easily circumvented.

The long term weather forecast shows about nine days of clear weather before the Five Rivers 300k which means all these issues will be resolved and I fully expect the entire route to be open. I was most concerned about long-term damage to the trails, but this doesn't seem to have happened.

For the Five Rivers 300k, we're currently expecting normal temps and wind with the chance of rain later in the day.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

2019 SART 200k brevet

I had 38 riders reserve places on my 2019 SART 200k brevet and even though the weather looked quite sketchy I was pleasantly surprised to see 33 of them set off this morning. I'd like to thank you all for being so well prepared. I managed to get all 33 riders registered in about 40 minutes.

The pavement was wet, the sky was overcast, but it wasn't raining and the wind was calm. Just as the sun came up at 7:00 am (theoretically -- we couldn't actually see it) they rode straight from the motel parking lot onto the upper Santa Ana River Trail.

Although it was not raining when they started, the riders had to deal with flooding on Rincon and a heavy rainstorm in Anaheim as well as the flats that are common when it rains.

Flooding on Rincon - credit Stacy Kline

About three pm I drove over to Starbucks and bought two traveler packs of coffee - one decaf and one not. I figured the riders would appreciate a hot cup of joe after their ordeal. The first riders arrived shortly after four so I ordered some pizza to go with the coffee.

Riders continued to arrive in various states of hypothermia and hunger until it became obvious I needed another round of pizza. The last riders all showed up about 7:30. I only had one DNF. Considering how vile the weather was, that's impressive.

Last but not least
Stacy Kline posted more photographs here https://photos.app.goo.gl/vkNAgFcyRW1EdGJ29

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Air bag for cyclists?

I came across this video article about an air-bag for cyclists that was shown at the CES tech expo in Las Vegas.


It's a high visibility vest that contains a large CO2 bottle. Sensors detect an immanent impact and inflate the vest. Motorcyclists have had this kind of technology for a while, but the vests are heavy and tend to work by detecting when the rider and bike separate - rather annoying if you forget to disconnect it before stepping off. Apparently equestrians can adopt this kind of protection too.

There's a better video link at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vU1oeYIeRYQ that gives more detail. There's a link to the Helite B'Safe website here https://cyclist.helite.com/

You attach a sensor to the seat post that detects high G-force events and triggers the vest remotely. In the video, the rider falls off the bike rather sedately so I'm surprised the vest triggered. The device only works if the vest's zipper is closed, which is inconvenient when it's 100 degrees outside.

After being triggered, the vest can be re-used by replacing the CO2 cartridge. It looks like the same 16 gm cartridge that brewers use, but they don't actually specify the size on their website. The product is French so who knows if you can get the CO2 in the States.

I have to say that, overall, this is a very interesting product.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

New Year - first ride and a flat

Last year (2018) I amassed a total of 10,415 miles - fewer than last year but still meeting my target. But that's all past history now, the counter returned to zero on 1/1/2019 and I hope I can meet my target of 10,000 miles again in 2019.

Today Amber, her boyfriend Glen, and I rode The Crema. The sky was overcast, the wind was blowing the wrong way, and the waves were huge. All sure signs there's a storm coming in. We were thrilled to see the beach trail through Huntington has been completely repaved and it is lovely.

We were very lucky to get straight into The Crema and loved the food as usual. On the way back I got a rear tire flat - I have no idea what caused it. I felt nothing in the tire but the replacement tube held air. I searched back through my blog and I think this is my first flat in 18 months - probably about 7500 miles.

We felt a couple of drops of rain on the way back so we were relieved to get back to the cars without being drenched. Getting straight into The Crema and a five minute flat change probably helped.

I found this story on bbc.com about a 90 year old competitive cyclist who was stripped of his title for failing a drug test. And no, it wasn't Geritol. That's inspirational and sad at the same time.


There's an interesting and thought-provoking update to this story in the Guardian newspaper here https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/jan/09/carl-grove-90-year-old-cycling-failed-drug-test-world-record.

Next week is my SART 200k ride. I have 27 riders signed up for it already and I expect to have over 30 on the day. The weather forecast looks OK right now although some of the slower riders might get rained on.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Winter Solstice 200 km brevet

Friday 21st was the winter solstice and Kerin hosted her annual 200k brevet.

Twelve riders met at Pasadena's Sierra Madre Gold Line station at 7pm. The weather prediction was perfect with no rain, favorable winds, and temperatures in the 50's. Many riders decorated their bikes with tinsel and Christmas lights. I was just glad to be there.

Start of ride

After a tour of the lights of Pasadena we hit the San Gabriel bike path and flew to the beach with a strong group and a tail wind. My rwgps says we took 1h35m to cover 30 miles. It seemed faster in the dark. We passed through several bands of fog on the way to the beach - some of it very thick.

At Huntington Beach I rode on the beach path for safety but the fog was quite thick. One hundred yards inland on PCH, where the rest of the group was riding, there was almost no fog at all; so I moved over and rode with everyone else. Weird how fog works sometimes.

The second control is at the Harbor House which is a 24 hour restaurant with decent food and a great atmosphere. It always takes a while to get a large group through there - this year it took over an hour - but it's a great control for this kind of ride.

Harbor House at one a.m.

The control at Dana Point was closed with a sign saying "back in 15 minutes" - rando's dilemma - do you wait or push on? I pushed on, relying on the pro-bar in my top tube bag. If I had known I would miss the train by 30 seconds I would have waited.

It's 3:15 am and they "say" they'll be back by 3:30. 
We continued on the usual route down the coast staying more-or-less as a group. I split off at San Clemente to ride the beach path while the others went up PCH. After San Clemente I caught up with the lead group and we went through San Onofre state park and then onto the shoulder of the I5 for the last ten miles or so. The freeway shoulder is the only bad part of the route.

I got to Oceanside desperate to use the rest room and by the time I got out I missed the 5:37 train by about 30 seconds so I had to wait for the 7:00 instead. Ate at the terrible Burger King but at least I got to chat with Jeff and Lori Arita who are planning to ride PBP next year. I really hope it goes well for them.

My ankle felt sore at the end of the ride, but I knew it would. I probably set the healing process back a month but I really wanted to do this ride :-)

Total riding time was 8:43 (14.5 mph average) which wasn't bad considering it was dark and there was a lot of fog.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Riding with a sprained ankle

It has been a while since I posted. RUSA has entered and emerged from an insurance nightmare. I'm sure all the RBA's and ride organizers are now suitably paranoid about waivers. I suspect we will see more reluctance to embrace the risk of litigation considering there is no benefit other than helping our fellow randonneurs.

I sprained my ankle a couple of weeks ago and it's still too swollen to fit into my cycling shoes but fortunately I bought a pair of cheap Nashbar SPD sandals a couple of years ago and they are flexible enough to accommodate my foot.

I met Amber at the Anaheim Artic. She still had her Topeak MTX rack and panniers on her bike. This is a very cool rack bag that has side pockets that open into capacious panniers. We started pedaling, but I didn't know if I'd make it out of the parking lot, to the beach, or what. Fortunately the pain wasn't to bad so we got all the way to Seal Beach and I had an idea.

I have recently discovered a Danish mead but the restaurant I found it at wants $42 a bottle whereas Total Wine only charges $30. There's a Total Wine just off the San Gabriel bikeway (this shopping center would make a great control) so we rode there.

We tried eating at Charo's, a Peruvian restaurant, but the service was so slow they hadn't even taken our order after 20 minutes so we walked across to a PizzaRev which we had never heard of. We had a custom made pizza within 10 minutes of walking in. It was really good and we would definitely go back. There must be at least 20 places to eat in the Long Beach Town Center and you don't even have to ride on the road to get there - there's a bike path straight from the San Gabriel bike path into the shopping center.

PizzaRev - very good

After PizzaRev we headed over to Total Wine to see what meads they had in stock. I bought six bottles and we put them in Amber's panniers. They we very heavy so it's a good thing there were no hills on the way back. I can tell you that the MDX panniers can comfortably carry half a case of wine. I don't know why they don't put this in the documentation - it's a major selling point.

Six bottles of wine - perfect fit

We ended up with 66 miles and I gave Amber a bottle of wine. I hope she likes it. My foot hurt a bit the next day but it was totally worth it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Another 200k

Greg, Stacey, Amber, and I rode my Four Rivers 200km permanent on Saturday. Greg and Stacey started from their house which is only three miles from the southern most point on the ride and headed inland to meet us at the official start. The new RUSA rules that allow a permanent to be started at any point works very well for them.

By the time they met us at 8:00 am Yorba Linda they had already ridden 24 miles. It was chilly and a bit breezy so I was wearing my RUSA vest to keep the wind from biting.

I have just installed a dynamo tail light, the Secula Plus, purchased from Peter White. I had trouble figuring out how to wire it because the spade terminal on my Edelux II was almost invisible, but with a lot of help from the seller, I was able to find it. It comes on automatically when the front light comes on and has a stand light so I feel very safe with it.

Secula Plus - the Plus means it has a stand light
The breeze died down quickly as we headed to the coast. Those of you who are familiar with the east end of the Huntington Beach trail will be pleased to hear they are repaving it. Currently the two miles between the Santa Ana river and the pier are ripped up and not rideable.  Your options are to ride through the parking lot, along PCH, or even Atlanta Ave. There is a rumor they are going to mark separate pedestrian and cycling sections. We shall see.

We ate at The Crema in Seal Beach and, as the wait was very long, we grabbed ham and brie baguettes to go with Thai iced tea and ate on the benches outside. Wonderful.

We then headed inland to El Monte where there was only one person working at the Subway there. Each sandwich took several minutes to prepare and pay for so I had to wait 20 minutes to get my sandwich. Poor woman - I felt so sorry for her.

Greg and Stacey outside the Subway as Amber and I eat inside

Headed back on the Rio Hondo bike path we saw a cyclist coming the other way while peeing out the side. Disgusting. I hope I never see that again. Actually I hope he crashes and has to ride home covered in his own blood and urine. Is that mean of me?

The head wind into Long Beach was quite mild for a change and we headed over to Belmont for our Chronic Tacos fix. According to the electronic counter there we were about the 3,000th cyclists for the day. One carnitas quesadilla later I was stuffed and ready to finish the ride.

Greg and Stacey stopped off at the Ballast Point in Seal Beach for a quick drink and Amber and I headed back to Yorba Linda. We finished the ride in 9:59 which is pretty good considering the amount of time off the bike. It was dark for the last 20 miles and my new tail light worked great.

The Woolsey fire is burning in Ventura county right now and the entire northern sky is thick with smoke. As the sun headed West during the afternoon the smoke started to obscure it and it got so dark that my automatic lights came on at three in the afternoon. I swear it even felt a little colder than usual.