Thursday, December 27, 2012

First real ride for 19 days

I finally felt strong enough to do a real bike ride. It was the first since the 10th and I rode a whole 8 miles! I'm trying to sell my recumbent to Jennifer and this was her first chance for her to do a proper ride on it so a short easy ride was perfect for both of us. It was the shortest ride I've done since my crash on March 24th. Loved it.

I came home and rode 60 miles on my exercise bike. Not feeling quite so chipper now. I think I need a bottle of beer :-)

Monday, December 24, 2012


Blegh - no sooner does the launch their competition to see who can ride most over the Christmas holiday but I get all sick. Not just a cold, but a violent flu that drags on over a week. Eventually I went to the emergency room, greatly speeded through by my daughter and son-in-law who both work there and seem to be on first name terms will most of the staff.

So here's the symptoms - see if you can guess the problem.

Extreme headache especially when you consider I had it for nine days almost continuously.
Stiffness in joints and muscles.
Slight fever
Numbness in the extremities
MRI was clear

I am the lucky owner of a case of Spinal Meningitis hopefully viral. Of course there isn't anything you can actually do about it. I haven't been able to do much cycling lately. Even a zero-resistance workout is devastating.

Monday, December 10, 2012

R12 and my second flat of the year

I rode my Santa Ana 200k brevet last Saturday with Mark Kaufman. Both of us were riding the last ride in our R12 series. That's where you ride at least a 200k brevet for twelve consecutive calendar months.

It was 44F and calm when we started about 6:30am but it dropped quickly to 35F just before dawn. I was wearing my usual cold-weather gear - Pearl Izumi arm warmers and leg warmers and a Pearl Izumi convertible jacket. It was chilly at first but as I warmed up I was comfortable except for some chilled fingers and tingling cheeks.

Mark and I rode well together having similarly relaxed styles. We both went through the predictable soft spots but we're experienced enough to know how to deal with them with the minimum of drama.

It warmed up slowly and eventually I converted my jacket to a vest and when the thermometer reached 70F I took the vest and arm warmers off too. I am still amazed that a few ounces of well designed fabric can keep me comfortable when the temperature drops close to freezing.

I got a rear-wheel flat on the way back. It looks like a piece of glass cut my tire and tube but didn't stick in the tire. Fortunately it happened near the Lucky Greek so I fixed it while waiting for my Gyro and fries. I think it's about 4000 miles since my last flat.

I'm looking for new tires. Specialized Armadillos Reflect 700x26 are looking pretty good but they're not cheap at $50 each. I see they have a reflective band but I can't see many reviews on them. I think I'll give them a try anyway.

Congratulations Mark.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Back Bay = Wonderful day

Rode the Back Bay 100k with Amber. It was one of those days where all the lights are green and all the winds are tailwinds. I had creme brulee for lunch and I feel no guilt :-)

I bought a recumbent a couple of years ago and I've decided I don't like it so I'm selling it. I bought it with 650c wheels which was a mistake because the front wheel has a Shimano dynamo hub. As I'm selling it I want to keep the hub so I'm going to replace the hub of the 650 wheel with a regular hub and then have a 700c wheel built around the dynamo hub. I love having a dynamo hub. I'm amazed by how bright the light is and how little I feel the drag of the hub. It's a bit heavy so I'd only ride it at night. That's my Christmas present to myself.

I'm getting one of those new Cygolight 2Watt tail lights for my daughter. I want something that's visible during the day and this seems to fit the bill. I'll review it when we've had a chance to use it.

I run a couple of 200k permanents. These are 200k rides that anyone can ride at anytime to get credit towards various RUSA awards (or just for fun). Last week a RUSA member named Mohammed Adawi contacted me asking to ride the Tour of OC Bikepaths. Because of several errors (mostly mine) he was unable to complete the ride on Monday and abandoned at mile 100. He attempted the ride again on Thursday but didn't start until 8pm. The time limit for the ride is 13:30 and he completed it  in 13:16. I would have given him credit no matter how long he took.  He had trains cancelled, missed trains, got bad routesheets, rode in rain and all night. He deserved to succeed and I'm very glad he did.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Amtrak Century+

My daughter and I rode from Anaheim Amtrak station to San Diego Amtrak on Friday after Thanksgiving. We had planned on starting at 8am and getting to San Diego by 6pm to catch the 6:15 train.

We're both very familiar with the route down to Oceanside - less so south of there.

We didn't get started until 8:45 - partially because Amtrak required us to purchase tickets before we started the ride. They had a reservations-only policy over the holiday weekend. It was foggy and cold (57F) when we started - perfect.

About 10 miles into the ride Amber crashed while turning onto a wooden footbridge. The wood in the fog was super slippery. Fortunately she was not going fast and only bruised her knee and got a little road rash off the wood - no splinters. We made an unscheduled stop at the Newport Beach corner market for water and neosporin to irrigate and sterilize the road rash. To compensate for the stop we skipped the ferry at Balboa island and just powered down PCH. The ferry is much nicer but adds several miles.

Laguna Beach traffic was light which is always a blessing and we eventually stopped to eat at the Carls Jr just South of San Clemente. The teriyaki turkey burger was great. Continuing south we met up with a couple of retired guys who were tearing up the trail like 20-year olds. We were able to ride through Camp Pendleton marine base which is so much nicer than riding along the shoulder of the 5 fwy.

To avoid that dangerous stretch of PCH through Leucadia where Jim was killed we went inland on La Costa and Camino Real. That was probably a bad idea on Black Friday. The area was jammed with shoppers at all the stores along that road. In addition, there must be twenty extra stop lights on that route - most of which were red. That detour probably added 30 minutes to the ride even though it was only 5 miles longer. Next time I'll try Vulcan/San Elijo. Interestingly, as soon as we headed inland we lost the fog and it got quite warm. As soon as we got back to PCH it got foggy and cool again.

Further south is Del Mar with it's dangerous merger of Hwy S21 and Jimmy Durante Hwy (yes, they named a road after him). Next time I'll try 15th St instead. It looks much safer.

Next was Torrey Pines - the infamous 1.5 mile 6% climb that kills the legs on the Santa Ana century. I knew it was coming - I still suffered - thank goodness it was foggy and cool. After Torrey Pines there are several route you can take into San Diego. We stayed on Torrey Pines road and then climbed Nautilus. That's even steeper than Torrey Pines - topping out at 10% for half a mile or more. The ride through Mission Bay Park was very relaxing but next time I'm going to stay alongside the ocean.

We got to San Diego Amtrak about 5pm with plenty of time to spare and some very good ideas on how to improve the route. Total distance ridden was 111 miles. Great ride.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


I'm thankful that I have gone an entire year without losing a friend to a drunk or distracted motorist. I lost Jim Schwarzman in the summer of 2011 to a drunk hit-and-run driver. I pray he is the last. I still won't ride that stretch of PCH through Leucadia.

I'm thankful my wife is riding again. I just bought her a new carbon bike to replace her old steel one. I hope she gets many thousands of miles out of it. We're planning on riding her first half century in almost ten years on Saturday.

I'm thankful I'm still able to ride and so is my daughter with whom I enjoy riding the most. There are so many things that can knock you off the bike, both temporarily and permanently. I only spent two weeks off the bike from injury this year - more than most years but less than it could have been.

I'm thankful I have built my website I find I'm riding much more on my exercise bike because of it.

I'm thankful I still have a job, that my youngest daughter just married a great guy, that I still have my health and sanity, that my wife is getting stronger, and that I will have ridden about 8000 miles by the end of the year.

Have to go shave now - the in-laws will be here soon.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Reaffirming my youth

My daughter got married on Sunday. I'm so proud of her and she's chosen a great husband. I'm sure they will have a long and happy life together.

I came out of the ceremony feeling old so I rode my 200k brevet the next day. Since I had such a good ride last time by taking my time I decided to do the same thing again. It was 60F at the start with almost no wind. Lovely.

The first stop was at In'n'Out burgers where I sat down and enjoyed a double-double, fries, and a coke. They were unusually slow but, hey if I was in a hurry I'd be driving a car, right? Moving on I picked up strong off-shore flow but I figured it would make a nice tailwind coming back. The wind was strong enough to blow leaves uphill towards me.

OC Parks has refurbished the Edna Park restrooms. Very nice. They have installed a new type of drinking fountain that jets straight down from the top. It's big enough that you can easily fill a water bottle - fantastic.

I ate at the Newport Beach corner deli as usual but the sandwich counter was closed. So was Newport Burger across the road. Apparently they're both closed on Mondays. I'll have to remember that.

I headed back and still had a headwind. Huh? Yes the leaves were being blown towards me again. Might even have been the same leaf. Sucks. Oh Well.

I got to the Lucky Greek at mile 97 and stopped for a gyro and fries and three pints of soda. Yummy. At the head of the SART at mile 106 I picked up a tailwind and motored on home feeling strong. Even though I spent at least an hour off the bike I finished in 9:33 which is close to a personal best.

Does Coke count as a performance enhancing drug? Sure feels like it.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Lucky Greek - hot again

Summer this year is determined not to end without a struggle. It's November and it still managed to warm up again for the weekend. I rode on Saturday with Amber to the Lucky Greek and back which raises my official RUSA distance to 3630km and my grand total for the year to 6629 miles. On the way back the temperature got well over 80F and we had to put sunblock on to avoid burning. NOVEMBER for goodness sake!

I was still a bit sore from doing the same ride on Thursday but probably only spent an extra ten minutes cycling. The gyros at the Luck Greek are pretty good so we ate very leisurely.

On the way back we came across another idiot driving along the bike path in Hidden Valley. I'm getting the feeling the anti-cycling members of Riverside Parks and Recreation are planning on allowing vehicles on our bike path. I've sent one email which was ignored. It's time to start attending planning meetings to find out what's going on. According to there will be a meeting of the trails committee at 6:30pm on Saturday Nov. 28th at Park HQ at 4600 Crestmore Rd, Jurupa Valley. If my second email doesn't get a acceptable response I plan on being there.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Lucky Greek again

I rode my Lucky Greek 100k populaire last night after work but because of some production issues I couldn't start until after 5pm. I was feeling oddly strong, possibly because the normal head winds were very mild. I made it down to the Lucky Greek in less than two hours, bought fries and coke, took a bio-break, put an extra layer on, and headed back.

Coming back along the river trail I had to make an emergency stop to allow a skunk to cross the bike trail. Critters packing mercaptans get priority. For some reason I thought that whistling would reassure the skunk that I had good intentions. I was cycling on my own so I'm allowed to be a bit of a nutter. I don't think the skunk cared one way or the other.

I finished the ride in 4h10 including the 15 minute break at the Luck Greek and a couple of minutes with the skunk. My overall average speed was 15mph. One of my strongest rides for a while.

This morning I am sore. I felt so strong on the ride but sore the next day. If I was getting physically stronger I would not expect to be sore. So I wonder if I was only psychologically stronger - ie it was all in my head. An unusually light headwind means I ride faster and because I ride faster I feel stronger. Because I feel stronger I ride faster. All I know is I had a great ride.

It was nice and cool too - 57F at the end of the ride. I was wearing arm warmers, leg warmers, and a light jacket, unzipped. It's nice to know your cold weather gear works. I would have been comfortable even if the temperature was 10 degrees cooler.


I just finished virtually riding Land's End to John O'Groats on my website . This is a classic 960 mile ride from the extrene SW to the extreme NE of the United Kingdom. It normally takes two to three weeks but I spread it out over six weeks because I was only riding a couple of hours after work. It's a fantasic ride and now that I've ridden it virtually I can't wait to get over there in 2014 and ride it in person.

Now I'm going to virtually ride down from Canada to Klamath Falls, OR in preparation for my 2013 vacation.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

New Bike

I bought my wife a new bike yesterday. It's a Felt F6. I've not heard of Felt bikes before but the local Don's bike store carries them and the wife loved it. Typically she came home and told me she had found 'her' bike. She told me "It's a Felt and it's black and yellow". I asked her what model, what groupo, etc? She had no idea :-) It turns out it has SRAMApex.

Somehow she had managed to get the saleswoman down to $1800  and they would eat the tax (thanks Miriam). So my wife now has an entry level carbon bike to replace her 15 year old Italian steel Marin which is no posted on eBay. It's yours for $200.

If the Santa Ana winds calm down this afternoon as they are predicting, my wife and I will head down to the SART and take it for a quick ride.

Monday, October 22, 2012

What's better than French Fries?

I rode my monthly Santa Ana 200k yesterday. Like all long rides, I learned something. It's easy to learn new stuff - you just have to pay attention.

It was cool enough to ride during the day at last. At 8:30am it was a lovely 66F and stayed around 75 all day - briefly touching 80 at the coast. I even had a little rain - the lightest of mists, as welcome as morning dew to a thirsty rabbit (poetic, ain't I?). I had a moderate headwind for the last 30 miles to the coast - perhaps 10mph.

I'd made a deliberate effort to take this ride easy. Instead of riding straight through the first 60 miles I stopped and ate a double-double at In-and-Out burgers. For those of you who are not familiar with In-and-Out I pity you.

At the turn-around point at Huntington Beach I ate a lovely turkey and avocado sandwich and then turned around expecting a well-deserved tail wind. Well I did get the tailwind but for some reason I was bonking horribly so I could barely hold 12mph on the flat with a 10mph tailwind. Pathetic.

So the question is how can I bonk right after an ideal carb heavy meal. It's happened before but I still haven't figured out why. I kept waiting for the sandwich to kick in but it never did. It's like the sandwich had no nutritional value at all. After an hour of bonking I realized I needed more calories. Fortunately I had an Odwalla bar with me (my first ever). It was pretty good and got me to the 90 mile mark, although still a little slower than normal. I'll be buying some more.

At the 90 mile mark is the Lucky Greek - I've mentioned it before. I bought a large order of french fries and a large cherry coke. So now I can answer the question 'What is better than french fries?'. The answer is french fries eaten out of my top-tube bag and washed down with iced coke from my water bottle. Apparantly there's about 400 calories in a large order of fries and about the same in the coke and it was just what I needed to recover fully from the bonk and finish strong.

That's something inexperienced riders don't understand - you can recover from a massive bonk.

I think I had a tailwind all the way home. I swear it was fully 20mph for the last 40 miles of the permanent. Even though I had a headwind on the way out and bonked on the way back and stopped to eat a nice relaxed meal at two of my three stops, I still managed a sub 10 hour 200k which is about par for me even when I'm 'hammering'. Maybe I should be more relaxed about these things. Hammering doesn't seem to improve my time.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

First ride of Lucky Greek

Last week I rode my new Lucky Greek Permanent Populaire after work. It was nice and cold with a storm headed in but with a strong headwind. Had zuchini at the Lucky Greek. Nice tailwind home. Tried to finish in 4h30 but took 4h45 so Panera was closed when I finished. Need to ride faster next time.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Still working on next year's 600k route

Rode 75 miles with Amber yesterday and it was finally cool enough to enjoy. I wanted to try some modifications to last year's 600k final loop. The return section through Irvine just has too many stop lights. The idea was to pick up the 'Regional Bike Path' as early as possible, then work up to Chapman and finish along Walnut. However, the route to the very start of the bike path is complex and requires a lot of left turns on busy roads. The climb up Pioneer, Jamboree and Chapman at the end of a 600k wasn't a good idea either. So it looks like we will pick up the bike path at Alton, which is much easier to navigate and still avoids quite a few stop lights. We'll be finishing the ride either on the old Sunflower route or on MacArthur - a test ride is required to determine which feels safest and is easiest to follow.

I'm looking forward to riding my new 100k permanent populaire on Wednesday after work. I think I can start around 4:30pm after work and still get home and showered at a reasonable time. I'm going to try to ride that once a week while the weather is suitable. I'm also planning on riding my October R12 next weekend.

Last week I rode a total of 230 miles. I'm halfway from Lands End to John O Groats - somewhere in Carlisle. It's a wonderful ride, except for the day 7 which was pretty mediocre. I jumped on the scales for the first time in several months and I was amazed to see that I've lost 20lbs in that time. That's so cool.

I'm supposed to take Sundays off but I really want to ride! My rules, I can break them if I want.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


It has been a while since my last blog entry - I've been busy virtually cycling from Lands End to John O Groats. I just arrived at Chester after 600k of riding. There's about 1200k to go.

I finally got to ride with my wife last weekend. She's trying to get back into shape after being hit with breast cancer last year. We rode 22 miles along the beach at Santa Monica. It's sad to see a woman who used to ride double centuries being challanged by a flat 20 mile ride, but she'll come back - I'm sure of it.

To help her, I just registered a new populaire ride with RUSA. A populaire is a brevet style ride between 100k and 200k in length. They are intended to attract new randonneurs who might consider a 124 mile ride too extreme but would consider a 62 mile ride "doable". It's a slightly extended version of one of my favorite rides and it goes from the Panera in San Bernardino to the Lucky Greek in Corona and back.

I hope that Sherry will be able to ride it with me by the end of the year. I'll sign her up with RUSA and we can work on our P12 award together. The P12 award is given to members who ride a populaire for twelve consecutive calendar months. I also plan to ride it once a week after work to help me accumulate miles towards a mondaix award.

The mondaix award is given to a RUSA member who rides a lifetime total of 40,000km of sanctioned rides. I currently have about 17,000km so I have a long way to go. By the way, 40,000km is the approximate circumference of the earth (mondaix is French for world or something).

Hopefully the populaire will be accredited soon so I can start riding it. The temps in the evening are finally starting to cool down to the point where I could squeeze a 100k ride in after work.

Monday, September 17, 2012


Lejog is an acronym for Lands End - John O' Groats. Lands End is the most SW point in the UK and John O' Groats is the most NE point. At any time you can find people skating, hopping, jogging, and even cycling from one to the other. Lejog is more popular than Jogel because of the prevailing winds.

I downloaded a set of Lejog gpx files from (thanks Michael) in 17 stages, ran them through to add elevation data, and dropped them onto my computer. I plan on virtually riding the whole trip on my exercise bike. I already completed stage 1 from Lands End to Bodmin. What a great route!

Went for a short bike ride to The Crema with Amber on Sunday. What a crazy ride. There was some kind of walk in Anaheim that had the entrance to the Amtrak station closed but I just drove around the cones. Who the hell closes off an Amtrak station for a public event?

There was a lot of traffic on the trail too, some kind of Get Fit Relay. But the really unique aspect of the ride was that the police had the bike trail closed off at Warner. When we got around the closure we saw they were recovering a body from the river bed. I have no idea why they felt they needed to close the trail though - we came nowhere near the investigation scene. Simply a waste of police resources and an inconvenience to all the trail users.

I've been having an email conversation recently with David Nakai who is concerned about safety on the Santa Ana trail especially after dark. When I saw the body I began to think he might have a good point. But when I started researching the incident on the Orange County Coroner's website I noticed that in the same batch of coroner's reports that included the dead man, there were three reports of deaths to cyclists caused by traffic collisions. However you cut it, cycling on the road is more dangerous than cycling on the bike path.

Overdid it this weekend so I'm taking the day off from cycling. Tomorrow I plan on cycling from Bodmin to Bristol (virtually).

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Another night 200k - Virtual cycling part 3

Funny how a ride can go great and yet the same ride a week later doesn't. I rode the Santa Ana 200k again Friday night and logged one of my worst times ever 11h05. It was windy as usual at the start so my time down to the beach was about average. I was trying to use soft cookies and Perpetuum for energy but they weren't working. I also had to take a nap at the 80 miles mark. Mentally I was strong but I just didn't have a good ride.

Three more 200k rides and I have another R12 medal, yay!

I want to finish up the software part of my current project. Starting from where we left off in the last blog entry, add the following line at the end of the initialize function...
panorama = new google.maps.StreetViewPanorama(street_canvas, {});

Remove the alert from the end of the initialize() function.

Now change the <body></body> section to look like this...
<body style="height:98%" onload="initialize()" onmousedown="walkRoute();">
<div id="street_canvas" style="height:98%; width:100%"></div>

Everytime the left or right mouse button is pressed we will call a function called WalkRoute. This will display a Google Streetlevel image in the new street_canvas div. Add the following global variable declarations after the line that says 'var R = 6371;'
var panorama;
var waypoint = 0;
var distanceThisLeg = 0; // km
var rideDistancekm = 0; // Distance ridden - controls start point
var courseLengthkm = 0; // course length
var stepDistancekm = .015; // km - controls distance between frames
var rpf = 4 // revolutions per frame - controls speed
var rslf = rpf; // revolutions since last frame

Now let's write WalkRoute(). Insert this code after the initialize() functions.
function walkRoute() 
{   if (rslf < rpf) 
    {   rslf++;
    {   rideDistancekm += stepDistancekm;
        while (rideDistancekm >= route[waypoint].totalAtStartkm + route[waypoint].distancem / 1000)    // Start next leg
        {   waypoint += 1;
            if (waypoint >= route.length)
            {   alert("Done");
       var legDistancekm = rideDistancekm - route[waypoint].totalAtStartkm;
       var point = getNextLatLong(route[waypoint].latitude, route[waypoint].longitude, legDistancekm, route[waypoint].bearing);
    catch (ex)
    {   alert("Stepping: " + ex.message);
    {   var povOptions = { heading: route[waypoint].bearing, pitch: 0, zoom: 1 };
    catch (ex)
    {   alert("Rendering:" + ex.message);
    rslf = 1;

function getNextLatLong(oldLat, oldLong, distance, bearing) 
{   var latRad = toRad(oldLat);
    var lngRad = toRad(oldLong);
    var Rdistance = distance / R;    // km
    var dirRad = toRad(bearing);
    var newLatRad = Math.asin(Math.sin(latRad) * Math.cos(Rdistance) + Math.cos(latRad) * Math.sin(Rdistance) * Math.cos(dirRad));
    var newLngRad = lngRad + Math.atan2(Math.sin(dirRad) * Math.sin(Rdistance) * Math.cos(latRad), Math.cos(Rdistance) - Math.sin(latRad) * Math.sin(latRad));

    newLngRad = ((newLngRad + (3 * Math.PI)) % (2 * Math.PI)) - Math.PI;
    var point = new google.maps.LatLng(toDeg(newLatRad),toDeg(newLngRad));
    return point;

function toRad(d) {
    return d * Math.PI / 180;

function toDeg(r) {
    return r * 180 / Math.PI;

Although this works, there's several things that could be improved.
  • Add some information such as distance, elevation, speed, rate of climb.
  • There are small pans left and right on several frames that I would like to remove.
  • When you get to an intersection it's difficult to tell which way you are turning.
  • Magnetic switches tend to bounce. We can detect and ignore bounces.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Cycle virtually where ever you want

I've been talking for a while about writing a webpage and building some hardware that can make it look as though you were cycling along a gpx route as you use your exercise bike. Today I got it working so in this blog I'm going to talk about the concept and the hardware.

Google maps has a free, public api that allows a web page to get maps and display them. It can also display street level images. Google has created a massive catalog of panoramic images taken at regular intervals along most of the roads in the areas marked blue in this link. This includes most of North America and Europe and many other places around the world too.

You can quickly display a street level view from any of these points in any direction. If you display the view from a series of these points along a road you can create the illusion you are moving along the road. The faster your computer and Internet connections are, the better the illusion.

There are many sites such as ridewithgps, mapmyride, gpsies, etc that allow you to easily create and download gpx files that are merely a list of coordinates that form a sequence of straight-line segments that approximate a route. The segments are normally from 1 to 100 meters long depending on how curvy or straight the road is. If Google maps has created street view images along the route, an application can read the gpx file and drive you along your route at street level.

This in itself is fairly cool, but I wanted to connect my recumbent exercise bike to my computer so that I progressed along the route as I pedalled. I tried an Arduino but ended up with a much easier solution. I bought a thrift store usb mouse for $1, grabbed the sensor and magnet from a broken bicycle computer, soldered the sensor wires across the right-mouse button on the mouse and put the whole thing in a small box. When the mouse is plugged into my laptop the computer thinks the right mouse button is pressed every time the magnet passes near the sensor.

All that remained was to attach the sensor and magnet to my exercise bike and write a javascript program which responds to a right-mouse click. I purposely did not use the left mouse button because Google maps does it's own thing when it sees a left-mouse click.

This is why I'm not an electrical engineer

Here are some unedited results

I'll start on the software in the next blog.

Virtual Cycling part 2

Yesterday I explained my new project and described the hardware. Today I'll start on the software. Although I write this in Visual Studio, all you really need is notepad. I'm going to write this specifically for Google Chrome because it handles Google Maps' memory leaks better. I'm also going to make the software very barebones and simple.

The best way to start this is to create a new folder under Program Files called RouteWalker. In that folder, create a new HTML file called RouteWalker.html. You may need to create a new text file and rename it when you're done.

Whether you created an html or a txt file, make it look like this.

<!DOCTYPE html> 
<html style="height:100%">
<body onload="initialize()">

This is your basic empty web page except it will call a javascript function called initialize() when it has loaded. We will write initialize() soon. We are going to use three Google javascript libraries and write our own javascript so add the following lines between the <HEAD> tags.

<script type="text/javascript" src=""></script> 
<script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>
<script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>
<script type="text/javascript">//<![CDATA[


The rest of today's javascript will go into the blank line above. The initialize() function will start by loading a gpx file (a type of xml file) into an array of point objects. Our point objects will contain a longitude, latitude, elevation, total distance to this point, distance to next point, and bearing to next point. This requires some math. With that information we can walk the route. All calculations are in metric. To start with we need to define a few variables. Add the following declarations into the blank line above.

var R = 6371;   // radius earth in km
var route = []; // an empty array
var courseLengthkm = 0; // course length

Let's write initialize(). All it does for now is call a function that will load the gpx file, but later it will do a little more. I've hardcoded the gpx file name for simplicity. Here is the initialize() function - add it after the declarations above.

function initialize() {

The meat of the javascript today is the loadRoute() function. It starts by loading the specified file into an XML document. Because I'm coding for Chrome I'm using an XMLHttpRequest object. Other browsers load files in different ways. Insert the following code  below the code above.

function loadRoute(filename) {
    var xmlDoc;
    var nodes;
    var distancem;
    var bearing;
    var rideDistancekm = 0;

     try {
            var xmlHTTP = new window.XMLHttpRequest();
  "GET", filename, false);
            xmlDoc = xmlHTTP.responseXML;
    catch (ex) {
        alert("LoadXML: " + ex.message);

Now we have the file loaded and parsed into XML. The coordinate data we need will either be in a series of rtept or trkpt elements. They both have the same structure, just different names. Let's go get them.

nodes = xmlDoc.getElementsByTagName("rtept");
if (nodes.length == 0)
    nodes = xmlDoc.getElementsByTagName("trkpt");

So now nodes is a collection of XML elements. Let's iterate through them and build our route array. For each XML element we create a new point object and then populate it. Note we do not process the last element because it has no 'next' element. Lastly we add each point to the route array.

    try { 
        for (var i = 0; i < nodes.length - 1; i++) {
            var point = { 'latitude': 0, 'longitude': 0, 'bearing': 0, 'distancem': 0, 'totalAtStartkm': 0, 'elevation': 0};
            point.latitude = parseFloat(nodes[i].getAttribute('lat'));
            point.longitude = parseFloat(nodes[i].getAttribute('lon'));
            var nextLat = parseFloat(nodes[i + 1].getAttribute('lat'));
            var nextLng = parseFloat(nodes[i + 1].getAttribute('lon'));
            var eleNode = nodes[i].getElementsByTagName('ele')[0];
            point.elevation = parseFloat(eleNode.textContent);
            bearing = normalizeBearing(getBearing(point.latitude, point.longitude, nextLat, nextLng));
            distancem = getDistance(point.latitude, point.longitude, nextLat, nextLng);
            point.bearing = parseInt(bearing);
            point.distancem = distancem;
            point.totalAtStartkm = courseLengthkm;
            courseLengthkm += distancem / 1000;
        alert(route.length + ' points');
    catch (ex)
    {   alert('Parse XML:' + ex.message);  }
//Place holder

There are several helper functions we use here so we need to write them next. Insert the following code BEFORE function initialize()

// Get bearing between 0 and 359
function normalizeBearing(bearing) {
    if (bearing >= 360) return (bearing - 360);
    if (bearing < 0) return (bearing + 360);
    return bearing;

function getBearing(lat1, long1, lat2, long2) {
    return google.maps.geometry.spherical.computeHeading(new google.maps.LatLng(lat1, long1), new google.maps.LatLng(lat2, long2));

function getDistance(lat1, long1, lat2, long2) {
    return google.maps.geometry.spherical.computeDistanceBetween(new google.maps.LatLng(lat1, long1), new google.maps.LatLng(lat2, long2));

Save your file and rename it to RouteWalker.html. Now down load a sample gpx file like this one (go to the Export tab on the right of the page and select gpx route or track) and save it as MyRide.gpx in the RouteWalker folder.

Now right-click on the RouteWalker.html file and select 'open with Chrome'. You will see an error like 'NETWORK_ERR. XMLHttpRequest Error 101'. This is Chrome's way of telling you it doesn't think you have the security chops to open a file like this. You get around this problem by launching Chrome with a special parameter.

Create a shortcut in RouteWalker with the following properties.

<Path to Chrome> --allow-file-access-from-files  "C:\Program Files\RouteWalker\RouteWalker.html"

When you double-click the shortcut you will now see an alert telling how many points are in your gpx file. If you used my example file the answer is 1866. Tomorrow we'll start using Google maps.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Blue Moon


August 31st was a blue moon (two full moons in the same calendar month) and I don't think I had ever ridden a brevet under one so I started the Santa Ana 200k permanent at 7pm after work.

The temperature was a cool 86F and the wind was uncharacteristically calm. With such ideal conditions I was hoping I'd be able to set a good time. For some reason all the clouds were stretched out in a form called 'lenticular' and as the full moon passed behind them they lit up like a candle glowing through frosted glass - an effect called irisation. Absolutely gorgeous.

I rode straight through the first 63 miles and got to the turn-around point in 4h10 - not a personal best but pretty good. I spent 15 minutes at the Beach Deli cramming as many calories in as I could. There was a chap there, covered in tattoos, who had $100 worth of lottery tickets. He was ecstatic that he had won $80. I forbore from pointing out the obvious - it's best not to irritate a heavily tattooed man in the middle of the night.

Because it was relatively cool and I hadn't had to fight strong headwinds all the way to the beach, I found myself more alert on the way back than I had ever felt before. I had filled up with Gatorade at the control and it started bugging my stomach within the first 20 miles. In the last few years I've found myself becoming less tolerant of commercial strength Gatorade so I fixed that problem by refilling my half-empty bottle with straight water. I foresee having no tolerance for Gatorade at all at some point in the future.

I stopped at the Chevron at the 90 mile mark and had one of my favorite in-ride foods - a Hostess apple pie. Even though they have too much saturated fat and salt to be considered healthy, they are nearly 500 calories of tasty and easily digested food for a little over a dollar.

One problem I have on longer rides is keeping stoked up with calories. Even though I'm carrying enough fat calories to ride all the way to Las Vegas my body seems loath to tap into this resource (unfortunately). I've taken to carrying a top-tube bag that I can put food in (I suppose it could carry other stuff, but it never does) and I've been using trail mix. Every time I think about food or I feel the very early signs of bonking I eat a little. The problem is it's too dry and I find bits getting stuck under my tongue or in my throat. I need something that's full of calories but is easier to eat. I'm thinking soft-cookies. I'm going to try that on my next brevet. I'm also thinking about onigiri (rice balls) if I can find somewhere that sells them to go.

Anyhow, I got to the end of the ride at 4:21am for a total time of 9h21 - close to my personal best for this route. It's also the first time I've completed a night 200k without napping on the route.

On Sunday I hiked 11 miles in the mountain. I'm taking today off :-)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

End of the heatwave

Tom Fangrow and I rode from Anaheim Stadium to Seal Beach and back and for the first time in a month the temperature didn't go above 90F. It's a fast, flat, fifty mile ride and we took the beach path on the way out. We had the usual issues with idiots, both on and off bikes, who are completely oblivious to their surroundings. One jogger is hopefully slightly less oblivious after she tried to switch to the other side of the trail just as Tom was passing her. Now it's true Tom was riding slightly faster than the 10mph posted speed limit, but the truth is it was the jogger's inattention that caused the problem, not Tom's speed.

The trail users that really tick me off are the cyclists (always male) that ride down the middle of the trail with both hands off the handlebars, no helmet, and with earphones rammed into their ears. I just want to give them a little shove as I pass - that'll get their hands back on the handlebars.

We ate at The Crema, Tom's first time, and I had a fried egg sandwich that redefined the concept.

Picture two slices of grilled sourdough bread containing a fried egg, two strips of apple-smoked bacon, tomato slices, lettuce, and gorgonzola, served with a side of herbed roast potatoes. Every bite transported me to paradise. That hit of gorgonzola was sublime. Fried egg sandwiches are a staple of cheap cafes in England and I've eaten my share but this was the best ever.

We had a great tailwind most of the way back - a 10mph wind makes such a difference. We returned on PCH, which I know Tom prefers. We made good time but passing all those parked cars and trying to see which ones might open a door or pull out in front of you is so stressful. But it doesn't seem to bother Tom half as much as the pedestrians on the bike trail do.

It's strange the way two rational human beings can evaluate risks slightly differently and end up with completely different riding habits.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Bicyling and Kayaking

I rode 65 miles with Amber yesterday from the Angel's Stadium to the Long Beach Marina and back to check out an alternative route for the 600k that I host each year. For some reason I was bonking even at the start of the ride which is weird because I had eaten only two hours earlier.

It doesn't really matter whether you think you should be bonking or not - you have to deal with it. SoCal is still in an extended heatwave and the temperature was about 90 when we started and about 85 at the beach so my solution was ice cream.  We sat in the shade to cool our external temperatures and ate ice cream to cool our internal temperatures and get some calories in. I think ice cream is mainly fat and sugar so it's not the ideal endurance food but it really hit the spot anyway.

We continued along the beach path to the Long Beach Marina and ate at Tequila Jacks. Next time I want to try the Yard House. The Marina is such a fun place. As we returned we headed off the beach trail at Belmont Pier and tried riding along 2nd St which has a bike friendly strip marked. It wasn't bike friendly at all with impatient drivers and people pulling out of and into parking spaces making cycling very dangerous. After two blocks we dropped down onto Ocean which is much better. I now have that part of the route figured out.

At Seal Beach we stopped to kayak for an hour. Even though I reapplied sunblock I forgot to cover my head so now I have a very red and sore scalp. Stupid. Those standup boards look like fun, especially when there are groups of what appear to be lingerie models wearing skimpy bikinis. SoCal Rocks!

Once we turned inland the heat really shot up and I just about died on the last ten miles back to the Angel's Stadium. The whirlpool bath when I got home was wonderful.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Surviving the Heat

On Sunday I rode a 200k in blistering heat. That's dangerous, especially if, like me, you don't do heat well. Some people are perfectly happy exercising in extreme heat but I'm not one of them.

So what special precautions do you have to take?

Number 1. Sun block. At least SPF 30 but 50+ is better. Some people don't actually know what SPF means so I'll explain. An SPF of 50 means you can stay out in the sun 50 times longer than if you weren't wearing any sun block. That's assuming you apply it properly and it doesn't wash or rub off.

When you apply sun block be sure to pull your socks down, your shorts up, and open your jersey zipper so you'll be absolutely sure you don't expose unprotected skin if your socks droop or your shorts ride up. The back of the neck, the nose and ears burn easily. Also, if you don't exactly have luxurious hair, get a skull cap so you don't burn your scalp through your helmet slots. Be sure to reapply sun block every 3-4 hours especially if you're active. That may mean you have to carry it, so keeping a small tube with you is a good idea.

Number 2. Hydration. Drink as much as a large water bottle every hour when it gets really hot. That's double what you would normally drink. Try to keep your water cool so it's palatable. Know where the opportunities are to get water and use them. On Sunday's ride I rode to an Amtrak station (no luck) and then into a park (found a new source of water) while looking for water in Corona. If you don't stay well hydrated you will get a headache, then heat exhaustion, then a trip to the emergency room. If you're not peeing at least once every 2 hours or if it's very dark you are dehydrated.

Number 3. Electrolytes. Gatoraid is fine for normal riding but it doesn't have a good sugar/electrolyte ration when it gets hot. Too much sugar. You can get extra electrolytes from fancy supplements such as Endurolytes which work well but seem overpriced. You can also just nip into a fast food restaurant and order up some fries and a Coke (works great). Grapes, bananas, grape juice and apple juice are all great sources of potassium which is probably what you body needs the most. If the juice is too sweet, just water it down a bit. Signs of electrolyte imbalance are cramping and loss of coordination.

Number 4. Back off. You can avoid heat exhaustion by simply backing off the effort. If you need to, rest in shade for a few minutes to dump some of that extra heat. Don't be afraid to call someone to come and pick you up. I remember a 70 mile club ride many years ago when the tempurature got up to 115F on the way home. It took us over two hours to finish the last 10 miles but everyone got home eventually. People were sharing water, sunblock, and good advice.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Stupid ride

It happens. Even though I've been riding for twenty years, I still do stupid rides. I don't know why. Yesterday was a prime example. My wife and daughter were in Las Vegas to see the Phantom of the Opera so I decided it would be the perfect weekend to do my monthly 200k brevet. In the summer I normally ride brevets at night to avoid the worst of the heat but I always have to deal with a strong headwind so yesterday I decided to start the ride at 6:00am. How hot can it get, I asked myself?

Q. How hot can it get?
A. How stupid are you?

Heading from San Bernardino to Newport Beach was great. It was cool and I had almost no headwind. I broke my personal best by covering the first 63 miles in 3:52 elapsed. I love the panini at the Corner Market and Deli in Newport Beach but when I tried to order there were some kids ordering half a dozen of them so it was obvious I would have to wait at least ten minutes before I could even place my order. No problem, I went next door to Newport Burgers where they have fantastic Ahi Tuna burgers but as I parked my bike in the bike rack a group of eight people snuck in front of me. Crap - another long wait. I decided to eat a Clif bar and started riding back - rookie mistake.

There's a Circle K about 17 miles up the bike path so I stopped there and grabbed a sandwich and one of the wonderful apple pies that comes in greaseproof paper. It was starting to warm up (about 80F) so I took my time and enjoyed it. Less than 50 miles to go. Twenty miles later is the first sustained climb of the ride up Palisades. I had to stop in the entrance way to some office buildings to cool down. The computer on my bike said 85F but it felt much hotter climbing in the sun. Hydration was becoming a problem, partly because the water in my bottles was so hot it was unpalatable.

At mile 110 there's a park with water and restrooms. I stopped there for another 15 minutes and lay down in a spot of shade that was still soaked from the sprinklers. I didn't care that it was covered in ants. I replaced my hot water with some from a drinking fountain that was merely tepid.

Five miles later I was riding on the flat at 10-12 mph with a tailwind, barely able to turn the pedals over. I stopped again under a bridge to try to lose some heat. I ate the last of my trailmix and drank more tepid water. It took another ten minutes before I felt I could ride again. The last seven miles were brutal. The highest temp my computer registered in the shade was 99F although I suspect it snuck up to 100F while I wasn't looking. Of course, there's no shade on the trail and my computer registered a high of 115F in the sun. Even pouring the warm water from my bottles over my head didn't seem to help much.

There were a couple of things that prevented me from suffering from heat stroke, a very serious condition. It was a dry heat (yes, it makes a difference) and there was enough of a breeze to evaporate my sweat efficiently. As long as I kept drinking I would probably be OK. Thank goodness there are a lot of drinking fountains along the route. I never even got a headache which is one of the first signs of dehydration. I didn't cramp, either, which is a big surprise.

A. Pretty stupid.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Crema - second attempt

What a great weekend. On Saturday I rode with the Redlands Bike Club starting from Yorba Linda regional park. We rode to Long Beach and back for a total of 85 miles. Even though I enjoyed riding with the group, we were off the bikes for about 30 minutes just in the first 40 miles which is one of the drawbacks of riding with a big group.

Unfortunately I didn't realize there would be no foodstop. Everyone else brought Clif bars and stuff. So I had to go find somewhere to eat and hope I could rejoin the other rides. I ate at a small fish place on 2nd St. in Belmont Shores but never rejoined the group. Oh - well.

On the ride I met a lovely young lady called Lori who was pushing her personal best from 55 miles to 85. I do hope that went well for her. As well as being fun, the ride had another bonus for me. Instead of picking up the bike path to the Queen Mary at the very beginning, Don took us along 2nd St in Belmont Shores which turns out to be very bike friendly. I'm going to alter the route of my 600k brevet next year to take advantage of it because there's a lot of opportunities for controls.

Today I rode with Amber, starting at the Angel's Stadium and riding to The Crema and back again. We tried this a couple of weeks ago but it was so crowded we gave up and went elsewhere. This time we tried on a Sunday in the hopes it wouldn't be so crowded but it was just as bad. We put our names down and went for a stroll along Seal Beach pier. We got back, waited another 10 minutes and got our table. Total wait time was 45 minutes - this place is popular.

The menu is very full. I had a Caprese Omlette and Amber had a Fitness Omlette. Both came with roast potatoes. Both breakfasts were amazing. The roast potatoes in particular were perfectly seasoned and the omlettes were stuff with good things. Service was quick especially when you consider how busy they were. This is a five star cafe.

On the way back we had a young woman riding one of those track bikes that have become so popular around L.A. for some reason. She was riding in toe-clips and with no helmet. Damn, that woman was strong. She held our wheel even when we took it up to 24mph. Of course she probably hadn't just ridden 50 miles, but she still impressed me. Now if only she would wear a helmet :-)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Endless Summer 200k

Amber and I rode the PCHRando's Endless Summer 200k brevet last Saturday. It's a lovely little ride that starts in Moorpark and heads to the coast over Balcom Canyon (19%). Thence to Santa Barbara Harbor where we ate at Sushi GoGo which deserves more than the 3 1/2 stars it gets at Yelp.

Returning East along PCH we had a tailwind that followed us as we headed inland through Oxnard (lot's of bad drivers there) and finally died in the heat up Santa Rosa Road. We ended after 10 hours with pizza in Greg's backyard. It was a ride for punctures, though, with far more members of the group having them than normal. I had two, and Amber got one just a mile from the end of the ride so she finished on the flat tire.

I have no idea what caused my second flat so I'm replacing the tire. Unfortunately my new tires won't arrive before the weekend so I had to mount one I had bought for my wife. It's bright blue which doesn't match my bike at all.

I hear Jim Harris had a crash - hope you're OK.

Wiggo rules!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Green Prisons

Rode the Santa Ana 200k brevet after work on Saturday. It was so hot I couldn't start until after 7:00pm so I was a bit worried that I might not get to the turn-around control by the time it closed at midnight. I broke my personal best getting there at 4:10 hours but I payed for it on the way back.

For some reason there was a whole Christmas carol's worth of wildlife on the bike trail including an owl, two possums, three skunks, several frogs and mice, and a ton of peewits and rabbits. Didn't hit any, though, and fortunately none of the skunks hit me.

It was a good chance to try out my new cold-weather gear from Pearl Izumi. I replaced my arm warmers, leg warmers, and jacket courtesy of Performance Bike's 20% off sale. It only got down to 60 degrees so the arm warmers and vest were all I needed.

I heard an interesting article on NPR today. There's a small-town prison in Brazil where the prisoners can literally cycle to freedom. The local police department donated four bicycles from their lost and found department. Someone hooked them up to generators that power 10 street lights on the local promenade. The prisoners ride the bicycles eight hours at a time (I bet they don't have Brooks saddles) and earn one day off their sentence for every three shifts they complete.

The program is so popular that the prison authorities are hoping to get ten more bikes to power all 34 street lamps in the downtown area. If Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio introduced such a program in Arizona, I wonder what the response would be?

Monday, July 9, 2012


I like to plan and log my rides with which is one of several websites that leverage Google's mapping software to allow cyclists to do this. Similar sites include,,, and

You can see all my routes at and my activity log at Today I noticed a really cool feature that I hadn't seen before.

If you take a GPS system on the ride with you and upload the trip to ridewithgps, you can replay the trip. If you switch to satellite mode and zoom in it's really cool especially as it also shows your position on the elevation profile together with current speed, rate of climb, distance, and elevation.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Crema and personal responsibility

I rode a lovely 72 miles from Yorba Linda to Seal Beach with Amber yesterday. We were planning on eating at The Crema in Seal Beach but we got there at 10:45 and it was already full with a wait time of 30 minutes. So we bought sandwiches at the nearby Fresh and Easy and coffee at the Coffee Bean instead. We'll have to try The Crema again on a Sunday when they'll be less crowded. Or maybe we could have put our names down and hung out at the beach for a while.

The ride was great with mild winds, great scenery, and cool weather (for SoCal). It was overcast until we finished eating then maybe got to 85 by the end of the ride back in Yorba Linda. I forgot to put sunblock on at the start of the ride so I used my emergency tube I keep in my saddlebag. It's only SPF30 so I still got a little red but it's better than nothing.

Most cyclists I know do not carry sunblock. I know I cycle more than most of them, but even an hour unprotected under the noon-day sun can severely burn you. I know at least two ex-cyclists that have constant problems with skin cancer. They're always having lesions removed. Both of them are over 70 and they know their problems were caused many years ago so they tell everyone they can (including me) to use sunblock now.

On a similar note, I noticed a lot of cyclists yesterday that chose not to wear helmets. I don't care how slowly or carefully you ride and I don't care that you're on a bike path. If a fast group coming the other way makes a mistake, or someone's kid or dog forces them to swerve into you, you're going down hard and your slowness and care cannot compensate for their speed and mistake. That helmet could save your life, but only if you're wearing it.

I even see cyclists with helmets tied to their handlebars. That's retarded. And if you don't wear a helmet, your first crash could make you retarded too. Of course, you won't have enough functioning braincells left to regret not wearing your helmet. But your spouse, who has to spoon feed you for the rest of your miserable life, will surely regret it.

I speak from personal experience. Ten years ago I broke my bottom bracket while standing on a hill on PCH in Laguna Beach. I landed on my head. Even though I was wearing a helmet I was still knocked out and woke up in an ambulance. I still don't remember the 30 minutes leading up to the accident. My helment was destroyed but it certainly saved me from serious injury.

That goes double for kids - that's why there's a law.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Rails To Trails

I'm a member of several cycling advocacy groups and my Senator has received more that a few emails asking for her support, but the group that is closest to my heart, after RUSA, is Rails To Trails. Their mission is to convert abandoned railway lines and make them available to cyclists and pedestrians.

Most of their trails are still ballast or dirt, suitable for hiking, mountain bikes, and perhaps road bikes with 28mm tires and skilled riders. Because they're old railways they tend to be flat, with awesome views, and quite often with amazing trestle bridges and cool tunnels.

I've only been on a couple of them - the Pacific Electric trail in Rancho Cucamonga, CA and the Kettle Valley trail in BC.

I'm planning my next cycling vacation and I see I've actually ridden on one more without even realizing it. There's a lovely small town in WA called Raymond that has a bike trail alongside the Willipa Bay. I didn't know it at the time, but that bike trail is just the Western tip of the Willipa River trail that extends 56 miles Eastward to Chehalis.

Willipa Bike Trail between Raymond and South Bend, WA

Then head South to cross the Columbia River on the Cathlamet-Westport ferry (the only safe way to cross the Columbia on a bike) and on to Vermonia, Forest Grove, and points South.

Ferry across the Columbia River at Puget Island
Half the fun of a great bike vacation is the planning of it.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

More Old Friends

I rode the Back Bay 64 mile loop today with Tom Fangrow. I don't remember the last time we rode together but it must be at least 15 years. We're not as fast as we once were and a lot more cyclists passed us on the SART. There was a time we would have chased them down and punished them by passing them so fast they couldn't jump on our wheels. Those times are past. By mutual consensus we agreed "Screw 'em".

I think Tom liked the route. I got to show him a lot of bike path that he hadn't seen before. The Champagne Bakery was great, of course. It got pretty hot towards the end but overall it really wasn't too bad.

I'm a software engineer and Tom's a real engineer. I mentioned that I had written a program that would drive you along the path of a gpx file using Google Street Level and that I wanted to be able to trigger the program when I made a pedal stroke on my exercise bike. I know I can do it with an Arduino but it looked complicated. Tom mentioned he had built some projects with an Arduino but the programming for Google Street Level looked too complex. Maybe between us we can get something built. That would be cool.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Old Friends

June seems to be the month for reunions,

On Sunday I rode 60 miles on the Back Bay loop with Amber and we attacked the first stretch of the SART hard - or rather Amber pulled and I hung grimly on. About 10 miles from the beach we passed a small group containing a rider wearing a California Triple Crown jersey so I slowed to say hello and I found myself riding alongside Dave "Big Ring" Evans who I hadn't seen in at least five years.

Dave is a legend in SoCal long distance riding circles. He rode his 100th double-century (200 miles) way back in 2001 and was inducted into the Triple Crown hall of fame along with the late Dan Crain. Dave has been off the bike these past few years for various reasons but at 74 he's starting to ride again.

Amber and I slowed down to allow Dave's group to catch up because I really wanted to chat with him a bit. The group consisted of a Puerto Rican racer, his wife who had only been cycling two weeks - you'd never have guessed, and two young ladies - one called Teri and the other not. On the spur of the moment I asked Dave if Amber and I could join his group. Then, as we turned off the SART several more riders were waiting for us so we ended up riding in a group of 11 riders.

At a very gentle pace, and with a lot of conversation, we rode along Sunflower and then MacArthur to Bruegger's Bagels for a quick snack. I had never been to one before and it was very good. Dave and I started swapping good places to eat. I told him about the Champagne Bakery in Irvine and he told me about The Crema Cafe in Seal Beach. I'll be sure to go there soon and I hope Dave tries the bakery. I love swapping good eats.

We continued on until we reached the top end of the Back Bay where Dave and his Cerritos Cyclopaths (I think that's how the spell it) turned towards the ocean and Amber and I headed inland towards Irvine.

All in all, one of my best rides this year.

And now for my first ever cycling health tip - courtesy of Dave Evans.

If you find yourself having saddle-sores on every ride - even the very short ones - your backside may have acquired a colony of the kind of bacteria that love to invade microabrasions and cause boils. Kill them off by drawing a bath and adding 1/4 cup of bleach (such as Chlorox). Soak for 10-15 minutes. Do this before every ride for a month or so and the problem will go away.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Gordon Tyler

Today was a sad day. I just got back from a memorial service for an old friend of mine, Gordon Tyler. Gordon introduced me to cycling as an adult twenty years ago. I was packing on weight as I had just turned 30 and quit smoking (actually on the same day).

He took me for a twelve mile bike ride around his neiborhood in Moreno Valley. It took me an hour and at the end of it I sat on one of his bar stools and couldn't get off it for 20 minutes. With his encouragement and access to his 'magic' bike I became a cycling enthusiast.

Gordon helped me buy my first real bicycle - a bright-red, used Trek 1400 with a Shimano 105 12-speed groupo on an aluminum frame. A real work horse which my wife and eldest daughter both rode as they became cyclists with me.

We drifted apart over the years but oddly I saw a cyclist on the SART while I was riding my 200k last week who looked exactly like Gordon. I almost turned around to chase him down but I'm glad I didn't because I now know it couldn't have been him.

I met a lot of old friends at the memorial that I've drifted away from. I think it would be nice to drift back together again. Next week I hope to ride with Tom for the first time in a decade.

Gordon will be missed.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Cwazy Wabbit

Rode the Santa Ana 200k permanent on Friday night after work again. This time I'd had a full night's sleep on Thursday night but for some reason I actually had more trouble with sleepiness. I'm not sure if it's because the headwind was worse than usual or because I had ridden a 200k the weekend before. My time was 30 minutes slower than last time.

Those of you who like to cycle along quiet country roads or on bike paths at night know all about those cwazy wabbits. They browse by the side of the road or trail and when you come along they run across the trail right in front of you. Some of the less intelligent ones will run along the trail ahead of you in a state of panic, unable to decide whether to cut left or right until they can practically feel your front wheel on their tails.

I've always been worried whether I would go down if one of them actually went under my wheel. On the 200k an exceptionally stupid rabbit, one that should not be allowed to contribute to the gene pool, actually went under my wheel. Of the hundreds of rabbits that have crossed my path they almost all ran away from me. A couple have actually run between my front and back wheels. This is the first rabbit I remember that ran towards me. I went right over it - both wheels. I'm happy to announce that I did not go down, not even close.

I have no idea how the rabbit fared. Not well I suspect. My wife once ran over a chihuahua that was chasing her and, after a short yelp, it kept on chasing. So there is hope for the rabbit. If you see a rabbit wearing a neck brace on the Santa Ana trail, tell it I'm sorry.

I have to take my back wheel in for a service. I have a split nipple. It's not as painful as it sounds. I think I'll take it to the new Don's Bikes in Redlands to see how they do. I haven't been there yet.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Tour of Orange County Bikepaths

Yesterday was the second running of the Tour of Orange County bikepaths 200k brevet. This is a 126 mile brevet ride starting in Corona, CA that uses the SART, Huntingdon Beach bike trail, Monarch Beach trail, and Alisal Creek trail plus several other shorter trails, It would be considered an average difficulty 200k with about 5200' of climbing but it feels more difficult because most of the climbing is in the second half of the ride.I think if you use all the bikepath options there's about 80 miles of them.

Fifteen riders started at 7am with overcast skies, cool conditions, and a light headwind coming off the Pacific. The course heads down the Santa Ana River Trail (SART) towards Huntingdon Beach and then turns North along PCH to Sunset Beach. I was riding slow (11 hour pace) so that any rider who was unsure of the route (it's tricky to follow) could ride with me and guarantee not to get lost. Before I got to the first control I saw Willie riding back South in his yellow submarine, He was already eight miles ahead of me and we were only at mile 30. That was the last I saw of him.

After breakfast at the Jack-in-the-Box I found myself with Ed and Mark and we opted to ride South along the beach path because the overcast was keeping most of the beach-goers at home. The route includes a ferry ride across to Balboa Island, not because it has to, but because it's fun. They charge $1.25 for a cyclist with a bike - I don't know how much they charge for yellow submarines :-)

A little further South we jumped onto the Crystal Cove trail for a while, then came Laguna Beach. Nasty stretch of PCH, this, mainly because the city of Laguna Beach feels it's more important to install parking meters along PCH rather than providing a safe bike lane. I guess they need the money.

Dana Point is much nicer and we jumped onto a protected bike trail alongside PCH to the next control which is a tiny little Arco which just happens to be in the perfect place for a control. After the Arco we turned around and headed back North along the protected trail to Dana Point where we made a tricky turn onto the Monarch Beach trail which heads inland and has some very steep, but mercifully short, climbs. The steepest pitch was 15% which had me searching for my granny gear.

This trail almost connects to the Alisal Creek trail which almost goes all the way to the next control at Cook's Corner Biker Bar. Now some people may think it's odd to put a brevet control at a biker bar, but it's mostly frequented by wanna be bad-ass lawyers and accountants and the food there is pretty good, especially if you've just climbed 1,100' from the coast.

The faster riders were staying in a group and had made an improptu stop for lunch so my slower group had caught up with them just before Cooks' Corner. We all stopped together and ate together - very nice. After Cook's Corner is another 400' climb to the top of Santiago Canyon. This was the warmest part of the ride but it was still only slightly over 80 degrees - not bad at all.

The descent down Santiago Canyon was incredible - I held well over 30mph for the five or six miles. The last big climb is over the toll road and then we drop down to the end of the canyon and turn towards the end of the ride. At the last control at the Villa Park shopping center we re-grouped again. I ate cold gyozu (potstickers) from the Ralphs there and they were very refreshing. Shortly after the last control we found ourselves back on the SART with a strong tailwind and finished strong. Most of the riders finished within five minutes of each other.

Special congratulations to Jeff and Lori Arita who completed their first brevet. Hope everyone had as much fun as I did.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

*#(*!@&(& headwinds

Sixty miles on Saturday in a big loop. Question is, how did we get 5 miles of tailwinds, 10 miles of choppy crosswinds, and 45 miles of grit-in-your-teeth headwinds?

Now like every cyclist I know I make my own headwinds, but when I'm griding up a hill at 6mph I'm pretty sure very little of that 20mph headwind is of my own creation. That's OK, eating at the Champagne Bakery in Irvine made up for it. I had creme brulee followed by baguette and butter. Notice I had desert first ;-)

Perhaps the headwind was just punishment for my sin of gluttony. But it was so good.

I have a 200k brevet I'm riding/hosting on Saturday. Hope the weather is good.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Bike Share in LA

Los Angeles is getting a bike share program. According to the LA Times, it will be possible to rent a bike for $6 a day (the first 30 minutes is free). You can also get monthly and annual passes at a very reduced rate. We're a little slow here in LA considering we're supposed to be trend setters. New York, Washington DC, even Chicago and Denver all have bike sharing programs in place. And of course the Europeans have had them for ages.

Well better late than never, right? Actually yes - LA seems to have looked at other bike share programs and taken the best of many of them. Particularly impressing is the pricing which is well below the average. For example - New York wants $10 a day compared to $6 for LA.

Now many of you are probably thinking 'what kind of suicidal idiot wants to ride a bicycle in LA?' I used to think the very same thing myself. Now try this...

Browse to the website and click 'maps'. Search for 'Los Angeles', click [Get Directions] and then click on the little bicycle icon. All the bike paths, lanes, and routes in Los Angeles will show up in green. That's quite a lot of green, especially in nearby Orange County.

And how does this affect sports/recreational riders? The more people that can be persuaded to jump on a bike to get from their Metrolink station to work and back, the more drivers who will understand what it's like for us to share the road with cars. Maybe, just maybe, this will save lives.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Rando loving spiders

Yesterday was ride your bike to work day. I took my bike to work, but I didn't ride it. It was in the back of my truck. That probably doesn't count.

After work I jumped on my bike and rode a 200k permanent from San Bernardino to Huntington Beach and back (route #840). The ride went very well considering I'd only had five hours sleep the night before. I stayed alert and strong for the whole ride and the drive home after. But something interesting captured my imagination.

After about 20 miles I noticed a strand of spider silk across my aerobars. At the turn around point I noticed quite a few more strands. Around mile 100 I noticed I now had a full spider's web across my aerobars. We (the spider and I) had passed through several dense clouds of gnats as we rode alongside the Santa Ana river and that web must have caught more gnats than even the greediest of spiders could possibly have eaten. My mouth caught quite a few and I wasn't even trying.

There's no doubt the spider caught far more gnats by building its web on my aerobars than it could have otherwise. This must have given it an evolutionary advantage. Can we expect to see the emergence of a new species of spider 'Aerobar web builder spider' that prefers to build its webs on bicycle handlebars and aerobars? Perhaps there will be a sub-species that specializes on Randonneurs' bicycles. Perhaps they'll become hardwired to recognize Rivendell frames.

So next time you see a spider web on someone's bicycle, don't assume it's because they don't ride. Spiders can actually build a web while a bike is being ridden.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Brooks Saddles

Like most long distance cyclists I use Brooks saddles which, after the first 200 excruciating miles, are incredibly comfortable. Each month or so I receive an email from Brooks called the Brooks Despatch which is a professionaly produced newsletter. It's always a pleasure to receive and read this email, unlike the self-serving spam I receive from most other companies. Like Brooks' equipment, the email is restrained, dignified, and has an air of quality about it rarely found these days.

Brooks also publishes an annual magazine online, the fourth edition of which is now available. They are also sponsoring an attempt to beat the record for cycling around the world and are involved in many other interesting cycling events. This is a good company.

For an example of the kind of material the Brooks Despatch provides access to, checkout this writeup of L'Eroica ride in Tuscany.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Kudos to Riverside Parks and Recreation and Mike Hall

Thirty-seven miles on the SART after work. What a fantastic way to wind down after a bad day!

Let's start by giving a vote of thanks to Riverside County Parks and Recreation. They've been doing a lot of work on the Santa Ana River Trail lately to extend roads and install some pipeline. Every time they've had to dig up a section of the bike trail, they've laid a detour section down first so there was no disruption to the riders. In addition, even though they had to close a section completely while they were working on it, they took the trouble to open it back up on the weekends. It's much easier for cyclists to forgive disruption when it's handled this well. It looks like Parks and Recreation is done now because the bike trail was open all the way through yesterday evening (a weekday) for the first time in over a year.

Compare this with San Bernardino County who closed the trail for six months just because a section of the pavement had some cracks. Don't they know they are immune from lawsuits from trail users?

Congratulations also to Mike Hall who is more than halfway through his attempt to break the world record for cycling around the world. This morning he hit the 20,000km mark somewhere in the middle of Texas. She's a big state, ain't she?

Be safe, Mike, and tailwinds the rest of the way :-)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Getting back on the bike

I finally managed to complete a bike ride without crashing - first time in five weeks! I rode a super-flat 60 miles on the San Gabriel, Rio Hondo, and Los Angeles River bike trails. There was a slight headwind on the way inland and a brutal full-on headwind on the way back to the coast. We got screwed.

It's scary how much form you can lose in just three weeks. I remember 20 years ago I was forced to take a month off the bike and then rode the Death Valley Double in record time. Those were the days. Now I'm off for a few weeks and I get wiped out on an easy 60 miler. It sucks to get old but it beats the alternative.

I need to ride a 200k next weekend to keep up my R12 but I wonder if I have it in me.

Later dudes.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Hosting a long brevet

Last weekend I hosted a 400k/600k brevet called the Orange Triple Loop. That's 250 miles/375 miles for those of us not raised in Europe. I've never hosted a ride that long before and it introduced some unexpected challanges. Most ride organizers run rides over roads they are very familiar with -- makes sense. The problem is that their riders are probably less familiar with those roads so a routesheet that seems clear to the organizer may be confusing for the riders. This is especially true when the route contains a lot of bike paths, as mine do. For some reason Parks and Recreation rarely put signposts on bike trails. I remember cycling around Lake Zugersee in Switzerland and being impressed with all the signposts on the bike trails. I wish we did the same thing in SoCal.

In addition, a routesheet entry that is crystal clear after 100km of riding may be incomprehensible to a rider who has ridden 500km and is quite possibly bonking.

As a result, quite a few of my riders got lost at various points and at least two failed to complete the ride as a result -- although that mistake was made on regular, well-marked roads. So I need to really concentrate on simplifying the route and clarifying the routesheet whereever there is the slightest room for confusion. I also learned that I need to put the exit directions for each control on a seperate line after the control instructions instead of comingled with the control description.

In the end I had twenty-three 600k riders and seven 400k riders start the event. Out of that total I had eleven DNFs. The weather was close to perfect (hot, but little wind). Most riders had more tail-wind than head-wind. Quite a few of the riders rode personal best distances. No-one crashed to my knowledge. I only had to rescue one rider who melted down about 40 miles from the ride HQ.

I had some very useful feedback from several of the riders, especially those who got lost. Riders were very positive about the overall structure of the ride including the triple loop format and the extensive use of bike trails in Orange and LA counties.

I already have tentative route changes for the 2013 version of this ride. It will be very similar but with fewer turns, no info controls, and at least one less receipt control. I will be working extensively on the routesheet as soon as I've had a chance to pre-ride the modified routes.

I need to thank my wife who helped enormously throughout the event, and my daughter who helped me design the route and helped on Saturday. Hosting a ride like this is very hard work, I don't think I got more than an hour of sleep at a time on Saturday night.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Riders after the storm

I rode a 400k brevet last Saturday. It was the staff ride for my 400k/600k brevet scheduled for April 28th. I had hoped to ride the 600k but as the ride date approached it was obvious that my injuries from the crash three weeks prior were not healed enough to ride a 600k.

A major late season storm blew through SoCal on Friday and dumped a lot of rain on us. Fortunately Saturday started cold and breezy but not raining. I started riding at 5:00am from Orange and headed up towards Long Beach where I ran into the first problem - the Long Beach Grand Prix. They had completely blocked access to the Los Angeles Bike path. Bastards.

I decided to get to the next control by using the San Gabriel River path so I turned around and rode back to it. The beach trail was flooded in places and extremely slippery. Riding through a large puddle I felt my back wheel slide out from under me and found myself on the concrete before I knew it. Other than being covered in cold water and mud, it didn't seem like a bad spill so after a few choice words I remounted and kept riding. However I did have the foresight to take some pain-killers because I knew the hurt was coming.

The San Gabriel bike trail added a few extra miles, but not many. On the way back I lost control of my front wheel in a flooded area in an underpass but fortunately recovered it. I was being ultra-cautious in any damp areas. With the delay trying to find a detour, the crash, and the extra miles I was 90 minutes behind my target time when I completed the first loop. Not that it really mattered.

Back at the motel I ate, changed clothes, cleaned-up a bit, took more pain-killers, and then headed out on loop 2 up to Beaumont on the Santa Ana bike trail. The Santa Ana bike trail had not flooded like the LA trails had so that part of the trip was less stressful.

Rincon Road in Norco was closed due to flooding. I rode around the gates and up to the flooded stretch. I could still see the double-yellow line through the water so I figured it wasn't that deep and rode through. It was maybe three inches deep and I made it through just fine. A little further I got to the turn from Hamner onto Detroit and verified that the sign is missing - there's no sign at Detroit. Thanks to Eric Anderson for pointing this out to me. I will update the routesheet.

The upper SART was not flooded either which was a bit of surprise as I've had issues under some of the bridges in the past. I've test ridden the stretch of the ride through Redlands, Yucaipa, and Beaumont at least twice this year but never with 130 miles in my legs (and multiple injuries). This is where the most concentrated climbing is with Overcrest registering a 10% grade on my GPS for a short distance. I really felt the climbing this time but the view from the top of Overcrest was worth it. I was certainly never at risk from overheating since the temperature never even got to 70F.

Caltrans has decided to replace a bridge on Brookside and according to the signs they don't plan on being finished until the end of May so we have to detour on Cherry Valley which adds a little climbing. More thanks to Eric for telling me about this. Cherry Valley is a bit more of a grind than Brookside but it's still very scenic and traffic was light as I climbed it. I've made this change to the routesheet too and the new one will be posted asap. The RideWithGPS route has already been updated

I had hoped to get to the top of the ride before sunset so I could descend San Timoteo before the dusk cooldown but that didn't happen. The temperature at the control was 44F so I bought a cheap rain poncho for $6.50 which I wore between my vest and my jacket. Thank goodness I did because I was flying down San Timoteo at 30+mph and the wind chill factor must have been close to freezing. I looked like a complete dork but at least I was a warm dork!

The return leg was fantastic. I flew back to Loma Linda and rode easily from Loma Linda to Corona, but I was plagued by sleepiness and spent a long time trying to deal with that, despite three Red Bulls. At the AM/PM control I drank one of their 'cappuchino' drinks - all caffeine and sugar. It went straight to my legs and brain (fortunately the caffeine went to my brain and the sugar to my legs) and I perked up and averaged 17mph for the last 20 miles to the motel. I have no idea why the coffee worked so much better than the Red Bulls. The temperature on that last stretch dropped to 39F on Green River Road.

I now have a purple bruise on my thigh that is seven inches across (my wife measured it). That's what happens when you crash and then ride another 220 miles. I don't recommend it.

See you on the 28th.

PS. This is weird. The pain-killers were 600mg Ibuprofen and I took 4 in about 4 hours. I should have taken this much over a 24 hour period. Later in the ride I started hallucinating. I could see a red halo around my aerobars. It lasted a few minutes then went away. I have no idea if that was caused by the drugs, sleepiness, or what. Very strange.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Benefits of a home gym

It has been two weeks since my accident and I finally got to ride again. The Serotta is still in the shop so I rode my Bachetta recumbent.a very flat 50 miles on the SART. The knee was very tight until the scab split and some icky stuff oozed out (TMI?). Much better after that happened. Perhaps now I've had some exercise I won't be so irritable.

About two years ago my youngest daughter moved out roughly at the same time as I was looking for a new gym. I was looking at $40 a month minimum for basic membership and realized I could buy a stationary recumbent for less than a one year membership. So I ordered a Schwinn 220 Recumbent Trainer  from Amazon and put it in my daughter's empty room. Then I added a small TV, a towel drawer, and a case of bottled water. Voila - home gym. I never have to wait for my favorite machine and the TV is always on the channel I want. The machines even have a little book ledge so I can watch Netflix on my Kindle Fire. Luxury.

My wife and I were so happy with the recumbent we bought a Schwinn 420 Elliptical Trainer six months later.

So when I hurt my knee two weeks ago, even though I couldn't bend it enough to use the recument trainer, I was able to use the elliptical within a few days. It was another 10 days before I could complete a pedal stroke on the recumbent. Having both machines available was a godsend. I'm sure it sped up my recovery significantly.

It has been two years since I bought the recumbent trainer and 18 months since the elliptical trainer. Total cost was about $800. Total savings so far is about $960. Both machines have paid for themselves and are still going strong. I use them about 4 hours a week and my wife and eldest daughter use them too. I can't imagine ever joining a gym again.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Ow - redux

I hate being ill or injured. I get irritable when I can't exercise. Fortunately I've managed to get enough range of motion in my knee to work out on my elliptical. I'm nowhere near being able to complete an entire pedal stroke. I'm hoping I can accelerate the healing process with very light workouts on the elliptical.

My Fleche team (a 360km group ride) is half way through their ride. I really wish I was with them. I hope they gave a good time.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Rode a fun 36 miles after work on Friday night on the top half of the SART. Then rode Back Bay loop on Saturday with my daughter but touched wheels with her after 4 miles and went down hard on the bike trail. Broke my rear derailler and ripped my campy brake hoods. I also took a considerable amount of skin off my knee (most of it actually) so the ER doctor couldn't put stitches in. In his words "I've nothing left to put stitches into".

I asked him what that whitish stuff poking out of the hole was, thinking 'bone'. He told me it's subcutaneous fat. Ew.

My only wish is that it heals enough that I can ride a 600k brevet in a month. The doctor assures me that won't be a problem. Unfortunately I don't think the doctor has any conception of what riding a 600k entails.

Thank goodness we weren't 30 miles into the ride.

Be safe.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Republican Candidates and Cycling

I've been wondering about how the election of any of the current Republican Candidates for President would affect cycling in the following four years. None of them stand out as being supporters of our sport.

Mitt Romney: His only adult exposure to cycling was while in France as a LDS missionary. Apparantly he hated it and thinks of cycling as something only poor or foreign people do who can't afford a car. He will probably do what he can to 'save' us from having to cycle at all. - Score 2 stars out of 5.

Rick Santorum: I don't think Rick cares much about anything except what other people are doing with their genitals. He may have heard that excessive cycling can cause Erectile Dysfunction which he would consider to be a form of contraception so he would probably try to make cycling illegal. He would certainly fight any attempt to force the Catholic church to allow their employees to cycle to work. Score 1 star out of 5.

Ron Paul: Ron is the only Republican candidate that regularly cycles. I hear he's quite a strong rider. However, as bike paths are created and maintained by Government (note the capital G) and Ron believes government should be as small as possible, I suspect he would happily eliminate all Parks and Recreation departments so we would be forced to ride on the roads. But as roads are created and maintained by CalTrans, WaDot, etc, we would soon not have any roads either. Perhaps if we all created and maintained our own mountain biking trails we could ride our mountain bikes on them and there would be no park rangers (Ron will fire them all) to tell us where we can and cannot ride. Score 3 stars out of 5.

Newt Gingrich: Newt only cares about getting money, power, and fame for Newt. I don't see any way he can personally get money or power out of supporting cycling, but if we name all the bike trails "The Newt Gingrich Bike Trail" he might support them. It'd be a bit confusing though. I hear there are plans to build a bike trail as part of his new moon colony. Unfortunately it'll be outside the dome. Score 2 stars out of 5.

The lukewarm winner is Ron Paul.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sigma 1609 review

Major storm blew through this weekend. I'm glad I wasn't riding Vicky's 300k brevet up in San Luis Obispo. I hope her riders did OK. I have about a foot of snow outside my house right now so I will be using my Schwinn recumbent stationary bike today. I'm gearing up for a fleche (360km in 24 hour team ride) in two weeks. Meanwhile here's my review of my new Sigma 1609 bike computer.

I just mounted my Sigma 1609 and went for a 200k test ride. My initial impressions during the installation process and initial ride are very positive.

The Sigma is replacing an ancient Cateye Enduro that finally failed after more than 10 years and 50,000 miles of service. Two thumbs up for the Enduro, but Cateye's current Enduro doesn't seem as durable so I switched.

I did not install the cadence feature. I've been riding long enough to know when my cadence is in the zone or not. The mount can be rotated so you can install this on the bar or the stem. Wires are plenty long enough (I have a 62 cm frame and had about 6" of wire to spare). The sensor mount uses an o-ring which means it works even on the most aero forks. It took me about 15 minutes to install the computer, some of which was spent removing the old one.

The 1609 has a very large readout (great for those 50+ year old eyes on bumpy roads). The main display is always speed and the second display is one of a a long list. You change the second display with the top right and bottom right buttons that scroll through the list. One of the the secondary options is temperature which, while not incredibly important, is one of the few things missing from my Garmin Edge 705 so the two complement each other to some extent.

Resetting the 1609 involves holding the top left button for a few seconds. Moving into and out of Set mode requires you to hold the bottom left button for a few seconds. I like that the display indicates that you are about to reset or set data while you are holding down the buttons. This helps prevent accidentally resetting during a long ride.

I dislike bike computers that try to do everything with one or two buttons. It's too difficult to remember the magic sequence of button presses required to, say, recalibrate the elevation. The 1609 uses the four buttons very consistently so I don't have to carry the instruction manual with me if I want to correct the wheel size or something.

Talking about the wheel size I notice that even though I chose the wheel size for 700x23 the speed is reading 1.8% too high. Fortunately that's an easy fix.

You can carry over total mileage from a prior computer if you want to. Nice touch.

The backlight is also well designed. It toggles by pressing two buttons together. When it's turned on it lights up the screen whenever a key is pressed. However I could see not realizing it was on during the day and losing battery life as a result. I don't think there's any indication on the readout to let you know it's on. An ambient light sensor would be a great feature for controlling whether key presses activate the backlight or not -- hint, hint.