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.