Sunday, December 29, 2013

Goodbye to an old friend

It has been a pretty good few days - a metric century, a personal best 7.5 mile run, another metric century, and a 14 mile hike - all in four days. Time for a day off.

My ancient Scott aerobars have been having problems ever since a mechanic tried to remove them while replacing my fork. He loosened them but was unable to completely remove them or re-tightened them so they're now at the point that they drop under their own weight as I ride over rough roads.

I wrecked a bolt remover tool yesterday trying to remove the bolts and took it back for a refund, replacing it with metal cutting blades for my jigsaw. After an hour or so, and five blunt blades, I finally have the aerobars off. I had hoped to save them but that is not to be.

Now I have to find some decent aerobars.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Lucky Greek and Santa Ana

I rode the Lucky Greek 100k Permanent with Amber and Sherry today. Bagels and cream cheese at Panera at the start, then down the Santa Ana River Trail. We picked up a tailwind a few miles into the ride and got to the Lucky Greek in about two hours. Amber bought me a GoPro Hero 3 camera which I tested out. It works great but the battery only lasts about three hours which is a shame.

I started hearing a clicking noise and initially assumed it was my computer's magnet hitting the sensor. I could hear it when I coasted but not when I got off the bike and span the wheels. Obviously I had a broken or lose spoke. The rear wheel looked slightly out of true so when we got to the end of the bike path I checked for lose spokes. Sure enough, I found one. Fortunately it wasn't broken so I tightened it up with my spoke wrench (surely you carry one too) and continued noise free.

I had the gyro and fries at the Lucky Greek - amazing. When we turned around we realized that a Santa Ana wind had kicked in. We soon had sustained 30mph head and side winds. It took over three hours to get to the end of the ride. That hot wind is really dehydrating. We grabbed a bagel pack at Panera and headed home. That wind made for a tough ride. Five hours and fifty minutes to cover 62 miles!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Seal Beach Ride

It has been a while since I got a good ride in. I've been sick and the weather has been bad. I finally managed to get a night ride from Anaheim to Seal Beach with Amber. Pre-Christmas traffic on the 91 was so bad I almost decided it would be quicker to ride the last 20 miles to Anaheim. In the end I got to the start of the ride 40 minutes late. We started at about 6pm.

It was cool - about 55F but it felt cooler. The ride down to Seal Beach was great - very quiet. Beachwood BBQ was too busy so we ate at Athens West instead. On any other street this would be a standout restaurant but on Main St in Seal Beach it's just average. Had a great gyro with fries and salad.

The ride back was great too even though it had cooled down below 50F by now. We had both brought along an extra layer which was just as well. Experienced randonneurs do this kind of thing automatically. Got back home around 11pm.

I noticed there's an extension of the lower SART at Green River Rd. I'm not sure how far it goes but I'm looking forward to checking it out.

Rode my 200k brevet on Monday - not very eventful but that's 24 consecutive months of 200k brevets or longer. Need to ride the Lucky Greek on Saturday, then the Ventura 200k on New Year's day.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Yikes It's Colder!

I was hoping to go for a run in Big Bear today but the storm came in early and it's 28F outside and snowing. Big Bear is 1000' higher so I decided to do a short local run instead. There's about an inch of snow on the ground. I wore fleece long johns and lycra leg warmers, a long-sleeved cycling jersey and a wind proof shell, a beanie and light wool gloves. I was seriously overdressed. I unzippered the jacket and jersey almost immediately but the beanie and gloves felt good. Amber ran with me. We got to the turn around at 1.5 miles but then the snow plow came by and the 1/10" of snow it left was really slick. We had to walk the last mile back. Amber lent me a running belt with two small water bottles and a pouch for gels etc. It felt good so I plan on using it on the Irvine half marathon. It's only a month away!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Yikes It's Cold!

I finally managed to get a ride in after work. We had a water pipe burst on Thanksgiving day so it's been difficult finding time to ride what with plumbers and people demolishing half our house. Anyhow, I managed to put rubber to road and got a quick 33 mile ride in. There's a cold front moving through so even at low elevation it was 54F when I started and dropped to below 44F during the ride. That's pretty cold even for me. When I got home it was 29F. You can imagine I unloaded the bike pretty quickly. Hopefully I can get a run in at Big Bear tomorrow before the worst of the storm hits. I'm aiming for eight miles.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Top Tube Bags

I recently reviewed the Roswheel Bicycle Frame Pannier and Front Tube Cell Phone Bag on It's a good bag.

I gave it five stars;
I am an avid cyclist, riding 8,000-10,000 miles a year. I specialize in randonneuring which consists of very long (200km+) unsupported rides. I've been using top tube bags for many years and spotted this on the top tube of another cyclist a month ago. He and his wife both had one and recommended them strongly. When I saw them on Amazon at ~$6.00 I thought they can't be any good because I normally spend $15-$20 for a top tube bag. They finally arrived today (I got one for my second bike, one for my wife, and one for my daughter). I am VERY impressed. I might have to buy one for my main bike and one for my other daughter.

Let's start with the top. There is a transparent plastic top with a Velcro flap underneath that is designed to hold a cell phone. My wife's iPhone fits comfortably while still in its case. My Lumia 928 barely fits when I take it out of its rubberized case. I think it would also fit if it were in a very thin case. You could also put a routesheet in here or even a Garmin Edge GPS system to protect it from the rain. I just put my Garmin Edge 705 in there and I can read it fine. I could even put the external battery pack for my Garmin or my phone in the main compartment.

The case comes with a headphone extension cord and a port in the front of the case to run a cable through so you could plug a headphone in to your cell phone if you wanted, not that I think that's a good idea. You would run the extension through the port so it's peeking out, then you could plug or unplug your headphones as you want. The top flips towards the rider which means it lays flat on the top tube when open - makes sense.

There's a double zipper around the top with extra large zipper tabs so you can open it with full finger gloves. Opening the top reveals a capacious bag about 2.5" x 2.5" x 5". That's plenty of room for gels, beans, bars, trail mix, even a spare pair of arm warmers. There are no compartments in the bag other than the one for the cell phone. It is sturdy enough not to collapse under its own weight when there's a cell phone in the top.

It fastens to the frame with three Velcro straps with buckles - two for the top tube and one for the steerer tube. You can cinch it down pretty firmly and it doesn't move around. The build quality looks good - I don't see any flaws in the stitching. It also has a reflective strip on each side. It looks good, it's highly functional, and it has a very reasonable price. What's not to love?

Unfortunately its raining outside so I don't feel like giving it a test ride. Hopefully next Saturday :-)

OK - time for an update now that I've given it a test ride. There are a few issues - nothing major.
1. This bag is about an inch wider than my other bags which means when you stand to climb your knees may brush against it. This is an issue with all top tub bags but the width of this one makes it worse. You'll need to keep your knees about an inch further apart when you stand.

2. The straps are too long. If you have an aluminum or carbon frame your top tube will be wide enough (about 1.5" seems OK). If you have a steel or titanium frame you may have problems. My top tube is about 1.3" diameter and when the Velcro loops back on itself through the buckle the hook part misses the loop part which means I can't cinch it up as tight as I want to. I put some rubber strips from old light mounts around the tube and it works fine now but I think this is a design flaw.

3. The strongest point is also a weak point. I use my top tube bag to snack from while I'm riding. The top flap where you put the cell phone makes it more difficult to get to the contents of the bag while you're riding. I found that unzipping one side but leaving the other side zipped up worked fairly well but it's not as easy to get to the food as my other top tube bags are.

Monday, November 18, 2013

SART 200k

Yesterday I rode my November instance of the SART 200k brevet. The weather was perfect - between 60F and 70F all day. I started riding with Sabrina and Sherry but they stopped at 13 miles and I continued on. I thought about stopping at the In-n-Out burger at 30 miles but decided to eat at the Arco instead. Stupid move - I should know by now to relax and enjoy.

I got to Huntington beach around 12:30 and ran into the Redlands Bike Club leaving Newport Burgers. I had a quick chat with some old friends and then ate at the Newport Liquor store which has been renamed NBC (Newport Beach Café) and has a nice new deli counter run by a couple of young Korean ladies. Very good food.

Around 1pm I headed back up the SART and, rather than stopping to eat at the Lucky Greek, I blew past relying on the trail mix in my top tube bag. They problem is that trail mix is just not a substitute for proper food so I bonked the last ten miles. I just couldn't get enough trail mix down to provide enough calories. I ended up with a 8:52 ride time and a roaring hunger.

I went to Panera and tried the new fontina grilled cheese sandwich that replaced the old big kids grilled cheese. Really cheesy :-)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Bravo Norco

A miracle occurred while I wasn't looking. The city of Norco, long reviled for it's anti-cycling stance, has finally marked a bike route with sharrows. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, a sharrow is a an arrow marked on the road telling motorists to share the road with cyclists. They're not worth the paint they're painted with but it's certainly a good sign. Even better, there is now a bike lane painted on Norco/Corydon.

The route that has been marked is the route that I've used to ride through Norco for many years so I highly approve of it. Not only did Norco mark a bike route but they did a good job of it. I guess I'm going to have to start obeying their stop signs now.

Next request - put a button on the lights at Corydon and River Rd that cyclists can get to. Right now we still have to get off our bikes, pick them up, carry them to the light that's set back 20' from the road, press the button, and carry them back to the road.

Also - how about extending the upper SART 200 yards so I joins up with California Ave. Cycling on Arlington is nasty and dangerous plus we obstruct traffic which no-one likes.

I went running last night and ran my first 10k. It took 1:13:42 - only a few seconds off my 5k pace of 36:30. That's half of a half marathon. Next week perhaps I could manage 12km. I'll have to see where the turn-around point would be.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Amber and I rode the 90 miles from Anaheim to Solana Beach on Saturday. When I got to Panera for breakfast on the way to the start I realized I had left my wallet at home. As you need ID to get through Camp Pendleton and to get on Amtrak I had to go back home to get it. This made me an hour late for the start of the ride.

We took the normal route to Santiago Canyon. I had not realized before how bad the route is. I will be changing that to add some miles at the start but keep us off the bad roads. We climbed up Santiago Canyon and got to Cooks Corner too late for breakfast :-( Oh well, the lunches are pretty good too. I had a breakfast burrito with lashings of hot sauce. I don't know why breakfast burrito is on the lunch menu.

We screamed down to the coast with the feeling of wind on my face and hotsauce on my lips. Because we started late we decided to catch the train at Oceanside instead of Solana Beach so we took it easy. It was a lovely day with highs in the low 80s. Traffic was lighter than usual.

At Oceanside we ate at Angelo's and then rode a couple more miles to the Amtrak station. When we got there they informed us that our train was running at least an hour late. That meant we could catch it at Solana Beach if we could ride 15 miles in 80 minutes. Amber pulled. We got there in 50 minutes despite hitting lots of red lights. We rode PCH through Leucadia - a section of PCH I detest, especially as Jim was killed by a drunk driver there two years ago. Normally I would detour on Vulcan but we didn't want to miss our train.

We were paralleling the train tracks and I knew if we saw a northbound train it was ours and we had missed it. We saw no train and we got to Solana Beach 30 minutes before the train. The serendipitous part of it is that if I had not forgotten my id we would have had to wait 90 minutes for the train instead of 30.

We hadn't planned on riding after 4:30pm but we brought lights and an extra layer of clothing anyway. We ended up riding until 5:40 and it was pitch black and about 60F when we finished. Randonneurs plan for these things.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fifty-six minutes and forty seconds

I finally ran the entire five miles of the pedal path last night. Before I've only run five km and walked three km. It was below 50F so I wore unpadded cycling tights, a long-sleeve cycling jersey, and a wind-proof vest. It was a bit odd being cold and sweating at the same time. Probably a good way to catch a cold.

It was also pitch black so I had to bring along a flashlight too. There was no-one else on the trail for the entire hour. The crescent moon and Venus were setting and the lights across the lake were very pretty. It was rather fun.

I don't think I run very fast. Running the extra three km instead of walking them only took three minutes off my total time. Let's do some math...

If v1 is my run speed and v2 is my walk speed and time = distance/speed then...

5/v1 + 3/v2 = 1   (it takes me an hour to run 5 km and walk 3km)
8/v1 = 57/60       (it takes me 57 minutes to run 8 km)

v1 = 8/(57/60) = 8.42 km/h

So... 5/8.42 + 3/v2 = 1
and v2 = 7.38 km/h

I run at 8.42 km/h or 5.2 mph and I walk at 7.38 km/h or 4.5 mph.
Not a lot of difference!

I have signed up for the Southern California half-marathon in Irvine on Jan 11th. It's gonna hurt like hell.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Solvang Prelude

My wife and youngest daughter decided to ride the Solvang Prelude this year so they wanted me to come along in case they got a flat. I don't normally pay to ride such short rides but I agreed to come along as support.

The Solvang Century and Prelude rides are organized by SCOR and are not to be confused with the Solvang Double Century which is organized by PlanetUltra. They've been organizing rides for many years and recently changed the routes on this one to address safety concerns. In my opinion they failed.

We had a pre-dawn 7:30 start with temps around 50F and rode on the 246 highway into the rising sun. The 246 is busy and every car passing us was also driving into the rising sun which means they were blinded. Never organize a ride so that the riders are riding into the sunset or sunrise. It's very dangerous.

After four miles we rode through Solvang and turned onto a quiet road. After many pleasant miles we turned onto the 154 highway. This is another busy road even though it has a good shoulder. Many riders were not sensitive to the needs of other riders or motorists and blocked the shoulder to regroup, take photographs, etc. After 11 miles of heavy traffic we turned onto Zaca Station Road/Foxen Canyon.

This is a perennial cyclists favorite despite being hilly and rough. It's a beautiful road with wineries every half mile or so. Unfortunately it was an out-and-back section of the route which meant it was clogged with cyclists on both sides. This isn't a very busy road but there are plenty of people out for wine tasting and tours. Wine tasters and hordes of cyclists on both sides of the road make a very bad combination. This would have been better ridden as a loop so the cyclists would only have been on one side of the road.

We went back to Fess Parker winery on Sunday. They had hosted the 40 mile rest stop on Saturday and we spoke to the employees. They were very unhappy about the way the cyclists behaved and I had to agree with them. That one or two percent who think we own the road and can behave anyway we want ruin the ride for, and reputation of, the other 98 percent that ride responsibly.

I much prefer to participate in smaller rides of 20-30 people who form a few, spread out, small groups that don't impact traffic. There's no way I'll ride this ride again.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Good Run

I ran five miles Wednesday evening - my first real run for three months since I tweaked my knee. No pain at all. I'm very pleased.

I also rode 40 miles last night with my youngest daughter in training for the Solvang Prelude on Nov 2nd. All in all it was not a bad week.

I came across this photo on and, being the weirdo I am, instantly thought of a caption. My apologies to all of Germany and France.

Germany's Chancellor, Angela Merkel, explains why she is divorcing her husband (right).

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sign of the Times

What a terrible title for this blog! Please read on anyway.

I got a lot of good riding in this weekend. On Friday night I rode with my youngest daughter - 40 flat miles - she did well because she's learning about nutrition and hydration. Part of the ride was in the dark which was new for her.

On Saturday I rode with my wife out towards Beaumont but the Santa Ana kicked up and it was very hot so we cut the top ten miles off the ride and turned around early. However we still managed 40 miles with almost 2000' of climbing. We rode up Sand Canyon which was not as busy as I remember it being.

I texted Eric who helps organize the Redlands Classic and it turns out the Classic will block my 600k brevet next year. I think I may need to route around it which may involve using Sand Canyon instead of Walnut. Still need the details of the road closures.

Yesterday I rode with Amber. We decided to do the Backbay loop which is one of my favorite rides and one I haven't ridden in a while. It got warm but not too bad. We ate at the Champagne Bakery as usual and it was a wonderful as it always is. I was feeling very tired and my butt was sore but it was a great ride anyway.

Many years ago I rented a bicycle and rode around Lake Zug in Switzerland. There's a whole network of bike paths in the area and they are a transportation network on par with the roads. There are signs all through the network such as [Cham 1.4km =>]. It's one of those touches that makes you realize that the government values cyclists.

Cycling around Lake Zug near Cham

Orange County is installing signposts throughout their network of bike paths. It solves one of the problems I have with the OC bike paths - they're confusing. Now I can update my route sheets to reference the signs they have installed. That should reduce the number of riders that get lost.

San Diego Bike Trail in Irvine

Amber's thinking about getting a dynamo hub - it's expensive but I think she will like not having to worry about lights so much anymore.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

An old friend

On Monday I got my Serotta back from Redlands Cyclery where I had taken it after recovering it from a hillside where it had been laying, exposed to the elements, after it was stolen. It looked marvelous. The broken spoke was fixed, the handlebar tape was replaced, and it was a clean as a whistle.

Yesterday I took it for it's first ride after it's ordeal. It was a wonderful ride. Strong Santa Ana winds, up to 30mph, blew me around. The wind seemed to turn of it's own accord - sometimes a tailwind and then, a mile later, a headwind or sidewind. Nevertheless it was a fantastic ride. To be back on my Brooks saddle with the long, custom top-tube and the super comfortable Scott aerobars; to see the bright beam from the Schmidt dynamo hub and Lumotec light; the miles flew by and I was happy.

It's like the old wife got a makeover. Don't tell her that while she was away I invested in a newer model ;-)

Monday, October 14, 2013

End of an Era

I am the proud owner of a ten year old custom Ti road bike made by Serotta when it was run by legendary frame builder Ben Serotta. Unfortunately it seems Ben was a better frame builder than he was a businessman and he became another victim of this economic downturn. This does not reflect poorly on Ben - many good men have succumbed lately.

He sought financial help and found it but lost control of the company and was ultimately fired from the company he created and which still bears his name. Thus ended an era in high-end hand-built custom bicycle frames.

The company that sells bikes under the Serotta name is not worthy of the name. They recently quietly posted on their website that they will no longer honor the lifetime warranty that Ben provided. When I bought the bike it came with a lifetime warranty. It is no longer under warranty and yet I am still alive. How can this be? I don't think Serotta will be around very long. The cycling community is too small to market your way around such treachery. We know what they are and we want nothing to do with them.

They'll be gone in a year - two years tops. They're already dead but they just don't know it. I hope their employees find other positions and leave. I know I would.

I was talking to a mechanic at my local bike shop recently and he recommended as a substitute for Serotta. Their prices look similar and I think they will benefit greatly from the demise of the Serotta brand.

Serotta is dead, long live Ben Serotta!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

All's Well that Ends Well

Well - not quite.

On September 26th by prized Serotta was stolen off my deck by a thief. He was interrupted by Sheriff's deputies while attempting to burglarize a business about two blocks up the hill from where I live. During a foot chase as he fled down the hill jumping fences and running through backyards he ran onto my deck and spotted my bicycle. You can't see my bike unless you're actually on my deck so I don't bother locking it up. He grabbed my bike and used it to evade the deputies.

I actually heard him and came upstairs to investigate, thinking the raccoons had knocked over the bird bath again, trying to get a drink. I didn't see anything so I thought nothing of it until I noticed my bike was not in it's usual place when I got back from work that evening. I called the police, they knew about the foot chase and we put two and two together. I sent flyers out to local bike stores, posted on the local website, and even visited some local pawn shops to see if I could locate my bike.

I had heard nothing for over a week so I decided to buy a new bike. As my riding style has changed since I bought the Serotta I decided to get a touring/randonneuring bike. Rivendell wanted a lot of money and three-four months to deliver. I looked at others but decided to go back to my cycling roots and buy a Trek 520 touring bike. It has a touring geometry, hill friendly gears, and you can mount fore and aft racks and fenders. It even comes with a sturdy rear rack. I managed to get $200 off by buying last year's model which, IMO, is a nicer color. The bike cost $1300 and I put another $400 into it to get the aerobars, Brooks saddle, etc.

Then someone emailed me that they had found my Serotta tossed over a cliff. They saw my posting on the local website and my wife picked the bike up today - giving the finders a $100 reward. There is a broken spoke in the rear wheel and the mirror is broken. I'll take it to Redlands Cyclery tomorrow to get the wheel fixed and have a good cleaning. It'll be like a bicycle spa day.

It's been a stressful couple of weeks and I'll be keeping the bike in the house in future.

Monday, September 23, 2013

To all cyclists who ride on the wrong side of the trail

While we were southbound on the lower SART yesterday a careless cyclist cross the center line into my wife's lane and hit her head on. She suffered multiple cuts and bruises and a sprained shoulder. Her bike was destroyed. If he doesn't pay up we will be hiring a lawyer or going to small claims court.

I don't how to put it any clearer. It is NOT OK to ride on the wrong side of the trail. EVER. It's NOT OK to ride alongside your friend blocking the whole bike path. It's NOT OK to cut the tops off corners. It's ABSOLUTELY NOT OK to pass a slower group on a blind hill which is what this jerk was doing when he hit my wife. I don't care if no-one is coming - it's the riders you don't see that you will hit. The only time I ride on the wrong side is when I'm passing a slower rider and I can clearly see there's no-one coming the other way. Even then it's only for a few seconds.

Mr. Chung - the reckless cyclist that caused the accident

Sherry's bike frame broke in two from the force of the impact. It's only a year old so now we have to find her a new bike. That's about $2000 or so out of our pocket.

Sherry's Bike - note the break in the top tube and at the top of the down tube

Saturday, September 14, 2013

(Un)Lucky Greek

I decided to ride my 100km Lucky Greek brevet last night after work. It was Friday the 13th and I had left my helmet and gloves at home. Not an auspicious start.

I found a pair of silk under gloves in my truck. The kind skiers use - but they work really well on those chilly days or when it's raining. I wore them instead of my usual Pearl Izumis and I had no hand problems at all - who would have guessed it. I couldn't find a replacement for my helmet but the route has almost no traffic so I crossed my fingers and rode.

It turned out to be a slow but uneventful ride. Lots of riders out on the SART - some lit up and wearing Lycra and some wearing work clothes and riding in the pitch black with no lights. There was also a fair amount of gay trolling going on - pairs of young men standing way too close to each other. Lot's of people exhibiting dangerous behavior. But who am I to criticize - I'm not wearing a helmet. I feel naked - Ick.

I've often thought that cycling is like camping (the real kind - no vehicles). Everything is essential because we don't want to carry non-essential stuff.  You can't remove anything from a bicycle and still ride it. Even the saddlebag, pump, and water bottles are needed to guarantee success.

I met a chap riding a bike that proved me dead wrong.

Look Ma - no hands!

This 'bike' has one wheel, pedals, and a seat. No handlebars, no gears, no brakes - no helmet! Technically he's not riding a bike because a bicycle has two wheels by definition. This has to be rough on the back and butt. Hills must be difficult too.

On the way back I was on a tight, fast turn when I came face to face with a big dog trotting down the wrong side of the bike trail. I managed to twitch my bike around it but unicycle guy would have probably crashed. No helmet. I'm an idiot - but I got lucky this time. Let's hope I never forget my helmet again.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Big Dipper - more audax that Audax

I must confess, when I saw the "Big Dipper" was the name of the September PCHRandos 200k ride I assumed it had a lot of climbing. I'm glad I dug a little deeper and discovered it was named because the shape of the course resembles the big dipper.

Eight of us started at the home of the Larry and Linda Botts in Ventura at 6:30am just after it got light. It promised to be a very hot day so the route with the early inland section containing the bulk of the climbing was a  blessing. Once the temps got high, we expected to be along the coast. The prevailing winds are from the North which meant that once we turned around in Santa Barbara we would have a tailwind all the way home.

The first food control was at mile 37 at a tiny store/cafe in Somis. Here's a picture of our fearless leader, Greg Jones, showing me how to eat properly - something I should have paid more attention to.

Amber and I split a burrito but should probably have had one each. The next control was back at the Bott household where I watered up and had a cookie. Again, I should probably have eaten more. We hit the coast and turned into a strong headwind but as we were riding as a group we took it in turns to pull and the thirty miles to Santa Barbara were over soon enough.

Santa Barbara was hosting a massive Breast Cancer walk with thousands of pink clad women walking to raise money for Breast Cancer research. What a sight!

We ate at a fancy store called Lazy Acres - they were so fancy I'm surprised they let us in. I grabbed some chocolate milk, some fruit juice, some water, and a sandwich. I thought there was enough calories in that lot, but on the way back in Carpenteria I started to bonk so I ate an energy bar. Of course, we immediately started climbing a hill so I couldn't eat or climb well and fell off the back. Jeff stopped to wait for me and I was back with the pack in five minutes. Thanks.

Then, headed back at 20-22mph with a tremendous tailwind Amber hit something and blew out her back tire. We pulled over and found a massive split in her tire which we booted. I've been waiting to try my CO2 inflator for a while. When I inflated her tire with it the gas cartridge froze (thanks Boyle) and felt wonderful on the back of my neck :-)

Just before Hobson County Park we were stopped by emergency vehicles who were looking after a motorcyclist who had clipped the kerb and slid 100yds down the road on his side. He had some serious roadrash and was medevaced out. While we were waiting we watch a pod of dolphins cruise on by.

After 45 minutes we were allowed to continue. We stopped at Hobson Park to get more water and then headed south, still with a roaring tailwind. With only 15 miles to go we cruised back for a total time of 10:15.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

To cyclists who wear headphones

"A person operating a motor vehicle or bicycle may not wear a headset covering, or earplugs "

I have a lot of trouble with people who use bike paths while wearing headphones. I understand why they do it, but it's very frustrating to approach a runner or slow cyclist from behind who is more often than not in the middle of the trail while calling out 'ON YOUR LEFT' only to have them completely ignore you. As you squeeze by you notice they are wearing earphones and are completely oblivious to the needs of all other trail users. Selfish and stupid.

I've lost a lot of friends to drunk and distracted drivers. It's the same thing. If we want drivers to drive responsibly we have to ride responsibly. If you must listen to music use a single earpiece in the right ear so you can still hear traffic. This is legal. Covering both ears is not legal.

I went running up in Big Bear last night. It's mainly trails with some road. I used my bluetooth earpiece in one ear only. There are some mountain bikers on the trail and they need to get by me safely. If they call out, I need to be able to hear them. It's common courtesy. It was raining over Mount San Gorgonio when  I started and there was a partial rainbow over Big Bear Solar Observatory.

Rainbow over Big Bear Solar Observatory
 I added a few extra miles to my normal run making it seven miles (I walked most of it because my knee is still healing.) When I got to the turn-around it was almost dark and the view over Big Bear Lake was awesome. I am so lucky to be able to run in such a beautiful part of the world.

Looking West over Big Bear Lake after sunset
Running back in the dark I was glad of the years I spent as an amateur astronomer because there was no moon and I could barely make out the trail. At one point I could smell skunk and it occurred to me I would not be able to see a skunk even if it was sitting in the middle of the trail so I started whistling to assure any nearby skunks that I was a good guy with no ill-intent and certainly there was no need to spray me.

Near the end of the run I pass through Serrano campground. I started thinking about the psychology of camping. It's like we want to get back to the good old days when we lived in caves and almost every disease was fatal. All the campers had their brightly colored portable caves, their propane powered bulrush torches, and applewood smoked mammoth bacon. Don't get me wrong, I used to love camping. I don't do it anymore, probably because I don't like being outside and stationary for long. When I'm outside I want to be mobile - hence the running and endurance cycling.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Passing of Lee Mitchell

I just found out that an old friend, Lee Mitchell, passed away today. He had been battling throat cancer for some time. He was a good friend to a lot of cyclists, a father, a teacher, and a husband.

I remember one of the first times I met him. My daughter and I were on a double century and he saw us at one of the rest stops. He chastized us for aligning our tail lights up to the heavens instead of horizontally at drivers approaching from behind. It was good advice and I took it to heart. I've passed it on to many other cyclists.

When I heard he had cancer I sent him an email reminding him of this meeting. I'm sure I'm just one of thousands of cyclists he has helped, both with advice and support, over the years. He and his red minivan were a constant presence at hundreds of cycling events from century rides up the the RAAM. He was beloved in our small, close-knit community.

On my next night ride I will point a tail light up to the heavens - perhaps you will see it. But I will also have another tail light pointing backwards just the way you told me to.

Lee Mitchell, your body may be dead but your memory will live in our hearts while they still beat.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Anaheim to Solana Beach

Amber and I tried a new route from Anaheim Amtrak station to Solana Beach last Saturday. The intent was to avoid Laguna Beach - a city more interested in parking revenue than cyclist safety. We also decided to end the ride at Solana Beach which is one station stop before San Diego. I cannot find a good route through San Diego - even the OCW Amtrak Century route is nasty through San Diego. This gave us 90 miles with some considerable climbing over Santiago Canyon for a total of 5000' of climbing.

We started at 8am with the intent of getting the climbing over by 10am to try to beat the worst of the heat. From the top of Santiago Canyon (1500') it's almost all downhill to the beach at Dana Point. From there we stay alongside the ocean all the way to Solana Beach so we figured the heat wouldn't be a problem - good theory anyway.

We ate at 10am at Cook's Corner biker bar at mile 25. It's always busy there and it took us 20 minutes to get our food and eat it. We ordered hash browns and French toast. The hash browns were good but the French toast was awesome. No syrup and a dash of cinnamon. Instead of being sickly sweet the eggy bread was fantastic. That place continues to amaze me.

We had never ridden down Alisal Creek trail before - it's much more fun than climbing it :-) It's pretty much 20 miles of 1-2% downhill.

Alisal Creek Bike Trail
Unfortunately there is one uphill - a medium length 13% brute of a hill up Niguel Rd from Crown Valley Pkwy to Marina Hills Dr. Ow. RideWithGPS claims it's only 5% - it lies.

We had planned on eating again at the Carl's Jr on El Camino Real in San Clemente (mile 55) but we weren't really hungry. We were both carrying some extra calories so we decided to push on to the Angelo's burgers in Oceanside (mile 75). We went through Camp Pendleton and I managed to get the guard to laugh by asking her if she could flatten the hill out a bit. We were both pretty hungry by the time we got to Angelo's. I ordered a steak sandwich and Amber got the veggie burger. Amazing food.

When we left Angelo's we had about 90 minutes to ride 17 miles. Normally this section is nice but the traffic was horrid what with it being Labor day weekend. All sorts of idiots were parked in the bike lane- forcing us out into heavy traffic. Even Vulcan Avenue which is my preferred route through Leucadia and Encinitas was very busy. What with the heat, the traffic, and the idiots the last 15 miles were not particularly pleasant.

We got to Solana Beach Amtrak at 4pm with 40 minutes to spare before the train. I do like being able to book bike slots with the tickets. No nasty surprises when the conductor says you can't bring the bike on the trail. I had major leg cramps on the train (after telling Amber I was surprised I hadn't cramped) but I had some sports beans which seemed to help. I ate a banana when I got home too.

I much preferred climbing Santiago Canyon instead of risking my life in Laguna Beach and stopping short of San Diego worked out well. I'm looking forward to doing this ride again when it's 20 degrees cooler and not a holiday weekend.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Don's Bike Store in Redlands

A few years ago Don's Bikes of Rialto opened a new store in Redlands. About six months ago I thought I would give them my business. I've have since decided this was a mistake.

In December of 2012 I had them build a 700c wheel around a Schmidt SON 21R dynamo hub with a 32 spoke rim. In August 2013 (six months later) a spoke pulled out of the rim because the nipple failed. They had the gall to charge me $32 to fix it - I complained and got $20 back. It should have been free. A week later two more spokes failed for the same reason. They replaced all the nipples with brass and didn't charge me. Clearly a bad build.

In March of 2013 they cleaned the drive train - no problems there.

In May of 2013 I had them replace my aging carbon front fork. This was a big deal because I have an old bike and they couldn't get a carbon fork with a threaded steerer tube (I hope I'm saying that right). Anyway, they had to replace the headset and that was difficult because I also have old aerobars that cannot be removed from the handlebars without destroying them.

Mike the mechanic did a good job - at least I thought so at first. Unfortunately he partially losened the aerobars so now they move around as I ride and they can't be tightened or losened - not his fault really. He also rewired my bike computer with no slack so when I pulled the aerobars up to a more comfortable position the wires pulled out and I had to buy a new wiring harness.

But the kicker came in August 2013 when I braked for a corner and my front brakes fell off the frame - MY BRAKES FELL OFF! They fell into the front wheel and bounced out. Thank God they didn't wedge into the wheel while I was braking on a 50mph descent. The brakes broke, a spoke broke, and the dynamo wire was damaged.

I took the bike to Don's and they were apologetic. They fixed the brakes and spoke at their expense and I fixed the wire myself (I knew that degree in Electrical Engineering would come in handy one day). They even loaned me a bike until mine was fixed three days later (see the previous review).

Despite the fact that they are prepared to admit and fix their mistakes, the fact they make so many of them means I will not be returning there. My wife and daughter both bought bikes there in the past year and they will not be returning either, even for the free tune-ups. With mistakes like this being made even a free tune-up could turn into a hospital trip or worse.

Note: My other daughter bought her bike at Don's Bikes of Rialto and I have never had problems there.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A reminder of why I love my Serotta

Roughly 12 years ago I shelled out $4000 for a new custom built Ti Serotta. That's easily the most I've spent on a bicycle. I've never had many problems with it, just a broken front derailleur during a 600k and a broken rear derailleur after a crash. I recently started taking it to Don's Bike store in Redlands and I've have a litany of problems all related to errors made by their mechanics. I'll be blogging on that subject later, after I get the bike from their latest attempt to make it right.

However, they were good enough to loan me a Giant composite bike with SRAM shifting and a Giant saddle. I only rode 30 miles on it but it was enough to make me appreciate why it was worth spending $4000 on the Serotta.

The Giant appears to have an aluminum downtube judging from the diameter. Once you have an aluminum downtube no amount of carbon is going to unharsh the ride. It was painful. Add that vile saddle (I ride Brooks) and my rear thought I had ridden a century.

A lot of people don't care for SRAM shifting. Fortunately I had no problems although I did find myself reaching for the Campy upshift lever a lot. I still prefer Campy but, at half the price, SRAM is good value.

We ate at Kokomo's in Huntington Beach - a great place to eat and watch the beach traffic.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Amazon's recommended reading

I got an automated email from Amazon today that shows just how far their automated recommendations software has to go to be useful. It included recommendations for the follow books...

Seven Deadly Sins by David Walsh
Comeback 2.0 by Lance Armstrong
We Might as well win by johan Bruyneel, Lance Armstrong etc
Wheelmen: Lance Armstrong, etc by Reed Albergotti
The Rider by Tim Krabnbe

Of these books I have already reviewed Seven Deadly Sins and gave it five stars.Why would they recommend a book they know I've already read?

I reviewed 'It's not about the bike' and gave it one star because it's a bunch of lies. For some reason Amazon thinks that because I reviewed a book about Lance Armstrong I must like Lance Armstrong so they're throwing recommendations for him at me. What they fail to glean from my review is that I hate Armstrong and everything he stands for.

So why would Amazon recommend the next three books which are sanctifying a man they should know I despise?

What would it take for Amazon to understand that a positive review of a book that attacks Armstrong is not a positive review of Armstrong? They need to understand there are negative correlations as well as positive ones.

Now if Amazon could take my positive review for Seven Deadly Sins and make recommendations like 'The Secret Race' or 'Rough Ride' I would be impressed. I would be even more impressed if Amazon could take my negative review of 'It's not about the bike' and recommend 'Seven Deadly Sins'.

Part of their problem is that it's difficult to determine how much of the review is on the subject matter and how much is on the book. For example, a non-Christian might give a new Hip-Hop Bible a poor review because they're giving Christianity a poor review. They would prefer to get recomendations for the Torah or Koran. A Christian giving the new Bible a poor review might be objecting to the Hip-Hop slang verse and constant references to the disciples as pimps and boyz. They would prefer recommendations for the King James Bible. It's hard to know without reading and understanding the text of the review.

Basing recommendations on stars alone is fraught with problems.

For now I'm unsubscribing.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Herding Cats

Under the auspices of the PCHRandos randonneuring group, I organized a night time audax style brevet last Saturday night. I had never ridden an audax style brevet before, let alone tried to lead one. It was a little like trying to herd cats. In an audax style brevet the riders ride as a group and stay together. As this is antithetical to the American ethos, where individuality is encouraged, I think we did pretty well.

There's a 200k permanent that I host that has almost 100 miles of bike path. The 24 miles of road are generally very quiet. I decided to reverse it as that would make almost eveyone's drive home shorter. However it is a very hot ride in the California summer so I decided to make it even more interesting by riding it at night. Instead of highs in the 90s our high was about 70F with lows around 60F. As the route goes through some sketchy neighborhoods for night riding it made a lot of sense to ride audax style.

Only David Nakai had any experience with audax riding so I relied on him for advice. Apparently in Europe the group actually stays quite compact, although not necessarily pace lining. We had twelve riders and we tended to break into two or three smaller groups and regroup every 10 miles or so. Some sections of the route have a lot of turns so we stayed together through them and I'm glad to say I didn't lose anyone. Fortunately I can still count to twelve even when sleep-deprived.

Unfortunately the rest rooms at the start were locked. I gave everyone a 5-hour energy drink and we set out at 7pm. The pace was frantic because it's a fast route and we had a tailwind and we're Americans and Vickie needed to use the restrooms. Instead of the 15-16 mph I had promised, we were holding 20-22 mph. We made an quick pit stop at some restrooms eight miles into the ride. Then another at some restrooms 13 miles into the ride! As we rode along the bike path we could see the traffic on the 91 freeway was stationary even at 8pm - it felt good to be on a bike.

As we ducked under the gate to the upper SART Mel noticed he had a soft tire but he rode it to the turnaround at In-n-Out burger in San Bernardino. I announced that I would be paying for everyone's meal and everyone was very pleased. There's only one thing better than burgers and that's free burgers. I couldn't believe I fed 12 people for only $73 - seemed like a good deal to me. Mel tried to find his flat but couldn't find the hole or anything in the tire so he had to put a new tube in and hope. Just as we pulled away David noticed he had a flat tire too so we had to wait for him. No problem - we're riding audax and that's what we do. We started the return leg around 12:45am.

Heading back there's slightly more downhill (about 2250' climbing on the outbound leg, about 1250' on the return) and the wind had largely died down so we held a good speed on the way back. We tended to split up even more as the weaker riders started to get tired but we still regrouped at all the important turns. David stayed with the back group and I stopped at a few turns to make sure he saw which way to go.

The street section through Norco was almost completely car free at 3am. It was really nice. I think on the entire 62 mile return leg we were passed by maybe 10 cars total. At the Arco at the 94 mile mark Martins found he had a flat. I really should have allocated time for flats, but it didn't occur to me. Fortunately everyone had the good sense to have their flats at scheduled stops. Surely thats a sign of an experienced randonneur :-)

I managed to bonk about seven miles from the end. I did have food with me but as it takes about 15-20 minutes to take effect it didn't seem worth stopping to eat it. I just slowed down a bit and came in with the last group about two minutes behind the others. We all finished within a few minutes of each other at 5:20am - slightly later than I had expected, but then I hadn't allowed for any flats. It seems everyone had a good time and several people said they would like to ride more rides like this. There's a good chance we will see this one or something similar on the schedule for next year. Please let Greg Jones know if you would like this.

Congratulations to those who set personal distance records and thanks to everyone who came. I really enjoyed riding my favorite route with my friends.

PS. There a rumor going around that Willie Hunt rode this in his yellow submarine. I do recall seeing a yellow flash going the other way on the bike path just before we got to the turn-around point.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Running is bad for the knees

Every Wednesday I've been running five miles along the North shore of Big Bear lake. For the past three months I've been trying to get my time below one hour. Last Wednesday I finally managed a 58:55 time but at a cost.

I hurt my knee. I don't know how. I didn't twist or jar it, but I started to feel a sharp pain around mile three none the less. I thought I could run through it because I can normally ride through knee pain, but now I'm limping badly. Just pressing lightly on the skin below the kneecap is painful.

I have a 200k brevet scheduled for Saturday night. If my knee isn't healed by then I might have to take painkillers to get through the ride. By this time next week I could be I a wheelchair!

Remind me again why we do this?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Every ride is unique

Sabrina, Sherry, and I rode the top half of the SART which was a personal best for Sabrina - being 40 miles. She's planning on riding the Solvang Prelude metric century in November and she only put clipless pedals on her bike a couple of weeks ago. She did great, especially when you consider she's wearing borrowed shoes which are too tight and hurt her feet.

As I tightened the QR on my front wheel while preparing for the ride I snapped a spoke. I haven't broken a spoke in over five years. Fortunately I like wheels with lots of spokes so I was able to complete the ride with a wobbly wheel. That's one reason I don't like those ten spoke uber-light wheels.

As we were riding about 100yds from an apiary I was stung by a bee. It must be over 20 years since I was last stung. Fortunately I don't react much to bee stings so it was no big deal. To be honest I've had more painful blood draws.

Two very unusual things happening in one short 40 mile ride. Every one is different.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

What is that squeak?

Drove down to Anaheim with my wife to do the Seal Beach ride. It was overcast and 70F at the start with a mild headwind to the beach. Awesome! This was Sherry's longest ride for a while and she is noticeably stronger. On the way down we noticed her bike had a squeak that got quieter when she stopped pedaling but was still there. I guessed it was the front-end or the saddle.

We planned on eating at The Crema but they were super busy with about an hour wait and we were pretty hungry so we opted to eat at Athens West again. I got the vegetarian platter and it was fantastic. Sherry liked her meal too. I would have to say it's slightly better than Daphne's but not as good as The Phoenician.

I checked her front-end and it was solid but when I checked her saddle it was completely lose. I tightened it up and the squeak was gone. It's nice to be able to figure the small stuff out at least.

The beach trail started off well but it got pretty crowded around the pier so we turned on Golden West and then followed Orange/Atlantic back to the bike trail, avoiding the worst of downtown Huntington Beach. The overcast finally burned off for the last eight miles which was enough for me to get a little sunburn. Sherry rode strongly and only slowed down for the last five miles. She doesn't like the heat much either.

All in all a very good fifty mile ride.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What will it take?

So Englishman Chris Froome of team Sky has won the Tour de France. Last year it was Englishman Bradley Wiggins of team Sky.

Since I started following the Tour back in the Indurain years it seems it has only been won by liars, cheaters, and dopers. Out of the twenty or so winner in the past two decades it would seem none of them were good enough to win clean. But now we're told that it's all changed - again. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Team Sky is sponsored by the same man who's employees habitually hacked the phones and email accounts of the rich and newsworthy. When they finally stooped to hacking the phone of a young murder victim he got the message and shut down that cesspit of the newspaper called 'News of the World'. But the same sleazy journalism persists throughout his media empire. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

So we're supposed to believe that Rupert Murdoch has saved professional cycling and his team is suddenly dominating the Tour de France clean. Right.

I don't know what it will take to get me to believe the peleton is clean. More competition, less domination, more movement of the jerseys. More involvement from the UCI (or better still, a brand new governing body). It certainly isn't Murdoch.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Rain, Floods, BBQ

Amber and I arranged to meet at Anaheim at 5pm Saturday to ride to Seal Beach and back. We were going to eat at Beachwood BBQ on the recommendation of a chap we were talking to the prior week while waiting to get into The Crema. When we got to Anaheim we found the Angels playing again - don't they ever play away games?

The weather was perfect, overcast and cool. There had been some heavy monsoonal rain in the afternoon so there were actually puddles on the bike trail. We had the usual headwinds down to the beach but a nice tailwind when we turned North. The beach was more crowded than I ever remember seeing it before so we gave up and rode on PCH. It always amazes me that as soon as people pull up in their beach parking spot all they think about is getting their kids, BBQ, coolers, chairs, umbrellas, beach balls, buckets and spades onto the beach. There could be an eight lane freeway between their car and the beach - they'd run across it without looking carrying all their crap and their kids would run back and forth screaming excitedly. Then when they get mown down their stupid parents would blame the motorists.

So we rode on PCH.

Everything in Seal Beach was busy. I managed to wangle two seats at the bar at Beachwood BBQ and grabbed a couple of menus. They have an amazing selection of food at very good prices. The selection of sides was particularly impressive. I ordered a pulled pork sandwich with a side of smoked asparagus. Despite them being full to overflowing, the food arrived in a timely manner. I'm not sure what kind of roll the sandwich came on but it had the texture and look of brioche.  It was stuffed with pulled pork topped with tart coleslaw (more of a sauerkraut) and a smoky BBQ sauce. There were about eight grilled asparagus stalks on the side.

Amber ordered a brisket sandwich with blue cheese grits (I told you those sides are amazing). It went down pretty well. This is definitely a place I will go back to and recommend to others. While we were there I noticed the chap sitting next to us was wearing an El Avion polo shirt from Costa Rice so I mentioned I had been there on business. Next thing he's telling us all about his trip and recommending a restaurant there which is housed in a crashed military cargo plane at the top of a mountain called El Avion. A step up from a diner in a railway carriage :-)

The return on the beach trail was still fraught with problems so we jumped onto PCH again until we could get around the worst of the partyers. As we turned to go inland we discovered the tide had come in really high and flooded the bike trail under PCH to a depth of about a foot. This was totally dry when were outbound two hours earlier! We both ended up with soaked feet that lasted all the way home.

We had a strong tailwind for the final stretch and got passed by a Mexican on a GT mountain bike with skinny tires hammering at 20mph. Platform pedals, upright stance, just hammering. We jumped on his wheel but I think my lights were bothering him because he kept saying something in Spanish and gesticulating in what, I have to assume, was not a complimentary manner. I dropped back 100' and left him to his own weak front light. He was very strong though, I can only imagine what he could have done on a better bike.

Overall a first rate ride, even if my socks were still dripping wet when I took them off to shower.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Kayaking and The Crema

Another hot day in the 90s even though we were near the beach most of the day. Amber and I met at the Anaheim Amtrak and rode to The Crema at Seal Beach. We had planned on stopping and kayaking at Sunset Beach but they were crazy busy so we rode on the The Crema and ate. Everything seemed busier than usual - the roads, the trails, everything. It was Bastille day so I assume the Americans were showing their usual support for their French 'brothers of the revolution!'

We decided to make a detour down to the Newport Aquatic Center to do some kayaking there instead. This turned out to be a good move. We pottered around the wetlands there for an hour then got back a bit early. There was a chap on a paddleboard who had got himself stuck on a bouy cable and had fallen off while trying to get himself unstuck. He couldn't get back on the paddleboard because the front end just shot up in to the air when he put his weight on the backend. I paddle my kayak over so I could push down on the front to help him. I came close to capsizing as he clambered aboard but we managed to get him back on. Then I went and found his paddle. I wish Amber had managed to get a photo - we both looked quite alarmed at the situation I'm sure.

Sixty miles with kayaking and assorted adventures.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Lucky Greek and Pigs

I rode the Lucky Greek permanent after work yesterday and had a really enjoyable ride. Despite the number of miles I've ridden I still have new experiences.

It was hot when I started at 6:30pm - about 90F - with a headwind. No surprises there. When I got to Rincon Rd in Norco I startled two wild pigs that were browsing near the road. One was black and the other had the classic boar markings - brown stripes and spots on a tan background. Both of them were fairly small - maybe two feet at the shoulder.

The Lucky Greek was good as usual - French Fries in the top tube and Raspberry Coke in the bottles. On the return I had a tailwind but came to an emergency stop when I saw a body on the bike path. It turned out to be a teenage boy sleeping with a bottle as a pillow. Weird.

Total overall time was 4:20.

When I got home I put the bike on the deck and was woken up in the early hours by the sound of it falling over. I think a raccoon smelled the French fries in the top tube bag and pulled the bike over trying to get to them. I must try to remember to remove them at the end of the ride.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

David Walsh = Edward Snowden?

David Walsh is an Irish sporting journalist who has been dogging Armstrong with accusations of doping since he first won the Tour de France in 1999. He has been vilified, marginalized, and sued as a result and finally vindicated only in 2012 when Armstrong finally admitted to a lifetime of doping and cheating.

In his book, Seven Deadly Sins, Mr. Walsh details how he and a handful of other brave journalists suffered because they would not happy clap Armstrong and the UCI as they hijacked the sport we love. They were accused of damaging the sport of cycling.

Let's get this clear - Mr. Walsh, etc. did not do the damage. Armstrong and all the other dopers in the peleton did the damage. The UCI and others did the damage by deliberately turning a blind eye to the doping. Mr. Walsh attempted to save cycling, to create an environment in which the winners could be worthy of our adulation once again. Who was the last clean winner of the Tour, who beat all the others Pan y Agua? We will probably never know. We don't even know what 'clean' is anymore.

In my innocence I purchased a copy of Armstrong's 'Its not about the bike'. We all know what the subtitle should have been - 'It's all about the drugs'. I've never been to a book burning, but I might have my own private one soon.

Edward Snowden is a whistleblower just like David Walsh. But the big difference is that the NSA didn't break the rules - at least not any US laws. But they stepped over the line just as clearly as the dopers did. They gathered private information but promised not to look at it without a court order. Right. I totally believe them. I also think Elvis is still alive and the Earth is flat.

Snowden didn't cause the problem. The NSA caused the problem. Don't blame the messenger.

P.S. I just read that Khalid Sheik Mohammed asked his CIA captors for permission to design a vacuum cleaner. It struck me that 'NSA' would be a great name for a vacuum cleaner.

Introducing the new 'NSA' vacuum cleaner. Now with a 5 zettabyte dustbag!

Five Mile Run

Went for a five mile run up at Big Bear last night as preparation for the half marathon I've committed to next year. When I say "up" I mean it, Big Bear is at 7000' of elevation. When I say "run" I really mean 5 minutes running, 5 minutes walking. I hope to increase the running soon.

Why did I start running? Because I don't expect to improve in cycling without resorting to illegal drugs.

I think there are two kinds of people. There are those that chose a discipline, be it running, quantum physics, volunteering, etc, and do everything they can to be the best they can possibly be in that chosen discipline.

Then there are those that dabble in a wide range of disciplines, gaining some advancement but not excelling in anything.

And then, of course, there are those that do neither and just live with their parents, flame random facebook pages for "fun", and get sent to jail for it. OK - there's more than two kinds of people :-)

Ignoring the last group, I suspect those that excel in one area tend to measure their progress in relation to other people. Good is a meaningless term for them - only Better Than and The Best are worth anything. A perfect example would be Lance Armstrong. I suspect those that dabble in multiple areas measure their progress in absolute terms without feeling the need to compete with others. They tend to be more likable, possibly because I identify with them.

So now I'm an amateur psychologist too which puts me in the second group. Just so long as I stay away from the third group.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

First Bike Ride after the Heat Wave

I still meet people, supposedly intelligent people, who deny Global Warming. However most of them are religiously inclined and also think we should crush the planet under the weight of our children. So, as Gary Gygax once wrote, Intelligence does not equate to Wisdom.

SoCal had a horrible heat wave last weekend that broke records all over the place. It was 111F in San Bernardino where I normally start my rides and over 100 in Anaheim which is my 'cool' place to ride. I had planned an evening ride with Amber starting at Anaheim but the weather predictions were for temps over 90 even at 6pm so I cancelled.

It finally cooled down to the point where I could do an evening ride last Friday. I started about 7pm when it was a tolerable 80F and rode the Lucky Greek permanent. I finished around 11pm when it was a pleasant 70F.

Several weeks ago I misplaced my Niterider MiNewt 600 so I decided to buy a Cygolite Expilion 600 to replace it. I didn't buy a new Niterider because the mount sucks. Turns out they no longer make the MiNewt 600 anyway, but I decided to move away from NiteRider because they've always had problems with their mounts.

So Friday was my first opportunity to test ride my new Cygolite. I had found my old NiteRider so I rode with a Lumotech powered by my Schmid SON, my Cygolite, and my NiteRider. I rode along the river trail and, just for fun, I cranked all my lights up to full power. Wow - I could have been riding a motorbike!. I could see the fog line more than 100 yards ahead (10 seconds at 18mph ~ 100 yards) . I could see reflective signs more than 1/4 mile ahead and they weren't even close to the center of the beams.

The Cygolite was very comparable to the NiteRider and, as they have similar specs, they should have been. I would say the Cygolite is a little brighter at the low setting but they are the same at the highest setting. The Cygolite has a number of excellent features that the Niterider is missing - notably a decent mount and a replaceable battery than can easily be swapped out mid-ride.

The Lumotech IQ 175 dynamo light has a very different beam shape to the Niterider and the Cygolite. I had to take a bio-break and so I leaned my bike up against a tall chicken-wire fence. I was surprised to see how much light I was throwing up into the air. It was the round beam pattern of the Niterider and the Cygolite. The best way to light up the road is to adjust the beam so that the top of the bright spot is on your horizon. This throws the brightest part of the beam the furthest distance and gives the smoothest, most consistent illumination of the road. Unfortunately this means that perhaps 20-30% of the light does not hit the road at all.

The Lumotec beam has a distinct upper edge and, if you align this with your horizon, there is far less wasted light - maybe 10% or so. Now the Lumotec is a 40 lux light whereas the Niterider and the Cygolite are 600 lumens. Now a lux is one lumen per square meter. So while the total light output is measured in lux, the apparent brightness is measured in lumens.

So to quote brightness in lumens is misleading. If you point the light at a wall so that one square meter is illuminated then lumens=lux. But if you move twice as far away the same amount of light now falls on four square meters so lumens=lux/4. There's no way to convert lumens to lux unless you also know the area that is illuminated. Which, of course, the light companies don't tell you.

All my lights use LED technology. The Lumotech consumes 2.4 Watts and the other two lights use 5 Watt LEDs. So if the Lumotech puts out 40 lux I can assume the other two put out 80 lux at highest power. So if 80 lux = 600 lumens then their beams are spread over an area 600/80 sq. m. which is 7.5 sq. m. which could be a path 3' across and 25' long. That seems unreasonably small. Seems like they're fudging the numbers. In any case the numbers are meaningless.

As I started the ride I noticed some bastard had stolen my tail light and my saddlebag, probably because I left my bike in the back of my truck overnight. Fortunately I had a spare light, and I haven't had many flats lately so I crossed my fingers and rode anyway. When I got back I replaced everything on

This is what I considered essential...
Cygolight Hotshot 2W tail light - best on the market at this time
Topeak Aero Wedge Pack (Large) - upgraded to something a little larger
Topeak Mini-9 Multitool - small enough to be convenient but has most tools I need
Shiny Object CO2 inflator - beautifully made but no substitute for a decent pump
Crank Brothers extending tire lever - the one and only best tire lever ever

Fortunately I have enough flat repair kits, tubes, and chain tools laying around that I don't need to buy new ones. I'm using an old saddle bag and tire levers until the new stuff arrives.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Anaheim to San Diego

Amber and I parked at Anaheim Amtrak station on Saturday and rode down the SART to PCH and thence down to San Diego Amtrak station.

I've been riding in SoCal for 20 years and the prevailing wind is always from the North except during a Santa Ana wind event or when a storm is coming in. However the wind has been coming out of the South for the past two months. I'm going to have to reorganize my rides so that I ride North whenever possible. We have 10-15 mph winds out of the South all day so we had to deal with headwind for the entire 107 miles of the ride. Oh well - builds character, right?

PCH was very busy with cyclists - much more so than usual. While Amber and I were eating lunch at the Carl's Jr in San Clemente we had a total of 30 or so riders in several groups show up. We detoured onto Vulcan through Ensenada and Leucadia to avoid that dangerous section of PCH and it was much better.

Torrey Pines was easier than usual, I'm not really sure why. We passed a young lady clearly struggling who had passed us earlier. I think she was bonking but when I asked her she said she was fine. I still think she was bonking.

I had designed a route between Ojai and San Diego that used a lot of bike paths but they were largely unusable because they were clogged with pedestrians. I despair of finding a good route across San Diego.

I've been looking at the possibility of riding Santiago Canyon and the Alisal Creek Bike trail to Laguna Miguel and then finishing the ride at Solano Beach. It gives us 96 miles and cuts out Laguna Beach and San Diego. It might be a good winter ride.

Caltrans was up to their usual tricks. The 10/215 SB interchange was closed (at least they provided a sign). Also the 91/57 NB was closed with no sign until the very last moment so everyone was forced to go south. On the way back the 215/10 EB ramp was closed with no notice. If I was Governor I would half their budget and tell them that drivers and their customers and should be treated as such. No real corporation could get away with treating their customers like shit.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Reductio ad absurdum

This has nothing to do with cycling - it's just an observation on my work environment. I don't know if this phenomenon is related solely to government work, or if it occurs everywhere.

There is a philosophical method called Reductio ad absurdum which is used to demonstrate that a statement is incorrect. It involves showing that the logical conclusions of the statement are absurd or undesirable in some way. For example, we might see the following conversation in a design committee for accounting software.

User: I'd like to add a feature that allows us to attach video files to purchase orders.
Dev: Why?

User: It might be useful for something.
Dev: It will cost 100 hours of programming, 100 hours of testing, consume 50% of our network capacity, and require us to purchase $10,000 of extra disc space.

User: Oh, maybe we don't need that then.

Unfortunately, not everyone has heard of this concept so I am regularly witness to conversations like the following.

User: I'd like to add a feature that allows us to attach video files to purchase orders.
Dev: Why?

User: It might be useful for something.
Dev: It will cost 100 hours of programming, 100 hours of testing, consume 50% of our network capacity, and require us to purchase $10,000 of extra disc space.

User: OK according to my notes the backup system will take 100 hours of programming and testing. We don't really need backups do we?
Dev: (sarcastic) Not until the system crashes.

User: Great. And the email system uses 50% of our network traffic, right? So why can't we just pass notes around like we used to?
Dev: (sarcastic again) I can't believe I didn't think of that.

User: And we can fire a teacher's assistant to save the money for the disk space. See - we can do anything we set our minds to.
Dev: I give up.

And that's how decisions are made in government.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Father's Day

I went running again for the first time in two months on Wednesday. I overdid it, of course, running 2.5 miles and walking 2.5 miles. My quads were killing me but I rode a 100k perm Friday night. By the time Father's day came around I was sorer that kangaroo hopping a marathon. Amber and I rode The Crema which might have been a mistake because there was a 90 minute wait to get in. You can only kill so much time on the pier.

Turns out we couldn't even kill that much time because the end of the pier is closed due to the restaurant at the end losing its lease. There talk that another restaurant will be picking up the lease on July 15th which will be nice. While we were waiting we fell talking with a chap who was waiting for his honey and we thought it would be great to have a smartphone app that could track your position in the wait list. It turns out someone already thought of that. Drat, now I have to find another project.

Amber paid for lunch - happy Father's Day :-)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tour of Orange County Bikepaths

I hosted the Tour of Orange County Bikepaths 200k brevet on Saturday. It's a quirky ride with a ferry ride and a control at a Biker Bar. I had ten riders and most of us stayed in touch for most of the ride - semi-audax style :-)

Willie Hunt rode over from his house in his yellow submarine, as did Martins Zinbergs on his bamboo Calfee. The ride started nice and cool and headed to the coast for the first 80 miles where it was overcast and with an unusual Southern wind. The sun didn't come out until we headed inland and finally broke through around 1pm at mile 90.

The climb up towards Cook's Corner Biker Bar was hot and the place was packed with bikers. But the food was awesome. Finishing the climb to the top of Santiago Canyon was tough with 90F temps and a belly full of burgers. I stopped at a coffee shop at the last control and had a fantastic blueberry iced coffee. We had a tailwind to the end.

I finished in exactly 10 hours - my target speed. Most of the group finished 10 minutes earlier and Martins finished eight minutes behind me.

Overall a good ride. No-one got horribly lost, the heat didn't get as bad as predicted, and lots of people learned lots of new bike paths.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

I really hate Caltrans

I had a good idea for beating the heat on Saturday. It was over 100 in the valley, Amber was working Friday night so she couldn't ride Saturday, and Sherry and I were scheduled to attend a 'Celibration of Life' event on Sunday so when could I ride? I called Amber at 4pm on Saturday to ask if she wanted to ride The Crema starting at 6 in the evening? Sure.

We met at the Anaheim Amtrak station which kind of shares a parking lot with the Angel's baseball stadium. They had an evening game so it was a bit crowded but we found parking spaces anyway. It was 71F at the start - perfect - but I was a little worried that I was under dressed for when the sun went down.

We had the usual headwind down to the beach and then a tailwind up the coast to Seal Beach. The Crema closes early so we ate at a Mediterranean restaurant called 'Athens West'. It wasn't as good as the Phoenician but I would definitely go back there. By this time it was 65F which is still very pleasant even without arm warmers or leg warmers.

We turned back into a headwind around 8:30pm. The wind was being surprisingly persistent. When we got to Huntington Beach and turned inland we had a strong tailwind. Amber took the lead and we hammered all the way back to the trucks. There's a detour that forced us to use the bike path on the South side of the river between Hamilton and PCH. Nicely signposted, it was no problem.

We got back to the trucks at about 10:30pm and the temp was still a pleasant 65F. That was a nice surprise. Unfortunately the game ended about the time we finished so getting out of the stadium area was a nightmare.

What was really annoying is that Caltrans practically shut the 91 freeway down so that it took 90 minutes to crawl about 5 miles. I tried to use the Lakeview exit because I needed gas but they had it shut down. It took 45 minutes to get to the Imperial exit two miles down the freeway and that was closed off too. By now I was desperate for gas and I knew I couldn't get to the Green River exit five miles further on so I ran over a few cones and used the exit anyway. I got home about 1:30am. It should have been midnight.

I really hate Caltrans.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Preventative Maintenance

My poor old Serota has taken quite a beating lately. Amber and I rode over 1000 miles in the past 4 weeks and about 100 miles of that was off-road, on 25mm tires. I have a Ti frame which will probably outlast the Apocalypse, but my carbon forks are about 15 years old. I don't want them to fail on me while I'm descending a rough road at 40mph so I decided to replace them before they fail.

I took the bike into Don's Bike Store in Redlands and Mike, their head mechanic, looked at it shaking his head. My bike is very old school with a threaded steerer tube and all the old-school hardware that goes with that. "I can get you a threaded steel fork for $60", he said. Nope, said I, it must be carbon.

So Mike ordered an unthreaded carbon fork for $300 and replaced the stem and other assorted bits of hardware. To make his life more difficult I have an ancient set of aerobars with stripped allen bolts that cannot be removed from the handlebars so he had to cut the old stem off. This turned into quiet a project for him.

In the end I now have new forks and a new stem that actually look like they come from this century. I can also turn the handlebars far enough to get my bike into one of those accursed Amtrak bike boxes - not that I ever intend to again.

Total cost was $434. Very reasonable when I consider how much hardware and time was required to do the job.

While I was there I noticed Don's sells a Giant foldable bike for about $600. I plan on giving it a test ride when I get a chance. I've been thinking about a folding bike for touring for a while. I wonder if I can get longer crank arms on it.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Eugene, OR

Friday 17th May 2013

This was one of the highlight days of the vacation. We started in Eugene and headed south into farm country with rolling hills. We got a late start because we didn't get to the motel until 10pm and still had to shower, do laundry, and eat. The route was a loop with an out and back at the south end. We shortened the out and back to ensure we got back to the station in time to get the bikes into those damnable boxes.

Possibly the most pleasant road of the entire vacation was Edenvale. Look at this video.

We ate at a Subway and then headed back towards Eugene along even more quiet roads and then into the system of parks that border the Willamette River. These parks are filled with bike paths that stretch the entire length of the river as it passes through Eugene. We had some spare time so we rode the entire length of the east side of the river, crossed over to the west side and rode back to the Amtrak station. Fantastic.

Park in Eugene OR.
Total distance ridden was 64 miles.

Kelso to Eugene

Thursday 16th May 2013

After the fiasco on Conyer Creek Road we decided to take the train to Eugene because we had lost a full day of cycling. While we waited for the Cascades trail to leave at 4pm we decided to try our luck heading from Kelso to Kalama along the old Pacific Highway and back. This turned out to be a good call as most traffic in that direction flows along I5.

View of Columbia River from Old Pacific Hwy south of Kelso
It started to rain as we approached Kalama so we dropped in for coffee and to wait the rain out. It cleared in 40 minutes or so and we continued south until the road ended and we turned around. On the way back north through Kalama we ate at the restaurant next to the coffee house. How convenient.

Jumped on the train to Eugene and rode another 5 miles to the Super 8.

Rode 40 miles today - very pleasant, not too much rain.

Kelso to Kelso

Wednesday 15th May 2013

We did not plan on riding back to Kelso today but thanks to Google we ended up on Conyer Creek Road which isn't a road at all. It starts paved, then becomes unpaved, then becomes grass covered single track and then, after four miles, is just disappears. We had to turn around and go back to Clatskane where we stopped for coffee and food.

Conyers Creek 'Road' is a haven for ticks.

Amber checked herself for ticks and found one embedded in her stomach. We were 20 miles from the nearest emergency room. Thank God for Jai, who drove us back to Kelso so we could get it taken care of. A total stranger - what a nice guy. It took several hours to get the tick removed so we got a hotel room near the hospital and decided to catch the train to Eugene the next day instead of riding there.

Rode about 35 miles, one tick.

South Bend to Kelso

Tuesday 14th May 2013

The reason I wanted to stay in South Bend was to take the Willipa trail which stretches from South Bend to Chehalis. The trail starts off very promising but quickly degrades into an unpaved and unridable (on road bikes) surface. Perhaps the first and last six miles are paved - the other 40+ miles are not.

Fortunately the trail follows highway 6 which is very ridable. There are also several side roads that parallel highway 6 which are very pleasant such as LeBam road below.

Lebam road - quiet and scenic
We did have a couple of issues though. First we took a side road that, after some miles and a lot of climbing, suddenly became unpaved. It would have been nice if they had told us this before we had committed so much effort. I would have stayed on highway 6 if I had known.

Once we navigated this treacherous stretch of 'road' I got back on the Willipa trail for a couple of miles only to reach a partially demolished trestle bridge and a trail closed sign. Again, putting the sign earlier when we still had an option to avoid the closed area would have been much more intelligent but apparantly that's too much to ask.

I decided to walk over the trestle bridge despite it being closed. I had no problem with it but Amber was unhappy. We got to the other side without falling through and suddenly the trail was paved again. We were not impressed with the Willipa trail which is a shame because it was supposed to be one of the highlights of the vacation.

Kelso is a sucky city to ride in with almost no allowances for bicycles.

Rode 101 miles.

Grayland to South Bend

Monday 13th May 2013

We left Grayland with wet roads and the constant threat of more rain. On the way out of the Walsh Motel we came across A six inch long banana slug. The coin next to it is a penny. Gross.

Graylands's most famous resident.
The plan was to ride to South Bend and stay at the Russell House but apparently the house was now privately owned so we took another gamble and reserved a room at the Seacrest Motel in South Bend. The ride was only 30 miles but we had the option of continuing south past South Bend as far as we wanted and then doubling back. Unfortunately the skies opened when we were still five miles from South Bend so we opted to keep the ride as short as possible.

The Seacrest Motel is as different from the Walsh Motel as you can imagine (except they were the same price). The owner is a retired commercial construction worker who rebuilt the rooms one at a time. The craftsmanship and care he took is obvious. This motel is a winner. They don't have laundry facilities for the guests but we were allowed to use their commercial washer and driers. They even gave me laundry detergent for free.

After a few hours the rain died down and we were able to take a stroll along the ocean front and grab some coffee.

There are many interesting things to look at in South Bend
We rode 35 miles today and got rained on but it was a good day none the less.