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.