Monday, May 26, 2014

I don't have to...

I rode the Beachwood BBQ ride with Amber last night starting at 5:00pm at Anaheim Amtrak. This is a great ride especially when you need to beat the heat of the SoCal summer. The only thing I don't like is that we always have a headwind on the way out but only a weak tailwind on the way back. Also, I get nervous with all the homeless people living under the bridges.

On the plus side it's nearly all bike paths or very quiet roads with only about four miles of PCH. As it was a fine Memorial weekend evening the beach path was fairly busy but not as bad as I expected.

When people are behaving recklessly I like to communicate clearly that there are cyclists approaching. Most people appreciate the heads-up, but some take it personally and get offended. I don't care it they're offended as long as I don't hit them.

I saw a depressingly large number of reckless cyclists on the ride. It's no surprise that so many motorists actively dislike cyclists when I see so many behaving like they do. Here's a list of "I don't have to's that I see far to often. Please don't be one of these...

I don't have to ...
    Wear a helmet
    Ride on the right side of the road
    Put my hands on the handlebars
    Use lights or reflectors at night
    Be able to hear what's going on (I get sick of calling 'on your left' to people that have deliberately made themselves deaf with iPods)
    Signal or look before I turn
    Have an elementary understanding of the traffic laws or even common courtesy

I hear "It's a free country" too much. America is not a "free country". Afghanistan is a "free country" ie lawless. Go cycle over there if you want to be unconstrained by laws.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Lucky Greek 100k

I took advantage of a few cool days to ride my Lucky Greek 100k permanent after work last night. It was as windy as always but the perfect temperature. I even had a few sprinkles of rain on the way to Corona and saw some fireworks. On the way back the wind (tail) died down a little screwing me but that's par for the ride. Lots of frogs sitting on the bike path on the way back but I don't think I hit any.

I'm glad my sore knee didn't get any worse during the ride. In fact it was less painful at the end than at the beginning. Weird in a good way.

On the way back I noticed how I slow down at night. This is a widely reported phenomenon. You think you're riding at 16mph and you look down and see you're riding at 13mph. One other thing I notice about riding at night that I haven't heard anyone else talk about is the way my perception of time changes. Many times I've thought it was only 1 or 2am only to see the rosy fingers of dawn on the horizon.

There was a package from Peter White on the doorstep last night. I had ordered a crown fork mount for my Lumotec dynamo light and also a fiber spoke.

I mounted the light mount and put the light on it. It's out of the way now and hopefully not interfering with my brake cables. I'll take a little ride today to make sure it's all good.

I took a look at the fiber spoke. This is an emergency spoke that will replace any length spoke (not a penny farthing!) until you can get to a shop. It's a little tricky to use and the instructions are printed too small for me to read without reading glasses so I made sure I understood how to use it if the time comes. I'll be carrying it in my Carradice bag on brevets and on vacation.

Hopefully an easy ride to Hangar 24 in Redlands with Sherry today. Need to head over to RadioShack to pick up a new battery for my bike computer.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The right tools for the job

Yesterday Amber and I planned to ride from Anaheim Amtrak to Solana Beach Amtrak and take the train back. This was to be our pre-Colorado 400k long climbing ride. It was not to be.

We're currently at the tail-end of a heat wave. Most of last week has seen record-breaking high temps here in the Southland and a spate of wildfires in San Diego county. We started early to try to avoid climbing Santiago Canyon in the worst of the heat. Caltrans decided to close the 91 freeway on Saturday morning (defund them!) so it took 20 minutes for me to get the two miles around the closure.

We left Anaheim a little later than I had hoped but I'm not sure it made much difference. It was still over 80 even by 9am. We got to Cook's Corner before 11am which meant we could have breakfast. Amber had their amazing French toast and I had a breakfast burrito. We met some northbound cyclists who told us that Camp Pendleton was closed to cyclists because of the fire. We don't like riding on the shoulder of the I5 even though it is legal, so we decided to catch the train at San Clemente instead.

The ride down the Alisal bike trail was as wonderful as normal and we popped out at the coast just north of Dana point. Heading south we were soon in San Clemente with almost three hours to burn. I was suffering from the heat and the remnants of a cold so I decided we needed to try a coffee shop that I've always wanted to checkout. I think it's called the Kahaluka or something. Anyhow I had a banana smoothie (to ward off incipient cramps) and iced coffee. Very nice.

We ran into Linda Cammell there with some friends. They started in Corona and rode down to San Clemente using almost the same route as us except they don't know where the Alisal Creek bike trail is. I will mail her the GPS file. I notice the Metrolink runs more frequently than Amtrak and has far better bike facilities. I'm going to look into that - especially in light of what happened when we tried to board an earlier train (read on).

There are two stations at San Clemente - one Amtrak and one Metrolink - weird. Thank goodness for smart phones and GPS systems. We had a hilly climb to get to the Amtrak station and on one of the hills my chain broke. It's a brand new chain with maybe 400 miles on it. It looks like the mechanic didn't align the pin correctly and it slipped out of one side of the link.

Three days ago I bought a chain tool. I fixed the chain in about 10 minutes. I haven't broken a chain for years. What are the odds I would break one a few days after buying a chain tool?

We got to the correct train station and waited for the next train. The conductor was a prick and wouldn't let us on because we had reservations for the next train. He had empty spots but still wouldn't let us on. We decided to ride up to San Juan Capistrano which is the next stop and catch our train there. Our GPS systems showed us the way.

San Juan Capistrano is a lovely small town - very much like San Luis Obispo. We waited there, listening to live guitar music from the café next to the station. It was very pleasant. The time for our train came and went - Amber checked the train status on her iPhone. It was running an hour late because an earlier train had broken down. Eventually it showed up and took us back to Anaheim. There were a lot of people on the train headed to Anaheim for the baseball game. I bet they were mad.

So we relied on having the right tools several times during the ride. The broken chain; monitoring a late train; last-minute route changes, all these issues were handle adroitly by having the right tools with us.

Monday, May 12, 2014

I understand

Many years ago, as I bought a truck from Longo Toyota, the salesman seemed more excited than me. "Are you excited about your new truck?", he asked.
"Not really," I replied, "it's just a car."
He seemed crestfallen.

Last year, when I realized my beloved Serotta had been stolen it was almost as if my child had been kidnapped. When I recovered it I was ecstatic. It lives indoors now.

I've owned it over 15 years. I estimate I've ridden about 75,000 miles on it and spent about 6,000 hours riding it. It means far more to me than any car ever could.

This brings me to the closing lines of Mike Carter's excellent book "One man and his bike".

"And finally, I'd like to say thank you to my bicycle. I love you, but not in that weird way that can get you arrested. I'm sure that anybody who loves their bike will understand what I mean"

I understand.