Monday, June 23, 2014

Kayaking the Crema

A hot day today - 83F predicted but it was that hot by 9am so it was probably going to be hotter at 2pm. Amber and I decided to ride to the Crema in Seal Beach but add an hour of kayaking at Sunset Beach on the way.

There wasn't much wind on the way to the coast until we got close to the ocean. Turning North we picked up an unusual tailwind which was lovely. The beach path was predictably crowded so we rode carefully until we were passed by a crazed guy on a mountain bike who was threading through the crowd at a very unsafe 17-19 mph. Amber and I kept pace with him but more cautiously which is more work as you are constantly slowing and accelerating. When we got within a 1/4 mile of the end of the bike path the pedestrians had thinned out to almost nothing so Amber and I blew past him at 27 mph. No response. I think our point was made.

We got to Sunset Beach kayak rentals and they were busy. Lots of eye candy, especially one surgically enhanced woman wearing a thong. Amber and I kayaked for an hour then jumped back on our bikes and headed over to The Crema. There was the usual 45 minute wait so we headed over to the Seal Beach pier and hung out for a while. More eye candy and another thong. Nice! I dread the day when gay men start wearing thongs - or straight ones for that matter.

There is a small bike store going out of business across the street from The Crema so we checked it out. It's always sad to see a local bicycle store going out of business. The guy manning the store was a body builder in cycling gear two sizes too small (to make sure that EVERY muscle was clearly defined!). As I have just finished reading "Seven Deadly Sins: My pursuit of Lance Armstrong" by David Walsh, I found it odd that someone who so obviously abused steroids, HGH, and probably testosterone, would wear cycling gear. There's no race that he could enter and pass the drug test - they wouldn't even need a urine or blood sample.

The Crema was awesome as usual and I got to say hello to Heather. The servings were particularly generous today so Amber and I we pretty full when we climbed back onto the bikes. On the way back on the beach path we saw a cyclist riding with one hand and towing a kayak with the other. Some of the best kayak handling skills I've seen in a while!

The beach path got really crowded before Huntington Beach pier so we jumped over to Atlantic which was much better. After getting onto the SART we got passed by a strong teenager - earphones, no helmet @:-( - that's the emote for exposed brains - so I jumped onto his wheel and he pulled us up to a group of five riders who were riding a very nice paceline. We stayed with them until we were within three miles of the Anaheim stadium and they pulled off. We thanked them profusely.

It was bloody hot at the end of the ride. I'm sure it was more than 83F. We had a great ride and the kayaking made it even better.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Autonomous cars and you

I recently read that while the incidence of teen drunk driving has halved in the past five years, the number of teens (and older drivers) texting while driving has skyrocketed and is now the leading cause of teen death's and injury while driving. I've lost friends to both drunk and distracted drivers and totally believe this to be true.

If you search for "Autonomous cars" in Wikipedia you will find that Google is a leading player in the development of autonomous (or self-driving) cars. They already claim their autonomous cars are safer than human-driven cars as they have racked up a total of 700,000 accident free miles. Both California and Nevada have amended their laws to allow for testing of autonomous cars on public streets and highways. Michigan and Florida are looking into similar changes.

The legislatures of both states are also looking at laws that would help establish liability in the case of accidents involving autonomous cars. One day soon we will be able to buy autonomous cars although they will be expensive at first. Google estimates they add $150,000 worth of equipment to a car to make it autonomous - about half of which is the radar array.

Although autonomous cars might be available within five years it might be fifteen years before I can afford one. But eventually driving your own car may be something only rich eccentrics do. If 99% of all traffic accidents are caused by the 10% of cars being driven by humans, the cost of insuring a human driven car will become more that even the most die-hard individualist can tolerate.

So if your car is doing the driving, you can text and drink as much as you want and I and all my cycling friends can ride safely knowing your car will respect our safety more than you ever did.

My only question is - will they invent self riding bicycles? What would they look like? Would I want one? If I can say I want everyone to drive autonomous cars, do I have the right to say I still want to ride my bicycle?

Monday, June 9, 2014

I broke the streak of bad luck

Amber and I rode the RMCC 400k on the 7th of June in Louisville, CO. My last two brevet attempts failed due to mechanical problems. I have also been having problems with my knee lately so I was a bit worried.

RMCC has an interesting way of running.brevets. You join the club for $25 and you can ride as many brevets as you want. They have a very full calendar so there's a lot of opportunity to rack up the km. If I lived closer I'd join up every year. On the down side - there's no support at all. You get your brevet card at the start of the ride and that's it. Definitely on the unsupported edge of randonneuring.

It's a two day drive to Louisville from Los Angeles so we kept an eye of the weather on the way here. Friday was predicted to have early storms, Saturday was cool but with minimal rain, and Sunday had heavy rain and even tornadoes. Our ride had temps from 55-60, steady wind about 10-15mph from the east, and only 30 minutes of rain.

We started at the ungodly hour of 4am and headed north into the cool night. It was overcast with leaden skies and recently rained upon roads. We were ready for rain but hoped it wouldn't come to that. Fear of jinxing stopped Amber and I making any comments about the weather.

The first real challenge was the climb up Poudre Canyon which was running very high. Even so there were quite a few rafters coming down. We saw a kayak pinned against a rock but there was no-one inside fortunately.

Top of Poudre Canyon

Then we dropped down Poudre and climbed up to Forks. Nice restaurant but a nasty climb alongside a busy road. We turned around dropped back down alongside the same nasty road. Then we headed north to Wellington where we started working our way back to the start of the ride.

About 9pm it started to rain which messed our Garmins up so that we got lost and missed a turn. This only added about three miles but it was three miles we didn't need. The rain only lasted 30 minutes and was actually quite pleasant. This last 100k was the most difficult to navigate because it kept crossing our outbound route which was very confusing. I went into calorie debt and spent the last 50 miles trying to get out but never really succeeding. Part of the problem there was the oddly spaced controls (19 miles then 40 miles, etc).

Around mile 220 we came to the scene of an accident. There must have been six police cars there blocking the road. Normally they would not have allowed us through but we asked very politely and  a police officer escorted us through the accident scene. I've no idea how we would have completed the ride on time otherwise.

We got to the end later than we had hoped because the last 100k took 7 hours instead of the 5 that the others took. Nevertheless I managed to break two bad streaks - major mechanicals and DNFing on the Colorado rides. No flats, no mechanicals, no crashes, minor rain, great temps, minor diversion.

The next day we took it easy to help my bad knee recover. We watched the tornado reports on the television. Thank God we weren't out in that weather.