Sunday, September 28, 2014

Anaheim to Oceanside - back by Amtrak

Roughly once a month Amber and I ride from Anaheim Amtrak station to Oceanside and then take the trail back. I feel it's our way of thanking Amtrak for letting us use their parking lot every week to start our ride from. We started at 8am to try to get the climb up Santiago Canyon finished before it gets too warm. Also they stop serving breakfast at Cook's Corner at 11am.

I had decided to ride my Trek 520 cro-moly touring bike. It's quite a bit heavier than the Serotta and has a partially broken in Brooks on it. If I'm going to tour Colorado on it next year, I need to get more miles on it.

The SART is all messed up right now so rather than keep being forced off it we decided to exit at the first construction zone and ride along Riverview all the way. That was a bad idea - it's busy and has no bike lane much of the way. Next time we'll use as much of the bike path as possible. My butt was sending out alarm signals around mile 20. I read Amazon reviews that say Brooks saddles can be ridden without discomfort right out of the box - bullshit. It takes about 1000 miles before you can ride a comfortable century on one in my opinion.

Santiago canyon was busy in a good way - there were huge numbers of cyclists using it. Some we passed, most we didn't. We got to Cook's Corner around 10:30 at mile 29 with most of the day's climbing already done. It' definitely more work riding the Trek what with the extra weigh and fat tires. I ate my whole breakfast burrito which I normally cannot do. Amber had the usual french toast. Lot's of cyclists eating here today.

Pressing on we had a wonderful 20 mile downhill to the coast. Amber wanted to ride the insanely steep Salt Creek trail but I begged off considering the extra effort of climbing on the Trek. Maybe next time. Turning south with the Pacific ocean on our right, the view is sweet.

We have decided to add a coffee stop to the route. We like the Kaylani coffee shop as it's right on the route and they have a great sea salt and caramel iced coffee. It only scores 3-4 stars on different review sites but it works for us.

Now we have cooled down a little and picked up a few calories we continued south along the San Clemente bike route and jump onto more bike path to Camp Pendleton. Big signs saying it will be closed to cyclists next Saturday so we timed our ride well. After Camp Pendleton we were in Ocean side and stopped at Angelo's. I wasn't hungry as we approached but as soon as I got off my bike I got really hungry and ordered a club combo. We had a lot of time to kill so we just hung out there for an hour and then rode a mile to the station where we hung out another hour. 

Great ride but I probably burned off an extra 10% calories on the Trek.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

On Romney Marsh

Some Fogs can stop time. Not the weak, pusillanimous mists that retreat as you advance - I'm talking about honest to God fogs that push up close to you and breath in your face like a drunken bully; the ones that can hide a house or a precipice.

I was cycling along a narrow road on Romney Marsh in the south of England late one night when a thick fog rolled in off the sea. One moment I could see the lights of St Mary's Bay in the near distance and my lights lit up the road far ahead. The next moment I was surrounded by a wall of thick fog and my lights only lit up more fog.

I was at a scenic turnout so I rode in carefully, guided by a weak light over a public restroom. I sat on a low wall with no idea if there was a two foot or two thousand foot drop on the far side. The weak light cast my shadow onto the fog. You shouldn't be able to cast a shadow onto air - it's not natural.

I had a cheese and onion bap in my saddle bag which I took out. For those of you who aren't familiar, a bap is a soft roll. A cheese and onion bap is a bap with butter, a slice of sharp cheddar, and a thin slice of onion. It's not grilled or fried onion - it's as raw as the day it was dug up. "Pungent" describes it well. I had chosen it because it was the absolutely cheapest sandwich they had in the store.

Once the unwrapping stopped, I heard a dismal groan coming from the marsh. It sounded like a trapped animal, crying in pain; or perhaps a lost soul warning against wandering the marsh in the fog. It was a herring gull, resting on top of the restroom. It had probably been attracted by the light and was waiting impatiently for the fog to lift. Perhaps I had startled it, or perhaps it smelled my bap.

The fog was swirling through the air and made patterns around the light. The restroom walls were covered in water drops that ran down, leaving streaks. The fog was condensing on the cold metal frame of my bicycle and dripping onto the ground. It was soaking into the leather and terry-cloth of my gloves and the lycra of my shorts. I was wearing a waterproof vest but the waterlogged air just crept underneath and soaked my cycling jersey.

The water condensing on my helmet dripped down my neck. Everything was cold and wet. It was not pleasant.

So there I sat; bap in hand, onion on breath, cold and wet, illuminated by a fog-haloed light, sharing a moment with a seagull. I have no idea how long we were there. Fog can do that.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Hot, hot, hot

It's September and Southern California is experiencing a heatwave. It was 105F in San Bernardino today. Amber and I waited until 6pm to ride from Anaheim Stadium. We rode a modified Back Bay route because I'm planning a new 300k route next year and wanted to scout an unfamiliar section.

We ate at the Flame Broiler in the Westpark Plaza in Irvine. They have everything there (Flame broiler, Pizza Hut, Kabob, Chipotle, Subway, and more) and it's right off the San Diego Creek bike path so it's the perfect place to put a control. I'm a big fan of rice bowls on bike rides. They're warm, filling, salty, and have lots of carbs but not too much fat or protein. I've also read that rice is a better source of carbs because it causes less gas. I felt quite frisky for the second half of the ride.

The other nice surprise was a new three mile stretch of class A bike path called the West Irvine trail that goes from Bryan Ave to Pioneer Ave. This cuts out two awkward left turns and a mile or more of Portola. We will be altering our Back Bay route to include this in future and it will certainly be on the 300k.

Amber and I agree we should add this new 50 mile route to our night ride repertoire.

On the down side I see they've dug up even more of the bike path so the five miles from Katella to Lakeview now has two major detours. CalTrans outdid themselves on the drive back by shutting down two of the three lanes of the 215 North and many of the on and off ramps in the area. All the stop lights were on flash mode and police were everywhere, mainly trying to stop irate motorists from attacking CalTrans workers. Incompetent Bastards.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cycling in Jakarta

Advice on cycling in Java - Don't.

I just finished virtually cycling 30 miles in Jakarta. What a shit hole! It's dirty, crowded, run-down, and generally disgusting. A line of prose came to mind...

Claustrophobic, crowded buildings; painted bright to hide the grime.

The streets are narrow and crowded and filled with swarms of suicidal motorcyclists. The shops and cafes are ramshackle and filthy - I can't imagine eating at any of them and surviving. It reminds me of the worst parts of Tijuana but just goes on for mile after mile without change or any sign of country-side.

I need to find another country to virtually ride in.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Hurricane Norbert, Compression Socks, and Bike Racks

It has been a couple of weeks since my last post - nothing interesting to talk about. This weekend has been fun though.

Hurricane Norbert - a rare Pacific hurricane - is passing along the coast causing heavy rain and flooding in the area. It was my first chance to ride in a bona fide hurricane so how could I pass that up? I met Amber at Anaheim as usual on Sunday evening and we rode to Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach. There was no rain on the ride (lots in the mountains and Riverside) and the wind was milder than normal. It was in the low 90F when we started and very humid but as weather events go I wasn't impressed. I don't know what all those Floridians make such a fuss about ;-)

Because the weather was a bit iffy the beach path was nice and quiet and the wait for Beachwood BBQ was only 20 minutes so decided to eat there. I had the pulled pork sandwich and blue cheese grits. Amber had the chicken sandwich with the same side. Bloody marvelous. They're doing a line of wild game food now, but it looked like too much food for the middle of a bike ride.

What's the deal with compression socks? I bought a pair on Saturday. Surely they're just a re-marketed manufacturing error.

Customer: These socks are too tight!
Salesman: No, they're compression socks.
Customer: It says they're a medium but I can barely get them on.
Salesman: Costs extra for compression socks.

I'm going back to my old socks.

Some time ago I decided to replace my trunk mounted bike rack with a hitch mounted bike rack because the trunk mount keeps coming lose and  there's too much movement. I had U-Haul install a hitch receiver last month. Because I drive a Prius I'm limited to a 1.25" class I hitch.

I've been scouring to decide which rack I wanted. There's Thule, Yakima, Allen, ProBike, Kuat, and others to chose from. I was going to buy the Yakima but I noticed it has bottle openers built into the rack. ARE YOU KIDDING ME! What kind of bottles do you open with a bottle opener? BEER BOTTLES. That's like selling a car with a driver's side wet bar. Way to combine drinking, driving, and bike riding! I've had too many friends killed by drunk drivers to think this is a good idea. Shame on Yakima.

I bought a Thule from Cyclery USA in Riverside. They had a better price than Amazon (after I reminded them of the 20% Thule sale they were having)! Jim installed it for me - nice guy.