Monday, December 22, 2014

Old ride - new start

Amber and I rode our favorite night ride from Anaheim to Seal Beach and back last night. Amtrak, Metrolink, and Grayhound have got together to build a new transport hub in Anaheim and it opened a few days ago. We took the opportunity to look around before the ride and I am very impressed.

It's called ARTIC and it's right next to the Santa Ana river trail. It looks gorgeous from the outside and it's very slick inside. They are in the process of building two restaurants inside that look very interesting. Finally an Amtrak station that actually uses it's interior space intelligently. It looks very modern European - like the kind of thing you would find in Italy.

Riders of all my rides next year will be able to see it gloriously illuminated at night as they ride on the bike path. You can see it from a couple of miles away.

We had a lovely, but cool, ride - eating at the Athens West Greek restaurant in Seal Beach.

We're looking forward to doing our Anaheim - Oceanside Amtrak ride as soon as possible

Sunday, December 21, 2014

One bottom bracket later

Those of you who follow my blog (current count = zero) will remember that my last entry was a bit of a cliff hanger. Near the end of my last ride something felt wrong with my bottom bracket - my chainring was wobbly and the bike was making scary cracking sounds. The last time I broke my bottom bracket I ended up in the hospital and buying a new bike. I took the bike to Redlands Cyclery and waited for the news.

As my bike has Campagnola components I assumed the bottom bracket would be at least $200 and that I'd probably be looking at a $250 bill. Two days later I went in to see how my baby was doing. Wouldn't it be great if the repair department of the bike store was set up like a ward in a hospital with visiting hours, a gift shop, etc? Come to think of it, the entire bike store is a gift shop for your bicycle.

Jason, the mechanic, told me there were no complications and installed the new bottom bracket while I waited. I couldn't bear to watch my baby being operated on so I wandered around the gift shop looking for something nice to get her. I noticed that NiteRider now has a two watt tail light that looks identical to the Cygolite. I smell a lawsuit.

Fifteen minutes later my bike was all fixed up and the bill was only $60 - that's pretty impressive. I thanked them and took my baby home to get cleaned up. That last ride went through quite a bit of mud and water.

Friday night I rode my monthly Lucky Greek permanent populaire (100k) and on the way back ticked over 10,000 miles for the year. The bottom bracket worked perfectly. I'll be heading back over to the bike store to give them all a Christmas present.

Tonight Amber and I will be riding to Beachwood BBQ and back.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Dodging rain, eating crabs

Amber, Sherry, and I spent three days in Santa Barbara this week and, unfortunately, so did a rain storm.Amber and I planned a bike ride from Santa Barbara to Ventura and back so I could show her the two new bike paths I discovered on the Big Dipper 200k the weekend before.

We had heavy rain all nigh and light rain in the morning - easing up over lunch. We decided to go ahead with the ride even though the roads were very wet and, being from Southern California, we don't have fenders. On the way south I showed Amber the new bike path south of Rincon Point. She loved it. I measured it at 3.5 miles long. That's 3.5 miles of not riding on the shoulder of the 101 freeway.

When we got to Ventura it started to rain. It was exceedingly cold. We grabbed water and headed back north as fast as we could to get out from under the rain-cloud. Three miles later it stopped raining so we ate quickly and kept going. At Rincon Point I showed Amber the second bikepath that Jonathon had showed me which was also cool. Carpenteria Avenue is ripped up all the way through Carpenteria (thanks CalTrans) so we rode on the sidewalk.

About 15 miles from the end of the ride my bike starting making scary cracking noises and there was noticeable movement in my bottom bracket so I eased off to make sure I got home. The last time I broke a bottom bracket I ended up in the hospital.

We got back to Santa Barbara having ridden 55 miles in 3:40 ride time. We were covered in mud but we had had a good ride. We celebrated with a crab dinner at the end of Santa Barbara pier. My bike is now in the bike shop.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Upper Rio Hondo bike path

Amber and I rode from the San Gabriel trail head in Azusa down to Montebello then onto an unfamiliar bike path called the Upper Rio Hondo. This travels eight miles from Montebello to Arcadia giving us an out and back total of 44 miles.

View from trail head
It's not often I give a thumbs down to a bike path but I don't fancy riding the upper Rio Hondo again. The first problem is that it passes near a shooting range called Triple B Clay. The constant noise of gunfire is very disturbing and the complete antithesis of why I ride. Then the route is very urban, just concrete and graffiti, and lastly near the north end there is a series of difficult-to-navigate gates and then the bike path dumps you out onto Live Oak - a very busy and bike unfriendly road.

The only funny thing about the bike path is where a model aircraft park is next to a rifle range. Painted on the outside wall of the rifle range in 10 foot high red letters is "DO NOT FLY OVER RIFLE RANGE". I can well imagine that low flying model aircraft might make too tempting a target for inbred rednecks to resist.

I finally got to eat at Grand Burgers on Grand in Glendora. It's a typical american food restaurant. We had zucchini fries, chicken sandwich, bacon cheeseburger, and chili fries. It got a bit exciting when an 80 year old woman collapsed in front of the soda machine. She looked pretty chipper when they loaded her onto the gurney so I'm sure she's OK. When they finally wheeled her out, you can bet there was a big rush to get soda!

We're going to need more people!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Big Dipper 200k

I rode the PCH Randos Big Dipper 200k yesterday and I had the most fun since my September Night Audax 200k.

It was a big ride (26 riders) for December because we were there to commemorate the life of Mathew O'Neil who was killed while riding the C3R on Foxen Canyon. I got to meet a lot of riders who normally ride at a much higher level than me.

The weather was perfect as we rolled out a little after 6:30am to start the initial 50 mile loop that took us back to the Bott home. Somehow I found myself in the lead group of nine riders including Jim, Shai, and Kerin and I managed to hang in there even as we were whittled down to five, mainly by Jim taking monster pulls in some strong crosswinds. By the time we got to the first control at mile 37 I was starving and ordered a huge burrito. Unfortunately they screwed up my order so by the time my food arrived the lead group had already left.

This is where I met Tim, who had ridden the Dead of Winter double century the day before. I'd never met this guy before and within seconds he had borrowed money off me and eaten half my burrito. That's OK - he did a lot of pulling before the day was up. I also had my first coke from a bottle that I can remember - I swear it tastes better.

I left the control with Tim and Jonathon (both low-profile, no-draught recumbent riders) and another rider whose name I did not catch. Back we went to the Bott home to grab muffins, chocolate milk, and other goodies. I left with pretty much the same group and headed up the coast to Santa Barbara.

I had not ridden the new bike path alongside PCH to the South of Rincon Point and it was an absolute treat. We had the usual headwind but pace-lined our way through it very efficiently. Jonathon was navigating brilliantly and even showed us a bike path through Carpenteria that I had not seen before. Two new bike paths on one ride - how wonderful.

The long climb up to the turn around control at the Lazy Acres market was a drag but the market made up for it. The lead group was leaving just as I got there. I bought about a gallon of apple juice to ward off incipient cramps and stuffed my face because last time I did this ride I bonked ten miles after this control. We waited around quite a long time greeting some of the slower riders and then took off - two bents and three regular bikes.

Now we had a tailwind and made good time back down the coast. For some reason I was feeling strong and picked up the pace a bit. When I looked around there was only Tim and one other guy with me. I had dropped navigator Jon! The other normal bike stopped for a bio-break and I suddenly had to navigate which was a problem because my Garmin had stopped working the night before.

I managed to add a mile in Ventura but otherwise I got Tim and I home in a total of 9:15 hours. Not my best time but my moving average was excellent. After a baked potato, cornbread, soda and a lot more chatting with old friends I reluctantly left for home.

Thanks to everyone, especially to Linda and Larry, Tim and Jonathon.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Ivation Bullet Bluetooth mp3 player

I just bought a new toy for my bike - the Ivation mp3 player. I like to listen to music when riding on my own, but I've never liked earphones for many reasons. First they are illegal, second they make me deaf to cars approaching from behind, third they are uncomfortable.

Sometimes I see people riding beach cruisers with boom boxes strapped to them which is perfectly legal and fun but doesn't really fit with my $7000 custom build Ti Serotta. The Ivation is a bluetooth speaker with a micro SD card slot and mp3 player built in. It's small enough to attach to my handlebars (about the size of a good headlight) and loud enough to hear well.

I took it for a 40 mile test ride last night after work. Although it was inaudible in heavy traffic, once I got onto the bike path it sounded great. I rode for about three hours and kept it on for the drive home so I can confirm the battery lasts for at least four hours. The sound quality is surprisingly good for such a small speaker - certainly good enough to accompany a  run or a ride.

I purchased a 16Gb micro SD card which is more than enough to hold my entire music library. I have a 200k brevet tomorrow so I'll see how long that battery lasts!