Monday, June 29, 2015

LA Wheelmen Grand Tour

Amber, Iria and I rode the LA Wheelmen Grand Tour on Saturday. We rode the lowland double century route because I was afraid it might get hot (we have had temps in the 90-100 range for two weeks). Amber and I used to ride this regularly but I got cold feet after the 2009 ride when Rod Armas was killed by a drunk driver during the ride.

We braved Friday night traffic to register in Malibu and as we got out of the car Shai Shprung walked past having just registered for the quad (400 miles). He rides a fixie so I'm assuming that's what he was going to ride the quad on!

Saturday morning and up at 4am (yikes) to start the ride at 5:30am. Three miles into the ride a bug the size of a cesna lodged itself in my throat. I couldn't breath, cough, or swallow so after a few seconds of struggling my stomach solved the problem by throwing up. First time that has ever happened. We made good time through to the second control near Moorpark where we ran into Greg, Ron, and Foster from the PCH Rando group. Ron was feeling rough from food poisoning so I told him about the bug which seemed to cheer him up a bit.

We all agreed to ride up the Ojai bike path from Ventura which is so much nicer than the proper route and is only 1/2 mile longer. After a long lunch in Ojai where we ran into Alan Tolkoff and Jeff Karotkin as well as Phil (whose second name I can never remember) we went back down the bike path but took a detour on Barnham so as to approach the (secret) control from the correct direction.

Turning north along the coast we had a powerful headwind. Thank goodness Foster, Greg, and Ron were with us to push through the wind. I'm sure we got to Rincon point 15 minutes earlier thanks to their efforts. The good news is that the overcast became even heavier and although it was humid, it was pleasantly cool.

Rincon Point - Ron, Greg, and Amber - Iria has her back to me.

While we were relaxing at Rincon Point we felt a few drops of rain and I could see the clouds upwind of us were precipitating so I rallied the group and we headed south to try to ride out from under the rain. We had a good tailwind and managed to get under dry clouds pretty quickly.

Elizabeth met us in Hueneme where the soup was as wonderful as usual and we hung around for a while then headed out for the last stretch with a diminishing tailwind. About ten miles from the end, where the hills start, the tailwind was replaced by a headwind. Curses! We couldn't stay with Foster on the rollers and the group ripped apart. Iria, Amber, and I regrouped and took the long way around on Malibu Road to the end of the ride to avoid that ugly left turn off of PCH. It adds distance and climbing but it's worth it.

We got back to the cars at 8:53pm for a total ride time of 15:13 which wasn't too bad. We had a moving average of 16.17 so our moving time was 12:20 which meant we were off the bikes for almost three hours. That's probably an hour more than we should have been. Oh well - we had fun.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A new training ride

I have decided to improve my climbing by riding up Keller Peak road once a week. The road is 5.5 miles long and climbs from 6000' to 7800' by the time it reaches Keller Peak fire lookout. It is well paved and only has a few cars (I was passed by four during the hour it took to climb it today). I set a base time of 58:31. Starting after 7pm seems to reduce the bug and the heat problems. In fact it was below 60F by the time I turned around and started descending.

It's a pretty steady climb averaging about 6% but it touches 20% in a few places. By the time I get back to the bottom my rims are pretty hot. I put all my lights on the for descent. That's a Luxos U at full power, a Cygolite 850, Cygolite 600, and a Night Rider 600. When I got into my car and started driving, my car headlights seemed really dim!

Let's hope I can bring those times down.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Lake Fire and Luxos U

I took delivery of a new B&M Luxos U generator light from Peter White on Wednesday so I wanted to do a test ride. The light came with the wrong size spade terminals for my SON 28 generator so I nipped out to Mac's Electronics in San Bernardino which is like a candy store for an old electronics hack like myself. Three dollars got me a bag of the correct spade terminals so I replaced the old ones and wired up the light.

We're in the middle of a heat wave so I decided to ride up Keller Peak road in the evening. The road starts at 6000' and climbs to 7800' in 5.5 miles. It's a great ride if you want short and intense and it's only a few miles from my house. I started at 6:30pm but, much to my surprise, I found myself at the top by 7:30. The top of Keller Peak has a fire lookout tower and I got a great view of the Lake Fire which is currently burning near Jenks Lake and has route 38 closed.

Lake Fire from Keller Peak fire lookout tower 6/18/2015
I killed some time eating a packet of Squinchers which I had bought but I wasn't impressed. They're supposed to be electrolyte energy chews but they only have 90 calories a pack and have a pathetic electrolyte profile (3% RDA sodium and 1% potassium). I won't be buying them again. I can get the same calories by opening my mouth while riding through a cloud of gnats. If only they could genetically engineer black cherry flavored gnats.

Talking of gnats; the bugs were a royal pain on the climb. I have found that if you can hold 7 mph most of the bugs can't keep up. As I was averaging 5.5 mph the little devils swarmed me. I have a mosquito net I use for hiking. I wonder how stupid I'd look if I wore it cycling. I wonder how much I care. My hand is covered in mozzie bites too so perhaps I just need to speed up.

So it wasn't very dark on the way down and I was only able to confirm that the daytime running light works and it charges my GPS system.

I still needed to test the new light in proper dark conditions so I worked late Friday night until 8pm when the temperature had dropped to a balmy 90F down the hill and went for a ride on the upper SART bike path. Several miles out I came across a snake that must have been upward of three feet long sunning itself on the other side of the path, as well as several large lizards at least 6" long. Cool.

It got truly dark around 8:30 and I could see the new light was pretty amazing. Compared to my old Lumotec IQ70 it is brighter and wider. It doesn't have such a smooth beam pattern but it throws a lot of light onto the road. The boost feature is nice too - it uses the capacious internal battery to throw an extra 20 lumen onto the road at the far end of the beam. It makes a difference.

The light I received is slightly different from the light I was expecting. The documentation has not been updated. The old light had a USB port directly in the handlebar switch but my light has a cable coming out of the switch with a floating USB port at the end. I do not like this change. I have aerobars so I can hide the extra cable but if I had regular handlebars I don't know what I would do with it. I'd much rather not have to deal with it at all. It adds nothing that I can see. If your USB cable doesn't reach to the switch buy a longer one. They're cheap and readily available.

Let's look at some of the features of this light.
Stand light: Thanks to the large internal capacitor the stand light is bright and long lasting
Daytime: There is a daytime running light with a flash option (that I haven't got to work yet)
Night time: The beam is bright (70 lumen) and wide and adjusts to push light forward as you speed up. There is a manual boost option to put an extra 20 lumen at the tip of the beam.
Sensor: There is a sensor that detects Day vs. Night and switches accordingly.
USB: There is a USB port that can charge your GPS or cell phone during the day if you are riding more than 15kph. You can charge while using your daytime running lights but not at night.
Beam: The beam is very wide and has a well defined upper edge where most of the light is put, especially if you are riding fast. It's not as clean as the Lumotec around the edge close to the bike.
Controls: There are controls on the back of the light and on the handlebar switch. There is a single button that has a long and a short press that do different things.
Feedback: The feedback on the handlebar switch consists of a red led that indicates USB charging, and a blue led that indicates boost mode. There is no indication that the light is actually on which would have been nice for the daytime running mode.
Hardware: The light came with a crown mount and is well constructed (it's German). There may be issues with water getting up underneath if you ride in the rain without fenders. There are more zip ties and cabling hardware than I know what to do with.
Documentation: The documentation is for the old version of the light and is poorly translated from the original German. However it is more than sufficient for the job.

Monday, June 8, 2015

New Permanent

I've been toying with an idea for a new permanent that is the upper loop of my Five Rivers 300k brevet. It starts in Seal Beach and heads up the San Gabriel Bike Path to Duarte where it turns around and heads down the Rio Hondo and Los Angeles River Trails to Long Beach. From Long Beach it uses the Long Beach Bike Path and three miles of surface roads to get back to Seal Beach.

The entire permanent has 77 miles of bike path and 4 miles of surface roads for a total of 81 miles and 1200' of climbing. It is a phenomenally fast 130km, especially in a group to counter the inevitable head winds on the way back. Iria, Amber, and I completed it on Saturday at an average speed of 16.85mph with a brutal headwind all the way back (no, we did not have a brutal tailwind on the way out).

I gathered up the paperwork and submitted it to Crista Borras of RUSA yesterday so hopefully we can ride it again in a month or so and get credit.