Thursday, July 20, 2017

Climbing Children's Forest

I used to climb Children's Forest road once a week on my bike, but haven't done that ride for over a year. I decided I need to start riding it again so yesterday I started at the base of the road and climbed for four miles to Children's Forest.

I quickly realized my climbing is much worse than it used to be. Hopefully with weekly climbs it will improve.

I recently bought a new GoPro mount to replace the poorly designed plastic one that failed in Wisconsin. This mount costs twice as much but is made of aluminum. It's a winner.

I videoed the descent from the top of the climb. Even though the road is pretty rough, the mount held the camera solidly.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

What do I have to do to keep air in this thing?

As well as pumpkin butter, great mac and cheese, and a world-class collection of mosquito bites, I also brought back from Wisconsin a large chunk of metal in my rear tire. The fact that it only caused a very small leak is testament to Gatorskin tires.

I patched it when I got home with an old instant patch which failed as soon as I started riding last weekend. I put another patch on from the same batch, which also failed (duh!). Instant patches only have a shelf life of a year or so it seems.

I put in my spare tube which immediately failed with a flaw near the stem. It happens. Amber got her instant patch kit out, which turned out to be empty. Then she got her regular patch kit out, which had no glue in it - it had dried out.

So we went from two spare tubes and three patch kits to nothing in the space of 30 miles. Good thing this didn't happen on the Million Meters of Milk.

The lesson here is that regular and instant patch kits don't last forever. I should add 'replace all patch kits' to my new year's resolutions. I put Amber's spare tire on and prayed. I knew we would be passing a bike shop twenty miles up the road so I would be able to stock up there.

It was amazingly hot climbing Santiago Canyon and unusually humid for Southern California so the sweat was absolutely pouring off me especially into my eyes. We were very ready for food at Cook's Corner but it took 45 minutes coming. With the tire problems and the slow service we were not doing well on time.

The descent to the coast was as enjoyable as always and there was some cloud cover so the ride became a lot more pleasant. I went to the bike store in San Clemente to buy tubes and patch kits and discuss, with the owner, the deficiencies of instant patch kits.

As you know, there is a protected bike lane alongside PCH from Palisades Drive in Dana Point to Camino Capistrano. What you probably don't know is that the protected lane was recently extended all the way to San Clemente. That's great news, especially for North bound cyclists.

While I was buying bicycle supplies, Amber got us some Hawaiian shaved ice which I had never had before. Basically snow, flavored sugar syrup, and condensed milk. Very nice.

We continued down the coast with a slight headwind and after a while I started having gastric distress. I'm seeing a pattern of eating sugar heavy meals while riding and stomach cramps. I have to be very careful of this in future. I have had this problem before, but I've only just made the connection between high sugar snacks and cramps. At least I know what not to do now.

We only had 30 minutes to spare when we arrived in Oceanside so we decided to skip Angelo's and use the Burger King at the Amtrak for our last control.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Million Meters of Milk

My Summer Vacation.
By Terry Hutt, Aged 8.

For my summer vacation I went to Wisconsin to ride my bicycle. Wisconsin is a farming state. The main crops are corn, gravestones, and mosquitoes. Harvesting corn and gravestones is easy. To harvest mosquitoes you have to stand still for ten seconds. Corn feeds on soil and sunshine, gravestones grow on dead people, and mosquitoes eat cyclists. Corn is used to make popcorn and gravestones mark where you must not dig holes. Nobody knows what mosquitoes are for.

In Wisconsin they have weather which is either hot or wet or sometimes both. They have thunderstorms which are cool, and headwinds which are not. Someone said they also have tailwinds, but I didn't see any. They have a lot of dairies in Wisconsin and a lot of cheese. I ate some cheese curds which squeaked in my mouth. Now I know why mice squeak. The cheese was very good. Now I know why mice like cheese.

The End

We rode the Million Meters of Milk 1000km brevet.

Amber and I flew out to Chicago on Virgin America. They are far more pleasant to fly on with a bike (and without) than United. I am starting to see the advantage to shipping the bikes ahead. It may be slightly more expensive, but we had to upgrade the car rental to carry two bike boxes and getting all that luggage to the hotel was very awkward. I like the idea of arriving at the hotel and finding my bike already there. However I am still concerned about the possibility of NOT finding my bike already there.

We unpacked the bikes at the Comfort Inn and went for a test ride up the route for 12 miles loving the roads once we were outside of Fond du Lac. For some reason Fond du Lac's roads are Roman era concrete slabs with violent seams every 10 feet. Once out of town, the roads were lovely.

We made a point of stopping at the Fond du Lac bike store on the way back, which has a wide selection of bicycles and accessories, to pick up some reflective ankle straps. We met up there with some other event riders and the organizer, Michele Brougher. She showed us the final few miles of the first loop navigating a tricky section.

Riding towards the rising sun

At 4:00 am the following morning we started the first loop. The temperature was comfortable which is a bad sign that the day will get warm. The sun came up shortly after we started and we made good time for a couple of hours until a 15mph headwind sprung up which slowed us down to 12mph or so even on the aerobars (even slower on the climbs).

Many lovely roads

The route was lovely and Wisconsin drivers are very considerate. Almost all of them made full lane changes to get around us. We didn't get honked at even once. There was none of the aggressive driving we have to deal with in California. The roads were quiet, the countryside was green, and Amber and I both agreed this would be some great touring country.

Heading back south in Sturgeon Bay

We headed northeast until the turnaround in Sturgeon Bay, where I took a longer than usual stop to recuperate so I could take advantage of the tailwind which was still blowing. At this point we were an hour behind schedule but I hoped to make it up with the help of the tailwind.

Pleasant riverside trail

Returning southwest we made good time until the tailwind died three hours later. We got a good dose of rain through this section but as it was pretty warm (about 80F) it was pleasant. After the tailwind died we still made decent time but couldn't seem to eat into that deficit.

Once the sun went down both Amber and I started getting sleepy. Because of the flight times, and the time change, and the early start we had both been unable to get more that six hours of sleep for the prior three nights and it was catching up with us and slowing us down. We used GoCubes which work well but only last a couple of hours. As the night wore on, we kept getting further into time deficit. We were in that cycle of sleepiness, slowness, sleepiness.

About 50 miles from the end we picked up Paul, who is a seasoned randonneur. His navigation had packed up so he opted to ride with us. For some reason he never pulled or drafted and just rode 100 yards or so behind us. An extra wheel would have really helped. We got a lot more rain through this section which was cold, but not unpleasant.

Eventually we finished the first loop three hours behind schedule. We set the alarm for 6:30am but when it went off it was obvious that continuing was not safe. We could have tried, and we may have succeeded. The legs felt good, but the brain did not. It was probably a good idea not to continue because I passed out a couple of hours later, from standing up too quickly, and cracked my head on the restroom wall. It's a good thing that didn't happen while riding.

The next day we just slept, getting up in the afternoon and chilling. My neck was screwed up from the fall and I could barely turn it. On Monday we helped out a little bit by placing the last info control sign and did a little sight seeing in Michele's car. Amber did all the driving because I couldn't look over my shoulder. I enjoyed hanging out at the end of the ride and welcoming the riders as they finished. Even though we didn't complete the ride, we still made the best of it and got to see a little of Wisconsin.

Hiking the Wild Goose trail after the ride
The Wild Goose trail would make a great gravel brevet

After the riders had left I overheard some of the hotel staff discussing the fact that some of the riders had used hotel towels to clean their bikes. This is not cool. Most hotels keep a supply of worn out towels that are reserved for cleaning equipment and not normally provided to guests. If you ask, they will happily loan you these towels to clean your bikes with so you don't ruin their guest towels.