Sunday, June 2, 2019

Double Metric Centuries

Haven't posted anything lately because I've just been riding a double metric century with Stacy and Greg Kline every Saturday for the past several weeks. Yesterday was a good one, with superb weather and a nice gentle pace.

Almost at the beach

Checking the weather

Rio Hondo

Southbound on SART

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Taking it up a notch

So I did a 60 miles workout on Thursday, then rode 50 miles after work on Friday night on the lower SART. What a fantastic ride! It was cool, with a constant headwind all the way the the beach. I took some pictures with my new mini-camera while riding to see how it performed.

Into the sun increases the contrast

There are signs out that there will be a "major event" on the SART on May 5th (Sunday) all morning causing congestion between Gisler and Siegerstrom.

Testing the camera's video performance at night - it's not that great.

Today I rode The Crema with Amber - that's 150 miles in three days. I'm feeling it but I think I'm ready to ride the Four Rivers again when Greg and Stacy schedule it next. There was a car show on Main Street with live music - that was fun.

Monday, April 22, 2019

A short hike

I've started riding the SART on Friday evenings again . Last Friday I tried a new experiment - I ate a small dinner before the ride to see if I could get the same amount of exercise from fewer calories. Twenty three miles into the ride bonked hard and had to eat a pro-bar and turn around. So that experiment didn't go as planned. I think next Friday I'll do my usual - eat at the Lucky Greek and save half the sandwich for when I get back to the car.

The combination of me spraining my ankle and the wet winter we enjoyed this year means I haven't been hiking. Sherry felt strong enough to hike with me. We hiked "Behind the School" which gave us 4.5 miles with about 700' of climbing. It was tough, but very pretty. We need to get to the point where we can do this easily, then try the Exploration trail.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

How to place a cue anywhere on a ridewithgps route

One problem I have with the ride with gps route planner is placing a custom cue on the return leg of a route. In the example below, I want to place a custom cue at mile 96.9 but when I hover over the map it thinks I'm pointing to mile 29.3 because the route goes out-and-back over this section.

It turns out you can add a cue by clicking on the elevation chart. But the elevation chart is too granular. A one pixel movement of the mouse causes the insertion point to jump from one side of my target insertion point to the other.

You can zoom in on the elevation chart by clicking on one side of your insertion point and dragging to the other side. Like this...

Now the map and elevation profile zoom and you can get much finer granularity.

Click exactly where you want on the elevation chart to place your cue precisely.

When you're done, click De-select in the elevation profile.

Monday, April 1, 2019

2019 Triple Loop 600k staff ride report

Although there are are no route changes, I have updated the cue sheets to improve clarity and highlight issues. I have also removed an info control. Please download the appropriate cue sheets for your ride again from the website.

Loop 1 

Greg and Stacy Kline, Michelle Brougher, and Shai Sprung rode the 600k staff ride last weekend. I joined them for the first 200k. We have a number of helpful observations and safety tips for you.

We started at the civilized time of 6:30 am and were surprised that it was a chilly 50F so out came the vests and leg warmers. The sun was almost up so we didn't need lights, but we always ride with daylight-visible lights anyway. As soon as we hit the SART we picked up a light tail wind.

The sun was just rising as we crossed Katella at 7:10 and the gates were unlocked which is why we started at 6:30.

Crossing the river alongside Katella

An hour into the ride and Shai's new saddle is bothering him
There is a 5k/10k run in Huntington Beach that may cause the beach path to be closed but PCH will be open.

We stopped briefly at the first control but rode on to The Crema in Seal Beach where we bought ham and brie baguettes, including a spare for the next control. It really hit the spot and we were on the road again in good time. Remember, you can stop where ever you want but you still need proof of passage at each control.
The Crema
A few miles later and we turned off of PCH onto the San Gabriel bike trail which was surprisingly busy.

The weather warmed up quickly so riding along the bike path in the sun with a gentle headwind (that was weird) was very pleasant. The entire first 200k loop is mostly free of storm damage, debris, mud, and sand.

San Gabriel bike trail
Despite the headwind we got to the 58 mile control in 4:15. There is a Subway here but we preferred to eat the extra food we had bought at The Crema so we only needed water here. It was close to 80F by now so the vest and leg warmers had come off long before.

As we rode the dirt transition from the San Gabriel to the Rio Hondo trails we found the only remaining storm damage on this loop which is an unavoidable hole next to a pole that we walked the bikes over. It occurs to me that if anyone (Dana) is riding a trike or other wide vehicle, this dirt section would need extra care.

Once on the Rio Hondo we had a light tailwind to within two miles of Long Beach. Such benevolent wind conditions are very unusual on this route.

Here's the turn off of the Los Angeles river trail into Long Beach Marina.

If you keep the water to your right through here, you should be fine. The Long Beach Grand Prix is the week after the Triple Loop so there may be some barriers up, but nothing that will prevent you getting through. You are sharing the boardwalk with pedestrians who aren't expecting you so please ride carefully.

We stopped at Chronic Tacos which was wonderful as usual and still had a gentle tail/crosswind as we continued South on the coast to the info control just after the turn onto the SART.

Then the crosswind became a tailwind that stayed with us all the way back to the hotel. This was not necessarily a good thing! We had 9:15 for the first 200k - faster than I had wanted to go.

Loop 2

After a 15 minute stop at the hotel to eat (Shai is a hard taskmaster) we headed out into that tailwind which, of course, was now a headwind. At this point it was only Greg, Stacy, Michelle, and Shai. It dropped to 40F later on this loop so head out with plenty of warm gear.

The climb up Santiago Canyon was still pretty warm and at times it was into a headwind. Navigation on the Aliso Creek trail was challenging even though all the riders completed it in daylight. Some of you will still be on this trail after darkness falls so you really need to pay close attention until you reach the first control of the loop.

Aliso Creek bike trail
Two things that will give you problems are the "bridge" at mile 33.7 which is simply a metal plate riveted across the water channel and very easy to miss, and also the entrance to the bike path at the end of the parking lot at mile 41.2. This weekend the very end of that bike path was closed for construction with a marked detour left through a small park that takes you onto Crown Valley where you turn right to pick up the route in 100 yards.

If you have any sense of direction (or a Garmin) you will be fine.

I recommend researching the Crown Valley control before the ride based on when you expect to be there. Pick out where you want to eat and know when it closes in case you get there later and need to fall back on the gas stations.

It's going to be hot tomorrow, so...

You should also decide, before the ride, which route you want to take through San Clemente (see the ride notes on the website). If you are not familiar with the area I would recommend staying on the official route, but ultimately it's up to you.

The turn around at the end of the San Onofre state park is an info control. It involves reading one of the many signs on the fence. Hopefully the question is not too mentally challenging. There are many restrooms and water options in the park but your next food option is seven miles away.

The turn onto the San Juan creek trail at mile 78.7 is very easy to miss if you're not paying attention. You're going to be climbing 1500' in the next 20 miles although only the last three miles could be called steep. The top of Santiago Canyon and the descent will be very cold. Forty Fahrenheit on a 30 mph descent feels like 28F. At mile 119 on this loop the gate onto the SART was closed so all the riders had to take the detour on La Palma. At 4am there wasn't much traffic.

Loop 3

After a few hours sleep the riders left between 6am and 7am even though the control doesn't close until 9:30. This created an unforeseen problem as the sun was in their eyes as they rode through Norco which means it was in the eyes of cars trying to pass them. Please be sure to have daylight-visible flashing tail lights on if you find yourself riding into the rising or setting sun.

The sign at Crestview and Arlington at mile 20.7 on this loop has been changed from "Arlington" to "North".

At this time there are still a few sections of the upper SART with sand and dried mud, and the big puddle from last week is now a slightly damp mud patch.

Sunday was destined to get even hotter than Saturday with a Santa Ana wind developing later in the day. I met Michelle at the Chevron at the mile 41 control as she was getting lonely, but not lonely enough to appreciate the creepy gas station attendant there! Note the Chevron restroom is permanently "Out of Order" and 7-11s don't have restrooms. Your only restroom option at this control is the G&M.

Sand Canyon
The Santa Ana wind developed into a powerful headwind during the climb up to Beaumont. This was not in the weather forecast and, combined with temperatures approaching 90F, made this section of the route arduous. Fortunately the outbound climbing is broken up and not a total grind. At mile 63.6 where Oak Valley parkway crosses the 10 freeway Caltrans is installing stop lights which means we've lost the shoulder for a hundred yards or so and traffic can be busy here.

Upon turning around the riders found themselves descending 1250' in 15 miles with a roaring tailwind. Everyone loved it except Shai who was riding his new super-light fixie. He didn't enjoy it at all because his legs couldn't keep up. Depending on the time, you may find yourself descending San Timeteo into the setting sun, so be visible if that happens.

Darn train!
The tailwind blew all the way back to the last control in San Bernardino but the prevailing headwind took over for the length of the upper SART. It dies away at dusk but Shai and Michelle had to deal with it. The gate at the exit of the upper SART is locked at sundown but it's easy to get over or under it.

Shai got back to the hotel first, followed by Michelle a bit later, and Greg and Stacy arrived with a comfortable 45 minute buffer. Everyone agreed this route gives a good feel for how difficult PBP is, but we were a bit unlucky with the heat and wind.

Los Endos
Photo credits: Terry Hutt, Greg and Stacy Kline, and Michelle Brougher.

A page of photographs from the pre-ride is here.

Here's your weather forecast for ride HQ. Looks pretty good right now.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Brompton Review

I drove over to Pasadena Cyclery today to test ride a Brompton folding bicycle. I was fortunate to be greeted by Therese, as I walked in the door, who happens to be extremely knowledgeable about Bromptons, being an owner herself.

For those of you who don't know about them already, Brompton is arguably the best known folding bicycle manufacturer. They have an excellent online build tool which allowed you to select the color(s), gearing, handlebars, and accessories for a Brompton bicycle and tells you the price and weight as well as giving you a good idea what your finished bike would look like.

Online build tool

Then you have to find a dealer, give them your build, and wait eight weeks or so for it to be made, shipped and assembled. That's where Pasadena Cyclery comes in.

Therese offered three test bikes for me to try because the handlebars affect the ride significantly. I started with the M type which is the one shown above and has a slight rise to it. I was very surprised to find the ride felt stable within five minutes. I thought those clown bike wheels would be squirrely so I tried a few tests.

Test ride with M type handlebars. Note the front-hub dynamo and lights

Try coming to a complete stop without putting a foot down and then pulling away. Try looking over your shoulder while riding with one hand. Try selecting a small mark on the road ahead and then riding over it. The Brompton passed all these test with only a few minutes of practice. It really does ride like a full sized bike.

I then rode the straight S type handlebar which has is lower and gives a more aggressive riding position. Twenty years ago that would have been my choice, but the extra weight on the wrists would not have been pleasant on a 200k brevet.

Lastly I rode the more upright H type handlebars. In twenty years this might be my choice, but right now the M felt best for me. Therese was bang on though, the handlebars are critical.

I want to splash out and buy the six speed. It seems pretty retro going to a six speed - my Serotta has 30 speeds. The Brompton has a three-speed internal Sturmey-Archer hub plus a low profile 2 speed rear derailleur. The range of gears is very usable - I rode down and back up a 2% street mainly in the bigger gears. I'm pretty sure I don't want to tackle any 10% hills on this.

My build looks like this (online). I haven't added mudguards, lights, or bags yet. I don't plan on riding one far enough to need a dynamo - batteries will be plenty. I can add the rest later as I find a need for it.

Accessorizing will be a challenge. There's nowhere to put a water bottle but there is a water bottle cage made specially for folding bikes called the Monkii cage S that simply bolts on.

Monkii Cage S
I'm used to using aerobars on brevets to spread out the wrist pressure and go aero into the wind but that's not an option with a Brompton. Therese recommended these Ergon bar-ends which look like they would help enormously.

Ergon bar ends
Therese did a good job selling me on the Brompton. Now I need to sell it to the wife.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Upper SART conditions

I rode the entire length of the upper SART on Tuesday after work to see the effects the recent storms have had.

The good news is that the trail closure alongside the sewage farm is open again - a year late, but it's finally open. Look at the pointy tops of the fence - who do they think is going to break in to a sewage farm?

The detour we've been using on Jurupa is no longer necessary. I have updated the map and cue sheet for the third loop of the Triple Loop and they are live on our website. If you downloaded either before March 16th you will want to download them again.

Newly paved trail alongside the sewage works.
The rain has made the upper SART green and luscious, especially the first few miles. It reminds me of English hedgerows or Normandy bocage.

Pretty. Wonder if it will bloom?

There are still several places where there is sand or mud on the trail including a few that need careful attention. Most riders will be riding through here in daylight. I don't know how much this will improve in the next two weeks.

The only serious hazard I saw is a large puddle of standing water about 3-4" deep. Hopefully it will have drained away before you get there. Parks and Recreation have "Flooded" signs on the trail so it won't catch you by surprise.

Wet feet

Monday, March 11, 2019

Four Rivers - Two Flats!

Greg and Stacy Kline, Marty, Amber, and I all rode my Four Rivers 200k permanent last Saturday. It was cool and breezy with some threatening clouds to the South (where the wind was coming from). This is the first 200k of my 600 Triple Loop event coming up on April 6th.

We headed out around 8am and within ten miles I got a flat in the rear wheel. It turns out when I put the tire in from the prior flat I had twisted it somehow and caught it between the bead and the rim. When I inflated it to full pressure it quickly pinch-flatted. Bummer.

Passing through Huntington Beach we went past a kite display that was very cool so we stopped and took pictures. Check out the huge gecko kite.

We got to The Crema and got a baguette and a quiche to go which we ate on the bench outside. You don't get the same selection as when you wait for a table, but it's a lot faster. We had a tailwind as we headed to Duarte which was normal and we got there in good time.

That means we had a headwind back to Long Beach but as we approached Long Beach it died down which was inexplicable. I got a second flat in my rear tire which turned out to be a sliver of glass - thank goodness Marty was there to find it. There's a lot of glass as you return over the dam on the Rio Hondo trail.

We ate at Chronic Tacos and I replaced my normal quesadilla with a couple of tacos. This was a mistake. Twenty five miles later I ran out of energy and we had to stop while I ate some GoCubes. There isn't a lot of calories in them, but it's sugar and it's enough to get me to the end of the ride.

We finished in 11:30 which is pretty normal for our group. We really couldn't have asked for better weather - it was cool and dry and we actually had more tailwind than headwind.

Here's a photo diary from Greg and Stacy.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

One Big River 300k Brevet

In past years I've been able to boast that my brevets have had very good luck with the weather. Little did I know the weather gods are jealous gods and they know how to hold a grudge. This year the rain has been biblical. If there's one thing harder than a 200k brevet in the rain, it's a 300k brevet in the rain (please don't think about the obvious corollary to that maxim). Yesterday, I hosted the Five rivers 300k brevet. The day before was nice. The day after was nice. The day of the event was not nice.

Twenty seven brave souls started in light to moderate rain at 6am in Corona. I was concerned that, because the route uses so many riverside bike trails, we might see closures and lost and frustrated riders. I was made aware of one trail closure due to a damaged storm drain in Newport Beach so had to make last minute arrangements to accommodate this. Other than that, I was aware of no issues with the route. Of course, with such heavy rain, on top of all the other rain we've had lately, the situation was fluid (pun intended). All I could do was cross my fingers and trust my riders.

After the riders had left I drove over to the trail closure and saw it was only partially closed so I hadn't needed to alter the route after all. I decided not to confuse the riders by telling them to ignore the detour.

Backbay from the trail closure
Judging from the receipt times, riders made good progress to the first control in Seal Beach despite the rain. Times were also good at the second control in Duarte but I was saddened to hear the pizza place has moved. Still -most riders rode so fast they got to Duarte before pizza was open and were forced to scavenge at the 7-11.

Two weeks ago the Rio Hondo trail was closed but last week I rode through without a problem. I knew if the Rio Hondo rose much there would be problems through this section but I think the riders got through here quickly enough to avoid any flooding. The usual headwind back to Long Beach was as strong as I've ever known. The unusual SW wind combined with the normal onshore flow created a double whammy - I hope every one was able to ride this stretch with some friends.

The last 100 km saw riders slow down significantly. I think the extra effort of riding in the rain started to show. Riders started getting lost more often although I don't think the route gets any more complex through this section. Instead of relaxing by an illuminated fountain at the last control, they were looking for hot food and shelter.

There's a section of bike trail in Peter's Canyon going under the 5 freeway that floods easily. By the time most of the riders reached it (in the dark) there was significant water on the trail and it was getting worse by the hour. Some riders who knew the area rode around but most rode through it. I had a detour worked out and available to anyone that called, but no-one seemed to need it. I'm glad you were all experienced enough to handle it well.

Greg and Stacy Kline were standing by in case anyone DNFed and needed a ride back, but fortunately their services were not needed. The last riders got back with nine minutes to spare. Round of applause, please!

I tried something new on this event that I will definitely do again. In addition to the ever popular pizza, I ordered coffee, hot chocolate, cookies, brownies, juice, and bagels from Panera. They delivered it at the specified time, just before I expected the first riders back. They threw in some chocolate chip marshmallows and mini bagels for free. I had more than enough food for everyone as they returned. You deserved it.

I tried to take photographs of everyone when they got back. If I missed you I apologize. Note how reflective you all are when I was using the flash. That's great.

I have already submitted the event results to RUSA. For those of you heading to France later this year, that's one more ride in the bag.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Undetectable e-bikes

I recently came across an ad for a Story Bicycle road bike that is almost indistinguishable from a regular road bike. Replace the handlebars with drops and you would be hard-pressed to know this isn't a regular road bike. It has pedal assist, so you won't see a throttle grip and the battery is concealed in the frame.

Story Electric Road Bike

It comes with a 36V, 7Ah battery in the down tube and a motor in the rear hub capable of generating up to 350W of power. The battery weighs about 2kg and the motor and crank sensors probably weigh another 3kg. So how much help would this be on a 200k brevet? Does the extra weight offset the power assistance?

Let's do the math using data from

Thirty-six volts times 7 amp-hours = 252 Wh = 907,200 Joules of energy in the battery (252 x 3600). It takes 10 Joules to raise 1kg by 1 meter so this battery can raise 1kg by 90,720 meters or it can raise the extra 5kg of the battery, motor, etc by 18,144 meters or nearly 60,000 feet. That's far more climbing than most brevets have so a significant portion of the battery's charge is available to propel the rider forward.

So on a ride with 15,000' of climbing, 25% of the battery is used to raise the battery, etc over the climbs, and 75% of the battery would be available to aid the rider.

So I've established that the energy in an e-bike like this far exceeds the cost of the extra weight. While they may be fun to ride, they're banned from all randonneuring events due to article 2 of the rules below (my emphasis).

Article 2
These brevets are open to any amateur cyclist regardless of his or her cycling affiliations. Any rider under the age of 18 must have consent of his or her parent or legal guardian. Any form of human-powered vehicle is acceptable. The only stipulation is that the vehicle must be powered solely by the rider.
As event organizers, how do we spot riders trying to cheat with bikes like this? The one thing all e-bikes have in common today is the over-sized front or rear hubs. Even though the manufacturers can hide the battery, they still cannot hide the motor in the hubs.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Five Rivers Route Conditions

I've had eyeballs on the Five Rivers 300k route since the series of storms that came through SoCal last month. There isn't any damage to the bike trails or roads on this route.

At this time (Sunday Feb 24th) there is some sand and dry mud on the trail in some underpasses and on the north end of the Rio Hondo trail (see video). These hazards can be ridden with 28mm tires by a rider with average bike handling skills (me). Parks and Recreation has done a good job of cleaning up the mud and debris from the storms.

The only hazard I need to bring your attention is an unavoidable hole next to a telephone pole on the dirt section as we approach the Rio Hondo trail head at about mile 97. Please take extra care on this dirt stretch.

Last week there were several inconveniently closed gates across the San Diego creek trail, but they were not difficult to circumvent and I don't expect them to be closed on the 2nd.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Long time no Ride

A series of storms have been lining up to hit Southern California ever since the middle of January, making even leaving my driveway a challenge. Fortunately an hour of snow shoveling followed by a two hour stationary workout has helped keep my fitness level up.

We had a slight break last Saturday so Amber and I rode the last 100k of the Five Rivers 300k. Stacy, Greg, and Martins rode my Four Rivers permanent which covers the first 200k of the Five Rivers. Between us we managed to put eyeballs on almost all the bike paths used by the Five Rivers.

At this time, two weeks before the event date, there are quite a lot of problems to deal with.

1. SART is flooded as it passes under Orangewood but it's easy to cross over the street.

SART under Orangewood
2. The top of the San Gabriel bike trail has flooding over a spillway.

Top of the SGRT
3. The Rio Hondo is gated and closed, the reason is unknown. I will need to investigate further.

Rio Hondo
4. There is some residual mud in underpasses on the San Diego Creek bike path and there are some unnecessarily closed gates. The mud is rideable with 28mm tires and the gates can be easily circumvented.

The long term weather forecast shows about nine days of clear weather before the Five Rivers 300k which means all these issues will be resolved and I fully expect the entire route to be open. I was most concerned about long-term damage to the trails, but this doesn't seem to have happened.

For the Five Rivers 300k, we're currently expecting normal temps and wind with the chance of rain later in the day.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

2019 SART 200k brevet

I had 38 riders reserve places on my 2019 SART 200k brevet and even though the weather looked quite sketchy I was pleasantly surprised to see 33 of them set off this morning. I'd like to thank you all for being so well prepared. I managed to get all 33 riders registered in about 40 minutes.

The pavement was wet, the sky was overcast, but it wasn't raining and the wind was calm. Just as the sun came up at 7:00 am (theoretically -- we couldn't actually see it) they rode straight from the motel parking lot onto the upper Santa Ana River Trail.

Although it was not raining when they started, the riders had to deal with flooding on Rincon and a heavy rainstorm in Anaheim as well as the flats that are common when it rains.

Flooding on Rincon - credit Stacy Kline

About three pm I drove over to Starbucks and bought two traveler packs of coffee - one decaf and one not. I figured the riders would appreciate a hot cup of joe after their ordeal. The first riders arrived shortly after four so I ordered some pizza to go with the coffee.

Riders continued to arrive in various states of hypothermia and hunger until it became obvious I needed another round of pizza. The last riders all showed up about 7:30. I only had one DNF. Considering how vile the weather was, that's impressive.

Last but not least
Stacy Kline posted more photographs here