cyclofiend.com - peripheral thoughts & notes

June 2024
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Been There Since “Dial-up” Days
Filed under: general, bike tech, people, interwebbishness
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 9:10 am

The iBob List is dead!  Long Live the iBob List!

“This is the last email to the internet-bob@bikelist.org mailing list. The list has moved to internet-bob@googlegroups.com.

To continue recieving list emails you will need to join the new group. You can do that by going to one of these two links:

It’s been a good decade of hosting this list, and I’ve been very happy to be the list admin and host during that time.

the next couple of weeks sending email to the old list will get you an
automatic reply with instructions on joining the new list. After that it
will cease to operate.

Alex Wetmore

Big thanks to Alex for wrangling this roadshow for so long, doing it so well and handling a myriad of interesting and often highly opinionated characters so adroitly.  And thanks to ride-buddy JimG for stepping up to manage the list now.

Guess I’ll have to update this page-

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Grant Petersen / 37Signals Interview
Filed under: general, people
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 9:56 am

Rework is one of three books I read this past year which keep significantly resonating in my brain. (Well, there’s probably more than three now that I think about it, but ideas in Rework, plus Program or Be Programmed and The War Of Art seem to keep interlocking and reinforcing one another, and as such become more of a troika…)

The folks who penned Rework run 37Signals, which as near as I can tell, is a significantly creative, focused and intelligent company in the sense of “appropriate structure.”*  The person who tipped me to the book Rework was Grant Petersen, who (as y’all prolly know) formed Rivendell Bicycle Works after Bridgestone Bicycles USA shut down operations.

It’s roundly fitting that the folks at 37Signals would take a moment to sit down with Grant and interview him.  It’s a fine interview, and he may be still answering reader questions at the end of the article. 

Go read it:
Bootstrapped, Profitable & Proud

*remind me to do a blog post about “appropriate structure” sometime, or dig around the vinyl bins and find a copy of “Let the Power Fall” by Robert Fripp and read the back.  Or, here. (Though that person attributes it to Robert Fripp directly, my recollection was that he had transcribed it from elsewhere.  Since I sold that vinyl a while ago, it looks like a lunchtime trip to the used record shop is in order…)

A kindly lurking blog reader passed along this link to the Fripp album mentioned above.


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Kent P. Nails it Again - “Drive Fast”
Filed under: general, people
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 9:34 am

I’d reckon that if you are interested in bicycles and spend much time knocking around the interwebbs (named, of course, after Jack Webb), you’ve run across Kent Peterson.  If not, it’s high time you did.   Even in the clamor of daily life, someone who decides to do the Great Divide Race on a singlespeed stands out.  If that was all he did, he’d be noticeable.  But, it isn’t.

Kent manages to write with a deceptive simplicity which elegantly nudges at complex problems and issues.  He writes about cycling, but seems to manage to reliably cover much larger topics.

Sunday’s writing is an excellent example:

Drive Fast


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Filed under: general, people, rivendelica
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 11:55 pm

Last Friday wound down a reasonably hectic week.  It was the first week back from a vacation, which tends to lump up all kinds of things that would never have been so important if I hadn’t been unreachable for 6 days. But, things returned to a relatively even keel by Thursday, so I was able to scoot away early and head to the east bay. 

Ulterior motives abounded, of course. First and foremost, Beth H was heading through town with her sweetie and had planned to drop by Rivendell for a bit. She’s an avid blogger, was one of the first people to share images of their bikes via the Cyclofiend.com Current Classics Gallery (her Rivendell Longlow being bicycle #11), and someone I’ve nattered on with via email about singlespeeds (y’know, her newest one is still in the queue and that’s entirely my fault!) and cyclocross.  So, I finally got a chance to hang out and meet in person someone I’d only known through the interwebs.   It was cool to meet in person, grab some food and get to know each other better.  Guess I gotta head up to Portland now.  I hear they race cross bikes up there in the winter…

Of course, the secondary benefit was bopping around the RBWHQ&L, seeing what prototypes could be spied and enjoyed. Alas, the newest version of the Hunqapiller was wheel-less, but Keven took the time to talk about the special mid-tube lugs they’d had made for the “splayed” (my phrase, not theirs) tube arrangement.

As noted in the flickr image, there will be bottle braze-ons with the final version, but I think the geometry and most of the hard-wiring is mostly in place now.  The Hunqapillar is truly a versatile and sturdy beast.  The fork braze-ons alone are, shall we say, extensive.  I’m pretty sure that this bicycle could handle anything most folks could throw at it. I think it will also balance better once they set up the left side drive.

The stuff behind the Hunqa-proto (Proto-Hunq?) got me focused a bit on luggage and bags.

Now, in case I’ve never mentioned it before, I’m kind of a bag junkie. Well, maybe “junkie” is a bit strong.  I have some pretty firm tastes and requirements, actually, formed through a few years of working as a buyer of such things.  For me, a bag has to be well sewn, useful in design without being overly specific, and should work quietly for a long time.  If it turns out to do one or two things not originally envisioned, even better.

The work that has gone into the Brand V bags (Vegan, “Holier Than Cow” as the logo says) is pretty considerable.  The Brand V BoxyBarBag is a pretty simple, bar-mounted squarish handlebar bag, which mounts without hardware to the bars.  With the strap support system, it locks down pretty danged well.  I didn’t have the opportunity to bounce it around on the trails, but it certainly survived the bounce ‘n wiggle test on the showroom floor. For the amount and quality of the sewing (in the US!), it could easily cost more than the $75 they charge for it. 

Here, you’re looking at it from the front, without it being on a bike.  Nice big flecto-patch, too.

There was also a set of the new BrandV Panniers set up on a Sam Hillborne.  I played around with these for quite a while, trying to figure out how I could justify buying them. Simple, sturdy construction.  Everything you need and nothing you don’t, as the saying goes.  They also seemed to invite further modification, with a set of D-rings on the top mounting area.

But, one real beauty of the design is the dust/water flap, which seems to lend itself well to separating the load, or handling over-stuffing.

It’s hard to tell from this image, but that darker olive bit is a goodly sized flap, which can be pulled up and out, like this:

Again, excellent sewing work throughout.  I really liked the shape (formway?) of the panniers as well. Heel-strike be damned!

The bag which really caught my eye and followed me home was the GrabSack, another in the BrandV line.

Just to complete the broken record* motif, the sewing was pretty much Filson quality.  The folks who are constructing these know how to line up material and throw a line of stitching through it. It’s heavy cotton duck, and it feels like it break in sometime in the distant future.  Unlike the old Timbuk2 that it will replace, I won’t lose the clip-on flecto-tabs, as they’ve sewn in a strip to reflect stuff.  The wooden buttons (reminded me of an old Navy coat) can be one-handedly thrown through the big D-Rings, but they don’t seem to come out unintentionally. There’s a nice amount of overlap to the top and a good size to hold a book, journal a bit o’ gear and some odds and ends.  There’s a single divider against the inside, which can organize things a bit. (Modeled below with my not-new RBW cap.)

The slick trick which Grant shared was to convert it from a shoulder strap to a waist pack setup.  The strap can be shortened from both ends, so with a quick slide down and a two-handed cinch, it nestles easily into the small of your back or off one hip if you prefer. I’m not going to make a movie of that move.  It’s something you can figure out pretty quickly if you mess around with it.

Anyway, US-constructed. Under $50.  It’s kind of a ridiculously good deal.

Especially if you like bags.  Which, as I mentioned, I do.

*For you youngsters out there: Broken Record = Repeating CD = Recursive MP3, i.e. something that says the same thing over and over.

Passing of Tom Milton
Filed under: general, unfortunate events, people
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 10:27 am

Tom Milton passed away while riding the Devil Mountain Double on April
24, 2010.  Tom was inducted into the California Triple Crown Hall of
Fame in 2009 in recognition of him completing 50 Double Centuries in
the California Triple Crown Series.  He was also known to many  cyclists as the owner of Selle An-Atomica.

There’s not a lot I can add which has not already been said better by those who knew him more closely.

The California Triple Crown  blog has  created an entry for folks to share stories and reminisces -

There are also some very fine recollections from members of the San Francisco Randonneurs  in a couple of different threads here - http://groups.google.com/group/sfrandon

Events like this always give me pause, and are such a strong reminder to look around you each day, find those who mean much to you, and share those thoughts and love with them.

Each mile we get is a gift.

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Knives, Bikes, Politics
Filed under: general, video, people, rivendelica, bike commuting
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 9:33 am

Over on the RBW newsfeed, Grant had posted this link to a video with Tim Wright, a knifemaker who does not own a car -

I found it to be nicely thought-provoking and inspiring.  Makes me want to support Tim.  It’s encouraging to find the kind of quiet commitment that he demonstrates. 

He also demonstrates a beautiful spin in a couple of side view shots. You don’t just hop on a bike one morning and move like that.  It comes from years and miles of honing, gaining efficiency, finding the right balance. Just beautiful.

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Filed under: general, video, people
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 9:25 am

To know where you are, you need to know where you came from.

Mountain Biking in the days of yore.  Crested Butte - Pearl Pass ride from 1980.

Part 1:

And Part 2:

Never saw either of these videos before, but recognize a few folks here and there.  Pretty cool bit of history.

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Ride Interludes
Filed under: general, rides, people
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 11:45 pm

Thinking again to last weekend’s ride. As with all fine outings, there were a couple of specific moments that stick in my mind.  The ride report I posted on Sunday seemed to have a little more emphasis on the framework of the day, and I wanted to jot down these before I forgot about them.

Spinning my way down White’s Hill towards the end of the day.  I was somewhere in the low 30’s, pedalling quickly but not insanely so.  Near the bottom, JimG shot past on my left. He took one hand off the bars as he went by and his bike shuddered with a bit of a speed wobble.  When he brought his hand back, it stopped immediately.  Then I could see him shift his weight somehow and it began resonating again. It was pretty freaky to watch that happening 10-15 yards out.  Just as quickly, it ceased.

When I caught back up to him, he said that while he had never been able to eliminate the incidence of wobble entirely, he now had a very good sense of when it was going to happen. He had actually intentionally caused the second instance.  Jim’s been working to dial in that bike for a while, his engineer’s sensibilities picking things apart and reassembling them.  Shorter stem, thinner tires, different rack setups, saddle heights and more.  But now it seems like it’s becoming much more his bike.  Watching him go in and out of the wobble made me realize he knows that bike now.

Stopped on the side of the road in Mill Valley, near the base of the Camino Alto climb. Esteban had set Aaron up with a tube and we were waiting while he swapped it out.  It was misting lightly, that fine, foggy, SF Bay Area weather.  I pulled out a saddle cover and nibbled on some dates. Of the five people who were not working on a flat tube, I don’t think any more than any combination of two of them had ridden together before.  But, we were just hanging out, happily chatting about all sorts of things (well, certainly about bike gear…) as though we’d known one another for years.

In one sense we have - reading one another’s ride reports, seeing bikey photos and trading the odd email now and again. Sometimes, when a flat happens in a group, you can feel the tension increase palpably.  Here, it was an opportunity to relax and enjoy each other’s company in real time.  We hung out, the mist built up on our outer layers.  The “go with the
flow” vibe seemed to infect us all.

Hanging out at the Strauss statue before the ride and realizing that I’d never ridden with another orange Quickbeam. It’s interesting how the same bicycle model can be set up so differently. I have this feeling that we need to call an Entmoot before too long and see how many of these step out of the forest.

The Cross Marin Path is one of the true jewels in the many ways of getting around marin county.  That was made abundantly clear when riding with a group.  You get to spread out a bit as you ride, enjoying one another’s company without feeling like you need to keep a weather eye out for impending auto traffic.  The fact that it eases through a beautiful valley and is just another plus.  Like most interesting routes, it manages to go through many microzones - the redwoods of Samuel P. Taylor State Park, the meandering course of Lagunitas creek, the damp and wooded stretches,
the open grassy sections - all in the course of just a few miles. 

First Ride, Great Ride
Filed under: general, rides, photos, people, rivendelica
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 11:49 pm

One of the really inspiring and gratifying things to come out of overseeing the Rivendell Owner’s Bunch list has been watching folks find one another and set up local rides.  The SoCal Rivendell Riders have seemed particularly adept at gathering up and down the SoCal coast - I think they managed 12 or 14 monthly rides to date. I keep hoping to schedule a visit to my sister at an opportune time, so I can attend one of these rambles.  Ok, there’s a resolution for the new year.

Up here in the SF Bay Area, we are perhaps a more clannish bunch, as those types of Riv-oriented get-togethers have not occurred with the same frequency.  Though, given the geographics of region, maybe you are more likely just to run into another while out and about.  (Granted, I did miss the ride back in October).

So, when SCRR riders Esteban and Aaron announced they’d be up in the region around the New Year, making the ride became a high priority.  Couldn’t swing the mid-week ride, but cleared myself the Saturday just fine, which is why I found myself muttering minor curses at 8 am or so, realizing I’d left about 10 minutes late after a few last scattered tasks at the house.

All was not lost, however, as JimG checked back in via communicator to let me know that most folks had really just gathered, and one of the riders had to deal with a flat. When I rolled up to the Strauss statue at the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge, it was pretty evident which group was mine.

Wool, steel, lugs, tweed, canvas, twined bits and big ol’ road tires.  These were my people.

It was a fine group of six - Esteban and Aaron up from the southland, regular ride-buddy JimG, ZugsterBags Adam and Bradley on a Quickbeam and me on mine - evenly split between coastable many-geared bikes and those with proper drivetrains.  Rivendell bikes held a slight majority, with a pair of Romulii (Aaron and Esteban) and two orange Ents (me and Bradley) versus a Kogswell P/R700 (JimG) and the Box Dog Bikes Pelican (Adam).  Another statistical impossibility played out as there were actually three Zugster Rando Bags represented on one ride - a beatable record, but still pretty danged impressive. (Which made me very happy to have spent a few moments remounting mine before the ride.)

We introduced ourselves around, oohed and ahhed over one another’s bikes, and then headed north over the bridge.  Fell into an easy rhythm with JimG, and we realized we’d not ridden together in waaaaaaay too long. In fact, I think there some rumors flitting about the tubernets that we were, in fact, the same person. While there has certainly been a preponderance of Jims about, it’s important to quell such rumors with periodic public appearances.

I’d been enjoying a mild tailwind assist when zipping down toward the bridge, and now it was clear that we needed to push a bit to head north. Despite some happy talk on the forecast to the contrary, the weather had not yet cooperated, and things remained resolutely overcast as we dropped down into Sausalito.  Still on Bridgeway, I managed to be looking at a car edging in us, rather than the gang ahead of me at one point, and may have put a brake-lever-shaped bruise into Bradley’s buttock when I had to shoot into a slim gap as a traffic light caught us. Hopefully, he will someday see fit to forgive me…

The clouds dropped lower as he hit the Camino Alto climb, with visible mist in the air. The flat gremlins chose this moment to bite into Aaron’s front tire again, and he was again forced to change tubes.  At first he took this as a sign to head home, but we talked him out of it after taking a tube and patch kit count among the rest of us (more than some small bike shops). We hung out as the mist came down, watch a few packs of all-logo-all-the-time groups go upwards on the hill.  Other than a single Pinarello tacked onto the back of one gang, they were all devotees of the Church of Carbonium.  They also had Occultorotaphobia - fear of the covered wheel.

Back when were gathering at the statue, I’d asked Esteban if he knew what Latin was for “covered wheel.”  He allowed as how though he was a professor, he was not a Latin professor, and the question remained unanswered (until I started writing this and looked it up). I nattered on for a while about the consistent parade of folks I’d seen on the way down who were fenderless, until it occurred to me that the only folks who where not running fenders our group were Esteban and Aaron.  Since I didn’t want to be a flippant host, I tried to let the subject drop.

I think there are four main regions of fender culture in this country - (1) The Pacific Northwest, where fenders are assumed, and if you don’t have an extended fender with flap that scrapes the ground, no one will ride with you (2) Most of the rest of it, where if you want to roll out the door every day to ride with a minimum of fuss, fenders (or at least a fendered bike) is a good idea, (3) the SF Bay Area (and a goodly chunk of California), where fenders go on in November and off in March, and (4) SoCal, where fenders are simply not necessary.   In short, Esteban and Aaron are totally off the hook with respect to need for fenders, which really do complicate things when trying to pack a bike for travel, anyways.

But, it cracks me up when I see local folks out on road rides, tattooing themselves with reverse skunk-stripes courtesy of the road grit flung upwards from their 23 mm tires. Mind you, I’ve done it myself many once upon a times, and there’s nothing like starting out into the rain and sensing that first feeling of damp cold seeping into the back of your shorts - a feeling you know will not leave until the ride ends. Of the many, many bikes that went past, a mere handful had even a spray guard, and I think only one (a mtb-ish Cannondale sporting drop bars heading south) had a proper rigged set of fenders.  I mean, it wasn’t like the day had started out sunny or anything.

Aaron rejoined us and we pressed onwards. It was still holding air in Larkspur as we rolled past the Village Peddler, but by the time we made the left turn towards Shady Lane in Ross, he was running about half pressure.  He took that as a further sign - unfortunately the old “third time’s not a charm” - peeled back towards Breaking Away Bicycles in Ross Commons, and bid us to continue on without him.  This time we honored his wish.

We paused for a damp refueling at the Java Hut in Fairfax. One of the things I appreciate about riding in Marin County is the opportunity for glimpsing cycling royalty*, and in this case, Otis Guy was hanging out under the awning with a couple of friends, clearly having just finished off a ride.  He commented a bit on our setups as we settled in and pounded down some calories and caffeine. White’s Hill and thickening fog beckoned to the west.

*It should be noted that said glimpses involve those folks actually riding their bikes.

As we hit the initial incline, “Oh-you-know-I-haven’t-really-been-riding” Adam rocketed forward on his fixed Pelican.  At first it seemed he was going to leave us in the dust, but then he pulled over and set up for some excellent climbing images.  My eyes crossed a bit as I tried to keep up with JimG and Esteban, who kindly pulled up near the summit for a regroup in the fog.

At this point, Bradley decided to head back to the City, as he had to connect with a friend.  If I caught it right, it was his first time that far north of the GG Bridge, and hopefully I’ll see more of him on the roadways now and again.

Still maintaining drivetrain parity, we pressed on into San Geronimo Valley. Encouraged by gravity during the decline, I got that good feeling and pressed onward through towards Lagunitas. I don’t know if it’s having the White’s Hill behind us, but for some reason things often feel strong for me there. Esteban connected up, and we buzzed along, skirting sharp rocks and trash cans until the road narrowed before the turns began.  We caucused briefly, and decided to stick to the pavement of Sir Francis Drake - probably one of the oldest stretches of oddly improved roadway left in the county - rather than veer onto the unpaved section of the Cross-Marin Trail. The old concrete of the road has been reconfigured and patched, but once inside Samuel P. Taylor Park boundaries, it remains an esoteric reminder of driving along the river in your 1947 Hudson.  Depending upon the attitude of the autos, it can be a wee bit sketchy, but a fair amount of rain had fallen here on New Year’s Day, and things felt even more damp in this narrower and more wooded section.  Rather than splatter mud over all of us unnecessarily, we went straight at Inkwells Bridge, did a little coffee shifting at SP Park and caught the paved section of the Cross Marin Path.

Here we were able to spread out a bit and chat, snap excellent photos of one another and enjoy the first inklings of sunlight we’d seen all day. We chugged our way up the soul-crushing incline to Bolinas Ridge and dropped down to Olema.

At this point, I must admit that I was becoming a little fixated on food. The Sirens on the rocks at Bovine Bakery sang so loudly that I neglected waiting at either the Ridge or at the stop sign in Olema.  So, it was with some embarrassment that I realized no one else was near me on Highway One.

It felt good to stretch a bit at this point, but it did little but underscore my poor host-y-ness. Esteban, Adam and JimG rolled up, the latter not sure if we’d taken the Bear Valley Road option.  Luckily, he’s ridden with me enough to know my beeline-to-Bovine tendancies, and had chosen wisely.

As we unsaddled and tethered our mounts in town, it suddenly dawned on me that the already seated rider who had said “Howdy” was indeed One Happy Cog.  It was indeed a day for Flickr-interactions, as we’ve chatted and commented through that medium for a while. I’d met him once before, back at the Marin Century, and we enjoyed pizza, baked goods, real sunshine and each other’s company for a while.  And of course, more bike-geeking, as he had ridden his Eddy Merckx, which we had to enjoy.

About the time we realized that we still had to ride back, Aaron suddenly appeared on the roadway.  When he stopped in the bike shop back in Ross, he and the wrench went through the front tire with a dental pick and magnifying glass, removing all errant shards of glass before wrapping things up and sending him on his way.  Reinvigorated, he decided to set off after us.  Despite the fact it threw the balance back in favor of coastable, many-geared bicycles, it was great to see him again. We regrouped briefly at the public facilities and headed out, JimG going one way and me the other. 

JimG’s routing proved to be the superior option, and we scaled the pitch out of town and grabbed the Pt. Reyes - Petaluma road for a while. 

We cut back towards the Cross-Marin Trail again, enjoying the greening hills and rural landscapes.  There have been enough rains to reinvigorate a bit of growth, without making things excessively sloppy. Once on the trail, opted to slog through the unpaved bits rather than duke it out with the vehicular traffic returning from the coast.  The worst part was the first half mile or so, with sloppier mud and more leaves.  As we continued onward, the terrain firmed up again and I realized why Aaron had caught up to us - the man could move his bike pretty danged well. We ended up on the Inkwells Bridge awaiting the rest of the gang.  I was a little worried they’d hate me forever for dragging them (figuratively) through the muck,  but there were mud-flecked smiles all around when the rest of the gang rolled up.

Back on the roadway, we retraced our path of earlier in the day.  By now, the clouds had moved off, and the light played beautifully in the San Geronimo valley. Esteban, Aaron and I rolled along just fine for a while, and then I heard a couple of knocks from the pistons and they eased away. 

It was definitely one of those “keep pedaling, things will get better” moments.  Shifting up around on the saddle into the climb seemed to help a bit, and we regrouped again at the top of White’s Hill, collected the rest of the gang and then plunged downward.  The descent can be a little hairy,  but we timed it pretty well against the cars and everyone swooped back towards Fairfax.  After a short mixup as to the whereabouts of Adam, we all gathered once again at the Java Hut, this time in the waning sunlight.  Double-E’s all around (well, I think Adam had something more fluffy) and then I decided that it was late in the day enough for me to vector homeward rather than tagging along to the bridge once more.  Adam had connected with his wife who was nearby and planned to take advantage of the conveyance.

JimG agreed to ferry them onward through the rapidly increasing dusk, and after a round of “Great riding with you’s”, we went our separate ways.   By the time I hit home, I’d  notched about 82 miles. 

Now, that was a great way to greet the New Year.  Here’s to MMX!

My Flickr set
Adam’s Flickr set
JimG’s Flickr set
Esteban’s Flickr set
One Happy Cog’s photos

Bad For KC, Good For Portland
Filed under: general, people
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 9:03 am

Sarah from Acme Bicycle Company in Kansas City forwarded me a link the other day.  I’ve always enjoyed getting her intermittent emails, reading her comments to the various lists I follow, enjoyed the hearty enthusiasm of the her flickr stream and receiving the submissions she’s shared with the Galleries (here, here, here, here and of course, here). 

But, I was saddened to read the news that Acme will be folding its tent. 

“Say Goodbye to Acme Bicycle”

According to the text, the migration will be westward to Portland.  But, it does sound like there won’t be an Acme, Pt Deux in the city of roses.  But, I’d find it hard to believe that Portland’s bike culture hasn’t gained a significant member. Despite the geographic improbability, I did think that somehow I’d find myself in Kansas City someday, and know exactly what was first on my list to visit.

Anyway, good luck to you Sarah.  Safe journies and keep things real!

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Twee, Tweed, Tweeder
Filed under: general, people
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 11:27 am

Pity that the 12th is a Thursday. Most likely, work demands and class will prevent my attendance. But, for the lucky folks who can attend -


May the weather be temperate, such that your lamps are not blown out!

Sally forth!

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Numbers and Lights
Filed under: photos, bike tech, brevets, people
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 12:04 am

Spent part of Saturday afternoon hanging out just south of the Golden Gate Bridge, enjoying the cool but not-raining weather, waiting for riders to finish the San Francisco Randonneurs 200K.  The first batch showed up around 14:35.

They had started off at 7 am, so if my quick calculations are correct, that means that they rolled over the 200K (~125mi) course, which has just a tad over 7,000 feet of climbing with a rolling average* of 16.48 mph.  That’s truckin’ right along. 

My official volunteering gig ended at 16:00 (randonneuring time), but I hung out to see ride buddies Carlos, JimG and Gino finish up.  I didn’t have to wait long as both Carlos and JimG finished under 10 hours.  Unfortunately Gino suffered a biomechanical and dnf’d.  He did, however, snag one of the all-time great photos from the ride - 

I’ve kind of been ignoring the fact that I was going to not ride this event, but being there and seeing folks finishing up just made me miss it that much more.  My long-distance riding has been pretty minimal, and after the last cross race this year, I  had some work issues coming to a head that pretty much assured that January, February and probably March were nixed as far as having extra time (let alone energy) for considering brevets.  As December wound down, things changed, and although it doesn’t now leave me extra time, it could mean with a little judicious planning, I might be able to engage in a brevet or two.

Hanging out, watching riders finish, knowing something of the feeling of accomplishment they had, seeing them enjoy the post-ride buzz… all definitely stoked that feeling a bit more strongly.

It also helped to crystalize some errant thoughts which had been bandying about my brain in the past few months, about riding, about training to ride and lighting systems. I  think these will more or less end up in the right order, but if not, please bear with me.

- The Anti-Costanza Training Method has worked well in terms of keeping healthy.  This weekend is actually the first time I’ve felt like I was fighting something, and when I first noticed it, I backed off even more. For the first time in a long time, it actually feels like I have some resistance.

- The 2008 200K was hard.  I finished about an hour after I had the previous year.  The returning headwind didn’t help, and we took a break at Nicasio where I hadn’t the year before, but I suffered more.  I know my mileage had been down - or had it….?

- And that leads us to the whole “Numbers” issue.  At some point over the past 4 or 5 years, I’ve ended up with mostly computer-less bikes.  The only one I have right now is on my Specialized Stumpjumper.  What?  You didn’t know I had one? Probably because the last time I actually rode that was mumble-mumble-mumble… “Um, your honor, I cannot recall at this time.”   

Let me explain that a little bit. I do own a heartrate monitor, and there was a time when I dutifully set target zones and tried to stay within them.  That info was recorded along with reasonably precise distance measurements. I even used to check my waking (pre-coffee) pulse rate fairly regularly.  When setting up my first singlespeed - the Bridgestone MB - I didn’t have a bike computer for that, so since I more or less knew the distance of most rides, it didn’t matter.  Then I started leaving the HRM at home, since I was pretty much maxed when riding the singlespeed. When the battery on the thing died, I just never sent it in to get it replaced.

It was kind of freeing, actually.

I set up the cross bike without a computer, since CX is basically if-you-can-focus-on-a-computer-you’re-not-going-hard-enough.  Besides, such things get reasonably inaccurate when you are running around with the bike on your shoulder and the front wheel isn’t spinning.

The  Quickbeam and the Hilsen just never got rigged with one. I mostly looked at the ride time by the wall clock, estimated out the long breaks and figured out the mileage.  Since the 200K was on local roads, I certainly didn’t need one to key out the route sheet.

Along the same time, my record-keeping edged into slacker mode. Using the VeloNews “Training Diary” was getting a little embarrassing for some reason, and the pre-printed information areas for “meals” and “sleep” and other specifics became a bit onerous.  I’d jot down commute miles, and longer rides, but then a smidgen less frequently as I’d often already recorded it in Flickr on here on the blog.  Then, taking more classes meant a bit less time time for reflection, and bob’s your uncle, alluvasudden,  I’m working without a net.

Which is kind of my personal shorthand for not taking the time to write things down, keep things ordered.  (As pedantic and obsessive as I may come across here, I’m really not.  Ok, I may be. But, it may also be that I’m fundamentally right-brained and need to keep some definite structure to maintain a node in the common time-space continuim.  All I know is that there’s often a lot of arguing back and forth…) It meant I was trying to recall if I’d looped out the long way from work the previous Monday commute home, or if that was the night I stopped by the burrito place because I’d had to stay a little late. It got a bit frustrating, often more time-consuming, trying to reconstruct things.

Then (Not So) Large Fella On A Bike tacked up a post with a link to a John Francis clip. Noted the bit about how we end up walling ourselves into certain stances and behaviors. Though that clip (and post) resonated much more deeply that this example, it solidly clicked a tiny switch, made me realize that my own idiosyncrasies were once again sticking out a limb to trip me up.  Somehow I wanted to be the guy who didn’t have a bike computer, no matter if it helped or didn’t.

And it wasn’t really helping either.  So, I think it’s time to stick ‘em back on.  A bike computer can be used for reference without obsessing about it. Oh, I still might do another long loop around the block if it’ll kick a distance up from Something-9 to a larger, rounder number. But at least I’ll be laughing at myself when doing so.   Making it easier for myself to track some mileage just may make it simpler to focus attention where it is really needed.

- Numbers don’t lie. There’s a certain distance that needs to feel comfortable before it makes sense to toe the line for a 200K, and especially next month’s 300K. Which I really, honestly think is mostly out of the question.  Really. SFR manages to kick off their season much, much earlier than most, and so folks like Davis Bike Club don’t even start their series until March (Santa Rosa in late Feb). And I keep thinking about doing the Wildflower, though that weekend is already a bit crowded. But, the fact is I played a bit fast and loose with prep for last year’s 200k, and it was less than pleasant at certain points.

- As an odd parallel thought, there’s the whole fixed versus many-geared issue for the longer rides. This is a much longer topic than I can even consider tonight.

- Speed. Momentum. Two essential components, obviously. There’s a good rule-of-thumb which is that you tend to ride at the speed you train. Two years ago, I had a longer CX season which then eased into longer rides.  Last year, I couldn’t stay healthy or uninjured during CX, which meant that I didn’t do much hard work. After cross, I rode long, but usually ambled along at the same speed. This year, I definitely did more short, sharp work, and feel better on the (fewer) longer rides so far.

- Seeking Illumination. Which more or less will tie off this evening’s nattering. Long rides (300/400k) or a Fleche or a Night-200 (and hits on a bad weekend…grrrr…) require reliable lighting. My NiteRider has again gone flaky, clicking out of gear entirely on a commute last week. And even if  it were healthy and I were careful with power usage, that would be a bit sketchy for the run time needed.  With the newer LED technology trickling into generator-driven systems, it’s time to sell off some gear and get a SON wheel built up. Plus, there’s the new - and light - 20R hub which will drive the LED’s just fine (even though it’s supposedly a hub for a 20″ setup). I’ve read and re-read the Bicycle Quarterly article on both the hub and the Edelux light.  I’d purposely held off the last couple years as things just have been changing so fast with LED technology, but it seems like the stuff that’s coming out is pretty slick.  Of course, I could always sign up for Cyclotron Scorcher Build-Your-Ultimate-Lighting-System Seminars which JimG ought to put on…

Anyway.  Thanks for reading.  Here’s hoping everyone gets more or better miles this year.

*The clock does  not stop on brevets, so times are not actual on-the-bike-pedaling times. For more about randonneuring and brevets, visit the RUSA.org site or SFRandonneurs.org.

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Curt Goodrich Website
Filed under: general, bike tech, people
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 1:46 pm

Curt Goodrich built the Rivendell custom frames for a number of years, and a while ago began crafting his own frames under his name. If you have been following his Flickr photostream, you know they are pretty danged stunning.

Just saw on the mojo wire this morning that he has a shiny, brand new website, complete with blog option.

That’d be here -


One image which struck me silent today was this one -

which can be seen in all it’s glory by going to the page and starting up the slideshow which appears.

That’s some really nice work, there.  I’ve also learned what (or who) a Hennepin is… (courtesy of his unique street name.)

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But, First…
Filed under: general, people
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 8:58 pm

…before the race writeup.  Just noticed that they’ve finally added actual cover art to my brother’s book:

Cheesemonger by Gordon Edgar

which makes it seem even more tangible.  Sorry - not available for your holiday gift-giving pleasure, but you can currently pre-order it from Amazon, or put a bug in the ear of the buyer at your local independent bookstore. I believe the actual delivery date was moved up to March (rather than April as stated on the website listing.)

Anyway, if you like cheese, and like laughing and learning behind-the-scenes-stuff and goats and dairies and co-ops and things like that (not in that order, except the laughing starts pretty quickly), you could do a lot worse than getting this book.  Also, since I’ve been totally remiss in not mentioning it here (and I’ve heard that the cheese/cycling crossover is a significant demographic), my brother has a website you can find at gordonzola.net.

Now back to your reguarly scheduled bike-geekery.

Weekend Update
Filed under: unfortunate events, people
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 1:40 pm

I’ve mentioned Ken Y. a couple of times.  He’s on the Rivendell list. He used a Quickbeam to ride the Trans-Iowa, and has been using the same bike to run up an amazing string of commute-to-work days over the past year. This is not some wimpy, SF Bay Area commute like I have.  The guy has to deal with serious Minnesota winters. It’s been awe-inspiring and more than a bit humbling to read his postings.  And he just keeps on commuting.

Well, until yesterday, it seems.  Looks like he got tapped by a car on his Friday homeward leg. 

Not a lot of specifics, but it seems to be part of a rather disturbing trend in that state.

His blog is here, and it might be nice to drop a comment or wishes his way.  My personal belief is that his string continues - it shouldn’t be broken by events such as  this.

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Wheels North Fundraiser
Filed under: general, people
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 10:26 pm
Eric over at Campyonly has come up with another intriguing fundraising/awareness raising event - “Wheels North” - as with The Big Fix - in which a group of intrepid  cyclists went across the US in 28 days, without coasting - this event is to raise money to support the 
Histiocytosis Association of America.

Like a number of other diseases, this is one that doesn’t get noticed too often, as it affects a smaller number of people.  It’s hard to get research done, difficult to develop ways of preventing or fighting this disease. Eric (and the others who have helped to pull together this effort, certainly have a knack for getting some attention, which is in and of itself a commendable effort.

This one caught my attention for a couple of reasons. 

First, there’s the book - Two Wheels North - which is based on the true story of Vic McDaniel and Ray Francisco, a couple of teenagers who decided to ride from Santa Rosa, California to the Alaska-Pacific-Yukon Exposition in Seattle, Washington.  Now, those with a sharp eye and memory will realize they didn’t do this recently.  In fact, they made this journey in 1909, which makes for some fascinating reading.  I first read this a number of years ago, and was fascinated by the description of a California, Oregon and Washington which had yet to be impacted in quite the manner we have managed.  It’s a good read. (More info here.)

Secondly, Eric announced a perk if you can wrangle the funds.  For those folks who can donate $100 to his fundraising effort, there’s the possibility of getting a Richard Sachs frameset.   For more information about this, visit his fundraising page here.

To be fair, there are others raising money for this as well, and some other deals may be in the works.  The best place to start for all the information is the Wheels North page at Campyonly.com  There are t-shirts to buy, some really cool scans of the actual postcards which the young men sent back to their family, as well as photos and more info. 


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It’s Never Too Late For Number Eight
Filed under: general, people
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 2:49 pm

Rumors popped up on VeloNews yesterday, and I must admit that it stopped me in mid-sandwich-bite.  Lance Armstrong  seems to be setting his sights on an 8th Tour de France victory. As a die-hard bike geek, you’ve probably already run across this news, but just in case you hadn’t, here’s confirmation via the AP:

By JIM VERTUNO, AP Sports Writer 37 minutes ago

Lance Armstrong is getting back on his bike, determined to win an eighth

Tour de France.

Armstrong’s return from cancer to win the Tour a record seven consecutive

times made him a hero to cancer patients worldwide and elevated cycling to

an unprecedented level in America.

The Tour “is the intention,” Armstrong’s spokesman Mark Higgins told The

Associated Press, “but we’ve got some homework to do over there.”

Added Bill Stapleton, Armstrong’s lawyer and longtime confidant: “We’re not

going to try to win second place.”

What team he’ll ride with and in what other races he’ll compete are

undecided, Higgins said.

“I am happy to announce that after talking with my children, my family and

my closest friends, I have decided to return to professional cycling in

order to raise awareness of the global cancer burden,” the 36-year-old

Armstrong said in a statement released to The Associated Press. “This year

alone, nearly eight million people will die of cancer worldwide. … It’s

now time to address cancer on a global level.”

In an exclusive interview with Vanity Fair, Armstrong told the magazine he’s

100 percent sure he’s going to compete in the Tour de France next summer.

“I’m going back to professional cycling,” he said in the story posted

Tuesday on the magazine’s Web site. “I’m going to try and win an eighth Tour

de France.”

On Monday, the cycling journal VeloNews reported on its Web site that

Armstrong would compete with the Astana team, led by close friend John

Bruyneel, in the Tour and four other road races — the Amgen Tour of

California, Paris-Nice, the Tour de Georgia and the Dauphine-Libere.

But there are no guarantees Astana would be allowed to race in the 2009

Tour. Race officials kept the team out of the 2008 Tour because previous
doping violations.

Also notable in the VN article is the plan “to do some cyclocross races”.  This after damn near winning the Leadville 100 last month. You can say what you want, but the man has a serious engine. And he’s done a significant amount to raise awareness of both cycling and cancer, just to understate the point.  Good excuse to head to France next year. I reckon it’ll be pretty epic.

Dave’s Bike Blog
Filed under: bike tech, unfortunate events, people
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 10:14 am

I’ve got a little more time with my morning coffee, but I’m not at all happy about it. It’s because one of the writers I enjoy is turning off the tap.  A little over a week ago, while catching up with online postings, I ran across this post on Dave Moulton’s Bike Blog -

The Party’s Over
DateMon, August 25, 2008

It is time to call it a day. This weekend I made an extremely tough decision, to quit writing here on this blog.

For the simple reason I have run out of things to write about, or rather worthwhile stuff that people want to read.

People like the tech stuff, and history. The tech
stuff, I have just about covered it all. The beauty of the bicycle is
its simplicity, you push one pedal down and the other one comes up.

(continued here)

This got me all grumpy pretty quickly. I felt some anger towards those folks who had found it so easily to diss him in the discussion groups, or others who had popped off with flippant comments on his blog.  That passed before too long (helped with a couple of decent rides), but what remained was the same sense of sorrow that you feel as you finish a book which you don’t want to end.

My feeling has been that there is too little quality writing that accompanies bicycling. Yes, there are examples well-written tech manuals and wonderfully captivating stories of adventure while on bicycle tours. There are journalistic high-water marks in race reporting - Sam Abt’s stories of bike racing chronicled details and imagery during a period when you couldn’t find anything other than the odd result in the stats page of the sports section.

But all of that is essentially non-fiction.

The examples of quality cycling fiction pretty much begin and end with “The Yellow Jersey”. 

Compare that with the body of work in fly fishing, as an example. For every slightly different book on “how-to”, there books which are stories - “A River Runs Through It” for example - where the story is about people, wonderfully fallable, beautifully limited and wholly human.  Fishing runs through it in a natural way, but doesn’t overwhelm the story.

I think it takes a special type of writer to achieve that - well, hell, of course it does, Mr. Obviousman.  For all the wonderfully timeless stories which have been written, there are roomfuls of pages consisting of derivative dreck.  Roderick Haig-Brown, one of the finer angling writers, described himself as a writer who happened to fish.  The implication was that most of the others were simply anglers who were trying to write.

And to wrangle this little thought arc back to the topic I’d started, one of the things which I’d enjoyed about Dave’s Bike Blog was that he was a writer, in the best sense of the word. He words always flowed clearly in the support of the ideas, much like that quiet guy on the group ride who just eases along next to you, smoothly spinning just one gear lower than you. The history and stories he’s shared often captured a slice of cycling most of us never encountered first hand.

I understand too that as a writer, it’s tough to give away free samples all day. My sincere hope is that he’s pulled back a notch on the public front to put together another book, that he sees a storyline that runs through the events he’s seen and experienced.  Hey, a guy’s gotta hope, right?  Maybe this short story is the harbinger of a larger work to come.

AJ, The Cyclist and a Large Brown Dog - by Dave Moulton

In the meantime, he’s created a tremendous resource for cyclists.  If you haven’t had an opportunity to do his, visit his blog - he’s archived it both by chronological order and by topic.  Oh, yeah.  You can also buy his book

In the meantime, I’m going to keep a sharper eye out for Dave Moulton, FUSO and Recherche frames on the road. And, I’ll probably reread some stuff too.  In the meantime, Dave, thanks for the art you have made.

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What to Do In August
Filed under: general, rides, people
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 2:24 pm

Whether or not you spent July glued to the Tube watching this year’s Tour de France, here’s a way to get that uber-roadie taste out of your mouth…

Spend a few days at a pretty incredible spot on Mt Tamalpais, hosted by the queen of Mountain Biking herself, Alice B. Toeclips (aka Jacquie Phelan)  -  (click on the flyer to download a full-sized, ready for framing version…)

This flyer crossed my desk, and I thought it would be criminal not to mention it here - The West Point Inn is located about 2/3rds of the way up Railroad Grade, and one of the true landmarks on the mountain. Most folks don’t know that they allow limited stays for folks  - It looks like Jacquie scored two prime sets of dates on either side of the Single Speed World Championships (up in Napa this year).  

Check it out!

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Deep Roots
Filed under: photos, people, mixed-terrain
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 6:26 am

The heritage of “mixed-terrain” rides has far-reaching roots in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Logging roads, farm paths, ex-military routes all snake through the hills of this region in various stages of disrepair and recollection. Many of these have been turned into the ubiquitous “Fire Roads” which make up many of the favored routes away from traffic. 

Beginning sometime back in the late 70’s, cycling iconoclast Jobst Brandt led folks on what became known as the legendary “Jobst Rides”. These were cross-country and fire road epics which were tackled on “bikes” - before mountain bikes as a genre existed. Flickr and RBW List buddy David E. found this link to a run of about 100 photos from these rides - it’s interesting to see the simple machines they used to deal with such a variety of terrain.  You can almost see the wheels turning in Tom Ritchey’s head as they negotiate the lumps and bumps of the routes. (And you can certainly tell the by the level of exhaustion in the faces of most riders that these weren’t easy little jaunts…)


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