Didn’t want to end the year with a post complaining about having a cold.
Not that I have anything much else to say, other than to profusely thank everyone who took time to send photos, emails, and links into the Cyclofiend website over this past year. This year’s tally pretty clearly outstripped the first year, even accounting for the late start in 2005.
This project just wouldn’t work if not for you folks who enjoy these bicycles as much as I do. Thanks again!
Finally, thanks to some nice photos by Raoul D., there’s a special New Year’s Photo Set of an early Sturmey-Archer hub.
Enjoy! Be Safe! See ya next year!
Of course, the crappy little cold also has me gazing at the cyclists I see on the roadways, thinking, “…man, I used to do that…” and makes me extremely jealous of the miles I’m not getting in as preparation for the 200K Brevet which is now less than 30 days away.
I am such a whining whimp.
Luckily, there’s some bulwark of recollection which slowly intones (in some moderately thick eastern-European accent), “Below the neck, not work out.” As much as I may miss a ride or two (or three) now, bouncing back from an activity-worsened chest infection is not way up my list. And better to be sick now than four weeks from now. Best to look at this as a not-so-subtle reminder to watch my sleep, in addition to increasing my efforts.
Whew - with that little bitch now jettisoned…
The holidays have been pretty good, all things considered. Tashi has had a pretty stable couple weeks, though she’s been a bit chilly as of late as our recent trim of her coincided with the temperature dropping again. In order to work through a few hidden matts in her legs, we clipped her hair back a bit, so now on the frosty mornings, she goes outside and glowers back at me. She’s got a natty little sweater that makes her look a bit like a striped tube sausage. It does warm her up though, and she’s reasonably easily convinced that it’s pretty good looking.
Also managed to get out and do a decent road loop with JimG. I was doing a bit of a proof-of-concept ride on the Quickbeam, and he was shaking down a tentative rig and gear selection on his Fuji Cross. Photos here. The two close nasty climbs (White’s Hill and the climb from Tocaloma Bridge to Bolinas Ridge) went OK, if a bit slowly. I want to try to do the out-of-Inverness climb and maybe the Nicasio Valley loop as well, before committing to do the ride on that bicycle. It was the first time I’d been out fixed on the QB since it decided to take me cross racing this fall. The feeling of comfort and power on that bicycle was reassuring. Well see if that opinion remains.
I also need to solidify the hardware for the ride. I’ve had one of the Nitto Mini Front racks, but it looks like it will rub on the front canti cable when mounted. I stumbled through OSH earlier this week to look for spacers and such, and may do a little cold reset on the upright to prevent this. (I will wait until I’m no longer using cold medication before deciding upon that action.) My plan is to use a PVC ring attached to the side of the rack for a lighting knob, and have a decent bag atop it for food and essentials.
Also got a set of QB-sized SKS fenders (and cool zip-neck wool top) over at RBWHQ&L. While I was there, I got a chance to ride the A. Homer Hilsen. Wow. That bike sings. If I had the ready cash, that would be the bike I would want to use on the brevet. It was light and snappy, with the same solid tracking ride that the Quickbeam provides. Honestly, I was not quite sure why Rivendell brought that bicycle out, but riding it seemed to make it clear in my mind. Granted, my ride was limited to extended tours around the local parking lots and streets, but it did seem like they got it right.
Tried to get the updates done to the Galleries. Lotsa single photos of some cool rides. It’s just inspiring to see how many folks around the world have the passion for bicycles and cycling. Got a nice warm glow from what Andy did with the Bottecchia he built up. That’s one of those actions that just helps to restore faith in folks.
And here I am whimpering about a cold. Ah well. This’ll pass and my head will hopefully clear soon.. All the best to everyone for the coming new year. Be careful out there and have some fun too.
Missed a few steps in the last run-through, so, risking flour-intrusion into the vital inner bits of the digital camera, I snapped a few more photos during the most recent batch…
The first step the next morning is to both melt the toppings in the pie pans and soften the filling, which is in the deeper bowl nearest to you. I usually heat it up enough so that the butter softens and it can be stirred - you don’t want to cook the raisins at this point.
Here, the softened-but-pre-stirring topping is sitting, next to the rectangle of dough for the first panfull. Before I begin putting the filling in, it’ll get stirred and the dough will be more squared off at the bottom.
This is the filling ready to be spooned into the dough rectangle. Brown sugar & cinnamon, plus raisins… mmmmmm!
Meanwhile, the topping has melted and spread around the pie pan. This is seriously molten and bubbling at this point. If I have to warn you to be careful with it, you probably should have someone helping you…
Here, the filling is spread across the dough rectangle, prior to rolling it up and slicing.
After baking for about 15 minutes, the buns should have browned up nicely as shown below. The filling will be bubbling up around the edges and the whole thing is ready to be flipped.
…and after the flip, this is what you end up with. Now the name makes some sense, eh?
Happy Holiday Season!
It’s good thing that the baking gets done early in the morning, so my wife doesn’t come into the kitchen and wonder just why the heck I’m taking pictures of the process. It’s a blog thing, yo.
There are some messier steps which I left out of the photographic record, but this’ll get you most of the way through the process. You’ll have to mentally fill in some of the blanks. And some stuff won’t make all that much sense until you see the whole recipe. But, here’s the process:
First off, get a nice level surface and fetch the dough out of the fridge. Are your hands all washed? Good. Then we can begin.
Flour everything up and divide into fourths. Then pound out one of the fourths into a nice 12 x 5 rectangle. Spread about a quarter of the filling across the dough rectangle, then fold over itself lenghtwise to make a filling-filled tube. Then slice the tube into about a dozen equal bits.
Fetch the topping pan from the oven where it was melting, and get it close to the sliced pieces. Watch out - those pans are hot…
Place the sliced bits into the pan. I usually do it in a mildly spiral-like pattern, though that’s hard to tell from this image. Now - it used to be that I just slipped ‘em into the oven right away. And you can do that if you are in a hurry. But there’s a vital step which I added only a year ago…
…wait. Let ‘em rise up again. This was never in the written recipe, but I expect grandma just knew that you did this. I discovered it by accident when making a batch that we were going to bake up elsewhere. When we arrived at the off-site oven, these suckers were all yeast-risen up, and they were a bit better. You can wait as long as an hour before you start cooking them (after an hour, they have puffed up pretty large and you’ll have trouble wrangling the next step. I let them come up enough so they start filling most of the pan.
Then pop ‘em in the oven. Ignore the cornbread on the top. It’s (embarrassingly) from a mix…
After about 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees, you’ve got almost-ready sticky buns. They aren’t quite sticky enough yet. So, set the pan down.
Spread out the aluminum foil “ears” from below the pan. Did I mention the pan gets hot in the oven?
Get your foil-covered paper plate and cover your buns. Bring the “ears” from the pan up and around and fold over the plate (shown in “pre-fold” position). I like Chinet (shown below) as they present a bit better and don’t warp and let the buns hit the ground. Although this year, I discovered some compostable plates - though slightly smaller than the Chinets…
Then (using those hot pads) flip the sucker over. Not so fast that you splatter hot butter and topping all over the kitchen, but not so slowly that it leaks out. Pull the pan off and reline if you are doing another batch. Otherwise, you are just about ready for the unveiling. As these get delivered, I just tighten up the foil wrap around the edges and stack ‘em up to go.
Coming Next Time: The fully finished sticky buns…
This evening was probably the most abbreviated Solstice Ride I’ve done in a number of years. Normally, I head for distant trails, and on good years, get a chance to consider Things on this longest night of the year. Then, on the next day, when the sun rises just that tiny bit earlier, I begin to pick up some momentum towards the spring. It’s an annual drumbeat of sorts, the time to ponder plans and think about how lucky I’ve been to have certain people around - much more so than any religious holiday, and certainly much more so than the forced frivolity of New Year’s Eve.
For this year, things just kept piling on, as they have seemed to recently. My wife has been using a lot of energy to care for her mother, who went in for reasonably sudden surgery, so now she’s fighting a pretty tenacious cold which has her coughing as she tries to sleep. Tashi has still been getting the odd wobbly interludes, though they are now neither as repetitive nor as intense as a month ago. Then a couple of gifts which I’d had “knocked and done” proved to be “wrong and unavailable.” The shift to “Gift Plan B” meant a run of duking it with the squabbling hordes of panic-shoppers. I’ve worked enough retail to know that this is generally a Bad Idea. Now, shopping in a busy store isn’t death-defying, just a bit fret-inducing as the choices get a bit slim and people push past a little faster.
This morning it started raining - not a nice, warm-winds-from-Hawaii sort of rain, but the cold and chirpy rain tossed down from the north. Though I had the chance to take the car, as my wife wouldn’t be using it, I opted for the large contact patch of the 650B’s beneath the Zeus. Good choice, as it turned out. To be in a car, stuck in the snarls of traffic amidst the rain, would’ve just added frustration to a reasonably stressed day. I got to engage in my favorite pastime of uphill passing, then downhill passing, then merrily floating along through and past the traffic. It was the best type of day to be getting places by bicycle. A little cold rain? Heck, I wasn’t gonna melt.
On the way home, I looped around to the bookstore and to another shop, which took me about and around when the winds seemed even colder. Struck out at both stores, actually, and then tacked northward towards home. Towards the top of the last hill, I came upon another rider heading homeward. He was pretty well outfited, big honkin’ fenders and weatherproof bags. A traffic light caught us up and I tried to say something about tomorrow being longer. It got garbled by the winds and my resting gasps. I finally chattered out that it was the longest night of the year, and he smiled and agreed that we’d make it.
Yeah, we’ll make it. Maybe that’s the message for this Solstice. There are a lot of levels on which I hope that’s right. We’ll make it.
So, at home, after a steaming hot shower for me and some strong soup for dinner, the other holiday season task lay before me. I knew that the ride had been enough to consider the season. It was time to bake. Grandma’s Sticky Buns.
My grandmother died fairly young, but I remember whenever we went over to visit, a batch of the Sticky Buns seemed to be coming out of the oven. I came across the recipe a few years ago, and tried a batch. It wasn’t a terribly difficult procedure, but required a touch of planning and commitment. The evening before, you need to make the dough, let it rise up and pound it back down before laying it out a second time in the morning and getting flour all over the kitchen. These use copious amounts of brown sugar, butter and cinnamon and when they are baking up, you can smell them down the block.
I started by making them for the family holiday brunch, and then added batches for other folks last year. This year, I’ll be swinging by some friends’ offices with them. Since Friday is the last time they’ll be in the office, the batch has to start tonight. Hence the final impetus to call the Solstice Ride fulfilled.
And I’ve been hanging out a bit late tonight waiting for them to rise - they are ready now:
And with a quick slappity-slap, are ready to go into the fridge until tomorrow AM:
And with that, I wish you a happy Solstice - the days now begin to get a bit longer, and maybe we’ll make it, afterall.
Ed Braley’s 650Blog has popped into existence over on the Bikeman.com website -
mmmmm…. good stuff!
I was trying to bend the OpinionPower.com website survey tool into something that would work for the “Best of the Year”.
I’m not completely happy with the interface, but it was free and I need to go to work…
So - herewith announced:
1st Ever Single Speed Solstice Survey -
Vote for any or all of your Single Speed Gallery Favorites - The best way to do this is to go here:
which will give you a page of thumbnails for the Single Speed Gallery. You can click on any of the thumbnails to remind yourself about a given bike. Here are some of my favorites:
(and if I didn’t include yours, don’t take offense… I like all my children the same…)
Once you get to the thumbnail page, then click on the link at the top of the page for the Survey - it will open in a new window (or tab, if you’re running a good browser…) with the survey. Because of the structure of the survey, I had to group the bikes into sets of 10 or less - BUT, you can vote for as many as you want - just check the box of your favorites.
My plan is to use this klunky interface to cull things into a “Best of Show” survey in the new year.
So - dive in and have fun!
The interesting thing to me is not necessarily that Ryan Trebon kicked ass in such a forthright and direct manner (and don’t get me wrong - I’m not trying to diminish that in any way!), but that Jonathan Page managed to come in second after being off the bike until just a couple weeks ago.
Here’s Page’s description of the injury he sustained:
“I ripped the two major tendons in my shoulder, so they took a pair of pliers and pulled the tendons back up and then drilled eight holes in my bone and put a gutter in there and sewed the tendons through,” said Page, who had been back on the bike for only three weeks prior to nationals. “It’s been very difficult. I put my plane tickets on my credit card to come here. I have no team for 2007. It was a risk coming over here. I’m hoping for a top-five at the world championships.”
So, if you’ve got a company that needs some exposure in Europe, and in particular would like to gain some front-of-the-mind position among beer-swilling, cowbell-ringing Belgians, for example, hook up Jonathan for next year, OK?
His site - TheJonathanPage.com
Dang, I’ve gone and done it now… Or, perhaps more precisely, I’m gonna go and do it now (as I haven’t actually mailed the entry fee, but it’s all filled out and ready)…
Ever since reading about randonneuring and brevets, it’s been tickling that “hmmmmm…” button behind my left ear. There’s some abnormal kink or fold in the grey matter there that tends to make things like racing singlespeed cyclocross seem reasonably rational, and now it’s fixed itself on the idea that riding 200K (or more…much, much more…) should be a fun way to spend the day. Even after reading about brevets such as this one (which, curiously enough, is the one I’m now planning on putting myself through).
My schedule has managed to leave a gap in things such that San Francisco Randonneurs 200K on January 27 is a reasonably free day. However, this means that there’s roughly a 6 week prep time, with a few time-sucking tasks between now and then. This has created a broad and all-encompassing things about which I can now fret, obsess and whine. I’ve created a new category tag for “brevets”, so you can skip these as they become slightly redundant and moderately, well, fretty, obsessive and whiney…
In no particular order:
What will I ride?
Oddly enough (and I’m blaming that folded kink-thing behind my left ear for this twisted thought…), the Quickbeam sort of rockets to the top of the list. This has nothing to do with the fact that LOTR was on the television the other night. It does seem to be my most comfortable bicycle, and there is little to go wrong with it. Plus, I have a front rack for it, and with a minimum of futzing, should be able to get a set of fenders mounted on it. That leaves the little issue of the motor…
If not the Quickbeam, there are a couple of weird scenarios which include trying to see if my Zeus 650B wheelset will fit in either the Dawes or the open-wheeled racer. I doubt the latter, and the former is not without issues either. The Zeus itself is not really in the running, as it gets a little clacky now and again just going to work and out on errands. Plus, I’m not really sure I’ve got myself positioned correctly on that bicycle. The open-wheeled racer might work, but at a minimum need a new set of handlebars, as the Noodles have pretty much ruined me for using anything else. Then I’d just have to swage some sort of fendering into the frame and hange some reasonably sized luggage off the rig.
Way back when Carlos knew he might have a live one on the brevet lure and asked what bike I might use for such an endeavour, I had originally thought about adapting the Poprad. That might make the most sense, but for stated and unstated reasons, that build might not come together. Still, it’s got rugged wheels (which I could use on the o-w r) and plenty of clearance for fendering.
What the hell am I thinking?
I’ve never ridden a formal century, which to the sane side (ok, “small section”) of my brain would be the logical first step. This ride has a 13.5 hour cutoff, and that means a relatively long day in the saddle - but it also means that worse case, I need to average 15 kph - but of course, that includes breaks, getting lost, eating and whimpering in a fetal position by the side of the roadway. The mixed-terrain rides have probably been a good indicator effort needed to cover the route, so I reckon the biggest challenge will be staying comfortable and focused.
What the hell am I thinking? Pt duex
6 freaking weeks? How am I going to lay down a decent base in six freaking weeks? My chamois-end isn’t ready for that kind of commitment! What am I going to eat? I can’t live on GU for 10-12 hours without seriously paying the price, and the thought of clam chowder puts me off right now, let alone when combined with heavy, continued exertion… I’ll look like a friggin’ deli delivery bike with rolled up sandwiches and dried fruits in the bag.
This one’s actually pretty easy, I suppose. I’ve got the NiteRider single beam with a Nimh battery that doesn’t weight too much at all. I run it at 15 watts (full power) for an hour and it’s got more than 1/2 power left, according to the “fuel gauge”. So, I can run it on low power in the morning, and then crank it up late in the day if necessary. Combine that with my LED front for backup, and my taillight with fresh batteries, and that should do it. Buy a couple of ankle flectors and a pair of wheel illuminators, and that’ll cover me for this one. Or I could just get the full on light show enabled - just don’t know if I’ll have time to do all the soldering. I do, however, forsee a future in which I’m obsessing about generator lighting systems…
Bless those who scheduled this brevet in the end of January. Weather at that time of year in this area tends to be rainy, rainy, rainy, or clear and cold (the way this winter is setting up, I’m suspecting the latter). Of course, it can be amorphously overcast, but that tends to warm things up a bit, and the roads (and cattle guards) stay dry.
Buck Up and Stop Yer Whinin’ Already!
Well, I do sorta have a home court advantage, or more specifically, home court familiarity. With the exception of the road out to the Pt Reyes Lighthouse, I think I’ve done parts of most of the course at some time. And, being a reasonably locally-based person, I’ve at least driven over all of the roads. This will at least give a decent fix on where I am and how far I need to go at most places on the route.
Son of Buck Up and Stop Yer Whinin’ Already!
Honestly, you’d think you are starting at Tierra del Fuego or something… there’s a chunk of these riders who are trying to qualify for Paris-Brest-Paris, which covers 1200 km in 90 hours.
But, but, but, but, I’m not Whining!
I’m obsessing, there’s a difference. Here’s the thing - in all endeavours, there’s a limit to those things which you can control, and as I’m too fond of saying, there will be things which go wrong. When they go wrong, you have to rely on the framework of what you planned to hold things together enough to prevent catastrophic failure. Now, I do realize that “catastrophic failure” in this case is just a phone call to my wife to come pick me up, so it isn’t that I’m saving drowning kittens or anything. But, it would be a heckuva thing to be out in the middle of the route and figure out that I didn’t bring the right sized wrench to tighten down some vital bit of the drivetrain, as a gross example.
And, I did manage to get out this morning and nab a decent chunk of mileage without extreme duress. That was actually quite helpful, mentally speaking. Well, it will be an adventure!
Got a call late yesterday from the shop, saying that my Lemond Poprad replacement frame was ready for me to come pick it up. That was a bit of a shock, as last I heard, things were “in process.” That’s one of those safe-but-loaded retail phrases I toss around a little too glibly to cover a time frame which can range from weeks to months and so figured that it would be the longer end of the period. I had the First Polite Follow Up Call on this week’s to-do list and was reasonably suprised to have had results this fast.
Grabbed a little time in the day’s schedule and dropped by the shop - and just to clarify it, this frame has not been purchased there, and they didn’t know me as a regular customer. To bring you up to date, I’d nabbed the frame towards the end of my tenure with Pacific, and as such was pretty much at this shop’s mercy in this little episode.
There’s also been one variable in this whole thing - the changes which Lemond made to the frame from the time I’d purchased it. The biggest issue is the headtube, which changed to a 1 1/8″ within a couple years of mine. Since the 1″ threadless fork I had was in fine shape, I’d held onto that, and wanted to see if Lemond would send a full frame/fork, or just the frame.
So, upon meeting the service manager and chatting a bit, he called over another mechanic and the two of them started digging into a box behind the counter. He was talking, and there was this interesting vibe in the air - luckily I recognized it. It’s the uneasiness of standing behind the retail counter, about to break what could be construed as Bad News. As they didn’t know me, they had no idea if I terrorized retail folks for fun, or had been already banned from every other bike shop in the county as a retail creech.
“There’s no fork,” I helpfully pointed out.
One beat. Two.
“There’s no fork,” the service manager agreed. This was the crux move. Would I snap?
“Inch and an eighth headtube?” High noon.
“Yep” There was a frame alignment tool within the Service Manager’s easy reach. His kung-fu was good.
“Cool. What do you think they can do about that?” Everybody breathes again.
I didn’t really expect anything else to happen, and honestly would’ve been floored if Lemond had included a fork. The Service Manager said he’d give them a call tomorrow and see if they could work something out so I’d have a fork that fit the frame. In the scheme of things, it would be nice if Lemond(Trek) figured that since they didn’t make the bikes out of 853 anymore and had changed a rather key dimension of the design, the least they could do would be kick down a basic fork for it. We’ll see what happens.
As the wrench tapped off the crown race from my fork, he laughed at it as he hefted it.
“This thing weighs a ton!”
“Keeps the front end on the ground…”
“This must weigh like 1100 grams - you could get one that’s like 400.”
Briefly I have this image of the steep run up at the White’s Hill CX race, or the double barriers right before the finish stretch at Gold Gate Park, where my tires felt filled with water and my legs encased in lead…that’d be saving 6 to 7 hundred grams…my eyes lose focus briefly…
…oh the lure of lightweight parts is a patient illness.
It’s actually quite a nice looking frame. I’ll get some photos inside the head tube, but they definitely did a much cleaner job of cutting the vent holes, and the welds look reasonably even. They did also move the shifter cable stops to a downtube position, which is a much needed design change over the original. My first model had a pair of threaded adjuster bosses on the headtube, and they just seemed to cause repeated cracking in the adjusters and housing.
This is sort of an annual sharing of items tried by iBob folks and enjoyed - here’s my entry:
Tried & Liked - 2006
Rivendell Quickbeam -
My Orange QB arrived at RBWHQ&L in early February and I had it set up and out on the roads by the weekend. Long fixed-gear rides and singlespeed trail work - plus it even raced. From the time that bicycle was first announced, it just seemed right - I like CX, I like singlespeed mtb, I like fixed, and here’s a bicycle that lets me put all that together. Plus, it’s comfy as heck and just seems to do everything pretty darned well. You can trace some further blatherings looking for UCQT’s on the RBW list.
Showing up for Boring Meetings -
Mostly for the MCBC, an it’s interesting how much stuff gets done by those who just show up. Someday, those train tunnels will be open.
Getting Out for Mixed-Terrain Rambles -
Excellent company with Carlos D and JimG. If I’m not careful, I’ll end up doing a brevet yet…
Zeus project completed in 12/03/05, but then refined to its current state this year. Don’t want to appear as too much of a zealot, but try it if you can. The Zeus has some limitations, but is a screamer on the commute route.
North American Handbuilt Bicycle Show -
If you can get there, see it. Really. Photos.
Racing Cross Again -
For various reasons, it had been about 3 or 4 years without toeing the line during winter. Too many damned excuses, and I’m glad to have gotten out there finally to remind myself what great fun you can have while trying to remember how to breathe.
Racing Cross on a Singlespeed -
Thank you Tarik - I have seen the light… Now if I can just turn the pedals over…
Before the pencam, I would bring a camera, but rarely take it out and use it due to worry about it. But, JimG (and I think Kent’s) enthusiasm pushed me to send off a couple burritos worth of money for the thing. It allows on-the-fly documentation which is fun for online applications, and has even held up for smaller prints. Plus, there’s no crying if I send it through the wash or run it through the fixed-gear drivetrain.
Another thanks to JimG item. Needed somewhere to stash all that digital ephemera and this really exceeded all expectations. I’d sworn off online photo storage as pretty hassle-filled, overly laden with visual noise and reasonably klunky. Flickr passes the clean interface test, but gives enough flexibility to let you interact and relate things in a variety of ways. Plus, you can dabble for free until you figure whether it’s for you.
Blogging: Reading and Doing -
Finished my first full year, and it’s certainly not much yet. But it has caused me to read more blogs around the virtual newstand, and there are some fine writers tapping into their keyboards - if I mention Kent’s, Tarik’s regular and enlightening blogging, please don’t take that to mean I don’t enjoy others - those are just two good examples to start reading, then let your interests tangent you along.
Bicycle Quarterly -
(VBQ was on last year’s, but since it’s got a new name, I get to add it again) Thank you Jan!
Music, Shows & Events -
Watching “The Minutemen: We Jam Econo” on DVD with my brother, then heading over to see Joan Jett live at the County Fair.
KT Tunstall Live in a KFOG-limited preshow
On the big screen: “World’s Fastest Indian”, “Little Miss Sunshine”, “Walk The Line”, “Brokeback Mountain”
Madeleine Peyroux live & her newest album
Gettting “The Triplets of Belleville” on DVD
Hall of Famers -
RBW & Rivendell Reader
everyone who took the time to send in photos and words to the cyclofiend galleries
iBob List Members
and of course, alex, for hosting this non-traveling roadshow of lists & archives.
some links for above -
Marin County Bicycle Coalition
The Zeus 650B Project
Flickr Photo Pages
Kent’s Blog - http://kentsbike.blogspot.com/
Tarik’s Blog - http://tsaleh.blogspot.com/
Zipping home mid-afternoon to make sure that the dog gets her afternoon dose of Propanthelene, I cut from the bank through past the pond, across the damp and soggy open stretch where the storm-driven seagulls and smart ducks have settled. They watch me like some weird mirage and I take a bit of care not to spook them. It’s waterfowl season for another couple months, so the migratory among them have probably had a hard go of it as late.
Back on the path, about to test the adhesion of a super-secret 650B gangster whitewall tire that appeared over the weekend, I notice an odd profile right in the middle of the 20′ wide paved path/service road.
“Dang!” thinks I. “That h’ain’t right…” and I wheel around to find a reasonably displaced crawdad, ready to unleash a can of serious whup-ass on anything that thinks they’ve found an easy lunch.
Takes me a few abortive attempts before I recall exactly how to grab the little long-armed sucker so he can’t attach himself to my ungloved hands. But, he’s finally under control, and with little ado, back into the water of the pond, a good 40-50 feet away. The seagulls look at me like I’m thoroughly stupid as I hop back on the bike and get back to my journey.
Reckon that one of the birds found him in the shallows and thought they might have a bit of lobster-like sustenance, but the wily crustacean proved to be a little too much to tangle with.
The newest BIKE magazine snuck into the mailbox this past week and I heaved a long, low sigh while slowly turning the pages. The quality has returned to very good this past year or so, with some strong articles, decent themes, and always excellent photos. But, it is with some trepidation that I considered this issue. It’s related to one of my odd and inexplicable rituals.
Specifically, the day that I receive the new BIKE, I wait until the evening and then read “Grimy Handshake” - the column by Mike Ferrentino. That’s generally the only thing I read the day that the issue arrives, though I may pause over a photo here and there, and perhaps tear out the reader reply cards that litter the innards of the issue. Yeah, Ok. If there’s a specific bike or gear review by Mike, then I’ll read that - especially if it’s cross-related. But, the first words of each issue roll over the fresh singletracks of my brain via that column.
Just to give you a slight example of how fixated I can get, that’s how it’s been since “The Customer is Always…There” in Volume 1, Number 1 back during the dial-up days of March, 1994. I’ll spare you the drivel of why that year was especially important. It was, but not in some change-the-world way. Just happened to be when a few things happened for me, and reminding myself how important cycling was played a bit part in that.
Fact is, I’d been enjoying Mr. Ferrentino’s columns and articles in California Bicyclist for some time even before that day in early ‘94, and even suspected that he was the one writing the “Mr. Surlywrench” column which appeared in that magazine. In CB, Mike first wrote about getting rid of derailleurs and shifting in a way which made it make sense, rather than “no gears - that’s stupid!” He understood the Minutemen. He wrote good tight prose about memorable small events which harkened of Larger Truths. I remember thinking - “cool looking mag, and Ferrentino’s writing for them…” and bought it off the newstand of the Safeway. Since then, I haven’t missed an issue. Yikes, that was a while ago, eh?
And that’s the issue about this issue. It’s Number 8, the last one of Volume 13. In the “Start Here” column, Now-Editor Ferrentino talks about the magazine on the whole, the ebb and flow of size and frequency, and how it’s settled into the 8 per year at a workable page count that portends of great things to come. But, I read that and it sounds hollow and sad to my ears, mostly because I think it’s his last writings for the forseeable future. Y’see, there’s this:
As a wise man once said, “…we’re not selling out, we’re cashing in!” - and I do hope that this works for Mike. (And that sounds harsh where it shouldn’t - I’m smiling and laughing when I type that.) It takes a pretty strong talent and determination to make it as a writer, and probably more of both to pay the bills by writing about bicycling. Not every one of his columns was great, but they always had something that made you think, or some idea that floated up mid-ride with an, “oh, that’s what he meant…” moment. And the great ones… pure riding poetry. Thanks for every word, Mike.
So, heading back to the coastal homelands are you? Heck, I may even break down and buy an aluminum frame with a hinge in the middle of it. Or… maybe Santa Cruz will find an affinity for steel and make a few runs of west coast cross bikes. Good on ya, mate! Best of luck on that whole “Dark Lord” job title..
Only the question remains, just what the heck am I gonna do when the first MF-less issue of BIKE arrives?
So, the muddy cover of VeloNews graced my mailbox over the weekend, and I just got around to looking at it today. Turning past the stranger-every-issue Assos advert and the Table of Contents, you come to the first big splashy photos in Off the Front. Cross photos of course. But, I found my eye caught by this image -
Now, I reckon the chances of this are reasonably slim, but (a) I know from his report he was there and (b) from a photo on his blog that he has one of those Bontrager sweaters that I almost bought way back when, plus he’s been known to put on the odd noticeable headwear now and again…
I’m betting that we’ve got Tarik caught on film.
Why I love Cross - Example #517:
photo: Kurt Jambretz, Action Images
Because only rarely in bicycle racing do you get to use the phrase “through the ice” in a literal sense.
Why Steve Tilford is a Cross God:
He then won. Story here.
Race #5 of the Bay Area Super Prestige Series of cyclocross went off last Sunday south of San Francisco. It’s called “CCCP” which, logically enough, stands for “CycloCross at Coyote Point”. I’d last been here in 2002 - it’s a fun course, though with comparitively long laps and a fair amount of running. After the Golden Gate Park race a few weeks ago, it was nice to feel relatively good on the course rather than just wanting to pull off to the side and sit down. Feeling good doesn’t necessarily correspond to division-winning performance. But, I didn’t get lapped, actually had folks to target for most of the race, kept reasonably upright and felt merely clumsy at the worst moments.
The Quickbeam was the only singlespeed in my division (more on that in a bit) and despite my whining earlier this week, I didn’t worry about the weight of the bottom bracket or swapping out the friggin’ rim strips and just run it as it sat. The whole bike-weight-conciousness stuff is a demeaning and fundamental sickness, so I just cleaned everything up and run what I brung. (Certainly, it would help my credibility on that point if my race results landed me somewhere other than bottom third, but I’d make the argument that actual, regular race-training would be a better use of my time than quibbling over a few grams here and there.)
The race organizers had shaped the course a bit differently than the last time I was there. Wisely, they started us up the wide paved road, to let all the fast fellahs get away from the speed-impaired folks. The roadway climbed a bit to stretch things out, then headed up a reasonably broad path on dirt underneath towering eucalyptus trees. If you’ve spent time on California trails, you know that eucalyptus means two things - oily bark and gumnuts. The gumnuts are conical shaped - kind of like the Apollo command modules. They are the evil ball bearings of the forest, with a pointy end. Someone about halfway back in the bunch made that discovery and dumped it in the first chicane, so we were off and running early. The soil was very soft and loamy stuff, more furrowed at the top from the two previous races. During the practice laps, I could get through it by carrying momentum. The momentum meter was now pegged at “0″, so I kept running until we topped out at the pavement.
Back up and on it, we circuited around the outside of a parking lot, and then headed back under the trees. The race team had laid out what looked a bit like a small and large intenstine diagram on which descended a bit, then headed up for a final drop through the trees down to the beach run. Although some fast folks rode this part (in the Men’s A Race - getting an impressive gap on the field during the first lap), they brought you into it through a couple of switchback turns, so momentum again dropped where the sand was the deepest. It’s a bit of a judgement call as to when to put the bike back down and hit the gas again, and I certainly played it safe - chugging along by foot. It felt long the first time and it just seemed longer each run through.
The next bit was dead flat and straight - paralleling the water on a paved path for 400 yards or so, then making a hard left through the gravel and then shunting off to the right to follow the spine of some topographical anomolie which included a down-up which kept stalling me. It then continued through rather soft ground, through another gratuitous intenstinal section. This was one of the harder mental areas on the course for me, as the
back-n-forth through the soft ground just sucked the will to live right
out of that fickle mistress, momentum. Out of the last kink, you tried to pick up speed on the pavement again before heading to a double barrier, then back onto paved paths skirting grassy fields to the finish area.
The first-lap roadway was replaced by another double barrier, then a short double muscle-up to the place where the rider skidded out at the beginning. We ended up doing 4 circuits in our race, with the winning time of 36:40 meaning the pace was right around 9:10/lap. I was about 4:43 back. 19th overall. On the third lap, I heard a voice state, “Tarik Says Pedal Faster”, which may become my new cross mantra.
The only place in which I’ve missed gears was the long straight bit. Winding it up the best I could just wasn’t enough to stay stuck to the wheel of the guy ahead of me. With that in mind, the question becomes, “what if?” Well, “if” I could’ve held my same pace for another couple laps, that would’ve put me at the towards the end of the Single Speed race. Just to keep it in perspective, the winner of the One-Geared finished 7 laps in 58:58, which means his lap times came through in the neighborhood of 8:25. Nice neighborhood. I think I’ll continue to hang with the old guys for a bit…
Lots of good photos up already, mocking my measley offerings this time - I’m amazed by the quantity that bikeguy put up on Smugmug.com - if you view the video my wife shot, I think you get a glimpse of him and his smokin’ camera as I run past on the beach the first time. The two shots on the beach (above) were taken by him at the same time as the vid. Also the three below of one slow guy and two fast fellahs.
Update - Found more photos:
Kudo’s to the Napa Valley Bicycle Coalition:
Napa Bicycle Coalition Receives $60K Grant
NOVEMBER 30, 2006 —
NAPA, CA (BRAIN)–With unanimous voter approval, the Eagles Cycling Club of Napa Valley voted to give a one-time grant of $60,000 to the burgeoning Napa County Bicycle Coalition during their November member meeting.
“I didn’t know if we would generate the votes to give the coalition the money or not, but after much discussion, members felt this was the best way the Eagles Cycling Club could serve the community,” said Eagles member Bob Hillhouse.
The Napa County Bicycling Coalition (NCBC), a bicycle advocacy group representing cyclists of Napa County and a member of the Thunderhead Alliance, plans to hire an executive director.
“An executive director will help the Napa County Bicycle Coalition move forward and be taken seriously by county planners and business leaders. There is a point where a professional is needed to help out a grass roots movement like this and the Eagles Cycling Club has made it possible for the NCBC to take that next step,” said Lou Penning, NCBC chairman.
The NCBC has participated in advocacy for various bicycle related Napa County projects, including Lincoln Avenue Bike lanes, the Measure H bicycle elements and Safe Routes in Schools, among others.
…and if someone knows where their website is, lemme know. The closest I can find is the reference off the Eagle Cycling Club site. Maybe that’s what some of the grant money will help develop. Best of luck gang - that’s nice country up your way!
Lance getting dirty:
Lance Armstrong to Race in Leadville Trail 100
DECEMBER 01, 2006 —
AUSTIN, TX (BRAIN)–Lance Armstrong is going to race competitively on two wheels once again, but this time it’s going to be on a mountain bike.
“The other bit of a challenge I want to do is a bit crazy,” said Armstrong, during the recent grand opening of the latest signature 24 Hour Fitness Lance Armstrong Sports Club in Austin, Texas. “It’s a mountain bike race in August held in Colorado called the Leadville 100. It’s about an eight to nine hour mountain bike race, mostly on single track that very few people do and even fewer finish.”
The race involves more than 11,000 feet of climbing over the 100-mile course at altitudes between 9,500 and 12,600 feet. Armstrong’s interest in the race was sparked by his coach Chris Carmichael, who raced the Leadville 100 this year for the first time.
“I told Lance that he needed to do Leadville,” Carmichael said. “That (New York City) marathon was nothing compared to slogging it out on a mountain bike for nine plus hours at altitude and in the rain. I guess I got him to accept the challenge.”
Kona lets you buy the AfricaBike, but you should buy two so they kick one down where it’s needed:
Kona Makes AfricaBike Available to Consumers
DECEMBER 01, 2006 —
FERNDALE, WA (BRAIN)–Based on high consumer demand demonstrated during the Botswana launch of Bicycling magazine’s BikeTown Africa last year, the Kona Bicycle Company will make the AfricaBike available for sale to the general public through Kona retailers, and starting in January, direct to consumers through www.konaworld.com.
In addition, Kona unveiled the new 2for1 AfricaBike sales program. For every two AfricaBikes sold worldwide, Kona will donate one AfricaBike to Bicycling’s BikeTown Africa project or to other non-profit and non-governmental organizations whose missions include helping to improve the quality of life in sub-Saharan Africa.
The AfricaBike was designed as a rugged, effective means of transportation that could handle all of the unique social and environmental challenges of Africa. The AfricaBike will be available in two versions: the original single speed design ($275), and a 3-speed version ($325) with an internal Shimano 3-speed hub.
To learn more about Kona’s AfricaBike, visit www.konabiketown.com and www.myspace.com/africabike.
In more local news, the 5th and final cyclocross race of the Bay Area Prestige Series went off Sunday - the CCCP (Cyclo Cross at Coyote Point) took place under beautiful (albeit non-cx) weather, featured a reasonably long circuit with a pretty good variety of topography and surfaces (80 yard beach runs are always fun), with excellent organization and a highly supportive crowd. I thumped along on the Quickbeam, running my single gear in the age-group B race. Felt better this time than SF a couple weeks ago, and had fun duking with the guys who were going at my pace. Results. More updates and photos links probably tomorrow. But, the clear and happy thought;
We are darned lucky to have such a high-quality series in our area.
Next year, I start running much, much earlier…
When you start riding for more than focused training or specific recreation, you start rethinking what you are wearing. Luckily, a smart set of folks in the Southland have been doing more than thinking, and have come up with a really nice set of gabardine wool cycling knickers. The first run is almost ready to roll, so if you want to be the first on your block, get your order in…
These are available through the Bicycle Fixation website. They use good material and are domestically made, so you won’t be paying Old Navy outlet prices. But, if you know wool, you should realize these are a bargain.