cyclofiend.com - peripheral thoughts & notes

January 2007
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SF Randonneurs 200K - Pt. 2
Filed under: rides, photos, brevets
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 11:12 am

SF Randonneurs 2007 200 km Brevet - 1/27/07
Pt. Reyes Lighthouse to Finish - Approx 71 Miles

Update 2/7/07 - The expanded version of this report is now here

(Part One appears here)

Leaving the LighthouseRiders continue rolling into the Pt. Reyes Lighthouse checkpoint and upon locating Todd and the truck, gather into little knots of ride buddies and new found route pals.  There’s a pretty constant dribbling of riders away from the Lighthouse parking lot as well, and suddenly I just know it’s my turn to leave.  After double-checking to be sure my brevet card is stowed safely in the front pack, confirming that everything detachable has been reattached, and giving another careful examination to the tire sidewalls, I step forward and regain my saddle for a bit more riding.  Within a couple hundred yards, I’ve stepped off the bike and am putting on my wind vest again - though I’d been heated up pretty nicely behind the knoll near the parking lot, the temperature suddenly felt a bit cool once back on the roadway.

You don’t really appreciate the luxury of coasting until it is not an option. As planned, the flip-flop remained flopped to the coastable side of the drivetrain, and being able to level out the cranks and swoop over the cracked and bumpy road surface, complete with metal cattle guards, was like having a decadant dessert.  I tried to ride light and smart, seeking the smooth singletrack line hidden in the abused asphalt, enjoying every bit of cush that the tires afforded.  A few riders worked their way up the final pitch and I tried to jabber some encouragements through my rattling jaws.

I continued to coast through the “A” Ranch, which got the award for the most consistently slimy road surface, and caught up with a couple of riders who had passed me while relayered after my restart.  As they had gone by initially, the one woman had been saying that she didn’t want to fall down in that section and I’d laughed before my manners could stifle the reaction. I mean, there were not a lot of other conversations going on, so it was hard not to overhear.  But, as we all successfully negotiated the sticky and slippy bits,  we ended up relieved and happy at about the same time.  The other woman asked if I had encountered a particularly noxious smelling truck earlier, and I responded that I’d been spared that pleasure.  Actually, I said something clever like, “um…no.” before commenting that we were definitely out on the farm here.   I’m always more articulate in retrospect.  Oh well.

We chatted a bit more before separating a on the next incline. I always feel a bit rude when climbing on the single geared beam-beast, because I get quiet and have to honor the momentum when it starts to happen. The downside of running a single/fixed system is that you can’t easily sit and spin your way up, keeping conversations going as the topography changes.   That section leaving the  Lighthouse rises and falls a bit, and I continued using the freewheel.  On the last little pitch near the turn for South Beach, I kicked it down into the small chainring, and enjoyed the low/low combination.  Since I’d spent a lot of time adjusting the fender stays to permit this end-of-the-forkends rear wheel position to spin rub-free, I would’ve used it even it I didn’t need it.  But, fact is, I pretty much needed it.

Last part of the freewheel indulgenceOnce up on the plateau again, I commenced flopping to the flipside and got the Quickbeam “fixed” again. A few other riders went past while I executed this move, and I heard the phrase “…Rivendell shift…” dance past on the breeze.  Didn’t look up to get the attribution, and I’m not even sure it was directed at my activities, but it seemed to fit the moment.

Before heading off again, I double-re-checked all the brake connections.  Nothing overlooked this time, so I started spinning out on my way through the step-downs back toward the flats.  This kind of riding is always a bit reinvigorating, as just a hint of power to the pedals seems to gain much more momentum than it should. As the roadway flattened for good, a group of 4 or 5 riders zipped past me, enjoying the fruits of 100 or so gear inches.   If they’d just held back for a couple more of Todd’s Vanilla Wafers, it would have worked better for me, as their momentum slowed just a bit further up the road and we moved forward at a similar pace.  Unfortunately, you can’t draft from a quarter mile back, and as the road jogged right, the crosswind became a headwind. I slowed, and they slowed a bit, but had the collective to spread the load and steadily began disappearing around the bends as they worked together.

The winds themselves were a bit interesting. By all rights, it should have been a headwind as we left the Lighthouse, but now seemed to be blowing offshore.   By the time I got into the cover of the ridges and trees past the Oyster flats of Drake’s Bay, they became less noticeable, but weren’t really following the normal pattern.  

By now, the road was easing upwards before the drop back down to the Tomales Bay side and Inverness.  This side of the incline lent itself perfectly to fixed-gear climbing, and I found a nice cadence, rolling past  a cluster of riders which included the two Atlantis riders who were decked in the most stylin’ duds of the ride.   Hours earlier, I’d chatted a bit with one of the riders as we eased through Larkspur - recognizable by his “Box Dog Bikes” wool jersey.   This time though I was just thinking about an Odwalla Protein Smoothie at the Inverness store, and didn’t really do much more than gasp a “hidy”.  Miss Manners would simply be appalled.

Inverness appeared reasonably suddenly after the downhill, so I crossed over to the store and happily clomped to the back coolers to ferret out my drinks of choice - water for the bottle, mango “Vitamin” water (pretty much sugar water, but it said “endurance” on the outside and I like the taste) for the other bottle, and the aforementioned Odwalla. The latter went down in about three quick swallows, and I dug into one of my sandwiches.  Ate about half and walked around a bit outside the front of the store, wandering back to recycle the bottles in the marked container.  I had the very clear and detached thought that recycling plastic doesn’t really fix the core flawed assumption of using the plastic.  Funny what pops into your head.

As I refueled, the bunch of riders who I’d leap-frogged on the incline buzzed past and waved.   Then a tandem I’d seen earlier rolled up and eased off the gas across the street.  One half of the team wandered across to the porta-a-loo on the far side of the parking lot.  The other person took off some gear and stayed with the bicycle.  The tasteful blue-grey Berthoud rear bags were noticeable, and we’d actually crossed the Golden Gate Bridge together at the day’s start. Restarting again, I rolled past him, asked how things were going and wished him luck.  

Since my dance card had been punched at Inverness, I decided to skip Pt. Reyes Station. A good-sized knot of riders had formed in front of the Bovine Bakery, and while it was tempting to drop in for a cup of coffee and some sugary goodness, I still had some thin hopes of catching Carlos and JimG.  If they had stopped here or there, we could still reconnect, but I really had no way of knowing just where they were.  As I slogged up the incline from town, I tried to work the math on the possibility of seeing them on the Marshall leg of the route.  In order to miss them, they would’ve had to have gotten 16 miles ahead - so maybe 45 minutes to an hour?  While feeling that I’d lost some time coming back from the Lighthouse, it didn’t seem that I could’ve fallen that far back.  Still as the mile markers increased on Highway One and I still hadn’t seen them, the possibility loomed larger.

I did notice that I was making fairly good time on the road to Marshall  But it was a cheap gain, as the waves out on Tomales Bay indicated that the winds blew at my back.  They weren’t whitecaps, but there would be some interest due on this loan once the turnaround point came.  Some other riders finally began appearing on the return leg, most waving but noticeably gritting their teeth.  Almost all were in their drops.  Yep, it was a headwind return, that was for sure.

Just shy of the turnaround point, a red jacket caught my attention.  Two riders were approaching, and the wind began to howl… wait, that’s a different song.  JimG and Carlos crisply turned over their pedals towards me.  Wasn’t quite quick enough on the draw to record their passing with the pencam, but we hollered and waved and somehow all knew everyone was fine.   And just ahead of me now stood the boatworks and the Marshall store, which seemed to have become a bike dealer in addition to a sandwich and clam chowder bar.  

Quickbeam at MarshallLoads of fine cycling hardware had been shoehorned in and laid up against every available surface outside, and all manner of riders banged in and out of the front door, clutching soup, drinks, muffins and other snacks.  I found a drink from the cooler and queued up to get my card stamped.  1:20 pm.  Things seem both too crowded and too comfortable inside, so I retreated back towards my bike, where I drank a bit, downed the other half of my sandwich and stretched my back out a bit. I figured that the worst thing I could do would be to sit down and get settled, especially with a headwind looming .  

I tried to get my business done reasonably quickly, but kept ogling the bikes - finally breaking down and snapping a quick shot of the Berthoud-clad Erickson tandem, which had arrived and was now leaning riderless against the side of the building, plus a nice looking orange Rambouillet.  Looking over the other machines, it was hard to find one that hadn’t been Rivendellized, either from the addition of Brooks saddles, rational bar height, Rolly-Poly  or Ruffy-Tuffy tires (and even a set of Speedblends - dang I miss mine…), or by being an actual Rivendell frame, by design or name.   And carrying bits?  Sure, Carradice was well represented,  but most of the bikes were totally Baggins Bag-alicious - Candy Bar bags, Banana Bags, Adams, Little Joes and more hung almost everywhere you looked.

More riders arrived and I once again got the ticky-itchy feeling of needing to be moving again. A visit to the personal plastic room and one more quick back, arms, quads & calf stretch cycle and I’m rolled away the finishing leg of the ride. I didn’t have high hopes for catching Carlos and JimG, as they seemed to have passed by hours ago.  One thing this all-day biking adventure seems to do is mess with my very tenuous grasp of linear time passage.  I may actually have to break down and put some quantitative electronics on the bike, so I can have some reality check. Though I’d been using my cameraphone to zap “timestamp” photos up to my Flickr pages, I seem to send them and snap the beast shut before I focus on what time it is.  A curious quirk, but a real one.

Highway One rises and falls a bit as it heads south, and I try to recall what it felt like a week earlier, when Carlos & I did a Marshall run, and then got blown home by the winds. The southbound leg feels easier, with one small exception that finds me walking  for 20 or 30 paces. But,  before I know it, I’ve made the left hand turn inland towards Nicasio and am heading upstream next to Lagunitas creek, in the wide valley which contains horse pastures and  a couple farm houses.  A couple roadies ease past me, and comment favorably on the Quickbeam.  I’m pretty sure they aren’t part of the brevet crowd, as they seem to favor tiny seat bags , minimal extra gear and have nothing on that reflects.  They pass by another couple of riders ahead of me, who I soon recognize as the women I’d met  while surfing the “A” Ranch effluent.  We talk briefly and then separate again.  When riding solo, I tend to moo at cows, caw at crows, mimic the piercing whistles of hawks and snort at the horses.  The horses always tend to look at me like I’ve badly mispronounced something.

Another left turn at the Continually Repainted Bridge has the road climbing up through the canyon where the Nicasio Reservoir is held back by the earthen dam.  For some reason, this little uphill always gets me singing.  On this day, it was a medley of early Elvis Costello songs, with a couple of Joe Jackson tunes from the “Look Sharp” album.  Don’t worry if it was before your time,  but the live bootleg version of “(I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea” has an excellent climbing rhythm to it.  “No Action” (studio version) works pretty well here, too.  Joe’s “Is She Really Going Out With Him” clicks in and out with a hyped-up live version of “Mystery Dance” driven by a baritone Elvis and the young and hungry musical drive of the 1979 Attractions.   All that early English new wave gets me up on level ground, and  I see that the two roadies have lost a little ground.  I throw a mental noose around them and use their progress as a carrot for the open and breezy section around the choppy waters of Nicasio Reservoir.  managing to keep them in sight until the town proper, where they pull in to Rancho Nicasio.  I roll around the baseball diamond and snap a photo next to the church and a discarded “Walton’s Saw Works” hat, which gets sent to my wife and the Flickr site.  Again I fail to look at the clock.

The next section will jump me over the last steep climb of the day and start retracing the route which we all took many hours earlier.  At this point in the ride, it doesn’t even seem to be the same week that occurred - so much seems different; the weather, lighting, my own wobbliness.  I take a moment to dig out my flecto-vest.  The next stretch of road is dark under the best of circumstances, and folks usually drive too damned fast there.  

It begins easily enough, rolling past the Arabians ranch just past the turn to Lucas Valley. Then the roadway edges up a bit and I realize the bacon cooking smell is related to my legs. I’ve ridden this section a great many times, and honestly didn’t consider the mild incline to be that challenging, but now things are a bit different. Flipping up and down through sitting, standing, sitting while wrenching, standing and leaning on the pedals, I finally opt for the 20-paces fix.  It becomes a good 40 pace segment before I feel like stepping back over the bike. Even back on the bike, my legs feel pretty dopey.  Time for “La Bomba”…

Normally, I try to avoid non-food items, but now dig out one of the “Honey Stinger” GU-equivilents that I’d stashed in the front bag.  GU actually had been my glob of choice, but recently I’d been unable to find the caffeinated version.  Honey Stinger tastes like a dollop of honey, but sneaks in a bit of the what-makes-coffee-fun extract, along with some ginseng.  After making sure that it isn’t the mini-pack of Chamois Butt’r, I tear off the top and down the stuff.  The worst part is actually the wrapper, but my folding-fu is good, and I crease repeatedly with fixated intent to make sure that the extra stickness remains well sealed.

I wish I could say that the crows all broke into singing parts of “Carmina Burana” while the horses in the next fields stomped out the cadence to “Ride of the Valkyries”, but fact is, I bonked as the climb got serious and hoofed up the last bit of steep pitch to the crest.  Near the top, the gradient eased a bit, and I was able to ride through the narrow section where Cece Krone was killed by a drunk driver.  As gravity took over, I spun quietly past her memorial which stands looking over a beautiful part of the San Geronimo valley.

Double and triple checking the cross traffic, I swing back onto Sir Francis Drake and begin the serious push for home.  The rise up out of the valley at White’s Hill tries to humiliate me, but I keep my eyes down and take it one pavement expansion crack at a time, until the flashing 25 MPH sign eases past.  Just for old time’s sake, the sky drops rain for about 30 seconds, honoring the fenders, I reckon.  But that thought quickly whisks away, for now it’s spin like a madman time down the face of the hill.  The momentum carries me all the way into Fairfax, where the Java Hut sings its siren song.  With a bottle of water, a double shot of espresso and a hand-sized maple scone, I sit for a few minutes to mix in the new fuel.  This time I pay attention while snapping a photo, and find out it’s 4:05.  It would be difficult to pull off a :54 minute time to the City from here , so my secondary goal of “finishing before dark” notches into place.

My wife had texted me a couple times during the day, and I take a moment to check in with her and let her know my location, condition and mood.  I wouldn’t jinx things by saying it’s a done deal, as there remained a few variables between where I sat and where I needed to be, but optimism and excitement continued to increase.  A few brevet riders went past, unaware of the need for espresso ritualizations and I roused myself back to the bike.

Things became a bit blessedly auto-pilot at this point, with a strong lookout for drivers about to do stupid things while I’m tired. Before long, I’m rechecking chain tension at the base of the Camino Alto climb, and then pushing my way up the last bits.  As I crest the hill, the sun is still evident, though in a bit of a haze.  I snap a quick photo of my idiot grin and whump-whump my way down the far side. Mill Valley Bike Path, Bridgeway, bark at an oblivous motorist who parks in one of the many “NO STOPPING” sections of tourist-end Sausalito and causes a cyclist pinch point between traffic and his front bumper. Then I’m up from the waterfront, swooping left and climbing, swinging around a guy on a mountain bike who is doing his level best to destroy his drivetrain by shifting wildly on the first pitch while he stands on the pedals.  Squeezing all the momentum I can find, the Quickbeam jumps me up the narrow steep pitch and we all pop out, panting a bit, where the road widens once more and finishes the climbing to the Golden Gate Bridge.

Two weird things happen. First, the road visibly flattens before me. It’s an incline, obviously, but it just seems flatter and almost downhill. Now, I’ve always stated that momentum is a fickle mistress, but I’ll take this hallucination. The bike finds a pace and we escalate upwards.  Parallel to this is the thought that I need a rear light.  My stylin’ Bruce Gordon single LED stopped working reliably some time earlier, and the Planet Bike eye burner is the backup. Except one of the batteries from that is in the pencam. I envision this horribly detailed scenario of some sort of required bike check - a mini technical trials if you will - at the finish, in which it is discovered that my rear light doesn’t work, and they strip me of my brevet card and stamp a “DNF” on my forehead.

To quell this irrational outburst, I pop up the little rise that leads to the bridge crossing, snap the final two photos for the day and replace the battery in the light. Just then, the red tandem zings past with a shouted hail, so I jump on my bike and try to catch them. We all scream across the bridge and come together as we negotiate the second abutment, chat a bit, then make our way underneath and into the finishing plaza.  

Todd stands about 20 feet away from where we left him just over 10 hours earlier.  JimG and Carlos are hanging out nearby and a dig out my brevet card, which Todd checks and has me sign.  The time immediately pops out of my head (I think it was between 5:20-30) as Jim and Carlos tell me they ended up coming in at 4:45!  Those kids were on today!

I’m loopy and tired, but enjoying the serious buzz of finishing my first brevet. We hang out and chat a bit, but both of them look a bit cold - I still can’t believe they hung out there for another 45 minutes to greet me at the finish! Other riders come in steadily and I throw on my jacket for an extra layer. We continue talking a bit, and I suggest an easy ride up to Marshall for the next day. Carlos’ eyes widen a bit before he realizes I’m talkin’ guff and agrees to the “ride”.  Jim looks at us like we’re nutty and then realizes the put-on and we all get a good laugh.

It would be nice to stay and watch more folks finish, but the temperature continues to quickly drop and calories call.  Jim breaks into some jumping jacks while we talk and I begin to feel really bad for keeping them out in the cold. So I bid my friends a good bye and thanks , turn on my headlight and pick my way along the Golden Gate Bridge walkway, heading north again on the eastern side. The pedestrian traffic is quite heavy, and I find there’s no polite way to be heard over the traffic. So, I bide my time behind a few oblivious walkers, and cheer on a few more finishers - who themselves are coming in under the lights - and reach the subway back to the parking lot. I stow the bike, make another call to my wife and I wolf down the remaining sandwich before heading homeward.   125.6 miles according to the route sheet, plus a few more to jump across the bridge and back. A heckuva day.

Further References -
SF Randonneurs “Alt” Site by Carlos D. - Aggregated Photos
Official SF Randonneurs Site
SF Randonneurs Yahoo Group
SF Randonneurs Flickr Page
JimG Flickr Set
Carlos D. Flickr Stream - Ride Report
My Flickr Set - Ride Report
Joe Gross’ Photos

If you have photos or a ride report from this, please let me know.

SF Randonneurs 200K - Pt. 1
Filed under: rides, photos, brevets
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 10:05 am

SF Randonneurs 2007 200 km Brevet - 1/27/07
Start to Pt. Reyes Lighthouse - Approx 54 Miles

Update 2/7/07 - The expanded version of this report is now here

Through a misty and hazy pre-dawn my tires rolled southward over the asphalt of the Golden Gate Bridge walkway. Normally, bicycles are restricted to the western side of the span, and it is only in darkness hours that we get herded over to the “City Side”, so it’s a treat to see the first glimmers of the day illuminate the outlines of San Francisco. Not another person walked or rode, and even the auto traffic was reasonably light.  The bridge seemed as deserted as it could be.  It was odd then to roll onto land at the other end and see a large moving cluster of reflecting, glowing, blinking and lit cyclists, gathered near the Strauss statue, chatting and conversing admist all variety of bikes - a virtual oasis of reflective gear and protective headwear which confirmed that this was the gathering for the San Francisco Randonneurs 200 km Brevet.

Skirting the gang, I took the road under the toll plaza and found my way to another small knot of riders, clustered around Todd Teachout’s white pickup.  Out of the darkness, JimG appeared, and introduced me to another rider who was planning to cover the ride on a fixed gear. I promptly forgot his name, as I had to remember mine so that they could sign me in.  Normally I’m not quite that mentally challenged, but it was still around 6:45 am, and I was recovering from losing my car key at home and the nervousness about just what the heck I had gotten myself into.

During the runup to the event, weather reports kept decaying during the week preceeding the ride, and rain had fallen in measurable amounts on Thursday and Friday. It began to seem pretty clear that there might be some less than perfect conditions, but nothing on the scale the of last year’s deluge. I managed to miss that ride (though I’d heard about it from JimG and Carlos and read through Rob H’s writings more than once).  In fact this would be my first brevet attempt. Cleverly, I also had decided to ride it on my Rivendell Quickbeam, rigged with a 14T fixed gear cog and an 18T freewheel on the flip-flop hub.

The Quickbeam had gotten the nod as it seemed to be my most comfortable and versatile bicycle. Of my other bikes, the open-wheeled racer didn’t have much room for fenders,  my cross frame (probably the bicycle I would’ve ridden) had cracked it’s headtube welds and was awaiting a new fork, and my commute beasts were fine for the basics of to-and-from-work, but I ultimately didn’t trust them for the full circuit.  I’d been doing segments of the planned route over the last month or so, and knew I could get up and over the topography with the Quickbeam’s manual gearing.  The worst of the bits could always be covered by foot, if it came to that, and I knew of a couple stretches where it probably would.

JimG accompanied me back to the start, and we found an open spot near the curb, and looked around for Carlos, who rolled up just moments later. I had to leave the hustle bustle to pass back some coffee rental, and took the opportunity to swap my jacket for a wind vest.  Although cool, the temperatures were nowhere near where they’d been during previous weeks, which had meant ice on the roadways. 

Returning to the gang, all were reasonably quiet as Todd gave warnings and instructions to the riders.  Couldn’t hear a thing.  Too much rock’n roll as a youth. Oh well.  I caught some bits about stop signs in Ross and following traffic rules,  figured that if anything was really important  and different, someone would’ve asked for clarification. Of course, I do get these recurrent dreams of stewardesses plucking the oxygen mask off my face and saying, “You didn’t LISTEN, did you? NO oxygen for you…”

And with nary more than a cessation of the speech, plus a “Good Luck”, riders rolled away towards the bridge.  It was 7 am and the brevet had begun.

JimG PhotoJimG & I immediately lost site of Carlos, who had gotten swept forward with the tide of the riders.  The two of us threaded through some other cyclists, avoided the odd runner and daybreak pedestrian on the bridge. Nothing but courteous riding and clear hand-signals in the group. We stop-n-go’d our way around the two bridge towers and rolled clear of the span.  As we were still riding on the east side, our route took us through the Vista Point parking lot on the north end of the bridge.  Some poor but patient couple in a car got to watch us all roll through the crosswalk, and most people gave them a kind wave.  Even by this point, the lead riders were well clear of the bunch, and JimG posited that Carlos was probably already over Camino Alto hill.

Riders spread out as we dropped down into Sausalito, came together as we hit traffic and signals, and stretched again as we worked our way north.  JimG and I took turns in finding good wheels to follow, as folks hit the end of their initial adrenaline and eased into the rythmn of the day. I could tell that Jim was feeling pretty frisky, and we motored a good pace until the end of the Mill Valley Bike Path.  From there, we found Carlos, who had been caught up at the light, and hopped up and over the Camino Alto hill.  Mounting fenders on the Quickbeam had already paid off, as the roads were damp and splashy in places.  The miles passed quickly to Fairfax, which was the first of my time checks for the day.  According to Carlos’ clock, it was 8:08 as we waited for the light to change - pretty much right on target.  We had coalesced into a group of about 12-15 riders as we continued to the first real climb of the day - White’s Hill out of Fairfax.

Roughly speaking, there are four usable climbing gears on a fixed gear bicycle. First, you can kick your tuckus back slightly and drive from a seated position.  This is a strong way to climb, but does take its toll on one’s leg muscles.  Second, you can hitch your chamois off the saddle and use your body weight.  Luckily, I have some of that, and it allows you to rest a bit as you climb. Third, you are standing and pushing, with a tightened upper body to transmit the energy to the pedals. Fourth, you are driving with the legs and wrenching with the upper body.  This last method, as the coaches like to put it, means you’re burning matches, and you’ve only got so many in the box.

Me & JimG on White's HillFrom my earlier rides, I knew that I needed to minimize the match-burning, and take it easy where others were smart enough to bring along appropriate gears.  Carlos moved easily away as we headed upward, climbing with a smooth, seated cadence on the Miyata that looked easy but always meant you were going to be dropped.  Further on, the be-fendered RB-1 of JimG eased past me.  Jim looked fresh and spun nicely as he headed upwards.  There was no question - he was on today.

At the White’s Hill crest, Carlos pulled off to doff a jacket and told us not to wait, and JimG & I hooked into a two-man paceline which took us through the San Geronimo Valley.  We work well together when we ride, and this morning it felt even better, trading pulls and moving past a huge flock of wild turkeys, masticating cows and a couple of golfers who got the early-bird tee times for the day.   We hit the curvey bits past Lagunitas quickly and found ourselves at Ink Wells Bridge, which was where we planned on picking up the unpaved end of the  Cross Marin Bike Trail - a legal option on the route.  In the past, Jim has enjoyed a pinch flat and fender-ripping stick on this section of trial, so he said he was going to take it easy as we hit the wet dirt.  I rolled onto the spine of the trail, and hit a nice pace.   There’s a speed which tends to make the bumps easier, which I maintained until splashing through a puddle which soaked my foot pretty well. Drat.  Looking back, I realized that JimG was no longer in sight. Double-drat - I should’ve kept him in sight. Well, at worst, Carlos would be coming through in a few minutes, so I figured that he was covered if something bad had happened.

I decided to pause to use the Samuel P. Taylor Park facilities, refilling my water bottle as well.  After remounting the bike, I could hear some voices across on the roadway - riders who had stayed on Sir Francis Drake - but saw no one until reaching the terminus of the trail at Tocaloma Bridge.  Popping out of the bike bath, I ended up in the middle of another small band of riders, and we all started sawing away at the climb towards Bolinas Ridge.  This one is a nasty “mental” sort of climb, which starts dead straight for its initial pitch and then steepens  a touch.  It isn’t all that tough, but it tries to psyche you out. Rising out of the Lagunitas Creek valley, the temperature became a bit warmer, with sun breaking through, and my riding apparel felt warm for the first time in memory. We crest out and I enjoy my first real downhill spin-out, hoping to relax my legs for the climbing which remains.

Approaching Inverness, Carlos’ bicycle sits in front of the coffee & pastry shop on my left, with a number of other rides and riders.  one of them clutches a muffin that looks as big as his head and waves a cup of coffee at me as I pass by.  Just ahead over the next rise, JimG frames up a photo of his bicycle in front of the Inverness store and hails me.  By now, I’m starting to look forward to not pedaling, and so step off the bike and we trade notes. They saw my bike back in SP Park.  I saw Carlos’ bike at the cafe.  Our hands are both nasty clammy from soggy gloves, even though there’s been no rain.  I’m not quite ready to take a real break yet, and so ease forward toward the post-Inverness climb.  It’s kind of a bitch, one I had to walk when I rode out to the Lighthouse before, and I’m both anxious to get it behind me and aware that they will both probably catch me on it.

The road hugs the edge of Tomales Bay here, rising and falling slightly.  The winds have not yet touched the water yet, and for the most part it remains silent and calm. One of those magical times when you feel blessed to be experiencing it.

Further on, the road cuts away from the water, and the upward trend begins in earnest.  I’m feeling a little less blessed and more gravitationally challenged as I flip quickly up through the four climbing gears, find a new one called “Seated, Wrenching and Gasping”, then decide to see if the “20 paces and remount” trick will work.  I walk my bike and try a cyclocross hop-on trick, then the momentum fades quickly  further up the climb. Swinging off into a driveway, I decide that it’s a good time to doff gloves and make sure everything is situated correctly.  About that time, JimG and Carlos roll past, make sure I haven’t thrown a rod or cracked the block, and spin upwards. Waving them on, my breathing settles down and I use the slope of the driveway to reenter the roadway and chunk my way to the crest.

From there it’s a long steady spin down to sea level again, with the final approach to the Pt. Reyes Lighthouse now within realistic consideration.  A series of “step-ups” follow, and way off in the distance, someone appears who looks a bit like Carlos, so I pretend it is and try to slowly reel him back.  We slinky a bit, as I regain on the climbs and he slips away as I recover on the flatter bits.  I dink around with the pencam a bit and take photos of the roadway  to distract myself.  Rolling upwards, I’m enjoying a gorgeous view and warming sunlight when a new sound suddenly occurs  - “Tick-tick-tick-tick” in time with my front tire rotation.  I look down to see the front sidewall bulging out enormously, and tube starting to stick out.  Crap.  Steering quickly to the side of the roadway,  I try to dive for the stem to let air out, but the sounds of nature are punctuated by an ear-ringing “BLAMM!” which just as suddenly dissipates with the winds.

Ok.  I’ve got tubes and a pump, obviously.  What I’m worried about is why the tire decided to lift off the rim.  I’d installed new Paselas earlier in the week, did a little test ride, but hadn’t really pushed them too hard before this ride.  If the bead was bad, or severed, I could be in a bit of trouble.  Removing the tire was pretty easy, as nearly the entire left side bead had come off. The tube had a 20″ split with a clear “X” where the blowout began.   I lined tube up with tire and can see no specific flaw in the bead or tire, and the casing seems happy throughout. Upon closer scrutiny, I can see a few little bits of light tan rubber on the tube, near the initial point of failure.  It seems that I managed to catch the tube with the bead, and it held on for a while until the stresses of riding finally jostled it to freedom. That’d be “user error”.

Some riders sweep past during the repair, and every group makes sure I’ve got necessary tools and gear.  I start thinking about the downhills and swoopy bits already covered and get a shudder at how good my luck really was. Nothing safer than an uphill flat.  Heading off again, I descend and then realize after a nice sweeping turn and ascent that I’ve neglected to reattach my front brake cable.  I sheepishly pull over, quickly connect things and head off again. I decide that maybe I should stop screwing around with the camera and pay attention to things, and chew through the lettered farms on the way to the final climb to the Lighthouse.

My plan was to flip the rear wheel for the last steep pitch up to the Lighthouse, those extra four teeth on the coastable side being pretty helpful.  I’ve done this many times, but with the addition of the rear fender, and my hands being tired-dopey, it just seems to take hours.  I get it set and tensioned only to get on, start pedaling and find that the chain is not on the teeth of the freewheel. I fix this and start again, only to realize the rear brake is still disconnected.  I get chain grease everywhere. In short, I am doing a succession of Really Stupid Things, and it gets to me.  

To top this off, as I get near the top of the climb, the pencam, which has been around my neck on a cord, taps the stem just right and opens the cover, causing the batteries to drop out.  I see one rolling back down the road, set the bike down and nab it, but the other is nowhere to be seen.  I start foraging around the thick grass near the road edge, and suddenly realize I’ve worked my way 10 or 15 yards back without finding it.  Some  inner clear voice finally points out that this is not the best use of my time, and I admit defeat, further vexed that I won’t have the camera to use for the rest of the ride.

Coasting (ahhhh….coasting…mmm!) the rest of the way to the Lighthouse, a knot of bikes and riders are around the Control Station, making short work of available water and a Costco-sized box of Nilla Vanilla wafers.  They stamp my card at 11:18.  I see Jim’s RB-1 against the bushes near the truck, but need to hit the restroom on the other side of the lot and so walk over there.  I’m tired, hot, feel like I’m wearing too much and am grumpy about losing the battery.  It finally dawns on me, after I scrape the grease off my fingers and munch a Clif Bar, that the efforts had gotten to me a bit more than I’d realized. 

By this time, Jim’s bike has gone, though I never saw him (and find out later that he thought I’d already left, and upon catching up to Carlos without seeing me, wondered if something had happened to me.)  It dawns on me that my backup blinkie has AAA batteries, so I steal one and get the pencam working again. My arrival time is about a half hour behind plan, so I try to get going with a minimum of additional fuss.  Physically, the most difficult sections are behind me, and now that my core temp has cooled and some calories are pinging around my innards, my thoughts clear and calm a bit. The tire has held together and shows no signs of moving now, the bike is working well, and although I’m tired, it seems more as a direct result of the recent efforts rather than any kind of physical cave-in. I snap a photo with my newly-repowered pencam and get ready to roll.

(Part Two of this ride report appears here)

Filed under: photos, brevets
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 3:00 pm

New Rule (For Self)
Filed under: brevets
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 12:44 pm

Section 6 “Cycling Is An Outdoor Sport”
Paragraph 7 (Addendum)
Once within 24 hours of the start of any Brevet (or similar, long-distance, previously agreed upon ride), there can be no bitching about the weather. The existing weather conditions may be observed and stated, without embellishment, during this time period. Further, anticipated weather changes or deviations from previous estimates and/or forecasts should be shared with other Brevet participants.  However, this information should be free from editorial comments of any kind.

e.g. - “Light rain has been falling in the San Rafael area for the past 15 minutes.”

Day Before
Filed under: brevets
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 11:49 am

At a minimum….

There will be one thing I’ve completely overlooked.
There will one thing that seemed absolutely essential that will end up laughably redundant.
There will be one that thing was a contast, nagging, mildly worrisome thought which will evaporate as the first pedal stroke is turned, never to be considered again.
I’ll feel much better than I thought I would. “Tarik Says Pedal Faster”
I’ll feel much worse than I thought I would. “Keep Pedaling, It Will Get Better”

But mostly, this will be a great little adventure.

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Beth’s Ride
Filed under: general
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 9:17 am

IBob-er Beth Hamon (rider S-15) will be doing a three day ride this summer to raise money for Crohn’s disease.  Obviously, this requires some capital backing, so if you are in the position to do so, take a moment to read her LJ pre-announcement.  The ride allows stress-free donations via Paypal, or you can support the USPS and mail a check. She goes through it in better detail on her blog.

Kent P’s initial post

Mighty Close Now
Filed under: brevets
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 9:11 am

Photo by Carlos D
Carlos snapped this shot on the dirt section of the Cross Marin Bike Path during our recent ride together. With the movement, lighting and background, there’s a great feel to this image which really captures this oft-overlooked section of trail. He has a few more on his Flickr stream of the most recent ride, as well as a gallery over on his bike section.

It has come down to the last week, so there’s very little to do but obsess over small details and fret a bit about the weather. Saturday AM is the SF Randonneurs 200K, I’m going to be rechecking and editing lists and going through the last little details.

Ride time has been pretty good, with my highest mileage January in memory. Other than the week after Christmas, I’ve stayed reasonably healthy and have managed a few decent loops on the weekends. I snuck in some hard mid-week rides a few weeks back, and suffered for it - or perhaps more appropriately, those around me suffered for it, as I was tired and cranky for about a week. Got a little scared last Saturday, as the legs just didn’t feel too good for most of the ride. However, they did pretty well on a longer ride Sunday with Carlos, and today they actually feel decent. (Of course, seated at a computer is not the same as pedaling up a hill or two…)  It may have been that last week’s forced layoff was the culprit. In general, my body has done better with more consistent activity, so although I don’t want to cook myself this week, I’m going to make sure that the tires hit pavement a little through the rest of the week.

Which Brings Us to Bike Tech. Speaking of tires (and other bike tech), I nabbed a new set of TG Paselas (700c x 32).  Although there’s plenty of meat left on the “training tires”, these’ll get swapped tomorrow and will have the shine rubbed off of ‘em with the aforementioned shorty rides.  The 32’s (which came stock on the bike) leave me with a lot of pressure options for the rough stuff out by the Lighthouse, and they roll very well. The headlight mount worked like a charm, once a lower travel bumper was installed to keep the light head from migrating downward. The battery is tucked into the Nigel Smythe & Sons Little Loafer and the cable routing runs nicely through the attachment straps. The NS&S LL is really a nicely put together little bag - fits perfectly on the Nitto Mini Front (Camper) rack and is small enough that it forces you to select what you want to go into it. While this might sound like I’m damning it with faint praise, it’s a real plus in my book.  One of my working theories is that gear will expand to fit any means of conveyance.  In other words - bigger bag, more stuff.  With this bag, everything has to earn its place.

(And let me briefly digress about the bag & fabric - it’s the green plaid wool, laminated to an inner layer.  There was a fair amount of wailing and moaning about the “tweedy” look of these on the RBW and iBOB lists. Fact is, from 5 or 6 feet away, it matches closely enough with the worn-in tan of my Baggins Banana Bag. It melds into the background in a way that isn’t quite so apparent from photographs, but when you take a close look at it, the details are interesting and top-quality.)

My plan is to use the front bag for foodstuffs and things I want to get at in a hurry, while the Stuff I Hope I Don’t Need will go aft. As long as I’m fixating on bags a bit, the Banana Bag saved my backside on Sunday’s ride.  In a wonderfully boneheaded move, I never refastened the strap when I checked something at the Marshall store.  When I paused for a phone-check as I turned onto Lucas Valley, there was a rattly sound that wasn’t right. So, I looked. Wiser men than me at that moment have observed, “DOH!” The bag had been unsecured the whole time. Everything which had been inside it - tools, spares, patch kit, etc. had joined hands and held on the entire time - maybe an hour? - and gave me a dirty-but-thankful look as I refastened the buckle.

So, the only things to assemble for the 200K will be an appropriate length of chain link spares (enough for three or four catastrophic failures), some zip-ties (y’never know), a second tube and patch kit (one to give away) and an extra rack bolt.  The NWS is giving a chance of rain Thursday with a slight chance on Friday and Saturday. This has been a change, and means I need to get the fenders ready to mount. Cold has been the prevailing condition, and that’s been what I’ve been focused on dealing with.  This morning is another 34 degrees on the back porch, with frost on the surrounding roofs. I’ve been using knee warmers under the tights, which seems to be about right. The possibility of rain concerns me a bit, as I don’t really have appropriate lower coverage.  Usually when riding, the fenders have protected me from below while the shadow from my upper body has kept my legs reasonably dry. However, I don’t think that’s a formula for success on a ride of this length. I’m thinking a cheap pair of nylon pants, which I might hack off at the knees.  But, I’ll keep my eyes on the NWS feed and see what happens.

Food and Water are a Good Idea. Riding with Carlos on Sunday reminded me how easy it is to get distracted and a little off my plan. I didn’t drink as regularly as I have been doing, and thought my light breakfast would get me to Marshall. By the time we passed through Pt. Reyes Station, I was drinking but feeling thirsty and feeling pretty empty in the belly. I dug out and ground up a Clif Bar in my teeth, but it was a bit of a trick to swallow the solid food - with the headwind we encountered on Hwy 1 drying as well as cooling, I’d gotten a bit dry in the throat. Gross as it sounds, I just kept chewing and rechewing the food until it was seriously close to fluid, then forced down a sip of water with each little section that could be swallowed. That pepped me back up pretty quickly. But, it reminded me that it’s gonna be imiportant not to get giddy and overcook things, both in terms of food/water and efforts expended. The pacing of the fixed-gear will be a bit unlike the coastables, so I’ll need to be aware of the racer-brain and eat.  I may even pre-snip a bar or two, so I can open it easier.

Meting Out the Effort. As I just mentioned, it is also important to stay on my pace. The geared folks will be motoring up some of the hills, and there will be times when I look forlorn and broken.  But, there are a variety of gears on a fixed system, and I need to focus pretty strongly on using momentum and body weight to climb whenever possible. There are probably four sections where I’ll need to really stomp (White’s Hill, Tocaloma Climb to Olema, Inverness Climb towards Mt. Vision and Lighthouse Climb), and more than a couple others where fatigue will create a more abrupt gradient than is apparent, so everywhere I can take it easy will pay itself forward (or would that be “upward”?)

Watching the Clock. Carlos suprised me by pointing out that we had lunched for almost 45 minutes. I’d reckoned that it was maybe 30, but hadn’t been checking my time.

Where to Rest. My plan is a reasonably quick turn-around at the Lighthouse.  As it is on the southern end of Pt. Reyes, a headwind is a strong possibility for the return leg. It also may make some sense to not dally up in Marshall. Pt. Reyes Station is pretty protected and there are a few places to get out of the wind and stay warm, so if I’m feeling peppy, it might be better to retreat to the Bovine Bakery. I’m going to have to think this through a little better - it strikes me as a weak spot in my prep.

Still To Do. Go through 1st Aid Kit. ScotchGuard the nylon windbreaker. Clean the bike and swap tires. Check all bolts and make sure all tools are present. Print and Copy Route Sheet. New batteries for backup headlight/tailight. Charge headlight battery.  Charge Pencam batteries. Figure out any forgotten things to do.

Which means we’re pretty much on final approach at this point…

Brevet Lighting Setup
Filed under: bike tech, brevets
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 10:46 pm

With a few false starts this week, it was with a great sigh of relief that this came together this evening.

Photos over in a Flickr set, with some cursory explanations.  Too dang tired to render copious descriptions right now.

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A Bad Sign
Filed under: general
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 10:40 pm

Right towards the end of Jeopardy tonight, an ad comes on blasting The Buzzcocks doing “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays”. It plays through and turns out to be a flippin’ AARP ad. 

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Who Da Thunk?
Filed under: general
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 8:05 am

Though I’m about to mock it, I appreciate Chris Carmichael’s blend of optimism and opportunism which has allowed him to create the CTS Empire. In addition to creating a stable of ready-to-help coaches and managing to wriggle onto OLN (urk…”VS” now, eh?) at every opportunity, CTS sends out an email newsletter.  The most recent one points out that donuts and alfredo sauce are not good for you as training fuel, not to mention fireproof “cheese”. 

But, I do have to wonder about the graphics which they chose to illustrate this insightful piece of investigative journalism. That’s it right (or rather “left”) there. At first consideration, it may appear that the young lady is about to eat this gastric destructive device, thereby ruining her training regimen for the day (or possibly week). That assumption would appear to be flawed for a few reasons.

a) Spotless nails. If the woman in question is an active cyclist, there would have to be some measure of grit or chain grease under her nails, which would by necessity be shorter. Or, she’s on a fully-funded team where the wrenches do all the work, and her caloric intake is monitored by a team nutritionist, in which case she’d never have the chance to get her mitts on that glazed goodness.

b) Nekkidness. The assumption here is that the woman in question has chosen to put on lipstick but no clothes, then wander out to the kitchen (or possibly down to the local donut shop) for this treat. Yeaok…

c) Mouth position. Maybe it’s a cultural thing, but most folks I’ve noticed eating donuts (or bagels, which share the same general exterior shape) would have retracted their lips by this point, in order to expose their teeth to the shiny sugaryness.  That would mean that there’s another approach involved, or some sort of enticement being given to whoever shares the same point of view with the photographer. 

She’s clearly offering up the tasty torus. The only conclusion one can reach is that she’s some sort of fried flour treat pushing harpie, gliding effortlessly through all countermeasures designed to stop her, on a mission to convince libido-driven-but-repressed cyclists into scarfing these performance killing caloric artery bombs. There is no help within the CTS article as to resist the charms of this type of sultry wench attack (which T-Mobile may have actually tried during the 2003 Tour).

The whole point of the supplied graphic element seems to be that bike riders are laying around, with seductive maidens offering up donuts….and I’m going to sidestep entirely any observation about the subtext implicit in that imagery.


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Stash Yer Jacksons
Filed under: general
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 7:36 pm

‘Cuz this is definitely worth forgoing a movie and, uh….a little time on the parking meter.  Or, you could forgo a movie and a couple of watered-down sodas and a trashbag of stale popcorn and get two tickets…

Nine Frame Builders Collaborate
on Road Bike for NAHBS Raffle

JANUARY 12, 2007

HEWITT, TX (BRAIN)–The North American Handmade Bicycle
Show (NAHBS) is inviting the public to buy a raffle ticket for a
handcrafted bicycle built by a team of nine esteemed frame builders.
The team, which will raise money for the Juvenile
Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), includes renowned frame builders
Brian Baylis, Roland Della Santa, Doug Fattic, Bruce Gordon, Tom
Kellogg, Andy Newlands, Mark Nobilette, Richard Sachs and J.P. Weigle.

Selected based on quality, craftsmanship, reputation
and artistic impression, these famous builders will draw on over 290
years of combined experience to create a one-of-a-kind bicycle in the
first collaboration of its kind.

The bicycle, to be custom-fitted and built for the
lucky winner of the raffle, will include a set of Pacenti lugs, a
Columbus tubeset from Nova Cycles, Richard Sachs dropouts, a Campagnolo
Record group and Phil Wood hubs.

The undertaking was organized in honor of Tessa
Walker, daughter of NAHBS founder Don Walker, who contracted juvenile
diabetes when she was five years old. Now 16, she monitors her blood
sugar several times daily.

“I am touched that such a great group of artisans are
contributing their efforts on behalf of the JDRF. Their partnership in
this project to benefit the search for a cure to juvenile diabetes
means a lot to Tessa and me,” said Don Walker, founder of NAHBS.

Raffle tickets are now on sale at the NAHBS Web site for $20 each or $200 for 12.

The drawing will be held at the NAHBS show in San Jose
on March 3 at 4 p.m. The lucky winner need not be present to win, but
raffle participants are encouraged to attend to meet the world-class
builders and get fitted for the frame.

JDRF will receive 100 percent of the proceeds.

Filed under: photos
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 7:37 am

More evidence that Californians in general and I specifically are/am weather wimps.

Beth H (above) and Joe B (below) roll through the snow in Portland, while I take photos of frosty roofs.

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Three of a Perfect Pair
Filed under: general
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 7:25 am

(Note - this post was actually from a couple days ago.  It contains “car” content, and pretty immediately upon posting it, something in the blog database went under the waves, and extensive error messages propogated. I’m hoping that it wasn’t a function of the content.  I’m taking the big chance and reposting it.  Hopefully if I add a subtitle, the software may allow me to make an auto-related post…)

“I’m sorry, Jim. I can’t let you do that.”

Hmmm….anyone else hear that?


Three of a Perfect Pair
- or -
“Why Cars Suck”

As I’ve mentioned earlier, these things happen in threes…

Had to run a car errand the yesterday (boo!), and popped the brake off to
roll back down to the road.  Except, in this instance, it appeared that
someone had flicked off the “GRAVITY” switch in our neighborhood and nothing happened. While I paused to ponder this non-event, the possibilities included (a) a large animal had decided to sleep against the rear bumper of the vehicle, (b) the recent cold weather had frozen the tires to the concrete, (c) me, having not driven in a while, had forgotten something basic, like taking it out of a forward gear and (d) a non-round tire.

The answer was (d) a non-round tire. (Thing #1.)

So, in good iBOB fashion, I put on the “compact” spare with a minimum of fuss and lowered it back down. That tire had slightly more air, but not by much, so I slowly set off in search of a gas station. Cranked the air pressure up to the specified 60#’s, and then brought the other three tires up to spec. The last tire was the other rear. As soon as it was up to 32#’s, it suddenly began morphing into a mutant balloon animal shaped object.

Cognitive dissonance time.  My ears wanted me to run away, while my hands were scrambling to grab the valve stem and relieve pressure.  The hands won, and luckily moved quickly enough to get the separating sections of the tire back into reasonably proximity with one another.

This photo was snapped while back at minimum driving pressure, and you can see a bit of structural instability near the middle of the tread. (Thing #2) The cold and sun and lack of use had not been good to this tiny automotive tire. But, it
made it through gingerly erranding and then it didn’t im- or ex-plode overnight, and we all (well, me, the car and a bike so I could get where I needed to be - darned reliable, those bicyles…) limped over the hill to the local tire shop, where a suitable and inexpensive set of replacements were agreed upon. The service writer had jumped into the car and moved it a
touch closer while we’d talked.  When I turned to go get my bike out of the car and head to work, I asked for my keys back. The SW said he’d left ‘em in the ignition. And there they were. Inside the locked car.

That’d be Thing #3…

While I’m calling the person I’d be meeting a little later than planned, the visibly-sweating-but-now-very-quiet service writer  tried to figure out which one of the wrenches knew how to use the slim-jim set they had hidden in the back. I’m actually really trying not to openly laugh - and just to be clear, at the situation rather than the poor guy.  The meeting’s not that big a deal, and I’ve worked too many years in retail to start being a retail creech. It really does strike me as funny, too. About 10 minutes later, everything’s opened and I’m riding (yay!) over to work on a crisp, clear morning.

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Weather Obsession
Filed under: brevets
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 11:18 pm

Ok. Maybe this will get it out of my system.

I dug through some old links and came back across the National Weather Service Digital Forecast Tool, which is now listed over on the left as “7 Day Forecast” under “bike resources”.  At first I had it set up to kick out a report, but that seems to be a dynamic page that doesn’t like to be referenced by a link.  Hence, the link that doesn’t get all 404 on you ends up on the “Create A Report” page.

For the upcoming SF Randonneurs 200K, I have been using the “TABLE” style, of “7 DAY” with “6 HOUR” increments. Just to play around, I’ve been plugging “Point Reyes Station” as the city, as that seems like a decent enough central location. Press the go button and there’s a ton of data to obsess and fret over. 

For those of you playing along at home, that number is - http://ifps.wrh.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/dwf?siteID=MTR

Cold Comfort Farm
Filed under: general, photos
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 10:24 pm

Just to make it clear I’m keeping all this weather-stuff in perspective, you oughta go read Kent’s and Tarik’s recent posts. These people actually live where there’s real weather. By comparison, I’m playing along with my own “Little Weatherman” kit. 


The evening ritual of late is to keep the more delicate growing things protected, and so I’ve dug out the rags-to-be, some errant shade cloth and a sheet to protect the fruit tree and the more exposed cymbidiums.

Two mornings ago, the frost had set in a pretty cool pattern on an old cotton turtleneck covering the lemon tree. As I am easily amused by visual stimuli, it is herewith shown:

(there’s a big version)
The cool thing to me (keeping in mind that I’m easily amused) is that it looks like a really digitized shadow fade.  But, that’s the way the different thicknesses of frost set up.

Last night it got down to 28, which is pretty much when plants like that start to walk into the grow light. This shot was from Sunday AM, when it was nudging 30 on the high/low thermometer on the back porch.

A few of the smaller orchids on the bench above this have blackened at the tips. I could bring them in, but when I tried that before, the shock of the house temps seemed to do more damage. So, once things get closer to spring, I’ll trim away the dead bits and perform whatever triage steps are necessary.

But, it does have it’s purty side as well - kind of a west coast Mary Poppins chimneysweep scene couple of views -

(the second shot has a bigger version)

Of course, that did mean that even after the sun came up for real, there were still frozen bits to be found on the ride.

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Pry My Fingers From the Bars
Filed under: rides, brevets
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 11:53 pm

The thermometer on the sheltered and covered back porch was at a solid 30 this AM. Oh sure - you folks who actually get real winters can mock me, but lemme tell you, the high-wicking properties of my gloves had me sufferin’… Actually rode for a while with my arms crossed in front of me, trying to get feeling back into my fingers by holding them under my armpits. I’m not sure that’s an RUSA-approved means for cycling, and it only kinda worked.  The best solution was hitting the actual sunlight and finally turning so that the wind from the steppes came from behind. Right now, at 10 pm or so, they are still tingling a little.

But, I did try out a couple things today - first, as it’s a required piece of gear for twilight hours - I used the flecto-vest.  No suprises there, other than realizing I wouldn’t be able to easily work the front zipper for my vest. Luckily the weather negated any real need for venting today. 

So, that’s a reflection of the flecto-vest, with my 2 piece balaklava (created by overlapping a neck gaiter and my wool cap), as well as Tashi snuffling around to see if I dropped any food.

The other new thing was my Pearl Izumi Calientoes -

with Tashi still snuffling…

I think the toes worked OK - my feet were cold for the most part while my hands were frickin’ freezing. So, I think the fleecey toe-condoms seem to have a beneficial effect.

Other than that, the ride was pretty uneventful - although there were many egregious examples of cycling idiocy for some reason — group rides fanning out across the bike path as if there were no possible way any cyclist could be going the other direction (nothing like a near bar-hook to get the blood flowing), other groups spreading out four wide on main roads when there’s enough room for two (and they weren’t going that fast anyway) holding up traffic. The best one was the idjit who figured I had stopped at the stop sign in downtown San Anselmo for no good reason and blew through it, narrowly missing becoming a hood ornament on the oncoming left turning vehicle who had no stop sign. He then proceed to slalom through stopped cars up ahead and almost became intimate with two people in the crosswalk. I dunno, maybe he had one of those chemical handwarmers slide down into his chamois…

Some Brevet Nattering
Filed under: photos, brevets
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 10:46 pm

Lighthouse Ride PhotosBeen kind of a weird week.  Felt like I was over the post-holiday cold and managed to get some decent miles in last weekend and before work this week.  But, after the ride, I’d get bongo-ears the next day, y’know when everything sounds like it’s coming in through a drumhead. The day after that, things would seem fine, so I’d (wisely/unwisely - you decide) ride again. This afternoon, it got bad enough to put me to sleep for an hour or so. Walked the dog for a while to wake up - it’s dropped into the low 30’s up here in the hood and supposed set some record lows tonight. Now I’ve got the crackly yawns, but at least no dizziness anymore. There was some Bob Roll article a couple (?) years ago in which he wrote about how a cyclist should feel - he made it clear that feeling like crap was par for the course. And of course, the eastern European coach voice just crosses his arms and observes, “Cold in head. Ok to ride” 

It clearly affects my writing.  Normally I don’t whine all that much.  Ok, maybe I do, but usually manage to edit most of the worst out before posting… Sorry.

Brevet Prep
I’m having foot issues.  Or, more precisely, the front end of my feet (yes, I’m aware those are my toes - but it makes it’s way back to about mid-foot) are getting frickin’ cold on rides of late. Even if I’m able to keep the rest of me warm, those tootsies just don’t get happy until they are thawing in the post-ride hot shower.  With this colder, static weather, what works for shorter rides gets reasonably uncomfortable as the distance and time increase. I tried a double-layer sock system on one of the AM rides this last week, with the thin against the skin trick, but that didn’t seem to make a dang bit o’ difference - and it was arguably less comfortable  for the first bits. It seemed that the socks were reasonably dry at ride end, so the chill may be a direct result of  my nice high-wicking socks combined with my breatheable SIDI’s. I’ve got an old set of Performance neoprene booties, but those add a lot of bulk, and seem like overkill. So, today I snagged a set of Pearl Izumi Calientoes, which I’ll try this weekend. They’re basically an insulating foot condom, which ought to be enough to prevent the airflow from being quite so effective. Of course, purchasing such things makes it more than possible that the temps will climb back up…

It was good to get out to the Lighthouse (Pt. Reyes) last weekend. Even though I’ve been out there a number of times, I’ve never actually ridden my bike to get there. And, like most roads covered only by motor vehicle, it had been flattened considerably in my memory. I knew that the climb up from Inverness was noticeable, and I left a few hoofprints next to my tire tracks on the way up.  But, my happy-thoughts brain recalled the flat road out past the Antennae Array (beyond the oyster beds) as extending most of the way to the Lighthouse. (Sorry if these references are extremely specific - there’s a bikely map if you want to play along at home…) Wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong. It’s a long and lonley haul out there, but it surely h’ain’t flat. Glad to remind myself of that before the event.  Even more glad to have a freewheel and a bailout chainring, especially on the way back. I ended up using the freewheel all the way back to the “Y” split towards Drake’s Beach, and kicked it into the low/low for the last little oomph up to that point.

For the rest of the ride back to Pt. Reyes, the fixed worked well. I’ll definitely trade away some ultimate speed on the downhills, but the moderate incline and flat stuff plays nicely to a fixed gear system.

Food will be a definite issue. I’ve been eating like a linebacker all week, and really white-knuckled it a little too much while on the road Sunday. I was a bit spacier than I realized until stepping off the bike at one point. My working plan is to pack some sandwiches, so I’m eating familiar stuff.  I’m not worried about spoilage - with the weather like it is, egg salad or tuna fish with extra mayo would keep just fine. You might have to thaw it a bit, even.

As far as the bike goes, it’s working pretty well.  I turned up a nice solution to mounting the lights, which I’ll document this weekend. The rack will get mounted this weekend, but I’m only going to rough-fit the fenders and add rainflaps. The ride last weekend confirmed that I’ll be flipping and flopping the rear wheel, so unless rain is forecast, I’m going to forgo the covered wheel approach unless needed.

After reading through last year’s instructions (easy to find on Carlos’ excellent sfrando page), I may opt for some new tires.  The Pasela 32’s that I’ve been running show little serious use, but Todd recommends that tires have less than 100 miles on them. No reason not to follow that advice, and I’ll just swap ‘em off after the event. I’m also leaning towards a new chain before the ride, thought I’ll probably measure it before just yanking it.  Other than that, I’m just trying not to complicate a simple system.

This was supposed to be the last “hard” week, with a little tapering next week and then an easy week before the brevet on the 27th. Hopefully the brain pokiness will dissipate and is related to the efforts of last weekend and this week. Feel like there were some other things I’d wanted to mention, but hey, that’s it for now…

Your AM update -
According to an sfrando group post, the 200K rider limit has been reached as of Friday.

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Mandatory Reading
Filed under: general
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 4:23 pm

Really.  Go ahead.  And this, just so you have the stats right. I’ll wait. For some reason, I’d not read this blog in a bit, and doing so today just smacked me upside the head, right proper, on a lotta levels.

When you’re done with that, go back to the main page and read through the FBQ Series - a great set of interviews with important builders.

And thanks to Kent P, whose post today reminded me keep aware of such things - and this one in particular.

Even When You’re Right, You’re Wrong
Filed under: general, rides, unfortunate events
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 11:37 am

Or, “I once again live through my own stupidity…”

Up and out early to get a brisk/easy 20 in before the day begins. On the way back, I hear the squeal of some oncoming vehicle testing tire adherence through the blind turns up ahead.  I’m in no specific danger, hopefully, as I’m on the straight and visible bit of road where the last turn empties out.  This means I have a front row seat to the performance as some single, clearly adult-by-age male in the family minivan cuts 3 tires (both left tires and half of the rights) across the centerline as he sweeps through the turn towards me. He’s back on his side of the two lane, double-yellow-striped road maybe 40 yards ahead of me - enough to wake you up, though not enough to induce panic.

So, I pop off.

Nothing really stupid, or so I thought.  But, I was on the tail end of the ride, feeling smooth and strong, which let some short-circuit in the cranial folds match up with the heady good-on-ya rush of excercise-induced endorphins.  I sit up and clap as he goes by. 

So much for my zen detachment.

About a minute later, as I’m up in the series of turns, a vehicle approaches reasonably quickly from behind.  I got a bad feeling well before he starts in yelling at me through the now-opened passenger window.  Of course, I wasn’t quite clever enough to have pulled out the pencam in advance of this event, and now I’m reluctant to take hands off the bars.  Manage to ignore him for a few sputtering curses and then finally point out that he was the one who was cutting the corners, not me. As you might have guessed, that worked about as well as you would’ve thought. He starts telling me how he wasn’t near me, that I should mind my own business, etc. Then he starts calling me a “busy-body”. 

I find this relatively humorous.  I’m blinking and reasonably incredulously pondering this oath, as I don’t believe I’ve ever been called a “busy-body” in anger before.  Providing proof that humans can parallel process, I’m also yelling back at him.

By this point, he’s been driving in the oncoming traffic lane for some time, on the fairly twisty curves of the road.  This can only end badly, and I start repeating that he’s on a blind curve.  Loudly.  Punctuated a couple times with less-than-polite euphamisms for mental inabilities.  At some point, it dawns on him that I’m describing where we are rather than where he was (so maybe the zen sense of presence has not completely atrophied), and he drops back and turns into a picnic area to turn around and leave me alone.

For  most of the ride home, I wonder about him and about myself. Whatever combination of job-hate, family and/or world frustration makes him go out and burn up the roadways so he can feel good and in power is not a good thing.  But, neither is mocking him.  Thank goodness he didn’t have the lack of control to give me a little nudge as we were rounding the corners together later on.  I had positioned myself a ways in from the edge, with its little 20 foot drop down to the beach, but at that point, it was damage control rather than intentional actions.

Again, I’ve proven two guiding principles from the farm:

“Don’t try to teach a pig to sing.  Wastes time and annoys the pig.”


“Never argue with a fool.  Folks may not be able to tell the difference.”

Man, I really didn’t want to write about something like this today.  Should’ve paid better attention when I read JimG’s “Two Wrongs…” post.

Be good.  Be smart.

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Vegas Is As Vegas Does
Filed under: general
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 8:13 pm

Had to scoot over to Las Vegas, En Vee for three days this past week for a distributor show with associated purchasing, product evaluation, and flabbergassedly confirming that the pricing actually increased that much in a few departments.  It is, in short, a good deal of work and ordering crammed into a short period of time.

Everytime I go back to Vegas, I’m reminded why I don’t like Vegas. There are stronger words, but I’m trying to be detached.  From the happy sounds of the slot machines just off of the airplane, to the acrid stale cigarette odor of the “No Smoking” cabs that whisk you to the strip, it’s a quick one-two punch that says, in some Telly Savalas mid-70’s accent, “We missed ya, baby!”

It’s not helped that this is show has more or less been an annual event for a bit, at the same hotel & facilities.  The hallways of the hotel are a particular aesthetic shock, so I thought you might like it…

If you aren’t already having equillibrium issues, this’ll help you right along. And this was just from my cruddy little camera phone - it’s a bit worse in person. In general, I try not to spend much time in places which can be rotated 90 degrees with no perceptible effect.

I was lumbering back to the land of coherency following my lingering holiday cold, and the first night found that my laptop, which I was depending upon to access some reports I hadn’t had time to print, decided that it was time to become quirky… Press the power button and… nothing.  Since CES hadn’t yet landed in town, there weren’t any roving computer repair folks wandering around.  But, with nothing else to lose, I managed to create the right environment of shaken, stirred and inverted to make the beast suddenly come to life - which were more or less the shenanigans I had to go through every time it either went to sleep or I turned it off. But, it worked when it was needed, and wisely didn’t allow me too much in the way of iBob list reading or Flickr surfing…

All the additions of concrete and lurid lighting does manage to obscure the fact that there’s topography and desert beauty, lurking just on the periphery of Vegas.  Luckily, I could crack my window just enough to get a glimpse of the western hills as the sun rose.  It was one of the few times I got “outside” until we left.  (And just to digress, one of the best times I spent in Vegas was near the end of Interbike one year, when a friend and I watched a hellacious lightning store move through the hills from a darkened room near the top of the Venetian… This morning view was calmer.)

By the time all the buying was done and the stuff turned in, I was reasonably happy to leave…

Congestion and a wicked sore throat made me worry that I’d managed to
relapse my cold.  But, those symptoms disappeared quickly upon to a
return to a smoke-free environment….so, now it’s back to riding!

Crikey~!  Less than 20 days to the 200K!

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