cyclofiend.com - peripheral thoughts & notes

January 2008
« Dec   Feb »
Your Weather-I Forecast
Filed under: brevets
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 12:28 pm

It’s, um, raining. No suprise there.

But, the interesting tidbit is that the winds continue to blow East-Southeast, which means that the return leg from Marshall is likely to be pushing a headwind, particularly in the Nicasio and San Geronimo Valleys, and the exposed leg of the Mill Valley Bike Path over the Richardson Bay mudflats.

10-15 mph forecast, with some higher gusts.

Budget your time!

Also, high tide is ~2:30 pm (+45 mins from Golden Gate Bridge).  It’s a +5.1. Probably not enough to worry about flooding on the MVBP.

Over and out!

Right On Time
Filed under: photos, bike tech, brevets
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 11:20 am

Since it’s the week before the SFR 200K brevet this Saturday, a front came down from Alaska, bringing rain and colder temperatures to the San Francsico Bay Area.  Mt. Diablo got a dusting and I’m pretty sure when the clouds recede, Mt. Tam will be all snowy-topped as well. Last year,  the weather gave us a kinda-sorta-misty-drizzly-rainish-wet all week before.  I set up fenders, removed them, and then remounted them before the ride. This year things are much more focused and robust.  NWS estimates put chance of rain at 100% on Saturday.

And it’s (ok, you folks who get real winter weather and have to ride through the dark months with icicles and stuff hanging off you, please hold your laughter and derision until the end of the show…) cold.

Cold is OK.  Wet is OK. Cold and Wet is kinda energy sapping.

Probably ought to revise my caloric estimates upwards a bit.

I was thinking about things like this last night while mounting up fenders and a rear rack on the Hilsen.

Just making a bunch of mental lists really.  Some of the things seemed dreadfully important at the time, but in the light of the following morning strike me as inane little panics. But, a lot of the threads were helpful, if not in the immediate sense then more so in preparing myself for what could be a long day out on the roads this weekend. The bike seemed much happier after a good washing and things came together slowly but surely.

When I stopped whimpering about the weather, I realized that even on wet and cold commutes, my good rain jacket has kept me warm with just a single layer of wool beneath it. We’re not climbing above 1500′ anywhere on the route, so a replay of the Andy-Hampsten-Gavia-Epic. It may not be important to be comfortable the whole day, but it is helpful to be “manageable”.   My jacket is a Pearl Izumi with eVent fabric, and I was lucky enough to get a pair of Rainlegs for Christmas.  With fenders below, and those up top, that should mitigate the worst of the dampness.

I’ve been playing around a bit with gloves, and while I don’t think I’ve found the definitive answer, there are some good options. One thing that has worked suprisingly well is just wearing a pair of wool gloves - not even cycling specific ones.  Every winter cycling glove seems to either fail too quickly or gets extremely clammy and wet.

The wool seems to handle cooler temps pretty well, though I haven’t tried them in serious rain.  My plan is to tuck a few of those chemical warming packets into the bag, if things get  crackly cold.

My hands were reasonably problematic on last year’s 200K, (something I didn’t really remember until I reread my writeup) so this year I’m going to make sure I elevate them and take a little more care.

My working theory is that the little things are dangerous - it’s funny how a reasonably insignificant issue can get magnified over the course of a long ride. Maybe attention and intention will help.

Haven’t quite ironed out the lights.  Unless things go very badly, illumination needs are pretty minimal for a ride of this length. So, I’ve decided against bringing the Niterider that I rigged up last year.  Instead, I’ll bring one or two “be seen” lights and keep my headlamp.  The headlamp alone was  plenty for the after dark part of the Lighthouse ride last month.

Other than a trip to the hardware store on my lunch break for some short bolts to attach the fender flaps, things are pretty well in order.  Gotta trim the fender stays, wash the wool, then lay everything out.

I guess one other thing that keeps coming to mind is that I really need to keep thinking about the small sections of this ride, rather than consider the whole thing. As mentioned earlier, mileage is a bit less going into this one, but now I really know what a 200K day is like, so there is a tendancy for my brain to connect those two facts and create a pretty negative potential outcome. So, I’m going on maybe five rides  Saturday - Bridge to Inverness, Inverness to the Lighthouse, Lighthouse to Inverness, Inverness to Marshall (maybe a Bovine Bakery stop, even!), Marshall to Nicasio, Nicasio to the Bridge. All doable chunks, eh?

And I’ve got a bike I trust, a bag big enough to stash some dry socks and good friends on the route. Should be a good day out.

Setting The Pace
Filed under: general, rides
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 9:38 am

After enjoying the thread last week on the RBW List about the CTC “ideal” of a day’s country ramble, as well as Beth’s LJ post -


I’ve kept thinking a bit about the whole idea of - for the lack of a better term - noncompetitive riding, what we can do about it and where we sit.

I’m not sure all these notes flow, but they do seem related.

The thought I’ve come back to is that a lot of what gets talked about in the Rivendell Readers - the “Country Bike” idea, useful and practical designs and accessories, and the whole S24O idea - are precisely the type of perspective that could lead to a true bicycling lifestyle approach.

One of the weird things that happens is that through my work (not in the bike industry), I’ve had people I know pretty well begin biking regularly. From their descriptions, they’ve reached a decent level of fitness and I’ve been trying to encourage them to go with me on a ride (we’ve never ridden together).  This has continued to be a fizzling proposition. The reasons are vague, but it has come out that they both feel “they’d be holding me back” on the ride - simply that they weren’t fast enough.

I try to explain that when riding “with” someone, I ride with someone. Clearly I am using the wrong verb or modifier, or some inappropriate tone of voice, because this hasn’t worked.  But, I keep cajoling and hopfully it will.

And I think that’s the level of effort needed.  We (as members of the RBW list) are a desparately small slice of a subset of cycling as it is practiced. I think however if we go out and have a visibly great time riding, other folks will act to resolve the disconnect between what fun we are having and the approach that they have found that might not be working as well.

In our area (SF Bay) there are a ton of clubs and group rides and fast kids flitting about.  Most seem to hold onto that “racing heritage”* that permeates bicycling, but there are smart folks out there who can learn by example.  

As JimG & I rolled back onto the road in Pt. Reyes Station, there were probably 40 riders lolling around eating and chatting.  As we moved away, Jim said that he loved to watch people react to our bikes, because they looked confused. Fenders and decent sized bags will do that to people. But, we were out, enjoying the sun and fine weather and having at least as much fun as the Bento Box and Gel crowd.

I’m sure people looked at us and thought “mmm…heavy bikes”. Now, “heavy” is easy to quantify and consider, but it doesn’t stand a chance against “fun”.

Riding around on a “different looking” bike, it’s easy to be regarded as “cliquish” - there are such easy visual markings
of modern tribalism. So, I think it is important to reach across such divisions whenever possible.  We’ve got to be the “fun” people to ride with, whether by demeanor, deed or bringing appropriate beverages and  baked goods.

Being able to fill a rail car (or a bus, large van, etc.) starts with a few like-minded people building into a group that shares the same values. It begins with a concrete idea of what the ride should be like, or it will devolve into a much more competitive endeavour. Let’s call this goal a “meander”.

It probably starts with one person saying, “I’m going to ride to there, and I’m going to go at a pace that lets me see hawks and rolling fog banks, winds and wildflowers.” Maybe you get some like-minded folks, maybe you end up riding alone once or twice.

Take photos, write it up, email the participants afterward and share with this distributed tribe. Have Fun. Give people ideas and the energy to do the same in their neck of the woods. The “three-speed” ride was a great example, and there are a ton more if you start looking. WOMBATS rides, mixed-terrain outings, all good stuff, all easy to set in motion.

It’s all there if we just start to nudge it a little.

Saturday’s Ride Shots:

*and I reckon you already know this, but I’ve got nothing against racing or riding fast, just the fact that it seems to be the only way to “enjoy” the sport.  It’s like writing using only verbs.

Nice Ride Home
Filed under: general, brevets
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 11:20 pm

Been starting to get that nagging feeling of “you shoulda been riiiiiidiiiiiiing!” this past week.

It was pretty obvious that the volume of miles that worked out OK in late 2006 just wasn’t happening as 2007 wrapped up.  The calf thing put some no-riding weeks where there could have been some miles, and November was a blip on the timeline - gone before we even managed to flip all the calendar pages in the house.  After that bad early winter cycle of injury and illness, December went pretty well, all things considered.  But the new year took me to Vegas, weather returned me to Vegas and Vegas kindly gave me something to remember it by (ok, being crammed in more planes than normal and hanging out in airport waiting areas probably didn’t help).  I slept through the first three days back. Yum.

In the first fully concious day after that - late last week - I did a little mental math and found a rather startling proximity to the first brevet of this year - the SFR 200K which will take place on January 26th. Which is kinda when that nagging feeling began.

So, I sat with that feeling for a couple days. Sure, I’d sent my money in. But that wouldn’t really prevent me from pulling the plug and just saying, “nope” to the ride. It had been a while since I’d ridden, and some little voice kept quietly reminding me that it wasn’t really helping to obsess on something I couldn’t change. It would, the little voice reminded me, make more sense to at least get out on the bike, stretch the legs and then make a decision afterwards.

Finally got caught up enough to roll out Sunday morning, on a beautiful clear and cool Bay Area day. I’d left a bit later than I wanted to, seemingly forgetting how to get my buttocks out the door and onto the bike.  Instead, I fretted about clothing and food and bike adjustments and bag rigging. Momentum was low.

Meandered for a bit, legs feeling loggy and slow, hard and clunky. I missed shifts and wondered who had messed with my bike. But, after a little bit of riding, found a good rhythm on a short hill, enjoyed the speed and spin down the other side, and things began to fall away. The little things, petty annoyances from work, clumsiness and awkward movements, all seemed to drift away like ash on the breeze.  I’d missed the time window to meet up with others as they headed up the mountain, but that mattered a little less now. It was probably one of those days where I wouldn’t have offered much to the group.

Ended up circling through Crissy Field, then pushed a headwind all the way home.  My cheeks were sunburned but I’d needed a decent layer of wool and windbreaker to keep warm. (See earlier comments on Californians being weather wimps…)  Found my wife sitting out on our sheltered back porch, reading the paper and enjoying the sunlight.  Joined  her out of the wind and things continued feeling better. Nothing hurt, (though my chamois contact zone was a little tender) and I didn’t feel exhausted.  Now, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I felt better than when I started.  But, that ride - like most - seemed to reset something.

Riding into work on Monday, my legs felt better. The nagging feeling was still there, but now I was remembered things like December’s Lighthouse Ride. If I’d thought beforehand about how many miles that ride covered, I probably would’ve talked myself out of it.  But, it went pretty well. And at last year’s brevet, I’d ridden the Quickbeam - the Hilsen has like forty-leven gears on it.  That has to count for something.

By Wednesday of this week, the riding had remained consistent, and the first glimmers of efficiencies began to reappear. That evening, I called home after work, told my wife that I wouldn’t be home before Jeopardy! and headed out for the indirect route home.

It turned out to be a gorgeous evening - one of the moments where your clothing matches conditions, the winds seem always to be quartering and never quarrelling with your headway. Away from the main roads, traffic fell away and the only sounds were crickets, choruses of frogs and the humm of the Jack Browns on the smooth pavement. The roadway rose and fell through countless microclimates, and every change could be felt in the air, even though the tastes of exposed salty mud at low tide.

The brevet will happen, I decided somewhere out there, though the thought didn’t seem to have much substance to it. It seemed to drift off easily into the night.  I may not finish within the time limit, or I may suprise myself, who knows.

 Regardless, on that quiet night, listening to the rubber on the asphalt, watching my light spread out into the darkness ahead, it seemed like a good excuse to get out and ride.

Snide Aside
Filed under: general
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 9:17 am

Now, I’m not particularly trying to mock the National Pastime (that’d be Baseball - “beys-bahl” - for those of you who were not raised in the US) (and yes, I say “National Pastime” with a mildly ironic and sardonic tone), but this story on the newswires today was too rich not to mine and comment upon.

It seems that sports attracts a fair number of those annoying children who tend to disrupt class.  But, the good thing is that these heretofore maligned individuals are able to admit their problem, and receive the help - er - dosages that they need.

If the above link doesn’t work for you, here’s the punchline; According to the NYTimes article, the number of players in pro baseball who are claiming to have Attention Deficit Disorder - ADD - jumped from 28 to 103 between the 2006 and 2007 seasons. (That’s something like 7.6% of the players, vs 2-6% estimates for the general population.) The solution is that they take Ritalin or Adderol, which are trade-name versions of methylphenidate  - “a central nervous system stimulant. (Its effects are similar to, but
more potent than, caffeine and less potent than amphetamine.)”


Here comes the snarky comment.

It’s a helluva thing when when your sport is so monumentally boring that the players have to take speed to stay awake during a game.

But here’s the other thing, and it is probably spurred by the amount of comments that otherwise non-cycling-knowledgeable-folks have made over the past few years - it just underscores the complete lip-service approach which pro baseball brings to their flailing and posturing about drug use within their sport.  I mean, when co-workers went on about how “Lance must’ve doped” or what a druggie Floyd or Tyler was, I smiled and said little.  The latter pair had in-competition tests to dispute and the former was included by the old favorite - guilt by association. These were folks who had only been tangentially aware of the Tour de France,  but when the scandals broke across the  papers, it became their great sport to mock those who now stood naked in the spotlight.

And I’m not niave enough to think that there isn’t (or hasn’t been) drug use in the pro cycling ranks. But, recently they’ve also done more, been tested more and have consistently tightened screening processes than any other sport I’m aware of. They are not “off the hook”, but are at least engaged in a relatively painful and public vetting. It’s a bit painful to watch, but as a fan of the sport, I think it’s a necessary step.

Baseball on the other hand has danced around the issue considerably.  Steroids weren’t illegal until recently.  Turns out the amphetamines weren’t illegal until a couple years ago. And when I read the article, in which the baseball league apologist suggests that suggested that “the attention deficit disorder numbers might be higher
in baseball than the general adult population because baseball players
have a younger average age…” - it was reasonably hoot-worthy.

I mean, they test the players twice a year for amphetamines? And that wasn’t illegal until 2006? At least the players were staying awake…

Reports of My Demise…
Filed under: general
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 9:00 am

…Are Greatly Exaggerated!

Since I’ve had a few folks email me to ask/ponder whether I’m suspending the Cyclofiend Galleries, I wanted to make it very clear that I am not. 

Between holiday stuff, work stuff, family stuff, travelling to more family stuff, travelling to Vegas for a trade show, flying all the way back home from the trade show only to attempt two aborted landings at SFO in the teeth of the recent nasty weather and flying all the way back to Vegas, picking up some minor bug either on the plane flights, airport or hotel, trying to catch up on work stuff and generally recovering from said schedule (yep, I’m a whimp…), posting photos occurred in fits and starts, blogging has been nil and even thank-you notes have been slower than usual. I don’t even want to think about the lack of bike miles in the past couple weeks…

So, hopefully things will swing back, if not to an even keel, at least to the regular wobble and yaw that is my life. Big, busy few more days ahead, but an expected calm before too long. 

A quick thanks to those who were worried, and a quick but bigger thanks to those who took the time to donate or buy shirts this last year, and the biggest (but too quick) thanks to those who did both. It’s been supremely enjoyable to see the variety of bicycles being enjoyed around the globe, and to hear the stories of construction, exploration and discovery.  Keep those photos coming!