cyclofiend.com - peripheral thoughts & notes

June 2009
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Hands are Important, Too
Filed under: general, rides, unfortunate events, bike commuting
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 10:05 am

Didn’t mean for this to become an appendage-focused theme or anything, but I spent last evening getting my neck, shoulder and hand x-rayed and finger sewn up.

Seems it’s never a good idea to let someone suddenly open up their truck door into you and try to use your finger as the padding.  Especially when you are underway in your lane, heading for home at the end of day.  Go figure.

As I mentioned on the Flickr page,
you do get a nifty bracelet. And tie-job.

Other salient facts:
About a dozen stitches to sew up a pretty good laceration. Caught it
all on the paw and then tumbled. Got to ride in an ambulance on a back board with
neck brace until the xray’s convinced ‘em no bone breakage. Shoulder,
neck and hand were concern. The police have the quickbeam so I won’t
know until I pick it up today. Feel like I’m typing with mittons. Pretty stiff and sore today.

More later, got some errands to do, obviously.

Take Care of Your Feet
Filed under: general, rides
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 10:33 am

…and other random thoughts.

A week ago Sunday, I stepped upon a bee whilst trying to quickly coil up a hose in the backyard. Hurrying, focused on where I was trying to go rather than where I was, supremely noncognizant of the fact that whenever the yard gets watered, bees come out in force enjoying the micro-humidity.  So, there I was, one clearly articulated anglo-saxon construction later, watching the arch of my foot swell up. Since I was fishing rather than riding, it was annoying.  But, I did learn that whatever other skills Long John Silver had, staying upright on one foot while on a rocking boat was a mad skill he owned.

So then the following evening, while trying to let in the neighbor’s cat (which we were tending to) after dark, while again barefoot, the tips of my toes found the odd lumpy bit of rough concrete in which must have held up a deck many years ago. It, of course, hadn’t moved in the entire time we’ve lived here, but it had dropped out of my mental map of the yard.  In my defense, it was 2 am, and the lights were (cleverly) not on.

Luckily for my personal relations, I managed to wonder why water had gotten all over my foot and toes before I climbed back into bed, turned on the bathroom light and observed, “hmmm, that’s a fair amount of blood…”

The end result of these clever actions was a truly awkward pedaling style for half of last week. It did get me out of the habit of generally using the tip of my left foot when I stop.  The discomfort reminded me that if the feet aren’t happy, cycling is not terribly comfortable.

But, by Thursday, the swelling had morphed into the fun itchy-itchy feeling, and the toes didn’t leak while switching from downward dog to plank during yoga.

The tail end of the week brought some actual summer-type heat with it. I tried to loop down to the bridge and back without pausing too much, but finally had to get out of the 98-degree heat briefly at about two and a half hours.  Still, it was the first hot day I can recall in a long time.  The blast of sea breeze at the GG Bridge felt great.

Athough, I do think it set up a bit of a shock when I headed back north to the warmer conditions.

Sunday evening I headed up to China Camp for a trail loop on the MB-1Singlespeed.  Spent the first 15 minutes of the ride feeling like there was something seriously wrong with the back end of the bike.  Then realized that for the past 20 or so rides, I’ve been on the fixed-gear rigged Quickbeam.  Although I did end up adding a bit of pressure to the rear tire, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the 26″ wheeled (559) rig felt entirely like a scooty little monkey bike

It’s  nice when you feel undergeared and unable to disconnect your tires from the trail.

Anyway - gotta get to work.  Just been in a habit of not writing and wanted to amend that behavior.

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SF Bike Plan Moves Forward
Filed under: general, bike commuting
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 9:56 am

Just a quick squib off of the mojo wire this morning -

S.F. planning board moves bike plan forward

Friday, June 26, 2009

(06-25) 21:47 PDT SAN FRANCISCO

As expected, the San Francisco Planning Commission certified the
Environmental Impact Report for the city’s far-reaching bike plan.

night’s unanimous vote was needed to move the plan forward. The
proposal now goes before the San Francisco Municipal Transportation
Agency governing board for consideration Friday.

Implementation of the San Francisco Bicycle Plan, which calls for
striping an additional 34 miles of bike lanes on city streets and
making other improvements intended to make the city safer and more
convenient for cyclists, has been held up by court order. A Superior
Court judge issued an injunction three years ago to halt the plan until
a thorough environmental review was conducted.

Critics of the plan said they intend to appeal the Planning Commission’s decision to the Board of Supervisors.

The only thing that baffles me is exactly who would be a critic of said plan…

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Ride Musings
Filed under: general, rides
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 11:16 pm

Thinking about arcs tonight.  Graceful, beautiful arcs.

It started on this evening’s trail jaunt. After being snagged into a mildly unnecessary meeting today, I missed out on connecting with a visitor to this fine region. That got me a bit grumbly for a while, but maybe it just wasn’t in the cards for this time. The meeting pushed back the more pertinent projects that I should have been addressing, which in turn had me working later than I’d planned.  Suddenly realizing that it was later than it should have been, I blasted away from work and punished myself a bit to hustle home. For the evening yoga class.

Yes, I was hurrying and stressing to get to yoga on time.

There’s a message in there somewhere. 

Got home to find that my wife had learned that our instructor would not be there, and the Evil Twisty Lady from Tuesday night would be leading the class. E.T.L. had appeared at the last class, covering for the regular person. The regular instructor is very, very good - intutive, careful, aware and mindful that she is leading a beginning class. E.T.L. had us doing moderately advanced stuff right out of the gate, all of which seemed to morph into some type of spinal twist.  This left me all too aware of a bad spot in my neck which hadn’t hurt for a while, but was now.

Which meant that I was wholeheartedly in favor of my wife’s decision to skip the class.

And I managed to get a little grumpy then too, as it would have been better to work another half hour, finish things and not get all kerfuffly trying to be home at a specific time.  Of course, it then dawned on me that I could dump my bag, put on some arm warmers and head back out again. This helped me to be less of a grump.  Which, of course, allowed me to see I’d been more of a grump than was necessary.

Luckily, grumpiness whithers under scrutiny and laughter.

So, I hit the road, aided by a tailwind and the solar power of the descending sun.  Was thinking that a loop around the point would be nice, but upon reaching China Camp, it was obvious that the Jack Brown tires were clamoring for a little trail dust in their teeth. By this time the grump arc had reached zero again, which meant that for the purpose of the measurement phase, it had ended.

Arcs continued to keep my attention as I rode. The trails have hardened up, and the oscillations of the bike were definite.  My body, however managed to float above it, and I found myself thinking about the arc it made as the Quickbeam dropped down into dips and bumps.

I thought about arcs of power and accelleration. 

That thought seemed to get at the crux of singlespeed riding in general and fixed-gears on trails in particular. By this time, I was having a grand old time, hitting it hard when line of sight allowed, nipping the crux line on smooth, fat tires, feeling the bike move to hug the trail as I hovered above it, offering all manner of body english to keep the pedals moving and things heading the right way.

The Quickbeam has a 14 tooth fixed cog, so with the large chainring, it measures out at around 77 gear inches. This means that there are times when my cadence is probably, I don’t know, around 12 or so rpms. (For example, with a quick visit to the Sheldon Brown Gear Calculator, 40 rpms in this gear is slightly more than 9 mph.)  There’s plenty of power, but little ability to accellerate.

(As I type this, it seems that there may be a Trail corollary to the “Climbing Gears” in a fixed system.  I’ll have to ponder that some more.)

This became clearer while rolling up on a mixed group of coastable mtb-folk. I’m sure they climbed a bit higher earlier in their ride, and now were happily twiddling away in a refreshing low gear. After working my way past the tail end members of the group, the leaders fell into alpha-male mode and protected the honor of those I had passed by increasing the pace. (Which I completely understood.  Who the heck wants to get passed by some dorky guy wearing a sweater riding a smooth-tired road bike with luggage on it and a bottle in a frame mounted cage.  Plus, I’m still running fenders with green tweed flaps.) They moved away quite easily at first, maxed out their spin in the 36/32 combo and bought a couple of gears with their clicky bits.

The topography helped me out a bit by easing slightly down.  This is where the acceleration arc abruptly changed. There’s a magic point where speed and cadence suddenly give way to some weird turbo boost and I went from 20 yards off their tail to contemplating the hairs on the back of the other rider’s neck in a quick hiccup.  Just another example of what the first person I ever knew who rode singlespeeds told me, “On a singlespeed, you are either going very slow or very fast.”

They veered off and took to the road.  I kept on the trails and dirt, playing in those combinations of speed and cadence that suddenly gave acceleration. Playing is good.

I just love that part of the arc.

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Your Trail Access Alert Minute
Filed under: general, mixed-terrain
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 10:05 am

This crossed my inbox the other day courtesy of the fine folks over at Access4Bikes.com - Another glimmer on the horizon, crack in the brick wall or some other metaphor indicating that old paradigms may finally be breaking down.  Specifically, they’ve been working for some time to permit limited cycling access to Bill’s Trail in Samuel P. Taylor Park to bikes.  I’ve hiked this trail and personally support this idea demonstrating that well constructed trails can be shared by all users.  It would make a really nice connector for mixed terrain rides, to be sure.

Letters of support are needed NOW. Deadline for comments is June 26th. IMBA is helping get the word out by mounting a National Campaign. You can go to the IMBA website and fill out their form.

It is quick and easy.  I managed to do it before I had any coffee -

Bill’s Trail Comment Page at IMBA.com

The rest of the text below is copied from the email I received.  The salient info is included and did I mention that the the deadline to comment is June 26, 2009?

Take Action! Tell California State Parks you support their decision to open Bill’s Trail to bicycles. The commentary period ends on June 26.

Or send your own email to Roy McNamee at:  rmcnamee@parks.ca.gov before June 26th.

Additional Information on the Proposal
California State Parks has announced a proposal to open singletrack for mountain biking in Samuel P. Taylor Park, Marin County. The agency plans to permit bicycle use on the 4-mile Bill’s Trail segment on alternate days and is soliciting public comment on the project.
This landmark opportunity is the direct result of more than three years of partnership building with the parks department by IMBA California, Access4Bikes and the Bicycle Trails Council of Marin. A successful opening of Bill’s Trail will set the stage for bicycle access to several other singletrack trails in Marin.

Bill’s Trail
Located within the Mt. Tamaplais watershed in Samuel Taylor State Park, Bill’s Trail winds through native ferns, wildflowers and hazelnut trees. It averages a reasonable 7-percent grade, and its six switchbacks provide riders with multiple views of the surrounding landscapes. While it is expected that bike access on Bill’s Trail will be limited to alternate days at first, the parks department states that this stipulation will be open to further review.
A small number of local hiking and equestrian groups have vowed to fight against any new access for mountain biking in Marin County, despite plentiful evidence that well-designed trails can be successfully shared by various user groups, and that mountain biking is a sustainable, low-impact form of recreation. “I think that, broadly speaking, the community of trail users in Marin is ready for this,” says IMBA California Policy Advisor Tom Ward. “We have seen great success with our volunteer mountain bike patrol program there. Mountain bikers care deeply about protecting the gorgeous trails and natural areas in Marin, and we will continue working with like-minded groups.” 

Thank you for taking the time to be active.

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