Sunday, January 14, 2018

training, previously interrupted, continues

The picturesque training route
Today I went on my first group training ride for an April charity event. This comes after three or four weeks of mostly not riding while I tried to rid myself of a persistent winter cold. The event I'm training for has forty-five, sixty-five, and one hundred and ten mile rides. My group is training for the forty-five mile ride. This week we did twelve miles (and I added six more getting to and from the starting point) and we'll eventually work our way up to thirty miles in the weeks before the main ride.

I was not mentally prepared for this ride, assuming that this morning would be as foggy and wet as the last several mornings. A welcome surprise: it was sunny and pleasant all morning (though somewhat cold), only becoming overcast a few hours after the ride ended.

And it was really satisfying riding with a group again. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed these training rides. And it was nice seeing people from last year's ride, most of whom I remembered and most of whom remembered me.

I managed to take one barely acceptable picture of a drab street, despite the majority of the route following a pretty shoreline and passing through pleasant park land. Next week I'll be sure to get some inspiring pictures of sewers.

Monday, January 1, 2018

begin as you mean to go on

The title of this post is the beginning of a quote from Charles Haddon Spurgeon. As far as I know, he's famous largely for that quote. But that quote was on my mind as I started the new year.

Of course, the best start is a healthy breakfast.
Soft-boiled eggs and dinner rolls. Yes, dinner rolls at breakfast. I'm just a rebel.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Title No. 1234

Sorry, I couldn't come up with a clever title for this post. I'm not even sure what I'm talking about. Which, now that I think about it, is pretty much a constant state.

Before I begin...there's a lot here that's not bike related. It's been a busy year. My job has kept me busy and exhausted; I'm on the long slow slide to retirement, at which point I hope to do nothing but cook, eat, ride my bike, play and listen to music, work on the house...you know, the typical things people do in retirement.

My LBS started carrying Marin bicycles, which I have to admit I found pretty interesting.

One of the Marins I rode was the Nicaso RC. It's a city bike with a Shimano 8-speed IGH in back. If I were in the market for my first bike, it would be one of the top contenders. It's also really cool-looking. Bright blue with matching fenders. Flat bar for a nice upright position. It looks to me to be the ultimate basic errand/commute bike. But see for yourself:
That blue! (Picture property of Marin Bikes.)
The 650B wheel size is also very appealing to me. 650B tires just seem comfortable, because the handling of the slightly smaller wheels makes the bike easier to handle than if it had 700c wheels. I don't think I'd give up my current errand/commuter bike for it, but it's a tempting bike in its own right. If I had nine hundred dollars in disposable income....maybe.

The other Marin I was able to test ride was the Four Corners model. It's what they call their "Utilitour" model. It's not a bad ride, but I think it could be better. They've done some things to make the bike more affordable and more appealing to (what I think of as) the average buyer.
The Four Corners. You can never get enough of blue bikes. (Picture property of Marin Bicycles.)

The crankset of the Four Corners is 50/39/30. I can't help but feel (based on my limited experience) that smaller rings would be a bit more useful. The front shifting is also a bit mushy-feeling to me. That could just be the way it was set up, but some mechanics I trust have told me that it's typical of the Alivio shifters that are standard on the Four Corners. All that aside, it's a good ride for most conditions; I just wasn't that happy with the shifting and with the gearing on a few difficult hills.

I've also been learning a bit of German in anticipation of a trip to Germany (of course). I'm hoping to celebrate my sixty-fourth birthday with a bike trip down the Rhine. It's always fun to attempt a new language; it'll be even better when I have a chance to use it.

Inspired by a post from the blog "Cycling In The South Bay", I've finally made some New Year's resolutions (other than "Don't make promises you can't keep" which is really sort of a meta-resolution). One I've already acted on: to delete my Facebook account. It's only been gone for two days and  I already feel I've wasted less time than I normally would have. Being less involved with the computer has given me more time to do the things I think I should actually be doing.

I don't often comment on current events in this blog. I'm not comfortable with expressing my political opinions in public, and in fact, I think this may be first time I've done it here.. But I'd like to end with this: despite things sometimes seeming bleak with our current situation, I believe that things will be uphill from here. It'll be a difficult climb, but we'll get there.

See you in the new year.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The season, such as it is, begins

Once again, it's time to start training for the annual charity ride. Well, it will be the annual charity ride...I think I have to do it more than once before it's actually "annual."

So...even though I've been riding ten miles a day during the week, I thought it would be a good idea to ride ten miles that I'm not used to. And this is what I saw:
If headwind was smog, the air in this picture would be dark grey.
The day was cold, but beautiful.
See the rocks? Native only to California. You don't get rocks like this anywhere else.
And I took enough breaks....
Bicicletta California in its native habitat.
In addition, I just celebrated my sixty-first birthday. I got a new crankset for the grocery bike (Deore XT, 42-32-24). I'll talk about it later when I've had a chance to really check it out.




Friday, November 24, 2017

post-celebration exercise

Post-thanksgiving. Time to work off the calories from the feast. Fortunately, I didn't eat that much, so I took an easy fifteen mile ride and ended up at home.

The end.

Ok, I did see some stuff.  Saw a community theatre building.

An American view of the current administration.
Took a left where I never had before and ended up in...well, an interesting place.
As the aphorism says, not all those who wander are...oh, who am I kidding? I'll never find this place again...
On my way home, I passed a man yelling "Ugly! UGLY! Why be ugly? Why not be beautiful instead?"

Oh, the benefits of living in a diverse urban area...

Friday, November 17, 2017

The more things change more

It is with some slight regret that after three months, I am saying goodbye to my Honey Brooks B17. As much as I tried to make friends with it, my butt had a viewpoint of its own. I never found a comfortable position on it, and I never got it adjusted quite correctly no matter how many times I applied the wrench.

So long, honey...

And there's the rub: the B17 is very adjustable. I could play with the adjustment forever. Forever. I could adjust infinitely and always wonder: is this the best it could be? Yeah. No. So I opted for a flat saddle that will never conform exactly to my sit bones, but I'm somehow more comfortable with that because I just don't think about it.

I've also undergone a change in my attitude. Biking is no longer something noteworthy. It's just something I do. Time to go to work? Get on the bike. Want to go shopping where there's no parking? Take the bike. Need some solitude? A bike ride would be just the ticket.

Of course, I still have ambitions. Light touring. More charity rides. More group rides.

But now it's (almost) winter in California. We don't of course have the snow and freezing weather that other places have. We do have rain, and some of us (me) are still not prepared for that. Hey, it's California! We don't need waterproof shoes! Or jackets. Or hats. I do find that every time I go out for a ride after a big rain, I have to watch out for sharp objects that washed out of the gutters. So I usually think less of waterproof and more of puncture-resistant.

I hope you all are having a pleasant pre-winter season. Some friends of mine who recently moved to Chicago are already seeing snow. In my area, we're seeing sub-45 degree weather. Hey, don't laugh...that's cold for California.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The danger of inexperience

This last weekend I went to southern California for the first time in a few years. And I had my first SoCal bike ride ever. It looked a lot like this:
For you non-Californians (and northern Californians), this is a "beach."
There was a lot of flat riding along the beach with a few difficult hills. I went out in the early morning of what turned out to be a very sunny day.

Because I hadn't planned to bring my bike, I rode a borrowed bike: a 17-inch Schwinn Crosscut...or Crossfit...Cross-something anyway. A decent city bike with a few features I was unfamiliar with...twist shifters and toe clips.  I found myself shifting accidentally quite a bit, though I was almost used to the shifters by the end of the ride.

But the toe clips...I don't think I'll ever get used to those. The main problem I had was that they were set up for someone with smaller feet. I was able to slip into them perhaps thirty percent of the time, and at a few stops I teetered precariously for a few seconds before I was able to pull my feet out.

Well, there was that last stop. I'd just gone up two difficult but short hills in quick succession. What I was mostly concentrating on at that point was how much worse my cardiovascular health was than I had previously thought. For some reason, this kept me from disengaging one of my feet and I went over in what felt like very slow motion.  As I was lying in someone's driveway, I had two thoughts: "Please don't pull out of your garage, whoever you are" and "I'm really glad I wore this dorky-looking ill-fitting borrowed helmet."

The fun wasn't over, though. I had twisted a muscle in the fall and had to apply an ice pack. I'm used to the gel kind of ice packs, where you can leave them against your skin for an extended period of time. My hosts had actual ice packs, though. Who knew that you could get the equivalent of a bad sunburn from ice? (Well, apparently, everyone but me knows this.)

I'm already planning my next SoCal bike ride, but I think I'll probably bring my bike. And bike shorts, and tennis shoes, and...well, whatever I need to actually be prepared. I'll still be bringing my inexperience, though.
Friends don't let friends look this bad in most pictures. But you do get to see the borrowed helmet.