Sunday, May 28, 2017

Breakfast with friends

Breakfast.

Friends.
Yeah, we're cool with scones. We eat them all the time. Hey, don't finish that!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Now where was I?

A few pictures from a recent ride. Not worth quite a thousand words apiece, but...

I went through this tunnel to a large recreational area right on the bay.

And like a dork, this is the only picture I took on the other side. The more I look at it, the more it looks like a large sleeping bear.
I rode almost forty miles, and all I got was this picture of a big rock.
There were a few highlights to this ride. One is that it's the longest solo ride I ever took: thirty-seven point nine miles. After a point, it was also one of the prettiest rides I've ever taken. Next time, more pictures.

I also got to try one of the more difficult climbs I've ever attempted. I didn't get all the way up; the hill went from a seven percent grade to a ten percent grade in what seemed a very short distance. A couple of riders zipped past me as I was walking up the last part of the hill; but the rear hubs on their bikes looked like Copenhagen Wheels, or some other power-assist mechanism. Maybe I'll get one of those when I'm older and they're cheaper. Or maybe I'll just get a Harley.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Feeling a little cranky today

One thing I and all my biking friends seem to have in common is a two-sided relationship with the bicycle. We love to ride, we like to use the bike for errands, and when we do these things we're not thinking much about the bicycle itself. But once we get off the saddle, many of us think of little else.

I have one friend who started out using the bicycle as a tool to exercise and lose weight. Since then, he's become obsessed enough to have built up over ten bicycles, and he has a small shop in his house.

Another biking friend likes to ride centuries, and has told me that he never thinks about bicycles. Yet he and I recently had a serious and disturbingly deep discussion about how many current bikes are being built to a standard that just doesn't conform to real-world usage. Then we talked about what components would work well for various uses.

It seems as if a lot of bicyclists are also addicted to bicycle minutiae. I'm no exception. I've been riding for less than two years, and almost since the beginning, I've been evaluating the bike I ride (it's pretty darn good, in case you're wondering) and evaluating what kind of bike I might want if I get a second bike. And like some others, I've come to the conclusion that I'd be better off buying a frame and parts and either putting it together or having my LBS put it together.

Though I've evaluated a number of frames, the one that I've settled on actually surprises me. I thought I was going to get a Soma Wolverine -- but what I think would be best for me is the Surly Straggler.
Photo by Surly. Frame for surly rider.
This is based on perhaps ten test rides. It's not so much that riding a Straggler blew me away; it's that I kept coming back to it. The Straggler feels to me like a good all-around bike. And I like the pretty minty green color.

So why get a frame and build it up if I enjoyed the test rides? Well...as it stands, I think the Surly is a nice sport riding bike. The compact crankset is nice...but at my fitness level, I think a triple would be better.  The Surly also comes with drop bars; if I'm honest, I would say that I would ride in the drops just about zero percent of the time. So...maybe a Jones H bar, or a butterfly bar.

That triple crankset is what I've been thinking about the most. The one I've been looking at is a Sugino Alpina2. I've seen it advertised in a 46-36-26, 48-36-26, and some US shops seem to have them in 46-36-24.
Photo by Sugino.
I imagine using this crank with an 11-36 10-speed cassette. I imagine gearing so low that I'll be able to do almost any climb. Granted, some climbs could take hours, but what the heck; it's all about not mashing the pedals, right? As long as my legs hold out...

As for the Wolverine frame...maybe someday. 

In the meantime, I'll continue learning more and more about bike components. In a few months, I'll know enough to be boring about hubs, spokes, and rims. Watch this space.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

My multi-modal meander

What do you think is the very best thing about bicycling? The convenience of making short trips? Challenging yourself to do something difficult? Or just the simple pleasure of riding?

For me, it's riding a new route. Getting somewhere I've never been before.  And given my superb planning skills, there's alway the suspense of not knowing exactly how I'm going to get where I want to go.

My plan this Saturday was simple: take a ferry to San Francisco, go up to the Golden Gate Bridge to check it out, then ride back to the ferry and go home.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Impulsive Urban

I'm an urban biker.  Probably because I'm an urban guy. Not often out in the country. In fact, I've only biked in the country once, in an organized event. So I get to see a lot of things like this:
I have no idea what this is.
And you know...it gets boring. I can get out into nature nearby; but it involves making climbs that I'm not really prepared for. I'm getting there, but...maybe next year. I have two standard twenty-five to thirty mile routes that I typically ride. One is totally urban, though it does take me through one nice park. The other involves biking along the freeway and then through a series of very nice parks.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

if everything goes as unplanned...

This year I registered for an organized event. I can't explain it. Peer pressure, I guess. My neighbor rides in this event every year, as do two of my high school friends. Also, my LBS is one of the sponsors. The event itself is to raise funds for local schools. This year, it took place on Saturday, April 29th.

So...Saturday morning. Four in the morning. Excited and apprehensive. Wait, is that a sore throat I feel coming on? Oh, no, am I having stomach problems? What, I'm really supposed to ride forty-five miles? I can't do that! Not even on my best day, and I'm feeling really tired.

Fortunately for me, I have a colleague who is extremely athletic and does loads of runs/rides/hikes. This is what she said to me: "Every run or ride or whatever that I've planned to take part in...I doubt myself and my ability to do it. And I start coming up with reasons why I can't do it. But then I usually do it anyway."

Side note: I don't have a good record with this sort of thing. I've registered for only one other organized event, a twelve mile ride around my home town. And I actually lost sleep over whether I would be capable of doing the twelve miles. I didn't want to fail, but more importantly, I didn't want to fail in a group. So I didn't go to that particular event. Instead I went on a solo fifteen mile ride, and felt like a dolt.


I thought about what my colleague had said. Then I got dressed, got on my bike, and rode over to the departure point, from which riders would be bussed to the point where ride would begin. The ride itself departed from Vacaville and ended up in Sacramento. There was a lunch stop in Davis, about thirty miles in. Note: Vacaville, Sacramento, and Davis are all cities in California.

Friday, April 28, 2017

event anticipation

Tomorrow I'm going on my first charity event ever. At least I think it's a charity event. People have pledged money, and I'm not getting any of it. That's charity, right.

This is really only the second organized event I've ever registered for. So my low bib number isn't a big deal, because I only have one other to compare it to. But it's pretty low. But does that mean anything? Probably not.
Big deal bib.
I've also taken the rack off my bike and replaced it with a seat bag; a Banjo Brothers large waterproof saddle trunk. I doubt taking the rack off saves me much weight; but honestly? I've always wanted a large seat bag for short trips. Who knows? I would have left the rack on and used the seat bag instead of a pannier, but the rack would have prevented me from filling the seat bag all the way.
So far it's holding a spare tube, patch kit, and tire levers. But tomorrow it will also hold my jacket and leg warmers.
I am slightly nervous about this. It's ten miles longer than the longest ride I've ever taken, and twenty miles longer than my average weekend fun ride. But it's effectively flat for the entire route; there's maybe two-hundred feet (or is it meters?) of elevation gain in the first five miles.

Also, I've been told that there's usually a tailwind on this route. And the high temperatures will be in the eighties. I'm looking forward to the tailwind, if there is one. I've never experienced one, and I'm starting to think that they're largely mythical.

But who knows? Maybe there will be a tailwind. And maybe we'll see a unicorn too.