Sunday, May 28, 2017

Breakfast with 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? 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 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.