Friday, December 30, 2011

Pumpkincycle Year in Review-2011

Year started out great--good organized centuries, good organized doubles (hiccup on Alta Alpina but so unique it was still great), good self supported century rides with the Diablo Cyclist Bonus mile group.  Year quickly fizzled out on the September Cruella--where our group fell apart for the year.  Huge disabled list.  2012 can't come quick enough.

Best New Bike Invention
tie

-Christine came up with a cheap pocket camera bag around the stem--perfect to keep drugs and sunscreen in there and frees up space in the pocket.   (I started putting suntan lotion in empty eyedrop bottles which fit inside nicely)


Mike returns to do the 200k Davis brevet--but big doubles group like 3-4 years ago never materializes.
-Replaced my 7 lb bike stereo with an under 150g MP3 mini power speaker that is attached to a tire and attaches to the top tube.

Best non-bike Discovery
-Stephen clued me in to Pandora Radio--where I've now heard more "new" songs that I like this year than in the last 20.


Lots of good rides out to Patterson Pass--most of the time real nice and calm. 
Lots of good photos with Ward and Christine always packing a camera.  My favorite riding photo when trying to figure out new section of Mt Tam double with Ward.  (Ward-o-photo)

Seems like this year we didn't have many riders for out of town rides--but we did have a few every time we went to Marin.
  Best photograph

I'm by lake frozen over at the top of Ebbets on Alta Alpina.  Meanwhile Dave and I disagree what is the better photo of him on the ride.

Mt Diablo Recap
Ward and I rode a businesslike pace up Mt. Diablo almost every Tuesday once daylight savings time hit, and then a balls out pace with the Diablo Cyclists on Wednesday.  Great 40 mile loop--the uphill was the EZ part--trying to stay on Ward's (or Cisco Dave's) wheel on the flats hurt.  Bad thing is that my climbing has gotten slower, but at least getting faster on the downhill whereas I don't lose sight of the group. 
2003-# times under 36 minutes to the Junction-3(Northgate); # times under 70 minutes to the Top-2
2004-1/1
2005-1/2
2006-0/0
2007-0/0
2008-2/0
2009-6/1
2010-2/2
2011-2/1



Best Unsupport Century
1) Sierra Century from Plymouth (the old way)--world's greatest ride--rumor it is being brought back next year
2) Tunitas Creek with Alpine Road bonus (w/ Ward, Christine, Dave, Jack, Todd)
3) Middle Section of Mt Tam Double going West to East (new way, w/ Ward, day after Tunitas Creek-Alpine Road Century)

People Didn't See Enough of
Rusty, Super Joe, Johnna, Christina, Ward (after Cruella), Colin (after Alta Alpina)

Good to See Again
California via Honolulu via Rverside back to Northern California Mike

And how many times did Ward and I wind up at teh Mt. Diablo Junction this year??
Best New Product
Lighter/ cheaper Time RXS Pedals replace Time Impact Pedals

Favorite Organized Ride
1) Mt. Tam Double--Course made for me-rollers all day.  Unfortunately now stupidass backwards course where you have to buck headwind to the ocean.
2) Alta Alpina Double-Though I suddenly fell apart on pass #5, what great support and route.

Least favorite Organized Ride
Sequoia Century--After being told how much i'd live this ride I finally signed up.  We were gonna have a big club turnout.  Alas, heavy rain where I lived that morning cancelled the ride.

Best Live Music
With Pandora I've gone "nuts" catching up on music from the last 20 years.  Seems each weeks bike ride had another high energy song stuck in my head.  Pandora leads to You Tube where one can usually catch a bunch of live performances which i usually like better--more energy, quicker pace.  Best 4 live performances on You Tube that I first saw this year: 


Haines &. Ivarsson, both much better than Sabrina Salerno who does get honorable mention for setting a record sticking out of more outfits in one video--her Vegas version of Erase and Rewind.


Metric-Dead Disco--The studio sessions from this group aren't anything special by Emily Haines becomes a manic organ player in concert, and the guitarists do a great job adding to the chaos.
The Chameleons-In Shreds--Song kinda peters out at the end--but most perfect 2/3'd of a song--Mark Burgess fronting two driving guitars..
The Sounds-Hope Your Happy Now--Don't know who has better stage moves, Emily Haines or the Sounds Maja Ivarsson--but Maja scares me.
James Brown and Luciano Pavoritti--Its A Man's World, --to incredibly opposite styles, two great artists showing great respect for each other, combined they do an fantastic job pulling this off.

Oh Henry Stories
-On real hot day (my specality) guy zoomed off at the base of Mt. Diablo.  I eventually caught and passed him--he was fixing a flat tire.  I'm setting a good pace but he soon zooms by me again.  Oh shit.  Turns out he is a pro mountain bike racer.

-Expecting inevitable collapse somewhere on Devil Mountain Double.  First time was up Mt. Hamilton (@130 miles in), second time I did the race was up on Mines Road (@95 miles in.)  NEVER HAPPENED--felt good all day.  Got to top of Palomaras in the dayight (both times before pulled into Sunol at dusk.)  Kept hopscotching with Grizzly Mark all day and we rode in together for a 66th place finish. (On same ride a racer doing Wente told Grizzly Mark/ I to get off his wheel--I fell off and laughed my ass of as Mark, in full yellow kit, help onto the guys wheel miles down the road.)

-On Knoxville, also involving Grizzly Mark--Jack/I rode with Grizzly Mark and his teammate the whole morning.  At lunch Jack and Grizzly Teammate took off--I followed.  Grizzly Teammate told us that Grizzly Mark was still at the lunch stop and was going to leave shortly.  Second half of Knoxville relatively flat and Grizzly Mark can fly over flat sections of road--so waiting for him to catch us.  No Mark...No Mark.....miles click away....No Mark.   When we pull in to ending meal....Mark waiting "what happened to you guys"--he had left lunch before us.

-On Mt. Tam Double kept a good pace all day and was planning tactical riding--sections to get into a paceline.  So--down the Coast--solo'd half the distance.    In run in to Marshall Climb passed by two big riders on climb???, and then I caught them on the downhill/ flats???   Last run in from Hicks Valley/ Marshall Wall--saw ONE whole rider (who passed me.)    Wasn't a race--was an f'n time trial.  Finished 44th.

-Flat--easy-Davis Double.  Non timed so rode easy.  Felt like crap at the end.

-Good boy on Alta Alpina Double--no digs--conserving energy.  Felt great after first 4 climbs.  Then surrounded by snow banks heart rate soared and my ride was quickly done.





Servais Knaven moment

I'm one of worst sprinters in the club and never expect to get a flat County Line.  On a very hot day after a long ride ride we're on Collier Canyon--flat rural road.  I launched with 2 miles to go to County line, Ward stayed in group and didn't help in chase, big guys were looking at each other to start chasing and it was to late when some of the locamotives finally left the pack.  Repeated a month later. 

We really wanted to go on the Merry Go Round and record the vital statistics on a Garmin--which almost everyone but me had by the end of the year.

What Was I Thinking
At Alta Alpina 4am start (that goes downhill immediately) was 37 degrees--and I'm a cold wuzz.  I had SEVEN layers over my chest.  What the fuck.  Now I did shed layers before the first big climb of the day and when we passed where I was staying--but still overdressed the whole day--which might have been a contributing factor to my meltdown later.  Months later we had a stretch of 29 degree mornings in Northern California and 4 layers did fine--thank you very much.


Best Food Item of the Year
No more microwave waffles the morning of a ride--got a waffle iron.   No wonder coudln't come close to 2010 weight.
2011 Miles 8,661.75
2011 Doubles Finished-4 (Davis, Devil Mountain, Mt Tam & Knoxville)
2011 Doubles Didn't Finish So Gotta Try Again in 2012-1 (Alta Alpina)
2011 Alcoholic Drinks-(2) Triple Rock Porter and Eiswein at Mark/ Amy's Holiday Party--quantity may be low but quality of drink very high.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

New Car Smell Involves New Car Hell


My great Camry with roof rack removed-RIP


Kinda sad day this week--I bought a new car but that meant trading in my "beater," a 2004 Camry.  Before you say "that's no beater!," let me add it had 200,000+ miles, significant dents (one nice in the corner bumper that held a leaning bike in place real well,) and minor problems whereas passing smog check in the next month was not a certainty.  And even if I had the engine repaired, it still had 200,000+ miles; a little worrisome with all the "no man’s land" I drive to get to a bike ride.

But the Camry was my favorite car ever.  Even buying it was fun--I did all the dealing over the 'net with someone who had to search for the car...oh yeah...I wanted a stick shift and as it turns out only 6 Camry’s with a manual transmission were in California--and three were fully loaded (no-- don't need pin striping.)   After one crit I drove down to the dealer with my daughter (pre college)  saw it and bought it.  I was hoping for a bright blue metallic car, or a silver metallic car--and didn't want a black or forest green car.  Then there was white--no opinion either way.  Of course the car was--white, just like the piece of crap intermediate car from that "independent" (hee hee  hee) car company named after a planet.

Had an aftermarket moon roof put in--my dad was still alive and this bugged him as I was spending excessive money--but then I pointed out with a sunroof I wouldn't have to use the air conditioner (a rule I only broke 3 times--and one was driving a company client somewhere.)    I had top of the car outfitted with a bike rack and could look at the bikes when I stopped through the sunroof, or stretch and hold on to the roof rack after a long bike ride.  I had never been to Mono Lake-Bishop California or Mt. Shasta before the Camry.  We checked out my younger daughter’s college choice and rentals in it.  Took a nap in it before setting up at some god-awful time before a double--it slowly morphed into a perfect bike setup car--magnetic work lights and a list of crap not to forget hanging from the trunk.  Very dependable, very comfortable, and good on gas mileage for a non-hybrid clown car that was bigger than a SMARTmilk crate on wheels.

With the smog./ registration time fast approaching, and my doing my usual job of procrastinating, I waited for 1 1/2 months before the drop dead date to start my car search.  Hell, wasn't going to be much of a car search--just was going to get a manual transmission model of the "Newly redesigned Toyota Camry..with Toyotacare" (I'm sure you've seen scores of the obnoxious commercial’s)  Well, those SOB's really  redesigned the Carmy--so much so they DROPPED the stick model.

Oh well, gas is never going down, kids don't live at home, maybe I can get a smaller car and get a Toyota Corolla compact.  Turns out my wife has a friend of a friend who is a fleet manager for a large dealership so I email him with just a few requirement--lightly colored, manual transmission, sunroof and mp3 radio, but the last two can be aftermarket add ons.  Expected to have a list of choices in a week--just like my Camry experience in 2004.  But all I heard was how hard it was to find the car I want--there may be one at a certain price but it was unknown if this did or not include a sun roof no matter how many times I asked.  In short a month went by with nothing accomplished (to be fair I went into a local Toyota dealer to see the new Corolla and did hear that most stick models go into the ag belt and not the urban area--but the friend of friend was supposed to be searching all of California.

At the local dealer I finally saw a new Corolla (funny, they are still in the 2011 model year when everyone else in in 2012.)  I wasn't impressed;driver area looks small, controls seemed cheap, and trunk looked like some Rubenesque figure--it somehow was big at the ends but squeezed in the middle where wheel wells were .  And review was nothing to get excited about--still a quality car but lots of smalls cars  now on par quality and its ride was lackluster.  If I'm starting monthly payments again this seemed like a real downer.

At the Toyota dealer I also checked out a Scion TC--that's the one that looks like a mini sports car--not the boxy clown car.    Didn't mind sinking to the floor when I sat in it but windows were so tiny I might as well have been in a tank.

Nissan's small car entry, the Sentra, looked a little beefier so the next day i stooped at a Nissan Dealer.  Actually two dealers, as first had a salesman oozing slime when he begrudgingly opened the trunk so I could see if a bike would fit in there,  The Sentra's trunk was huge for a small car and they had a really good fold down seat opening.  Second dealership had a young kid who said there was no manual Sentra's on the lot, and they were hard to come by.  (I later read that  they were definitely two tiers below the best rated small cars.)  Kid dealer said I should look at the mini-SUV Juke--the whole line is manual transmissions.  When I got home checked it out online--turns out NONE of their models offer a stick except the 4 wheel drive.  So much for good information.

OK I'll have to make a choice within 3-4 weeks, and a friend just bought a new Honda.  Years ago when our used car was totaled we went to El Camino Real looking for our first new car with our small insurance payout.  In our mind, a car advertised for $7,500 MSRP should sell for $7,500.  What did we know. The Honda dealer laughed at us as his dealer sticker on the $7,500 car was $9,750--and we would have to pay THAT price and then could pick up the car when it got unloaded sometime in the future.  Our auto buying lesson continued when we went to two Toyota dealers that day--the first also had an inflated dealer stick but was not a haughty as the Honda dealer.  The second, when we told him what the first Toyota dealer offered the car at quickly dropped the price $500.  Later that week 3 more calls to different dealers had the price drop $500 a shot.  Shit, buying a car was like being at the middle Eastern Market.

So we'v owned 4 Toyotas and 2 Nissans and 4 (pseudo American) cars we hated and rather not talk about, and  we never considered a Honda.  But the Honda Civic was rated very high for dependability and drivable.  AND THEY HAD TWO MANUEL MODELS--one was bare bones and I could go to town adding the radio I wanted--just like our first few cars.

Dropped into Honda dealer and low key young salesman greeted me--cause I'd walk right out if one of the loudmouths with a cheap jacket and cologne and utter bullshit was my contact.  Salesman was amazed I was interested in the bare bones model:
Salesman
-But it has no power doors.   Me-"That’s OK".
-But it has no power windows. "That’s OK."
-IT DOESN'T HAVE AIR CONDITIONING.  "That’s OK, I never use it."
-It doesn't have a center console.  "(I think) Problem, as really do want a place to rest your elbow."

Salesman said he's never seen one, went off to check and there weren't any available in Northern California (this had been confirmed when I did a web search.)  So I'd have to consider the stepped up manual model, which the dealer didn't have but would look for.  Ok--the stepped up model came with a USB port radio and a center console. 

First sales guy started dealership patter of trying to get top dollar.  Took me out to the lot to see/test drive and automatic model and showed me a car with a dealers sticker--which was $3k over manufacturers.  I got a little annoyed and blurted out "don't even show me a dealers sticker" where sale guy immediately became apologetic and said "some people will pay that, but we'll just show you manufacturers sticker."

Back inside he asked me if I'd buy the car for $100 less than manufacturers sticker.  Now, if I played the call a bunch of dealers, or walk out and maybe come back later, I'm sure I could have gotten another $500 knocked off the price.  (And if I actually wanted a car sitting on the dealers lot the incentive for them to sell would have been much greater.)   Maybe a month ago--when I started the car search I would have hesitated, but Toyotaman had wasted a month of my time, interest rates on loan were OK so I  did agree 

The next "price dance " was over my trade in.  I wasn't going to ask the dealer if they wanted to take my beater in trade, they asked me.  I had indicated to a friend who was interested that I'd sell the car for $500, so I told the salesman I was looking for $750.  Salesman disappeared with the car, came back in awhile and told me they could only give me $500--so I said forget it I'll keep the car.  Salesman quickly disappeared and came back two seconds later saying "we'll have to get it an auction house but we'll give you $700 for it."  Now why couldn't he/ they have said that on the first go around.

I added aftermarket sunroof dealer would install (so it falls under manufacturers warrenty.)  OK--price and trade in settled in--and salesman came back and told me I had a choice of two cars they located--white and silver.  Yahoo--finally a nonwhite car.  Salesman came back 5 minutes later and said oh, they made a mistake the silver car was an automatic.  OK, annuder white car.  

Real fun ratched up to see the finance manager .  Now I wanted fog lamps and bluetooth but desided against as both expensive via dealer.  Luckily I was talking to salesman who told me real price of these items as  finance manager never talks about real price but how the montly will only go up slightly.

Finance manager reminded me of car dealer William Macy in Fargo.  First he went into a 10 minute routine about how things will go wrong on cars--not the mechanics but the electrical.  Then he offered the extended warranty--where factory warranty would go from 3 to 8 years (kinda desirable for me as  the way I drive the 3 year warranty would be over in 1 1/2 years due to mileage.)  He then mentions that this comes with a minor dent repair component.  The cost--(and I don't recall exact figures)--only $50 more a month for ALL THIS PROTECTION.  Told him I didn't want it, and he asked why--I said it was because I was buying a quality car and not a Dodge Colt, and plan was expensive.   

Finance manager then pulls a classic--he says "wait wait wait--Honda sent me  a coupon" and he starts rummaging through his desk drawer until he finds something he says is a coupon and then grabs calculator and now ALL THIS PROTECTION is only $40 more a month.  No--told him still not interested.

HOLD ON-HOLD ON--furiously hits the calculator keys--and then asks if I would take it at $30 a month. I shouldn't have out of principle  of these floating prices(just like when we once turned down a dealer loan that suddenly dropped 4% points after we revealed we had our own credit)  but I did need an extended warranty so I took it. 

Later at home I was pissed when I saw that the dent protection was a separate component from the extended warranty and increased the warranty price by  20% ---I stayed pissed until I read the contact and saw I could cancel Dent Protection within 60 days--which I did when I picked up the car.

So instead of being stoked about buying a new car (to be picked up in 2 days), I was drained when I drove home.  And this local dealership actually had better folks to deal with that most dealers. 

Weasel postscript--I emailed the Toyota fleet manager who spent 4 weeks NOT finding me a car and NOT being able to give me a solid price for one--thanked him for his help and told him I was going in another direction  First email from weasel:

*Weaselman*-Not a Toyota ......Amazing  ...Givin' their Amazing dependability etc.   oh well .........what Route are you going  ??

After I told him I purchased a Honda Civic got the following slimy email

*Weaselman*-cool ......... you should have checked with me ........ as we also own a  Honda Dealer  ..............and could  saved  hundreds or even Thousands ........but  hey  it's Only Money .......right ??

Wow, Weaselman could save me $1000's, though obviously not on a car. (As he couldn't save me $1 after a month)    Maybe he can save me money on other things. 


I sent Weaselman's emails to my friends as a public service so they could save alot of money.  My car pool buddy, Melissa, is in line for a new Toyota this year but she had a strange reaction to Weaselman's  emails--"what a douchebag--I wouldn't go to Hayward Toyota." 


I also emailed Chris Robinson of Robinson Wheel Works who had just built me a great King Hub/ Stan Rim wheel:

 i coulda have had a king wheel built cheaper at toyota hayward and saved millions

Chris Robinson of Robinson Wheel Works--he built me a great new wheel but didn't offer me a coupon so obviously overpriced. 

But Chris reminded me

But did he have a coupon ?? .......Because without a coupon its all bogus!..............

He fails simply for the egregious usage of ...............................



Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Muur de 20%+ Crockett Climb

Finding out that working on videos takes alot of time.  On a 5 hour ride (300 minutes)  shoot @120 clips about a half minute each, so have 60 minutes of footage.   From there have to aim to boil it down to 15 minutes--as captions and a soundtrack.

As an outtake of the Diablo Cyclist's ride to Crockett (as an aside--my favorite Sunday ride when we recover from Saturday,)   when we got to Crockett I did the Muur de Crockett loop--a 20% climb that one might find on the Tour de Flanders. (minus the kasseien.)  CA Mike and I usually do the majority of the climb but Ward is the only person who consistently does the end section that hikes up another 2-4%.

Looking down the Muur de Crockett before the turn and the steepest section
Anyway--click here for the Muur de Crocket short film.    Warning--lots of camera sway on the climb--but instead of getting seasick look out for the sudden appearance of monsters or other abbortaions as an alert reader discovered a few weeks ago.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

KGO-CUMULUS, GO TO HELL

Warning--this post will bore the 98% of the population glued to television who view radio as a necessary evil when stuck in the car and want to find out where the traffic jam is. It's written as the largest talk radio station in the Bay Area was taken over by a mega corporation, who already owned two other major stations in the market, and then to cut costs they fired most of their long standing talk show staff. Thank you government deregulation.

I've been a talk show junkie all my life. As a kid I hid a transistor radio under my pillow and tried to stay up all night listening to one of the pioneers of talk radio Long John Nebel. Sometimes he'd conduct interviews with local political notables, like Congressman Allard Lowenstein (one of the leaders of the 'dump Johnson' movement.) Other times he'd take calls all night from kooks with talking goats in the phone booth or people wondering how pasta got to curl (Long John said in Italy pasta grew on the side of a hill and curled downward.)

Later, as a teenager, I repeatedly got kicked off the radio by WMCA stalwarts John Sterling (Yankee apologist) and Bob Grant (Vietnam war apologist.)

After my teenage years I didn't call talk shows anymore, though continued to selectively listen to talk radio--as much is virtually unlistenable. I was in a bookstore the day before Clinton beat Bush and they were piping in Rush Limbaugh. Between rustling papers and yelling 'dittohead' he was pretty boring--he may be the #1 radio personality but I can't figure it out and never listened to him again. It's not a liberal/ conservative thing--while disagreeing with most of Michael Savage's rants he's interesting, sometimes unpredictable, and often sounds like a beat poet gone off the deep end. And of course anyone I like is usually taken off the air one way or the other, from comedian Adam Carolla (station changed format) to political insider Duane Garrett (killed himself.)

Now truth be told during the warm weather, cycling/ baseball season, I mostly listen to Giants games and sports talk. (Except when the Giants fired Hank Greenwald--then I didn't listen to a ballgame for 2 years until he came back.) But during the fall-winter months I'd switch to talk radio--which meant KGO in the San Francisco area. And the best they offered was Gene Burns.

Former libertarian candidate for President, Gene had moved toward a moderate Democrat position as libertarians had no social policy for those left behind. How many talk show hosts dramatically change their political outlook? Gene respected callers unless they were complete fools, unique among radio talk show hosts with strong opinions. In Dr. Bill Wattenburg's world (the self proclaimed smartest man alive) you were a complete fool if you didn't agree with him 110%. This isn't unique to the right, on the same station Bernie Ward and the every whiny Karel weren't far behind in their lack of tolerance without full agreement--how exciting to hear a talk show host who controls the microphone hang up or disparage a caller. This even happens on sports talk; Ralph Barbari has made a career of asking 10000 word questions and badgering anyone who doesn't agree with him.

(Parenthetically, Dr. Bill teamed with Karel would make good radio, so would Dr. Savage and Bernie. Local sports radio is terrible, the best are syndicated Colin Cowheard who unfortunately focuses on football to build ratings, but throws in a few unique observations along the way. Locally, ex-players Tom Tolbert and Eric Allen are humorous and knowledgable. Allen is on 'FM's only sports station' who has the greatest commercials skewing Cumulus' 'the out of touch Leader'--no doubt Cumulus will solve this problem by buying them soon and canning everyone)

Of course this would never happen on Public Radio, but the hosts are so vanilla.... snore.

So a big radio conglomerate, Cumulus, buys KGO and fires most of their on air hosts. They plan to convert from talk radio to all news. Great plan. Problem is there already is an all news station in the Bay area that does a great job reporting on traffic and weather and how many people are camped outside of Target the night before Black Friday. Another fluff news station isn't needed, and certainly isn't going to get a large audience. It's clear "all news" is a crappy plan------unless Cumulus plans to abandon news in a year and put on their nationally syndicated radio hosts. What do they care--they'll have 1/2 the radio audience they do now but wouldn't have to pay any local talent.

At one time the airways was considered a public trust, and one station couldn't have multiple stations in the same market. That went the way of antitrust regulation against oil companies. And like all deregulation, business hasn't been helped (think airlines and utilities) but the public has been screwed. Now a corporation can have 5 stations in a market. We already have one sports host who had been bounced between the the two sports stations owned by Cumulus and then was put on KGO to do a political show. Man, if you dislike someone on the Cumulus network they'll be no escaping them.

So we have a story of corporate greed, cost cutting, and millions of talk show fans in the San Francisco area that "lost" radio hosts who they spent alot of time with. My carpool buddy, Melissa, wrote on one blog:

Gene -
Like so many previous posters, I have been a long time KGO listener. I am in shock! While I will miss the other hosts, your evening show was my favorite. Listening to your show made me feel less trapped in my car during my long commute home. I cannot believe KGO management. As long time listener, I would love to know how they arrived at this decision. I for one know that I never asked for more news. I can (and do) get news from multiple sources but it is much, much harder to find an intelligent, constructive discussion about the news. That is what you offered and I will miss that so much.

Late last night, as I made my way home from a very late night at the office, my sadness turned to anger when I had my first taste of the "new, improved" programming. As a listener, I felt nothing short of insulted as I listened to the syndicated garbage they started playing at midnight.

This is my first visit to this site but will not be my last. Like so many others have said, wherever you end up, I'll be listening.

Thank you!

Melissa said it all. In any event thanks to Gene Burns for providing great radio and making me think. He'll definitely be missed. And KGO has now been taken off all my radio presets.
******************************************************************************
Good blog to follow the KGO mess and other local media 'stuff' is Rich Lieberman's

Thursday, December 1, 2011

More Cycling Movies-Trip To Palomares

Lots of fun playing with a new toy--sports video camera. Also alot of work--not taking the shots but editing, After a ride wind up with 90 minutes of butt shots and try to get it down to 15 minutes, and splice in things that are interesting. (Yeah , I know, Sabrina Salerno in a tight jersey...) So on one nondescript ride I rode with the camera pointed towards my brake lever instead of straight ahead--and if I was coordinated enough to get my arm out of the way when riding side by side, I got some good stock profile shots to splice in (it will be up to astute movie viewer to catch when the camera angle changes, and a cyclist is suddenly wearing a different jersey.)

Also making a collection of Phil Liggett/ Paul Sherwin drops where they aren't talking about a specific race or racer but making general comments like "you have to consider all the imponderables." Huh? But, coming from their mouths it sounds like poetry and puts a nice break in the music.

Talk about an astute viewer, Curtis in Bikeland found a monster in my last video at 6:50



Anyway, not training for anything, too fn cold and day too short to ride 100 miles so Saturday's ride is usually a hilly metric. Prime co-instigator and chief photographer Ward is missed as on the shelf with a knee injury (my prediction is that he'll have a video cam for the bike next year) but other troublemaker, California Mike, back from exile in Riverside. A movie was made of our metric to Palomares and my new computer suddenly found its "obsolete point" by not being able to save 15 minutes at once so movie had to be split up. The Liggett/ Sherwin drops work nicely--especially for one part when Dr. Dave started hamming up on the ride when I told him we need more excitement in the video. "CHE' BESTIA!!" I'm still cracking up over that scene (yes, he did keep his pants on.)



Sound recorded from the camera is pretty bad--and for the two snippets of commentary I put in I had to go to another program and boast up the DB level. Then I bothered to read the instructions (usually an afterthought) where I could boast up the camera's DB level. I'll still just put in just a "smidgen" of actual dialog--I rather listen to Liggett/ Sherwin and music than my squeaky voice.

Must be the autumn light--a monster pops up in my last cycling movie...Sabrina pops out in this one.





Anyway--Trip to Palomares...Part 1 here




Trip to Palomares...Part 2 here

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tea Party=LaRouchites=Nut Cases

America/ Obama administration just accomplished something unbelievable in foreign policy. They made progress normalizing relations with Burma, who has slowly changed their oppressive ways for the better under America's gentle persuasion. The daughter of the assassinated daughter of Burma's democratic founder, Aung San Suu Kyi, is finally out of "house arrest." Great story.

But you'd never know this watching the news. Top political stories promoted by the Tea Party--Obama is not born in the United States. Obama is a socialist as we never had government run health care (at least not before John Adams in 1798 with the US Public Health Service Agency.) Basically, in modern America the Tea Party can throw out any false shit you want they want and it becomes major news.
A Thanksgiving Day message from the LaRouchites, 2011.


Now, when I was going to college there were always a few crew cut, beret wearing followers of Lyndon Larouche around. They basically saw the world controlled by a Nelson Rockefeller-Queen of England conspiracy. And they were considered kooks. They tried to pass themselves off as Socialists, but funny they would usually disrupt liberal democrat or democratic socialist events. One leading democratic socialist I knew whose debates they'd interrupt, told me they were just Right Wing plants. Luckily they were ignored by teh media.

In any event the Larouchites years ago were seen as a fringe element--and presently the Tea Party are considered respected player. What's wrong with this picture?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Getting Old & Hollyweird Moviemaking-2011

Triple whammy. Daylight savings time ends and no more going up Mt. Diablo after work. Now dark and 20 degrees colder than it was a month ago, and I'm a cold wuzz. And I'm suddenly old--I don't feel old but when I hear someone is my age the first thing I think is "damn, they're old."

You remember life before the internet, rotary phones, having to go into the bank to get cash, 12" black and white tvs with rabbit ears, that one talked quietly in a phone booth with the door closed giving dirty looks to strangers who came to close to perhaps listen in--not yelping loudly about their STD on a cell phone in teh supermarket--"damn, you're old."





All summer long cycling friends my age are coming down with aliments, or not doing doubles anymore, or complaining how old they feel. We don't have as many folks doing long out of town rides as we did when I joined the Diablo Cyclists, and it seemed like everyone was hammering. I'm much lighter than I was 7 years ago, my bike is lighter, and I can't climb as fast as I did. In 2003 & 2004 I went under 34 minutes to the Ranger Station twice and under 67 minutes to the Summit twice. I never did it again. This Summer I couldn't go under 36 minutes to the Junction until mid-September and only once under 70 minutes to the top all year. Fuck.



On the work front, I was driving with one of my favorite bosses who mentioned his granddaughter was in college?? How could that be--he was only a few years older than me. Nope--turns out he just turned 65 which I instantly knew that this meant he'd retire shortly--which he did.



Two days after my birthday I could barely walk as my heels were cracking badly. Old age disease. I remember my dad constantly had his skin around his foot scale away. I bought "Dr. Hess' Udder Ointment"--doubt that dad ever used anything and just toughed it out.



To ward off winter depression and learn something new I got a sports video camera for my birthday. One of the great things about cycling is looking around and noticing the "Kodak moments"--taking movies is a step along this path. Sports video cameras have come down in price and are about the size of a thick cigar--so real innocuous. Takes everything in almost fisheye to have a large depth of field and no need to focus--of course this means you have to be real close to the subject.



I was going to go up Diablo and test it out but of course the jerryrigged camera mount that would use an existing light bracket broke right away--so the video camera's debut waited for our first club ride--it was supposed to be a good out of town ride but lousy weather kept us close to home.



video

The full video, and sharper images, are on You-Tube 'click here'




Obviously I need help making movies so I headed straight to Hollywood to get some tips. Actually went down to Southern California to visit my daughter Jessie, and we kicked around seedy Hollywood. But it was kinda strange--even though many of the "stars" on the Walk of Fame were never my favorites--I had heard of about 80% of them (Jessie heard of 10%) and had "flashback connections" to some. Frankie Laine--1940's-50's singer--my mom had a 78' of his that my grandma loved. Yma Sumac--the Peruvian Princess with the 5 octave voice (falsely rumored to be a Jewish housewife from Brooklyn)--when my dad hated all the rock I was playing he liked Yma's music. George Burns-grandma would watch him and I'd join and watch, Lawrence Welk-grandma would watch him and I'd run out of the room.



Of course my generation should not be the "baby boomer generation," it should be the "smart ass" generation. What do you expect when raised on Bugs Bunny, and comedians from Groucho Marx to John Belushci?; a whole team of "smart asses" honored on the walk of fame.





Great time walking around Hollyweird with Jessie. Though overcast LA is about +10 warmer than the Bay area. Walking around is great as driving around is a zoo--mega shopping centers charging parking in huge garages that are jam packed. Real find was eating in Farmers Market with eclectic collection if international "fast food." As I previously noted, my daughter who is into music, film, and Yahoo celebrity gossip, only knew about 10% of the stars on the Hollywood walk, and this only rose when we hit the stretch of the newer stars in the renovated area around the Chinese Theatre--Bugs Bunny, Judge Judy, John Belushi, Fleetwood Mac--forget about the older stars near the rundown Hollywood & Vine. It just showed the HUGH gap between our generation. Nevermind when I had to pull out my drivers licence, and Jessie and I looked at it with a picture taken 10+ years ago due to automatic renewals--it was like seeing that person you haven't seen in a few years and suddenly they look old. Oh crap, I have gotten old. Tme to apply the Udder Ointment.



Well, I'm not going down without a fight. Weight training this winter. Redouble my effort to finish the Alta Alpina 8 next year. And make crappy bike movies in between. Hmmm, I must have missed the star on the Hollywood walk for Director Ed Wood. (And my new mantra-10 years to retirement)


Addendum-now that I go down to Los Angeles every two months or so, I decided to look up the one guy from my teenage circle of friends who lived down there. We weren't close friends, and growing up I'd go on and on about moving to San Francisco, and he'd go on and on about moving to Los Angeles and the babes in LA. Last I heard he was an LA Public Defender. So I easily found him on the web today--a few days after putting up this post. Doug died 9 months ago.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cruella Challenge-2011

(October 22, 2011) Cruella Challenge, w/ Ward, Dr. Dave, Toby, sometimes with Jack, never with Christine, 101 miles, 15.1 mph





Elevation chart and most cool photos courtesy of Ward Industries.







Usually our long riding season ends with Foxy's Fall (or Riverbank No Wine and Cheese) Century last weekend, but this year a few of us signed up for a local century on roads we frequently do. One of our cycling club's "strongmen"--Johnna (she of a tooth 23 cassette for the Death Ride, and Boston Marathon finisher) has jumped ship and joined an all woman's Multisport Club. She contends her new teammates are "cuter" than our group. Her new group puts on a Century where Mt. Diablo is climbed halfway twice, in between they do the Bears and Skyline in the Oakland Hills--which is one of the favorite routes of our bonus mile group.








I was looking forward to this ride until I suddenly got a bad head cold the day after Foxy's. No riding Sunday or Tuesday (usual training day) and no work on Monday. On Wednesday I cut the training ride short when I started sweating bullets on a cool night. So though cold peaked a couple of days before the Cruella--a week of mild fever, scratchy throat, bad sleep, low energy and stuffed nose took its toll--and stuffed nose was still lingering.








At least I didn't get yelled at (like at the Foxy's last week) the evening before checkin at a great local store--Sports Basement. Fee for this Century was high as a good % donated to girls sports groups, and nice swag included a pair of cycling socks and two instant savings coupons at Sports Basement that basically kicked back $15 of the entrance fee.






Ward getting checked in by Diablo MULTIsport Connection. Ward'ss trying to sign up for the workers ride. We'd learn that MULTIsport really means many different and strange sports(PC)







I hardly saw anyone during the week, and start time was suddenly kicked around via email the night before. Recommended start time is 7:00, sunrise is about 7:15. Jack and Toby are cycling to the ride so later is better. My 2 cents was a mild suggestion for7:00- but I was so fn tired that the consensus of 7:30 (more sleep) seemed appealing though we'd start at the back of the ride. Except for Christine, who was scared our group would drop her on the hills (stupid girl--she usually drops many of us) decided to start at 7:00. We never see her on the course...





I was mildly surprised when I turned into a jammed parking lot--I didn't expect a crowd except that every time we saw the DMC Women on Diablo they always told us that the event wasn't nearly sold out. Lots of local racers--Wells Fargo and Taleo--cuing up. Also lots of people with this year's Barney colored Death Ride jersey. Most people started from 7:00-7:15. Our group did numerous outhouse inspections, and left at @7:40. It wasn't that cold outside but I was fn freezing.





A few miles to Mt. Diablo--we pass Stephen's (of "lets start rides at 10am fame") house and yell for him to wake up. Toby is new to the area, but both a competitive triathlete and ultra distance runner; and we remind him of the crappy private road before we get into Mt. Diablo. And crappy it is--much worse than the beginning of Spring when Jack and I started in the dark for the 200 mile Devil Mountain Double. Now it's light and its almost impossible to avoid potholes--on some places they are solidly across the road. DMC outlined potholes and cracks on the course in white, in some places it looks like Pablo Picasso did the job.





After 'safely in Mt. Diablo' we had a great surprise--inversion layer at 500'. It quickly got warm--on the way up it seemed like we wouldn't need to be bundled up on the way down.




Actually 'safely in Mt Diablo' is a misnomer. During the week after work there is little traffic in Mt. Diablo and it just seems like an uphill bike path. But today is Saturday where idiots in cars abound. On one early hairpin a County Sheriff's car passed us in the middle of the road--we would have seen a crash if another car was coming down, or a splat if a cyclist was descending close to the center line. Later there was a car in back of us on a hairpin--I was in front and could see a cyclist coming down so I held out my arm-palm back to indicate "stop." No dice--car passed our single file going uphill, crossed the center line, and almost took out descending cyclist.






Dr. Dave starting up Diablo in the wee hours--and what is that other guy doing on the wrong side of the road?? (PC)






It's getting warm and I'm overdressed like usual. Pocket full of coughdrops. But its beautiful outside (WI)






Toby enjoying is morning on Diablo. He might run up Mt. Diablo after the Century.(WI)






Dr. Dave may not enjoy this ride. He's done his "bucket list" of rides this Summer including Cycle Oregon, Alpe D'Huez and Mt. Vetoux but since the Springtime Alta Alpina he hasn't done a ride of over 75 mile or over 5,000' climbing. He's also back at work but we're totally unsympathetic to that complaint after he was off all summer.(WI)





Dr. Dave (wearing bright orange vest I want to buy off of him) and I at Ranger Station half way up Diablo in the AM--safely in the traffic island (important to note) (WI)

Toby and I pushing a little to much to the Ranger Station-- I get a warning when I push too too hard--my nose starts dripping down my throat and out like a faucet. This will be a problem all day. Another problem will be stupid cyclists--I go over to talk to Dave and some stupidass comes by and snaps that we are blocking the road while we're not on the road but a painted traffic island. My respiratory problem has put me in a foul mood and I snap something back.





Thinking of leaving off the vest for the downhill; going down the other side so we don't have to worry about potholes at the bottom. Lucky I kept vest on--below 500' it gets very cool again. First rest stop is at the foot of Mt. Diablo--only 17 miles into the ride. Plenty of rest stops and great support today. Here DMC has drop bags and we could dump all excess clothes--I left t- shirt on but knee/ arm warmers sent packing. They had soft tostada shells wrapped around eggs and bacon--smelled great, and would have been a killer for the rest of the ride--so its cough drops and a tostada shell. I start to dream about the BBQ steak dinner at the finish.




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We're now going to continue on a very familiar route--in fact our bike club, the Diablo Cyclists are starting their ride around now a few stone throws away. We're taking the same route our Club would take when riding out to Berkeley. Some flat suburban streets eventually become suburban attention getting rollers--with suburbia gradually disappearing when short but serious rollers appear before the @ 6 mile 4 tiered climb of the Pig climb and the 3 Bears.








Road is really well marked--but half way into the ride Toby will complain he hasn't seen any road markings. Strange. He's been looking for ribbons/ flags stuck on trees, not on the ground. Runners...









I get my dander up at the first light at a major intersection. A large group is already at the red light--we tuck in right behind them, with most other folks cuing up behind us. Then three guys arrive and shoal the line--jumping to the front of everyone waiting. When we leave I mark them and stay right behind on the flats--we'd jump ahead of them once they stalled out on the rollers.






We cue up behind group already at Ygnacio Valley intersection when 3 shoalers come along and jump the line. (PC)










OK--now ahead of the shoalers and the serious action began. A coed tri team passed coming off the first gentle roller, I jumped ahead of the woman on the next serious uphill, and then she sped past on the flats with me hanging on while all the crap from my nose drained down my throat on exertion. She got back to the tri guy who had slowed--then he put in a dig. I stayed on the wheel of the slowest of the pair. On once hand the road eventually necessitates more climbing so I'd be Ok if I stay with them on the shallow sections where they were both faster than me. On the hand, not feeling well and this was insanity with 80 miles to go--and for once I am going to be smart and drop off. I started to drop off but Toby zoomed by and put in a dig, which rev'd up both triathletes--and got me chasing to help Toby out.

Caught up when the rollers became serious--and expected another tri dig when the road flattens out before the Pig climb which I expected to die on--so led out Toby to the Pig climb. The tri folks never came back--Toby zoomed up the climb and waiting for me so we could two man and stay out ahead on a fast section to the 2nd rest stop at mile 32.


Pulled in and I was gassed, but clubmate and Death Ride rider extraordinaire (on 23 tooth cogset) Johnna working this rest stop, which brightens the mood. Johnna now training for a marathon--she promises she'll ride with our club again next year. Ward and Dave pull in and we start taking loads of group photos.






Someone in this photo promises to wear their Diablo Cyclist club jersey again in 2012. (DMC) Toby constantly texting on his 4G phone and Ward texting on his 3G jell packet (PC)

Bears start and Toby takes off. Ward, Dave and I pace each other up--eventually Ward and I wind up ahead of Dave. On the uphill we pass one guy shooting video--I just got a mini video camera that may debut next month. The guy zooms on the downhill and we have to crank it up to repass him on the next uphill. Papa Bear--final downhill that slowly curves clockwise and then counterclockwise that used to scare the crap out of me. Video guy shoots by again--Ward slows so I can stay on his wheel for the downhill which helped alot--could keep the video guy in sight and then caught him on the short section of gentle uphill which turns into a steep uphill for about 500'. More fun and games and ANOTHER REST STOP. The 3rd one at mile 40.






Ward on da Bears (PC)






Greeted by DMC at rest stop at the end of the Bears--another rest stop in a place our Club regroups on our rides. (PC)

We'd now hit the 6 mile climb that goes up Tilden Park, first half is semi steep and eventually levels off. We all start up when someone whizzes by--I'm determined to kill myself so I try to keep pace with the guy as crap again flows down my nose and throat. Half way up I have to back off and I wait at the top and regroup with Ward, Toby and Dave. The bike doctor is starting to get low on energy and when Jack gets to the top he keeps going. From this point on Ward, Toby, Dave and I would usually be riding at the pace of our slowest rider (albeit a few digs or Toby taking off if I yelled "Postal") with Jack usually out of rest stops/ regroups ahead of us and he'd disappear for long stretches until we caught up with him.
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We paceline through the big Regional Park and then out of Tilden we go into neighborhood gentle rollers--the houses on the sides eventually disappear and Oakland lays far below. Sometimes weather is -20 cooler here but today is sunny and clear with no dip in temperature. Mile 56--another rest stop--another place our Club usually regroups.














DMC stands for Diablo MULTIsport Connection--here some DMC girls show one of the MULTIsports--the two jug toss. (PC)






Readers of this blog know that Dr. Dave has been practicing this pose for years (DMC Official Photo)







Toby doing a commercial for Apricot sports drink (DMC Official photo)







I stop with Ward and Toby to take photos on the Oakland Hills. Downtown Oakland is over my right shoulder San Francisco across the Bay. Mt. Tam over Toby's left shoulder. Great clear day. Next year we want Johnna up her to take photos with our motley crew. (? Good Samaritan)Jack leading us out--most of the climbing save Mt. Diablo at the end is done. (WI)










Toby trying to get Ward to take a right turn down the hill into Oakland (PC)

Fast downhill where we loop rustic Redwood Road, some uphill and then a twisty downhill that will dump us out near Moraga. This is my least favorite way to come back on a club ride--more surburban riding. But first yet another rest stop at mile 67 (5th of the day) at another park our Bike club usually regroups.






Alright--I'm thinking about great BBQ steak dinner at the end but here are HOMEMADE RICE KRISPIE TREATS--made with three different vegtables (rice, marshmellows and corn syrup)
(PC)

From here we head back toward the start--which is now another rest stop before we go over Mt. Diablo again. Here the ride departs from the usual long straightaway into Walnut Creek, we take a turn and ride over some attention getting rollers. Here we all pacelined on the flats and a few guys sat and drafted behind us--when we hit the rollers they took off. Toby and I were game but Dave zapped and Ward about to take an army of Advil for knee problems so we amilorated our speed and kept together into the start/ finish rest stop at mile 81. Any talk of catching Christine had long ceased.





At the last rest stop (start/ finish) the day starting to drag before we go up Mt. Diablo again, so I reach into the bag-o-tricks, and put the bike stereo on my top tube. Quick liquid refill for the warm climb, and see the tents where the BBQ food is being cooked. One guy is running around with a changing kilt on and he ain't changing clothes..






Dr. Dave following the great Route Markers on the way to Mt. Diablo again (WI with Turner Colorization.)






Yeah-we caught Christine on Mt. Diablo...oh, she's going downhill off Diablo and we're still going up (WI)






Dr. Dave didn't want to listen to music he heard on Alta Alpina, so he's riding up behind Ward and I. (WI)








The Dr. is in the house--Dr. Dave arrives at the South Gate entrance (PC)

OK--we get through the crap road outside Mt. Diablo unscathed--but have to be far to the right and not aggressively dodge potholes as cars coming down in the center. Nice and warm now--and best I've felt all day; not over excerting myself must be helping. Toby goes on ahead, Ward and I ride together and bs about Ohio, the Revenge of Vera Gemini (secret GREAT guest background female vocalist) and other tunes. Now not many riders on the climb. Give Dr. Dave a GU Chomps, which I like more than Cliff Shots--more flavor but more salt. Dave takes one Chomp and suddenly does a huge spit that would make a tobacco chewing manager proud.






Bike stereo on front of top tube--I'm dreaming of the steak BBQ. (WI)







Dr. Dave and Toby at the Junction (WI)






Ward gets his prize--stash bag made from recycled tires, from another enthuistaic DMC worker. (PC)





Group photo at the Junction (DMC photo)









OK--almost all downhill back to the finish--lets get some BBQ steak!!! But we are almost hit on a curve when an SUV goes over the center line passing riders on the Cruella first coming up.






I'm laughing with Toby that Christine thought we'd ever catch her (WI)







Another Diablo MULTIsport Connection sports--the two candy/ nut plate relay race--nicely brought over while we wait for emergency food. (WI)






A group of starving cyclists (except for Christine--she already had BBQ while waiting for us)
(WI)






Like when Ralph Kramden locked in apartment starving with no food--Dr. Dave hallucinates a T-Bone steak. (WI)








And the Diablo MULTIsport Conection winner in the multi pizza toss. No wonder Johnna trains with them instead of us.(WI)










Roll back to start/ finish--Christine waiting for us. OK lets eat and bs about the ride. First DMC misstep all day THERE IS NO BBQ FOOD LEFT. Outback Steakhouse ran out of food--packed up their tent and left. We sit around and bs while apologetic DMC workers bring over candy and nuts while others go out and eventually bring back (greasy) pizza for us and riders coming in after. We're entertained by a hippy trippy new age 60's lady who was working one of the health booths and ran a "oh wow, like cycling is...." monolog and a woman still in her cyclingkit waiting for a friend but wearing go go boots.





Next day our club Jagass swarmily asks "well, how was it paying to ride on roads you always do, hoo hoo hoo?" Actually it felt great not carrying tons of food around and getting assisted by exuberant people all day. Weather and scenery was great. Very different trying to ride at a higher intensity than a Club ride with so many good cyclists on the road. Only bad thing was that I couldn't easily breath and couldn't ride as hard as I wanted too.