Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Wardies-Cycling (and other Simple Innovations)

Touched on a few good ideas/inventions in my end o year recap but wanted to make a comprehensive list of the best ones from last year. Great thing about being a member of a bike club is that someone may have a great solution to some pestering problem that is simple--easy---and cheep (sic)

Ideas like this are given the "Wardies"--as Ward came up with the simplest--easiest--and cheepist (sic) idea ever to a stupidass problem. For years I've been eating peanut butter that is non homogenized--you know the kind that has a layer of solids and a layer of oil that you have to mix.  Less transfat and it taste better.  But when you open up a new one the peanut solids are entrenched on the bottom, and the oil is laying on top--almost impossible to stir and if you do so hard the oil goes flying.  And when you don't initially stir the jar enough---leaving more and more solids behind--half way through you have a product you could use between bricks.

At one point I actually thought of looking for a small paint can mixer/ shaker.  Then Ward told me what he does.  Cost $0--effort 0.  Just store the peanut butter upside down.  Shit.  Works well.  And that is what makes a great idea--simple--cheep (sic)--little effort and works well.

Hardware Container for Bike Storage--(Modified from Don/ Brian)  --Some Diablo Cyclists kept a cut open water bottle in one of the water bottle holders on short rides to stuff a windbreaker etc. in.  A bottle is good but it is usually tapered.   I tried a tennis can--more space but the lid kept flying off.  Then I hit upon a "loose hardware holder" found at many local hardware stores--and in plenty of designer colors to match ones bike.  Cap stays on and has a slit on the top so one can stuff glove liners into can while on the go.

Camera Bag Stem Holder--(Christine) --Christine found a cheep (sic) camera bag that has a Velcro tie that goes around the stem.   Ward scared me into adding a bungee safety reinforcement.    This clears out room in the jersey pocket as now the "bag o drugs" can ride on the bike.  (Didn't like the "Bento Top Tube" box as kept hitting it when standing on a climb)

Mini Suntan lotion Holder--Those travel size tubes are expensive and even worse you don't know what to do when one is 10% full.  Some people have had success refilling them.  But easier is filling a Visine Original Eye drop bottle.

Mini Hammergel Holder --Continuing along the small bottle idea--I hate taking a Hammer grenade for a ride.  Not so much for being a weight weenie but it basically takes over one jersey pocket (especially if it leaks)--and on a ride I just need 1-2 shots, not the 5-6 a grenade holds.  GoTubes are a perfect size--but but but don't have good squeezable lids.   The OLD Hammer grenades with a real screw top lid (not the new ones with a proprietary lid that)  work well, so I dug up some old Hammer caps and put them  on the GoTubes.

Bottle drying city (Ward) -- Loads of bottles--some drying in the sink--some drying on paper towel --one falls down and there go the rest looking like bowling pins.  Ward used PVC to build a bottle drying rack village--pictured below is the town I created.  (Ward puts in a few extra long posts to dry out a camelback insert)  Write to Ward Industries; POB 000666, Concord, Ca and he'll send you blueprints to make one that looks like the NYC skyline.

Bike stereo --For all the climbing rides a speaker and MP3 player mounted on a tire that slides over the top tube.  Under 200g.  Not the loudest but speaker is pointed straight up at your head and MP3 player is easy to control. (photo above with stem bag)

Non cycling

Animal Chair Guard  --Have a rocking chair on the porch that neighborhood cats love to sit on--and then when I sit in it I'm covered with hair.  So took a carpet runner, attached it to the back,  and laid it over the chair bottom up--with the tiny spikes pointed up--which discourage the neighborhood cats from taking up residence.

Winter Mini Greehouses--Planted a row of baby cactus before winter set in--and cold/ rainy weather the death knell of baby cactus.  I knew I wasn't going to run out and cover them with burlap every time a freeze was predicted--and we've had a dozen nights where temperature has gone into the 20's.    So got cheep cake servers--drilled 8 holes in each for air circulation, added a washer weight on top and tent pegged them down at the bottom.  Winter almost over and cactus doing fine.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tour of Alameda Century-2012

Century #2  (January 28, 2012) Tour of Alameda Century, Skyline, Oakland Zoo, Palomares, Sunol, Livermore.  96 miles, 5600' climbing--mostly at the front end.  Diablo Cyclist metric ride with bonus mile group of Cisco Dave, Toby, Leo of Sears, Steven, Jack,  Dr. Dave, CA Mike--the last two managing to avoid Palomares.

Doing the Diablo Cyclist Oakland Zoo ride which is not one of my favorites.  (Never mind me getting caught on a chain link fence a few years back and ripping my shorts.)    Lots of climbing and sudden rollers out to the Zoo which is great--but then a long fast downhill through Eucalyptus groves so lots of branches, leaves covering the road and the numerous potholes and raised cracks caused by tree roots.

As last week was rained out hoped to do another self supported century this Saturday--and it seemed like a good way to add on was Palomares-Niles Canyon to Sunol.  Only problem is that the North side we'd be climbing is the side we usually fly down--meaning the North side is much steeper than the South side(which is longer and curvey but much "flatter".)  Then if I had some companions so I wouldn't get lost we could go through Livermore and return the same way Dr. Dave and I did from the Patterson Pass Century two weeks ago--keeps suburban riding to a minimum out of all the possible return routes...

All this proposed torture prompted this email from Dr. Dave
I'll make the decision at the last possible moment on Saturday. As Jack asked me a few weeks back, exactly WHAT am I training for? Haven't a clue.

Wait, when you say "up Palomares to Sunol," are you suggesting going up Palomares from the North side/hard way after the Zoo run?? It's January! You didn't even get off the trainer this week, let alone train to climb! Why not return over Dublin Grade, down blvd to Sunol, and over to Collier??? If we are going to do 100 miles in January (and, I remind you, that you and I did 100 miles once already this month), why not keep the knee-busting climbs to a minimum? (Or, does that last question make no sense, given this is a Pumpkin-inspired route??) A Pumpkin sufferfest

New Black shoes have strap 1cm further back than old grey ones--ready to dig into ankle.  I've now cut a few slits into the top strap of new shoes.
Two things ill prepared me for this ride. My old Time Cycling shoes are really beat up--and usually you can find new ones on clearance so I ordered a new pair a few weeks back.   First shoes I ever had with a buckle/ratchet strap.. And they suck.    The top strap cuts into my ankle.  I did cut a series of micro slits on the top strap which helped a little--which still wouldn't cut it on 100 mile rides.  (It was SO great wearing my old shoes on the Patterson Pass Century.)  So I ordered another pair of velcro only Time Shoes and figured I may as well break them in on this ride.  Mistake.  For some reason the top strap on both new pair of shoes is 18 cm from the toe--on my old shoes it is 17-17 1/2 cms.  On this ride the straps would be cutting into my ankle all day--especially when I stood.  (And the old shoes are 377 & 422g with cleats and superfeet liners, the new shoes are 463 & 506g--so much for improvements.)
The second mistake was putting on my winter training wheel with a 12x25 cassette--my heaviest wheel --on the bike for this ride.  Last week when Dr. Dave and I rode at a leisurely pace this would have been great.  But today there was a bigger group and someone was always pushing the pace.  Usually their name was Patrick, Toby, Cisco Dave or Leo.  Ouch.

The Gang-of-Three-Ward, Christine, Dr. Dave in Moraga

Big surprise at the start.  My partner in trouble making, Ward, showed up to test out his knee and would ride as far as the first rest stop, about 15 miles away.  Then Christine, coming back from concussion, also showed up for her first ride of the year.  We usually we do a stupidass steep hill--the Muur de Moraga, but we stayed on the bikepath for our friends rehab.
Major announcement from Ward--he's renounced SHRAM (well, not in the depths of the FSA gruppo) and retrofitting part of his fleet with Shimano.   Meanwhile CA Mike was wondering if he should consider the students at Stanford "real cyclists"--the ones that ride at night in dark clothes with no lights.  The ride to the rest stop was uneventful except for 1) a car U-turning on the ramp between bike path sections--blocking the path, 2) a jogger moseying down the middle of the path/ bike lane, and not moving over no matter how many times we called out, and then startled when we passed (maybe headphones aren't the greatest idea), 3) a cyclist shooting down a side street and turning into us without looking.  We blamed all of this on Ward as everyone on the street were on their best behavior for the three months he's been on the sideline.

Long stop in Moraga and then it was off to Skyline via Canyon.  Here a bunch of the oldtimer bonus mile group--CA Mike, Dr Dave, Jack, Christine and I formed the 2nd group on the road.  Lots of talk about the new U-tube video where some cyclist prattles on about all the things you constantly read in Bicycle Magazine--"carbon wheels are so cool"..."how much does your bike weigh"...its just a recovery day today"..."are you sponsored?"..."lets follow lance on twitter"..."can i borrow a tube..."...

(above) View from Skyline--if you look closely you can see the OCCUPY folks at the Kaiser Center (below) Cisco Dave and Toby

Part of our club turned off to do a shorter ride than planned, and we had a group in back of us after climbing up to Skyline.  From Skyline we hit the aforementioned rollers that Patrick-Toby-Cisco Dave and Leo flew over, while I wondered whose stupid idea was to wear new uncomfortable shoes and use a slow rear wheel--though was happy I had the junk wheel when the tree roots and potholes suddenly appeared on the fast downhill to the zoo.

(above) Cisco Dave psyched that he outsprinted the merry go round Zebra while (below) Christine, Jack and Dr. Dave dejected that the Giraffe and Tiger beat them to the sprint point

Long regroup at the zoo.  Nice day--lots of families out.  Leaving the zoo and rolling gently uphill with a tailwind on Lake Chabot road I put in my first hard effort of the, pulling the paceline at close to 20 until I blew up and re cursed my shoes/ wheel.

We all regrouped and rode together for the Castro Valley tennis courts--another long break--the third in 40 or so miles.  We'd soon lose Christine and CA Mike who'd finish with a metric.  Dr. Dave would meet us in Sunol but he'd skirt the Palomares climb. 

Great place where Steve got a flat--at the start of Palomares

Leo from Sears, Toby and Cisco Dave occupy the podium at the top of Palomares
We just started Palomares--a rustic road with light traffic--when Steve had a flat in a perfect place--nice wide driveway in full sunlight.  Gave me time to play with the shoe straps and wished this was a Bronx ride so I'd have a switchblade for some strap surgery.  When we set out road turned real shady--and I was unusually cold on a climb.  Yep--the North side was much steeper than the South side but also shorter.  Stayed with the Toby-Cisco-Leo group about 3/4's of the way up but then had to back off.   While waiting  at the top to regroup the Grizzly Peak Cyclists "bonus mile" group was riding up from the other side--and saw Grizzly Mark in training mode.  We used to try to kill each other on doubles-usually to the detriment of one of us--and in the last few years we've rode cooperatively together and helped each other finish a few events.  He likes to bs as much as I do on a ride--great to see him. 
Then the curvy downhill where some chubby guy flew by until some uphill rollers where we repassed until close to the bottom when he flew by again.  Then a long gradual uphill on Niles Canyon Road which had a nice tailwind (yeah) and the usual lots of traffic (groans.)  We kept in a paceline--soon passed chubby guy, and rolled into Sunol where Dr. Dave had been waiting for 20 minutes.  Not bad considering the flat .  Special guest star also waiting there--CA. Mike.   Only problem was we were now only 55 miles in the ride, it was already early afternoon, and average speed was 14.9 mh.

Also in Sunol was a derelict reeking of Bud light and chain smoking--reminded me of Railroad Flats.  He came over to our group as we backpedaled to get away from the burning tobacco, as he recounted how he rode all over the state in his younger days.  Meanwhile two guys came riding in with track bikes--the ones where the rear wheel (with 17mm tyre) is pushed forward into a rounded down tube--fast bikes and looks great but supposedly havoc on your butt with the road imperfections transmitted straight up.  Also only one bottle mount--but the guys solved this problem by zip tying a bottle cage on their tri bars.  Was bsing with them and after they left po'd I didn't get a photo of their strange road setup.

(above) The Diablo Cyclist peloton makes it way past yet another Livermore Vineyard. 
(above) Toby and Dr. Dave anticipate Stephen suddenly jumping out at the County Line sign. 
Short of food I bought the special cycling power food--RICE KRISPIE TREATS--DOUBLE CHOCOKATEY CHUNK.  Three vegetables combine--Rice & Marshmallow & Corn syrup now teamed with Belgium Chocolatey.  Also has maltodextrin--a favorite Hammar Nutrition ingredient. The bar was huge and lasted me for the next 40 miles of the ride.

(above) The two Daves before we go back into civilization (below) CA Mike and Leo from Sears arrive

After stopping in Sunol our group didn't stop again for the next 40 miles, and did a good job keeping together on the flats.  If the paceline was going to slow Cisco Dave or Toby would go to the front to wind us up. 

Sun was now rapidly going down but was warmer than a couple of weeks ago.  Shoes weren't hurting as much when I kept my butt in the saddle.  We had 8 in the group, which was larger than our usual bonus mile group.  Sped through Blackhawk, Danville and then back to Walnut Creek.  No Lance wannabe coming down the sprint point blvd this week, too bad as this time I had all my big brothers.  I did my usual lead out and was luckily passed way too early--when someone passes my job is done--and from afar I watched as Dave or Dave took out the sprint.  Last bit of hijinx for the day, a long and semi-intense ride--which was too much intensity for January but lots of fun.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Morgan Patterson Pass Century-2012

#1 Century* of 2012.  (January 14, 2012)  Morgan Territory-Patterson Pass--With Dr. Dave.  92 miles, 5666' climbing.  Ride rating 179 (79% harder than a perfectly flat century ride)
*yes-I know a Century is 100 miles.   But the Chico Wildflower is 95 miles.  The Solvang Double is 191 miles.   So self supported rides of 90+ miles with climbing are century rides.

Historic data from Stephen Music.

Forgot that last did this great ride last October.  Great loop as after getting out of Clayton @ mile 10, mostly on back country rustic roads with little traffic until returning to Livermore @60, and then @70-80 is also rustic.   So that's 60 of 90 miles, or two thirds of the ride, with little traffic.  Of course there are some small hills.

Morgan is a climb I enjoy with sudden steep pitches and Patterson Pass is a climb I would enjoy if the almost ever present head wind wasn't there--which is rarely as loads of wind farms in the surrounding hills and the wind comes in from the West.  Usually.

I packed a phone today--which I rarely do--as I expected to do this ride alone.  Most of the bonus mile group is injured or now first riding after injury or away.  CA Mike and Dr. Dave were my only hopes for doing this--and Dr. Dave hates Patterson Pass after the headwind on the last steep pitch of Patterson stopped Dave and his recumbent in his tracks.  He didn't believe that the next few times we did Patterson Pass it was dead calm.
2011 Photo with Christine and Ward looking for Dr. Dave

Big group for the regular Club ride though it was cold as crap at the start.  Around 35 degrees but we climb almost immediately so didn't want to overdress and I didn't.  So froze for 15 minutes.  Our Club kept together and I even stopped at mile 8 at our (ridiculously early) rest stop--more to regroup than for anything else.   Some where around here CA. Mike broke a piece off his cleat--so he couldn't go on our bonus mile ride.

On Morgan Territory our peloton went to pieces.  I tried staying with Cyclocross Racer Mark for as long as I could--which wasn't long.  (He was cheating and not on his 30 lb Rivendell bike but on a lightweight carbon one.)  So I dropped off and rode up with the 2nd group of Dr. Dave, Leo from Sears, and Patrick.  Though heavily tree lined it got warm quickly.   Good working but not killer pace.  Beautiful-beautiful at the top--one group herding cattle, another group bbqing steaks (were they fresh from the cattle?)  We waited awhile for our slower climbers to make it and then continued to just hang out--our "girl power" group all brought burritos.   Then a fast downhill where the frequent crosswind was absent.  At the bottom most people were looping back, a few riders including Stephen and Mike were adding flat bonus miles, and Dr. Dave joined me for our Patterson pass trip.

Very surrealistic ride out to Patterson Pass.  Though within 1/4 mile of a major highway, the highway is over a rolling hill and out of view.  It seems like you are in the middle of nowhere as you go towards the central valley.  Extra high trestles or throwback overpasses from the 1950's suddenly appear around the next curve in the road.  Very occasional car passes.   Then windmill after windmill as you wind up in the middle of fields of windmill farms before looping past Altamont ("Gimmie Shelter" infamy.)

Movie of the Morgan--Patterson Pass Century--Click Below:

Reel 1--Morgan Territory

Reel-2--Patterson Pass

Slight headwind going out to Altamont--which is a good thing--as a tailwind meant a block headwind on the Patterson Pass climb once we looped back.  Dr. Dave and I bs'ing about my bike films--he is an English/ film professor so he has a great perspective.  He did give me the "We're #1 Sign" when I brought up his talking head part in a bozo film about Critical Mass.  (If the general population thought cyclists strange--the anti-circumcision guy and nude riding guy in the film certainly intensify that feeling.  Dr. Dave's lent some respectability and normalcy to the film,  but that would be a difficult job for even Mahamat Ghandi.)

Joined on the Patterson pass climb by a Southern California Math teacher who had to move up here cause the school districts are so f'd down there he couldn't get a job after all the cutbacks.  Half way up the view of the valley and windmills were great.  At the top-after the killer false flat which morphs into a "hit me" pitch--it's even better.

Short break at the top and then nice long fast downhill into Livermore.  A few miles into Livermore we took our first long break since splitting with the Club at mile 60--the Livermore Library.  Sunny Courtyard, nice and warm sittng among the public art.

Continuing on a few miles through traffic--the first traffic we've seen for hours, through downtown and towards the Livermore airport.  Our bike club usually has a stop ducked in here--but Dave and I didn't need to stop so we changed the ride slightly--staying away from the busy airport areas and closer to the quiet Las Positas Community College which is the gateway to rural Collier Canyon Road--the BEST return route on our club bike rides.  Well quiet means no services so Dave and I went in and circled the Community College looking for a cafeteria open on Saturday for future use--but a security guard dashed our hopes--nuttin open. 

Collier-Highland was a little windy and cool but lots of fun.  What was good for the whole ride Dave and I shared the pacemaking.  We didn't have to wave each other through--when we sensed that the person in the front was getting tired we'd just go to the front.  Ridden that way with Big Mike and Ward and it works out perfectly. 

Dave was telling me that there are some "time trial" points on this road--people with Garmin's automatically time themselves on certain segments of road and compete with other riders--someone died on a  Tilden Park downhill when someone broke their 1st place time as they were trying to recapture the top spot.  About a half dozen folks including Dr. Dave got Garmin's last year, while my bike gadget buy was a video camera.  So Dave is finding his inner animal while I'm finding my inner artist. 

Soon back in the toney suburb of Blackhawk--Danville and suddenly the sun was low on the horizon and it was cool--not cool enough for the glove liners to go back on but putting back the vest was a good idea. Things quickly heated up when some numb nut with headphones and a racing kit passed us without calling out.  Shit--Cisco Dave, Toby, Ward, Stephen--our sprinters--weren't here,  After 85 miles my inner laziness first had me just sitting on his wheel but then I got my dander up and went to the front and picked up the pace so racerboy couldn't throw in a sprint in the end.  Everything worked perfectly--Dr. Dave came around with a couple of hundred meters to go for a beautiful sprint finish.
Easy cool down on bike trail for last couple of miles.  We were hoping to get back before the 49er-Saints playoff game ended  to avoid the drunks on the road--and figured game was somewhere around late 3rd quarter.  I'm sorry to report Dave and I didn't give the 49ers much of a chance--both of us figuring they held on tight in the first half but now the Saints would start to pull away and the 49ers spotty offense couldn't keep up when that happened. I predicted 13-24 (Saints), Dave a little more optimistic 13-20 (Saints).  Dave called his wife and we were both real happy though our prognostication ability was shot to hell-- 23-17 (49ers).

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year-2012

As an aside as I want to be the first to throw this out.  My wife loves reading fiction--cultural event of the last month was "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" which came out in the movies.  I must have been the only person in the theater who didn't know who the killer was as I didn't read the book.  Anyway--she gets bummed out whenever she finishes a book and one of her favorite authors hasn't come out with a new one yet.  Well--with Kindle and Nooks there is no need to finish a book--how about someone puts out a PERPETUAL BOOK--a book that continually has chapters added.  Every week a writer (or a group) could write a new chapter and everyone with a electronic book would have new reading material.  Futuristic, hey--its 2012.....

2012-time to make new years resolutions--first time in memory that my front and back wheel match

In the new year a Diablo Cyclist tradition, along with anyone else who owns a bike in the Bay Area, is to go up Mt. Diablo.  Some years there is actually snow which prevents going to the top--other years there is a biting cold on the downhill where all the clothes you can wear do no good.  50 degrees at the bottom may mean 38 degrees at the top--a 20mph wind chill factor makes that 38 degrees feel like 28 degrees.  But but but--sometimes there is an inversion layer, where it is hotter at the top than at the bottom--and the increase in temperature ain't gradual but BOOM, suddenly found around a turn.  Last year was like that and I'm pleased to say we had a repeat performance of warmth at 3,800'.

Anyway, made a movie re our cycling ride up Mt. Diablo--where it seems like bikes own the world.  Its in 3 parts and gradually all 3 parts will make it onto You Tube.  I didn't want to break it up but either my laptop computer doesn't have enough memory (more memory on the way) or a good video card (non correctable) to prevent Windows Moviemaker from melting down when I reach the 8 minute mark.

Click on link below for movies.  Happy New Year.

Part 1--to the Junction

Part 2--to the Summit

Part 3--to the Summit

PS--If you want to see the casual joy of cycling check out the film below.  The crown jewel of my old bike club, the Delta Pedalers, is the casual bike ride John & Margot Coker have been leading for years.  Both just find joy about everything cycling--John loves the gagets and thing incredibly unique and Margot sings away as she rides.  Usually riding with John means bs'ing about politics, the legal system, philosophy, art and music....I think he should have been a radio talk show host instead of a law professor/attorney/ musician.   (John once told me about a passage in an antiquated circumstantial Evidence book when Teddy Roosevelt took the stand and all hell broke loose, and John did the Roosevelt dialog from memory--later he gave me a written copy of the passage and every time I read it I can hear John's voice dramatically doing Teddy.)   Anyway I started with them about 15 years ago on a hybrid bike with mountain bike baggy shorts and a cotton t-shirt and swore I would never wear lycra.  It was John's enthusiasm during 20 mile rides that got me going.

John and Margot's Tour of East County