Nothing really exciting, today…
I’ve been following a couple of different eating plans – for lack of a better phrase – since the start of 2015. At the beginning, I was off of all foods that knowingly had added sugar. I say knowingly as it seems every goddamn thing has high fructose corn syrup in it – even stuff that isn’t sweet – and I’m intermittently good at reading labels. So candy was out, but tomato sauce makes it past the censor. The only sweets I ate were fruit and carrots; everything else – pasta, bread, meat, corn chips, etc… – were fair game.
That sort of worked for the first 6 months of 2015 – I lost about 20 lbs. Then what happened was life stresses and a job change. So while I was still avoiding added sugars, the stuff that I was allowing myself to eat was increasing in volume. Eating in volume is something I’m really really good at. If I’m lucky these periods coincide with compulsive exercising so – at worst – I maintain my weight. In this case, 10 lbs came back on.
At the start of this year, I went low carb. Pasta, bread and chips are now exiled and eggs, bacon, cheese and meat meat – in their various luxurious forms – are in, as is low-carb candy (no sugar, but artificial sweeteners…which is probably going to give me cancer of the spleen, or something, but you gotta go sometime). This came about due to two things: Some friends did low carb and lost weight, and I read Eat Bacon, Don’t Jog, by Grant Petersen. The low carb/weight loss correlation does not surprise me as I did the Atkins diet in the early 2000’s, and it worked. So, I initially dropped about 15 lbs, I think (I didn’t weigh myself exactly on January 1, so I had a few days to lose water weight). Anyway, the last few weeks, I haven’t been so good – at least on the weekends. The first weekend was Easter which there was a thing at the Girlfriends brother and sister-in-laws…I had some chips. Then we went to a big wheel race party in SF…and I had everything else. But I got back on the plan on Monday (if not Sunday night). Then last weekend was Carmel and this weekend was…this weekend. No real occasion to speak of. OK, to be fair, we went to a child’s birthday party – a friend of my GF’s daughter; they had cake. And chips…and therein lies the rub.
Like the last time I did a low-carb diet, I certainly was not hungry. But then, I don’t normally eat for hunger. I mean, I do, but stay with me here: I eat for most other reasons in addition to hunger: I’m happy, sad, tired, well-rested, stressed, relaxed, etc… But the thing that low-carb lacks – the thing that I start to crave – is crunchy food.
Don’t start in about almonds and celery and such, either; you know what I mean. I want chips. Corn chips, tortilla chips, potato chips, you name it.
Also – as I’ve intimated above as well as probably in earlier posts – I don’t stick with any one thing over the long term. I can be great for 8 months and then BANG! It’s over.
So, that’s how I’ve been doing with that.
As for riding, the past two weeks have been low on mileage. Naturally with Easter and being out of town, I did not get my normal weekend ride in. Also as I was on call last week, I could not realistically cycle commute. But today, we did a 34 mile training ride and I noted that I can spend a lot more time in the big ring…something that I rarely ever spent time on. This tells me that – despite having slacked off the past two weeks – my fitness is increasing. So I’m thinking that my commuting on the fixed gear might be paying off.
It might be time to do more weekend rides on the fixed gear to see how well I do.
Enough of this.
Just some random stuff going on since the last posting. Been trying to get out on the bike more for training, but the past couple of weeks, that’s been limited to commuting on the fixed gear; I’ve missed my weekend rides due to scheduling conflicts (last weekend was Easter and this weekend I took the GF to Carmel as a sort of late birthday trip/end of holiday getaway).
The commuting itself has been good, but I’m trying to get into consecutive days of riding in order to get my legs used to it. The rains have stopped for now, so they’ve been fairly dry rides. The only irritating thing was that I’ve developed a creak on the non-drive side crank, so part of today’s thing was to throw some more torque on the bolt, which seemed to do the trick. Also, I lowered the basket a bit, which allows a better hand position in the drops (the handlebars are too narrow for the basket, so it’s right up against the drops).
I still haven’t put on the new stem and handlebars on the adventure bike. I started to this afternoon, but didn’t feel like dicking with it…so I took it up and down the block a couple of times and put it back…maybe later…
This weekend, we’re doing a training ride in the Devils Slide area in Pacifica, so hopefully that will get me back into some hill work and maybe some longer distance (I need to start doing >24 mile rides). Backroads just took the final payment for the trip, so I guess this is actually going to happen!
I’ve been thinking about what I’d do if I only had room for one bike. Would I keep any of the bikes I have? Or sell them all and buy something completely different. Would it be geared or single speed? Fixed or freewheel? Upright bars or drops? I think if that ever came to pass, I’d have to have some deep conversations with Tahn to sort out those details.
A couple of weeks ago, I bought an Olympus XA-2 – a 35mm point and shoot camera, with a 35mm f/2.8 lens – to take on the trip to Glacier. I did a test roll of random stuff from around the neighborhood and it came out perfect! No light leaks, meter works great, lens is sharp. I’m going to load this up and try to keep it on one of the bikes for impromptu shots while on rides.
I have a couple of old SLR’s – a Minolta XG-7 and a Pentax K-1000 – that were discovered to have light leaks. Around Christmas, I ordered new foam seals for them and have been dragging my ass on actually replacing the seals. The job is not hard, but a little tedious…it can get messy and you have to do a fairly good job of getting all of the old foam out of the camera body, or there won’t be a good seal. Also, you have to be careful to not get any schmutz inside of the camera or it will foul up the film and other mechanism. I did all of the seals on the K-1000, save for the mirror seal (which looked OK) and the hinge seal on the Minolta (I had it CLA’d and resealed around 2000, so I think they’re still in good shape. Now, they’re sitting open to let the acetone vaporize off (needed that to remove the old seals) before I reload them with a test roll to see if I fixed the problem…or made it worse. Side benefit: While I was at the table working on this, I was chatting with a housemate who used to be a professional photographer – he offered me up his remain stash of Fujifilm Velvia 100 slide film…so that worked out nicely.
I’ve been shooting with the SRT-100, which is a great, manual camera. However, I’m finding some limitations: 1) It only goes up to 1/500th shutter speed (which can be a problem when shooting in bright light) and 2) it’s a little big and heavy to carry around all the time…you don’t notice it at first, but after a while, you feel your forearm straining. Also, after handling the XG-7 this evening, I did not appreciate how small and light it was. So, if my light leak fix works, I might put the SRT up for sale and use the money to buy some lenses for the K-1000.
The girlfriend and I drove down to Carmel for the weekend. It was sort of an impromptu trip – her daughter was going to spend part of the weekend with her aunt and her father, which gave us the idea to head down the coast for a day trip and she picked Carmel, which was fine by me. This worked out well in that normally, for her birthday (which was last month) I take her up to Mendocino for the weekend, but due to scheduling issues, we weren’t able to make that happen, so I was glad we were able to do this all the same. Also – as she’s a teacher – this was her last day of spring break before heading back, so she needed a final bout of relaxation before entering the back stretch of the school year.
I hadn’t been to Carmel in 20 years and it was…nice…but not thrilling. The thing about Carmel – it’s a great place to eat and buy expensive, yet things (e.g. Artwork, tchotchkes, expensive clothes (which all are very flowing…for women, at least), but once you’ve done those things, there’s not much else to do – sort of like Monterey. So after wandering through shops, we grabbed dinner, had a coffee and were back at the hotel by 8:30 watching TV.
So, we’re not the most exciting people.
To be fair, we’d probably be doing more if she were more of a drinker and if I drank at all, but even then, there’s a limit to that.
This morning, after lounging around and having a late breakfast we wandered down to the beach until the fog burned off, then headed back on home.
Not much of a finish for this, so there you go. Tomorrow, back to work for the next 5 days.
I reckon sooner or later this – like the Ghostbusters remake – was bound to happen. They say there will be another MIMW, but – also, like the Ghostbusters remake – I don’t have high hopes.
So now that I have the Bob Jackson sorted out in fixed gear trim, my attentions returned to the Jamis. For all intents and purposes, it’s together, but needing dial in. The chain was too long, so the derailleur collapses upon itself when in low gear. Also, the handlebars are are too low for my taste and the stem is at max height. Finally, I wanted to pick up a set of dirt drop bars to try out.
When I buy something, I have a general rule: If I go into a shop and ask questions about a product, I buy it from them. Conversely, if I can do my own research and figure out what I need, and am willing to wait, I’ll buy online. Never, will I ask questions about something in a shop, then buy it online…that’s just tacky. Tonight, however, I did the opposite: Researched online and bought in a store. I know I paid about 25% more for the handlebars, stem and quick link (including the quick link tool that I didn’t know I needed until the guy showed it to me) than if I bought them online. But, that’s OK. I like that there’s a place that I can walk in to and ask 90 questions and get decent answers from, so it’s not too bad of a premium. Also, truth be told, I get a little charge from going into the shop. You don’t get that from buying off of Amazon.
Back to the Bobby J, I took the derailleur cables off, the other day, as my tape up job was loosening and the cables were flopping around and looking Jenky. I’ve decided to hold off on swapping out the 15T cog after reading that Sheldon Brown had his bike set up at 42/15…if he can live with that, then I sures the hell can gut it out for a while.
Related, methinks I’m starting to gain some fitness. Last Sunday, I did my normal Canada Rd loop and the climb to Polemus Rd at the end was not as arduous as it usually is. Also, I wasn’t completely wiped at the end of the ride, like normal. So I got that going for me…which is nice.
Unrelated: Did I mention I got into film cameras, last year? Nothing like eschewing technology for something that may or may not be better. Anyway, for the trip to Glacier NP this summer, I’ve decided that none of the 8 or so cameras I already have are small enough for bike touring, so I’m now trolling eBay. I’ve settled on an Olympus XA-2…small, light, excellent optics, 3 focus settings and a thumb wheel for winding (so no extra batteries needed for an autowinder). Problem I’m having is that folks overvalue their 35 year old cameras, so trying to find one cheap is going to be a challenge. But I’ve got time…
First, I’m typing this on the iPad as my MacBook died and I left my work MacBook at…well…work (don’t like taking that on a bike commute). So, if this is poorly punctuated, or spelled, you know why.
Anyway, maiden voyage on the Bob Jackson after I converted it to fixed. What’s nice is that the FG muscle memory from 5 years ago (yes, it’s been that long) stuck around, so I picked it right back up, no problem. As suspected, however, the 15T cog is geared crazy tall, so it was a push on all surfaces except the slight downhills.
Uphills are a thing…I mean, they alway were, but now I can’t drop down to a 34T cog and go for it. Also, did I mention I live on the side of a hill? Nothing massive, but enough to that I have to stand on the pedals to get up them Hell I have to stand on the pedals to get going from a stop while on the flats. If there’s a stop sign going uphill, I check my 9, 12 and 3 and go for it. Pisser with that is that I lose my moral high ground when it comes to other assholes that regularly blow stop signs.
Also, I fitted a Wald medium basket to the front. I noticed that when I have full panniers on the back, it gets light in the front, so now I have a way of balancing it out, a bit. Small challenge was that the basket it just barely narrow enough to fit between the drops, but I was able to mount it low enough to make it work. The few pounds up there do seem to make a difference, handling-wise.
So the verdict: I like it! I missed riding FG. While I’m overgeared, I’m inclined to gut it out with this configuration in order to get in to shape. Maybe after a while, I’ll either get a bigger cog or even one of those slick Surly dingle x cog things.
…I built up a fixed gear.
So, to be fair, fixed gear and masochism are not always linked. Fixed gear and living on the side of a hill and cycle commuting with about 15 to 17 lbs of stuff, plus being on the heavier side anyway….that’s masochist. Also, did I tell you that I’m running 42/15 for a sweet 2.8:1 gear ratio? That’s great for the hills, no? Because I’m not an idiot, I put an 18T freewheel on the other side.
To be fair to me, I set out to get something closer to a 16T rear cog. But once I got to Walt’s, they were all out of 16’s (I guess that’s a popular size). Channeling my inner Veruca Salt, I wanted it now, so I said “Screw it” and got the 15T that was on the peg. Using the magical Sheldon Brown Gear Calculator I figure I got 75.6 gear inches with the 15T; 63 with the 18T freewheel. I think I’m over geared. But at least I have a fixed gear bike, again…though I might be pushing it up some parts… They say that you gain fitness by riding fixed…I sure hope so, or I’m about to subject myself to some serious torture for no good reason at all…
I also have a basket on it, now. I ordered one of those Wald medium baskets because when I put fairly loaded panniers on the back, the front gets light. So maybe I can put some clothes and shoes or something up front to even out the load. It’s a bitch as the handlebars are a little too narrow and they rub on the basket, but I think I mounted it low enough that I might be OK. The bummer is that the clamps for the basket took up the little free bar space I had for a light and bell. Regardless, I look forward to trying to ride with a load on the front to see how differently the bike handles.
As for training, I’ve found a loop that takes me from the girlfriends house along a routed with varying hills for 22 to 25 miles, depending on if I turn or do an out-and-back. Last Sunday, however, a friend and I did 32 miles through Woodside, primarily on Canada Rd. I was on the Raleigh, which has taller gearing than the touring bikes, so it was a decent workout. One day, I might be good enough to do that on the fixed gear.
Also, members of the bike tour group signed up for the 100K Tierra Bella route at the end of April. That’s going to be interesting, I think. I figure that if we can complete the 62 miles, then we’re in pretty good shape for the bike tour. I got 2 months to get in to shape. Oiy.
So, since Christmas there have been some new developments:
As stated earlier, I bought a rigid Jamis Diablo frame with designs to build it up as an adventure bike/commuter/whatever. That’s about 80% done. I dropped the frame off at Bronson Silva and had a bunch of braze-on’s added (rear dropouts for racks, front drop outs and mid-fork for racks, bottle bracket underneath down tube and a couple of others that I don’t rightly remember). I fairly gutted the FSR of all of it’s rotating equipment and bought some random parts (stem, handlebars, thumb shifters, etc…) from a place called Changing Gears Bicycles on Alameda. Changing Gears is a charity place – they take in donated bikes and parts and have a community work shop area to train underprivileged kids skills about repair and such…so not only do they have stuff for cheap, but it’s for a good cause. Anyway, it’s mostly built and I was out riding up and down the street last night….I have some things to dial in (shorten the chain and tweak the derailleurs) but I think it’s coming along. Once I get it sorted, I’ll head back down to Tahn to talk about racks…then we’ll work on the powder coating. I always thought of keeping it rattle can black, but my mind wants a metallic burnt orange…which, of course, will be too nice to fuck up, so I’ll be afraid to ride it.
Got the front wheel back on the Dawes and lemme tell you: That new hub is the shit! Something called and SP-8 – fairly new to the market, I think. Fairly cheap – I think I paid $130 or so for it – and, most importantly, I can’t really detect any rolling resistance. So, now not only do I have a full-time headlight, but it also now works great in the rain!
Speaking of rain… So, I’m cycle commuting more (I’ll get to my reason, next). Last Wednesday, I roll out in 60 degree weather, take the train to Palo Alto and then proceed my ride in to work. I knew that there was a storm coming in that night, but the forecast showed some rain later so it didn’t seem that threatening. As it was warm, I forgot my rain jacket. The ride in was somewhat glorious – great weather, and Google Maps was routing me through these great neighborhoods in Palo Alto (not like there are bad neighborhoods in PA, but still). So, work all day, and start to head out. As I’m wheeling the bike out of the building, I get hit with a few drops and it’s windy. No problem – a few drops is not a thing, so I head back to Mt View station. About 2 blocks away, the rain gets heavier. I remembered that I had stashed a backpacking poncho in my handlebar bag to try out, so no better time, right? No. I learned that a poncho in 15 to 20 mph wind works like a goddamn airbrake…so that came back off. Now it’s windier and rainier and I’m just battering into it. Normally, I like to ride to Mt View station so I can get a few more miles in, but on this particular occasion, temptation got the best of me and I gave up and went to the closer station in Sunnyvale. Once I get to my home station, I was going to ride the final 2.5 miles home. And it’s a pissing rainstorm with stronger winds. Also, I live on the side of a hill. Survey says: Fuck that. On the taxi line, there’s a minivan. “Will you take me and the bike?” “Can you fit it in?” “I will”. Best $18 I ever spent.
So, why am I riding so much, again? Well, a friend is having a milestone birthday and to celebrate, we’re doing a Backroads Tour through Glacier National Park. Each day is roughly 30 to 50 miles. Day 2 is Going to the Sun Road, which is something like an average of 10% grade. So, I gots to get in shape. In addition to training rides on the weekends with others, I’m getting my legs back in shape by cycle commuting. So there’s that.
To help with this, I’m building up a fixed gear bike. This will be the Bob Jackson that I recently spent money on to get cabled up. When I lived in Santa Clara, I had a fixed gear bike, but when I moved to hillier terrain, I tore it down. Now, I’ve learned that fixed gear + hills = good fitness. Having more money that I did when I built up the original FG, I’ve ordered a set of Sun CR18 rims with Formula hubs (which I’m told are just fine, despite not having snob appeal), the rear being flip flop. So now, I’ll have the bailout option of a lower gear and freewheel, if needed. Not sure what I’m going to be doing with the cranks as I’ve half a mind to do a 2×1 or 2×2 setup to give me more bail out options…time will tell on that one.
One final thing: Sometimes the gods speak to us and we ignore them at our peril. On Feb 15, I roll out to go in to work. About 3/4 mile from home, I flatted. Having the skills and materials, but not the time, I head back home to swap bikes. Now, I make it all the way down to the train station. While I’ve missed the earlier train, one should be expected in 15 minutes, or so. I check to see when it will arrive and the website mentions a “Saturday Schedule in light of the holiday.” Holiday? Aw, shit – it’s President’s day. The next train won’t be there for another hour. Can’t hang out that long. So back up the hill I go, shower change and drive in to work. The gods were speaking to me when I flatted; I need to get better an listening to the gods.