Archive for November, 2010

39 Miles and cold cold cold

Right, then…

A few weeks back, I joined Almaden Cycle Touring Club (ACTC) so that I can get some group rides in.  Now that a) I’m all better and b) the bike is back where I like it, I decided to go on a coffee ride this morning.

To make things interesting, the Bay Area has been experiencing some very un-California-esque weather.  Overnight temps have consistently hovered around freezing.  I mean, we do have our cold spells, but it lasts a few days, then goes back to normal.  This shit has been hanging around for over a week.

In light of this, I put on my hook and ladder gear:  High tech thermal Under Armour panty hose; high-tech thermal Under Armour shirt, padded shorts (to save me from the Brooks B17 “taint-banger” seat that I have), gym shorts, long sleeve work out shirt and a rain/wind jacket that I just bought from WGB the other day.  This in addition to a beanie skull-cap and Isotoner gloves (the Dan Marino model).

I throw a few items in the handlebar bag and off I go.

The official ride starts at Foothill Expressway at Arboretum (in the Lucky’s parking lot) and meanders up Foothill Expressway through Los Altos and Palo Alto and into Menlo Park where Cafe Borrone is located. Total mileage is about 25, or so.  In addition to that, I rode from home, which added about 12.2 miles to the overall trip.

Happily, I had dressed warmly enough.  Actually, I was starting to get hot by the time I reached Lawrence Expressway (~2 mi or so, I’d reckon), so I had to pull the beanie off.  Beyond that I was about perfect.

Overall, it was a good ride.  As I had never been to this cafe before (and this was in fact my first group ride) John with ACTC – the ride leader – had me to follow him.  The ride itself averaged about 14 or so mph, so we weren’t hoofing it which was good – I hadn’t done a ride of any real distance in weeks if not months.  Met a nice older couple – Kristina and Frank from Denmark, they moved here in 1962 – who I rode with the entire time.  After stopping at the cafe for ~20 mins for coffee and a cookie, we were back on the road.  On the way in, John stopped to take of his jacket and told me to go ahead and that he would catch up.  I guess, Kristina and Frank ride a little faster than Johns liking as he got there about 15 minutes after we did.  As John wanted to stay and chat, I followed Kristina and Frank out.  The route back wound through old neighborhoods in Menlo Park and Palo Alto, primarily along Bryant Avenue, which, incidentally, is a bike avenue.

I’ve seen bike avenue signs before, but never knew what they meant.  Turns out that bike avenues have limited stops – it’s the cross street traffic that has to stop, instead.  This means that you can go quite a distance without losing momentum.  A nice feature, that.

Anyway, we wound our ways back to Foothill Expressway and ultimately, home.  I was starting to feel my lack of conditioning in my back and legs, but slower riding and lower gears helped that.  If nothing else, it was good to get out on the bike again and restart my training.  If I plan on randonneuring and touring, I’m gonna need me lots of that…

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Now we’ve got it together!

Right, then…

After long last, the handlebar bag and front rack was installed.  We are looking good, Billy Ray!

Tahn at WGB also had to rework the headlight as it is now mounted on the front rack.  Once again, an outstanding job.

On the topic of changes, my buddy and I re-swapped the wheels.  A couple of months ago, I had a lighter set of Wheelsmith wheels installed.  Yes, they were lighter, but they were also narrower with 23c tires.  So while, yes, the bike was a bit faster, the ride and handling went all to hell.  So, the night before Thanksgiving we re-installed the original wheels.  Of course, adjusting the brakes gave us hell and while they stop the bike, it’s not good solid stopping.  But for the time being, it will work, fine.

Now, it’s time to start looking at some randonneuring.

On the new bike front, I had a fit of logic and reason which I realize, in retrospect, really does not work when it comes to bikes.  The short of it is that I don’t need a bike, I want a bike.  Not knowing where else to turn, I posted my dilemma on  One reader commented that asking bike guys whether I should buy a new bike is like asking heroin addicts whether I should shoot up.  Good point, that.  In short, it just sealed my decision to buy a new bike, money allowing.  Right now, the money thing is what’s pissing me off.  I have a customer that should be paying me monthly, but has been paying late, which is screwing up my plans.  I’ll need to work on that.

OK, then – enough of this.


Right, then…

It’s been – what?  About two weeks since the doctor told me to knock off any running and a good five weeks since this whole thing started.  Yesterday, I was finally able to go for a run.  A slow and short run, mind you (2.9mi at 10:24) but a run no less.  Amazing how much conditioning I’ve lost.

The good news is that I’m better.  The bad news is that I have some makeup to do. I still have a lingering cough, but I think that will clear out over time.

…and fortunately, the weather has been good to help me re-entry.

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Right, then…

Today, I had a birthday like I do every year.  So now I’m 39, I guess.  I know that a lot of folks when they hit this age range, go through some sort of freak out, or something.  Being that I’ve been somewhat introspective the past few years of my life, I don’t think I’ll have the same issues.

Right now, the biggest stressor is lining up plans for my 40th.  There’s talk of going to Scotland for a Scotch-tasting tour.  That could be interesting.

There is one question that does come from all of this.  Now that I’m 39, is it accurate to say that the Pirate is Looking at 40?  Or does one actually need to be 40 in order to look at it?

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…and somtimes, I walk

Right, then…

OK, so Diwali started, recently.  For those that don’t know of it, here’s what it is:

Man, them Indians can drink.

OK – to be fair, I should say “Them Indians can serve liquor”.  For that matter, when I say Indians, I mean folks from the Asian subcontinent of India; not the ones that were here when Christopher Columbus “discovered” America.

Regardless, I’m blessed in that I live ~1 mile from my friend’s house.  Normally, I would have ridden, but I’m trying to be good until next Weds, when I plan to run.  Until then, I want my lungs to heal up…



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Will you knock that shit off?

Right, then…

Driving in to work this morning, I saw two cyclists that pissed me off.

Mind you – I’m not a hard core law and order guy.  I see when some rules are ridiculous to follow, but these guys make all of us look bad.

Cyclist #1.  I’m in line at the light, waiting to turn right on to Kiely from Benton.  To the left, I see a cyclist coming down Kiely- his light goes from yellow to red.  Does he stop?  No – he turns right on to Benton, makes a big, sweeping, illegal U-turn, passes to my right, then turns right onto Keily and keeps going.  I wonder what sort of self-righteousness he would have pulled had he been (unfortunately) hit during the U-turn?

But that was mice nuts, compared to the next guy.

Cyclist #2.  Going down Kifer, he’s on the right a little ahead of traffic.  Light turns red and I notice that he’s on the other side of the intersection.  I don’t give it too much thought as I figure that he may have just missed it.  Then we get to the next light – and he blows right through.  Same with the light after that.  Then we get up to the corner of Bowers and Kifer – he heads to the left hand turn lane and so do I.  Of course, he’s going to wait until the green arrow, right?  No – he goes left into the cross walk, then salmons up Kifer until he crosses over to the other side.

Again, I can see the argument for fracturing the rules every now and again, but it’s dipshits like #1 and complete assholes like #2 that give all of us a bad name!  This is exactly why people hate cyclists – shit like this!  I mean, true, cars cause more than their fair share of issues – no one is arguing that.  But guys like this are completely, openly ignoring traffic signals.

The road to cars and bikes co-habitating on the same road is not paved with bikes cowering off to the side.  But on that same note, it sure’s the hell not paved with bikes effectively telling the world “fuck off, I’m on a bike and I’ll do whatever I damn well please” either.  The road is somewhere in the middle, folks.  I don’t want to get doored.  Drivers don’t want to have to worry about having to make a panic stop because a bike cut in front of them.  Saying being guilty is OK because they’re guilty doesn’t do shit for the cause.  All it does is make us look like a bunch of selfish spoiled assholes…the very kind of people we’re trying not to be like…

So, smarten up, folks…and stop at the lights…

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Right, then…

This morning, I woke up and felt like I normally feel after taking meds.  I see this as a good sign that my condition is improving.  In fact, I think it would be a good motto for life:  “Strive to feel like you’ve taken your meds.”

So, while I’m still a bit enfermo, I’m ascending from it, which is good.

Now – on to other things…I finally got down to Willow Glen Bikes to order a front rack and a handlebar bag for the Dawes.  For the bag, I’m going with the Velo Orange Champagne bag.

I was going to go with an Axiom rack that would match (more or less) the rear rack on the bike, but I was talked into ordering a Nitto rack from Rivendell.  It’s a little more than I wanted to spend, but a) it looks good and b) I hear that Grant and the gang had a lean month, so I’m more than willing to do my part to keep a high-quality builder going.  Besides – it’s a good rack.

Also, after talking to Tahn, I’m going to put the original wheels with the 28’s back on.  Yes the Wheelsmith set is lighter, but I can’t get much over 25’s on them and the ride is too harsh for what I want that bike to be.  Right now, the handling is akin to when Hunter S. Thompson pumped The Whale’s tires up to 75psig – you feel every pebble and the handling is skittish.

Regardless, I reckon the bag and the rack will be in within a week or so, so hopefully, I’ll have a nice new configuration in a couple of weeks.  Then, it will be time to start toying with randonneuring.

Now – I’ve been looking for a go faster bike.  I originally was going to get something earlier this year, but some high dollar work was pushed out until 2011, so I held off.  Now, I just got a good check and am back to looking more seriously.  What also changed this was the fact that Willow Glen Bikes just started selling Raleighs.

In the olden days, Raleigh was a nice, English brand with a good reputation.  Then – like Dawes – they were sold to the Chineses.  (Chineses being plural for Chinese).  As a function of this, the build quality – like Dawes – summarily shit the bed, and as such, Raleigh was relegated to box stores and such.  I guess in the recent years, someone determined that this fate would not do for such a marque, so they bought the Raleigh brand and – apparently – started building some damn nice bikes.  What’s better is that they’re still humble – their marketing folks realized that they need to re-earn their reputation.  As a function of that, said damn nice bikes are also reasonably priced.  So now, I find myself at the point where I can afford a bike, again.

My original thought was to go for the Grand Prix.  520 Reynolds chromoly lugged frame, Tiagra components.  $1100

…and it’s red.  My concern was that I already have a steel, lugged bike – I did not want to spend more money to get more of what I already have.

After doing some research, I learned that at that same price point, there was also more of a hard-core racing type bike – the Revenio 3.0.  This has an aluminum frame, carbon forks and 105 components, which is fairly impressive for an $1100 bike.

This, naturally, is lighterer and fasterer and modernerer than the Grand Prix.  One drawback – the green tires.  I’m not exactly sure what that’s all about, to be honest.  They remind me of The Green Machine I had, growing up in the 70’s.

So, after doing lots of internet research, I decide it’s time to talk to Tahn.  The nice thing about Tahn is that he’s a bike guy.  Not a roadie, or a mountain biker or a commuter or a cyclocrosser or a fixter or a track bike guy…he’s just in to all bikes.  Further – and this disturbs me, vaguely – I think he probably knows me a little better than I know myself.  Then again, I’d rather that person be a benevolent entity, so I’m doing OK, here.

Tahn, after patiently listening to my blathering, proffered a third option.  The Record Ace.

Sigh.  I don’t blame him, but it seems that ever since I’ve gotten in to this crack habit, whatever amount of money I plan on spending, turns out to be woefully inadequate.  To be fair, this is the better value, over time.  First, with the Revenio, I’d have to replace the frame and fork after 5 years – aluminum frames have the potential to crack; carbon forks are notorious for sudden catastrophic failure.  Why not go with the Grand Prix, then?  Remember that was fitted with Tiagra components.  The conversation revolved around upgrading components over time.  A good idea, but the logic fails when you consider that Raleigh gets serious quantity price breaks on the gruppo’s they buy; LBS’s do not get nearly that much of a discount.  Thus, it’s actually cheaper to buy the upgraded gruppo up front.

But, I realize that I haven’t described the bike.  Steel 520 Reynolds tubing, lugged frame, Brooks saddle, Ultegra components – $1800.

Well, hell.  Being that – properly fitted and not factoring in nasty events such as stealage or total destroyosity – this bike could rightly last the rest of my life, it’s not such a bad deal.

The only teensy downfall is that this is a 2011 model…and WGB does not have it in stock yet…

…which is probably a good thing as I’m still at least a week out from being able to run or ride…