Posts Tagged ‘Weather’

Errands Day

Right, then…

As the supremely cold “I pay extra to live in the Bay Area so I don’t have to deal with this shit” weather has subsided (for now), today was a rather nice day.  Did some work, then set out to run some errands on the Dawes.

The first stop was Willow Glen Bicycles to get the chain tensioner that I had Tahn order.  This is going on the Biscayne that I converted to single speed.  Currently, it works as I have the rear derailleur sort of forced in place by cutting the shift cable, giving it the correct amount of tension (to hold the derailleur in place) then wrapping the cable around the chainstay.  Okie engineering, it’s true, but it works.  That said, this bike is not only about having a cheap knock around bike but also having something that I can wrench on without fear of breaking one of the “good” bikes.

All that said, I flatted on the way to WGB at Park and Davis.  The last thing I remember was looking down and seeing a key on the ground, then pop.  Got the wheel off, swapped tubes – did not find anything sticking in the tire – then tried to air up…to no avail.  I was using the Crank Bros pump, which I’m never really sure works right.  It’s an ingenious design – compact shaft that lets the user select either high pressure or high volume.  You can also select whether you’re filling through a Presta or Schraeder valve.  The problem lies in making sure you have all your selections made and that the pump is set up to actually move air…

…but, I digress…

So, I switch over to the CO2 cartridge.  This I have a decent grip on how it works.  Again – some slight inflation, then I hear it seeping out.  Well, shit.  I remembered taking the patch kit out of the seat bag and putting it on the Raleigh, as I was doing a long ride; the plan was to pick up a few more tube kits at WGB (really – just dandy timing).  But for now, I was fucked.  I put the rig back together and – through the magic of Motorola – was able to determine that I was slightly closer to WGB than home.  Started out, then realized that Shaw’s Lightweight Cycles was somewhat nearby – the Droid said 0.7 miles, so off I went.

I’d guess that Shaw’s has been there for 35  years if not longer.  Not the cleanest or tidiest shop, mind you, nor does it have the newest items.  There were wool jerseys that I’d guess were from the 80’s and a few spandex-ish ones from the 90’s, I’d reckon.  They did have some new bibs, however.  I’m guessing that clothing is not their big money maker.  As for bikes, they had some Bianchi’s, a couple of brands I hadn’t heard of, and an old Dave Moulton.  It was sort of cool to see the DM, live and in person like that, with chrome lugs and all.  What was interesting was the frames they had hanging from the rafters – all different brands.  Makes me think that I should look a this place for a frame if I want to do a build up.

After about 1.5 hours of futzing about (another customer came in to pick up his Fuso (also built by Dave Moulton), which they just installed a new Campy groupset – they asked if I had time to wait, while he dealt with the customer, which I did), I was back on the road.  [As a bracketed aside, while the bike was on the stand, I noted how dirty it was – time for a good cleaning.  If nothing else, the greasy bits have 950 miles on them – might be time for a deep cleaning.]

It was probably the shortest stop to WGB ever – Tahn and them were in the back, and I was dealing with some guy I hadn’t met, yet.  Nice enough, but that was it.  He got my tensioner and a few other items (tube, 3 patch kits, energy bar) and back on the road to Target (out of Cafe Bustelo) and Trapper Joes (out of almonds).

All in all, a ~13 mile trip – not too bad, but not the 50 milers I’ve done, so far.

For 2011, my goal is to ride 3000 miles, aggregate, between all the bikes.  That works out to 58 miles/week, approximately.  Some weeks, I can see that being easy, but some are going to be harder as there is business travel coming up.

Going to try and ride tomorrow, then do some bicycle maintenance.

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First Impressions – 2011 Raleigh Record Ace

Right, then…

I’m a little late in posting this due to holidays and such, so I guess it’s time to do a first impression report on the Raleigh.

OK, to date I have 77 miles on her.  The first 26 was a shakedown ride.  The remaining 51 was more of a “real” ride.

Now, the bike.  But first, a warning:  I am not what society calls a “roadie”.  Yes, this is a road bike and I ride it, but that’s it.  I have not ridden any other type of road bike, so I cannot tell you the difference between Reynolds, Columbus or True Temper tubing.  Nor do I have first hand experience with aluminum, carbon or titanium frames, outside of the fact that the first is really stiff, the second can break at times, and the third is expensive.  My other bike (a Dawes Galaxy), while quite a nice bike, is a touring rig, so it is going to ride and handle much differently.  That said I feel that the Raleigh is somewhat light and crisp (relatively speaking – it is steel after all).  I’d reckon the weight to be 20 to 21 lbs.  The bike responds to inputs (steering, power) somewhat quickly.  I have not noticed any frame flex when I accelerate.  Steering is responsive without being twitchy.  While descending, it feels like the bike is in a groove – I can pick a line and hold it nicely.  I’ve heard some bike reviews use the phrase “laterally vertical, yet stiffly compliant” (or something like that).  I’d use that to describe this bike if I knew what the hell it meant.  Let’s just say that the frame is somewhat stiff, but does not chatter my teeth when going over rough road surfaces.

As for the drive train, the bike originally came with full Ultegra, but that included a 53/39 chain ring, which is just too tall for this dude.  I had the LBS install a 50/34 Sora that I pulled off of the Dawes.  Yes – blasphemy, I know.  Maybe someday component weight will become an issue and I’ll replace it with an Ultegra compact.  Overall, everything works well – it goes when I tell it to, with no chatter or missed shifts.

The Record Ace comes with Weinmann CR19 Double Wall rims, which are fine, I guess.  They’re round and mount nicely to the bike.  I believe they are 28-hole rims, which helps me in that I weigh ~225 lbs, so I’m not worrying about rim failure.  I did upgrade from the Vittoria 23’s to 25 Gatorskins, which I’m told helps with the ride, a bit.

I was originally concerned about the Brooks Swallow saddle.  It looked like it was called Swallow, because that’s what my ass was going to do to it, when I sat down.  Not so.  In fact, I find it’s more comfortable than the B17 I have on the Dawes.  Further, after 77 miles, the seat appears to have started breaking in (much to the amazement of the LBS that sold me the bike).

Then, there are the aesthetics.  At the risk of coming across as shallow, one of the things that attracted me to this bike was its looks:  The lugged frame, the pearlescent white paint, the brown saddle and bar tape – it all comes together in a very pretty package.  Admittedly, I would have liked to have seen a better job matching the bar tape to the saddle, but that’s me being a PITA.

Overall, I like this bike – a lot.  Further, I like the fact that I have about 40 more cycling years left in me and that – saving anything really bad happening – this bike will be around for all of them.  Mind you, if you’re looking for the fastest, lightest, bestest bike out there, this isn’t it.  If you want something that really really nice, and provides a sweet, comfortable, stylish ride, then this might be the bike for you.

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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October and vanity

[Authors Note:  This post was originally written on October 19, 2010, but has been sitting in draft mode as I had run out of creative juices.  It’s now late November and I have more creative juices, thank you.]

Right then…

It seems that since summer showed up in June, it is determined to hang out until November, as summers typically last about five months in California.  To attest to this fact, it is – on October 12, about 88F.  Tomorrow, we’re looking at 92F.

So I ask the studio audience – precisely what the shit is this?   OK, yes, I realize that I was bitching about rain and overcast weather in May, but…that was May.  All this hot shit should have been done with by now.

Of course, as I’m typing this, I realize that I have forgotten about Indian Summer, where it gets unseasonably/unreasonably hot in October, before dipping in to Fall.  But it’s not that we actually have Fall in California – there’s just this period where we wear shorts and sweatshirts at the same time.  Now, after this unnamed period, there’s the period where we go to the snow.  In other places (like those with the snow that we go to) this is known as Winter.  The only real way we know it’s Winter is that there is less daylight and we can’t reasonably sleep with the windows open for a while.

But this is all academic, actually.

Personally, I’ve been going through one of my weird phases.  I have a fairly decent arsenal of interests in my quiver that I tend to rotate through – sometimes with frightening frequency.  A lot of these are somewhat seasonal or pertain to travel – I would not normally go sailing in November, unless I’m in the tropics.  Snowboarding in the summer has proven to be somewhat lacking.  I’ve never done any cold-weather kayaking, but it’s entirely a possibility.  All that said, I’m in sort of a lull.  I’m not sure what I’m interested in.

During the back half of the summer, my riding and running was severely off step.  I just wasn’t into it.  Even the commute to work was thrown off by the fact that I was not able to get out of be early enough to get things together and ride in.  Of course, things have picked up over the last week or so.   After having some work done to the bike, I’ve started setting my alarm so that I can get my ass out of bed and get to work.  On Friday I did a 26 mile ride to test out the new triple-chainring crank I just had installed (and summarily learned that I’ve lost some conditioning).  Sunday was kayaking in Monterey and yesterday I did mountain biking up at the Saratoga Gap (a place I have not been in almost 10 years).

I’m not sure the cause of this flurry of activity.  I was considering doing a ride today, but something told me that I should chill out a bit.

Part of that, I think might be the chronic injury that I have to my left Achilles.  I find that it’s fine when I’m good and lazy, but as soon as I do something (run, bike), it starts aching later that day (and gets worse the next morning).  I find this disturbing and somewhat irritating – it’s like my body likes it when I lie around and do nothing.  Hell, for that matter, I like it when I lie around and do nothing.  All of this running and biking and hiking and what have you is done in order to keep me in some sort of reasonable shape, so I can continue to eat and drink beer and not resemble an elephant seal.

Yes, folks – we now know the real reason why I subject myself to these things:  Vanity.   I’m vain.  In fact, I’m so vain, I probably think the song is about me, I’m so vain.

So, as you can see, it’s a bitch when the thing that I’m trying to keep looking somewhat good (my body) turns against me and prevents me from doing the things that help keep it looking good.

In addition to this, I’m fighting off a cold and bronchitis [which I learned after I had started writing this].  So not only are there mechanical issues, I also can’t get enough air in, anyhow.

What complete, utter bullshit.  Oh, well.  Time for a beer, I reckon.

Completely Lazy…

Right, then…

I wish I had a really good excuse for laying off of running and riding.  But in the end, it was because of the weather.  For the past 6 weeks or so, we’ve been in “if it’s raining, it must be Monday” mode.  In and of itself, I don’t mind the rain, but it’s the constant changing weather that’s getting to me.  One day it’s 60F and cloudy, the next it’s 80F and sunny.  Then it’s down to 60F and cloudy.  I find it’s sapping my energy.  I stated earlier, that I have winter and summer modes – well, these days, I’m stuck in the middle.

All that aside, I’m happy to say that I’ve been trying.  Ran 9.5 mi on Sunday, biked to work on Weds, ran 7.16 mi yesterday and rode to Willow Glen and back this evening (just got back in fact).  To add to that, the 7.16 I ran on Thursday I PR’ed, averaging 9:02 miles, which, for me, is blazing.  Hopefully, I’m sliding back into the groove.

As for riding, coming home tonight, I experienced that quiet joy of riding at night.  Further, I had a couple of ports before leaving, so I had that fine, mellow high whist cruising home.  Always good.

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Right, then…

So, after a long day that preceded a couple of long weeks, I change clothes and go get the bike for the ride home.  I had tempted fate inasmuch as I rode in today knowing it was going to rain.  That said, I was fortunate to be graced with relative dryness for the ride home (not that rain would have stopped me, but still).

As I was rolling the bike to the door, it was making an odd squidgy sound.  Look down…Oh Happy Day – a flat.  I was severely tempted to walk to my roommates office to see if he could give me a ride home, but I persevered.  I signed up for this.  If I ever want to do any sort of long-distance riding, I’m going to need to put on my big boy pants and not wuss out when things like this happen.

In about what I’d guess to be 20 minutes, I got the wheel off, the tube changed and the wheel reinstalled.  Certainly slow by most standards, but I was able to get it done without snakebiting the tube or otherwise puncturing it.  Had a hangup with the pump, tho.  While Crank Bros makes a slick compact high volume/high pressure pump, it does not exactly operate intuitively.  So, maybe I would have been done in 15 minutes, had I read the instructions the first time.

Regardless, got it done and got home (though on an under-inflated tire…could not get the stem to quite seat well enough to jack the pressure up to 80psig…so 40 had to do).

I celebrated with beer.  But then again, had I gotten a ride home, I probably still would have celebrated with beer.

Enough of this…

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OK, it warmed up…

Right, then…

I’m glad to report that it warmed up sufficiently and that I was able to go for a nice 7 mile run (OK, 7.16 miles, to be exact).  A bit slower than my normal 10 minute mile (10:06), but that’s just me being picky.

Also, I realize that my earlier statement about a storm sneaking in while I wasn’t looking is complete utter bullshit.  After re-reading an earlier post, I realized that I wrote about the impending storms.  So, I guess it’s more appropriate to say that my mid-term memory is complete shit.

…But I’m still going to bitch about the cold until it goes away.

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