SF Cyclotouring

Ride reports and other ramblings from a San Francisco cyclist.


2007.07.27 - Marin Headlands Night Ride

30 mile night-time mixed-terrain loop w/Carlos. We rode up Conzelman through the Marin Headlands to Tennessee Valley and then back home through Sausalito. 9pm to 12:15am. My DIY dual-CREE XR-E LED headlamp worked fabulously, running for over 3 hours on a non-topped-off battery, and never getting the slightest bit warm. I cranked up the max current on the bFlex driver to 1000mA before the ride to get some extra lumens -- turns out I barely needed it, the mid-beam level was plenty bright to ride off-road by, and the high beam lit up the entire parking lot at Tennessee Valley! I didn't expect the fog (silly me) and that mixed with the Headlands trail dust coated bike+self with a layer of wet grit that made brakes and chains somewhat unhappy.

Also, this was the first ride on new tires for my bike -- I got another set of WTB All Terrainasaurus tires, this time in 700x35C, to replace the 700x38s previously on the bike. Mounted on Mavic CXP21 rims, the 38s measured 37mm wide and the 35s measure about 34mm in width. Not much difference, but this swap gains me another millimeter or so of clearance at the chainstays on the bike. The narrower tires are also somewhat rounder in profile, with less aggressive side knobs on the tread. Somewhat curiously, both tires have the same maximum pressure rating of 75psi (usually fatter tires have a lower max pressure rating). Unsurprisingly, the narrower tires seem to roll slightly better on the road, and perhaps have a teensy bit less grip off-pavement. I might go back to the 38mm width on the front for more cush and steering traction, and leave the 35mm on the rear for the increased chain stay clearance.

I now have three sets of these tires: a pair each in 700x35, 700x38, and 700x40! Unfortunately, the 700x40s won't fit on the rear of my bike, but I might try running one on the front to see what that's like. I'm expecting that the 700x35s might also fit on my Vent Noir, so I might install those tires on that bike and see how it behaves for a little light mixed-terrain riding.


Bad Caltrain Day

Yesterday was a bad day for bike commuting on Caltrain for me. In the morning, I arrived early for the 8:14 AM southbound bullet train out of 4th & King in SF, only to get bumped from that train onto the slower next train at 8:19 AM (a limited) due to the single bike car being full.

Then, I ended up having to work late that evening, missing both the 7:00 PM and 7:09 PM northbound trains from the Mountain View station. The next train isn't until 8:29 PM -- again I arrived at the station with time to spare, only to get bumped from that train -- the conductor wouldn't allow more than 3 of the 7 or 8 waiting bike commuters to board the train, stating that the bike car was full.

That's fine by me, shit happens.

However, the 5 of us that were stranded in Mountain View for another hour (the next train was scheduled for 9:29 PM) were mightily pissed off when we noticed, as the train started moving again, the second EMPTY bike car midway back along the train's length. Thanks to that asshole conductor for not telling us about the second bike car! I called and filed a complaint with Caltrain customer service, I doubt anything will come of it, but whatever.

I finally got home at midnight. Today I took the Y! shuttle instead.


Double Rush

Apparently there was a 1995 sitcom around bike messengers in NYC...looks fairly good, apparently it only lasted one season. I just discovered the pilot on YouTube, courtesy of the BikeSnobNYC blog.

part one:

part two:

final part three:


2007.07.12 - Bike To Work...All the Way

Jim on Canada Road
Originally uploaded by allentomdude
Yesterday I met up with some coworkers in the Mission at 7:30am and rode down to Y! headquarters in Sunnyvale. It took us about 5 hours to cover the 52 miles. I got to work a bit late...


Denting Chainstays for Tire Clearance

Picture 084
Originally uploaded by e-RICHIE
Richard Sachs had a photo album over on Yahoo! Photos, but due to that shutting down and closing, he's migrated all of his 6000+ photos to Flickr. This has allowed me to re-find his photos detailing how he dents chainstays near the BB juncture for tire clearance. I want to try doing this on my Fuji cross bike so I can run my 38mm-wide WTB tires with a little more clearance and increased peace of mind.


2007.07.08 - Paradise Valley/Mt Tam/Marin Headlands Mixed-Terrain Ride

Climbing Railroad Grade
Originally uploaded by jimgskoop
Yesterday I participated in another epic Mixed Terrain (MT from now on) bicycle day trip. I've done many of these rides before with compatriots Carlos and Cyclofiend Jim, but yesterday was a day of firsts in many regards...

Firstly: This was perhaps the largest group to assemble for an MT ride to date. We started the ride with five people: myself, Carlos, Jeff, Greg, and Jared -- and then bumped into Cyclofiend as we were crossing over the GGB, making us six riders strong. (To maintain full disclosure, Jeff peeled off in Camino Alto to continue out to Point Reyes...)

Secondly: We had the largest bike-type mix to date: I was on my cyclocross bike, Carlos and Greg were on 26" MTBs, Jeff was on a Trek Madone, Jared was on a Riv Ramboulliet, and Cyclofiend was on his fixed/SS Riv Quickbeam. As I mentioned, Jeff split off before the off-pavement stuff, but even still it was interesting to see how bike/tire choices played out during the ride. My CX bike is equipped with fairly meaty 700x38 tires, but I often think I want/need bigger tires -- either for better traction, a cushier ride, more confidence, or whatever. Cyclofiend and Jared were both on road tires (32mm Paselas on the QB and what looked like 25 and 28mm slick tires on the Rambou, respectively), and they both did just fine...there were a couple of points where I wondered if the Rambou would pinch-flat, but that never happened, and Jared climbed and descended just fine, and (according to him) very much enjoyed the ride in spite of the "underbiking" limitation. Cyclofiend even rode much of the route (including the off-road bits) in fixed-gear mode, and if you're at-all familiar with how steep Mt. Tam and the Marin Headlands can be, that is a truly impressive feat! Moral of the story: You can ride any bike off road, it's all a matter of rider skill. Note to self: you don't really need fatter tires!

Thirdly: All the other MT rides we've done have put the off-pavement leg of the route at the start of the ride, allowing us to limp home -- tired, bruised, and dusty -- over the later easy pavement section. Yesterday's ride placed the paved section (the Paradise loop) at the start, and the off-pavement came last. I learned (the hard way) that it's important to pace oneself over the pavement section -- I rode the Paradise Loop fairly aggressively and was plumb-tuckered by the time we climbed up Railroad Grade to West Point Inn! That, coupled with the fairly drastic temperature changes and the cold winds on the latter part of the route really beat me up...I nearly bailed twice, but I'm glad I stuck it out and finished with the group.

60 miles

Cyclofiend's photos
Carlos' photos


SFR Jersey Review

SFR Jersey
Originally uploaded by jimgskoop
I managed to get out for a short ride yesterday (July 4th) in spite of some general vacation-day laziness, household chores, and celebratory BBQ preparations at a friends' place (cedar plank-grilled salmon fillet, tasty!) ...did a quick 40 miles on the abbreviated Paradise Valley Loop route, and I wore my new San Francisco Randonneurs jersey for the first time. So here are some general impressions...

It was a pretty warm day yesterday -- in fact it ended up being the first day this year that I rode in short sleeves and shorts, sans arm- and leg-warmers. It was also pretty windy and a little chilly crossing the GGB, but never bad enough that I felt the need to pull on the warmers or the fleece vest I packed in the handlebar bag.

During ride preparations, at first I dug my standard warm-weather-goto polyester jersey from the bike-wear drawer, but then changed my mind. The SFR jersey is made from a fairly thin wool weave, and I figured it wouldn't be too hot on an 80-degree day. Turns out I was right. The Medium jersey fits me well (for reference I'm 5'10" tall, around 145lbs, and wear a 38-39 sport coat) although I wouldn't want it to be any shorter in the torso -- I'll be hand washing and line-drying this one ONLY to prevent any shrinkage, despite the instructions that machine-washing is OK. The jersey isn't too tight across the torso, which allowed for some air-circulation, and the loose-fitting raglan-cut sleeves allowed for some additional armpit-airing, further helping to keep things cool. However, I must say that the sleeves ride up oddly, and I suspect that this'll be a problem when wearing arm warmers.

I stuffed my usual ride accessories (contact lens drops, chapstick, wallet, cellphone, pencam, keys) into the three rear pockets of the jersey. Everything fit and nothing bounced out (I would've loved button-closures on the pockets) but, typical with wool, the jersey sagged a bit in back. I won't be overstuffing these pockets with anything more.

The nicely-designed SFR logo (thanks Carlos!) is embroidered onto both the front and back of the jersey, and on the inside employs some fabric batting to stiffen things up and reinforce the stitching. I was worried that this heavier fabric might chafe during riding, but I'm happy to report that it was fine and totally comfortable.

The zipper worked well enough for temperature control, although I would've liked it to be a couple of inches longer.

The merino wool feels wonderful against the skin!

Overall I'm pretty happy with this jersey and look forward to wearing it on many more rides...