SF Cyclotouring

Ride reports and other ramblings from a San Francisco cyclist.


Weak Coupla Weeks

So over Presidents' Day weekend, I took my annual ski vacation in Colorado, and had a great time as usual. Especially noteworthy was that I got to ski at Vail for the first time...Vail is really big; going from (say) Keystone to Vail was nearly as dramatic a change as crappity East-coast skiing vs. Colorado skiing!

This, of course, has nothing to do with bicycling, save for the fact that this ski-vacation weekend annually precedes the San Francisco Randonneurs 300k brevet. Last year was the first time I participated in the 300k, and I fretted quite a bit because my vacation meant that I was off the bike for a full two weeks before the ride. This year was no different. While chatting with a ski-buddy about whether or not I was going to do the ride this year, he proclaimed "why not?!?" and that struck a motivational chord in me. "Sure! Why not indeed!" I thought, resolved to try...

Sure enough, two days after returning home, I caught a bug. Whether it was the obscene germ-exchange that results from packing a few hundred people inside a pressurized, wide-body aluminum tube, or the fact that nearly everyone at my work was either getting or already out sick on my first day back, I'll never know. I was hoping that it was a 24 or 48-hour thing, but it lingered on longer than that, and I went to bed Friday night resolved to the fate that I would have to sit out this year's 300k.

As it happens, severe weather was in the forecast for the day of the ride, and as such our RBA decided to cancel/reschedule things for safety's sake. Given that the weather predicted for this year was to be worse than in 2007, I thought this was a prudent decision...AND it meant that I might have a chance to participate in the rescheduled ride, provided that this virus would vacate its host!

The ride was moved to March 1st, which is this Saturday. While my health has definitely improved, I'm still not "back to normal" whatever that means. Some days I feel better than others, but generally I'm still feeling fatigued and coughing/sneezing up chunks of green goop. So I'll have to sit out on the 300k's second chance date, which is especially annoying because the predicted weather for this weekend is sunny and clear with highs in the 60s (F)!

Damn virus, I hate and curse thee!

I've been using the more lucid moments of this down time to catch up on some bike stuff. I finally got 'round to doing the long-overdue 'bar swap on the RB-1 (removed Trek System-whatevers, added Nitto Dreams). This is especially important because I want to use the Trek 'bars on the Kogswell build...

Now I'm trying to locate a framebuilder who can/will correct the alignment glitch on the Kogswell.

And then I can finally start assembling the damn thing....maybe.



Sheldon Sticker -- Version 3

"AASHTA" is an acronym for "As Always, Sheldon Has the Answer" -- often used in various online bike forums next to an explanatory link to Sheldon's site in response to a technical question. Thanks again to Gino for the artwork!

I'll try to get the stickers made in the next few weeks...

Commute Much?

A while back, I rode out to Point Reyes Station with a friend. At one point, we were passed by a Hot Tri Babe on a carbon racing bike with aero bars. As I was riding back home near Larkspur, close to dusk and after my compatriot had split off to head for home, I crossed paths with her again. As we rode along, she asked me where I was headed. "San Francisco" said I. She then asked where I'd ridden to. "Just to Point Reyes" I replied. "The lighthouse?" she asked -- "No, just the town" I returned. "Oh, nice" she said. Finally she queried "Commute much?" probably eyeing my fenders, lights, bike luggage, and various bits of reflective gear... "When I get the chance" I replied. Only later did I realize that she probably assumed that I commuted on that bike, although I have another bike which is dedicated to that task.

I find it telling that people -- even "hard core" cyclists -- assume that if your bike has lights and fenders, it must be for commuting. Because, you know, why else would anyone be out riding at night?!?


Budget Front-rack Bags

I'm slowly gathering the parts to build up a new low-trail frame and fork. One of the reasons for this new bike is that I'd like to try a front-rack-mounted cargo bag for long-distance rides. I already have a couple of different racks I want to try, but I don't have a front bag. The standard these days seems to be the pricey Berthoud bags, but at upwards of $250, they are a little beyond budget, especially during any experimental phase. To that end, I'm looking for budget solutions...

I've read on the iBOB list about someone hacking a $20 Nashbar Elite handlebar bag to work on a front rack, and that intrigued me. I ordered one of these bags last month, but the zippers on the bag were installed so poorly that it was rendered all but useless, and I sent it back.

Other folks have gotten creative with insulated cooler bags (examples 1 and 2), and even canvas tool bags of the sort you can buy at big-box home-improvement stores.

I was just thinking that perhaps there is some sort of military-surplus bag that could be had cheaply and is easily modified to work on a bicycle rack...after a bit of surfing I found this $10 bag that looks promising...What do you think (big photo here)? Looks like it's about the right size (11" x 5" x 7" tall). Remove the carry straps, velcro a map case to the top, add some internal stiffener panels, and fasten the bag to a rack with nuts and bolts, or even zip-ties. I bet it would work!


Version 2?

Yesterday I posted a sample of a Sheldon Brown "OBEY" sticker. Here's version two -- admittedly less edgy, but conveys a nicer message. Do you like this one better?


Sheldon Brown, you have a posse.

Sheldon Brown, you have a posse.
Originally uploaded by Gino
I'm gonna get stickers made. You in? (thanks, Gino!)

Goodbye Sheldon

In case you haven't yet heard, our friend, colleague, and guru Sheldon Brown passed away last night from a heart attack. I never met the man, but have "known" him via the Internet for many years -- he helped me many times with technical bicycle questions, both via personal email and through his extensive web site. I was in Boston a couple of years ago, and didn't take the time to travel out to Harris Cyclery to try to meet him...now of course I wish that I had. Sheldon, you will be missed and certainly never forgotten!

Rob H. puts it most eloquently!

Did you know Sheldon had a MySpace page? I didn't!


2008.01.26 -- San Francisco Randonneurs 200k Brevet

A few words and photos from the 2008 edition of the San Francisco Randonneurs 200k brevet.

Even though the predicted torrential rains never fell (which is nearly a miracle), this was a hard ride for me. My first brevet, this same ride in 2006, cost me 12.5 hours. Last year I completed the route in 9:44 in ideal conditions. This year's ride took just about 11.5 hours to complete. I made the same usual mistake of not properly pacing myself, riding too fast during the early part of the day and not conserving my strength. I know there were several riders who were behind me at the start, but who finished before me -- and that's probably because they paced themselves properly.

Unfortunately, I ended up not taking many photos on this ride, due to the fact that in the first half of the day I was wearing non-camera-friendly, unwieldy gloves, and my camera was in one of several zip-top baggies deep in the bottom of one of my jersey's pockets, underneath a couple of other layers of clothing. Read: it was near-impossible to get to.

Later in the day, I was able to unearth the trusty pencam, but by then I was too fuzzy, desperate, and plumb tuckered-out to remember to take many photos.

My ride report is intermingled with the photos I took...

Fortunately Cyclofiend took a bunch of photos!

Carlos' photos start here.

Many more at the San Francisco Randonneurs photo pool.

Mileage: ~137
Bike: ADVN
Time: 11 hours 37 minutes