SF Cyclotouring

Ride reports and other ramblings from a San Francisco cyclist.


2008: Questions and Answers and Stuff

Lots of folks seem to be doing the year-end recap thing, so I'll throw my hat into the ring too. First, some basic stats: I rode 3411 miles in 2008, just a bit more than in 2007 (3162 miles). I rode three 200k brevets and one 60k mixed-terrain rallycat. I rode all the way to work from SF to Sunnyvale six times . Four unofficial centuries, plus two other rides that were just shy of 100 miles. I did the combo commute (bike+Caltrain) 51 days this year, which averages out to less than one day per week -- pretty poor in retrospect, I'd like to get to work this way 2-3 times per week, ideally.

Unfortunately I did NOT get around to making another overnight bike-camping trip happen. I experienced my first such trip in 2007 and had big hopes for a couple more this past year, but I didn't take the initiative to make this happen. Perhaps in 2009...

I got to ride bikes with my lovely wife Dawn twice this past year, once when we meandered through Golden Gate Park, and the other when she rode across the GGB for the first time and all the way to Sausalito.

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting, riding with, and getting to know yet another iBOB member, Gino from Chico. I even cajoled him into riding his first 200k brevet, time will tell whether he's caught the rando bug or not, though! I look forward to riding more with him in the coming year.

This past year we said a collective farewell to Sheldon Brown and Eugene Sloan among others in the cycling community. They continue to be missed, but their memories, efforts, and ideals live on!

I started a couple of Flickr photo groups: BikeEats and Vintage Bontrager Cycles.

I built a lofi porteur rack and experimented a bit with frontal cargo loading. I became seriously obsessed with low-trail front geometries and -- at the urging of the Serpent of Shimmy -- ultimately decided to bite into the fruit of the Low-Trail Tree by buying Yet Another Bike (a Kogswell 700C P/R) and equipping it with a front bag and rack, getting me banished from the Garden of Rivendell (kidding!). I am still obsessed with both -- I love low-trail handling, yet I hate bike shimmy, and I do not know how to have my cake and eat it too. I have uncovered more questions than I have found answers for. At the close of 2008, I'm finding myself wondering whether any of my current bikes is well-suited to my needs, and therefore pondering the expense of a custom frame, which when put into perspective is somewhat silly IMHO. Silly, because I have a decent collection of fully-functional bikes that I've (ignorantly?) enjoyed riding for many years...On the other hand, I could spend ~$1500 and get 98% of what I think I want, and people easily spend more than that on laptops (or production carbon frames, even)! I continue to obsess... In terms of bike hardware, I think ignorance truly is bliss. Pushing the pedals is what's really important, and it's too damn easy to get sidetracked. Be mindful of that apple!

In the past year, I finally bought a new bike helmet, a Bell Venture, which though a budget "sport" helmet with a universal sizing system, I like very much -- I tried on nearly a dozen helmets and that brand/model fit the best. My previous helmets have all been from Giro, but I think they changed their sizing or something because their helmets no longer fit my oblong head! I also finally found some cycling shorts that fit me really well and don't cost too much: Performance's Century model (size M for future reference). And, I picked up a Swobo wool jersey (again M) which I think is nearly perfect: the feel is fabulous, the fit is great, the (short) sleeves are just the right length, and the zipper is long enough to actually serve as a temperature-regulation device instead of just a head-opening. I also just recently bought a new set of SPD-compatible bike shoes (Specialized Taho, size 44) which don't really LOOK like bike shoes AND are quite comfortable to walk in, so they'll be great for commuting -- but I haven't really finished setting them up yet, so more on that later.

2008 also seemed to be the year of unfinished projects. I bought a low-trail 650B conversion fork, but still haven't painted it, let alone installed it on a bicycle. I also picked up a 1993 Bontrager Race Lite frame (size Large) to temporarily replace my 1994 Bontrager Race (size Medium), because I've always suspected the bigger frame might suit me better...but of course that frame needs some TLC and as such, it's still sitting in the corner of my room, untouched. It annoys me to realize that I've gotten to a point in my life where my time is much more valuable than I think it is, and spending more money upfront for a turn-key solution vs. going with a cheaper option that requires more work is probably the practical option. The reality is that, between being gone 12+ hours per weekday for work, riding one weekend day, and spending the other weekend day with my wife or working on house-repair tasks, I just don't have much time left over for bike projects! I need to be more mindful of this in the coming year(s)...

I also bought more parts to build more LED headlamps, some driven by battery and one (hopefully) by generator. I seriously thought I'd acquire a generator hub in 2008, but I've been waiting for real-world reports of Shimano's newest/latest dyno-hub offerings, which are only now reaching the USA. I'm also missing some parts from Dealextreme, who assure me that they're forthcoming. We'll see.

In 2009, I hope to do the following bike-related things, in no particular order:

+ braze a custom front rack for a handlebar bag
+ ride a couple 200k brevets, another 300k, and hopefully a 400k brevet -- possibly a fleche, too
+ ride all the way to work once per week; combo-commute 2-3 days per week
+ plan and complete a couple of overnighter bike trips in the summer or early fall
+ install that low-trail conversion fork on another bike to serve as a second low-trail testing platform
+ swap my MTB parts from the medium Bontrager to the large Bontrager; possibly get a rigid fork for that bike as well
+ do more mixter (mixed-terrain) riding this year; it was great conditioning in 2007!
+ sell stuff: I should unload at least one bike, and I've got several things in my parts stash that need to get cleared out (various freewheels, Mavic bits, Campy hubs, old suspension forks, road shoes, Look & SPD-R pedals, etc)


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