Saturday, April 14, 2007

Sea Otter-

I drove down to the Sea Otter Classic yesterday. I dropped my $10 and then lost the next 5 or so hours to la la land. I wandered around sampling samples, trying demos, and asking "What have you got that I won't kill?" I'm hard on parts. I bought myself some socks. This pair, is my favorite. I also picked up some "bike bling" in the form of anodized valve caps. I managed to make some more decisions on components for my up near future new mountain bike. I also managed to watch the practice for the dual slalom race. I saw the dirt jump and trials demo's, and the short course cross country race. I left tired, but happy I had gone.

Tierra Bella

So I had signed up for the Tierra Bella 100 km ride for Saturday (today). I wasn't sure if two of the people (Mark & Margaret) I knew were going to show up because of the impending rain, and the third (Michele) was not feeling well on Friday and wasn't sure if she was going to feel well enough. When I got a hold of her in the morning she felt up to it. The weather radar showed some rain off shore, but it looked way out, and light so I decided it was worth it. As a precaution, I made sure to wear the wool socks I had bought at Sea Otter . This would prove to be wise. Going over the mountains to Gavilan, where the Tierra Bella started, it rained a fair amount. When we got there it had stopped. We registered, met up up with Mark & Margaret, and were ready to go, but they were not. So M&M suggested we ride ahead, and they would catch up. This was likely as Mark races road bikes, and Margaret is in insanely good shape. It was overcast, the pavement was wet, it was cold, but it felt good to get going. M&M caught up with us at the first rest stop (at 11 miles). But, as were were ready to go, they were just getting there. "We'll catch up." they said. They did about 5 miles later, and blew by us. I could see a moment on Margaret's face where she debated whether to keep going with her husband, or slow down with us. She kept going calling back they would wait for us at the next rest station. I could tell Michele was not at 100%. We were averaging about 12.5 MPH. On out training rides, we had averaged about 15 on similar terrain. We make it to the next stop(22 miles), and the sky is looking very threatening. No sign of M&M. We head out and Michele asks me if I would be disappointed if we only do the "25 mile route." (There was no 25 mile, but lot's of people had been talking about a 25 mile route at the rest stop, so we both were confused). I said not so much. I was cold. She said she wasn't sure yet if she was up to 100k or not. I could tell she wasn't feeling great. Then, the rain started. On Santa Teresa Rd. it began to rain hard. whenever someone passed me water sprayed off their tires. I could taste the road. At Michelle looks over at me and asks, "Is it going to break your heart if I say I don't think I can do 100k?" I pretend for a moment that it will, but then admit I'm very, very cold. Only my feet, in their nice wool socks, still felt anything close to warm, and they were cold. We decide to ratchet up the speed, thinking it's only a few more miles. We were at about 26 miles at that point. We kept up a good pace, around 20 MPH for a while on the flat. At one point were were going down a mild hill at about 30. The rain stung when it struck my face. I had, for reasons unknown to even me, grabbed my fingerless gloves. I could barely feel the brake levers under my fingers. We Around mole 32 we slowed down some. the terrain got more rolling, and we were both suffering from the cold. When we got to Gavilan it was raining hard again. All I can say, is that it felt good when the heater kicked in on the truck. Total distance, 37.78. I feel confident I could have done all 62 miles if it had not been raining.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

I rode 50 miles this morning. That's right. 50.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Boooo!..... Yay!!!!!!!

Mountain Bikes in The Mist:

Sunday I took a break from my road ride training schedule and got out onto the dirt of Santa Cruz. I decided I would park along Highway 9 and ride up through Pogonip, across the campus and down into Wilder Ranch to do the Eucalyptus loop and back out. Well, that was the plan at any rate. The parking area was packed with cars and bikes. I was lucky to find a spot. There were, without exaggeration, maybe 25 people either just getting back from a ride, or prepping to start one. Oh, and it was foggy and cold. Not a problem, I had arm warmers. Pogonip can be a rough ride. With no warm up you launch directly into the ride up to the campus. Despite not getting enough sleep and feeling a little like I was getting a headache, I was in high spirits. Once I got on the trail my mood improved. It was colder ans, significantly, wetter than I had anticipated. After a mile of mist an sweat I was soaked to the bone, but I was still feeling great. I was climbing much faster than I ever had on that trail, despite not feeling 100% physically. I was moving through a particularly steep rocky section when I hear a PANK! sound from the back of my bike and felt a stutter through the chain. It was suspiciously similar to when I broke a frame in the fall. I stopped, looked at everything, and it all looked OK. OK, maybe it was the tire snapping off a rock I think. I get to the campus, and on a gentle down hill I finally stop spinning my feet to rest when it happens. I'm standing on my pedals because the trail is a little rough and the cranks suddenly begin to turn forcibly almost bucking my off the bike. What? The? Fuck? I manage to panic stop and hop off. I try to spin the cranks by hand backwards. No go, the chain goes slack and the dereailuer moves forward uncomfortably. Hell. I get a stick and a large rock and pound on the casset for a bit to try to loosen it up. No go. I ride back down the hill to my car constantly reminding myself that I MUST pedal or I will crash. Twice I forget. Both times I manage to recover. The hub is a total gonner. I could not even get it apart to see what happened. If I had to guess I'd say one of the ratchet bits bent or sheard off and lodged in the shell seizing it up.

I bought a new wheel this morning. The bike mechanic listened to what had happened with wide eyed horror.

Cool Trails Go up Hill:

After that fiasco I wanted nothing to do with the geared bike today. On a whim I hauled the single speed out to Wilder. I was just going to ride up the coast and back, but when I got to the western boundary I headed inland. I ended up on a trail that I had, somehow, never ridden before. As I could not shift there was about 1/2 mile that I had to push the bike up hill, but other than that I rode the whole time. About 12 miles on one gear. What a total blast. It was one of the best rides I've had in months. I really like the single speed. Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to snap and get rid of the geared bikes. I'll ride those more often, but sometimes there is something beautiful about riding with no gear or suspension. You don't so much ride the trail, and much as the trail rides you. Today was very nearly a perfect ride.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Rock Star

I took the Monocog out to Wilder Ranch this weekend. It was weird I felt like a rock star. The trails were fairly empty. Nearly everyone I passed (or was passed by) called out, "Cool Bike." Twice while I was stopped a group of riders would roll up on me, say hello, notice the bike and star asking question. It was funny. On my other bike I rarely get more than hello. The ride it's self was brutal. 14 miles, no shifting or suspension. Up hill sucked. The flats and the down hill were fun. It was a great day to ride, and not to muddy.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Monocog 29er

(Or how I learned to stop shifting and love one gear)

So... About a month ago I snapped the frame on the Trek. Wasn't doing anything crazy, just going down some fire road. I hit a water ditch, and at the bottom of it there was a "snap" and the frame got all squishy feeling. Hardtails should not be squishy. The frame snapped on a weld where the bottom bracket shell and the seat tub meet. On a whim (and a vague memory of a lifetime warrantee on the frame) I took it by the shop. The shop said they'd try to warrantee it for me. It worked. The break was determined to be a manufacturing flaw. So I am waiting for a new frame to be shipped out to me. So this last weekend I was shopping around the local shops for someone to swap the parts from the broken frame to the new one (I don't really trust the mechanics at the place I bought the bike. They are all young, and... well... a little stoney). At one of the shops that has a good reputation I noticed their selection of 29" wheel mountain bikes. Most mountain bikes are 26" wheeled. In the past few years more manufactures have been making the larger wheel bikes. They supposedly ride better, turn better, etc. What caught my eye about them is they are supposed to be better for taller riders by moving the center of gravity lower in relation to the rotational mass, thus providing a feeling close to what shorter (normal) people feel on a 26" bike. I noted a cheaper one and talked to the mechanics about it. I got one of the sales people to let me take it on a test spin. About 3/4 of a mile later I rode back into the shop with a huge grin. I REALLY liked the feel of the 29" wheels. Being off road bikeless the temptation was even strong. There was one downside. It was not a "geared" bike. It was a single speed. It had a rigid fork, no suspension But the frame fit me so well, I bought it. It was cheaper than my geared bike, weighing in at $450. I got home and some buyers remorse set in. So I geared up and rode the single track up behind the high school. The climb was a little brutal. I had to stand to pump my way to the top. The washboard sections were a little harsh on the hands without suspension. But it rolled soooo nice. The trail felt very different. In one rooty section that always gives me trouble, I just flowed through it. Beautiful. By the end of the ride I understood the lunatics who climb up to sand point on one gear. There is a simplicity and beauty to dumping all those gears and just riding liek you did when you were a kid. I got home with a huge grin, tired legs, and no trace of the buyers remorse. The bike is twice the workout in the same distance. I an not going to be ditching geared bikes soon. The Monocog will be great for my local trails and for shorter rides, but the ability to downshift and make it easier is a wonderful thing. It has convinced me though, that my next geared bike will be a 29er.

Friday, September 08, 2006

You've got to want it.

I've been riding, but I just have not been writing about it. *SHRUG* these things happen. Here are the highlights. Mid June I was cranking up a hill in Wilder Ranch. I had adjusted my derailleur and replaced the chain because I had had shifting problems. PANK! The chain snapped. I had to ride about a mile back to the car. Fortunately it was all down hill. I replaced that chain and STILL had shifting problems. I determined the cassette had been warped. Presumably from the amount of torque someone my size puts through the drive train. I replaced that. First ride on the new cassette, the chain bounced off a cog on the derailleur and wrapped around it. When I pedaled I pulled the derailleur up over the cassette. Total goner. I replaced the Shimano drive train with a SRAM X.9 drive train and have been nothing but happy with it. I've been doing more rides. Rides, that last year left me gasping, have gotten easier. Sections of trail that used to give me trouble I fly through without thought now. Sections that I used to walk I usually make it through. Occasionally I get in over my head, but usually it just means tipping over. No biggie. I was riding up a hill in town last night and something occurred to me. A little over two years ago I tried to rid up the hill on my old mountain bike. I got, MAYBE 1/5th of the way up it before getting off and pushing. The act of walking up the hill was hard and I had to stop and rest a few times. Last night I just spun up to the top. I could feel the burn, but I knew that my legs had a long way left in them. My lungs were barely straining. I pondered how much better shape I am in now. I've lost over 40 pounds since I started. I know I've gained a lot of muscle mass. I've a lot more energy than I used to. It's taken a lot of work. Pedaling up ANOTHER hill, one I would have never even tried before, I could feel my legs burn and lungs working hard. I wonder what sort of brain damage kept me going, because frankly, the sensation sucks. When I got to the top I was very proud of my progress. I turned and started back down, thoughts still playing in my head. I've seen Lance Armstrong quoted as saying that to be a good cyclist you've got to like pain a little bit. Maybe that's true, but the conclusion I came to is that you've got to want it. Really want it. If I didn't I'd still get a stitch in my side and be winded after a mile of flat land. I used to stop twice in my 5 mile loop, and not it's a warm up to a "real" ride. Funny how things can change.

And for no reason, all the bikes I can remember having in my life. I wonder if there are pictures of these out there.

-The Red Bike - My memories are vague, but I suspect Cindy might have had it before me. It was, in my mind, my first bike.
-The Black BMX - I think Dad bought it for me at a flea market. I don't think I had it very long. In my mind it's flat black, with white.
-The Evil Kenevel Bike - It was white with a coaster brake. I loved that bike. It had a banana seat, fenders, and molding to look like a motorcycle. I learned to rid two wheels on it, and rode it into the ground.
-The Mongoose Moosegoose - This is THE bike of my childhood. I remember crashing it on my first ride around the corner because I had never used hand brakes. Chrome frame and black mag rims. I rode that bike a lot, and crashed more times than I can remember. I am drawn tot he idea of single speed, ridged mountain bikes with the though of recreating the feeling of rides on that bike.
-The blue Schwinn Varsity - Bought it from and add in the news paper. It served me well through Junior High. I would ride to school with my hands in my pockets to keep them warm. No hands the entire way unless I had to stop.
-The Red Schwinn Continental - This bike was older than I was. It had belonged to Dad before me. I believe it was bought new when my folks move to Hollister, before either my sister and I were born.
-The Green Schwinn Frontier - MY first mountain bike, though it rarely saw trails. I used it in San Luis Obispo, primarily for exercise (Though not enough) and later when I was delivering furniture to save money on gas. It was a good bike. Cleaning it up one day started my current obsession with cycling. I was trying to ride it on trail, it just wasn't really meant for that.
- The Trek 6700 - My first real (and current) mountain bike.
-The Centurion - Bought for 5 buck, cleaned up and traded for a frame and fork.
-The Trek 520 - My road/commute bike. It is a fantastic bike, and fun to ride to work.
-The Roach - Just a frame right now. I intend to build it up to run to the store, etc.


Sunday, June 11, 2006

It was supposed to be so easy

I rode today.

A good ride, I met up with a friend an a co-worker up at Wilder Ranch. Immediately I start having mechanical problems. On any cog in the rear cassette other than the lowest two the chain would skip like mad and made it impossible to use them. No problem, I'll just go slow. The first few hills are brutal. We head up the north leg of Engleman's loop. We turn on Wild Boar trail which I rather like. It's a short swoopy fast single track. We followed it up to Old Cabin Trail. Old Cabin is a lot better than I remember it being. Of course last time I rode it was over a year ago, and unbeknownst to me I had been coming down with the flu. We tore down and up the rooty single track to Eucalyptus loop. We turned left onto the south leg and off we went. Excellent. I love the single track on that trail. Fast and smooth with some techy bits. Crossing the last creek my friends stopped unexpectedly in front of me causing me to slam on the brakes. I teased her for a moment, and then heard a voice behind me say, "Do you have a cell phone, my ride partner crashed, I think he fractured his hip." The speaker was older, and of course, I pulled out my cell. No signal. He said his friend seemed to be OK, but there was no way he could ride. I was a little concerned the injured fellow could be going into shock, so we all raced up the trail to the paved section where Wilder Ridge meets it. We had signal, so he called 911 with my coworkers phone. Apparently the fellow who crashed was 61 years old. The man who borrowed the phone had to get to the entrance to Wilder (The tunnel). We offered to go back and check on his friends. "By the time you get there the ambulance will be there. H's got a good sweater, water, and a survival blanket. He'll be OK." So we continued out ride. We rode Wilder Ridge to Zane Gray. Zane Gray is steep, narrow, rocky, rutted, and has a steep drop off on the right for the first half. Of course, I loved it. While we were descending I caught sight of a Range truck, a Fire engine, and an Ambulance going up one of the fire trails. We dropped onto what I thought was Dairy Mill trail, but the sign said Wilder Ridge loop. It was single track so we didn't care. We rode it until we got to Wilder Ridge trail and then back out. All in all, with rest stops, repeat attempts at parts of the trail, and the incident with the other rider it took us 4 hours. At the parking lot the guy who used one of out phones was

Friday, May 19, 2006


Riding in to work yesterday morning I saw about 7 people riding up Glen Canyon. I never see anyone riding up or down at that time of the morning. When I got into Santa Cruz there were many more bikes than usual. And not the usual crowd. No these were not the local immigrants, homeless, and students. There were people from all walks of life riding. Riding past a local bakery I noticed a sign which read "Information Station." The place was swarmed by bicyclist. I'm not even sure it is usually open at that hour. That's when it dawned on me. It must be a bike to work day. The ride home was dome on the middle chain ring again.

Today I replaced the pads on the disk brakes on my mountain bike. It wasn't that difficult. I had completely worn through both the front and rear sets of pads. I was only able to stop last weekend because there was a little of the pad left on the front. In the back it was all shiny metal. I am a little concerned I may have scored the rotors. After all, last weekend the front got hot enough to melt the pad retention springs...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Rode into work again today. I managed to make it all the way home on the middle chain ring up front. I'm proud of this.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I rode into work today, and then home. Lots of climbing. I'm tired tonight.