Archive for the 'Cycling' Category


Eroica 2015

Apr 23, 2015 in Cycling, Life

Eroica is the name of a vintage bike event that started in Italy and now also has a California edition, a few weeks ago in Paso Robles!



Ah that sound an analog dérailleur makes, no index shifting, just move the handle until it falls into the next gear. The bike I rode made that noise, all bikes around me made that noise except for a few single speeds and a few with a Simplex 3-speed. And one of them rode up the steep unpaved hill in the lowest of his three gears where the majority of us had to walk our bikes, on a heavy steel bike, and he didn’t even appear out of breath. Toeclips. Clipless pedals were not allowed. Luckily my bike had toeclips with straps and Jon also lent me his brother’s cycling shoes. Getting into the toeclips never was a problem during the ride. My feet still remembered how to do this. I didn’t manage to get the cleat to catch on the pedal’s ridge and so I had to learn not to pull on the pedals but just push. This made the steeper climbs a bit tricky especially with the high gearing on the bike: 44×26 was the lowest I think (have you seen my thighs? Not Tony Martin material I tell you).


The bike.

A forty-something year old Mondia Special, Reynolds steel frame, Campy Record. Borrowed to me by Jon on behalf of his brother. The lesson: it’s okay to have short friends as long as their siblings are tall! A great bike. It got a lot of looks and I heard many a “oh a Mondia!” as I rode along. It handled very well on the unpaved roads and descended really nicely.


The shirts.

I rode in replica jersey and shorts of the Peugeot team of the 80-ies. There were many Molteni jerseys of course and Bianchi. I also saw several Atala’s, Raleigh and some Look jerseys. A few went further back for their outfits and wore woolen jerseys from the 20-ies and 30-ies; some with the spare tube wrapped around their shoulders.


The scenery, the route.

Gorgeous. Hey, we’re in California, so duh. The route out Paso Robles was via a bike path, followed by the first unpaved road and climb, and then we were out in the country. The rest stops were at wineries (hips. pardon.) and the route meandered over their property, over their unpaved service roads. The pace of the ride was unhurried. You’re here to see and be seen, to chat, to admire, to encourage. The miles just flew by.


The verdict.

You have to participate in one. These so-called Eroica rides are becoming more popular. There’s the original one in Italy of course but there’s also one in Spain, in Japan and here in Paso Robles! It’s fun, it’s a trip back in time, it’s nostalgic, it’s delightful.

Bike commuting, The Prequel

Aug 10, 2013 in Cycling

wpid-IMG_0982-2013-08-10-17-49.jpgThis was on my list to try and do when moving back to California: take the bike to work and back. I live in Santa Clara, the office is in Mountain View, it’s about 7 miles, so that seems most doable. But I didn’t want to use Barnaby, the road bike, for this effort. Thus, a new bike was called for. This became quite a soul-searching exercise. Which has amused me. As this article points out (thanks for the find, Dave) back home I would have gotten nice old secondhand bike and be done with it. But here it has to be just so!

The price point had to be such that I would be comfortable to leave it locked on the street for some periods – the bike would be inside the office at work but on the way home I might want to stop somewhere, or in the weekend ride to breakfast, lunch or dinner. Get a bike with drop bars, a commuter bike with straight bars like a Specialized Sirius, a cross-bike to take on the trails in the weekend, or what? It became a “or what”: a single-speed/fixie (a fixie is like a doortrapfiets, for the folks back home). I’ve been intrigued about these bikes for some time and this seemed an excellent excuse to get one. Plus they are cheap, have very little stuff on them that’s worth steeling, and often have very minimalistic paint jobs because they are made by non-brands. It is curious, isn’t it? Most of the frames of name-brand bikes like my Ridley are made in China just like my single-speed but cost way more and have the brand name printed in loud big letters on the frame. It’s like cable-tv: you pay $100/month for many channels you don’t want and you have to watch all the commercials.

wpid-IMG_0988-2013-08-10-17-49.jpgAnyways, so a single-speed was going to be it. Most local bike shops don’t have them, which is a pity because I prefer to buy from them. On-line, there are shops like A lot of choice! What to get? I liked the Merciers (if only for the name) but the model I really liked was sold out in my size and the other model had a really short wheelbase making it rather twisty. In itself fun but perhaps not for early morning sleepy rides in busy traffic. The sold-out part it turned out became a bit of a hurdle. The site often only shows on the checkout page that the particular model or the particular color is sold out. I tried one, sold out, tried another, sold out. Eventually the one I bought was the fourth choice but that doesn’t matter that much: most of these bikes are very similar in geometry and components. So a white Gravity Swift was ordered Wednesday evening a week ago. An aluminum frame with a carbon fork for just over $300. Not bad. That’s less than one-tenth of what Barnaby cost which I guess makes sense – a single-speed vs a 10-speed or roughly $400 per gear.

wpid-IMG_0978-2013-08-10-17-49.jpgThe next morning I get the confirmation email that the bike is shipped via UPS to my old address in Webster NY. Aiii!! Guess I didn’t yet update my address info on my PayPal account! Quickly grabbed the phone and dialed the shop. The customer service person wanted to look up my order by my email address rather than order number which would have been simpler for both of us. Amazing how much confusion one can have over “commerce at onno dot com”… (I use this email address rather than onno at onno dot com for buying stuff on-line in order to minimize spam to onno at onno dot com – which, looking at the amount of spam on that email address is a strategy of questionable success…). Her Texan ears and my accent didn’t add up to a lively conversational combination but eventually the exact spelling of the email address was successfully communicated. Anyways, the bike was not yet in the hands of UPS but still in their store. UPS promised to deliver the bike on Thursday the next week. And indeed just after 5 pm that day a UPS truck stopped outside my apartment. I walked out, the UPS guy gets the box out of the truck and proclaims with a smile: “Look what I have for you! A new bike!”

wpid-IMG_0979-2013-08-10-17-49.jpgTogether we carried the box up the stairs. I signed for receipt and closed the door. TickTock came over to look at it then decided he was hungry and moseyed over to his plate with cat nibbles. We all have our priorities I guess. The bike came 80% assembled as it is named meaning that mainly the front wheel, the pedals and the handlebars need to be attached. I put the bike together and then took it downstairs for a spin around the neighborhood. It had the handlebars it came with which were 44cm width. That felt terribly wide. The bars on Barnaby are 42 cm (I have no shoulders, my arms connect directly to my neck…) and so I bought a 42cm drop bar for this bike which is also nicely flat on top.

Friday evening I put this on the bike and I flipped the rear wheel around to the fixie cog. Tried it out in the parking lot. In the beginning it was very strange: how do you stop and put your foot down? After a few laps I started to get the hang of it but I don’t really get the point of it, I like not having to pedal when I don’t have to pedal. And I like to ride with my hands on the brake grips so those went back on as well. Plus, I like brakes. They have their uses.

wpid-IMG_0987-2013-08-10-17-49.jpgYesterday there was time to really try out the bike. First rode down Homestead to the Starbucks at Holenbeck for coffee and lunch. The gearing on the bike is 46×16 which when starting feels heavier than the gear I normally start in at traffic lights on Barnaby but once rolling it is a pretty nice flat road gear. The bike handles very nicely both on straights and cornering and is very quiet (due to the absence of derailleurs). Besides not having any gears – except that one, of course – I’m also not putting a cycle computer on it. That already is very liberating – no cares about average speeds and such folly, just ride. After the stop I pedaled around eventually passing through Castro in Mountain View and zigzagging further past Shoreline and Rengstorff.

I turned onto Shoreline just behind a spandex-clad cyclist on a very nice carbon Specialized road bike stopping next to him at the traffic light to cross Central Expressway. He kept his head straight but I could see that he was looking at my bike from the corner of his eye. We cyclists are so elitist and snobbish: roadies and mounties don’t wave at each other, and clearly someone in casual clothes on a single-speed is not one of us either but his bike is so shiny white and pretty! The light went green and we took off. A half a mile further he pointed down to the right to alert me to a pothole even while I was way back which he noticed when he looked over his shoulder. Nice guy though.

I decided it was time for another caffeine break. From there I did part of the commute picking up Central Expressway. Going down the two overpasses I pushed sideways on the brake handle to shift noticing the handle didn’t move (nothing to shift to) and then just coasted down until I could pedal again. Then onto Lawrence and El Camino to stop by my local bike shop, Calmar Bicycles, to get a drink cage and bottle – both white of course!

From there with a loop back home. The bike passed the test. The first commute is planned for Tuesday.

But before then we have unfinished business, my beloved reader!

The bike must have a name!

To help you out in making suggestions, the road bike is called Barnaby, the road bike that’s in storage in Webster is Maximilian, the folding bike is Charles. My mountain bike was called Boris. A few suggestions have been made:

– Harriet. I like this one: goes well with the road bike, Barnaby and Harriet.

– Spartacus. A good name but Sara rightly pointed out that we can’t claim Cancellara’s nickname.

– Jerommeke, from the Suske en Wiske cartoons. Another good possibility.

– Donkey. I like this one too: in my head I hear Mike Myers as Shrek: “Donkey!”

Tour of California – Time Trial

May 18, 2013 in Cycling

wpid-toc-2013-05-18-09-56.jpgWhat great timing of me! I moved here right in time for the Tour of California!

I took yesterday off to go watch the time trial stage in the Morgan Hill / South San Jose area. Last time I lived here I rode much of the route several times. I have come down Metcalfe past the Motorcycle Park but have not been up it. But from the downhill I remember it to be steep in parts with narrow turns and with tarmac that tends to melt and get soft in hot weather.

The Pro race started at 1 pm but I was there nice and early to have plenty of time to look around, admire the village behind the start with the stands and goodies for sale, and walk over to the team preparation area on IBM’s parking lot. That IBM research facility is famous by the way: the first hard drive among other things were invented there. In the team preparation area lots of beautiful things were on display: all the gorgeous time trial bikes, the aero wheels, the spare bikes, and the Cannondale promo girls – my next new bike may need to be a Cannondale…

For all its professionalism cycling is still a small sport in that you can walk around, stare closely at the bikes, get your picture taken with Andy or Jens, ask the mechanics questions about the gears (can you turn around a 58×12 gear? I can’t), wish Lieuwe good luck.

Halfway into the ride order I took position along the starting line to take more pictures. There was one racer having the worst day of his life. His rear wheel got stuck against the fork about 100 yards into his race. That is before the team car is allowed on the route so he could’t get a new bike. This is also where there are rows of spectators all staring at him. He first tried himself to get the wheel back in straight but each time he started riding again the wheel would dislodge again. Then a mechanic climbed over the fence to help him but with essentially the same result each time: futz with the wheel and the chain, get on bike, wheel gets stuck, futz again and so on. The two of them were fumbling for at least 20 minutes before the rider climbed over the fence with the bike, walked back to the start, got a new bike there and rejoined the race from the side road.

After Andy Schleck and Lieuwe Westra had come by I walked back along Bailey Road to reconnect with the route at the Santa Teresa Boulevard junction. This allowed me to catch the riders there until eventually the top riders come by. I would stop somewhere, take pictures of a few racers and then walk further along the route to another spot making it to the start of the climbs out the valley. Many spectators were there by bike and some of them rode up the climb on the side of the road. This gave a nice contrast when a racer would come by: as if they’re standing still. You don’t really get how fast these guys go until you stand on the side of the road and you see Jens Voigt come by on a 10% stretch at a speed of around 18 miles an hour.

At cycling races everybody seems to have fun. The riders are quite relaxed hanging out and preparing in the team area. Many of them happily pose for pictures. There is a very casual atmosphere with lots of smiling. Including a bunch of state troopers who were picking out and buying cycling shirts of their favorite teams.

The photos are in the gallery.

Portola Valley bike ride

May 11, 2013 in Cycling

I did the traditional Portola Valley loop today:


On the way out on Foothill Expressway I caught up with Bruce at a traffic light and we rode up together for a while. At the next traffic light – there are a bunch here – he commented how nice the weather was. I agreed, shared that I just moved here from upstate New York where we didn’t get much of a spring. Bruce explained that here the weather had been strange as well. Five weeks ago on a ride clouds were packing, he stopped for lunch, and it rained for about 15 minutes. Crazy stuff. Today it’s around 80 degrees, he’s riding with booties and I see several other cyclists with arm warmers. He hears my accent, guesses correctly that I’m from flatland. He lived in Munich and Switzerland for a while. At the end of Foothill he turns right to go counter clockwise around Portola, I turn left to go clockwise. I like the climb up Alpine Road. It averages between 3% and 4% so you can go up quite fast.

At the end of the climb there is the junction with Portola Valley Road. This stop sign is famous in that police is often hiding around the corner ticketing cyclists who don’t make a full stop. The other side meanders down at the same average. Time for the big gear. A few miles further is the Woodside village with its grocery store. A mandatory stop for cyclists, around 20 or so mulling about inside and outside the store. Lots of gorgeous cycling gear on display. When I come out the store with the coffee and other yummy stuff I see Bruce sitting on the steps. I join him.

After the break I turn right on Whiskey Hill. On the descent a small group wearing Monta Vista Wheelers shirts pass me. I latch on on the Sand Hill climb but fall back on the downhill. At the beginning of Foothill I catch them again. Foothill is like Strong Rd. Some rollers and when you feel good you can go very fast. On one of the rollers I execute a well timed Fast Friends style attack pulling through on the other side of the roller. A mille or so further they catch back on and one of them places his attack. With Mark – we introduce ourselves at a traffic light down the road – I work together to get back on the rear wheel. The three of us tussle a little more and then a quick pace line establishes itself. At a traffic light Mark comments on my bike liking the Flandrien treatment of the Ridley. He is Belgian, born in Antwerp and went to school in Brussels. He’s been here since 1992. I arrived here in 1997. We have a somewhat traditional chat among foreigners leaving aboard (what a strange sentence, don’t foreigners always live aboard? it’s what makes them foreign? anyways, where were we?). Do you think you’ll go back? Maybe, just not yet though. Isn’t it hard to speak our native tongue? Yes. Aren’t the politics horrible in this country? Yes. Don’t our home countries feel small? Yes.

I ask if he rides for a club. Yes, the Monta Vista Wheelers, he explains, pointing at his jersey. They ride every Saturday morning from the Starbucks store in Los Altos Hills and ride in the range of 70 to 100 miles. I say I like to ride along next Saturday. He smiles and says I must! Now then, a bike club that starts and ends its rides next to a Starbucks… My gold card shivers in delight.

He turns off, he lives in Los Altos. I carry on making a little side loop back to Homestead riding partway to Stevens Creek park. This is to add a few more miles (must make miles for Tour de Cure) but also for nostalgic reasons. This brings me along Blaney Avenue in Cupertino allowing me to wave at the apartment where my American adventure started. After 47 miles I turn back into the parking lot of my apartment complex. I carry the bike up the stairs and put it on the balcony. There is a storage locker on the balcony where the bike rests at night. Then I pour a large glass of water, sit down in the rocking chair on the balcony. A moment later TickTock jumps on my lap. Together we watch the ducks and geese in the waterworks behind my apartment and the squirrels squirreling about.

Life is good.

Oh, that’s not good

May 12, 2012 in Cycling

wpid-notgood-2012-05-12-17-041.jpgToday saw one of my favorite rides on the club schedule: the Can-Yan Tour from Canandaigua to Penn Yan, 50 miles of hilly happiness. Even the start time is pleasant, 10am instead of 9am.

Even so I am a little slow to get going and drive into the parking lot with 15 minutes to spare. Ed, the leader for this ride, already stands there when I climb out of the car. We chat a bit about the merits of working for a large company again. We observe that it is rather windy. The western wind will make it easy to get to Penn Yan, coming back will be a different matter it looks like. I get the bike out of the car, put the front wheel in, put the Garmin on the handlebars, hang the helmet off one of the bends, all part of the well-exercised routine. Next is pumping up the tires. I rotate the rear tire to find the valve and “oh, that’s not good.” I see a threadbare spot, checking the rest of the tire finds two more of those. The front tire is a little better but not much. For a moment I consider risking it but then common sense sets in. It’s 50 miles through mostly empty countryside, if the tire goes it can’t be repaired during the ride. “@%$%$##!!”, I mutter to myself. I thought yesterday to buy new tires, followed by another thought “nah, I’ll do it next week.” Right.

Well, it is what it is. I wander over to Eddie, he must know if there’s a bike shop in town. There is, RV&E Bikes is even quite close by. I put everything back in the car off to check in the inventory of the store. It’s pretty good and they have the tires I like and would have bought the day before: Specialized All Condition. I have them on Maximilian, the red Trek, and like them much. Back to the parking lot to put the new tires on. The group of course is long gone. Ed suggested I ride it in reverse and then back with the group but I don’t like that. I want to ride it in the way it was intended.

Half an hour late I am rolling. The wind notwithstanding it is lovely weather, the first warm weather ride of the season. I don’t mind much that I missed the group. I often like riding by myself. I can ride the pace I want, I can look around, I can sing songs in my head. The same four songs (Haus am See, Watching the wheels, Shelter from the storm, We take care of our own) have been stuck in my head for a few weeks now and I mix them into a medley. With the mostly tailwind the stretch to Penn Yan will go quickly and easily. I decide to skip the normal break in Penn Yan to try to make the gap smaller with the main group.

I see a few Amish farmworkers on their bikes and we nod politely to each other as we pass. No buggies yet. Soon Penn Yan is there. I kept a quick but relaxed pace, I’m all good with water and energy bars and so I ride on. After Penn Yan it is a straight road along Keuka Lake for a mile or two then a right turn up Wager Hill Road. This thing is steep and drags on a bit. I have done that climb three times I believe. The first was a struggle, the other times it was relatively easy. A few hundred meters ahead of me is a cyclist in a gray shirt. I am just a little too far away to determine who it is by his riding style. Right after the turn the climb starts and it is immediately steep. Click, click, click, click, click go the derailleurs. The first click by the front derailleur, the others by the rear one to land in the lowest gear within 50 meters. I see the other rider zigzag a bit but he’s going steadily up still. I am getting tired very quickly. There is the spot where it gets a tiny bit less steep and then picks up again. There I stand on the pedals but I don’t find any rhythm at all and need to sit in the saddle again within a few meters. Not good. I drag on a little more but there is no energy. On the right is a driveway to a mobile home. I yank on the handlebars and stop. (ahh, the advantage of riding by yourself, one can stop on a climb and nobody will ever know)

After a minute of trying to get my breathing under control I walk the remaining bit of the steep part then get back on and ride the climb out. My legs hurt for the next 6 miles or so. During the downhill on Sherman Hollow Road I start to feel better again, then a right and a left and I get to the gradual climb on Route 264. There’s another rider, in very bright yellow, ahead of me. I steadily gain on him and see that it is Uncle Jules. Jules asks “Can you see me now?”. Yes, that shirt together with the loud green shoes, yes, I noticed. Just before the right turn onto Middle Road – which I always miss so I u-turn around – I catch up with Bob Lechner. He says he’s going to wait for Jules. The beginning of Middle Road consists of a steep bump – one that you don’t really notice when you’re riding well, but I do now. From here it is mainly north till the left turn onto Route 18. While this is wide open country the wind isn’t much of a bother. Once you get to that junction the ride is largely done: a lovely downhill with wide turns to the lake and then a mile or so through a housing area back to the parking lot.

I wonder how far behind the group I am. I didn’t ride particular fast, my average probably a bit lower than them, but I skipped the stop in Penn Yan so maybe gained 10 minutes or so? I wonder how many will still be in the parking lot. I swish left then right around Starbucks (another reason I like this ride) and look ahead to where we’re all parked. Hmm, not many familiar cars there, I see Gary just pulling out in his Prius. Bummer, no apres cycling talk. Oh well, still had fun and a few riders are behind me still to come in.

I put the bike back in the car, happily drink my Naked protein drink, take off the cycling shoes (ahhh!). I look up and Cindy magically appeared. After the ride she drove to Wegmans to get some beers. I nominate her for Best Cycling Friend Everrr. Jules gets back too. Bob came in close behind me. We lean against the cars, sip our beers, make small talk and ponder why the club scheduled a 95 mile ride starting at 10:30am tomorrow, Mother’s Day.

Ionia-Harriet bike ride

Apr 07, 2012 in Cycling

wpid-ionia-2012-04-7-17-39.jpgExcept for the hardish wind it was a gorgeous day for a bike ride. Starting from Ionia (sort of, the start location was really just a road junction somewhere near Ionia) to Honeoye then up the hill on Curtis Road followed by a few miles of cruising before climbing up Luykenbach hill. A bit of dirt road to get to the overlook then all the way down to Honeoye, up Route 20A and with some zigzagging back to Ionia (or rather that road junction).

There was a good crowd; fast people, not as fast as that people, short people, tall ones too. During the ride differing groups formed in part due to some missed turns by several of the riders. I have renewed my yearly good intention to take pictures during rides: see the gallery. And even took some video that you find below.

For me the ride represented varying levels of comfort and enjoyment. The first stretch to Honeoye went quite nicely, the stretches into the wind not bothering me much. The climb up Curtis Road I took in a steady pace – that was good too. Bit further on was a downhill that went well until I was almost at the bottom when the bike went into a shimmy. While exciting, not much fun. In getting the bike back under control I veered over the yellow lines but luckily there was no traffic. One moment I thought I would acquaint myself with the tarmac but I kept the rubber where i belongs – on the downside. It dented my confidence a bit for the downhills still to come. Luykenbach Hill was much easier (ehh not as hard) as I expected. The road surface was a lot better than previous years. The overlook was beautiful with this weather. The coffee back in Honeoye was delicious, baby! The climb up 20A went well for the first half and then I ran out of steam. The remainder of the ride Cindy and I rode together and that is just fun. I was glad to be rolling back to the car. The combination of the head wind on the way back and the hills made it a hard workout.

Fast Friends scaling Luykenbach Hill:

The cycling season started!

Mar 11, 2012 in Cycling

wpid-firstride-2012-03-11-15-46.jpgThe first club ride was yesterday, the traditional hike along Whalen, Scribner, back up Browncroft. Just 14 miles but sometimes that’s an enormous distance after a long winter. This time of course we are still waiting for winter to start. Today was the Penfield-Walworth ride, advertised as 28 miles but in reality 34. The extra six miles are courtesy of the club included in your membership.

I like the preparation for a club ride, either in the morning or if the ride starts early, the evening before. There is a certain Zen-like quality to gathering the drink bottles, filling the little bottle with Hammer gel, deciding how many energy bars to bring and which flavors, checking that the Garmin is charged, print the map, putting the cycling clothing ready to wear on the chair in my bedroom. This time of the season, and again at the end, the weather can be in that zone of temperature that is hard to guess how much to wear. Two layers and a windbreaker? A hat or just a headband? Gloves? In the morning before the ride I always go outside to measure. Need to throw the catlitter in the dumper anyways.

Yesterday it was cold but quite sunny. Th weather forecast gave a chill factor of a few degrees below freezing. But the short walk outside didn’t feel that cold: two layers plus wind jacket plus gloves. Today it was very sunny and temperatures around 50 but more wind: one layer plus wind jacket, no gloves.

Before yesterday my last ride was on February 5th. Clearly the atmospheric circumstances were different. The Garmin Edge uses barometric pressure to calculate altitude. After switching it on, it calibrates for a bit and then settles on the right altitude (plus or minus a few feet). When the circumstances are quite different from the previous ride then this can take a while but often it catches on after 15 minutes or so. Not yesterday. As you can see from the picture we were only briefly on dry land and for most of the ride well under sea level. Webster is about 300 feet above sea level… The altitude profile also shows a few more hills than I remember from the ride.

The season opener always starts very calmly at a pace of 10-12 miles or so. Until the climb up Blossom Road and then things pick up. They did now too. After the turn onto Scribner three of us had pulled the group so much apart that Otto could be heard saying: “Let’s slowdown and let Paul catch up.” Shock! Horror! We dropped Paul? What kind of cycling season is this going to be?

With riding to and fro the start my mileage was 24 miles. Small change you keep in your car for tolls once the season is well underway but my legs were tired and I was pleased to be back home for the post-ride opportunity for a little nap with the cats.

This morning my legs felt quite good. I could feel yesterday’s ride but no real stiffness. I rode to the start at the high school in Penfield. A large group was there, about 30 cyclists or so. This ride’s route is tricky and not one of favorites. Five Mile Road at the start of the ride is a bit busy and requires extra caution with everybody still together. We’re not as diligent about this single file stuff as we should be. But after the right turn onto Whalen and then a short distance further the left hander to Jackson we are out of the way of traffic and on quiet country roads until the return leg after going through the Walworth village. The official route takes us along Route 441 which is busy with heavy traffic, has narrow shoulders with putholes and debris. We took the scenic route back via West-Walroth and Sweet Corners Road. My, what are the two climbs on Sweet Corners steep when on the second club ride of the year! On the first I was crawling along in the lowest gear.

After the smalltalk in the parking lot after the ride Otto and I rode back together. Otto slipping in a few extra miles by going around the bay back to Irondequiot.

Back home I delighted the cats by opening the balcony door and giving them their first chance of fresh air and stare at birds and people outside for the first time in months. It’s barely mid-March. I am still convinced we’re going to get a few nice snow storms. But not this week according to the forecast.

We are not lost

Jul 09, 2011 in Cycling

wpid-notlost-2011-07-9-18-02.jpgToday Dave suggested to do an alternate treatment of the scheduled club ride. Instead of starting at 8am, we start at 9. And instead of starting in Leroy, we leave from his house in Chili. A savings of 1 1/2 hours of sleep. You don’t come across such deals too often.

Bob, Dr Bill and Robert (?) also gather at Chateau Sorrel. Dave makes sure the cars were parked such that Martha could still park in the garage. The plan is to ride to Leroy via Oatka Trail, pick up Sara and Billy along the way and then hike along the club ride route from there.

We roll out and bike along at a quick but decent pace. A few miles before getting to Oatka Trail Dave and I are riding side by side. A car comes up behind us and hooks loudly with the driver making throw-away gestures as h passes us. This does not suit Dave. The always benign and soft-spoken Mr Lamb makes hand gestures back at the driver and utters words that don’t appear in my copy of the Concise Oxford Dictionary nor in my American Heritage Dictionary – I just checked both to be sure. We are all shocked.

Luckily we come upon the start of Oatka Trail and gather the Ture family. The road is still half in the shade which is quite pleasant. I love how it meanders through the trees and the farmland. At the end we turn left for what can only be the climb up Circular Hill. It’s a little steep at start but then evens out meaning that you can stomp up it at a good speed. Billy knows this and spins away right at the bottom. Eventually we catch up with him but only because he eases up on his pace. At the turn onto Route 5 we wait for the group to re-form. Sara is not feeling too well and it appears her bike is not feeling hot either. It makes funny noises. It takes us most of the ride to figure out the cause. The wheel skimping the brake? No. Broken or loose spokes? No. Bottom bracket needs work? No, it’s the cassette. A few of the gears have wiggle room.

At the convenience store in Leroy I remember the yummy peanut butter crackers Cindy brought to our ride in Ellicottville. They have them here too! Together with the very black coffee it makes a lovely little second breakfast. From here the plan is to follow the club ride route which goes around Silver Springs Lake. We speed up and down Bethany Road. During one of those speeding down moments we almost miss our turn and need to give the brakes a bit of a workout. That left turn is following by a little bump of a hill and the junction with Route 19. Some discussion ensues and the group wisdom rules that we turn right onto 19. A few miles further we come upon a village, Wyoming, that we didn’t really expect there. We stop at the village square. It has a bench and a soda machine. Bob, Dave, Robert, and also Dr Bill joins in, stare hard at the maps (three copies of the same one) to figure out where we are, how we got here and what next? Eventually it is determined that we are too far west. Got to be happy that Clark and Lewis never thought that otherwise this fine country would have been half the size it’s now.

We loop around making our way back to Leroy. Just before this town Wayne joins us from a side road. Since his accident Wayne is not much into social riding anymore. So he says “hi!” and he says “bye!”. We get back to the same store we stopped at in the morning. This time it is time for Vitamin water and yes more peanut butter crackers. We huddle around a gas pump because that’s where the shade is. From here we enter Oatka Trail at the other end not going all the way but making a left where we say bye to Sara and Billy who take the way back to Rush. Robert clearly had something nice to drink at our last stop. He’s feeling feisty, does not pulls at the front and comes by to pick up the pace whenever we let it slip. Bob and Dave zigzag us through the bowels of Churchville and Chili back to our starting point. One of the neighborhoods we zigzagged through seemed to have one big garage sale going on.

Back at Dave’s house we see that Martha did get her car back in the garage past ours. We hang there for a little. Dave hotfooting on the blacktop which seems rather hot to stand/walk on without shoes.

We did 80 miles at 19.1 mph.

Hurt So Good

Apr 03, 2011 in Cycling

wpid-rideseason-2011-04-3-17-20.jpgThe cycling season has started. Actually it started a few weeks ago because the RBC schedule said it did.

I’ve done 6 rides so far most of them windy and chilly. Although the rides yesterday and today were much warmer than those a week ago. Having been grounded for two months with a sprained ankle after an attempt at cross country ski, and not having done much exercise for the few months before that, I’m only slowly getting back in shape. For the first time ever I gained weight this winter and had to loosen the belt a notch to keep things comfortable. Embarrassing.

But, we’re back riding!

Yesterday was RBC’s Two Park Tour ride (aka number 123), a favorite of mine because it was the second ride I did with the club after moving here. And everybody remembers their second! I like it because it can be a fast ride, it has some hills and some descents, it goes over quiet roads. Yesterday the wind was blowing hard from the west meaning that the first half of the ride would be work but the turning point near Avon was a blast. Wind in the back and rolling hills with stretches of false flat in the good direction. Around 20 people showed up for the ride which is a good number early in the season. Almost immediately after the start I decided to let the fast friends go (well, not much of a decision to be honest, they were going too fast) but after a few miles we settled with a group of 4 or 5 riders.

Today the route took us the other way around. The wind was a bit less but still very present and towards the end the two steep climbs up Stony Brook waited for us. While my legs were pretty tired after the ride yesterday, I felt pretty good today. While I ended up behind the fast group early on due to the need to take off my wind jacket, I managed to close the gap. That gave me a 19.2 mph average for the first half hour, something I knew I couldn’t sustain. Shortly after rejoining the group we came upon some short hills and I swung off the back. What I did notice while in the group that Gary “I’m going to take it easy today” was riding ahead of the group. Such certainties make one smile.

In the short season so far many of the Fast Friends have made appearances. Uncle Jules has been riding well, Spinning Ginn put in valiant efforts. Cold Hands Tom rode well last Saturday on the loop through Bristol and Honeoye. He wore inner gloves and his motorcycle gloves and still had cold hands. How is that possible!? The Pink man rides strong, of course. Saying things like “I brought my slow bike”, as if that makes a difference. Miss Giggles, of whom it is rumored that she does own a bike with gears, has so far preferred to conquer Parrish, Stony Brook and other steep climbs on her single speed. The Honorable Donna and Don managed to both ride today with Donna having the right cleats. Sara rides no matter what, feeling sick or having sore knees, and will still make sure she gets to the top of that hill before you, thank you. Engineman Otto has been making sure to get the miles in, already riding to the rides. And Mark seems to have a had a good winter, lost weight, looking good. Even Pencil Legs Dwight was there today. He’s possibly the only cyclist with thinner legs than I have.

Some of us are still slowly awakening from hibernation. We have not yet spotted Edward The Fast, welcomed Dr Bill to a ride, seen Dennis (both of them), nor Wayne (O Wayne, were art thou?). But I’m sure they’ll come and play with us the next weekend!

Club Rides 2011

Mar 08, 2011 in Cycling, Technology

wpid-clubrides-iPad1-2011-03-8-10-18.pngThe new version of my bike ride scheduling iPhone app, Club Rides, is up in the iTunes App Store.

It has native support for both iPhone and iPad. In addition to the new schedule for 2011 there are several other enhancements:
– Faster launch time
– Displays the club’s RSS feed for club news
– Share your favorite rides via email (facebook and twitter to come in an update)
– Send the rides you plan to do directly to your calendar
– Tap the ride leader’s phone number to call

To enable posting your rides to the calendar on your device, tap the Settings icon in the top right corner of the screen and select which calendar you want to use.

On iPhone to show a map with the starting location of the ride, tap the starting location in the ride view.

Club Rides comes preloaded with Rochester Bicycling Club’s schedule. It supports other clubs, like Northern California’s Western Wheelers, as well. And it can support your club by using the customization guide. If you like to make Club Rides applicable to your cycling or hiking club then I would be happy to assist you.

(this post is a little late – couldn’t log in for days – called in my host’s customer support and lunarpages came through with flying colors – thanks guys!)

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