Saturday, December 07, 2013

Snow Day

Last night we had a little snow, which happens about once every two years. I was able to get out on the Pugs for my first "non-Tahoe" snow ride.

It was just a bit too warm, so the snow was slushy in places, and I was a little wet by the end. Still, fun times on the fat bike.


Friday, November 08, 2013

Fat Jenny

It's been a long time since I have posted. In life, it's easy to create a habit, either good or bad. I decided to let a few days go by without posting, and the next thing I knew almost three months had passed. Time to break the habit.

Way back in the summer I bought new, wider wheels for my Pugsley. Then I needed new cranks to accommodate the wider rims and tires. That started an incompatibility chain reaction, which eventually caused a complete upgrade to a 10-speed drivetrain. With all the old parts then sitting in a pile, I realized I only needed a frameset to build another fat bike. I bought an extra small Pugsley frame and built it up, so now Jenn has a fatty.

This morning we went out to Folsom Lake for her first fat bike ride. The water level is pretty dismal, but it made for some interesting terrain. Here Jenn rides on the surface of Mars.

This egret had little trouble fishing in this landlocked puddle. Like shooting fish in a barrel . . .

We rode along the lake shore for a while. The dirt, mud, sand and rocks were no problem.

It has been difficult to get Jennifer to ride in the dirt over the years, but she didn't hesitate on her Pugsley. The fat tires are confidence inspiring from the first pedal stroke.

When we made it to Granite Bay, we looped back to Beal's point on the trails.

It was a fun ride and I think Jenn really enjoyed the fat bike experience.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cool Video

I love this video. It combines my interests in photography, video editing and bikes.

My son recently attended an Apple Camp where the kids made their own videos. A few of them used stop motion techniques, and I was intrigued and impressed by their creativity. This video shows how far you can take stop motion. Enjoy.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Smoke on the Water

We spent this past weekend in Tahoe, and it was nice as always. Summer is drawing to a close, the kids are back in school, and fall baseball will be starting soon. We will have few opportunities to get up there once the sports start back up.

On Saturday I got out early for a ride. My intention was to do a nice off-road loop, but once I started moving I knew I didn't have great legs, which killed my enthusiasm and motivation. I opted to just stay on the road and climb to the summit. I didn't exactly set the road on fire with my speed, but I made it. On the way back down all I could think about was how horrible my fitness is right now.

After a shower and lunch we headed to Truckee to hang out for a while. We walked down main drag and did some window shopping before ending up at the Mellow Fellow Pub. They had a nice selection of 40 beers on tap and a foosball table, so we simply had to stop for a while. (You know, so the boy could play.) A few beers and foosball games later, we stepped outside to find the town shrouded in smoke. The wind had shifted, bringing with it the smoke from the American Fire in Forest Hill. Visibility was maybe half a mile.

We did a little more shopping and browsing in the stores. I popped into a chocolate shop and bought a number of ridiculously expensive truffles, turtles and caramels. Nobody else was very interested in them, and they were melting in the bag, so I had to eat them all. I simply had no choice. Really.

We made our way back to Tahoe and found that the smoke had made its way there also, although it wasn't as bad as Truckee.

By the next morning the smoke still hung in the air, and I didn't want to ride in it. I figured I would just ride later back home where the air would be "cleaner." Instead I went on a brisk two hour walk around Incline with Jenn and the boy.

When we arrived back home in the late afternoon the temperature was 97 degrees. The air didn't seem great, but looked much better than Tahoe. I dressed and went out for a ride, deciding to do my short loop due to time constraints. The loop is about 14.5 miles with 1000 feet of climbing. I usually do it in about an hour and four minutes on my 29er. A number of times I have tried to crack an hour, but without success.

Unlike the day before, I had great legs. I blasted up the first few climbs in the big chainring and felt good. Just for fun, I put myself into racer mode and gunned for my personal best time.

With two miles left I was at 49 minutes. It usually takes about 12 minutes to do the last climb, so knew I had a shot at the elusive hour mark. I turned myself inside out but came up nine seconds short in the end. If you look at the moving time of 59:59, you might consider that a win, but I don't. For me, stop signs, traffic lights, waiting for cars and any other slowdowns count towards the time. Otherwise, I could stop for 30 seconds somewhere, rest, and resume riding at a faster clip and make better time.

I didn't feel great in the hours following the ride. I had a headache and my lungs burned. Movement was minimal for the rest of the evening.

Today I woke up feeling like I had a bad hangover without enjoying one drop of beer. Just for grins, I checked the Spare The Air web site and yesterday was a spare-the-air day, the first of the year.

It never occurred to me that the ozone would be so high. Our air has been so much better the last few years, I don't even check anymore.

At any rate, I spent all day feeling horrible. This "smog sickness" has happened in the past, and I know better. Bad air is not something to mess around with, so I need to do a better job of checking the air quality.


Monday, August 05, 2013

Fat Sunday

Just like Fat Tuesday but with less booze and nudity.

Roger and I took the fat bikes out to Folsom Lake yesterday for a little ride. We started at Beal's Point and rode out to Donton's Point. You can see the route here.

We encountered sand, dirt, rocks, gravel, mud and granite slabs. None were any match for our fat tires and mad riding skills.

On the way back we took a few minutes to do some rock crawling and take a few pictures. Here Roger descends on The Beast with only a coaster brake at his disposal. It's a fine line between life and death out here.

Here's a video of me climbing. It's much steeper than it looks, and the 75-mile-per-hour winds made it that much tougher.

A note regarding Roger's bike—It's from Walmart. It's called The Beast. It cost a cool 200 bucks.

When he first told me about it the bike snob in me thought, seriously? But after it showed up and I rode it, I didn't think it was too bad at all, even with the ridiculously high gearing. With a few key upgrades, and a gearing change, Roger has transformed it into a pretty cool and functional ride. It just goes to show that we sometimes place too much emphasis on the latest high-dollar gear.

(Dear Santa: I'm just saying that. I still really, really want a carbon Beargrease. That's B-E-A-R-G-R-E-A-S-E not B-E-A-S-T. Thanks.)


Monday, July 29, 2013


Brown Santa came today. Let's see what he brought.

Oh, yeah. A new front wheel featuring a Holy Rolling Darryl rim, a pair of Knard tires (birthday present—thanks, Jen!), rim strips and a tube. Let's build 'er up.

Very nice.

This is the first step of a new project that I will talk about in a future post. That's it for now.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Separation Anxiety

After separating my shoulder in May, I kept my rides fairly short and stayed off the dirt for about six weeks. I was very concerned about having any setbacks that might prolong my recovery.

Recently I have been adding mileage and sprinkling in a little dirt here and there. Yesterday I finally felt like I was healed up enough to get back at it. I loaded up on water and food and headed out for a big loop I had never tried before.

First off was the trail near my house that parallels Highway 50 heading east. It isn't terribly exciting, but it gets technical and rocky in spots, and it keeps me off the road.

After crossing over Highway 50 and a short ride on Mother Lode Drive, I turned onto the El Dorado Trail, which heads south along the railroad tracks.

The trail varies from smooth singletrack, to steep and rocky ATV trail, to narrow goat path. In the beginning there are properties along both sides of the track. As you ride deeper into the boonies, there are times when you really feel isolated.

Towards the end the trail bends west towards South Shingle Road.

After nine miles of trail I hit South Shingle and headed south to the town of Latrobe. I crossed Latrobe Road and continued on South Shingle. After about a mile, the road turns to gravel.

The dirt and gravel continues for around seven miles. Sometimes the scenery looked like the "gravel grinder" racing pictures I have seen from the Midwest.

I left the dirt and took Scott Road north. As you can see from the elevation profile, this was the low point of the ride. From there I had a long, hot, uphill ride home. Although the Garmin output says it was only 82 degrees, it was way hotter than that. Perhaps that figure comes from the beginning of the ride.

I rolled up the driveway pretty spent, but I was pleased with how well my shoulder responded to 16 miles of pounding from a rigid fork on various off-road surfaces. Although I sometimes experience pain taking off my shirts, and I still can't sleep on my left side, from a cycling standpoint I consider the shoulder 100% healed. I hereby declare myself medically cleared to do whatever the heck I want.

I'm looking forward to putting some miles in and getting back to the fitness level I achieved in May.


Monday, June 24, 2013

El Dorado Trail

Yesterday we found ourselves with an empty house: one kid was working and the other was at a friend's basketball tournament. We decided to head out for a ride on the El Dorado Trail.

We started at Missouri Flat Road and headed east towards Camino Heights. Jen's geared bike is in Tahoe, so we took the single speeds.

With 1500 feet of climbing, this was definitely the toughest ride Jen has done on a single speed thus far, and she did great. The nice thing about the trail is the grade is fairly constant due to it being an old railroad grade. You can see the profile here.

The trail consists of paved sections, some dirt, a trip through old Placerville, another paved section and then a couple miles of dirt to the end.

It was tough climbing towards the top with the loose gravel, but she was still smiling.

We turned around at the top and enjoyed over seven miles of mostly uninterrupted downhill back through Placerville. After a few more miles with a couple climbs we were back at the truck.

Jen was a bit apprehensive about taking the single speed, but I think the ride showed her what she is capable of on a bike. She is much stronger than she thinks, especially when the road tilts up.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Back At It

After 13 days off the bike, I went out for a short ride on Saturday. The shoulder held up fairly well. I rode the Fargo, which currently has a set of Jones Loop H-Bars on it. They allowed me to be upright and comfortable for the entire ride. More on the bike another day.

Yesterday we went out for a family ride on the bike trail. I rode the Jamis Dragon 29er for some reason, and I was far less comfortable in the more traditional mountain bike position. My shoulder is pretty sore today.

Anyway, other than experiencing a little pain it was a good ride.

We knocked out 25 miles and had the benefit of a stiff tailwind the whole way back.

We followed up the ride with lunch and a dip in the pool. All and all a great day. It's good to be back on the bike, even if it hurts a little.


Sunday, June 02, 2013

Knowing When to Shut Up

In my last post a week ago I said, "I will be happy when this month is over." A couple hours later, my wish came true. The month was indeed over, at least as far as riding a bicycle was concerned.

We had gone to the local baseball park in Incline Village to work on some fielding. I was showing the boy how to properly field a ground ball. My technique was pretty smooth and fundamentally sound for the first 15 grounders or so. The last grounder was thrown far to my right, and I ran hard in an effort to make the backhand stab. Unfortunately I was so focused on the ball that I tripped over the pitching mound and separated my shoulder.

I missed the last five days of May and ended up with 611 miles, well short of my 700-mile goal. I also fell out of the top five at work. Neither goal met.

Click to enlarge.

I think my friend Miki pulled up short because he was only a handful of miles behind me last Sunday. If so, a noble "rider down" gesture for sure.

My boss Jim (James) beat me fair and square because there was no way I was going to top his 846, healthy shoulder or no. Next year.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

May Update

I haven't been posting much lately because most of my free time has been dedicated to putting in miles. For most of my rides this month the goal has been to maximize my time, which meant leaving the camera at home and concentrating on turning the pedals. So far this month I have 611 miles, a little ahead of the pace necessary for the 700 I pledged for Bike Month.

With no Little League games scheduled because of Memorial Day, we decided to head for Tahoe for a little weekend getaway. Yesterday morning I started off with a mountain bike ride.

Knowing the family wanted to ride later in the day, I selected a short, 17-mile loop.

Conditions were bone dry with not a bit of snow to be found. There have been some years when I have waited until July for the snow to melt on these trails.

In the afternoon we headed for the bike trail. It was cool and windy, but not unpleasant.

We did an out-and-back to Squaw Valley, riding along the Truckee River, and finished up with 16 miles.

Today I did 25 miles with 2200 feet of climbing. Miles are much tougher to come by up here in Tahoe, especially on the mountain bike.

I must admit I am a bit worn out, and I will be happy when this month is over. I still have five more days to grind out some miles to see if I can solidify my goal of a top-five finish at work. We shall see.


Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Early Bird

Today I rolled out the door at the ridiculously early time of 4:30 a.m. This was the earliest I had ever started my commute to work.

If you have even been up at 4:30, you may have noticed that big fiery ball is missing from the sky. It's dark. Really dark. This is especially true in my town where the invention of the streetlight has yet to hit the newspapers. I have a good light, though, and the streets are completely empty at that hour, so who needs streetlights.

That's El Dorado Hills down there where they have electricity and lights.
In previous years I always tried to time it so that I hit the dirt portion of the route as the sun was coming up. However, this strategy always made me a little late for work—a practice frowned upon by management everywhere—so today I left earlier.
The first stretch of dirt was the two-mile gravel road through Serrano, which wasn't tough to negotiate as long as I avoided the rabbits and hares that scurried everywhere. It started to rain a bit, but not enough to matter.
After that I hit the New York Creek singletrack, which is tight, rocky and rough. My speed dipped considerably here because I am not the greatest night rider. This fact became quite apparent during 24-hour races where my teammates were turning night laps only slightly slower than their day laps while mine were significantly slower. Maybe I didn't eat enough carrots as a kid.
The next trail was even rougher, with a number of steep, rocky dropoffs made slick from the increasing rain. I rode cautiously through here, and my speed suffered even more.

About halfway through the Brown's Ravine trail the sky began to lighten, which was welcomed relief. My speed picked up immediately.

Shortly after exiting the last of the dirt, I was on the bike trail. There isn't a whole lot of excitement there, but it continues my car-free route for another 18 miles.

I did see this guy strutting his stuff. The colors would have been much more vivid had the sun been up.

It took me 2:45 to ride the 39 miles. Kind of slow. Next time I would like to shave 15 minutes off that time so I hit the showers closer to 7:00.


Sunday, May 05, 2013

Miles in May

It's May again, so the time has come to get my lazy ass out and put in some miles. I pledged 700 miles this year, which I hope will get me a top-5 in the Technology Services Division at work. We shall see.

I swore I would ride my road bike this year so I could compete with the guys at work, but when push came to shove I still grabbed the mountain bike.

On Friday I did a 55-mile ride with 3,300 feet of climbing. It was a mix of dirt, gravel, road and bike trail.

Pissed off rattlesnake on the bike trail:

Saturday was a bit of a wasted day. We didn't get to bed until 2 a.m. after attending the Giants game Friday night. I was pretty much worthless all day and never did get on the bike.

Today I again grabbed a mountain bike and did a 42-mile mixed surface ride that felt just as hard as the Friday ride. After seeing the GPS output, I can see why: almost as much climbing as Friday in far fewer miles.

I am currently sitting in third place, but it's early yet. At some point I will have to ride the road bike if I hope to compete with the roadies.

Tomorrow my son has a baseball game and Tuesday he has a band recital, so I will have to get creative with my riding opportunities.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Ramble On

The bikes are in their boxes, and now it's time for us to go.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Today we went on one of those touristy adventure packages. The hotel gave us $1500 in resort credit, so we used some of it on things of this nature. This package was called the "Sting Ray Adventure" or something to that effect. I went into it thinking it would be, you know, "touristy," but it turned out to be pretty damn fun and educational.

The rays are in the open sea, although there is a fence along three sides that creates a very large pen. For the first half of the tour we stood in the shallow water while our guide showed us rays and talked about their habitat, anatomy, diet and reproduction. We fed them, held them and posed for pictures.

During the second half of the tour we snorkeled with the rays, and it was cool. The pen is so large that it feels like open water. Regardless, it was awesome to swim in such close quarters with these huge, graceful creatures.

I'll let the pictures tell the rest.

It was a great experience and I am very glad we did it.