Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday Ride

Today was my regular day off, so I went out for a nice mixed terrain loop on the mountain bike.

I hit all the dirt roads around my house on the way down to El Dorado Hills. Once there I decided to jump on the Brown's Ravine trail off of Guadalupe Drive. I hadn't been on the trail in years because technically it's a "no bikes" trail. However, it was quickly apparent from all the tracks that many people are now riding it. I saw a few groups of walkers on the trail and pulled over for them each time; everyone was very friendly. It felt like they are used to seeing riders, and I didn't see a single sign saying bikes couldn't be on the trail, so who knows. Maybe it's okay now.

Low water. Still. We definitely need some rain.

Riding on the trail brought back a lot of memories. This is one of the trails my friends and I frequented starting in 1985 when we first bought mountain bikes. It's still a fun trail.

When I reached Brown's Ravine I crossed over Green Valley Road and hit Wild Oaks trail. It's a fun little trail. I made it up the stair step climb that usually foils me, so that was nice.

After a short road transition I was on New York Creek, followed by another short road connection to Serrano. All told, except for a few short transitions, I was in the dirt (and car-free) for over eight miles. Nice.

As the weather warms I am trying to stretch my rides out. I'll use the additional piece of trail I scouted out today to make future loops bigger.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Moving On

I sold my Surly Cross-Check a few weeks ago.

I sell a lot of bikes, but usually I scrounge around in the parts bin to make some substitutions, saving the parts I want for the next project. This one was different because I left all the good stuff on it.

The components were mostly Dura Ace 7700 9-speed. Remember when Lance won the Tour in 1999? He was using 7700. (Check out the quill stem!)

So I figured it was time to let the "good stuff" go. The components started on a Specialized road frame I built up in 1997 and have been moved from frame to frame for 18 years now. The parts have seen lots of miles and many battles—road races, criteriums and many cyclocross races. And they still worked great, a testament to Shimano quality. Newer Shimano road components are 11-speed, however, and 9-speed parts are getting tough to find. Time to move on.

A lot of my history rolled away with that bike, and it was kind of sad to watch the new owner drive off. Luckily there is always something new and fun on the horizon, and the proceeds from the Cross-Check will help with that.


Monday, January 19, 2015


Yesterday Jenn needed a recovery day between rides, so I went out for a quick 20 before dinner. It was foggy and cool.

This is a guy we have seen a number of times who we call Sockman. Yes, those are socks on his hands. I fear if asked, he would give you a really creepy puppet show. In his pants.

There is an ocean out there somewhere. And maybe a guy with socks on his hands.

The breeze picked up near the end and helped blow the fog out.

Today we decided to ride around 17 Mile Drive. You can see the route here. Along the way we saw some baitfish boiling on the surface of the sea. This is usually because predatory fish are hunting from below. We stopped to watch the birds hunt from the sky for a while. Very cool to see.

A breeze and the king tide made for some spectacular views.

The king tide occurs in January when the Earth's orbit passes closest to the sun and the moon is either full or new. The January new moon occurs tomorrow, so the water is higher than we have ever seen it.

Even though I have done it a number of times now, I still have a tough time believing I get to ride along this beautiful ocean.

Taking a short break at Bird Rock.

As we wound around the route and headed inland, the terrain became more hilly. After a while we popped back out near Pebble Beach.

Here we are stopped at the Lone Cypress, which is said to be the most photographed tree in North America. Therefore, I refused to take a picture of it. I am not a follower. So you get yet another ocean shot.

As we reached the outskirts of Carmel, we turned inland and took on a tough 2.5 mile climb. After that we descended into Monterey and finished our ride.

For dinner we ate at Peter B's again. The food was great, the portions huge, the beer awesome, and once again the waiter very nice. Highly recommended.

Tomorrow morning we head home. It was a wonderful and much needed vacation, but I am looking forward to getting home and seeing the family. I am not looking forward to work . . .


Saturday, January 17, 2015


Friday was a quiet day free from bikes. We walked, had coffee, went to see the film American Sniper, and walked through the aquarium.

I liked American Sniper. A lot. I cannot say for certain if it was a great film because I tend to love every project Clint Eastwood touches. I really need to see the film again and watch it from a reviewer perspective rather than from a fan's. Regardless, I do think this is another war movie anyone who never served should see, especially young people (if they can pull themselves away from their iPhones and sense of entitlement for a couple hours).

Even though we knew Chris Kyle's fate going in, I have never exited a quieter theater. Ever. Dead silence. Nobody said a single word.

We walked a few blocks to the aquarium in a somber mood, but for me that faded quickly as we entered the facility. We really love the aquarium, which I guess is why we are members. We are not rich by any means, and we only contribute the minimum, but if feels good to be a small part of something great.

We talked to a volunteer docent and asked about all the dead sunfish we saw a couple days ago. She told us it was not uncommon to see dead sunfish wash up. The seals and sea lions like to play with them and unfortunately they are not built to be Frisbees for marine mammals. The good news, she told us, is that a female lays so many eggs that juvenile fish are fairly plentiful.

We ate at a place called the Green Artichoke. I can't really recommend it.

Today we rode north on the bike trail. Being the weekend, trail traffic was dense around town, but after a few miles it thins out.

We did a little exploring on the way back.

Here Jenn flies down a descent.

It was probably the coolest day so far, but not bad, somewhere in the low 60s.

We finished up with dinner at the Indian restaurant again. I really like that place.


Thursday, January 15, 2015


After owning my Pugsley for over three years, I finally had the opportunity to put the fat tires in the sands along the sea.

We started from our hotel and rode along the bike trail past the wharf where we hit the beach.

The sand near town was fine and dense, making it easy to ride on.

As we rode farther north, the sand became more course, and that made it tougher to ride on.

Here I am setting up for a timer shot.

It was pretty difficult to time it right. Either I would have tough time getting back to the bike and moving or Jenn would.

It made for plenty of laughs.

I almost ran over a Flock of Seagulls. Fortunately they flew (and ran) so far away.

This is a sunfish, which in adulthood is the heaviest bony fish. They can weigh over a ton. Unfortunately we saw a dozen dead ones washed up on the shore. The gulls eat the eyes and fins and leave the rest. It was a real downer to see them. At the Monterey Bay Aquarium it is one of our favorite fish to see.

Almost back.

Jenn's front tire had a slow leak. After pumping it up, I nicked my finger on the disc brake rotor when I removed the pump.

For dinner we went to Peter B's, which is in the Portola Hotel. Unlike the Cannery Row Brewing Company, they actually brew their own beer. The place was packed, which surprised us. The food was good and so was the beer.

Another fine day. Later.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


Today was a very mellow, slow-paced day. We started off with a nice 11-mile walk north along the bike trail and through the town of Seaside. We had coffee, did a little shopping and had some fish tacos for lunch.

On the way back I took a picture of this big sand dune. I think it would be pretty cool to ride down the steep face of it.

In honor of our Mexican food lunch, we took a siesta after we returned to our room. Naps are a real luxury.

In the evening we went for a little ride south along the water.

Jenn was still a bit congested, so we kept it short.

Our color coordination was NOT planned. We are generally not one of those couples, although it isn't uncommon for us to both be sporting beer-related clothing.

Anyway, she was in my borrowed jacket, so it doesn't count.

After our sunset ride we showered and headed into town for some Indian food, probably my all-time favorite thing to eat.

Another fine day of vacation.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Monterey Day 1

We're here in Monterey for a little vacation. Jenn is getting over a cold and opted for a lower-impact walk, so I was going solo today.

We brought the fat bikes and a second set of 29er wheels so we can vary our riding. I recently purchased a set of Surly Rabbit Hole wheels for my Pugs. I went with a low tread 29x2.25 tire, so they roll pretty good on the pavement.

I headed north on the trail, which was going into a pretty stiff headwind.

Still, I'm on vacation, so even though it was slow going, life was good. See?

The end of the trail is a little over 13 miles from the hotel. Once I made the turn my speed increased significantly. It seems rare, but sometimes you do get a tailwind.

There are opportunities to jump on some trails here and there. They are typically sandy and slow, though.

Almost back to the hotel.

A nice, scenic 26-miler to start the trip.


Thursday, January 08, 2015


I decided to go for a ride after work last night. The night before, looking down the row of bikes on the wall, I decided to go with the single speed. The bike hadn't seen the light of day in a long, long time. I guess I have had other interests for the past few years. After pumping up the tires and lubing the chain, it was ready to go. That's the beauty of a rigid single speed.

Out on the trail the bike was exceptionally quick. Walt built the frameset eight years ago, and 29er geometry has changed a lot since then (for the better). The 72-degree head angle so popular back then is unheard of now, as is the short 430 millimeter fork length. As you can see, the rider position is definitely "racy," and so is the handling.

Up the first climb I stayed in the saddle and totally ripped it. I thought, "Hey, I'm in pretty good shape!" After a fun little descent was another longer climb that I labored up just a bit. "Maybe not that great," I thought. After the third climb I only had this thought: single speeds suck.

In the end I did enjoy my ride, but I am not sure this is the bike for me anymore. I might try a shorter stem, riser bars and a seatpost with some setback in an attempt to modernize the ride a bit. After riding the Canfield, I do prefer a more laid-back geometry now.

Our smog layer is providing some pretty sunsets:

Overall I like my Nokia Lumia phone for mobile shots. It's definitely nice not carrying a phone and a camera. Most of the time the quality is excellent. One situation where the phone falters though is whenever the sun is present in the shot. You get a lot of weird flaring. Not an issue with a real camera.