Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Friends First

I took the Canfield out for a 35-mile ride today and had a great time. Finally.

When I first built the bike I liked it OK, but didn't love it. My main complaint was the steering never quite felt right. The front tire wanted to wash out in high-speed turns, leaving me a little nervous about committing to a long-term relationship. We agreed to remain friends and hook up whenever I wanted to ride a strange bike.

I rode the bike last week and it was OK. Fun and playful, but she still tried to throw me to the ground on occasion. Still, I thought maybe we could make things work.

Since building the Canfield I have dabbled with plus-sized tires on the Surly Krampus and DB Mason. On the Diamondback especially, I came to appreciate the combination of slack head angle and fat tire. The huge contact patch felt sure-footed, especially at very high speeds.

Because of my experience with bigger tires, I decided to replaced the Canfield's front wheel. The old one utilized a Mavic TN 719 rim, which measures a puny 19mm inside width. Even when paired with a relatively large Maxxis Ardent 2.4 tire, the result was less than confidence inspiring.

The rim was replaced with a Race Face ARC 35 which, as the name suggests, comes in at a 35mm width. Paired with the same Ardent tire, set up tubeless, the result is a much bigger tire. Huge in comparison.

A number of things happen with this setup. One, you get more air volume. This increase in volume and running tubeless allows you to lower the air pressure significantly. The wide rim also changes the tire's profile, putting more rubber on the ground.

The difference was amazing. I pushed the bike hard in corner after corner and it handled wonderfully. I am pleasantly surprised at how much difference a simple wheel swap could make. I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I think she could be the one.

Shiny new wheel before the abuse started.

Folsom Lake.

Near Dyke 8.

Here I am doing at least 60 miles per hour.

Here's the brand new bridge built for the Johnny Cash Trail. They did a great job.

So, a really great ride and fine way to spend my day off. I am looking forward to adding a matching rear wheel and riding this bike more often. I just hope she doesn't think we are exclusive now. I am a 10-bike kind of guy.

Later.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Renewal

There hasn't been any activity on this blog for a while. The focus has been elsewhere, on things that matter much more in the grand scheme of things than writing about riding a bicycle, things that take time and effort and sacrifice. Things that make it so much easier to simply post a picture and a few words on Instagram.

We have been participating in youth baseball nonstop since last December—from winter training to late winter tournaments, through the spring tournaments, into Babe Ruth League, summer tournaments, Babe Ruth playoffs, All Stars and the recently concluded high school fall program. Back in July my son played 17 games in 30 days. It's been a very busy year.

Saturday was his last high school game until spring. The end. No mas. I felt like I could finally exhale and relax for the first time in a while.

Today I decided to take the day off (cough, cough) and get a good ride in. I left from home and rode a 35-mile loop incorporating about every surface you can think of.

Even though it's fall, and the state of most living things is in decline, I couldn't help but feel a personal sense of new beginnings. It felt good to go spin the pedals with no particular place to be and no need to rush. I took a real camera and stopped to snap a picture whenever the mood struck me. I rode hard sometimes and cruised others. I finished up mildly fatigued, but not destroyed. It was a great day.

I'll let the pictures and captions tell the rest.

Later.

Here's the route. Click to enlarge.

Northern California fall means cooler temps and bone dry trails.

Still a little smoke from all the fires in the distance, but last Thursday's rain did wonders for our air quality.

After a long, very hot summer, the water level in Folsom Lake looks good.

Power line corridors and bike trails go together like peas and carrots. 

Singletrack dead ahead.

New York Creek trail.

Wild Oaks trail.

Brown's Ravine. Damp soil. Actual moisture!

More Brown's Ravine.

Lonely foothills road.

Deer Valley Road.

Farm road.

The Sierra Nevadas to the east.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Adios Mayo

May is gone and that's just fine by me. I ended up with 522 miles, which I am OK with considering all my outside commitments. I fit rides in when I could and didn't kill myself in the process. I even made it through the month without getting sick for once.

Even though there were people who rode many more miles, I would wager that I may have worked harder than most to get mine.


Of the 18 rides, 15 were on a mountain bike. Only two rides were on the bike trail, and it's obvious which two due to the meager elevation gains. I doubt too many people registered over thirty thousand feet in elevation gain. The gain and loss disparity is due to two rides home from work; home is about 1500 feet higher than work.

Later.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Fat Bike Forecast

Our fat bike correspondent Roger checked in with the fat biking conditions out at Folsom Lake.


"Conditions are mostly sunny with 100% chance of wood."

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Costco No

"I hate my new fat bike. It steers funny and I keep crashing when my foot hits the front wheel. Fat bikes suck."


Well, it might be because you spent 170 bucks on it, which is less than what a good pair of fat bike tires costs. Also, one of the meat butchers assembles the bikes at night. And he put your fork on backwards.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Crazy Train

Today I decided to put in some miles on the bike trail after work. I started at Hazel Avenue and rode west towards Sacramento.

Although I chanced it today, I generally don't ride solo past CSUS because that's where things get a little sketchy on the trail. The Guy West Bridge is sort of the Mason-Dixon line for crazy. Go past it at your own risk. Case in point:


Yes, that's a guy in an overcoat and top hat roller blading.

If you are bold enough to go under Highway 80, which I did, it gets even worse.


Who the hell knows what is lurking in there.

Shortly after crossing under the highway I saw a guy sharpening a huge knife against a concrete picnic table. I opted not to take his picture due to the crazy eyes, huge weapon and a generally stabby vibe he had, but I found a reasonable facsimile on the internet:


Mmmmm-hmmmm.

I put in 41 miles and survived. Truthfully, it was a little disappointing to only see a couple crazy people. I guess Mondays are tough on everyone.

Oh, and a weight update: 171.6 pounds this morning. I lost almost four pounds in a week. Nice.

Later.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Easy

Easy like a Sunday morning.


A funny thing happened when I went out for my ride today: I felt great.


Normally by the end of the first week of Bike Month I would be flirting with 250 miles and feeling completely miserable. This year, due to my son's baseball commitments, my riding time has been limited to an every-other-day schedule.


The forced recovery has left me fresh for the next ride. Instead of dreading my ride today, I took off in a positive frame of mind and actually had FUN. Imagine that.


Even with my modest mileage total, I am right outside the top ten.


I figure I will keep much the same schedule this week and hope to stay fresh for the latter part of the month.

Later.


Friday, May 05, 2017

The Hard Way

Today my original plan was to take the road bike down to the bike trail and knock out an easy 40 miles. However, I really hate using a vehicle to drive somewhere to ride a bike. It seems counter-intuitive and wasteful when the only real goal right now is to rack up miles. I rode from home instead, doing a mixed surface ride on the mountain bike.


I still got my 40 miles, but instead of cruising on a road bike and gaining maybe 50 feet of total elevation on the pancake-flat bike trail, I rode the mountain bike and gained 3200 feet.


It's a much harder way to compete with the roadies at work.


It was a cool morning, which was nice considering the heat we had earlier this week.


I had a nice long nap after my ride. Not a bad way to spend a day off.

Later.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Sudden Impact

Today I rode home from work on the first hot day of the year. It's been a very mild spring with lots of rain, so the sudden jump to 94 degrees was shocking.



I rode pretty well for the first 25 miles, but the heat got to me in the last 12. Every hill became more and more difficult. The sweat was pouring off me as my body tried to adapt to the heat.

I rolled up the driveway very tired and glad it was over. The forecast is for lower temperatures later in the week, and I am fine with that.

Later.

Monday, May 01, 2017

El Mes de Mayo

It's May, which means it is time to start riding more. I only pledged 500 miles this year, which should be an attainable goal, even with my busy schedule.

Just for grins I hopped on the scale this morning and I weighed in at a robust 175.4 pounds. Yikes. My all-time record was 180 pounds back in the early '90s when I "retired" from racing and quickly gained 45 pounds. I never thought I would ever get anywhere near 180 again. Bike month couldn't have arrived at a better time.

Today I liberated the road bike that has been sitting on the stationary trainer for at least two years. I have to admit, it was pretty fun to get in the drops and go fast. It's been a long time.



The river still has an unbelievable flow going. So much water.



It's finally warm enough for the rattlers to come out.


I put in a modest 30 miles, but the ride was made tougher due to the high winds.

Unlike previous years, when I rode too much early and either burned out or got sick, I am going to start slow with the hopes of finishing strong.

Later.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

You Know You're Old When . . .

In late November my coworker Rob retired. His love for the fanny pack was always a source of playful jabs, and also more than a little mystery. We always wondered: "What the hell is in that thing?"

As a tribute to Rob we all decided to dress in his likeness for the retirement sendoff—convertible pants, beer/wolf T-shirts and fanny packs. Javi picked up a bunch of fanny packs at the auction for seven bucks each and we were in business.


After the party I threw the pack in a corner and forgot about it. I had no intention of ever using it because, well, fanny packs are for old guys.

One day I prepared for a ride and realized the laundry situation was a little grim. Typically for local rides I use a traditional three-pocket road jersey to carry all my crap. I had nothing but baggy mountain bike jerseys and therefore no cargo capacity. I was only going out for an hour or so, and a hydration pack would have been overkill, especially on that cool day. Looking in the corner I saw the fanny pack. I sighed and thought, what the hell.

I used it for that ride and had to admit it was pretty awesome. I don't especially like wearing tight-fitting road jerseys anymore, so having the ability to wear a baggy jersey and still carry my phone, tools and keys comfortably was great. As a bonus, I could barely tell it was there.

My only issues with that particular pack were the zippers rattling together (noises drive me insane) and the narrow belt. I thought a wider belt might be more comfortable and stable.

I found this Dakine pack and thought it fit the bill.


It's comfortable, has a separate pocket for my phone, doesn't rattle, and even has an extendable pocket for a spare water bottle. And best of all, it has a tag on it that says "this is a legit mountain bike product," which makes me feel a little less dorky. But just a little.

Later.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Faster

Yesterday I rode home from work again, but this week was a bit different. Last week I finished and told myself, You're old, fat, slow, and nobody likes you.

Last night I rolled up the driveway and had a Stuart moment:



"I'm thin enough, I'm fast enough, and doggone it people like me."

I finished in 3:04, shaving a full 24 minutes off my time from the previous week. I am in no way under the misconception that my fitness has increased that much in one week. As I have mentioned numerous times before, sometimes you just have good legs.

Here are a few pictures:




Next week, weather permitting, my time will likely be closer to 3.5 hours and I can go back to hating myself again.

Later.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

First Commute

Yesterday I rode home for the first time this year. It's always one of the harder rides of the year as I make the transition from "winter riding" to spring. I am always a year older, a pound heavier and a little slower than the year before.

I rode at a very moderate pace because I was apprehensive about the distance. Most of my rides lately have been 60 to 90 minutes in duration, and the ride home from work usually takes around 3.5 hours.

There was an overall theme to the ride and it was this: abundance. There was a maddening quantity of insects on the bike trail . . .


a great deal of water flow in the river . . .


more greenery than I have seen in many years . . .


and more debris in the lake than I have ever seen.


The trails were in pretty good shape considering all the rain.


The 37 miles and 2500 feet of climbing took me just shy of 3.5 hours. It was definitely a tough introduction to spring, but the next one should be a little easier.

Later.