28 January 2011

Two in a row!

Ride #38

Friday, January 28th
8.9 miles in Folsom

The rain is supposed to start up again, so Himself and I went for a ride this afternoon (Himself is waiting for software testing results so nothing going on at work today for him). We had planned to do the 10 mile loop of last weekend, but my derailer was giving me FITS! And Himself decided to crank up the speed a notch. So I was pooped and we took a shortcut back to shorten our ride by a mile.

I'm very proud of my sweetheart - he is really committed to getting fit (of course, the stinker will get fit Much Faster than I will!) On our car-ride home we talked a little bit about the mechanics of standing to pedal up hills. I never did have clips or toe-traps on any of my upright bikes, so I never really got in the habit of standing to pedal. But I've read a lot about it and I can deliver loads of plausible sounding BS at the drop of a hat. We'll see if he can stand sometime to climb.

I've made an appointment to take the beast in for rear-derailer work tomorrow morning. Bike-shop-dude says it  should be a quick fix and if necessary he can just swap out the rear derailer. What a guy!

Our ride on Sunday might get rained out, so just keep checking back for a new post!

The hills are...

Ride #37
Thursday, January 27th
"Powerline" hills in Folsom, just over 5 miles

I went out again to the rolling hills that follow the powerline in Folsom. This time with some bicycling friends to scout these rollers as a possible group ride. The conclusion: if folks are willing to walk up a short hill or two if they need to, to work a bit, to huff and puff if necessary, then it will be a good ride. A perfect ride, in fact, for practicing shifting gears. It is a quiet path, mostly mid-morning dog walkers. So, I will schedule this ride on our group's calendar real soon now.

My friends both drove to our meeting place through fog, so they were wondering if we were really going to ride or not. I had not a doubt in the world since it was supremely sunny at my house. On our ride, we did not reach the fog (if we had gone south instead of west we would have). While we were chatting in the parking lot before riding, my "parking lot acquaintance" Al showed up. He was heading to the fog. Introductions all around and off we all went.

I was passed on the uphills and generally braked on the down hills (must remember to check if my brakes need adjusting again after this ride) and my friends were more than happy to wait at the top of hills for me. My rear derailer is beyond me at this point, so I'll call the wonderful shop that built my ride and schedule some non-do-it-yourself adjustments. Sometimes you have to turn the experts loose on your problem.

This is not the exact path we took (we started across the street at the grocery store) but it is the path I will use for the group ride.

25 January 2011

Another wonderful day!

Ride #36
Tuesday, January 25th
8 miles in Folsom
With a bike group: fun!

I spent a little time today hanging out with folks on those strange upright bicycle things - they were everywhere! And following me! I could not escape!

Our little band of bikers had a good time listening to all the birds in Folsom this sunny spring-like day. We stopped at the duck pond to check out all the feathered inhabitants, and chatted for a while about the intricacies of Folsom's bike paths. Several folks went off after the ride to find maps of their own. I hope City Hall still has some available.

I eventually got frustrated with my phantom shifting problem and switched my rear derailer to non-indexed shifting. Ah, what a relief! Yes, yes. I still need to fool with it, but there are so many other things to do: like go for bike rides.

I hooked up my little Kodak Playsport video camera on my very old-school Manfrotto clamp-on tripod and turned it on. Or I thought I did. I had full batteries and an empty card, with theoretically an hour of battery life and 2 hours 30 minutes of recording time. I got 2 segments: 3 seconds and 5 seconds. Thrilling! Just peachy. I wonder if vibration is making it shut off? It's worked OK before. It couldn't be operator error, could it?!

A couple more rides scheduled later this week: catch you later!

22 January 2011

Not quite cats

Ride #35
Saturday, January 22nd
9.9 miles in lovely Folsom

Led my crew of biking acquaintances around and around and around the paths of Folsom. No one got lost, left behind, or confused. And everybody seemed to have fun. My sweetheart (who came with us and graciously agreed to sweep the ride) said he didn't see a single one of my beautiful blue arrows. I did, but then I knew where to look. I think they look bigger from a 'bent then from a conventional bike. We finished off our ride with tasty Chicago style pizza. Yum!

Lots of strollers, toddlers, dogs, other cyclists, geese, ducks, coots, blackbirds, squirrels and so on. A busy day on the trails. Lovely spring weather in the low 60s - perfect for cycling around.

One usable pic today: of everybody else that was on the ride, stopped for a lot of chat at the duck pond. We left when the geese started noisily fighting over the bread some kids were tossing in. Some of us speculated on the possibility of nice fat goose for dinner. Yum!

I had to straighten my seat out a little bit (and I think I'll take another look at it before I ride again) and I really do need to check the indexing of my rear derailer as well. I like my Detroit Tigers baseball cap as a visor under my helmet, but I would like a visor or hat that does not have such bulky seams. Leaves an impression my my poor forehead! I like having pockets in my shirt, but I hate how the stuff in my pockets pulls the shirt on the back of my neck. Time to get serious about figuring out some kind of seat-side pouches for assorted stuff: camera, snacks, handkerchief.

I'll take a couple of days off and then it will be back on the trike again!

20 January 2011

Chalk it up

Ride # 34
Thursday, January 20th
9.9 miles in Folsom

I'm scheduled to lead a ride on this weekend on the Folsom neighborhood bike paths. They are crowded and confusing on weekends (ok, they can be confusing anytime). So I was out today defacing public property by drawing big blue arrows at key intersections.

My big piece of blue sidewalk chalk is now a little nubbin. I'm not planning on having people slavishly follow the arrows (since I might have missed some spots, and irrigation might wash them away) but I hope it helps. And let me tell you, a trike is the perfect platform for chalking a route: just slow to a crawl, stick a hand down, and draw! After the ride is finished, I'll go around with a waterbottle and a rag and erase them. Maybe I'll follow the route backwards, just for fun! Well, maybe not: since my arrows would all be on the wrong side of the path.

Lots of lovely dogs out today (I got to meet an American Bulldog mix that was OK about the strange orange trike once his owner and I had chatted. I even got a dog-kiss on the chin!) and some couples and families enjoying the lovely sunny weather. Stopped for a while at the pond to check out blackbirds, mallards, geese, and a coot or two. Saw a couple of birders who were more than happy to give me a long list of what they'd seen so far today. mumble warbler, mumble black mumble, mumble mumble, mumble something else. Darned if I can remember anything they said!

Had my ride into the shop to straighten out a slightly bent derailer hanger - shifting better but still some indexing weirdness. Oh well, got me up and down the hills with no problems so I'll worry about that later.


18 January 2011

Unholy Bellowing

Ride #33
Tuesday, January 18th
12 miles or so on the lovely American River

Three intrepid women set off down the trail to brave the overcast day and were eventually rewarded with sunshine and a fun day on the trail! This was an organized ride for the two bike groups I belong to and it was fun fun fun! Another member joined us for a bit, then set off for his own longer ride.

Other bicyclists, more fishermen, various hikers, including a large group of hikers heading off into the distance (could they have been the group I keep encountering on my weekday rides? Maybe).

No-one wiped out, no one had any serious mechanical problems, I believe we all remembered to drink water, and we even had a short stretching session at our midway point.

I dropped my trike off at the shop after this to get the rear derailer adjusted by experts (I get sooooo confused by barrel adjusters and I'm quite sure it is someone else's turn for this task) and to true up the rear wheel. The clearance between the tire and the rear fender is very tight, so a wobble in the wheel usually equals rubbing.

More rides (official and un) scheduled for next week and later this week.


Oh yeah, we went from a little ways up Sunrise Blvd down to the bike path, across Hazel, and turned around a little ways before reaching Folsom.

And the unholy bellowing is me shouting directions from the rear. I am louuuuuuuuuud!

14 January 2011


Ride #32
Friday, January 14th
Almost 9 miles in sunny Folsom

I did a happy dance today when my sweetheart called from work to say he was taking the afternoon off so we could maybe take a bike ride. So we did.

Many dog walkers, families, marauding bands of pre-teens on bikes (behaving well, so marauding is not the right word but it is such a cool word how could I resist?) and just plain walkers. For a geeky bonus, we had a brief chat at the end of our ride with two fellows on trikes! Yay! One was on a Greenspeed and the other I was not sure what it was, but it had a large rear wheel. Very sporty looking. I found it interesting that the two trike riders we encountered also have more or less permanently removed their front fenders. I suppose when I get coated with muck on a ride I'll decide to put them back.

The sweetheart deliberately pushed himself a little more on this ride, so he felt a little off at the end of it. I had to pedal more often so I know our average speed was a bit higher. AND we went almost 9 miles, a mile longer for him than previously. The weather was in the high 50s and such a nice change from yesterday's deluge. I wore shorts and a t-shirt. So there! to my friends and family in colder climes.

So, I am pretty good (I thought) about checking and tightening things periodically, but the boom escaped my attention. Until today.

The boom, by the way, is the thing that sticks out in front of the trike with the pedals attached. Since you can't raise and lower the seat, it is easy to make a adjustable length pole and match that to the rider's leg length. Well, since it can move in and out, it can also rotate, and that's what happened to me!

Himself decided, at the bottom of a hill, to make that the turnaround point for today. I was in the Wrong Gear to get up that hill (a very short one) so what I SHOULD have done was drag the trike up to the top of the hill and resume the ride. But nooooooooooo! I had to try to mash my way up it and in the process of mashing I felt the whole front assembly start to twist! Yikes! A friendly pedestrian gave me a hand up and off the trike (difficult to do when facing up a hill with my feet much higher than my center of gravity, aka my butt) and I towed the thing to the top, dug out my set of folding wrenches, and was very very happy that the largest one was the right size.

So my beautiful beast is in the garage now, and the truck is exiled to the driveway, so I can make sure I have the right torque on the bolts and of course I need to fuss with the rear derailer. My derailer is quite nice, but I've decided that I like to fuss and it is somewhat like tuning timpani. I have to have it Just Right. Since it is neither horseshoes nor hand grenades, close is not making it!

No pictures today since I forgot to charge my little camera.

Next ride on Tuesday, since this weekend I am taking a two day wilderness first aid course. Yay!

13 January 2011

Rained on my parade

Ride #31
Tuesday, January 13th
7.7 miles on the American River Bike Trail

I made it rain, yes I did. It is my fault. I did not put my front fenders back on again.

The indistinct white streaks are big fat drops of water spraying up from my front tire. Not only did I make it rain, I made it rain UP.
It started out overcast and a few drops. By the time I got back to the car from my ride, it was raining hard enough that I felt I needed to put my jacket over my head to run from the back of the car to the driver's door.

This was intended to be a group ride for the two bicycling groups I belong to, but we were rained out. I started from a shopping center on Sunrise and made my way down to the river via a feeder bike route. Lots of anglers out today, some intrepid dog walkers, and a surprising number of spandex clad, logo bedecked riders of road bikes. And they probably don't even HAVE fenders for their bikes.
I also saw my favorite hiking group out and about - and this time we almost had a conversation - but I was in a hurry to get back since the rain was getting harder and harder.

I have not been on the Sunrise to Folsom  part of the trail (Hatchery side of Nimbus) since the work on Hazel Ave began. So I was not too sure about getting across Hazel with the bike trail detour. It was not a problem (but I'm glad I had a chance to scout it out before the next ride I lead in this area). I did get to play in traffic a little. It looks they were putting up a new light pole. I bailed out just after that point since it was raining Even Harder!

The anglers and I agree: today was a good day! Any day on my 'cycle is a good day.
The next scheduled ride is on Tuesday with the bike groups. Rain is NOT in the forecast.

11 January 2011

Waxing Rhapsodic

Ride #30
Tuesday, January 11th
Just over 7 miles on Folsom's bike paths.

Lots more people out today than I expected: mostly accompanied by dogs. Lots and lots of birds also. The blackbirds were making a ruckus in every damp spot (and there are a lot of damp spots right now). Saw an egret/heron/thing. I stink at bird identification.

And Canadian Geese!

I spent a few minutes several times today explaining my odd contraption to interested parties. A common question is "how do you steer it?" I suppose it is not obvious right away, lacking the familiar handlebars of a conventional bicycle.

It was pretty nippy with a chance of rain. There were two drops as I started out, but the rain held off until I was well finished with my ride. Whew! About 45 degrees F, slight breeze, overcast skies, kind of humid. A day to appreciate wool clothing.

If you would like to hear the birds, the first minute or so of my latest youtube video has bird song. Stick around for the rest of the ride, the video's less than 6 minutes long.

Thursday is an Official Ride with my bicycle clubs. And I'm leading the ride! Whoooo! Hope we don't get rained out ...

06 January 2011

Unofficial Fun

Ride #29

Thursday, January 6th.
12 ish miles on the American River Bike Trail

I belong to two bicycling Meetup groups (Meetup is an internet based social activity site). One is mostly fast paced rides and the other is more casual. The casual group is rather inactive in the winter, so when a new member of that group posted that she was interested in exploring the ARBT, I jumped on it!

So I 'cycled around with a total stranger and we had a blast all the way from Wm Pond to Sunrise and back again on our unofficial ride. I drove down to Sacramento for this ride: leaving my house under sunny clear skies and almost immediately driving down into fog. And then out of the fog (actually low clouds) into cold clammy overcast. We saw an absolutely HUGE jackrabbit bounding along, a red tailed hawk on a fence post, several groups of bicyclists (some grim intent 'roadies' in a paceline and others slower and smiling), and pairs of walkers.  And a couple of probably homeless folks. We also buzzed by a large group of familiar-looking hikers all wielding pairs of trekking poles, mostly gray-haired - yes indeed, it was a group I hiked with a few years ago. Solemates from Fair Oaks. I waved and they waved and we each went our separate ways. Neat!

In the parking lot while I was putting my ride back in the mobile garage I call the SUV, I answered a ton of questions from some very interested gentlemen, one of whom had been persuaded to ride on a recumbent decades ago. He didn't much like it, but he sure liked my trike! He was also encouraged to hear about the TerraTrike Rover - a reasonably priced entry-level trike at a base price of $800.

My right fender was loose (again) so about 1/2 mile from our ending point, I just wiggled it loose, tucked it under my left arm, and continued on. I also played a bit with the barrel adjuster for the rear derailer. I might have it in the right spot now, but I'll check it out when I'm replacing that fender in a few days.

I'm off to Oregon for a few days, so the next post will be sometime next week.


04 January 2011

Hairy Horses and Falling Dogs

Ride #28
Tuesday, January 4th

A scant 5 miles in beautiful sunny Folsom.

For the third time since I got my lovely trike, I headed out to the short hilly section of Folsom's bike trails, this time with my sweetheart's college-age son in tow. OK, so he was actually ahead of me the whole way, since he is young and fit.

This trip we skipped the fun but bumpy trip up the concrete path and followed the bike lanes on Willow Creek Drive to catch up with the bike trail again. We undid our route exactly on the way back, since neither of us felt like tackling the evil steep switchbacks up to the very top of BT Collins park. We were pooped! The kid ran out of leg power and stopped on the side of a hill to get over feeling faint (he is very tall with low blood pressure) and to get the old Trek shifted to a smaller gear. I admit to coasting as much as possible, but also riding the brakes a bit more then I might, since this is the same trail I had my lovely tumble on last month (git on the horse that threw you and the hair of the dog ... oh, you get the idea!).

I saw a large raptor of some kind circling, looking for lunch, and some smaller birds closer at hand. We heard the usual dogs barking at the usual places, and saw several sets of dog walkers and other folks out enjoying the break in our winter rains.

Look left and right for power towers!

Our route generally followed a powerline. Putting a bike path under and between the line is a good use of green space. There are a few sections of bike trail that do this.

I tried out my new HD video camera, attached to the edge of my seat with an old Manfrotto clamp-on tripod. I'm pleased with the quality and I look forward to trying out different attachment points. But, boy oh boy, I talk a lot! I never shut up! If only my trike were powered with hot air, I'd be golden. The pics in this post are clipped from that video stream.

On Thursday, I'm scheduled to go meet up with a beginning cyclist to explore part of the American River trail. Fun!

01 January 2011

Not Quite Hail

Ride #27
Saturday, January 1st

7.5 miles.
In Folsom.
In the rain.


A bicycling club I belong to was having a hill-climbing smackdown on this first day of the year. I declined to ride the hill, but volunteered to take photos. So I parked at my usual spot in Folsom and pedaled over to the event on actual streets in bike lanes and everything!

I had both flags flapping, a high viz jacket on, one headlight and two blinking taillights. I overheated going up E Natomas to Sophia, so I stopped and shed a layer. Then when I was coasting (25mph) down Sophia to Alexandria, all I could think of were the gloves I'd just taken off!

It was not too windy, and the rain was mostly showers, except for one cloud burst that if it had been any colder (it was 37 degs F) it would have been hail. They were big fat cold high-velocity drops. Ick! The sun tried to come out about 1/2 way through the event, but then the clouds came back even darker!

I parked my trike at the gathering point, got the scoop from the organizer, and wandered off to take lots of pictures of folks slogging up the hill and then flying back down again. And doing it again. And again. And again!

I carried not only 3 cameras, a complete change of warm dry clothes (including extra rain gear), but an umbrella (to shelter the SLR digital I'd borrowed) and even an entire English-style fruit cake to share. I used my nice Arkel panniers to carry all that. They worked well but I had to adjust my mirrors so I could see something other than bulging bags behind me. The trike handled well, although I took it easy on the long shallow slope down from Sophia to Blue Ravine: kept the speed to 12mph. My brakes finally dried off enough to stop honking and squealing.

It was windier and still raining (maybe even a bit harder) when it was time to head back, so I added high visibility rain pants. They were noisy but kept the cold rain and wind off my legs. I was worried that I might slide around in the seat too much, but it was just fine. I plan on taking the cuffs in and adding zippers to keep them from flapping around.

I need to force myself to slog up hills more often. I got winded, but my legs did not give out. I did get into the absolute granny once, more to give myself a little break then because anything was that steep.

Now, this is not a picture of me, but it will give you an idea of what the day was like:

I have started this year as I mean to continue: cycling.

Happy New Year everyone, and be safe out there.