28 February 2011

Chain link fence

Ride #49
Monday, February 28th
16.5 miles on the Folsom South Canal

B'bye February!

I like the South Canal but it has issues. It is flat, flat flat flat, (which actually gets a little boring at times) except for some short rises that cross various other things crossing the canal. Clear, ain't I? But anyway the mini hills give a nice view of the canal.

And starting at the Nimbus end means crossing lots of streets and and out-of-service railroad track and some more streets. Then there is the White Rock Road crossing, which right now is mostly a detour on busy streets. Not good for a crowd of beginner bikers!

I've been trying to figure out how to avoid White Rock Road, so today I started just off of North Mather Rd., which made for a very nice ride.

 Brand new smooooooooooooth asphalt bike paths through neighborhoods half ticky-tacky boxes and half vacant fields with developers' signs fading in the sun. I think this will make a good group ride, as long as it is not howling wind or sweltering summer sun.

I saw some more waterbirds perched this time on a pipe crossing the canal,

and also tried (and failed) to get a shot of some entertaining black and white water birds. I need to brush up on my bird identification: black and white birds, maybe slightly smaller than a duck, while floating around they have black topsides and a white hull (a little nautical there). Then when they take off their wings are black with a wide white band. They also make a sort of squeaky sound as they try to get up to speed on the water. I'm sure they can fly, but they seem to prefer to flap along just on the surface of the water, then settle down when they are far enough from my disturbing self.

As you might notice on the map, I took a little detour up Zinfandel (I have no idea what I was thinking about, guess I was just enjoying the sunshine). BUT on the way back I spotted a bike path unlisted on maps so went exploring. A great day for a ride. Supposed to start raining again later this week so this might be all I do for a while.

27 February 2011

Brass monkeys

Ride #48
9 or so miles in Folsom
Sunday, February 27th

Today I led a small intrepid band of bicyclists on a "lollypop" in Folsom (route with an out and back part and a loop stuck in the middle). We chugged up a looooooooooong grade and then whooped and hollered our way down the other side. We charged through puddles from the recent rain and I sort of missed my fenders but I got several free mini-showers as a bonus.

One of the folks on the ride commented that all the people we encountered on our ride were friendly. I figure it is due to a couple of things: Folsom is a nice town, I've been spreading cheer every time I ride on those trails (I always try to beat the other guy to the smile and wave), and a recumbent trike is just something to smile at.

Many birds, including a very nice landing by a very large and very close Egret. Lots of walkers, joggers, a small band of bicyclists, and of course, dog walkers. No bobcat today. The 'cat was probably denned up somewhere nice and warm. The weather was cool and extraordinarily clear, but there was a light breeze with a cold bite.

I'm so glad I have the chance to lead rides for two area bicycle groups. So far all of my rides have been listed on both groups (one is casual and one is more hard-core) but eventually I hope to be able to ride with the medium fast crowd.

This is pretty much where we went, but I skipped the top loop, only doing the left hand side for both out and back.

More rides scheduled, planned, and hoped for in the next few weeks - I'm a bit tired of rain so I hope it holds off for a few more days.

22 February 2011

Drunk on sunshine

Ride #47
Tuesday, February 22nd
10ish miles in Folsom's Wild Animal Kingdom

Had a blast in the sunshine - plenty of other folks out today - including a small group of the ever-friendly and cheery Sacramento Wheelmen.

I think this time I'll let the camera do the talking.

21 February 2011

I'll take that one, and that one and - ooooh - that one...

Ride #46
Monday, February 21st

Finally home and finally no rain so finally rode! Yay!

13 miles or so on the Folsom South Canal

A bit of a headwind cramped my style heading south, but it was niiiice on the way back. I had intended to go maybe as far as Sloughhouse Rd, but turned around far short of that since my chain tube finally cried out for my attention loudly enough I could not ignore it any more.

I successfully navigated the White Rock Rd detour (only signed in some places but I have friends who told me where to go. Um, that came out wrong, didn't it?) and made my back onto the canal-side road. I had hoped to take some advanced beginners on this ride in the future, but there are no bike lanes on the detour roads. I don't mind playing in traffic and "taking a lane", but I know a number of my usual riders would not be comfortable in that situation.

Chain tubes are useful things since they help prevent chain tattoo (when the chain leaves a grease mark on a leg - often the calf with a recumbent bike). And they keep some of the muck off the chain as it whizzes along mere inches from the ground. And with a chain about 3x as long as a 'normal' bike, that's a lot of chain to keep clean! I have 2 main tubes on my trike (made from shorter segments).

As soon as I got home I wheeled the trike into the garage, popped the master link of the chain free, slid the chain tube off, sawed the ripped up split end off, flared the cut end a little (probably not enough), and reassembled my beautiful ride. Didn't take too long at all and now the top chain tube will stay well clear of the front derailer and all will be well for tomorrow's ride! I hope the weather holds - a little overcast and a chilly breeze, but no rain!

This is the whole route - my turnaround today was a little short of Douglas Road

13 February 2011


Ride #45
Sunday, February 13th
A bit over 10 miles on the American River trail (no, I'm not writing a poem today despite the title)

A group ride today from Wm. Pond to the Sac State bridge and back. I played shepherd on my trike and the rest were on diamond frame bikes. We had two mountain bikers show up out of the blue to check out the casual bike group. My friend with the 100 pounds of kids and trailer in tow took off like her tail was on fire (which she did not have to do but she was having so much fun...), the other two followed her like they were being pulled in her wake, and I stayed waaaaaay back with the two folks on mountain bikes. They decided that the pace was a bit fast for them so we had a nice chat and then went our separate ways. I cycled like a madwoman (holding 18mph for a while) to catch up with the rest of the group. Gosh, I love flat straight trails!

We had a little snack and water break at our turn around point, chatted some more (this is, after all, a social bike ride) and pedaled back. We saw a group of at least 5 deer browsing on the green vegetation in a hollow below the bike path. The deer didn't even look up - too hungry, I guess. We also saw a pair of handtrikes - the really low ones, and I spotted one other recumbent trike. The rest of the folks we saw were bicycling or walking, some solo and some in groups. One family group had a little kid on a tricycle who was pedaling so furiously his feet should have blurred like a cartoon character!

One rider had a flat (and a spare tube - YAY!) in the parking lot before setting out but no other mechanical issues with our little band of bikers.

The winter weather will return later this week, but I'll ride and post when I can.

10 February 2011

Flat like a pancake, not a tire

Ride #44
Thursday, February 10th
9 extremely flat miles on the Folsom South Canal

I've been talking for what seems like forever about getting back out on the Folsom South Canal to ride, and I finally got around to it with a friend from one of the bike groups I hang out with. We started out from the temporary dirt parking lot near Nimbus Hatchery and played in mild traffic until we could get on the canal-side path. This ride is horrible on a hot summer day, but with the banks of grass still green it was not so bad. We saw a few pedestrians, more cyclists than I expected, and one (county?) truck using the road for service access.

Phone wires cross the canal in several places and they are usually bedecked with birds looking for their lunch.

We crept up on our 'cycles, waiting to see how close we could get before they took off. We were totally ignored, probably since we did not look like fish.

Although we had planned to go farther on the canal, the small gate at White Rock Road was closed. I suppose we could have hoisted my friend's bike over and slid my trike under the gate, but since we both had other things to do today (yes, I do have more in my life than 'cycling) we turned around and headed back.

When I bought my trike, I interrogated bike-dude if it really truly would fit between the yellow posts at the beginning of bike paths. I guess this was the path I was remembering. If I wiggle my handlebars just so, I can scrape through without leaving a mirror behind. These yellow posts are much narrower than the usual bike path posts.
Not stuck, cautious!

I like this ride, even though it is an industrial landscape, and I think the corridor has potential for a great commuting/recreation route. There was apparently in 2007 some talk of developing the south canal but I don't think anything ever came of it. Probably the housing developers who were part of the proto-planning ran headlong into the housing crisis.

Other challenges to using this path, aside from very narrow gates that are sometimes closed, are several places where the canal path users have to dash across a street through traffic. The Powers that Be added a push-button crossing at Sunrise, and there is a nice echo-y tunnel under US 50 (yes, we made silly sonar noises and sang while in the tunnel)  but some interesting roads (Douglas, for instance) have no access points to the canal path, making it less useful as a recreation and commuting option.

US 50 tunnel on left

Enough social and political maunderings, time to get some stuff around the house done! Riding again this weekend, TTFN

09 February 2011

Take me to your leader

Ride #43
Wednesday, February 9th
13.7 miles on the American River Bike Trail

Today was an organized ride and I didn't organize it! I just went along for the ride. Three riders set out on a casual ride from Hazel to wherever we decided to turn around (which was Hagen Park for two of us and Wm. Pond for the other). We saw fishermen, strollers, happy children being towed in a bike trailer, low-flying gulls, a handcyclist, a handful of recumbent bikes and a couple of recumbent trikes.

And lots and lots of twigs on the trail from yesterday's strong winds. Most of the twigs had been squashed to splinters, but there were enough big pieces left that I was a little worried about getting one stuck in the undercarriage. I didn't, but I passed a bike rider who did. He was fine, didn't crash or anything. Many years ago, when dinosaurs rode bikes, I bent a fork and a wheel on my old 5 speed bike from getting a stick through the spokes. Observers said I did a beautiful slow-motion somersault over the handlebars.

I'm getting used to spending part of every day coated in sticky sunscreen (my current favorite is Burt's Bees - it is titanium dioxide which works just fine - a physical barrier - does not rub or sweat off and seems so far to not make my face itch) but I'm still starting to get a bike short and shoes tan. I think maybe I need to use even more on my legs. I cannot detect a helmet strap tan line on my neck, so I think I'm doing OK there. I even remember my hands and fingers!

I planned to take pictures today, but my little point and shoot's batteries were already flat. I just charged them yesterday! I'll have to charge two sets at a time from now on I think. The non-rechargeable batteries lasted a LOT longer.

I believe I need to get a second and third set of some bike clothes: I don't like to dry them in the dryer since it destroys them faster, but they do not always dry overnight. I've found a zipfront sports bra by Champion that has no hooks in back to dig into my spine, and some cheapo Danskin exercise shorts. I've got plenty of shirts and socks.

08 February 2011

The cure for helmet hair

Ride #42
Tuesday, February 8th
10? miles in blustery Folsom

This was scheduled as a group ride but the rest of the crew sensibly stayed home. Weather Underground predicted "northwest winds 20 to 30 mph with gusts to around 45 mph" today and I do believe they were right! I don't think I encountered any gusts, but it was a strong steady wind today. The high winds and clear skies meant that Sacramento, seen on my drive down to Folsom from the foothills, was a fantastically clear miniature model of a city against the distant bluish coastal hills.

I toodled around Folsom (I will admit I am more fond right now of straight paths since I'm getting impatient with curvy paths) but there was plenty to see today. Soaring raptors, motionless egrets, wind-blown blackbirds, squabbling Canadian geese. Also dogwalkers, stroller pushers, a small pack of speedy brightly colored cyclists, and a coffee-toting woman. Being subject to the power of suggestion, I stopped to get a cup myself at Peet's. I still am trying to figure out a quick effective way to lock my ride up, but the cable + U-lock seems to work out all right.
I was comfortably relaxed from my coffee break so I had plenty of time to admire the wildflower naturalization that is part of the new Bidwell overcrossing.

Near the end of my ride, I turned northwest (remember that weather forecast?) up a little rise, and I had to keep shifting down, and down, and down, until there was nowhere left to go. Headwinds are not as bad on a recumbent as on an upright bike, but they still BLOW. This was clipped from bad video footage, but trust me - I'm going 1.8mph.

Oh, yeah. The cure for helmet hair? On a windy day, remove your helmet, face into the wind, then face away from the wind. And you too can look like this! That fringe of hair you see sticking up on the top? Looks like the edge of a fur hood? That's the hair on the back of my head being blown straight up by the wind. Yeah. Sign me up for America's Next Top Model.

A handful more rides this week. Stay tuned!

06 February 2011

Look! I forgot to make a title!

Ride #41
Sunday, February 6th
11 or so miles on the American River Trail

Somewhere between 70 and 80 degrees today. Moderate breezes, and shockingly green grass. My nose is stuffed up and the dog is shedding like there's no tomorrow.
It is spring. I'm sure it will rain again and be cold and miserable before May, but right now that is very hard to imagine.

My sweetheart felt a little queasy (happens sometimes when he over-exerts himself) so we stopped for a while at a beautiful shady spot along the river to rest, drink some more water, and share a orange. Yes, the grass really is that green - unreal, isn't it? We saw a large raptor circling overhead, and heard plenty of birdsong. Not so many squirrels as yesterday. Several folks stopped to check that we were OK and that we were not too far from the car and so on. Lovely people, bicyclists are. Recovered, we finished our ride.

Today, we decided to go around Lake Natomas (something we have not done since they've been doing the Hazel Ave. improvement project, and something I'd not done on my trike). I'm sure it will be lovely when it is finished, but right now it is not stellar for a trike. There is a steep grade going up to Hazel from the "north" side of the lake, Granny handled that just fine (but I did wonder if Himself would have to push me up the last bit - there was some swearing as I powered up the steepest part. Yep. Me. Potty mouth). However the interface between the very wide concrete sidewalk on the upstream side of Hazel and the existing bike path needs some work. I only had to dodge one oncoming cyclist and travel against traffic for a little while. I'll be glad when the construction is done.

The other thing about the Lake Natomas loop is getting across the river at the Folsom end. There is a bike lane on Folsom-Auburn Rd., segregated from traffic by reassuring concrete walls, but that path is quite narrow for a trike, even my trike which can fit through most doorways. The other option is to take surface streets to the old wooden bridge across the American River, which is what we did today.

Something I forgot to note about yesterday's long ride - I added some gel forefoot inserts (marketed for women's high heels) to my yellow Superfeet insoles in my bike shoes. I was looking for something that would be a little cushy but not too squishy, since on the 30 mile ride a few months ago the balls of my feet felt a little pounded on. Much better with the gel inserts. Since I unstuck these from a pair of heels I don't wear very often, I needed to stick the edge down with some paper medical tape since the trailing edge of the insert tends to roll up and attach itself to my sock. I think some of the 'stick' remained in the other shoes.

And on today's ride, I again managed to drop my chain between the small and middle chain rings while shifting down. Himself held the back of my ride up and I wrestled the chain back into place. I think this happens when I am applying a little more force to the cranks then I might normally when shifting, and when I am in a smaller ring in back. Easy enough to fix, just annoying and greasy. I was worrying about my sweetheart and not paying attention to my shifting!

A couple of rides scheduled for next week: hope the weather holds!

I did my best to show how the Hazel interface worked today: no guarantees...

05 February 2011

King of Squirrel Hill

Ride #40
Saturday, February 5th
29.6 miles on the lovely American River Parkway

It's the first Saturday of the month, so the Recumbent Riders of Sacramento gathered this morning to ride and this month I could finally join them again.

I thought for a moment I might not find parking since there was a very large race event finishing up when I arrived. Fortunately, the RRS tend to run a little late in their departures, so I had time to show exactly how bad I am at names and faces. Honestly, if people would just wear the same clothes, the same helmet, and ride the same bike every time I see them, I'd be fine (not).

The bunch of recumbents set off through swarms of runners, walkers, cyclists, and squirrels. Gray squirrels everywhere, on fence posts, on trees, dashing madly across the pavement. As I was creeping up a hill, I looked to my right, directly into some beady squirrel-eyes. For a minute, I thought the critter was going to leap on to my trike and hitch a ride. He went up the tree instead, and scolded me. The nerve! What does he, rule the place?

Although I trailed along in the rear as usual, I did try really really hard to keep up for about the first 7 miles, and my average speed was 12mph. Pretty smokin' for poor old me. Then after 15 miles it was 11mph average. By the time I got back to the car at the end of the ride, it was just over 10. I'm pleased anyway. I managed to stay in the middle chainring unless I had to get up some little stinking rise. I even batted along at 16mph for a while. I am slowly getting my chutzpah back on cornering, but I did still do some braking.

I need to check the directions for my brakes: I'm pretty sure I can move the left pad in a little bit, since the right brake is grabbier than the left. I stayed out of the "little little" combination of gears (in which the chain is the slackest) and I had no shifting problems at all.

No pics today (too busy pedaling like a maniac) but might have some after tomorrow's ride. Yes, two rides in a row! Whooo!

02 February 2011

I declare this Middle Chainring Month

Ride #39
Wednesday, February 2nd
8.8 miles in Folsom

Returned to an old favorite route - mostly bike paths and some street riding with a fun loop uuuuuuuuup hill and then doooooooooooown hill. My ride ran like a dream, since bike-shop-dude adjusted the rear derailer for me. He also advised taking out another link in the chain, so I said "go for it!"

I decided that I need to push myself a little bit, so I stayed in my middle chainring in front as much as I could. There were a few sections where I needed to be in a lower gear, so I headed in the direction of Granny once or twice. The gearing on this trike is a lot better fit for me than the gearing on my old Trek, or maybe I'm getting in better shape? Anyway, I did not feel the need to drape myself over my ride and pant once I got to the top. I did stop to adjust my brake pads. Much better!

Now for a bunch of pictures!

Hills ahead

Uphill direction on the bridge

<whine>Aren't we done yet?</whine>

Hellooooooo! Granny!

Oh for crying out loud Who said UP was ok?!

Yes, wheel-wrecking curb cuts and prickly shrub debris ahead.

Riding this weekend - both days if I can manage it.