29 June 2011

8 towns, 3 surfaces, 2 memorable roadkills, and 1 happy 'cyclist

Ride# 87

Tuesday, June 28th

43 miles from Rescue to Elk Grove, CA

I should have taken a picture of the utterly totally completely flattened cat. The poor thing had expired in just the right conditions to tell that it had been a tabby while still admiring the still cat-like shape yet bookmark-thinness. There was also a very large raccoon, also dead but not nearly as flattened. The smallest dead thing I saw was some kind of small grey songbird.

I also saw plenty of live things as well: kill-deers, an egret, and lots of little finch-like birds. No rattlers.

There were also innumerable shards of glass (clear, brown, green), bicycle parts (a brake lever and a bell), car parts (license frame, tire shreds, trim), construction debris (wood, a composition shingle, unidentifed but sharp metal things) and the aforementioned roadkill on the shoulders of the roads I traveled on. I was pleased and amazed to have no flats.

My top speed was 37.6 mph, my average was  9.2, my total time with wheels turning was 4 hours and 39 minutes, the total time elapsed was 5 hours 30 minutes or so.

Although I've ridden farther in one shot on my trike (57 miles), this felt like a much longer ride: probably because of the variety of terrain and number of towns along the way.
Rescue, El Dorado Hills, Folsom, Gold River, Rancho Cordova, Vineyard, Sheldon, Elk Grove. Now, some of these (Gold River, Vineyard) only exist as separate entities when considering the census, but they show up on Google Maps. So there.

I flew down Green Valley Road (the map at the bottom shows only approximate beginning and end points), white knuckled and swearing like a sailor (I even invoked various flavors of Christian profanity, not my usual form. The rest was made up of good old Anglo Saxon four-letter words). My shoulders and neck, despite my best efforts, were tense enough to bounce rocks off of.
In addition to all the other things, Green Valley's shoulders are littered with economy size pine cones. These, at least, were out of the way.

The only actual bouncing rocks were the fresh gravel my tires flung when I crossed the recently tended Deer Valley Road intersection. Flinging gravel while white-knuckling along at 30mph is ... interesting. Yeah. Interesting. I could hear the gravel banging through the spokes and just hoped for no gravel strikes on my tender hide.

Green Valley at 6:30am is probably not the best choice, but it is my route to Folsom. There is no bike lane, but a not terrible shoulder. There were also a LOT of cars zipping by in excess of the posted 55mph. Most of them went way around me.

The next terrain was the old familiar bike paths in and around Folsom neighborhoods. What refreshing change! I took my time and tried to relax from the adrenaline-induced hypervigilant state I found myself in.

Those clouds should have told me something.

Tailings from gold dredging. Along the feeder route from Parkshore Dr. to the bike trail along the river.

The next leg was the bike path along the south side of Lake Natoma to the Nimbus dam and then on to the Folsom South Canal path.

Looking upstream to the Hazel Bridge.

There was a strong steady wind from the southwest, so I had it in my face for the almost 2 hours I was on the canal path. Since this trail is very little used (no vehicular traffic and I saw only one cyclist) I went ahead and used my IPod to keep me moving along and un-bored. I'm sure the earbuds meant I did not hear when my brand new Sleipnir flag stopped audibly flapping behind me and took off for parts unknown. Taking the new pole and my little reflective flag went along with it. So very sad.

Weedy canal path.

Killdeer closeup

However, a friend who saw me pedaling down South Sunrise with my remaining flag (a large pink one) said I was plenty visible. And at least I know where the flags went missing.

I exited the canal at Jackson rather then continuing onto Florin Rd. as I had planned, since the already weedy canal-side road got a lot weedier after Jackson. Sunrise was a good alternative, with a nice wide shoulder, marred only by hordes of double-trailer gravel trucks.

OMG. Rain clouds?

Florin Rd. takes you by a materials reclamation site, so once I was past that the traffic dropped way down. Florin's wide shoulder disappears at Eagle's Nest road, but I was passed only a few times in the two miles to Excelsior Rd. Once by a large commercial semi, and once by a pickup. The rest were a handful of sedans and one minivan, who behaved admirably! Thank you, champagne colored van, for staying patiently behind me on the blind hill as I crept up at 10 miles per.

On Excelsoir, I got a friendly beep from a passing truck. I waved, he waved. A warm fuzzy moment.
Tuesday is trash-day in the Elk Grove area, so I dodged some trash cans. Same old same old. I have a genius for trash-day excursions.

Calvine, at least where I rode, has a splendid bicycle lane. Yay!

I used the loop behind the school at Bradshaw and Bond to avoid yet another non-bicycle-aware traffic signal (at least, I suppose it was not bicycle triggerable.) The son of the friend I was visiting was most impressed that I had bicycled right past his elementary school.

I finished my ride on quiet neighborhood streets, the white-knuckle flight down Green Valley already forgotten.

This is my last ride for a while, I'm scheduled for rotator cuff repair surgery in a few days. But I'll be back posting as soon as I am back on the bike!

25 June 2011

Breakfast is important, but not that important

Ride #86

Saturday, June 25th
12 or so miles around Lake Natoma in Folsom, CA

A group ride of 12 or so happy casual riders and one maniac (me) on a recumbent trike. We only lost one person but she found us again.

Bad leader! No biscuit!

I was the leader of the merry band so I get to say that.
I'm the bossy looking woman in pink.

AND I did not take any pictures. These pictures are from one of our merry band of bikers.

I got home from the ride and my stepson told me that I had forgotten to eat my oatmeal this morning. So I had post-ride instead of pre-ride oats. Not too bad cold. Kind of refreshing.

A few days ago I finally got around to taking the front wheels off my trike, figuring I might need to check the brake pads and it is easier for me to take off the wheel then to remove the caliper (and get it back in the right spot).
No problems. Nothing to see here, move along.
Nothing fell off on the ride today so I think I got everything back correctly.

Finally had a flag made. Slepnir has too many legs for a horse and my ride has too many 'legs' for a bike. Not that I'm comparing myself to Odin, or that my ride is the unnatural offspring of a trickster or anything.

For those of you actually paying attention to my ramblings (for crying out loud! don't sit there, go outside and play!) I did not go on a Friday ride as promised, but will go on a Tuesday ride.

21 June 2011

Happy Solstice!

Ride #85

In celebration of the longest day of the year, we went and rode around in the sun. Well, my friend's father came along and towed two kids in the trailer while she bemoaned her lack of exercise, and a couple more friends showed up on casual bikes.

We went along faster than I expected (avg 10mph) and we all agreed that leaving at 7am instead of 8 would have been JUST FINE.

However, it was a beautiful day, no wind like we had on Sunday, and there were lots of other people getting their workouts in before we hit 100 degs this afternoon.
Yes, summer's here.
The American River is still very high, and as I saw on Sunday, Folsom Lake (which is fed by the north and south forks American River and produces from that meeting the American River) is high also. And there is a lot of snow left to melt up the hill. I think it will be a good water summer.

We saw a couple of turkeys hanging out in the shade. We also heard a rattler. I did not realize what I had heard until a fellow walking along mentioned that he heard the snake do his thing just as we were cycling by.
Yikes! I'm the perfect height for a snake bite (and not my innertube, either).
I told my friend that I hoped the snake tried to strike through the spokes of my front wheel since I figured that would quickly decapitate the poor thing.

I am going to replace the brake pads before the next ride. Which means learning how to take the wheel off. Which I need to learn to do anyway. I'd rather take the wheel off than mess with taking the calipers off, since I'm pretty sure I can get the wheel back on, but no so sure about the calipers.

Happy trails everybody!

19 June 2011

get out of the kitchen!

Ride #84
Sunday, June 19th

20 miles in Folsom

One of the other ride leaders for the casual biking meetup group decided to put together a 20 mile ride in Folsom, mostly on bicycle paths and mostly including hills.


I've decided to call it K's Crazy Cure (for excess  energy).

It was hot. At the end of our ride the wunderground.com said it was 86 degrees. And the wind was roaring today. I was quite distressed at one point to have an uphill AND a headwind! Bah!

The section from the top of the Folsom Lake Crossing to the river (you can see the big divot on the elevation profile below) is something I've always wanted to try, wondering just how fast I can merely coast down. Well, with a straight on 20mph headwind, it was a lousy 30.3 mph. I will try it again on a day with no wind.

By coming up the Folsom Crossing, we sort of cheated the famous Beals climb, since the 7% grade is downstream from the crossing. We at least got to fly down that grade, although since it is so curvy (and I've not been on it in a loooooong time) I felt I should brake most of the way.

I applied sunscreen three times today (we were out from 10:30 to 3pm, prime sun exposure time) and I don't seem to be as pink as I might sometimes be. Next time I'll take some baby wipes and wipe off the old sunscreen first. My shins looked like they had some kind of horrible skin condition with the way road grit and sunscreen combined to pill up.

I lost track of how many bottles of water I drank. I had my usual plastic one handed bite valve with me, and I refilled it from some metal bottles that I had encased in soggy cotton socks (evaporative cooling) so I had at least cool water to drink. I've had one electrolyte drink since I've come home and I think I need another one. I sweated so much today that when I dumped water over my head at the end of the ride I got an eye full of sweaty water from the stuff running off my scalp.

We picnicked at Beal's Point: I had a lovely turkey club sandwich and a big bottle of chocolate milk. I also ate salty nut and raisin mix along the way, as well as handing some of it out to one of the other riders.

A ride Tuesday, Saturday, then Tuesday again.

16 June 2011


Ride #83
about 20 miles in Placerville, and on the El Dorado Trail

Thursday, June 16th

Back for a June trip up the El Dorado Trail (and I'm not doing it again until maybe October. Too Darn Hot).
One paved section was in the sun, no shade, a steeper than usual grade for a rail-trail, and I felt like an egg on a griddle. A very slow egg. The hotter it gets the slower I go. It was hot. I was slow.

We set off at 8am (sunrise is about 5 so that was bad planning on our part), taking again the Forni road shortcut. More traffic than last time but we took the lane anyway.

Then into Placerville proper, eventually pedaling like madwomen up Main St., smack in the middle of the lane, with all cars behaving nicely.

Up the curly bridge, up Coleman (stupid freaking hill) then down. Is it strange to feel nervous when your triking pal disappears over the hill?

Like she was swallowed by the deeps or something.
All I could see was her flag getting lower and lower and finally, POP it was gone!
Roads should not drop off like infinity pools.

Then a quick rest stop at the P-ville bus station.

Through the tunnel and then up up up to the zone of frying eggs.

Today I finally got total and complete "hot foot". Hot foot is when a recumbent rider's feet get severe pins and needles and burning sensation on the bottom of the feet. Standing and walking around ends it nicely. I think hotfoot appeared because we did not stop nearly as often as we did the last two trips up this trail (April 5th and 14th).

I noticed a pretty creek at the hotfoot rest stop.

Past the zone of egg, we slogged through agricultural land, and saw an alpaca and a deer.
It took a while to get the deer picture since the deer positioned itself right behind the tree. I rolled backwards a few feet to get the shot.

It took us 2.5 hours (including rest stops) to get to our turnaround point at 10 miles. Coming back was only 1.5 hours and it seems like no time at all as we sped down the trail (exceeding, I must confess, the 15mph limit at times). We took the lane on Main Street again (much faster since it is ever so slightly down hill). The roads everywhere are in rotten shape. Going 20 mph on patched, potholed, lumpy, busted up asphalt is not great. My vertebrae rattled like a string of beads.

We slogged up Ray Lawyer drive, our bike lane totally full of cars parked for the County Fair. I had one beer-enhanced fellow decide it would be a good idea to push my trike up the hill. I asked him, nicely I'm pleased to say, to stop. And he did.
I can totally understand why he'd want to help, since I think I was going about 2mph at that time, frying like an egg again, sights set on the next patch of shade.

No broken chain episodes this time, and we were back at the Missouri Flat Road trailhead in no time.

Sunday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, and Tuesday rides upcoming. Stay tuned!

We did not go quite as far as this map indicates (we turned around at Los Trampas).

12 June 2011

The Rolling Lounger

Ride #82
Sunday, June 12th

13 miles to and from and all around the benefit event for Matthew Weitrick in Roseville, CA

Since parking might have been difficult at Royer Park, I parked about 1/2 a mile away on the backside of a shopping center and pedaled over to the event. Although my task was to chaperone the 10 mile ride, I got there WAY earlier in hopes that I could help out other ways.

And I did.

I lugged giant industrial cans of coffee and orange juice. I handed out one Bandaid and a dab of antibiotic cream. I told folks where to go and how to get there (oooooh, big surprise). I wielded a tape gun for signs. I zipped along the 10 mile route, making sure all was OK. I checked to see which parking lots still had space. I loaned out my tire-levers. I learned a new way to remove my jammed chain from between the chainrings (a screwdriver is your friend).

And finally, I lounged on my bike, ankles crossed and propped on one pedal, munching on a fantastic lunch and listening to live music. Sea otters dine while floating on their backs and I suppose recumbent trikers can too.

The pink blob in the center (upper) of the pic is Moi, lounging and dining

The event was a huge success, with over 60 people registering the day of, and hundreds pre-registered. I saw folks with looooooooooooong strips of raffle tickets draped around their necks. There were some very very nice items for both the raffle and the auctions. Like a trio of sweet cruisers!

Multiple bike groups in colorful jerseys and bicycle business were there, a handful of wild photographers (I tried to avoid them). We even had at least one person ask what was going on and then sign up to ride on the spot!
This picture does not really convey the Massive Crowd we had.

I had a chance to chat with Matt and his family for a little bit.
Matt's the right-most fellow in the foreground group

No pictures by me, since 6am (when I left the house) was far to early for me to remember such mundane things. Photos here are from one of the organizer's facebook page.

Three or more rides planned for the rest of the month.

08 June 2011

Up, up and Away!

Ride #81
Wednesday, June 8th

9 miles around town

I finally decided it is past time to conquer the hill that starts at the bottom of our driveway. So I threw the beast in granny gear and huffed and puffed my way up and out of the subdivision.

Then I made my way over to the public library for a couple of books, turned around and came home. I'm still chicken down the big hill. Even the little hill I reach 20mph easily from a dead stop, just coasting. If only our road did not end at an intimidating orange and white stripped barrier. I might be willing to not brake all the way down.

So, today's rant is about the budget. First off, will California even have a budget by the June deadline? Then, there is the impact of the economy and so on on local services.
A wheel-killing pothole. No, I did not kill a wheel today, but not for lack of trying. I really do not remember seeing so many cracks and fissures in the road last year. More weeds, less maintenance .

However, I did get to ride in a construction zone. A first for me.

Then there's the public library hours. What was I doing coming home at noon from the library? Because it opens at 10am only a few days a week. Other days it is open at 1pm, even warmer. Bah.
Damn kids, get off my lawn! Ok. I'm done now.

A few more rides this week - maybe even a ride in the dark?! I'm still considering that one.

Library bike parking.

06 June 2011

Rain and Redemption

Ride #80
Monday, June 6th

Just shy of 10 miles in soggy boggy froggy Roseville

My sweetie and I tried to bike part of this trail a month ago or so and gave up. I blame the donuts.

So today I went out and did it up proper, starting at the staging area for the benefit rides next Sunday. I'm a ride leader for the short easy ride, so I figured I'd better figure it out before I played Pied Piper on Sunday.
I did take an unnecessary ride up to Orvietto, but eventually realized that Google Maps calls ALL the trail Miner's Ravine, when the part that parallels Stone something is actually (on the ground, anyway) called False Ravine trail.
I suppose I could submit a correction.
I'd rather whinge.

I raced a squirrel, rang my bell, did plenty of shifting, and generally had a good time. The skies were dark and threatening, the asphalt was nice and damp, there were puddles to zip through and burbling creeks to admire.
Yes, it is June in California, but no-one told the weather gods that. It only actually rained when I was in the car.

This is a cute little trail with many small rises. It is generally uphill from Linda so the return trip was generally downhill. There were some dog walkers and joggers, and a few other cyclists.

Mechanically, everything was splendid. I was relieved, since last week I had taken off the chain, cleaned everything, and reassembled it. I figured I was doing OK since there were no parts left over. I have this history of taking things apart and failing utterly to get them together again (take that, infinitive!).
I had decided to change to a dry wax lubricant. I was getting really tired of grease tattoos on everything. I picked T-9 from the many options available. I was half expecting the shifting to be noisy or clunky with this lube but it was fine.

If you even need to clean a chain tube out, just find a trombone player (I am one in a houseful of them), borrow the cleaning rod, cut some "green meany" scrub pads in strips, locate a bucket and some Simple Green cleaner and it get busy! Stuff a strip of green meanie in the slot in the cleaning rod and start swabbing, dosing the scrubber with Simple Green and rinsing in the bucket as necessary.

To do a really good job of cleaning the cassette and chainring, I should have disassembled them. But I have neither the tools nor the inclination to do so, so I just applied liberal amounts of orange bicycle solvent (no, it does not dissolve orange bicycles or I'd be in a heap of trouble) and 'flossed' in between the rings as best I could. I also sacrificed an old fingernail brush to the cause.

I also declined to remove the derailluer, cleaning that and its rollers in place. You would not believe the globs of black glop that were stuck in there. Some were the size of small dogs! Really really small subminiature dogs. Ok. the size of mouse skulls? I know, the size of a dime. Which considering there is not that much space in between the rollers is quite a bit. I am interested to see how the wax lube does. Theoretically, it should not pick up nearly the dirt that the old lube did.

I toyed with the idea of taking the chain to the shop to have them clean it, but I rocked it old-school instead with mineral spirits and a couple of glass jars. Yes, I wore rubber gloves. And worked outside. And poured the used spirits into an appropriately labeled tin for future disposal at the hazardous waste place.

It looks like typical June weather ahead, so a ride or two before Sunday's benefit ride.