31 July 2013

Old same

#279 / #85

I think Red Leader had done one complete ride of the Miner's Ravine trail, back when he was riding a diamond frame bike and I was on a Trek hybrid.

Today, we started from the Sculpture Park in Roseville, off of North Sunrise, and rode west to Folsom Road, turned around there, rode back past the Sculpture, and then east, all the way over to Sierra College Blvd, for a ride of about 9 miles.

The high point of the ride was just before Sierra College, where there is a great long loopy switchback down the side of a hill. Great views of totally dry grasslands - part of Roseville's open spaces.

We were tentatively planning to take the False Ravine leg out and back as well, but we decided that we needed a bathroom. We even contemplated trees.
There is no restroom anywhere along the trail. I was kind of hoping for a port a potty at the Sierra College parking area.
So we hightailed it back to the car, quick loaded up the bikes, and stopped in for a $1.79 potty break at the Taco Bell.

It is a nice trail, lots of little entertaining hills and plenty of useful signs directing you to various streets and attractions. Someday I'll stop and check out the grinding rocks.

If you use the search function on the sidebar over there to the right, with "miner's" you will be able to find the other two posts I've made about this trail system in Roseville.

24 July 2013

Like a distant cow-catcher

#278 / #84

Red Leader and I chose to beat the heat today by riding in the evening.

We set out about 1/2 hour before sunset and arrived back at the car about 1/2 hour after sunset. About 10 miles on Folsom's twisty bike paths.

It is remarkably hard to see twilight-colored peds and ninja bikers (no lights at all) and bunny rabbits in the dark. I liked the joggers who had reflective strips on their shoes. Them, I could see. Everyone else? Well, let's just say I didn't actually hit anyone, but some are probably tucked up in bed dreaming about trail-side UFO encounters.

Red Leader charged ahead, unbothered by his increasingly dim headlight (year old batteries, that - when we finally figured out how to open the compartment at home, were somewhat corroded.) He may be part cat.

I scurried along behind, staying far enough back that I was not blinded by his taillight, hoping that my reflex of looking at people when I say hi was not blinding them due to the little CREE LED flashlight on my helmet. I'm more on the bat side of things.

I had my trike-mounted B&M headlight and the flashlight on my helmet, and a B&M 'senso' tailight and a Cherry Bomb taillight (the one you can see for a mile in perfect conditions). All I need now is a bunch of reflective striping and maybe some amber down-lights on the frame. Yeah!

Speaking of reflective: the sidewalls on RL's tires were quite visible anytime he was not dead straight ahead of me. And his taillight has a sort of wrap around on the sides, so it was visible from the side of the trike, although not as bright as from the rear.

My headlight has a thin strip of the lens cover on the sides and top of the light. I can just reach the power/selection button while sitting in the seat (I can even click it while rolling along). The slight wrap-around of the lens cover is great, since I can see if the light is off or on high or low without unclipping. I am not bothered at all by "foot flash" (intermittent but regular reflections of the light off one's shoes or cranks.)

I used the seat-stay clamp provided with the Cherry Bomb taillight. I have it clamped to one of my headrest's stems. It is hard to get the clamp tight enough so the light does not end up illuminating my trunk bag. I have another piece of rubber shim. I'll see if that is enough to stop it wiggling out of position.

The cheap flashlight stuck to my helmet is great. It is not as bright as the headlight, but it is enough to light up the edge of the trail. It lights up what I look at. Wonderful for curves, and warning off cars at intersections.

I eventually stopped and repositioned my headlight. since I finally realized that I wanted to look about 4 feet in front of it, where it was still dark! Positioned correctly, it did a fine job of creating a nice long puddle of light in front, with a little bit left over for the trees on the sides of the trail.

I do not plan on riding on the roads at night, probably even when I get those down-lights. Nevertheless (I love using that word) I will see about adding some reflective stripes to my jersey's sleeves, so my signalling is visible.

I tried too many leg exercises at the gym earlier this week, and my knees are quite sore now. So I'll stay off the bike for a week or maybe two (boo hoo!) See you then!

21 July 2013

Pinecone Croquet

#277 / #83

The monthly ride around Lake Natoma was today. We had 13 cheerful and speedy riders. We were done at 11am, well before the heat of the day.

It is always good to see old faces. Three people who came on the ride today I have not seen since they were on this route a year ago or more. New riders to the group were two, one showed, one no show. Average for the new riders.

I swept the ride as I always do, except for the very end where I strive to lead.
There is an art to keeping a bunch of diamond frame riders moving slowly enough the group bunches up (important for not missing turns) while moving fast enough they also stay upright.
One of the riders (who is now an event host for the group), I'll call him Mr. Mohawk, threatened a trackstand. I was too busy pedaling up a hill to look behind and see if he had. I'm thinking he did.

At one point, along the trail on the north side of the lake, there was an enormous pinecone in the middle of my lane of the trail. And there was a fellow pushing his bike along the shoulder. I think he may have been scouting for blackberries. I did not think there was enough room to squeeze between Mr. Blackberry and the 'cone, so I went to the left of the cone. Not quite far enough left, since my right front wheel sent the pinecone shooting in to the bushes. I hope it did not hit Mr. B.

I spent most of the time today behind one of the long-lost returnees, who had gotten her bike (neglected for a year) checked out by a local branch of a big chain bike store - starting with a P and ending in ce. Anyway, halfway through the ride, her sweetheart determined that her tires were underinflated, and I suspect her seat could go up 1/4 inch or more.
I guess what I'm saying here is double check the work a bike shop does. Your comfort and safety depend on it. And if you don't know enough about your bike to doublecheck, learn! It is good for your brain and ego.

In other news, I shredded a tire and Red Leader has a different idler.

On Friday, between this ride and the last one, I pulled the bikes out for lubing and tightening. Tighten the things that are not supposed to move and lube the things that are, that's my method.

This is what my rear tire looked like.

The first image is with a fully inflated tube and the second with no tube. Yeouch.

I have no clue what made it do that, aside from some nasty trail debris. So I shot down to Laid Back Cycles in Fair Oaks (my usual shop is not open on Fridays) and picked up the second to the last 20" Scorcher they had.
If I had had the trike with me, I might have tried some other - tougher - tire on the rear, but I have a non-standard rim back there and I need to educate myself about the size tires it will accept, and which tires that will fit in the frame back there with a fender in the way.

Red Leader's idler (stock with his Gekko trike) has about 1000 miles on it and is a year old. It was rapidly approaching octagon-shaped from wear.
His idler is on the left, a less worn one on the right.

Holes right through the surface the chain runs on!

Fortunately, I have my slightly used idler from my Scorpion (exactly the same idler) so we stuck that one on and stood around admiring the neat holes in the old one.
You cannot put a Terracycle toothed idler on a Gekko if you plan to fold it. The chain is designed to twist with the fold and a helpful fellow on Bentrideronline reminded me that is not compatible with the Terracycle product.
Both of our HP Velotechink trikes fold, but mine Scorpion is not a flat fold, meaning my rear wheel sticks up when folded, while Red Leader's Gekko IS a flat fold, so hence the twist. So I have a Terracycle idler and RL will never have one. So sad.

We might go check out some trails in Roseville later this week. CU

17 July 2013


#276 / #82

Ugh. Stupid digestion.

I turned around after 4 miles today because my stomach was upset. I don't know why, sometimes it just does this.

And to top it off (except this was before, so should it be top it on? or bottom it off? Or what? Anyway...) I had a flat. Right front, a seam in the tube gave way. Not worth patching. The metal collar-thing to fill in the hole in the rim from Schrader to Presta works fine in the HP Velotechnick rims. So now I'm running with 2 Presta tubes and 1 Schrader.

But, insult to injury, the collar on the pump head of my little Topeak Road Morph pump is AWOL. I can get a replacement collar. Fortunately, we were at the car still so I had a choice of Red Leader's little pump or our floor pump that knocks around in the car. I went for the floor.

So, by the time I got to Hagen Park and told Red Leader I was going to turn around, I was a trifle cranky. What, Me!? Cranky? Whodathunk.

So I signaled left turn and a pack of female roadies looked like they were going to ignore my signal and pull out into me. So I said, "Turning!" with a little emphasis. And the lead roadie said, "Oh, you're turning!" And I said, "Yes, that's what the arm was. Weird, huh?" Just a little bit of sarcasm there.

I hope Sunday's ride isn't called due to heat. I might sneak out some morning and see if I can top Red Leader's brand new 14mph average speed record for our Sunrise/WmPond run.

14 July 2013

Twelve and one half times Two

#275 / #81

Red Leader and I used one of Alphabent's twice monthly workshops as an excuse to ride down to Sacramento from William B. Pond park. We were the only attendees, so I'm glad we did. It is 12.5 (or .4) miles from William Pond to the shop on C Street. Not too hot in the morning, but kind of bothersome around noon. It was 92 today. That's about my limit for riding in heat.

I wrapped up for the ride back in bright red sun blocking leggings, a sunblocking neck gaiter pulled up over my cheeks and ears, and my lightweight longsleeved bright yellow shirt. Red Leader reapplied his sunscreen.

I drank a bottle of water on the way down, a bottle of electrolyte solution while hanging around the shop, then the same thing on the way back, with the electrolyte finished off in the car. I did use the last 1/2 pint of water in my bottle for pouring over my head at the end of the ride to wash some of the sweat out of my hair and keep it from dripping in my eyes.

I decided, after talking to H at Alphabent, to forgo replacing my rear cassette just yet. I will spend the next few months concentrating on my middle chain ring and the higher gears in back - less worn. H advised that I let it all go until I just can't stand it anymore, then replace things.

We learned a lot about "exotic gearing" today: Roloff, Schumph, continuous variable transmissions. Neat.

I picked up some gorilla tape to stick my rear fender back together.

Make do and Mend, that's my style.

13 July 2013

Parkway Promenade


Today was the once-monthly easy-peasy ride through Folsom's bike paths. The Local Folsom Resident referred to them as the Parkway. I like that. I'm keeping it.

I had 2 1/3 no shows (one no show also did not bring his +1 so I'm counting that as 1/3 for no reason that I can justify). I warned people before the ride not to take the corners too fast since you'd never know what was around them. And indeed I, in the lead, did NOT clobber a todder, and did NOT slalom into a small dog, and did NOT bash into a bike (on the wrong side of the path).

It was 75 when we left and 80 when we came back. Sunny, a little hazy, not much breeze to speak of. The water is very low and there have been two fires in the last couple of weeks on the Parkway trails, according to The Local Folsom Resident.

I stopped by Alphabent after the ride (I drove down to Sacramento) to pick up the new OEM waterbottle adapter and cages for my mesh seat. They turned out not to work as my water bottles are very tall. Or maybe the cages were installed on the mounts upside down. I'll float that idea by Hugh when I see him next. Anyway, I didn't take the new cages.

While I was there, I asked H to check the wear on my rear cassette with his nifty homemade wear checker. It is time for a new cassette - the middle range of gears are very worn. Or at least to replace the worn cogs. A new cassette is 135. Ouch.

Rubber side down, helmet side up. CU

12 July 2013

Mumbles and the Speed-Freak

Thursday, 11 July

#273 / #80

I'll tell you, trying to drink from a water bottle with a bite valve is no fun after having three fillings replaced. I'm a wimp and require numbing for dental work beyond cleanings.  I had no idea how often I took sips of water while riding along, especially while trying to keep up with Red Leader, who was on FIRE yesterday. So I would slow way down, unscrew the bottle's top, and glug. Then try to catch up Red Leader.

Catching up was problematic also, since some of my hip flexors (muscles that pull your thigh to your torso - and that NEVER happens on a recumbent, no no) were tired from a 6 1/2 mile hike two days before. Most of the power I produce comes from the push stroke, but some does come from the pull. I figure about 2mph. Also, not being able to pull back as much put more pressure on my feet. So, if you are new to riding and the bottoms of your feet are always sore or numb, take heart! It will just take some time to develop those pulling muscles.

Also it was hot and a little windy.

But I had fun And 'cycling helped the numbness depart faster, so I could almost drink from the bottle on the way back.

Red Leader finally got Strava working on his phone (he had to kill the app and reboot, the invoke the app again) and, even though I lagged behind him quite a bit, Strava still recognized that we were on the same ride.
So at dinner he started comparing our times on the segments. Some he has a faster time on (segments with lots of curves, since I'm a bit cautious) and some I do (uphills - especially the River Pond Park Bridge segment, where somehow I managed a 1:18 time at some point in the past and his was significantly slower than that. Neener neener.

Easy peasy ride tomorrow with the Casual Riders and then who knows!

07 July 2013

Together, again

#272 / #79

Red Leader and I rolled out around 9:30am (early for him, late for me) for a lovely ride on the American River Trail

It was crowded today with bikers and walkers, as crowded as I would have expected it before the speedlimit crackdown of a few weeks ago. There were some fast-moving clumps of riders, generally in matching gear, as well as the usual assortment of 2-wheeled recumbents (3 or 4) and one other trike. 

I didn't see a single ranger on our 12 mile ride.

I got to show off my chain-breaking skills when Red Leader bent a link on his chain, and we had half a dozen "need help?" from passersby as we were repairing it. I am now out of master links so I need to pick up three more pairs. I started out with three pair almost 3 years ago.

The clearance in a chain tube is not much more than the width of an untroubled chain, so when a link gets kinked, or bent, or broken, the chain will hang up in the tube. Now, I'm sure someone more knowledgeable than I could tell you more, but I can tell you that if you have such a link, generally the chain will loop down below your boom, and sometimes work itself right off any chain ring in front, as the chain does not want to feed through the return tube. Which is what happened to Red Leader today.

And when the chain did its loopy thing, the chain tube dropped low enough that it scooped up a lot of dirt (Red Leader had pulled off the pavement at this point). So I'd advise not filling up your chain tubes with dirt. It makes it even harder to get the chain to move through the tube.

RL lifted the trike so the rear wheel cleared the ground, and I sat and turned the pedals forward, trying to get the chain to move. Then we figured out that I should be turning it backwards, since forwards was just jamming dirt further into the tubes. A lot of dirt came out when we reversed directions, as well as the now thoroughly distressed and nearly falling apart link. 

I carry a large, heavy chain tool because I know how to use it and I like to stick with what I know during something mildly stressful like trail-side repairs. I popped the pin out, and fished around in my bag for the master links, got them to snap together after only two tries, and we carefully ran the chain around the trike once to look for any more unhappy links.

Then back on the trail and to our starting point.

I use a couple of 35mm film cans to hold things like master links, the cotter pins I use for keeping slack in the chain when I need to work on a link, spare cleats, random screws and other little items. Any small container would do. 

I also have 3 tubes, a patch kit, tire levers and a kool stop bead jack (I have trouble getting the tire over the rim sometimes), a pair of pliers, a spoke wrench, a pocket knife, some short pieces of spare chain, and a copy of all the torque specifications for my trike. I keep all that in an old, single-pocket waist pack. 

The fanny pack and my pump (which is too long to fit in the fanny pack) ride in a small canvas bag strapped to the side of my rear rack. The bag zips open, so I can just grab the pack and start flinging tools around. If I'm using both large panniers, I can take the pack and pump and put them in my trunk bag.   

Well, didn't I go on and on today.

04 July 2013

Dawn Patrol


Another pre-dawn departure for me. This time I did the Lake Natoma loop, north to south. That probably means nothing to you unless you are a Sacramento/Folsom local, so I'll just say that the north side has fewer trees, meaning the incipient dawn-glow would help me see, and the south side has more trees, giving me some tree-cover when the sun has come up.

I saw one bike in the 5 miles of the north shore, 3 bikes in a group charging up the Hazel bridge, and a handful of riders and joggers and walkers-of-dogs on the south side.

My overall average was 10 miles per hour, I guess I don't go as fast in the dim.

I didn't take any pictures this time, but I did go add a picture (quite pretty) of the sunrise on the previous post. So go look there.

The bathrooms at the Folsom parking garage were still not unlocked when I rode back to the car at 7:36am, so I loitered a bit until Karen's opened at 7am, where I feasted on fresh orange juice and a yummy peach/ginger scone.

It is supposed to start cooling off, so I hope Red Leader and I can get out for an afternoon/evening ride some time soon.

I ran the Strava app, and noticed another segment that has been user-flagged as hazardous. I'm not sure how I feel about this process. When a segment has been ridden and recorded by over 1000 riders over 5000 times (or some absurd numbers like those) I don't see how it suddenly becomes hazardous. Of course, I'm not sure how long Strava has been allowing users to flag segments that way.

The consequence of hazard flagging is no more leaderboard for that segment (you can't compare your times to others') but you can still see your own efforts on the segment.

Another kerfluffle with Strava is the "non-traditional bicycle" thing. There is some language in a user guide on their site that tries to discourage riders from logging rides (that would  appear on leaderboards) with non-trad bicycles.

Well, I'm not even a bicycle, but a tricycle. It seems to me they are attempting, rightly, to eliminate fairings, electric or other powered assists, and aerodynamic modifications from messing with the leaderboard rankings.

Here's part of the text from Strava's site:
"The Segment Leaderboards for cycling are a place for conventional bicycles only, so that the top Segment rankings are not taken by unattainable, motor-assisted times or from bicycles with modifications including wind fairings or other means of minimizing drag.

Uploading data from a car, motorcycle, e-bike, motor-assisted bike, motor-paced ride or any bicycle that includes any non-human propulsion or pedal-assisted force, and categorizing the activity as a "Ride" displaces data uploaded from a human-powered bike, thus conflicting with the fairness and integrity of the Segment Leaderboards."

And here's a link to the full article.

The firehouse lawyers among the recumbent community are quick to point out that recumbents are not specifically named in this article. Also, Strava customer support personnel are not consistent in interpreting this guideline. Some recumbent riders on  bentrideronline have reported Strava CS supporting their recumbent-ridden leaderboard standings, while other brol members have had CS state that their ride will retain the flagging since their leaderboard standing was attained with a recumbent.

They will also point out that this guideline could be read to disallow aero bars, time trial bikes, and wheel coverings - all non-uncommon additions to 'conventional' bicycles.

Strava needs to sort this out.

I would suggest that they do several things: specifically exclude non-faired recumbent bikes and trikes and quads from the unconventional bicycle label (sorry, velomobiles!) and support more bicycle types (like recumbent) and finally to allow filtering by bicycle type (for all I know bike type filters are in place now, but because recumbent is not a category it is useless to me).

Well, that was longwinded. I suppose I'll see if I can find their facebook page and post all this there.

Here's to cooler weather!

02 July 2013

Bunny hop


It is hot hot hot here. Like triple digits. So I dragged myself out of bed at 4am, walked the dog, and hit the trail at 5am.

It was nice, about 75 degrees and no sun beating down on my head.

Lots of wildlife: deer (with and without antlers), jack rabbits, and cottontails. For some reason, the cottontails like to hang out on the trail. So every once in a while, a piece of the trail would leap up and hop away. At least, that's what it looked like in the pre-dawn dim. I also raced a jackrabbit. I won.

I used my B&M headlight and just the plain non-blinking tail light (also B&M). I need to remember how to adjust the headlight so it is lighting up the trail instead of the shrubs and trees (set for street riding, not trail riding).

I had with me a small CREE flashlight and a replacement Cherry Bomb tail light (replacing the one I lost a few years ago). I didn't take the time to attach either one before my ride. I just wanted to RIDE! Not futz around with lights.

After my ride, I worked out a possible attachment of the flashlight to my helmet (so I have a light that points where I look), using a Twofish block, and discovered that the new version of the Cherry Bomb comes with a seat-stay clamp that perfectly fits on my headrest. I want my second tail light as high as possible on the trike so this will be perfect.

When I got home, I checked all the batteries with the voltmeter and charged up the low ones. Now I'm all ready for another dawn patrol!