Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Long Version

Life in Southern California is good. We're a third of the way into November and the weather is a perfect mid 70F. Better yet, we're lucky enough to have fantastic bike riding relatively close by in every direction. The SoCal Rivendell gang tries to get together monthly throughout the year, but has been pretty busy and unable to meet up since the Spring. Luckily things are slowing down a bit, and some rides are getting set up. For the November ride, we were hoping to get 10 or so riders, but between work, illness/injuries and familial obligations, ended up with half that. Interestingly, five different counties were represented, LA, OC, SD, SB and Ventura. A true Southern California experience! No Riverside people, suck on that 951!

We staged just outside the community of Silverado Canyon. Fantastic rural area in the foothills of the Santa Ana coastal range. There were a lot of cyclists out on the roads leading here, maybe some sort of a time trial event going on plus a lot of club riders. But most of them had skinny tires and had to turn around once the dirt started. I'm sure they were much faster than us on the tarmac though!

From the start, it's a pleasant tree-covered ride through town and to the trail head of Maple Springs in the Cleveland National Forest. Maybe 10 cars or so parked there. The paved road narrows but is still open to traffic at this point. It's pretty unrelenting climbing. I don't know the grade, not mellow but not terrible. Any steeper and it would become unpleasant. The pavement stopped at about the five mile mark (can't help it, I like knowing!) and then mostly smooth fire road. Some sections with large rocks, but no sand, washouts or gravel. There is no place I'd rather be than riding on fire roads, so at this point of the ride I was just in heaven.

The temperature dropped as we climbed, and I was under dressed with just a wool jersey. Not cold enough to put on my jacket and too lazy to put on arm warmers. The vegetation began to change from huge live oak and chaparral to smaller oaks with a lot of manzanita and now pine trees. Another five miles of fire roads to the saddle at the intersection of Maple Springs, Harding Truck Trail and the Main Divide trail. VERY windy and chilly here as the Santa Ana's were blowing and whipping right through here.

Some observations: With the 3+ million people living in Orange County, we only saw 30 or so up in the mountains that are 10 miles away from their houses. And half of those 30 were yahoos riding around in jacked up 4X4s.

This ride had a 20% female contingent, a new high for a Rivendell Ride.

It also had 80% of the bikes being Rivendell product, another new high!

The pace of the ride was perfect for me, and I hope everyone else. The above-mentioned climb wasn't really that bad, it was tough not knowing when it would end and how to pace myself. The downhill was absolutely perfect. Came down the Harding Truck Trail which is ironically closed to trucks and motor vehicles. Was able to open it up for 10 miles of uninterrupted downhill!

What worked:
-Platypus collapsible bags. Rob recommended these and they work great for bringing extra water!
-40mm tires. Just perfect. My Contis and Jenn's 650b tires gave ZERO problems. That said, the smallest tires were 33.3mm and they seemed to work out fine as well.
-Well thought out country bikes! I can't imagine not having a bike like this. Combining the best of mountain and road bikes in one package. Who woulda' thunk it?
-Silverado Cafe! GREAT little restaurant, with inexpensive good food and beer!

What didn't work: Ha, tricked you, everything worked perfectly! THANKS to the folks that showed up. Rob and Jenny both had to drive from a way out, so hope they got their money's worth! Good meeting you all in the flesh and hope we can ride some more soon!

Next month is a ride out of LA in the Santa Monica mountains, Dirt Mulholland. This is one of the best mixed surface rides in SoCal, so be there or be square!

Full set of pix on flickr.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Two Days on the SART

Long-time readers will notice a dearth of postings over the last few months. I'm done complaining about my LBS, obsessing on tires, and thinking liberal politics. Now it's time to talk about riding bikes!

Two days riding back to back on opposite ends of the Santa Ana River Trail was fantastic. It brings out the best of living in the Inland Empire! Luckily a (record) mild summer let me ride to my heart's content. Saturday I had the option of taking a long ride, and planned to ride out the back door to Huntington Beach. That would require a ride home, which was not forthcoming. So I decided to drive half way which is in Corona, and jump on the SART for an out and back ride to the Pacific.
Everything good

And my was that ride marvelous! The on-shore winds were blowing inland, seriously slowing me down. I averaged about 13 mph going to the beach. Ate there, then turned around for a 19 mph ride back to Corona!

The amazing part was a lack of ITB issues in my knee. It's been plaguing me for the last few years, but I think I might have kicked it to the curb! Not even a tinge of it over the 60 mile ride.

Speaking of 60 miles, discussion on the RBW list has led to the creation of a new group, Les Metriques. It's purpose is to promote metric century rides. 100 kilometers is just a touch over 60 miles. In my opinion (humbly or otherwise) it's a great length for a long ride. It doesn't take up a ton of time 4-7 hours depending on how fast/fit you are, you don't need a bunch of special bags or lights (or bike!) and it really isn't that fatiguing. Just a real great length of a ride!

So that was day one, on to day two: The dirt portion! Past San Bernardino, the SART is non-existent, or at best just dirt road. Then you get up into the San Bernardino Mountains and it turns into wonderful singletrack trail.

You can hike or ride it from Big Bear down the mountains, but there's a marvelous little portion up in Angelus Oaks. It's close by, cool, and wonderful! I drove the 1/2 it takes to get there and hit the trails! The best part was taking the 8 y.o.! His first extensive amount of single track. He was great. Walked a few sections. Crashed another section. Pedaled the whole way out on the road leading back to the car park. Good times were had by all!
gnarly trail

The purpose of this is let folks know there is some bike culture in SoCal. They can get to a place that is car free, either a nice MUT but the beach, or glorious singletrack up in the mountains. You can even bring a kid along!

That said, what's the hold up? Get out there and ride!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Bike 'servations

I have two Rivendells. A "Road" and an "All Rounder". Same size & dimensions, even built by the same guy (Joe Stark) in the same year (2001). The AR has heavier gauge tubing, but not a whole lot so. It's about seven pounds heavier due to the tubing, a rear rack, triple chainrings & mech, Brooks B17, and 40mm Conti Top Touring 2K tires on Sun CR-18 rims. The Road has downtube shifters on a compact double, ti cassette, ti WTB Deva and Pasela Tourguards (30mm actual) on Open Pro rims (28 spoke front). While the bars are the same (46cm Nitto Dirt Drops), they are about 30mm higher on the AR.

So here's the much-promised 'servatin': I went on back to back rides over two days on these bikes. First on the Road, then the next day on the AR. Same route, a 33 mile out and back that has a pretty consistent grade (THIS is approximately the ride, but a different route back). Both days I was feeling good and had a nice espresso. Priorities!

I don't normally do the time keeping thing, but this was a test. For science.
Road stats: 61 minutes to turn around spot @ 16.6 miles. Return home was 80 minutes (uphill, and tired)
AR stats: 66 minutes to turn around spot. Return was the same at 80 minutes.

Two variables to throw in. I was playing leapfrog with some cyclists on the "Road Day". Finally got tired of it and dropped down and spun past them. I kept up the speed so they wouldn't catch me. Lame, but I was tired of passing/being passed by them cuz' they wouldn't say "hi". Serious.

Second thing is that I ate a snack bar thingie at the turn around today. I may have bonked a little bit on the last little bit the previous day. So possibly my time was artificially faster going down on the Road, and possibly artificially faster returning on the AR.

The conclusion: It appears that for a couple hours of riding, in a non-competitive manner, weight doesn't matter much. Again, this was only 30+ miles, by myself and no real hills. I was just as comfortable on both bikes, which is a big factor. I sure love the way the Road feels, but am having a hard time justifying keeping them both!

A kewl aside: another roadie who didn't want to say hi had to stop and dismount to lift his delicate bike over the gate getting off the trail. I simply road around the gate on the pea gravel and kept on going. Fat tires sure are nice!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Found: The Perfect Kid Bike

Unfortunately is hasn't been sold since Al Gore won the vote for President.

Buying a capable kid's bike is difficult if you're an a opinionated cyclist. You want your kids to have a bike that's similar to your tastes and what you believe is the best style. For me this is steel with no suspension (rigid) with 24" wheels and a pretty low standover. Good luck finding that on the current market. There are lots of nice bikes available at your LBS, but none with the above features that I'm aware of. Big Box Bikes aren't really apropos to this conversation.

So let me suggest you look for a Trek 220. They still make them, and they're good bikes, but they are aluminum and have suspension forks. Why a bike meant for a 60 pound kid needs suspension is beyond me. But I digress. The 220 has a "boy" and a "girl" frame, which are completely alike except the girl frame has about two inches of extra standover. That's actually a pretty cool feature as long as your male-spawn doesn't freak over riding a GIRL'S BIKE.

almost a big kid bike

What I'm recommending is finding a used one. They're steel, have tons of adjustability in fit and are well made in Taiwan. Parts are pretty low-end, but well-enough made that you can adjust them. SRAM shifters, Altus front derailer, no-name rear, seven-speed freewheel hubs, alloy rims and bars, good tires. Tektro brakes, in particular, are really good. They'll lock up the front wheel and toss your kids if they aren't used to hand brakes (ask me how I know).

at least one crash on it

So the key is to trawl Craigslist to find a good one. It's gonna' be used of course, but for the most part these sturdy bikes are hard to abuse. That, and unfortunately, most kids don't really ride their bikes a whole bunch :-(

The minimum saddle height from the ground is approximately 26 inches, so your kiddo needs to be able to straddle that. At least until they figure out they can lean the bike over in order to put a foot down. My five and seven year olds are the same height, so technically can both fit this bike. That extra two years of bike handling comes in very useful as the seven y.o is much more comfortable. The five y.o. is kinda' freaked by the extra size and mass and doesn't like riding. Luckily there is a nice 20" bike that needs to get used for a few more years!

Speaking of wheel size, the 24" wheels are amazingly better at rolling over curbs and obstacles compared to a 20" wheel. A huge jump in performance and capability. It's the 29er of the kid-bike world!

I've still got my eye out for a Kona Jake 24, which is probably the best all-around kid bike out there, but good luck with finding that! Let me know if there are other similar bikes out there, particularly a 24" cross bike!

Update: Trek has a similar model, the 200 that is currently being sold. Looks like it could be a nice bike! Also, I've been able to get a Redline Conquest 24, which is a full 10 lbs lighter (The only unmentioned downside to the 220 is that it weights in at 30lbs!). The Redline also lacks the small triple chainring, which my kids use a lot when we're out on trails. Tire availability might be a problem later on as well.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Saturday, April 24, 2010

There is no God but Chuck D. and Flavor Flav is his Prophet

Unfortunately, this song is as timely as ever. Arizona continues to be the laughingstock of the nation. First they fought MLK day, now they're after folks wearing the wrong kind of shoes. But no, not racial profiling. Just don't have brown skin and/or speak Spanish (chances are the Irish are ok this time).

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Where does your bike come from?

So we have this ever-expanding, intertwined and interdependent global economy thing, right. It gets complicated, even for something as simple as buying a bike. Some manufaturers wave the flag of their respective country, but then get their parts made somewhere in Asia for cheap. Well that's lame. Be upfront and don't try to hide/minimize where your product is made. Here's a nice guide to finding out where bikes are made in case you want to know:

I admit, I like buying U.S. built bikes and parts. NOT because of quality, as Asian bikes and parts are top notch. Instead, I think there is something to be said for supporting manufacturing jobs here in The States. That's gotta' be a good thing in my book!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care Reformed

The real star is Nancy Pelosi for getting the 216 votes from the wild herd of cats.
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is hard to accomplish if you lose your house to cancer.

Yes we can (again)!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ridin' 'round the city

Big plans to ride 60+ miles around L.A. Original plan was to take Metrolinke out and meet up at the Metro station at Wilshire/Vermont. Well, laziness prevailed so I drove and picked up Andy. Made it out lickety-split and found great parking - always the key to any adventure in L.A. Headed out from Koreatown, where the signs are all in Korean but the pedestrians are all Mexican.
down vermont

Down Vermont through the not so nice parts of town. Amazing was having all the kids out waving and cheering for you as you ride the street. Kids and the crazies talking to themselves at the bus stops. They cheered also.

So 20 or so miles into I get that not so fresh feeling in my left knee. Damn, IT band pain. Week before was 40 miles no problem-o, but now, maybe not stretching enough pre-ride, faster pace, not resting during the ride causes it to REALLY start hurting.

Head to Lynwood and the LA River Trail, which we hop on for another 10 miles or so. BRUTAL headwind the whole way. Great to see a lot of folks using the trail on bikes, on foot and surprisingly on horse!
rural living

Make a right and head into Wilmington, the industrial underbelly of the Southland. Nice neighborhood right in the middle of it.

bikes are fun!

Left that area and headed to the wooded glens of Palos Verdes and Rolling Hills Estates. I was surprised as it was definitely an older money/smaller house sort of place than I was expecting. Nice ride through there, although going up Palos Verdes Drive North about did me in with my stupid knee :-(

Dropped down to Redondo Beach then on to Hermosa for a lunch break. Good snack stop there (pretty good beach pizza) and split the group as I just couldn't pedal any more. Sucked as I knew I didn't have that far to go to get back. Oh well. Rode over to the Redondo metro stop, then trained back to downtown.
bikes only

And what do you know, my car was still there!

Thanks to Seth, Rick, Ron for putting it together. John, James and Andy for coming out and going for a ride!

More pics!

Ricks' take on the day.

Basic map of my portion.

1962 Le Tour

This is a really well put together period piece from the '62 TdF. Forwarded to my by all-around great guy Aaron. Seems like doping was a big deal, just as today. But then they didn't pee-test you, you simply died from it. Maybe that's a way to fix doping!

I really like watching them search out water and beer. Still carried their own tires for roadside repair as well. Yeah, that was a bit of a different age...

Here's part one:

and part deux:

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Meta-blog reposting: The Utility Bicycle

This is BRILLIANT! Thanks to Reno Rambler for showing this!!!!!

Friday, January 1, 2010


Wishing you and your's a Merry New Year!

And remember, friends don't like friends vote Republican.

Happy New Year Everybody!