Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Coast

All rides must start somewhere. To get to the start of this ride, I took the BART train to Daly City.

On the train platform, you can see my weapon of choice. Compared to the 1.75" tire, disk brake, and pannier-sporting machines I was to run into 110 miles later, this bike was a poor choice. However, this bike is named "the Red Menace." And that makes all the difference in the world.

Speaking of "the world," here is a picture of a small portion of the world that was visible from my ride:

If you think gas is expensive, the small snack pictured below cost $7.75. And it is nowhere close to being a gallon! Even with the refill on the coffee, I bet it would all fit into my one liter bottle with room to spare. But I did manage to crank out quite a few miles from that fill-up.

I had never see a ghost bike before in real life. Now I have. 

Perhaps it is good to be reminded of the fragility of life at the outset of a long trip.

This is a map of the campground I stayed at in Monterey. I must have been tired because I couldn't find the hiker/biker spots. So I took a picture of the map to consult as I wandered, lost. Eventually, I found my spot. And a lot of bikes better suited to my ride than "the Red Menace."

This is where the joke about Kabuki brand sunscreen goes. Except, I don't have a joke. Just a punchline.

The next two pictures showed me a flaw in Facebook's picture preview feature. Both of these panoramas were previewed with a cropped-to-standard-dimensions image that looked completely stupid. As with widescreen videos, letterbox is the way to go! 

Here, I'm thinking I must have died. Because I was in heaven.

And here.

And again here.

This next picture is one of my favorites. It is Hwy 1 leaving San Simeon Village. I was riding into the rising sun, which made for a less than ideal riding experience. But the photo conveys the sense of quiet, easy, coastal miles that I had felt the night before. Full moon, sound of waves coming from "just over there," flat well-paved road, minimal traffic, cool enough to turn the cranks with ease, gentle breezes. I wish those few hours could have continued.

The moss covered trees just south of Cambria were a treat.

San Luis Obispo was the end of the line for me. Instead of getting on Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner, perhaps I should have walked into this house and made myself at home. Zoom in on the word arching above the door.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

White Boy Be Lazy

No posts in a while.

Perhaps, I haven't had any good subject matter. Well, that will change soon. This Saturday I will start a ride down the Pacific Coast Highway from Daly City. I hope to ride all the way to Oxnard. White Boy best not be lazy with the camera!

Friday, June 22, 2012

It was the Best of Rides; It was the Worst of Rides

It seems like a lifetime ago, already, but it was only five days ago that I was riding on the Tour Divide. I was seeing some of the prettiest country I seen in my life (plus coal mines and clearcuts). I was able to trust the drivers when I was on the road. (Many drivers saw my sleeping bag and gave me a thumbs up!) I had no obligations other than to cover some ground, eat like a deranged hyena, keep myself dry (and failing that, to keep my spare socks and down cardigan, dry). It didn't matter what country I was in, paying with a credit card always worked and I had my passport in case I hit a border.

Haven't even started yet, and it's scenic!

When I did hit a border, it was to enter the US. Which was nice, because the prices are lower here. In Eureka, MT, I filled my bags with junk food, ate an ice cream cone, and paid a paltry $12. So I went back for a $5 footlong sandwich. On the other side of the border, I had just paid $16 for minor restock of beef jerky and nuts!

Life was so simple. And mostly, it was so wonderful. But when it sucked, I can't convey how badly it did.

First off, I had no idea what I was doing. I had ridden with my bike loaded, camped one night, and ridden home. That was my test.

I got cold, but I said, "If I bring gloves, dry socks, a wool beanie and a down cardigan, I should be fine."

On the Tour Divide website, it says to be an experienced bike-packer before signing up. To paraphrase, in the middle of nowhere (and in the middle of a race) is not where you want to discover that you don't like camping after all. This was very good advice that I ignored for two reasons. I was not going to (and I didn't) discover that I don't like camping. But secondly, if it's so darned tough to get a month off work to race the Divide, how was I supposed to get three months off to tour it? The part I didn't realize was that I was missing out on real life experience of improvising when things went wrong. Which made it SO much more stressful when things (inevitably) went wrong.

This is just to say that when I crashed, on the first day of the longest journey of my life, partly due to my own poor judgement, the first time I had ever mountainbiked (or biked at all) in a foreign country, it was devastating. I knew that I could ride on my bent wheels for a while, but that I needed a bike shop. At least I had disk brakes so my wobbly wheels would actually spin! And looking at my route map, the nearest bike shop was 90 miles away (not bad, but 20 of those miles were going off of the route). As soon as I saw a place to spend the night, I did. Let's see how things look in the morning...

Well, in the morning, it was snowing. The snow gave way to rain (which is worse) but the gusty winds persisted. So after making only 30 miles, I was ready to get a room and call it a day. Without getting a room, I wouldn't have a phone to call the bike store. Without calling the bike store, I couldn't be sure of how screwed I was. And besides, I was cold and wet  from having a broken zipper on my raincoat.

I could go on and on. But the reality is that the weather changed, the bike store hooked me up, I spent the night in a very reasonably priced hostel in Fernie, I met a Swedish woman who was touring east to west across Canada on a Surly Long Haul Trucker. I also decided to drop out of the race and take the easier "Fernie alternate" route to Roosville. Once there, I rejoined the route but my race was over. It was a good thing. I was riding the same as before but somehow it seemed easier.

Which one is the Swedish woman, do you suppose?

Once in the US (Roosville was the border), I had a nice climb up to Whitefish Divide. There were patches of snow but not much. And the sun was nice. From there, I knew I'd drop down to the Flathead River, follow that for a bit, and then climb up to a similar pass south of Whitefish Divide. Well, I dropped to the river, saw a bear cub (black, I think), followed the river. By the time I got to the turn to start climbing, the sun had gone down. And the temperature dropped. And conditions were perfect for a climb. The cool air kept me from overheating. I felt like I had just reached my stride. Riding with a light can be sketchy at speed, but at 8-13 mph it was perfect. Plus, there were mosquitoes at the lower altitudes, so a climb was the evening's special!

It was a nice climb--until I hit the snow. Turns out Whitefish Divide is on a south-facing trail. Red Meadow Lake, not so much. Pushing through the snow was not on my agenda for midnight (sun hadn't gone down till 10 and dark came an hour later). So camping it was.

It started raining during the night, so it was a good thing I had been right about the extra clothes being enough to keep me warm. Unfortunately, my morning started with breaking camp in the rain, followed by pushing through snow, followed by riding downhill in the rain. I was not so warm anymore. It was bad enough that when I saw a bathroom I got in just to get out of the rain. And I put on all my dry clothes, and  ate all my food, and waited to see if there might be a break in the rain.

And so it went, alternating good and bad. With the only constant being the eating. Oh, the eating!

I remember eating slices of dry salami as I rode 10 miles to breakfast. Once I located The Hungry Bear (which I highly recommend, btw, just north of Jette Rd on some highway in Montana), I ordered the greasiest thing on the menu--the meat lover's scramble with hash browns and toast. Just to be sure, I ordered some oatmeal, too. The waitress asked if I wanted half-and-half and brown sugar with that. I somehow managed to avoid saying "F'n A" as I answered in the affirmative. But when she brought it, there were also pats of butter. I put three on the oatmeal before pouring the half-and-half on. Just to be sure. And I put sugar in my coffee, which is unlike me. And when I saw all the food spread before me, I couldn't imagine finishing it, but I took one bite after another until the plates were empty and I was putting packets of jam in my jersey pockets (just to be sure) and looking on the map for the next grocery store.

I lost two pounds in a week and a half. And I never even got to the hard parts of the route.

But oh what a journey it was!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Long Division

Well, it's Friday morning and I am done with work for the week. So, besides sleeping, I'll get the bike ready for a ride tomorrow, Sunday, and Monday. With a couple of nights of camping in there. It's my last weekend off for a while, so I plan to enjoy it. Next weekend, I work; after that I go on vacation.

For my summer vacation, I'll ride to Mexico. Unfortunately, I doubt you'll get any pictures from me. There are two reasons. One: someone else already took much better pictures than I can take. You can see them here. Two: I'll be in a hurry. I have to get back to work in early July, and my ride begins with a plane flight to Calgary.

Oh yeah. It's technically a race. Though I have learned one thing about myself: I don't hurry so well just because I'm in a race. Failing to plan adequate time, however, gets me to hurry pretty well. So that is what I have done. If I don't make my quota of miles for the day, I'm flirting with dropping out just to avoid getting fired!

Wish me luck! I'll do my best to avoid hypothermia, grizzlies, heat stroke, rattlesnakes, and probably some other stuff. When you see me in July, I'll have a story or two to tell.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Wouldn't it be nice...

...if every day ended like this? 
...if I didn't look so goofy?

...if I heard these sounds every time I went to bed?

...if I always had my girl at my side?

...if I could start every road ride here?

...if this little guy wouldn't look at me like this?

For getting a flat right off the bat!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Love My Commute?

So, I've been commuting to work on my mountain bike whenever I can. It's an easy way to add miles to my week. But honing my route has been a long process. I live in Pomona and work in Santa Fe Springs. I liked going over Fullerton Rd/Harbor Blvd, but too many drivers didn't want to share the road for my taste. I liked the bike lanes and/or wide lanes on Colima Rd. But the elevation profile was less challenging and the scenery left much to be desired. Pathfinder Rd was really nice, but I thought it was just a way to get to Harbor Blvd.

Well, it turns out continuing from Pathfinder to East and West Roads via Fullerton Rd is possible, difficult, and beautiful. As if that trinity of qualities wasn't enough, I can even ride partway on dirt. This dirt:

Nicer than Florence & Norwalk...

While, I'm pretty good at finding places to heed nature's call, why not plan a route with a nice park and clean bathrooms at the midpoint?

Feed Zone...

It's obvious that I'm showing pictures of the nice parts of the ride in the middle, and leaving out the less scenic termini. What is less obvious is the fact that this photo was taken from Grand Ave in the City of Industry. Not what I usually expect from that city...

Where's the beef? On my commute!

I'm still perfecting my route, but it will never be set in stone. Depending upon how I feel and how much time I have, I can always do some extra climbing and descend Schabarum Trail through the park of the same name. And one time I took Colima as a cop-out route when I was tired. Even after knowing the other alternatives...

Saturday, March 31, 2012


...have never bothered me. This two-footer was sunning himself on Johnson's Pasture fireroad. They always seem to lay perpendicular to the road, so watch out. You wouldn't want to hit one!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Bike Ride...

I finally took some pictures. Therefore, a blog post must be on the way. I tend to feel like I wasn't doing work if I stopped a lot on my ride. Which makes it hard to take pictures. Which makes it hard to post. And I am trying to remedy that, so...

Must be going the right way because the sign says so...

From now on, I won't think of it as stopping to take pictures. I'm going to call it "intervals." All the kinesthesiologists tell me that I need to do intervals if I want to progress. They tell me that resting is work. Hard work.

Signs of incipient precipitation...

So to make the work of resting bearable, I'll bring a camera. Like the way people bring iPods to the gym.

And signs of recent precipitation...

Perhaps someone out there is a photographer who uses a mountain bike to step away from the viewfinder every now and then. If so, we could ride and take pictures together. And it would be hard to tell which one of us is resting at any given time. : p

My riding buddy.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sunrise on West Fork

No matter what time it is, the sun won't rise until you get to this bend in the road. At least that's true if you are more than two miles in from the road. If you find yourself waking up on the river, as I did recently, you will be in shadow.

My, that's a fine looking bike!

As I headed out towards Hwy 39, I came to an unusual spot where there is land between the road and the river. And a lone picnic table. And most unusually, sun. Suddenly, the picnic table which had seemed so out of place and alone before, made sense. It sits in one of only two spots you might want to sit and warm up. The other spot is similar...

Dam looks as thirsty as I feel!

Once you get out to Hwy 39, there is plenty of sun. Maybe not so much water, but plenty of sun.