Archive for bicyclez

New Ride: A Beamer!

Oh yeah, check me out with my Beamer!

http://adventuresinmissingthepoint.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/beamer.jpg?w=275&h=461

I found this abandoned frame* at the library one night.  I was very excited to find it since it is a perfect freestyle BMX frame (for my needs).  I looked around for parts, but I decided the cheapest route would be to buy another bike for parts.  I luckily found a broken bike on craigslist for $15.  I felt bad physically taking a kid’s bike, but they thought $15 was fair and so I took them up on it.

*Technically, it was a frame, handlebars, cranks, pedals, and a front wheel.

The total cost was $62, which isn’t the cheapest rebuild.  I splurged on an expensive tail light ($28) and on a new chain from my local bike shop ($16).  The light is the nicest tail light on the market and the expense of the chain is due to my impatience (or oversight) at almost being complete with the project and needing a 1/2″ chain.  I decided to only put a front brake on, for simplicity since that is most of the braking power.

Mid-project, dre asked me why I swapped the abandoned BMX bike’s handlebar for the broken bike’s handlebar.  I told her, in complete honesty, that I didn’t like the dent in the handlebar from the spray-painted bike.  A nice memory resulting from the ridiculousness of the context.

I really like riding a BMX, or “Beamer,” around town so this was a fun project.  As an added bonus, dre likes riding on the pegs so this will likely be our bar/bus bike.

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Rewards for the Cyclists

There’s a management idea of push versus pull.  I like to think of it as:

  • Push: “You better finish that ____, or you’ll be in serious trouble.”
  • Pull: “If you finish that ____, I’ll give you an extra ____ for doing so.”

Some people operate better in a push than a pull, but I think most people like the woohoo idea of the latter.  This morning I came up with a pull method for cyclists.

The ingredients are 2 of those weight sensors (currently used for cars) especially in the left turn lane. These particular weight sensors would be calibrated to a range of sensitivity to >50 lbs and <500 lbs.   I figure most riders+bike will be more than 50 and less than 500 lbs.  Also, the average car weight is 3000 lbs (wikiAnswers), so half the weight [in the bike lane] would be 1500 lbs which is less than the upper specification of 500 lbs above.

With two of those weight sensors and the same controller that decides to change the light for the left turning cars, the controlling system could calculate the average speed of the cyclist and have the light turn green for him right as he would want to enter the intersection.

Ideally this would entice more people to bike commute by drastically reducing any waiting time at lights, which is more of a mental downer than it is one on’s commuting time, regardless if you are in a car or on a bike.

Of course the idea is the easy part of doing it. . .

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Reliving the Mental Barrier

It’s hard to tell someone less experienced that a future event is “challenging but very possible,” when you are nearing onto the decade mark in the arena of said events.  Specifically, I am referring to my experience in slightly stoopid endurance events, and in particular a 400ish mile bike trip.  No matter how many days that are on the agenda, 400 is big number.

The trick is to divide the miles into days.  I remember reading something like this when I was embarking on my first marathon.  “Yeah, it is ‘just one mile at a time,’ but it’s 26 of those!”  It didn’t sound quite right to me.

In marathons, the experience that I go through involves a few major stages: the initial start of finding a good pace, the majority miles where I’m in some kind of groove, the decision point to keep the pace or speed up, and the final push to the end.

So, a marathon isn’t quite one mile at a time, for me.  Yet, it’s no longer a daunting big mileage to me, either.  It’s now roughly four stages I pass through.

I enjoy life moments that let you relive personal learning experiences.

Even though I heard her perfectly, I asked dre what she said when she told me, “That was a fun [up-] hill [climb].”

She thought a climb was fun??

I was shocked.  Days before, the same person that gave me an earful of concerns and reasons of how our 400 mile bike ride was nearing impossible to hear that she just enjoyed climbing a hill!

The previous day was a tortuous 33 miles in a mix of rain and freezing rain.  We broke up the frigid day making hot chocolate in a state park handicap bathroom.

. . . and after a day like that, I could see why an 8% grade incline in a snow covered mountain range with a big tail-wind and a warm sunshine on your shoulders which also marked the halfway point for the day, really could be a fun uphill climb.

Kudos to dre, for turning another leaf and my ability to live vicariously.

On our 2009 Turkey Tour in Awesomerica.


Disclaimer
It turns out there aren’t always food drops and water bottle hand-offs in real life; who knew?  If you’re some roadie thinking that 40+ miles per day isn’t that accomplished, put some gear, food, and water on your bike so that you can cook and camp along the way.

Or, just remain calmer than I am.

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Et tu, Bicycle?

As jiff explained to me this morning, I am cursed by the Ides of Yesvember.  On Yesvember 15 in 2008 and 2009, I crashed on my left elbow.

2008

My crash was worse in 2008 as I endo’d a mountain bike at nearly top speed. (Haven’t had any interest mountain biking since; who knew?)

Mountain bike crash on Yesvember 2008.

The worst part of this experience was that I crashed between laps in a team relay.  During the laps, I saw a rider with a ghost white face bee line to the medic tent because he had 5 to 10 sticks the size of my pinkie finger lodged into his deltoid, like from a warrior scene in a movie.

As if the seeing this guy wasn’t enough to bring down my mental bruise from the crash, a crazy lady soon came into the same area with half the skin on her face missing from her road rash.  She was doped up on adrenaline and requesting that she get cleaned and patched up as soon as possible so she could still compete.  After the adrenaline wore off, she decided to drop from the race.

I eventually made my second lap, even though I rode much more cautiously.

2009

This year I was in an intersection barely riding at a walking pace, when I decided to stand on my pedals [to accelerate faster].  My chain fell off the front chain ring which threw me into a tailspin where I landed on my same left elbow as the year before. In throwing my left hand off the bars, my handlebars impaled my gut. Furthermore, I created a “yard sale” with my bike pump and pannier coming off the bike.  When dre and a cop asked if I was ok, I did the wind-is-knocked-out-of-me-just-let-me-wallow “Yeah ok” and a wave.

The cool thing about this year is that I put another hole into a shirt I crashed in before, on an alpine slide.  The shirt has about 20 holes now.  So, I have that going for me, which is nice!

[And, I understand more why dre recently bought me a Road ID!]

‘010

I am forewarned about the Ides, Bicycle.

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The Privilege to Travel with Willie

The first thing I read after my mid-year performance review was Biking Bis‘ book review of Travels with Willie, Adventure Cyclist, by Willie Weir.  I received this book Friday evening, and I finished the book by Monday morning. I found the book hard to put down.

I’ve only rode one tour so far, so the book still had many how-to’s that I could pick up on, not only for bike touring but also for traveling.

Initiating Kindness

Willie’s most interesting concept involves getting out of your comfort zone, and knock on doors.  The phrase initiating kindness refers to Weir’s premise that people want to be kind but are scared, given the craziness of how the world is perceived.  He says this often leads to “home-cooked meals and soft feather beds.”  He thinks the simplicity of his loaded-down bicycle (or “passport” for social exchanges)  immediately shows the vulnerability of the bike tourist, who is often times taken in with a rich cultural exchange. . . much more so than an isolated campsite has to offer.

Willie personalizes copies of his book to your request. Mine was "To the best aquadumper this side of the Mississippi"!

Defining Adventure

The first part of this idea identifies that the definitions of adventure he has looked up all include “risk or hazard,” as opposed to pleasure, rest, or relaxation (vacation). Not every vacation needs to be an adventure, but an adventure has more discomfort and will probably be more memorable.  The second, implementation, involves fending off the naysayers.  The people who get you to worry for worrying’s cause.  His method is asking the worry-warts “Have you been there (in that location, situation, etc)?”  If they haven’t, he has no problem shrugging them off.  I wish I had this piece of advice before going to Kenya during civil unrest, in January 2008.

Go with the Flow

As Tuna and Bender say, allow yourself to “flow with the go,” by Willie’s methods this is by not over-planning before or during the trip.  Willie learned to avoid commitments after having to turn down a complimentary horse-back tour, only to later be ditched with the company he previously made plans with.  Now, he uses the phrase “Maybe I’ll see you or maybe I won’t.”

Andy gave me my touring mascot: Strawbranch, the frawg. Willie tours with Zeb, which is a zerbra stuffed animal that lifts his spirits and aids conversations on tours.

The Privilege to Lift Off

The final chapters conclude that Americans have the privilege to travel because of our stable economy and government.  Additionally, to start an adventure — especially for extended periods — requires the traveler to expend the majority of energy to leave home relative to the psychological energy needed on the adventure; this is similar to space shuttle lifting off versus traversing space. If I want to get to Willie’s expert level of bicycling touring, I have plenty of work to get to.  At any rate, it’s a great read for any dreamer, frugal traveler, or bike enthusiast out there.  The book is available on Willie’s website.

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Trans- Tour: Planning

Bender and I like ridin’ bikes.

We like ridin’ bikes so much that we are going to ride for a whole week during our summer vacation!  From July 19 to July 25, we are going to cross Glacier National Park on the famous and historical Going-to-the-Sun Road that cuts across the park, as well as circumnavigate the park.  We are following an Adventure Cycling route, from the North Tier section starting and ending in Whitefish, Montana by taking the train from/to Portland, Oregon.

We are covering about 50 miles per day.  That’s nice.  The fun part is that going trans-Rockies, trans-borders (USA/Canada,eh?), trans-rail . . . that’s when Bender figured out we have a lot of trans-!  Hence, we titled the tour and set our main objective: attain as many trans- endeavors as possible.

Here are a few on the list:

  • trans-saturated fat
  • translation
  • Trans-Siberian Orchestra
  • Trans-Am, Pontiac
  • trans-water

My current list is 21 trans-‘s long.  Three trans-‘s require prior preparation.  One of the items, transport, includes a social experiment that could fail from diffusion of responsibility.

At any rate, we are asking people to send us items, general delivery for us, to Cut Bank, Montana, so that we can get them in the middle of the trip.  We would really appreciate transporting such items such as, but not limited to, food, a tour mascot, postcard, or a social experiment idea. Huge volume items that would be hard to hold down on a bicycle tour would be hilarous, but only after the fact and not during.

We ask that you keep this in the back of your mind so you can join our cause!  And, you could become a part of our tour! A good time to send stuff will be in a couple of weeks, and I’ll remind people here.

Yeeeeeaaaaaaahhhhh!!!

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Coasting Into Summer

Where I come from, summer is when you can wear white pants: Memorial Day to Labor Day.  That’s when you should have the spring cleaning completed and your grill ready to blaze.  I kicked off this summer by cycling from San Francisco to San Luis Obispo with my main man, Andy.  My conclusion from the trip is bicycle touring is the best way to see the coast and a nice way to vacation.

We did it in 5 days, only because I am limited to that much vacation.  Here’s our itinerary:

Day 1: SFO Airport to Half Moon Bay (19 mi)

Organized chaos in the SFO AirportOn our first day, we learned that it took about 2 hours to put a bike together for touring after reassembling it from our respective bike boxes, required for air travel.  To get from the airport to Half Moon Bay (HMB, yo) requires cresting a pretty large hill.  We decided to stop in HMB, yo because the next campsite we knew about was 70 miles south and it was already 4pm.  We set up camp at the Hike and Bike site at the HMB, yo Campgrounds.  It was colder outside than I expected, about 50 °F.

We ate dinner at the Happy Taco, in town. We met a bum in a liquor store picking up local brew for the campfire that night who told us he was also on tour.  We had a fire at the campsite’s amphitheatre.  And, we departed after a breakfast at the campsite around 10am the next morning.

Day 2: Half Moon Bay to Sunset Beach (67 mi)

Andy at lunch in DavenportWe rode for about three hours this day until we arrived in Davenport.  Here, we ate at a fun bar & grille.  Then we traversed through Santa Cruz to get to Sunset State Beach Campground.  This campground was quite secluded. The nearest town is Watsonville which is 7 miles away.  The campground came with a neighboring  strawberry field, which we took advantage of both for dessert that night as well as in our oatmeal the next morning.  Here we met Darral and Gavin, which is Ni-vag and Lar-rad backwards.  Lar-rad shared some beer and his campfire with us, while we had interesting conversations and some campfire music from Lar-rad’s guitar.

Day 3: Sunset Beach to Big Sur (59 mi)

The Big Sur CampsiteThe ride through Monterey was slow and windy.  It took us 5 hours to roll the first 28 miles, and because of that reason, we decided to skip 17 Mile Drive.  It would have been nice to go on that section of road.  I’m glad we skipped it though because we made it to Big Sur as the sun was setting.  Nonethless we still road atop some great bridges, like Bixby, and had great views.  We ate in the Big Sur village and painfully watched someone work on a muffler hanging on a 70s Honda Civic with a cigarette dangling in his mouth.  Before departing from our dining spot to the Big Sur “Hike and Bike” campsite, a rough looking older man — who grew a 7-year beard and wore clothes that had been recently washed last month — gave us some advice saying that “It’s ok to walk up the big hill which awaited us first thing in the morning.”  Needless to say, the Big Sur village is full of some interesting yocals that seemed to be imported from Willacootchie, Georgia.  The hike and bike campsite is beautiful and quite comfortable as we slept atop a bed of pine needles.

Day 4: Big Sur to San Simeon (72 mi)

Ragged Point, just north of San SimeonThis was my favorite day of the trip.  We rode 23 miles, after breakfast, to eat lunch in Lucia at THE diner.  We ate on a deck that overlooks an ocean break which crushed into a cliff.  We ate the lunch with a rider we met earlier in the trip.  I remember devouring my Mexican burger with fries and about 3 glasses of coke.  This was good timing to fuel up, as our biggest climb of the trip, about 1000 feet at roughly an 8% grade,  immediately followed.

One interesting conclusion I realized on this trip is that “Scenic Vistas” are designed for optimal car parking, and not necessarily the views.  Often times the most scenic view is either 100 feet up or down the road from the car parking.  A nice feature of bike touring is that stopping is merely a toe-touch away!

Day 5: San Simeon to San Luis Obispo (44 mi)

California Poppies near the town of GordaWe woke up early this day to ensure that we could make the 2pm train from San Luis back to Orange County.  We had a big breakfast in Cambria where we took the waitress’ advice, “The bacon is reaaaal good, here!”  Then we stopped in Morro Bay at the Top Dog Cafe.  Tom Petty’s Wildflowers song came on as I was warming up over a  cup of coffee and enjoying a chocolate bear claw.   The song helped me reminisce and tie two events from the trip together.  I tied together one from the Sunset Beach campfire where Lar-rad made a comment to the extent that you only see rare occurrences of beauty when you don’t plan to — he specifically was talking about whale watching.  And the second is that the past two years I’ve headed to Death Valley in the spring, hoping to see an abundant amount of wildflowers, where I have felt let down both times.  However, I planned my first bike tour to see the coast and test the bike touring expierence out and I was rewarded with roadside strips and fields of wildflowers all along the way!  So I have that going for me, which is nice.

San Francisco to San Luis Obispo (261 mi)

If I did it over again, I would do the trip with 30-50 mile days.  For me, it is always easier to entertain myself rather than having to rush myself through things.  I would have rode north to get a tourist picture at the Golden Gate bridge.  I would have stayed in a hostel, a bed-and-breakfast, a motel, or a hotel along the way when hike and bike campsites weren’t available.  But overall due to my time limitations, I feel we did a good job.

I am glad I did three things in preparation.  

  • We followed iDad Doug’s advice, “Why the hell would you bike from south to north?!”  Doug has done this trip five times, the last time in August 2008, and he always goes north to south to “ride the wind.”  Often times by the end of the day, I would hardly pedal because the wind was so strong; that sure beat fighting a nasty headwind!
  • I bought an Adventure Cycling Association (ACA) touring map.  This was very handy for getting through bigger cities on bike paths and side roads, for Hwy 1 is illegal to ride a bike on at certain points, i.e. Santa Cruz, Monterey, etc. Also the map pointed out a great detour to get to San Luis Obisbo.
  • Lastly, Andy and I located all the bike and hike campsites, again first suggested to us by Doug.  Bike and hike sites are great: they are cheap ($2-$5 per person per night); they do not require reservations so long as you either bike or hike in; and, since they are typically a large patch of grass or forest in this particualr area of the coast, I could not imagine they ever fill up.

You can check out more pictures in my Facebook album.
The endless road

I’m already excited for my next bike tour in mid-July: circumnavigating and then cutting through Glacier National and Waterton Parks.  The theme for that tour is “trans,” as in transborders (USA and Canada), trans-continental divide, and every other “trans-” we can brainstorm before then!

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