Friday, October 30, 2015

Riding Through Spooky Hollow, 2015

Raven maneuvered through the branches of the trees crowding the canyon. The Oaks' cadaverous claws, turned and twisted with arthritis, scratched at his wings, while the bony white appendages of the Sycamores poked at his eyes. It had become a game to him, developed, perfected over a lifetime in these woods. He knew others who preferred the piney woods, but in his mind, the straight vertical growth, and perpendicular horizontal arms of those trees was predictable and unchallenging. The spirit of those woods was different as well. They were light filled and breezy; they smelled fresh. Not so these woods he called home. These woods, his woods, were dark and, sometimes, malevolent. The wind, when it blew through, was not a gentle caress, it howled and punched; the oaks and sycamores flailed about, and when it passed, their limbs, the same ones that reached to pluck him from the sky, frequently littered the ground.

Raven wasn't sure what drew him to this place, what kept him tethered. He despised it on one level, yet drew great satisfaction on another. It had something to do with the spectre; Ravens presence seemed to have a calming effect on the other, as if their lives (he was sure that wasn't the right word, but could think of no better description) were connected. Their communication, simple as it was, reassured the other, seemed to bring it some comfort, and Raven dreaded what might happen, were he to leave. More and more, Raven sought the spectre, searching from one end of the canyon to the other. Though his eye could discern the shadowy form in both bright daylight and pitch of dark, as often as not it was the cold patch of air that told Raven he had found the Other. There was no rhyme or reason to the Others' movement through the woods, nor for its pauses. Sometimes Raven would swoop down to the sound of low, but incessant moans, other times to a more frantic staccato of gurgling. His response, sounds from deep in his throat, especially those that sounded like bones rattling around in a box usually brought calm. Usually, but not always.

Once, Raven had lapsed into the language of the living. It was an easy thing to do, the words flowing melodiously in a, dare he say it, lively manner. The sounds of the words were so much more pleasant. In comparison, the language the spectre spoke was hushed and shadowy, deep down throaty, less a means of sharing complex thought, more a basic expression of raw emotion. Raven disliked the way the sky seemed to grow darker, the air colder when he spoke with the spectre. Once it had become too much to bear and he had shouted in more descriptive tones, an effort to free himself from the constricting bonds of the others' grim groans, to allow light into the dark woods. A mountain biker, paused for a moment to catch his breath, turned to where Ravens shadowy figure perched on a gnarled branch. The human squinted his eyes at the words, but saw only Raven. The being stared at Raven, that stare of incoherence that he came to expect of the living. He stared until a chill running up his back caused a noticeable shiver, breaking the trance, and prompting the rider to hurry away.

Raven sighed. It would be incomprehensible, to most living humans, to believe that he could speak their language. The croaks, caws and rattling sounds he used to communicate with the dead were the only sounds that made sense to them. He often wondered what repercussions the truth might deliver. It was a fun thought for Raven, and though he toyed with the living, speaking to them from the dark shadows, shouting from the hidden corners of the woods, Raven knew that was as far as he could take the game. Sighing yet again, Raven set out in search of the spectre. 

And then this morning the sky broke and a haze oozed from it, the color drained to a dull grey with no variation, no contrast. There was light, but there was no sun. It was cold, a cold Raven had never experienced before and he grew fearful for the other. Imagining a depth of despair that could not be grounded, could not be contained, he gave wing in search. He rose high into the sky, yet the cold was pervasive and constant, providing no sign. He flew down, into the canopy of the Oaks and Sycamores; the leaves fluttered in his passing, yet not a single one grasped at his wings, his tail feathers. Not a single one attempted to poke at his eyes. His eyes. He could always count on them to pick out the spectre's darker shadow. He settled onto the highest branch of an oak in the middle of the canyon. He was still, and listened intently for a familiar groan, or obese moan. That is when Raven, for the first time, noticed the silence. There was no sound, no animal scurrying through the undergrowth, no bubbling stream, not even the soothing sigh of breeze through the leaves.

Raven made to caw, to crackle a call, but the only sound that emerged came from deep down in his throat, and it sounded like bones rattling around in an otherwise empty coffin.

I have heard many spooky sounds while riding around the hills, and seen even scarier things riding around the streets, but what the heck is that thing bobbing around near my front wheel?

Happy Samhain, everyone. Happy Halloween, All Hallows Eve, Day of the Dead. Be safe on your rides, and keep an ear, and eye, out for Raven.

Today on the SGRT

Adobo Velo is a large, long-established Filipino-American cycling club. They can often be seen riding the San Gabriel River Trail from the sea up to, and into, the mountains. A couple club riders were stopped off to the side, waiting for the rest of their group huddled around a rider with a flat on the far side of yon distant bridge, and proved to be a good anchor on the right side of the frame. Meanwhile, someone thought this cut-off and capped length of pipe would make a good impromptu flagpole. I thought the vignette would make an interesting "seen while riding" photo. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Lost in Ontario

I have been mildly inconvenienced lately on the drive to work. My hope was that the construction would result in something good and beneficial. As it turned out, though, even maintaining the status quo would have been an improvement; at least there would have been nice smooth tarmac. Instead, the city of Ontario has gone and made a bad situation even worse. 

What you see here is a view looking east along 4th Street. Up until last week 4th contained two lanes heading in each direction, a standard width lane against the median and an extra wide right lane, with a bike lane against the curb. Following some utility work for a new housing complex (just at the next corner in the view) the city repaved and restriped, choosing to retain the bike lane, but making the street three lanes wide in each direction. If 4th were an elegant and slow grande boulevard, the new layout might be acceptable, but no, the only thought for 4th appears to be that it is a high speed thoroughfare

where the speed limit is 55 miles per hour.

Interestingly, the high speed and six lanes will do nothing to enhance the quality of life of local residents, but will, no doubt, be welcomed by drivers on the nearby congested interstate.

Honestly, who thought this was a good idea? Or better yet, did anyone in the city think it was a bad idea? Rubbing elbows with drivers moving along at freeway speeds. Why even bother with the bike lane? Will anyone use it now? Who would want to risk their life in that narrow strip with cars and trucks roaring past at sixty miles per hour; and at that speed lives are exactly what are at stake.

Fourth is lined by residential developments and businesses, side streets lead to schools, more housing and more business. The city of Ontario really missed an opportunity to take a lead - there was enough room to maintain the two lanes in each direction, and add a separated bike lane. It would have been a boon, a compliment to all the new residential development that has taken place over the past ten years, Such a lane along 4th would have created a straight and direct avenue to the Ontario Mills, a place with a great need to reinvent itself.

Instead, what has been created is in effect a freeway next to a freeway (the I-10 is two long blocks to the south). Then again, perhaps that is what was intended all along - an alternative to that already congested corridor.

Where is the vision? What has happened to the visionaries? Don't look for it, or them, in Ontario.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

2015 / 2016 Claremont High School Mountain Bike Team: Interview with Jonathan Chang

The National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA), over the eight years of its existence, has shown a steady and sustained growth. Leagues are state based, thus there is a Colorado League, a Minnesota League, etc, although California is split into two entities, NorCal and SoCal. In Southern California, the SoCal High School Cycling League has grown steadily with each succeeding year, from fourteen school/teams in the first year (2009), to sixty-five for the 2015 season. The 2016 season is projected to be contested by ninety-seven different schools.

A few years ago, knowing that there were a lot of local school age riders, and being told by "the son" that there was interest, I made a half-hearted and sadly ineffective attempt to get a high school league team off the ground.

As it turns out I was not the only one with the idea running through his mind, and last year (2014-2015), under the guidance of head coach Jonathan Chang, owner of Jax Bicycle Center, the Claremont Wolfpack Mountain Bike Team celebrated its inaugural season of competition (one of seventeen schools joining the League last season). Last week I took a few moments from my Friday to sit down and talk with Jonathan about the team, its first year, and its future.

Right off the bat I had to admit that I wasn't sure about the organizational structure of Jax (knowing that it is a retail chain) and whether Jonathan was owner, manager, or something else entirely - he is the full owner, having bought the shop outright, and operating it as a trademark licensee allowing him independence on the one hand, while also allowing him to retain the Jax name and its associated widespread recognition. That out of the way, we could get down to the business of the day.

Originally, I had intended this as a typical question and answer interview, but it quickly took on a more free-flow form, and I decided that would be the best way to present it here:

The Claremont High School Wolfpack Mountain Bike Team grew from the nexus of two complimentary events - the Jax mountain bike ride, and a commitment to increased community involvement on the part of Jonathan and his shop. When the Jax group began to offer weekly mtb rides it was immediately obvious that there existed a strong youth continent, both riders who were already of high school age, and others who would reach that age over the next couple years. At the same time Jonathan had been searching for new ways to increase the Jax involvement in the community. A spark was struck - forming a high school team would provide both a competitive outlet for the young riders, as well as afford an opportunity to give back to the community.

The team's first season was fraught with the perils that many first year programs face - learning the ropes. Very few are able to jump in and find immediate success - in the case of the CHS team, a squad which numbered six at the seasons start ended with two active riders in the overall standings.

Though the new season will not officially begin until early November (with races taking place during the Spring semester), Jonathan has received intent from eight high school student/athletes, as well as another two from El Roble Middle School, as of this writing. This is only a fraction of the number of riders that many of the longer established school teams will field at any given race, but the Claremont team is hampered by an inability to promote itself within the school organization; without a faculty or staff sponsor the team is unable to operate as an official school club, and therefore has no access to school media. Instead the team is an extracurricular entity, outside the bounds of the school proper and must rely on promotion through the Jax shop, and most significantly, through simple word of mouth. Truth is, I am not entirely clear on all the ins and outs of association between a school sponsored team, and one outside the school.

It might not be surprising then, that when I brought up a question of goals for the coming season, they included the need to move beyond word of mouth, to find a suitable in-school sponsor. I dare say, just from talking with my own son, as well as his friends, that most students, and thus many potential riders, are unaware the team even exists. Needless to say, access to school media would greatly increase awareness.

Beyond promotion, Jonathan had some other specific goals in mind, most notably consistency, encouraging students to view their participation as a season-long commitment. This goal is aimed at the problem of attrition, the loss of riders from the beginning of the season to the end. Goals for individual riders are expected to be examined and developed over the course of the winter pre-season.

I asked Jonathan what benefits he saw as accruing the students for their participation, what he hoped they would take away from the experience. His immediate response was that he wanted to encourage them to become life-long, responsible cyclists aware of, and practicing the "rules of the trail", that they would learn and develop through the teaching of basic skills and behaviors.

NICA has done a terrific job over the years of fostering an appreciation for cycling and racing to a whole new generation of riders. Jonathan, through his involvement with the Claremont High School Team appears well positioned and committed to continuing at the local level, what NICA has done nationally.

There are few requirement really. Knowing how to ride a bike is the obvious one, having a mountain bike of your own is a plus. Jonathan has been looking into fundraising options to help raise money and defray costs. As it is, Jax is paying the entirety of the annual club fee, meaning there are no dues for the students. The only costs then, are a race entry fee that each student must pay, as well as any clothing and equipment costs.

If you are a high school student who might be interested, if you are the parent of a middle school student who you believe might be interested, I would encourage you to swing by Jax when they are open, pick up an informational flyer, talk to Jonathan if he is not busy. If you are a faculty or staff member of the school, or know one who might be interested in helping, talk to Jonathan about it. Everyone, working together, can help the sport of high school mountain biking continue to grow within Claremont to the great benefit of our student/athletes. 

I suppose that before I close this post, I should note that while the interview was specific to Claremont because it is the town I call home, it is safe to say that there are numerous overlaps with the experiences of organizers at other schools that can be learned from. Interested in getting a team started at your local school? Don't hesitate to talk the the SoCal League staff, and/or other coaches. Most obstacles that might be encountered have already, probably been resolved somewhere else. Use the experience of those who have gone before to make the process easier. See you on the trails.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Les is Intense

Okay, that works on a descriptive level, but technically, Les is to Pivot, as Spider is to Intense.

Get it?

Alright, so it's lame. Shoot me for trying.

There is something about the best laid plans. Last night I was fully intending to go out to Irvine Lake for the second day of Spookycross. By the morning, the Ibis demo out at Jenson USA in Riverside had risen to the top of the option list, but as I squandered away the morning reading the paper and drinking coffee a third option, the Demo Days event hosted by Incycle, suddenly looked increasingly attractive.

As it turns out the early bird does not always get the worm, and all my morning laziness, and late-to-get-going attitude worked out for the best. The Demo Days event, at Bonelli Park, gave me the opportunity to test out multiple machines, made by multiple manufacturers - Intense, Pivot, Santa Cruz, Cannondale, Specialized. Additionally, DVO Suspension was there showing their forks as well.

I could have easily taken tests spins on rides from each of those manufacturers but, given my late start, I focused on two that I had particular interest in after seeing them at this years' Interbike - the Pivot Les, and the Intense Spider, both in their 29er versions. Small bicycle media guys (and gals) like myself, don't really attract the attention of the big bike makers, rarely get product for review, and so relish opportunities like this to check out the good stuff, swing a leg over, shred some trails, and then write a little about it.

Getting my Les ready.

The Les, by Pivot, is an incredibly light bike made for riders who race cross country (XC) or those who love to jam on XC-style trails. It is also stiff and very lively without being the least bit twitchy. The bike I tested came geared with a 1x which, as I expected, had me spun out in no time. You already know I am not a fan of the 1x set up, but with the Les this is not a problem since you have the option to throw on a front deuraileur and a second larger chainring. As it was, this bike climbed like a dream, and its lightness and thus ability to maneuver quickly gave me a lot of confidence through some of the, slightly, more technical sections of trail I took it on. There is not a local trail that I wouldn't rip around on with this bike.

The Spider, by Intense.

The Spider is a different monster than I am used to riding. Even though I have a fully suspended "all-mountain" bike in the stable, it is a different geometry. The Spider I would categorize as residing on the DH-side of the all-mountain spectrum. As a result it took me a little more time to get used to that more relaxed geometry. As I put the bike through its motions, I sensed a heaviness up front, at least in comparison to the first bike I tested this morning. I didn't see any reason that it should be heavier, so I think it may have been, again, the difference in geometry. Once I got used to the difference, and let the bike run more, do its thing, it became super fun, smoothing out all the little ruts and rocks I ran it over. One curiosity about this bike - my right calf would frequently brush against the rear triangle, not a problem mind you, just not something I have experienced before, and something I attributed to the swept back saddle position you might notice in the photo above. I would take this bike up to Mammoth, Northstar, probably some Big Bear trails too. Oh, and this was my first time riding with a dropper seat post; they are as cool as everyone says, adding a whole other level of versatility to a bike.

If you missed Demo Days, fear not, there will be a second one hosted by Incycle on the twenty-first of November. If you are thinking of a new bike, it might either help you decide or make your decision more difficult. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

2015 Turn and Burn

"Bangers and Mash", "the CRANKy Goats", "Four Wheels, Two Pendejos", "Team Shit Happens", "That's a Long Time in the Saddle", "White Rice", "Just Made It", "The Bad Asshes", "Middle Aged Malisha", "If We Dic We Dic", you get the idea. Even if I had stumbled upon the scene, not knowing what race was alternately grinding up and bombing down the hills, it would only have taken a glance at the team list to know - "yup, its Turn and Burn."

Six hours of straight racing. If you were fortunate enough to have discovered someone willing to accept you as a teammate, you could have split those six hours two, or even three ways. But if you were not so fortunate, or maybe you're just into suffering, those six hours were all yours. That's right, six hours of leg-cramping up, six hours of on-the-edge down, with not a lot of room for respite in between. If you posses the un-diminishing ability of a Tinker Juarez it probably didn't matter - much. The problem with that, of course, is that there is really just the one Tinker, and the rest of us, well, we are subject to varying degrees of suffering, everything between simple hurt, to sheer agony. 

But hey, moving the race back a month did mean the temperature only reached to the low 90s, rather than the low 100s, right.

Anyway, once again Omar  and the Cycling Events Company put together a great race which, quite frankly, allowed everyone who passed before me to exhibit a heck of a lot of riding talent and determination. Congrats, and see you all at  Mt. SAC for the Triple Crown finale.

Good idea to race today. Or not?

Downhill, but only so they can go back up again.

Ah, the single speed guys. I'm never quite sure if I should feel awe, or pity.

Hand up. And race radios for mountain biking?

Fast, banked turn.

Around the water coolers.

And David 'Tinker' Juarez. Watching him race really puts things in perspective, doesn't it?

You probably know the drill by now, but here it comes again anyway: there are one-hundred and nine photos in the Flickr album which comes out to, maybe, one-sixth of the shots taken that day. The photos are not a complete catalog, but are representative of all the others taken during the day, so if you don't see what, or who, you were looking for in the album, let me know and I will see what I can find. If you see a photo you like, feel free to download it (credit where credit due, of course). You can also contact me via email and I will gladly send a full size jpeg file of the image. As usual, I don't charge for photos, but do appreciate it when someone purchases a copy of the annual (link at top of page). Until next time, good riding.

Bikeshop Candids: JAX, Claremont

Not thirty seconds after I had leaned by bike against the front display case at Jax Bicycle Shop in Claremont (where I was conducting an interview about the Claremont High School Mountain Bike Team), owner Jonathan Chang rode in with a young customer. The two had just returned from a test ride. When I asked about the level of personal service, I was told that is was standard practice. Dang, I thought, that is darned good business. I mean, it might be one thing to let someone like me go out alone to test out a bike, but someone new or less experienced to cycling might greatly benefit from having an experienced shop owner with them - to answer all those beginner questions, point out errors, give helpful tips, etc. I had never witnessed, nor heard of a shop owner doing this, and it certainly made an impressive start to my visit. 

After that, I walked around the corner to see this brand new Precision Fit machine. The set-up comes complete with stop-motion camera, and certified mechanic to properly analyze your fit requirements. So, if you want to be fit for your next bike, you have this local option: Contact Jax Bicycle Center, Claremont for information.

Oh, and that interview, my real reason for stopping by, will be posted early next week.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Duarte Bicycle Master Plan

In the Duarte area? You might want to check out this Open House to review the city's Bicycle Master Plan and Safe Routes to Transit Plan.

flyer might be a bit small, so click here for the city website.

Bushwhacking Through the Semi-Wild

Two weeks in the past, on a Monday morning I woke with knee pain. The Sunday previous was not an unusual day so, and unless the mrs. had given me a quick kick to the knee cap during the night I was dumbfounded as to where the pain came from. Riding that evening was fine, yet the pain (more like a pressure under the knee cap really, the kind that can be relieved by cracking a joint, just not this time) persisted over the next couple days until my Wednesday evening ride, when rising out of the saddle I was, out of nowhere, stabbed at the right side of the cap. In excruciating pain I dropped like a stone onto the saddle and finished that ride one-legged, deciding that a little time off the bike was in order.

Which brings me to this morning and the ride I have been looking forward to all week. Before setting out I knew this day would involve as much hike as it would bike, but I didn't know a machete would be recommended equipment. The plan was to bring the Ibis and explore some of the trackless area in the basin of the Santa Fe Dam; the specific goal was to "discover" the stone walls along the San Gabriel River channel. Back in the olden days early farmers and small water companies built long stone walls running perpendicular to the regions rivers and streams below the mountains and canyons. These efforts were meant to slow the water, contain it, and even redirect it. Remains of these walls can be found all along the open areas along the base of the San Gabriel Mountains - in particular I have seen them along Day Creek, Cucamonga Creek, and now the San Gabriel River (the best way to see them is from above, try Google Earth).

The knee is still not right, but the morning was a good one:

At the spot where this custom bike trailer rested I left the dirt path, hefted my bike to my shoulder, and struck out cross-country. With no trail to follow, moving from clearing to clearing meant pushing through walls of underbrush, choosing between being clawed and scratched by the dead branches of this shrub, or being poked and stabbed by that yucca.

Some spots of vibrant color out there.

The closer I got to the river channel the more I came upon wood posts and poles washed down from who knows where.

Standing atop one of the low stone walls running perpendicular to the river, with a second just out of view to the right. There are two sets of walls: These smaller ones are on higher ground, away from the rivers current channel, and probably older. I imagine they were build by hand. Lower down, and in the current channel are higher, more massive walls built by machinery.

Eventually all that bushwhacking brought me out to the remains of a disused road. Still clearly defined, it made moving about much quicker and easier.

The rusting scoop of some giant digger.

A palm oasis has sprouted in the river bed. Given time it might become pretty awesome.

There were some interesting yellow flowers down there too.

With the dam in view, someones campsite.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Monday Blues: Kualis Cycles

Every time I click a new link to Kualis Cycles I have to start the chant:

I have no money for this,
I have no money for this,
I have no money for this…

It works, but is not very satisfying.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

2015 Velocity Cross: Nauman and Gritters Run Away

Well, strictly speaking they didn't run away from their competition, but Amanda Nauman and Brandon Gritters did each run away with wins over their elite rivals on this day.

Truth is, I was one of those "party's over - early leavers," who bugged out in the 8th inning, so I don't know the specifics, at what point Gritters made the move that sealed the fates of everyone behind him. What I did stick around for, and mostly because it was earlier on the schedule, was a women's race in which Nauman took to the front immediately and stayed there from turn one to turn one thousand fifty-six, never looking back over her shoulder. I mean, with all the twists and turns the Velocity Cross course typically throws at you, a look back wasn't exactly necessary. But still... You know what I mean. And not that there was any lack of competition - Nauman's nearest chasers, Nicole Brandt and Holly Breck are both regular podium finishers. On this day, though, neither of those two, nor anyone else could match the pace being set from start to finish by Amanda Nauman, who finished with a nearly three and a half minute gap.

Though close on this first lap, Amanda Nauman never let up and completely dominated her race.

Second at this point (first lap) for Brandon Gritters, but not by the end.

Spotting. The art of going exactly where you want by spotting it beforehand.

The wind whipped the yellow course tape into a frenzy as it wound its way, between stakes, across and around the lower diamonds of Prado Regional Park. The resulting cacophony  which seemed to rise and fall in unison with the passing of riders, sounded an awful lot like applause and, if this had been Spookycross Weekend, I might have described it as eerie. Instead, it was more a curiosity. With only a lone official standing watch, and an occasional photographer passing through, this part of the course was mostly devoid of spectators, so that applause seemed to be the winds contribution to the spectacle, encouraging riders to keep up the speed, chase, or run away from others doing the chasing.

There are one-hundred photos in the Flickr album. Only a a sixth of the six-hundred photos from the day made the album. The photos are not a complete catalog, but are representative of all the others taken during the day, so if you don't see what, or who, you were looking for in the album, let me know and I will see what I can find. If you see a photo you like, feel free to download it (credit where credit due, of course). You can also contact me via email and I will gladly send a full size jpeg file of the image. As usual, I don't charge for photos, but do appreciate it when someone purchases a copy of the annual (link at top of page). Until next time, good riding.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Important People at Pappas Artisanal

Only the most important of people were there but, because I wore my "official" press hat, they let me in anyway. Lucky me, it was an event I didn't want to miss.

The event was an evening with food (Pappas Artisanal), brews (Golden Road), and vintage bikes and gear from various collections including those of a well-known local vintage authority, and from the collection of Coates Cyclery. Those reasons, plus getting together with friends, may have been the main attraction, but underlying all, the raison d'être was the opportunity to help others enjoy what we often take for granted - the ability to revel in a life lived in the great outdoors (isn't that at least a part of the reason we ride every day possible). All the work that went into creating the get-together, all the good will and good cheer that resulted, was an effort to raise funds for the Therapeutic Recreation and Outdoor Adventures Program at Casa Colina.

The little space of Pappas Artisanal, in La Verne, quickly filled as the evening got underway. Pints and half pints tapped from Golden Road kegs were quaffed, conversations swirled, grilled cheese sandwiches and fish tacos came from the Artisanal kitchen, while sliders grilled out on the patio, and in between it all bikes and gear were ogled. At the nights' half-way point, a raffle got underway mc'd by Chef Travis Flood (this, by the way, is not the first bicycle related benefit he has been involved in - very cool). The lucky people holding a winning ticket (not me) walked away from the evening with gear and accessories donated by, once again, Coates Cyclery. Three additional grand prizes rounded out this part of the festivities - two of them, a meal for ten at Pappas Artisanal, and a Pure City Cycles commuter - brought on a little bidding battle, while the third was a very fine trip to Hawaii.

If the amount of laughter and smiles are any indication of success, I have to believe everyone had a fun time, and that no one left disappointed. Turns out that everyone who showed up can count themselves as one of those most important of people, what do you know! Thanks go out to everyone involved. A few photos are below, and I may get around to putting a few more on the CLR Effect's Facebook page.

isn't it wild how everyone coordinated that white stripe across their clothing and arms?

the Lance Armstrong Caloi with autograph of some guy named Merckx

Steven F., the Authority

It would have been hard not to know you were at some kind of bicycle related event but when, out of the blue, you hear "Fausto Coppi's actual Bianchi from the Tour de France" rise from the conversation, it leaves no doubt.

Paired saddles of the Jack Taylor tandem

"special" raffle tickets for a Hawaii trip

some of the goods

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Darkness on the Edge of Town

It's lonely waiting atop the hill at the edge of town. Waiting for the night riders to reach the summit. Drivers pass and look over, wondering "what's that guy doing there?" A Sheriff's deputy drives by, two officers looking over, wondering "what's that guy doing there?" Then the riders come into view, up over the edge where the horizon drops into the unknown. Lights lead the way, before figures with arms straining at bars, legs straining at cranks, pushing and pulling, contrast in harmony. It is dark now, I can't make out any faces.

The riders come into view, up over the edge. But it is dark now and, standing in the dark beside the road they probably can't see me any better than I can see them, yet some look over and wonder, "what's that guy doing there?"

I thought I could get one last twilight for photos of the Monday Crazy Legs Ride before darkness takes over for the remainder of the year, but no, the curtain fell quickly. By quarter to seven all lights were on and very few were passing by anymore, seeing, wondering "what's that guy doing there?"

Monday, October 12, 2015

Seasonal Sneezing

It starts deep down, that itch that no amount of nose twitching will resolve. It builds until there is no containment anymore and one, two, three, four, maybe even five sneezes explode in rapid succession. After that is a tapering - six, seven, and maybe an eighth follow with increased space of time between them. Ah, yes, the autumn pollens are in the air. It is going to happen, inevitably, but we fight the losing battle anyway. Everyone has their own defense, - the old finger under the nose, the scrunching up and other contortions of the face, will power - some more successful, others less so, but none ultimately granting relief. 

We ride along carefree one day, everything in proper working order. Then, out of the blue, a shift doesn't shift. Quickly we move the lever one more time and the chain moves, but not smoothly, it is between gears and clicks annoyingly, ready to jump back at any second. So we shift back down again, maybe twice before things are where they are supposed to be. We try again. Shift, shift up. No. Shift, shift down. Up again and then move the lever only a half shift. That works. But a couple seconds later the clicking begins, increases, and the chain jumps back once again. Now things are really messed up, so to get things on track we shift all the way up, then slowly down until we reach the offending gear, identify it, and remember not to use it again this ride.

As inevitable as the seasonal sneeze is the equally unwelcome cable stretch. Fortunately it has a simple fix. Barrel adjusters are wonderful things.


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