Fixed over Pressley Road



I had mistakenly marked this as Crane Creek, but that’s an adjacent road.

Next time I will come down it, I think – I didn’t like the descent on Sonoma Mountain Road. Narrow, high-traffic, and one SUV almost grazed my elbow with his mirror. I yelled “WHOA!” and extemporized an “I have the right of way” gesture (not that one): right hand like a blade, extended from my chest straight out. Usually it means “I’m going through this intersection.” The driver did pull over, and rolled down his window with a goofy gnome-like smile. He was either going to apologize, or ask for directions. I just said, “that was really close, dude,” and kept going.

Anyway, aside from that, it was a great ride. I rode out Petaluma Hill Road in my 42×15 gear, and then figured I’d try climbing without the second ring. As I was flipping the wheel over to my 42×21 Dingle cog, I was passed by a pair of riders. I saw them again when I stopped at Crane Creek park, but I couldn’t stand the frat-boy chatter of the crowd of disc-golf players. “Douche-golf.”

crane creek, originally uploaded by BikeTinker.

The riders passed me again as I was pouring a small bottle of Guinness into my bidon. “For strength.” Two sips of that, and the fluttering pre-cramp in my thigh muscle went away. I don’t at all recommend drinking while riding, nor admitting to it on a blog post.

At the summit, I geared up to the 42×17 and heavy-legged it down the hill. This is a good hill to freewheel down. Two hours out, 1000 feet of climbing, 23 miles or so. In the bottom-most rung of Strava riders for every segment on the ride… :^) Success!

When I got back to town, I tried out a new cafe and went to the bike shop to order new Koolstop pads.

JOEs cafe, originally uploaded by BikeTinker.

testing the commute route

testing the commute route, originally uploaded by BikeTinker.

I’ve been riding part of my projected commute, in order to see the danger zones, and also just get fit enough to do the whole thing. There are some sketchy intersections on Sonoma Mountain Parkway, where whole lines of cars are turning right.
I’m just as slow on my bigger fixed gear as my normal one, but I need to make up 10 seconds between each light in order to not get caught by the red. That’s a goal. 10% faster. I’d like to be 10% lighter, too. I think those are attainable goals, maybe by July.
I’ll keep you posted.

Mountain lion

DSC08200.JPG, originally uploaded by BikeTinker.

Cool. I guess Liberals do process risk differently…
I rode my bike in Annadel this weekend, and while I had to push on the uphill, and it made me sad, and I had to carry my mountain bike through rock gardens I’d ridden on my fixed gear road bike, which made me laugh, I had a great time. My mantra was “think how much room there is for improvement!”
Sappy, yes, with overtones of, “gosh darn it, people like me!” But seriously. Isn’t it inspiring to think how EASY it will be to improve?

I’m applying that mindset at work. I’m tasked with (“asked to do some things” in human speak) work that I’m not skilled at (video). I am strong in related skills (“getting across a point;” and “framing a shot”) but am fail at the whole package. Tomorrow I’m doing it my way. It couldn’t be much worse, but it should be a lot more fun.

Fall Cleanup

I tuned up the Google Doc for the Tire Pressure Calculator. I added Triathlon bikes, linked the title back to the explanation page (which I cleaned up), and put in a big Black Friday ad for the Android Tire Pressure App.

I also cleaned up the right column here, moving the PS graphic up where it belongs. I need to review everything else over in the right column. If there’s a relevant blog I should check out, let me know – my blog reading has been severely limited in the last 6 months.

Now, off to play Thanksgiving video games with my newly 12-year-old son!

rivendell garage sale haul

This is the first Rivendell Garage Sale I’ve been to.

I got to meet Flickr, forum and facebook friends I’d never met in person: Manny, Joe, and Harry. It seems like it should be weird to meet online friends in the real world, but it never turns out to be weird. It’s normal and good.

Rivendell is really hard to find. I’d been there before, but my landmark had been completely remodeled. I kept seeing the bicycles descending, but I couldn’t quite see where they were disappearing to! I drove around the same three blocks about four times. Google Maps is kind of misleading. Basically, you have to find Dirito Automotive (giant), and make a right into the driveway between the Hertz place and the Pho place. Up the hill, left, park. I’d like to paint a giant bicycle on the street, with a big arrow.

There were some great deals, and a $400 SimpleOne frame that had been repaired. Too small for me. I heard someone got a $400 Atlantis frame right out of the gate, but I didn’t see it.

I got some good stuff for very little money. Here’s my haul at home – click through for notations. 

rivendell garage sale haul, originally uploaded by BikeTinker.

I felt like I’d made out like a bandit, with Rivendell virtually paying me to take things away, so I asked, “Is there a tip jar?” Joe said, “No, but there’s a pile of money on the counter.” I threw down my last three dollars, and prepared to leave. Harry gave me directions, and reminded me that you can’t get out of the East Bay for free. Whoops. Every bridge in is free, but the same bridge out costs $5. Rather than retrieve dollars from the pile of money (that can’t be okay), or sell back the Nitto prototype Dove bars, I walked two block to the ATM and bailed myself out of Walnut Creek.



Apparently, professional cycling is imploding in a ball of fire, like a TIE fighter in a Death Star trench. Oddly enough, my life goes on.

I once again drove my bike to work, didn’t ride it, and drove it home. I’m embarrassed for myself. I get to work a little before nine, poke at stuff, get really rolling on something at 11:10, and go on that while everyone else is at lunch. About the time I think I can get away for an hour, I realize I can finish up three things before the afternoon meeting that might get into those issues. I do that, have the meeting, work on the things that came up at the meeting, do the team building thing, then work more, then go home late, all without having ridden my bike. Total fail.

The CEO was at the meeting, wearing his half-marathon shirt and shorts, since he actually knows how to put the big rocks in the jar first, and went for a run about the time I should’ve gotten the bike out of the car. I really need to work on that.

Oh yeah, Lance. I actually like him better now that everyone hates him. Maybe deep down I really am a Democrat! Dammit. I’m reminded of arguing with family members whose only knowledge of cycling AT ALL was “Lance is clean!” “You weigh 400 lbs and swerve to hit cyclists like they’re armadillos, and you’re telling me Lance is clean? Tell me about the WMDs, so I can calm down a minute.”

So. In summation, Sinead O’Connor was right about the Pope, and Greg LeMond was right about Lance. On Sunday, I’m going to go into the Trek store and ask them if they can special order me a Lemond ‘cross bike. Then I will laugh in their face and send that money to the Oregon tax board.

First Time Bike Building Advice PSA

You’re a bike tinker. You might not be a Real Mechanic, but people know you like bikes and can poke at them with a blunt stick. People might ask you for advice sometime, about how to build up a bike from a bare frame?

Before you answer, you might want to ask a few questions first:

  • Are you doing this for fun, or do you feel obligated in some way? (e.g., saving money, proving manliness)
  • Are you at all mechanically inclined? Do you enjoy solving problems?
  • Is there a local shop you trust for final adjustments? Are you humble enough to take the half-built bike to them and say “I got in over my head?”
  • If something goes wrong will you blame me for this advice?
Maybe they can all be summed up in the question, Do you enjoy buying new tools?or “Why wouldn’t you just pay someone else to build the bike for you?”

“Share the Road” PSA from BikeTinker

Rules of the Road:

  1. Expect to share the road with bicycles.
  2. Expect to share the road with cars.
  3. Move predictably.
  4. Never attempt to kill or injure another person intentionally.
  5. Pay attention, so you don’t kill or injure anyone unintentionally.
  6. Stay aware of other peoples’ presence, speed and direction.
  7. Alert people to your presence, but do not startle them.

That’s it.

An article in the Press Democrat about a new Santa Rosa ordinance to protect cyclists. The attorney pictured has some really nice bikes.


Massive cramps

I rode from downtown Santa Rosa to Deepest Petaluma today, to see if a bike commute was feasible. I was slow, and it was hot, but I enjoyed it. “Hey, I’m on a bike in Northern California!” The hard part was riding back. I thought I’d go across town to catch the bus, but that seemed like more trouble than just riding back.

1:25 out, 1:45 back. I dropped the (fixed) Quickbeam down to the low gear for the ride back, and I might put the S3X back on it.

Not stellar, but sometimes it’s nice to have that much room for improvement, right?

I ate a banana, an orange and a half pint of cottage cheese on the road. Drank a few pints of water, and when I got home I had another banana, lots of orange juice, water, lemonade, and a little coffee. Some nuts. Felt pretty good.

I took a shower and stretched, and when I got up, I had a massive left leg cramp, both in the thigh and the calf. Relax, relax, relax, stretch. Ow ow ow. Try to find some salt. The salt that was packed for my bachelor month in California was in a shaker shaped like a Woodring Jiva that hadn’t been unpacked for years. I could hear the block of salt banging around inside, but only five grains fell out. “Pickles! Pickles are salty! I’ll have a pickle.” My wife makes the best pickles ever, so I had a pickle and a half, and my cramps went away. “I’m a genius!”

About ten minutes later, the other leg goes. This cramp is twice as painful. It has me on the floor sweating, thinking I’m going to puke. I’m laying on the floor, trying to shake the new power strip out of a drugstore bag so I can vomit into it if I need to, feeling a lot less like a genius. Relax, relax, don’t puke, try to stretch into a rictus that puts less stress on the leg. Whooo. It goes away, but I’m really leery about moving.

I look up “leg cramp pickle” on the internet, and find that the old thoughts about “dehydration,” or “salt loss” may or may not have any bearing on cramps. It may or may not be an electrical freakout in the muscle, and it may or may not be “neurological,” which may or may not mean the same thing as “electrical freakout.”

People recommend for cramps:

  • Potassium. Bananas have potassium, cramps are caused by… something… bananas seem to help.
  • Salt. Salt everything. If you’re hypertensive, try not to stroke out.
  • Pickle juice. It might not be the salt and electrolytes as much as the vinegar.
  • Vinegar. One study showed it to be more effective than pickle juice.
  • Tums. Really? Oh, for the calcium. The catch is that the people who swear by them eat “a couple before a ride, and then a few more…” so you could be eating 6 Tums MINIMUM every time you go out more than 20 miles. That seems weird. Less weird than writhing around on your carpet in a cold sweat, scrabbling for a plastic bag, though.
  • Some Hammer Nutrition stuff I bleeped over. People swear by it, but my re-googling didn’t turn it up.
  • Pinching the upper lip. This is what I got the second time I googled “leg cramp pickle.” I’ll try it next time?

Like with asthma, the recommendation is to do this BEFORE you get the cramp. “Well I didn’t know I was going to get it, did I?” During the cramp, it doesn’t seem to matter. They go away after about 2 minutes no matter what you do.

The best part of cramps for me, is that I always have a vision of my massive thigh muscles snapping my femur in half from the raw power of the cramp, resulting in a compound fracture, a snapped-off bone poking through my leg. Unlikely, true, but it doesn’t help me relax, at all.

Santa Rosa – home again!

Hey great time back in Santa Rosa! I dropped off the UHaul way down on Santa Rosa Avenue, after paying $.18 too much per gallon to fill it up, took my bike out of the back, and rode back to town. Had a burrito at El Patio (not as good as I remembered, but fine and filling), faffed around the apartment with a headache, until I remembered the last time I’d had coffee was two scant cups Sunday morning.
Down to Peet’s to make it up with a triple shot Americano and two giant refills.

A rider on a Roubaix asked the cops at the next table to watch his bike while he got a cup of coffee. The cops were leaving in a minute, so I said I could watch it. When the guy went in, I asked the cop, “so, you think that bike is my size?” He said, “no, it looks like a 56.” Somehow I like that random Santa Rosa cops know road bikes.

When the guy came out, he recognized the Quickbeam as a Rivendell, and said he’d met Grant a few times. We talked about the Tour, which had started in SR on Sunday, and I got to tell him how on Sunday, Grant had been speaking in Portland while the Tour of California had been kicking off in Santa Rosa, and I’d been in transit between the two places, unable to see either.


Working Bike – Sturmey hub in for repair

Working Bike, originally uploaded by bikamper.

My Flickr friend bikamper repairs the Sturmey Archer hubs that come in to his LBS (“local bike shop” (if you don’t live on the internet, this might not be a familiar acronym)). They pay him in parts.

I have a semi-equivalent relationship with my shop, only I do “internet consulting” instead of providing a tangible service. He says, “Sometimes, being that old weird guy in the neighborhood has its rewards.” ahh… one day. “Hey, grandpa – you can make us some “8 bit” graphics, right?”

I’d like to learn how to repair IG hubs. I still need to open up my Sachs Automatic and rotate the spring so it actually shifts, after I replaced the broken drive thingie…

!! agh !!

Sorry – my mind just boggled at the amazing unused, half-repaired crap I have in my garage:

  • Kelsey 3×5 letterpress and drawers of type (I’ll just cast new rollers out of gummi bears),
  • vintage LaPavoni Europiccolo espresso machine (sure, the seals are the hardest repair, but I’ve done all the others),
  • Sachs two-speed auto hub (the spring just needs to be shifted – the drive-thingie has already been replaced),
  • silkscreen press (totally functional, I just need to make something with it),
  • dump-rescue 3-speed that needs tires and bearings…

They all flashed in my mind at the same time. I definitely do NOT need to learn to repair internal gear hubs at this time…

not a great idea

fuck yeahThis is a follow up to the previous post that has map data. Local people – if you like climbing, and you like sketchy singletrack, you should come on out. Poke some sticks in your shins. Fall down.

Using the Rivendell “grab bag” as a bar bag worked okay for uphills, but with an ipad, a dog leash with a heavy choke chain and a 22oz Ninkasi “Spring Reign,” it turned out to be a liability on the descents.The weight pulling on the bars was the crucial edge between getting your weight back and managing the descent, and just bailing.

it slides into the back pocket. new ipad fits better than the original ipadIt’s something you could master, but the bandit trails around here are really steep, and even though the sun was shining, the ground was still slippery enough that a 4 legged 60 pound dog was leaving slidy pawprints on mild gradients. The human fared about the same. The bag’s high-tech mounting technique (wrapping a bunch of strap around the bar) came loose a couple times, and had to be fixed as the bag ZWWIPPed against the knobby tire.

the strap is just tied around the bars - wrapped tightly to take up slack. can't have any slack!I pushed the bike and drank my beer up a really pretty trail, listened to music (bluetooth blah blah playing Theme Time Radio Hour on random, so Bob Dylan’d introduce Bob Marley, and Shellac would come on instead), and had a good time with the bike and the dog.

rivendell 'vegan' bag as a bar bagStill, this isn’t a recommended bag rig, and I had to brush the mud off the bag after. Still isn’t clean. Kind of undercuts the metrosexual man-purse look I was going for.

The bike on the other hand had me wondering why I was jonesing after a Jones bar. The Midge is great, especially off on the ends.