Monday, December 28, 2009

I'm still here

Harvest season in the wine country Pacific sunset early November two shots from my standard quick ride from home Well, its been nearly one month, numerous post ideas have bubbled up in my consciousness only to be unable to form a nice frothy head in the beer glass of Norcal Tarheels life. November and December are not on my list of favorite months. The beautiful vineyard harvest season has finished. As a cyclist the diminishing daylight and general dreariness are depressing. In Northern California we enter a damp or rainy season as well. You may remember my foot injury, it kept me out of cyclocross, which usually keep me riding and happy. I still can ride but my opportunities and motivation are small. I still commute to work usually one way. This 12 miles does help my outlook. One day I did take the car, and I passed quite a few cyclists. I felt like a traitor, as I drove past I wanted to holler "I am a cyclcommuter too"! The club rides continue with riders still doing impromptu centuries some days, and rain does not cancel a group ride here. Sheesh! These folks are tough. My work schedule makes my participation infrequent. Oh yeah, work,-over Thanksgiving week we moved Windsor Bicycle Center about one mile over to its new vastly improved location. From a 1200' rather ratty strip center spot to a 4000' prime spot on the town green. A very pleasant mixed use center on a park setting. Come see me! I'll show you some fine bikes from Giant and Felt. There is a guy I've met who is a staffer with the BMC pro team based here in Santa Rosa, they are Swiss owned I believe. You may recall they have picked up George Hincapie, Karsten Kroon and Cadel Evans for '10. He said we are likely going to see the team riding in the area late January. I still haven't bumped into Levi or any of the other pros who live or frequent Sonoma County CA The curtain is about to come down on 2009 and all of the associated resolutions have been long forgotten, most changes, those unlike my move to California, happen in increments. I hope you can look back happily on your cycling year. So forget the resolutions for 2010 but dream a little bit and get out there and ride. Come on Springtime. Thanks for reading HH

Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy Birthdays

The past couple days mark birthdays for two of my favorite riders from the last century. Stephen Roche 11-28-59 and Laurent Jalabert 11-30-68. In noting these cycling greats I can't help but reflect on how different pro racing was in the 80's and 90's. We will leave the PEDs (performance enhancing drugs) out of this for today. Jalabert was a multiple stage and jersey winner for sprints AND mountains. In 1995 he took both Jerseys and the overall in the Vuelta Espana a feat only shared with Eddy Merckx from the previous generation. He won two of the Monuments of Cycling as well as four major classics. Roche also was a man who could sprint and climb as well as dominate against the clock. His stand-out year must be 1987 when he accomplished another milestone, again only matched by Merkcx in '74. Cycling's Triple Crown, the Tour, the Giro and the World Road Championship. I'll never forget watching the Tour that year, on a mountain top finish at La Plagne, he attacked early and was away for several hours, only to be overtaken on the last climb, seconds added...a minute.... another half... Roche watched his Tour dream fade, but he clawed back up to within four seconds of Pedro Delgado, and collapsed into unconsciousness. He was administered Oxygen and recovered. The next day when interviewed before the stage start he looked calm and stated he was fine, he was after all a strong young lad or something to that effect. These days no tour winners even enter the Worlds, they are too late in the season. Granted lots has changed in the training and in the make-up of the races themselves. One element I look forward to being reversed is the use of race radios, two way communication between the manager and the riders. Riders are divided on the subject, but I tend to agree with those that think racing has gotten nearly scripted, the spontaneity has been removed. Riders no longer have to develop the instincts to weigh challenge and risk. The current crop of pros have never raced without the manager in their earpiece reminding them to eat, drink, - you name it. Again I recognize some of the arguments for radios. But they sure don't contribute to developing pros like Jalabert and Roche, and I think it shows in the racing today. Thanks for reading. I hope you are getting to ride. HH

Friday, October 30, 2009

Got 150 mil?

Mavic is for sale. As many companys these days a once monolith has been sold and transfered several times in the past decade. Probably most of you have or had Mavic rims/wheels at some point. If you are interested in the history, it goes way back like many things cycling related do. If you have $150,000,000 laying around I'll bet you could have a lot of " free" wheels to try out. Thanks to History of MAVIC 1890Manufacture d'Articles Vélocipediques Idoux et Chanel (MAVIC). The main product line is bicycle mud guards. Also later, the manufacturing of pedal-cars for children. 1920The company is bought by Henri Gormand because of his interest in the innovative mud-flap invented by Mavic. He sets about a diversification--the manufacure of aluminium bicycle rims. 1926The first ever aluminum bicycle rim. 1931Becoming more and more accepted, Mavic rims appear for the first time in the Tour De France. 1964The son of Henri, Bruno Gormand takes over the company--the Mavic passion for performance is born from the enthusiasm of Bruno. 1967Mavic moves to St. Trivier-Sur-Moignans 1971The arrival of the famous blue anodized "SSC Blue" rim reserved for racers and professionals. 1973The arrival of "Neutral Support" and the famous yellow cars in the Tour De France. 1975The birth of the grey "SSC Paris-Roubaix" (SSC Grey) hard-layer anodized rim. The first time that this treatment has been used on bicycle rims, it would be seen later that no high-end bike would be seriously considered that did not offer this type of rim. 1977The perfecting of an innovative hub with cartridge bearings, and the first monobloc bottom bracket. A new factory of 1000m2 adjacent to the original unit making a total of 3500m2. Mavic plays host to the Tour de France where the start of the day's stage is from the Mavic factory. 1978Mavic begins to manufacture bottom brackets, handlebars and derailleurs, including the first models which could be easily disassembled. 1979A new concept: "Tout Mavic" (All Mavic), a set of equipment that includes rims, derailleurs, hubs, cranksets, etc. Since then this set is fitted to cycles at the very top of the range and especially for racing. This year also bares the fruit of several years' development of an aerodynamic cycle in collaboration with Gitane. This revolutionary cycle is used by the Gitane-Renault team in the 1979 Tour de France. 1980The first professional team to be equipped with "Tout Mavic": the Boston-Mavic team. 1983Mavic equips 26 professional teams throughout the world. 1984Sean Kelly wins Paris-Roubaix on a Mavic-equipped machine. Mavic working with the Aerotechnical Institute in St. Cyr, France, developes the disc wheel for commercial use. A new factory at Chavanod, near Annecy for the machining of components other than rims. The first CNC (Computer Numeric Controlled) machines arrive at Mavic, quickly followed by several others. 19857th December, a black day for Mavic. A tragic car accident claims the life of Mavic's owner Bruno Gormand. Madame Cécile Gormand is named the new President and leads the Mavic team in the same enthusiastic way. 1986The arrival of the first CAD-CAM (Computer-Aided Design, Computer-Aided Manufacture) system at Mavic. 1988A new sport and new products, this time for mountain bikes: cranks and chain rings, head sets, pedals bottom brackets, rims and handle bars. 1989Greg Lemond equipped "Tout Mavic" wins the Tour De France and the World Championships. 1990On the 30th of November, Madame Gormand agrees to a management buy-out and the company passes into the hands of four key members of staff with the aid of a financial partner, a holding company is formed. 1994Mavic joins the Salomon Group (Salomon, Taylor Made, Mavic, Bonfire). French wintersports group Salomon becomes the 100% owners of Mavic. In an agreement which will permit the Mavic brand to grow and to have sufficient investment to launch a drawer full of new ideas, the rebirth of the company is assured. In the same year, ZMS (Zap) is launched--the world's first electronic shift derailleur. 1995Mavic launches the Cosmic wheel, aerodynamic and highly innovative. The decision is taken to focus Mavic's energy on a line of complete wheel sets and rims, thus all other components are withdrawn from sales, including the innovative ZMS. 1998The announcement in September that the group "SALOMON WORLWIDE" is joining forces with Adidas to form the No. 2 sporting goods company in the world, "ADIDAS-SALOMON". I am always amazed at the history of a huge organization that starts with something very common (the bicycle mudgaurd!) and lasts over a century. What companies will be around in a hundred years? I would greatly appreciate any assistance you the reader can offer in updating this timeline as this is the only way the accuracy of this timeline can be improved. Chuck Schmidt

Monday, October 5, 2009

View from the Top

OK I got it done. If you followed my posts leading up to this past weekends Levi's King Ridge Gran Fondo, you know I was having some anxiety about the event, that is this pictured climb in particular. I didn't realize until late that we were not going CW like I have gone in the past. This shot is less than two miles from the ocean. Going down it is steep. Well it was tough, but going up it didn't seem as steep as coming down. Max. grade I saw was 15%. This is the famed Coleman Valley Road. Once over this steep part I knew I was fine and put down a hard effort the remaining 30 miles. We even had a mile+ of gravel park path. My cyclocross readers can be proud I road everyone off my wheel pulling 18 mph down this stretch. Many of you will be surprised to know I am inspired by the event to do the 100 mile version next year. It contains King Ridge Road which is longer and climbs higher before dropping down to the ocean, then does Coleman Valley. We'll see if this was just an endorphin induced ambition. 3500 riders and it was a very safe feeling start. I was surprised, I think the fact that we started in a long narrow chute kept everyone from packing up. Then we had about five miles of wide flat roads to get in our rhythm. Stay tuned. We had a local cyclocross clinic start last week, I'm looking forward to the next one on Tuesday eve. About a dozen people showed up including a few newbies. Roll on HH

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Remember the Alamo

Los Alamos Road,that is. I was feeling ambitious yesterday and got to thinking.... lets try Los Alamos Road. It goes up part of Mt. Hood. It starts two and a half miles from home (135') and gets up to 1721' All in 6.8 miles. I started feeling like the tiny defenders of the Alamo real quick like. The mountain was the entire army of General Santa Anna. For better or worse the middle is the steep part 14-21%. My visions of really hitting that mighty army of a mountain faded. Where was Sam Houston anyway! I'm glad I wasn't on a HRM because I had to stop 3, yes 3, times just to get my breath. The third time I nearly turned around, but I continued and a good thing because it eased up after that to a milder pitch.The view was magnificent at the top. Now the turn around, Those of you who know me in the mountains probably think of me as a capable descender. Out here it is way different, not only is the pavement rough, cracked and patched, but it is often very twisty so you are on the brakes hard. Today was a new experience-about 2/3 way down I hear the hiss-hiss-hiss of a flat. Front, fortunatly not a blow out. It seems I was braking so hard that the tire/tube had spun a little on the rim. This pulled the stem and a hole developed at the juncture with the tube body. That's never happened before. A week and a half 'til the Gran Fondo, actually the Medio-metric for me. I feel good but there is a huge wall about a mile long at the mid point. Think Grandfather Mtn, the last part. Its odd, when the Tour of California did this the first couple years, it didn't even rank as a climb. The view out over the Pacific is grand. The Gran Fondo(103 mi.) goes over an extra hilly stretch into back country more remote than anyplace I know of back in NC. There are 3500 people registered and 1500 are doing the whole enchilada. I hope y'all get to dry out soon, roll on! HH

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sturm und drang

from the German, conventional translation :storm and stress, perhaps more literally storm and urge or storm and longing. This is an appropriate storyline for Friday night and Saturday. Saturday was indeed my first cyclocross race for the season as I have hinted earlier. Not having my usual training buds or opportunities, I had a case of pre-race anxiety and fitness concerns. I got all my gear arranged and into bed at a reasonable hour. I was awakened by heavy wind blowing in the window about 12:30. I got up and closed it somewhat and got back in bed-rumble- who is unloading a dumpster at this hour? what was that flash of light? Back to sleep. 2:00 AM rumble -boom ,awake, thunder and lightning. That's OK in NC, but there is never thunder or lightning here especially this time of year. The cat is most disturbed, his agreement was, CA is fine if there are no thunder storms. two months in and we are made out to be liars. In the morning there are very light showers on and off all the way to Sacramento two hours away. Not enough for mud and the ground is so dry it disappears. So there you have it; storm, stress, longing all knit together with weather and racing in my personal observations. This sturm und drang stuff is descriptive of a movement in German literature in which subjectivity and extremes of emotion were given expression in response to the rationalism imposed by the Enlightenment. Back to the race. I get through my typical pre-race routine and warm-up. I get to the line with the other B Men Masters all 20 some of us. I feel pretty good. Bang! off we go, and go and go. Skills are a little rough, but I settle in OK, a few mistakes here and there, a few good moves. Then it all settles down in the mid-point pain. I'm determined to hold off the guys behind me and trying to maintain striking distance to those ahead of me. Laps are short by NC series standards about 5 min. so I get to do 9 laps, ouch. Lots of sandy turns, two grassy barrier sections and a gravel straight away followed by a rocky section and 100 yds. of pavement. I finish up 5th of 6 55+ men. I am pretty satisfied for a early season race. Sandy off-camber turn run up a finish!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

"The Look"

Friday and Saturday high temps were 100 degrees and sort of humid, not SE USA steamy mind you, but heavy. I imagined the people out here, who know where I'm from, giving me "the look" as if I brought this weather with me. Most older homes out here don't have ac, so people will be very happy that todays high is predicted to be 83 and Monday cooler still. Thank goodness, they may have shipped me back to North Carolina, as if having me here was some kind of bad luck.
I stopped in another bike shop on my day off. THE Pro shop in the area. They had a Shimano field rep there with some wheels on display, and a bike built up with the new Dura-Ace Di2 electronic group installed. I won't take the time to explain it all to you, loyal reader, the bike press has done that and if you are interested, you've already read that. But I will give you my feedback. It certainly looked nice on a gleaming all carbon Lapierre road bike. I didn't get to ride it, but it was on a work stand and I was invited to run it through the gears. It has a gentle motor buzz when you tap the lever. The feedback through the fingers is a little like the feel you get from a mechanical shifter, more gentle, but with a little click-stop. The amazing thing is the front derailleur trims itself to keep the chain from rubbing as you cross the cassette. As other reviewers have noted the front shifting is a revelation. I made the slight easing off crank presure that an experienced rider will habitually do. But this thing shifts better when you keep hammering. It seems you can't make a bad front shift. Bike companys are already fitting their frames to accept this group more cosmetically. I still am not a great fan of the Shimano design and ergo aesthetic, but this group is well engineered. It is said to have been 9 years in development, so I imagine you will be seeing more of this in lower price groups as the economy of scale kicks in. It will cost you dearly to buy it now, but plenty is available as Shimano doesn't need to hesitate bringing it to market. I was thinking- the cost over the three year warrantee period would be less than the depreciation of many new cars! I sound like a Shimano salesman! Me, I will be staying with Campagnolo 10 speed as long as I can get parts. They are rebuildable.
Oh, don't worry about me and the wildfires, they are way south of here. For some reason they don't seem to be as much of a problem here.
Stay well and enjoy the ride.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Glowing embers

I have put together a potential race calendar for the o9/10 'cross season, and started some specific training. Now the embers are starting to glow, soon to be a fire. First race may be Sept 12 at Folsom Lake near Sacramento, if I can arrange a work day swap at work. Last years Sacramento series had ten 55+, B men. YAHOO! It will be very strange (even sad) to show up for my first race here and not knowing everyone. It was a great ten years in the NCCX series. I see the schedule is posted for the NC series, I hope my friends back East are starting to get ready. Any new hot tires being tried out? New bikes anyone? At this point I am flying the Luna/Fiets Maan colors, can't wait to get them in the CA dirt. We won't likely see rain/mud 'til Nov. Susan ansd I are registered for Levi's ride in October. The metric version will be plenty, what with 'cross season overlap. There are over 3500 people already registered between the 30-60-100 miler. I have never been in a mass ride that big before. The ride is being held to raise money to help the city host a stage of the 2010 Tour of CA. Temps out here still wander around some, but I still need arm warmers most mornings. Bikes everywhere. Like I've said before. Most times riding 2 mi. to work I see between 5-10 people riding, and most aren't in cycling garb. All for now, thanks for following keep wheels rolling

Sunday, August 16, 2009

New Tires

Many of of you know my fascination with cyclocross. Today marks the beginning of the cyclocross year for me. New tires on the pit/training wheels. I have had pavement tires on my 'cross bike until this evening. Today I picked up a pair of Michelin Mud2 tires at the shop and installed them after work. With growing excitement I took them out for a spin in the park. There is a park network with dozens of miles of trails , right across the street from us. It felt so good, that rush of reading the trail surface. picking up speed and finding that rythem, getting that off road mojo back, even just a little!! My first race is probably two months off, but it is time to get ready. On the pavement world, this past week marked my first back to back 60 mile rides in a long time. The second was another Friday club ride that just turned a little more ambitious than I planned. Hey Dan, it was supposed to be 45 miles! I was happy to do it as I learned some more good roads. Dang, there are some hills out here. I am trying to make my old hommies proud of me tho'. I hope things are well with you all, keep up the two wheel life. HH

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Now it's Summer

I am noticing a trend. If I look outside early and see sunlight in the tree tops, its going to be a no jacket ride or a training ride sans armwarmers. Nice. But also will be warmer at noon. The last two days were low nineties, but don't worry about me. The humidity was 42%. I got a nice training ride in this morning, and confirmed my early suspision. Namely, ones arms do get worn out if you greet every cyclist and runner you meet. I guess I will be the goofy non-native imitating a bird. A nice start to the day, Santa Rosa is valley surrounded by low mountain ridges. This Jack Londons Valley of the Moon. On the Eastern edge of town. His ranch museum is nearby A typical Sonoma County backroad Spanish Moss! No this is not the Carolina coast. I obviously haven't figured out how to do the blog layout fuction. Bear with me. Thanks for reading, and happy riding. HH

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Oceanviews included

This Friday I set out out on a solo ride that I estimated to be 50 mi. No, the distance turned out fine, although the word estimated, followed by the word distance does sound like the makings of a good story. I was going into a lot of areas unknown to me, not to mention solo. I was carrying a pair of tubes, CO2s, and a little anxiety. The club here has some great maps, so I cobbled together what I hoped would be a fun ride. It is posted on MapMyRide as Sebastopol to Sea, if you're interested. After some rural areas on the usual fair-poor road, I turned onto a smooth downhill that twists through Redwoods to the Russian River. This whole area, on down to the Pacific (22 mi. mark) reminds me of Lake Tahoma and Lake Lure but also Brown Mtn. Beach Road,the so called Red-neck Riviera. West Sonoma County in particular has a large population of ...shall we say free-thinkers. As I approach the coast I get into pretty serious headwind. I make the turn onto Hwy.1, Pacific Coast Highway I sense some self doubts surface. Wind? Hills? Traffic? I am along way from help! I continue of course, my battle with the cyclists devil and angel won by the angel. I settle into a great gently rolling tailwind stretch overlooking the ocean. Wish I had a lightweight camera. After ten miles, the route says to turn inland. I look at this little pigpath of a road climbing the bluffs over the Pacific. I finish a second delicious California Apricot (produce here is tremendous and fairly cheap) and start to climb, 6%, 8%, 10% ...15%.About one and a half miles and I am about 900' above the Pacific! Someone stenciled on the road that "we see clearly only with the heart" or some such, in case I need a reminder -I am in CA. The route now rolls for a while in very remote upland pasture lands then drops down through a grove of huge Eucalyptus trees. The aroma is fantastic. The next section is more heavily trafficed and less scenic. I will try a different but longer final leg next time. So I got in 48 miles and a good mix of flats sprinkled with some serious climbs. Great ride, I'll show it to you some day. Yes, produce is very good. Lots of plum varieties, nectarines, apples, grapes and more all rather inexpensive. The peaches I tried -not so good. Meats are cheaper too, and no sales tax on foods. but 9.25% on everything else, maybe it evens out? Thats all for now. Thanks for following HH

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Ever wonder why the bike world catalogs (yes, I do work in bike retail) show cool weather gear in the summer? It's because not all cyclists live on the East Coast. At least on the Pacific Coast, if you are riding before 10 AM you will have arm warmers and probably a vest on! It is mid 50s and low humidity. I commute to work every day and I wear a jacket on both ends of the day-in August! We wheel folk have a lot in common, but our experiences can be different. In Hickory, cyclists are aliens on the road, especially when alone. Like invaders from another planet ready to be hit by real, or at least imagined, death rays from the natives behind glass enclosed mobile fortresses. When seeing another cyclist, a greeting, no matter how subtle, is the norm. Here in NorCal, not so. I think many cyclists don't raise a greeting because their arms are just worn out, or something. Maybe they have been riding for several hours and after seeing so many of their alien cyclekin, their arms are just plumb giv'out. I jist don't know. Ready for a ride review? On Fridays (yes Fridays) the club has a 9AM ride, three levels: casual, moderate, and brisk. Its called Friendly Fridays 30-50 mi. I show up for my first ride as a local, and discover the moderate group is doing a hilly route, so I decide to do the flatter brisk route. I see a lot of 20+ on the computer. I am working hard for a friendly ride. The roads here are quite poor compared to "first-in-highways" NC, so flats are more likely, added to the fact that it hasn't rained in months to rinse the roads off. Bring good tires when you come. Back to the ride, a flat - not me thank goodness - so most of us roll on to good place to pull off the road. While pulling off my cool weather gear(see above) the flat fixers speed past. The group bolts after them, minus lil ol' me. The group has a tandem, and is on flat terrain. Need I say more? After several miles in TT mode I settle in. You guys wouldn't have treated me like that? I do know the posted route pretty well, no worries. I do rejoin at some place where they've stopped (no, "I thought we finally lost you" was heard) The ride went quite nice afterwards I only got dropped a little and not alone. The sun came out, it's often cloudy (marine layer) until late morning, we stopped for a coffee and headed back to the start. Nice. 20+ people , nice scenery, lots of vineyards and friendly but reserved folks. Happy Yesterday, Friendly Friday again. I decide to do the moderate ride. All of us do the same route this time, I am glad I didn't ask about hills. We are going along briskly moderate. When the first long hill comes , I settle in with the moderate folk. Susan and I are both here on this one and get to the first regroup point just fine. Happy. Another couple of flat miles, then turn on Pine Flats Rd. Some more flat.....and then winding ten miles of climbing. most at 6-10% followed by some 11-14% before back to 6%. But the scenery and distant views are out of this world. Come out and I'll take you there. We both feel great this day, we descend back to a rest stop for coffee, it is friendly, talk, then back track over the milder hills to the start. Very happy. Oh, I forgot Eureka translates as "I've Found It", should have been in the last entry. Roll on friends HH

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Welcome to NorCal Tarheel. This blog will be an insight into my life in new surroundings in Sonoma County CA. First of all the title of todays ramblings, Eureka! It is the state motto, and as you might guess it goes back to the gold rush era, but for me it conveys the emotion I have getting to California. I have had the pleasure of travelling here to visit family with my wife Susan several times in the past decade+. Each visit left us with a great attraction to the climate, scenery and culture. This year it all came to the point of... if not now, when? We took the big step, with the encouragement of our great friends and our families and here we are. It was way harder than we dreamed, but it all came together, and we are now settling in well. This blog will focus on life through a cyclists view of new surroundings, often noting the differences I see. I will try to stay in a positive frame of mind, and I do hope it will be a bit of a travelog. Back to the title. California is huge. Get a US map out. It is bigger than some countries and its GDP would put it in #8 of world economies were it a country on its own. But it is very diverse in climate, culture, economics and politics. NorCal is a term used by the people above the San Fran area to portray the pride the northern folk have in the differences they enjoy. I can't begin to give you an authoratative outline, but over time we will get there. For now, it's part - layed back, part - enjoy life especially outdoors, a good deal country (Sonoma is more rural than Catawba Cty) a fair amount sophisticated as it is only an hour drive from San Francisco. Bikes! Bikes everywhere, all the time. From the racer heads to the less fortunate who rely on two wheels all the time and everything in between. How about valet parking for bikes at numerous events! Mountain bikes, road bikes, fixies, old junkers, cruisers, its all out there all the time. But, drivers are not all bikefriendly, in fact I think drivers resent our numbers somewhat. Cyclists are so numerous that many act like own the place. So paradise does have a spoilt edge to it. Ah, humans. I will give you some riding reflections soon, I have been a Norcal rider for two solid weeks now! Ciao, HH