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