Jan 15

Mud Bogs and Seaweed Clumps

I like to call my fat bike a surf bike. It is not a perfect name, but it conveys what I like to do with it, which is ride on beach sand. A properly set up fat bike can ride along the beach all day in the right conditions. One of the conditions is the kind of sand. Sand that is too coarse or gravelly is no good: you sink into it no matter what. The finer the sand the better. Another condition is the wetness of the sand. If you cannot walk or run on the sand long, you cannot ride on it long either. People who run along the beach are good examples of what you want for fat bike conditions. They run on the wet sand just beyond the reach of the waves. If you ride along the ocean, the last condition is the tide. You want to ride on a low tide, or at least a falling tide well after high tide. At high tide  or during a rising tide the rideable wet strip has waves crashing on it all the time. The timing of  these conditions not been good for the last year or so. Good low tide conditions have been occurring at night and/or on week days. But now there are good fat bike beach conditions forecast every two weeks for many months. Consulting the tide report is very important when planning a surf bike ride.

The bikes that surfers ride might better be called surf bikes. Many surfers have beater bikes with surf board racks, and  they walk them out onto the sand to go surfing. There is also the recent trend of eBikes with fat tires that you might call a surf bike.  Surfers cans save their energy for surfing and they don’t have to push them across the sand. Fat eBikes outnumber human powered fat bikes around here by a wide margin when you count those that are ridden by non surfers on the bike trails and streets. I would not consider those to be surf bikes, but they would probably get lumped into the category, if it actually existed.

But whatever you call it, I rode the fatty along a route that I have been riding on my gravel bike lately, but threw in some beach sand. At least that was the plan.

 

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
06:45:01 04:11:45 35.96 8.57 25.72 2,408.14
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

Relive ‘Big fat fatty loop’

A dedicated pedestrian / bike bridge

I started with the big climb needed in order to get access to dirt trails where I live. My route took me past the amazing pedestrian/bike bridge that spans a new street. The bridge does not carry vehicle traffic: there are only hiking/biking dirt paths leading away from either end of it. But I have the same reaction every time I see that bridge: it is an unnecessary extravagance. That thing most likely cost millions of dollars to build. I cross the street that is spans less then a half mile from the bridge at a traffic light.  If you are going to count that as cycling/pedestrian infrastructure, the money would have been far better off spent to improve bike lanes, make bike paths, etc. If you are going to count that as a welcome sign for San Clemente, you could make a nice one for much less. Think of the iconic welcome to Las Vegas sign. Sure, that is not our style here in San Clemente, but it represents a lot of bang for the buck. OK, flame off.

It had rained a few days before the ride and that was enough to dry out all but the worst clay mud bogs. In fact, I encountered only one muddy patch on the whole ride. So I made sure I to take lots of pics.

 

If you get stuck in the mud, at least take pics.

 

It was the only mud bog of the day

 

Obligatory fatty glam pic

For this ride I decided to take the fire road option through the San Clemente Singletracks area,  which seems an odd choice in a area named after its singletrack riding, but it climbs to an overall higher point affording a pretty good view of the charred valley below.

Panoramic photos never capture the view like you hope they will, but I have to try them once in a while nonetheless

With a great climb comes a great descent. And this one ended at Trestles beach. I continued south past the decommissioned nuke plant at San Onofre and on to San Onofre State Beach. If features some quirky and little known mountain biking, closely paralleling the paved road that runs the length of the park. It also offers up ever changing views and the occasional technical twist in the trail.

Sunlight dazzles on the surf

But the feature of the day would be the beach section, starting with a drop in to “Old Man’s”. My timing with low tide was good, I was able to ride out in the tide pool areas. My spokes collected seaweed even better than the tires glommed onto mud and sand.

Your bike might be a surf bike if the spokes and crank get full of kelp.

The final leg of the ride proved pretty tough. I was recovering from a cold and 36 miles of fat bike riding was proving more than my body was ready for. My cold was mostly gone, but it was my stomach that was unable to keep up the pace. Let’s just say it would not be prudent to go into more detail.

I have lived in San Clemente for over 20 years now, and its beauty can still take me by surprise, coming up with postcard scenes in unexpected places even for jaded residents.

A classic San Clemente scene

 

There is not usually a flotilla of sailboats here, but these posed beautifully in the dazzling light of the reflection of the sun off the ocean.

Back on Coast Highway I was focused on getting home. But not too focused to stop and talk to one of the many people you see engaged in a loaded bike tour along the coast. I talked to Arthur (pronounced ar-TOOR) from Lithuania. He had ridden from San Jose to Ensenada. From there his riding buddies continued on to Mexico City and he turned around and headed back north. I told him about my plans to do a PCH ride starting in San Jose also. Arthur chose to strike this triumphant pose when I snapped his pic.

Arthur (pronounce it ar-TOOR) from Lithuania.

I did finally make it back to where the ride began: my front door. Somehow I managed to come up with a very small second wind and complete the climb into my neighborhood. Favorable fat bike ride conditions will return (for a working stiff like me) in another two weeks. I hope on that ride I can get a little more surf riding of the human powered two wheel variety.

Jan 01

The Great American Eclipse Trip, Boise ID, August 21 2017

Preparation and Getting There

I don’t know when I first heard about the Great American Eclipse of 2017. We know the schedules of eclipses for centuries in advance, maybe longer. I may have heard about it back in the 70s in high school (yes, now you have a bracket on my age). But I had never given much thought to making a trip to see a total eclipse. Carly Simon made it sound like a character flaw to see the total eclipse of the sun, after all. That all changed after I read the information about the eclipse that started flooding my social media. There is no comparison between a total eclipse and the partial eclipse that I would experience if I stayed home. I started reading about the crazy effects that occur during a total eclipse and I was hooked. I decided to travel to a viewing spot near Boise, Idaho and experience it in person.

At first I was not going to make a blog about this trip. I had decided to take the trip on 4 wheels, and, well, you know the title of the blog as well as I do. I have a motorcycle that would have been capable of taking me there with no problem. But the route involved crossing the desert for days in August. So I opted for my 4 wheel air conditioned  conveyance instead. I also decided to camp along the way to keep the feel of a two wheel trip. For quick overnight stays during travel in good weather I prefer camping to cheap hotels. Even in desert heat, overnight lows were forecast to be temperate for the trip. But I decided the trip fit my blog because part of the reason I chose to see the eclipse in Boise was to check out the city. It is a place I am interested in relocating to because it is known for its cycling and outdoor lifestyle. So part of my agenda was to rent a bike when I got there and ride the Boise River Greenbelt bike trail and get to know the area by bike. That sounded like 2 Wheel Lifestyle stuff, eh?

I found a map of the path of totality through the area and I chose Mann Creek Country Store as the place to view the eclipse. It was almost exactly on the center of the path and it was a long way from anything. After a couple of phone calls I found out that they were expanding their small campground just for the eclipse and they would have extra food, live music and other festivities. It was perfect. As long as it didn’t turn into Eclipsing  Man. And there would be no way to know that anyway.

 

My destination

As the eclipse drew closer I began reading dire predictions of what could happen during the eclipse. Most of the country lived within a 1 day drive of it. If they all decided to go, it would be a logistical nightmare of gridlock, overloaded emergency services and infrastructure. Undeterred, I decided to arrive early, leave late and bring extra supplies. Camping  would help me deal with a worst case scenario too.

After months of planning and anticipation (far more than was needed), I finally hit the road. My route took me up highway 395 in California, which I have always found remote and adventurous and I never seem to tire of it, even after spending a few years driving it frequently for business.  I stayed the first night in Bishop, CA.

 

Camping in Bishop, CA

 

Obligatory food pic. I always seem to be cooking and eating dinner in the dark when I camp.

There are several different definitions or categories of “camping”, something that Google with all of its technical prowess cannot seem to deal with. There is at least: RV camping, car camping and backcountry camping. Bicycle and motorcycle touring fall between backcountry and car camping camping  in terms of the gear you use and where you go, and they are my favorite format for adventure. So a car camping trip like this was a real luxury. I got to use a big 2 person tent for just myself, which I referred to as my “condo”. I brought an expansive 2 burner propane gas stove. A cooler and always present ice was something that I really enjoyed. I spoiled myself by not worrying about bringing extras or duplicates of clothes, food, etc. Such opulence.

As I was driving I noticed other people headed for the eclipse. How could I tell that was their destination? They had signs in their windows! It was so totally nerdy that I got inspired and pulled over at a drug store and made a sign of my own so I could fly by geek flag at full mast.

 

Owning the tech-dweeb spirit. There was no point in fighting it.

By night 2 I had reached Boise, just a short jaunt from the Mann Creek. I stayed at another RV/tent campground. Tent campsites at RV campgrounds are usually leftovers after allocating all of the good spots to the RVs. This campground was no different, but at least the tiny campsites were waterfront locations.

 

My home for two different nights, but not in a row

The Main Event

I struck out early the next day to explore Boise a bit before continuing to Mann Creek. Boise is a lovely mix of urban and rural, old and new, big city and small town.  I felt like it was a mix of the small farm town I grew up in and the big city I have since moved to. It ticked all the boxes for me.

 

Old local architecture is well preserved and gives Boise a rugged western feel.

 

Boise is growing pretty fast from what I read. It seems to be doing it with balance and poise.

I only took time to have a cup of coffee and have a quick look around Boise. I would spend more time there after the eclipse. It was time to head out to my chosen viewing site early just in case the rest of the state decided to show up at the same spot. There was no way to know who would show up where.

 

The state was somewhat prepared for big crowds. And yes, I parked on the highway to take this picture.

The crowds and heavy traffic did not really materialize. In my travels the small village of Weiser had some small traffic jams. It was fun driving through the small town with RVs parked and tents pitched all over the place. I arrived at Mann Creek shortly afterward, and they were ready for the eclipse. They had live music, plentiful beer and barbecue, beach volleyball and a generally festive atmosphere all good to go.

 

Mann Creek had food trucks, kiosks and a lot to see.

 

I took a break from cooking my own meals at campsites.

I set up camp in a field that had just been cut to create a makeshift camp area. The grass had the texture of sticks and many people were complaining about small bugs covering their lower legs as they walked across the field. The site did have a couple outhouses that had external sinks with soap, water and paper towels, but that was it. I felt well prepared and ready for the eclipse the next day. I had even thought to bring a small folding chair, which was very important at a site like this.

 

No picnic tables, fire rings, electricity or water at this “campsite”. But I was happy with the location nonetheless.

 

Another look at the extravagance I was basking in at my campsite.

The next day was the big one. I had read many times that taking pictures of the eclipse was best left to NASA and the professionals. The total eclipse would only last 2 minutes 20 seconds or so. It would be better to spend that short time experiencing the event rather than focusing on your camera then looking at it through a lens. Many of my campground neighbors were taking the professional photography approach with big telescopes and nice cameras made for taking these kind of pictures. I could not help it, I had to take a couple of pictures, but I decided to limit it to just that. I used my phone with a sheet of “opaque” Mylar to attenuate the sunlight. It is the same stuff I use on the top edge of my motorcycle helmet face shield, so it seemed like it would work for this application. It did, but one one picture I took before the eclipse began was enough for me.

 

I had to try. It does look kind of cool though.

One effect I had hoped to see during the eclipse was the shadow of the moon racing toward me  just before the total eclipse started. The shadow was moving at 1600 mph or so, so you needed to get a view of a large area in order to hope to see it. Those who have seen it describe it as and awesome and even frightening effect to behold. In order to see it I needed to find a high vantage point where I could get a good view. Fortunately one was nearby.

 

The view of the “campground” from the hill were I watched the eclipse.

I was not the only one hoping to see the shadow of the moon approaching. I made a few new friends at the top of the hill, and it turns out we were all there hoping to see the shadow of the moon too.

 

Rachael, Randy and Greg came from the UK and Northern California to watch the eclipse.

 

As we waited for the eclipse, a party raged on at the cafe below sending live music our way as a soundtrack to the event.

 

The was the view we had in the direction that the shadow of the moon would be coming from.

In the last few minutes leading up to the total eclipse, things got really weird. The light from the sun was dimming noticeably. It was very strange to have the sun overhead on a clear day but for the day to get dark anyway. It was like the light of the sun was more like a silvery or gray moonlight effect. For my group on the hill looking for the shadow, it was a bit of a commitment. You had to be looking at the ground to see the shadow, which means we would miss the onset of the eclipse and the first diamond ring effect. But those would happen again in reverse order at the end of the eclipse, and the receding shadow of the moon is not an effect to watch for anyway.

The eclipse finally started, cheered on by the crowd at the cafe below. But none of us were able to see the shadow of the moon effect. The dimming of the sun suddenly turned into night in the middle of the day: no advancing curtain of darkness.  I think we needed a view of a larger area if we wanted to see the shadow. So it was time to look up at the eclipse itself. Even after all the hype and preparation and pictures, I was still unprepared for what I saw when I looked up.

 

Another example of how I had to try to take a pic. Compared to the real thing, it did not capture it at all.

It is hard to describe what the eclipse looked like, but I will say that I have never seen a picture of an eclipse that captured what I saw that day. The sun was replaced by an impossibly dark disk, and the corona stretched out with arms of light about the intensity of a full moon that covered a huge part of the sky. The sky went dark and a sunset effect took place 360 degrees around the horizon. The temps dropped immediately by what seemed like 10 degrees or more: a warm August day suddenly turned into cold unnatural sunset. I thought I had become jaded about all of the amazing things that would happen during the eclipse after reading about them so much. But even after all of that, it still blew me away. I took one last pic: a video actually.

 

 

The eclipse ended with an astounding diamond ring and the re-emergence of the sun, greeted by another round of cheering from the cafe. All of the strange dim light from the sun that took place before the eclipse happened but in reverse, steadily returning to a normal day as if nothing unusual had happened.  I waited a long time before I broke camp hoping to avoid traffic, but not too long, the partial eclipse was still ongoing. I encountered more traffic leaving that I did getting there, but I expected that. People trickled in all morning, but tended to leave at the same time. A little creative use of Google Maps did save me some time. The eclipse was over. It was time for what I was calling my post eclipsolyptic bike ride in Boise.

 

Out and About in Boise

I rented a bike from a shop just north of downtown Boise that had good access to the Boise River Greenbelt and rode south on the greenbelt as far as Eckert road and back. It was a great place to ride.

 

There was more to do along the river than bike.

 

There were beautiful homes, golf courses, parks and office buildings along the river too.

 

I could spend all day in a yard like that. Well, probably not actually. After looking at the bike trail I would be on my bike eventually.

 

The trail has many dedicated bridges that cross the river and its branches

 

This is like an artificial white water feature. It is calm in this pic, but it can release a lot of water too, making a challenging current to paddle into.

 

The trail is not all along groomed, landscaped grounds. There are wild areas like this too.

 

I stopped for lunch at Lucky 13 restaurant which I highly recommend. The spicy pizza was good enough that I had them wrap up the leftovers and I took it back with me, even though I did not have a good pocket to carry it in.

 

This part of Idaho does have a wine district, so I sampled a local vintage. I am afraid I may have been too cheap, though. New rule of thumb: when sampling local anything, don’t be stingy.

The Trip Home

The time had come to say good bye to Idaho and head home. I really enjoyed my stay. I took a different route back, taking me through Las Vegas, where I sought out some Route 66 as an alternative route between Vegas and Los Angeles.

 

Huge river gorges like this were pretty amazing to see on the way back.

 

My last night camping at a tent site in an RV campground.

 

I finally checked into a hotel in my travels. Weekdays in Vegas can be a pretty good deal. And you just don’t get any Elvis statues at your normal campground.

 

This is the only time I have traveled Route 66 to get back from Vegas, and what do I stumble on except the iconic Roy’s Motel. It is not in business, but it is maintained as a landmark nonetheless.

The Great American eclipse had not disappointed. Total eclipses happen on the Earth somewhere about every 18 months on average, but this total eclipse ended a long dry spell decades long for the continental US. Now that I have had a taste, I want more. The eclipse in 2024 will be a destination for me for sure. While the eclipse did not result in the disastrous crowds it was predicted to do, I predict the 2024 will, now that so many people like myself know what they are all about.  I will review the path of totality for that eclipse and pick another viewing location with good cycling in the area.

Dec 31

The Strand to Sycamore Canyon Overnighter, July 2015

The Plan

This is another throwback blog of a ride I took a while ago.  The route was simple: to ride the entire length of “The Strand”, continue along PCH to Point Mugu State Park and camp at a Sycamore Canyon, then retrace my route back the next day.

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
07:15:28 04:57:44 52.86 10.65 33.33 1,476.38
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.
Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
06:08:09 04:36:07 51.90 11.28 40.04 1,385.83
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

“The Strand” is the name of the paved beach bike trail along the Pacific coast to the west of Los Angeles. It has been given the official name of Marvin Braude Bike Trail, but I have never heard it called that. Although if you want to look it up on Wikipedia, use the formal name. The southern end is in Torrance and the northern end is in Pacific Palisades. In many sections there  are two paved trails: one for bikes and one for pedestrians. The Strand takes you past many famous places you have probably seen in movies and TV many times. It takes you under planes taking off from  LAX International airport, it gets routed onto surface streets in a few sections, cuts inland around Marina Del Ray Harbor, and is in general a great touristy ride. You should not be in a hurry along The Strand. In addition to all of the sights to take in there are lots of beach cruisers, children on bikes, pets on leashes, rollerbladers, etc. that can wander all over the trail. It is best to slow down for traffic and enjoy the scenery for most of the 22 miles.

I chose to ride on July 2-3 for a couple of reasons. It was easy to get time off of work around the 4th of July holiday. And I had hoped that there would be a good level of beach activity at that time, i.e. not too much, but not abandoned either.

Getting Started

I drove to Palos Verdes to an area where it looked like it would be safe and legal to park overnight. It turns out it was: I did not get any tickets, towing, theft, vandalism, etc.  I wanted to ride The Strand from end to end, and it began with a relatively steep drop from surface streets to the trail and a cute place called Perry’s Cafe and Beach Rentals.

 

Perry’s Cafe was my welcome to The Strand

Perry’s set the tone for the entire Strand. There are hundreds of great places to stop and eat. You could spend days to cover The Strand if you wanted to. I planned to have lunch at one of the places that was right on the sand where I could stay in my bike clothes and sit outside.

 

El Segundo Beach Cafe is where I chose to stop for lunch

Even though I got a later start than I wanted, it was still too early for most beach goers and the trail was not heavily traveled. It made for smoother sailing but less people watching and sightseeing opportunities. There was almost no one at muscle beach, for example. The timing of Day 2 would be better for beach hubbub.

The Transition

Will Rogers Beach marked the northern terminus of the trail where I got dumped unceremoniously onto  Pacific Coast Highway or PCH. It was time for a complete shift in my riding attitude. There is a bike lane and room for bikes along this stretch of PCH, but there is a lot of parallel parking along the road, driveways and drivers who did not want to give me the space I needed to ride. I stuck it out, and the farther north I went along the road, the thinner traffic got. Making it through and past Malibu was a turning point, but it came at quite a price. The hills of Malibu were steep and plentiful, and my touring gear weight made them even tougher, of course.

 

Taking a break at Legacy Park in Malibu

I stopped at the last place available on the route to buy food so I could get something to make for dinner at the campsite later. It was a small high end grocery where I was able to get a nice steak and a Starbucks was located in the same plaza. That is where I discovered I was not a prepared for the trip as I thought I was, financially anyway. I had lost my main credit card a few days earlier, so I brought along my gas credit card as a backup and some cash. It turned out the gas card was not a credit card at all and I could only use it at the one brand of gas station. I had no ATM access either so I made due with the cash I had, which was barely enough if I skipped a couple of luxuries I was planning on. I did have my phone and Starbucks app, however.

 

Stopping for a Starbucks at the last opportunity for civilization on day 1

Two Ends of the Spectrum

While at my final stop before camping, I encountered a slice of Malibu in a nutshell.

 

It is cool of you don’t think about the details too much

The pic may not capture it, but in person the Mercedes had a Barbie toy paint job. It was being driven by a teenage girl and the SUV was obviously hers. She may have been a child star with the means to pay for something like that herself. Or it may have been a gift from her parents. But either way, having that much stuff at that age is usually a recipe for disaster. Call me jealous if you like, but child stars and rich kids rarely grow up happy, balanced people. I hoped she was among those that appreciated what she had. I appreciated my less flashy vehicle and continued north.

 

Ethan and Bella (Ethan is the human), my hike or bike campsite buds

I rolled into Sycamore campground and set up camp in the “Hike or Bike” area. Many California State Parks designate a few small campsites as Hike or Bike sites. They are cheap and can only be used for one night for hikers or bikers passing through. The only other camper in the sites was Ethan, who was hiking the coast. We spent a long time talking. I would not be surprised to see a documentary about him on TV someday. He had great stories to tell and was living a minimalist lifestyle that allowed him to explore the world. He had recently been interviewed by a group that was making a film about something else, but they took a detour from their activities to talk to Ethan.

I won’t say that I thought about eating too much on this trip, but I did think about it a lot and I decided to go fancy.  I was happy with the results. Sorry if you are a vegetarian.

 

I was really roughing it on this trip

Bringing It Home

The return trip wasn’t unremarkable, but it was the trip from the day before in reverse. Even though I was on the ocean side of PCH, I wanted to focus on getting back so I did not stop to take any pictures. It is amazing to me how different a ride looks when you go back the way you came. More so on a bike than when driving a car. Perhaps because you see so much more on a bike, seeing it from a different angle makes a bigger difference and makes everything new again.

May 24

Tour of California 2017 Stage 7 By Moto

The time had come to once again follow a stage of the Tour of California on my motorcycle. I have done this once before: Stage 6 of the 2010 Tour, following the tour from Palmdale to Big Bear CA. I will put up a retro blog about that soon.

When I say “follow”, I don’t mean that I would be riding along just behind the race, and I am certainly not a motorcycle support rider. I mean that I go for a ride parallel to the route and meet up with it during my ride. This time the stage started in Mountain High ski area in Wrightwood CA and wound its way over the San Gabriel mountains into Pasadena. The route would allow me to ride the serpentine Angeles Crest Highway between the start and finish, giving me getting a chance to wring out my new moto steed: a 2016 BMW S1000XR.

Getting Started

I got an early start taking the not so direct Ortega Highway to get to the start line, which means I was leaning the XR over as the sun was coming up. There is so much that has been written about the BMW S1000 series motorcycles that it is hard to add more to it. My own experience is that the performance levels of a bike like this, while far beyond my own skills, are still great fun. Modern electronics protect riders like me who are not experienced with this this much power. Why bother with a 600cc sportbike anymore?

Sunrise on Ortega Highway

Route 66

My route took me up the I-15 freeway using a route I had created using my favorite “ridwithgps” website and uploaded onto the BMW Navigator V GPS. I wasn’t planing to get a GPS for the bike, but BMWs Navigators are so integrated into the bike it would be a shame not to get one. BMW introduced the Navigator VI not long ago, so Nav Vs can be had for a good deal. I struggled a bit with the Navigator on my loop route, but I of expected a small learning curve. I later sorted out all of my issues by Googling and emailing Garmin, who were very helpful, BTW. I am all set for my next long ride.

The reason I bring this up is that I stumbled on a very nice new extension to Route 66 through the Cajon Pass. It means you can swap a big unfriendly bit of freeway for a scenic, relaxed stretch of road. I will leave you to fill in the details using your favorite map site, but you can ride between Duncan Canyon Road and Cajon/Cleghorn Road off the freeway via a nice alternate route. It ended with a short leg of the 15 freeway and I was off again at the Highway 138 exit, which is always a good place to take a break if you are riding through the area. There is no Starbucks there, but that fits in with the rugged terrain. Make due with some McDonald’s coffee and embrace the setting.

Different strokes: A Kawasaki, a BMW and a Harley, all as police bikes. All looking pretty good, too and resting at the Highway 138 exit.

The Start

I like taking Lone Pine Canyon Road into Wrightwood. It is shorter but much more rugged than the main highway. I think a lot of GPS units guide people down that road who would be better off on the main highway, meaning some drivers are timid and slow on the rough narrow road. But the XRs huge supply of torque and long travel made quick work of slower vehicles. Wrightwood was as quaint as ever and the weather was perfect: clear, cool, and pine scented.

Arriving a little on the early side, I was able to look around and watch some of the team buses arrive. When you are watching race coverage on TV all the teams look like they have similar budgets. They all have the best bikes, custom riding gear, etc. But when you look at the team cars and buses, you see that their levels of sponsorship probably vary dramatically.

The teams started to arrive at the start area at Mountain High. Some had a pretty big presence.

Some were downright imposing, featuring luxury cars as support vehicles

Some got by on a little less

And some were even more basic.

The amount of support was amazing, including the sheer number of motorcycles involved. There were as many support bikes as there were police bikes.

I talked to a few of the support riders, meaning the motorcyclists who ride close support of the race, weaving their way among the racers. Most of them are current or former law enforcement riders who get loads of motorcycle skill training and would be well qualified for something like this. As for me, I was happy paralleling the event, riding at speeds that are more fun, and saving my clutch from riding at bicycle speeds. Although the cyclists do maintain a pretty impressive pace, and in some downhill situations they are actually faster than the motorcycles.

Somehow I was not worried about anything happening to my bike while I was parked here.

The announcers color commentary was really good. They are not the same as the TV team. I listened in to them for quite a while as they covered the team sign in process.

The start line, ready to go.

I decided not to watch at the start line, but rather watch from a short distance down the road. It is hard to explain, but that way I would be able to leave immediately after the Tour went by and not have to wait for the road to open again. Law enforcement officials close the roads down well before the ride gets there and even for a while after it has passed through.

And they’re off!

They disappeared up another rode to Pasadena while I took Highway 2

After parting ways with the race temporarily I focused on the endless series of apexes that is Highway 2. It was my first serious session on a super sport bike. My previous bikes were all in the dual sport category and had dirt bike handling traits. You can counter lean bikes like that (i.e. lean the opposite way of the bike in a corner, or keep your body upright as the bike leans in) up to moderate speeds and they will corner well. The XR can be counter leaned, of course, but it demands that you lean into corners (i.e. lean the same way as the bike) nearly all the time. It must be a combination of wheelbase, steering geometry, tires, who knows? Shift my weight side to side in corners was fun and rewarding. It is the beginning of the technique that leads to knee dragging, something I have no particular aspiration to do. Even if I did I would require a track to learn it well.

Eventually I dropped down from the mountain and into Pasadena like the racers would do behind me in an hour or two.

The Finish

An impressive big screen to watch the Tour on as you waited in in Pasadena

The finish line was a huge festival atmosphere as I had hoped. The road was already lined with spectators waiting for the peloton to arrive. I grabbed some lunch (Doh! No pic!) and checked in at many of the booths.

I was not keeping track of the ride enough to know what was going on. But that was OK, I went home and watched the race coverage of the stage on the DVR. So I was OK with a second row seat at the final run in to the finish line.

The finish line, looking a lot like the start line.

And the end of the Tour of California, 2017, with the jersey winners leaving the podium after the final presentation.

The final leg of the ride from Pasadena to home was the hardest, and I knew it would be. It was hot, the traffic was terrible and much of it was stop and go surface streets getting out of Pasadena. But that is how trips out and back usually are. The trip out is full of energy, discovery and getting away. The last leg is done when you are tired and you are familiar with the route. But it is a small price to pay for such a great experience.

 

Mar 19

Redlands Strada Rossa Ride 2017

After much anticipation, the Redlands Strada Rossa ride finally came around on March 18, 2017.  Aside from having one of the coolest names ever for a ride, it features a variety of both on and off road riding which is a format that I have always wanted to ride at an organized event. The name, Strada Rossa, means red road in Italian. I presume the red is a reference to the Redlands venue. I had never ridden in that area before and I was excited about riding some new trails. And to cut to the chase, the ride was everything I hoped it would be. And I had some pretty high hopes for this ride.

 

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
08:14:54 05:54:55 56.11 9.48 33.33 4,747.38
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

The event was an hour or two hour drive from home, starting at 8am on Saturday. So I splurged and got a cheap motel room near the event so I would not have to get up at 5am and rush out the door. Cheap motels can be adventures in themselves. The one I stayed at featured the often hyped “continental breakfast”. Although to their credit, they did offer something I had never seen before:

Seriously, all you had to do was press a button and a pancake like thing would pop out of one end of this machine a minute or so later. You did not have to add batter or anything.

I can’t say I will miss it if I never see one again. I ate the thing that came out. The parts of it that I could get unstuck from my paper plate, anyway.

The organizers of the event published their routes as GPX files, kudos to them for that, and more on that later. Using Google Earth Pro (not plain old Google Earth, mind you) and some editing software I whipped up a flyover animation of the ride. I shared it on the event Facebook page and it was well received. I think the only people that watched it to the end were me and riders wanting to visualize the route.

The ride itself was aimed at more advanced riders and that was a good thing. Let’s just say it is not a “fun for the whole family” kind of event. The off road riding was technical. There was plenty of climbing, a few hike a bikes, steam crossings, a nice assortment single track and fire/gravel roads, and lots of short sandy sections to be negotiated. I would not describe the course overall as sandy, but if you could not handle a few pedal strokes of loose sand you would have gotten off of your bike a lot.

Hardly any of the road ride sections had a bike lane, and a few sections really didn’t have much room for bikes at all. But they were in quiet neighborhoods or on lightly traveled country roads. Overall the route had the feel of being made for riders with a sense of toughness and adventure which I enjoyed thoroughly.

It was also operated on a shoestring budget compared to some of the big rides I have done. The organizers did an impressive job and made the most of their resources, providing us riders with great rest stops, nice sag support, and an after event meal and beer. The only criticism I have, and I make this with some trepidation because I don’t want to take anything away from such a great event, was the accuracy of the GPX files. The course was well marked with arrows and stickers on the ground in addition to GPX files. It was clear they made the GPX files by having someone ride the course. But the course got updated after that and the GPX files were not updated, so the GPX file and the ground markings sometimes did not agree with each other. I made a few wrong turns but figured them all out within a few hundred feet. The situation could be fixed by editing the GPX files. The organizers shared the files on ridewithgps.com (call it rwgps), which is my favorite site for this kind of thing. rwgps has a great editor and route mapper built in. You can edit or construct GPX files without having to ride the whole course over again. They shared the files directly on rwgps rather than mailing out copies of the files (which is the right way to do it) so they could have updated the files up to the very end. They were so close to being perfect about it, and in the end it was a small thing and did not matter that much.

The starting line

As for my ride, I chose the 60 mile option. They offered 30, 60 and 90 mile rides. 30 miles was not that much more than I usually do, but 60 miles looked like it might take me more time than the event was scheduled for. So I decided to go for 60 and cut the course a little if needed. It was a ride not a race, after all.

Sag Stop 1

The weather report was for highs in the 80s. Not super hot, but I knew I would have to pay extra attention to hydration and sunblock. I started at the back of the 60 mile group and sure enough they slowly pulled away. By the time I got to the first steep climbing I had the feeling of being out there all alone, but knowing all the while I was part of an event. It was a great way to experience a new area. On my first big descent I did a run away endo, meaning I was able to jump off the bike and run away from it. But my stem did not fare so well: it got rotated slightly. I decided to wait until the first sag stop to fix it. The stop had a mechanic there who did a fine job. The sag stop featured smoothies, too, which were great on a hot day.

The first of many gorgeous vistas

If you have ever tried to capture a picture of a great view, you know how futile it is. But I tried anyway. The ride opened up to awesome green vistas of canyons and valleys, the nearby mountains still had snow on them, and the trails seemed to go on forever.

Somewhere before Sag Stop 2 a friendly rider pulled up next to me and asked me what distance I was riding. The 3 rides overlapped a lot and I was in a section where riders might be doing any distance. When I told him I was doing the 60 mile, he told me very nicely that I was on the verge of the “cut off” time, meaning that if I kept up my pace I might return as the event was shutting down or miss the festivities. More importantly they wanted to account for all the riders and their safety. Rather than waiting forever for stragglers or injured riders to make it back, they proactively swept the course for these problems.

I had anticipated this and had a few course cuts in mind. The end result was I cut off 7 miles out of 63 and 600 feet of climbing out of 5300. It was a perfect size and challenge for me, I don’t feel bad about cutting out a couple of sections. Next year I think I will do the 60 mile option again but start with the 90 mile group. And be faster.

The big unrideable crossing. The organizers said it could be walked across though, otherwise I may not have even tried that.

A view of Greenspot Road bridge and Sag Stop 4 from high above.

Greenspot Bridge is a lovely throwback to a simpler time.

Greenspot Bridge used to be on Greenspot Road. Pretty shocking, I know. It was replaced by a much wider, modern bridge just a few hundred yards away. I bet the old bridge is too old to safely handle car traffic now and it is closed to cars. But it is fine for bikes. The remainder of the ride was a mild descent across a flood plain and back to the industrial park where it all started. The start/finish line was a little place called Ritual Brewing, a gracious host that set up the back parking lot for finish line festivities. Included in the cost of registration was a t shirt, an excellent craft beer and a generous meal. And a great ride.

I introduced myself and joined a group of riders I did not know while I ate. The guy sitting on my left started talking like an industry insider so I asked him a little about himself. It turns out he was Dave Turner, founder and namesake of Turner Bikes, whom I have been a fan of forever. Dave’s name and reputation preceded him, but he is not the kind of person that gets his picture out there much. He was super authentic and interesting and if I had not interrogated him a bit I would have never known who he was. Just one of the surprising things that can happen to you at an event like this.

Dave Turner of Turner Bikes

And finally the Relive.cc version of my ride. They have added some nice new features lately. But since I have my own version of a flyover at the top of the blog I saved this for the end. The next event I have planned for is the MS Bay to Bay ride this fall. At this point I am thinking that the Big Bear Century might fit in nicely, I did it once before and really liked it. I will see how I feel as that date approaches. And of course, the Strada Rossa again next year.

Relive ‘Redlands Strada Rossa 60ish mileish’

Feb 24

Vultures, An Opsrey And A Cutthroat Overnighter

All of this much needed rain we have been getting in California continues to reek its own special havoc with outdoor activities. Cyclists here are not used to dealing with rain, so when I ride in a light rain there are very few cyclists to be seen, even during peak riding times. I don’t think it is a coincidence that it is the Wicked Witch of the West that dissolves and dies when she gets hit by water in the land of Oz. Had she been the Wicked Witch of the Southwest the analogy would be even better. But my trusty new-ish Salsa Cutthroat and I have been braving the rain and mud (where it won’t damage trails) whenever possible.

“Old Man’s” beach is never empty like this. Never. Except when the dirt access road is closed. The only cyclists that pass this way are roadies, and they never come down here even when the road is NOT a giant mud bog. A drop bar mountain bike on the other hand got through the slop just fine.

These fenders are too small, but they work. The off road options at San Onofre are mostly gravel road beds and were in fine shape even after some rain.

The rain was forecast to let up for much of President’s Day weekend, and I decided to take advantage of the day off by doing an overnighter camp trip from Sunday to Monday, staying at the very urban San Elijo State Beach campground, which offers a “hike or bike” campsite. It is only ten bucks a night, no reservations needed and they never turn anyone away.

Here are my graphics of the ride. One of each type for each of the two days of the ride:

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
04:17:22 03:57:20 44.19 11.17 30.42 1,486.22
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

Relive ‘Lunch Ride’

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
04:58:19 03:51:43 43.74 11.33 31.99 1,332.02
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

Relive ‘Return home from overnighter’

After leaving the neighborhood by way of an optional new climb, I arrived at San Onofre State Beach, greeted by this welcoming committee:

These critters are bigger and uglier than they look in the picture.

The flying one says to the one on the ground: “The bikers are coming, Bill! Leave the road kill behind!”

But Bill turns out to be pretty resourceful. So THIS is why we don’t see much road kill around here. And yes, of course, YUK!

The route leaves San Onofre and heads to Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base, which I love riding across. Part of the route is a dedicated bike trail, some of which is the old highway surface that predates the nearby I-5 freeway. It also provides the Marines access to a helipad that is used for training exercises. By this point in the ride you are long past any services or civilization. There is an unobstructed view from the inland hills to the ocean. The coastal sage ecosystem had turned green and was flowering after all the rain. So it was a sharp contrast to the scenery when I came acrosss this parked next to the bike trail:

A sick bird.

It had quite a crew tending to it.

Apparently one of the “helicopters” had not fared so well. For those of you not familiar with this aircraft, it is a unique beast called the “Osprey” tilt rotor. They can take off, land and hover like a helicopter. While they are in the air they can rotate the rotors convert from a helicopter into a prop plane and back. They operate in the area but they are a rare sighting, so getting to see one up close like this was a real treat. It was covered with Marine mechanics, clearly working feverishly to get the big bird back in the air.

The ride from there continued along coast highway toward San Diego. I was worried I had left too late and would arrive at the campsite after dark, which I have done way too many times. But I arrived with daylight to spare, albeit not much.

I made it in time for a sunset.

My trusty steed.

I set up camp and made a concoction of Idahoan potatoes, leftover chicken from home and dried veggies which I had rehydrating all day while I was riding. I like to practice being self contained for more remote rides in the future. I do my best to pretend that I am roughing it. But if anything were to go wrong in a place like this I would simply ride my bike to one of the dozens of excellent restaurants, bike shops, or convenience and sporting goods stores that line coast highway. I did give in and buy some wine. Which, by the way, was too much for me to finish in one evening.

It may not be saying much, but it did taste better than it looks.

Breakfast came out looking a little nicer I think.

I love camp cooking. And eating. It is a big part of the fun of bike touring for me.

This was an out and back ride, not a loop. So it was back along the coast, stopping for supplies.

You know you got the right bike when you get excited whenever you look at it. The Cutthroat was made for this kind of ride and looks right at home.

Backtracking meant I got to see if the Osprey was still there. They were still working on it. Maybe they where having a hard time getting parts.

It was more disassembled than yesterday.

For the final leg of he journey, after several weeks of rain and clouds, the sun made a glorious appearance along the coast.

The train does come right down on the sand along here.

This is a popular surf beach. Competitive events are held in this area every year.

Did I mention the sun came out?

This overnighter started by riding out of my garage, and ended with me riding back up to it. It was a great success. I finally made a checklist for my rides, and this time I did not forget anything. It was amazing. And my new bike impressed. It not only bore the burden of all of the gear, but it remained a lively, solid platform while doing it. All of my other bikes, including my “light tourer”, exhibit a little flex while loaded if you stand up and pedal hard up a hill. Not the Cutthroat. Much to my delight, I stood on the pedals and the front stayed planted and the bike turned my pedal power into forward momentum instead of using my energy to wag the back half of the bike in a different direction from the front. And this is a carbon frame and fork, so it has a smooth lively ride and is reasonably lightweight. And most important it is red.

I am running out of local campgrounds to venture to. My next overnighter may be a little farther afield, or it may be a rerun. Time will tell.

 

Jan 29

After The Rain Comes Sun

The last few weeks have brought a series of badly timed rainstorms to southern California. Don’t get me wrong: we need the rain. We need it epic bad. But the pesky storms have been blowing through on the weekends. And while rides were possible, they had to timed just right to avoid the rain, or you had to be out in the rain. I did my fair share of rainy rides, mostly on the road. Off road riding options get very limited during the rain. Most wilderness areas around here close during and after the rain for a few days, and for good reason.

For those of you not familiar with our soil here, it is mainly some combination of three things: clay, sand, rocks, and clay. And a little extra clay thrown in for good measure. Forget loam, it ain’t happening. The Loam Ranger is a frustrated rider in these parts. If you have never had the experience of riding in wet clay, count yourself lucky. The clay we have is like cement that sets the moment it hits your tires. With each rotation of your tire the clay ads another generous layer on top of the last layer, which has not gone anywhere, thank you very much. Obviously this can only go on for a couple of tire rotations, then the stuff packs out to your stays and refuses to come off. And you stop. Not just because your tires weigh 50 pounds, which they do. You stop because your spokes all snap, your rim tacos, and your nipples explode. On your wheels, too. And if you look behind you at your tracks, you will see a trail that is damaged because you just sucked a giant deep track of clay out of it and messed it up bad, possibly for the rest of the season. To add insult to injury, clay is largely waterproof. Water does not seep through it into the ground. It stays on the surface. If a grade does not allow the it to drain off, the water just stays there and laughs at you until evaporation finally gets rid of it. So it takes a couple of days after the rain stops until trails can be ridden without damage again.

And that is where this ride comes in. The rains had finally subsided for long enough for the clay to dry out, wilderness areas reopened, the sun came out, the winds mostly died, and it was back to California weather as usual. Except for all this weird wet stuff everywhere:

My ride had me crossing streams like this all day. They are not as scary as they might seem to the uninitiated, I got better at reading them as the day went on. Speaking of the route here it is:

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
04:44:58 03:16:49 25.41 7.74 29.75 2,824.80
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

I signed up for a web site called “relive.cc”. They make these cool animations of your rides. Check it out, I am pretty stoked about getting these. I don’t know if they will stay up forever or if they will have to include advertising in the future, and all the usual concerns you have over cool new free web sites:

The ride started right off with a taste of what I was to see all day: ruts. Big ones, little ones, ruts with water, ruts with rocks, unpredictable ruts that zig zagged everywhere. Still better than the best day at work, but…ruts.

The rain brought green to southern California almost instantly. And lots of it. The drought has been going on so long I had forgotten what was supposed to be green and how wonderful the landscape looked with it. I had begun to accept that year round brown and gray was the norm. Heck, there is even water in the reservoir.

I stood on this ridge for a long time watching a huge vulture glide all over the place without flapping its wings once. It started below me, which is always amazing to me: watching a bird fly from above the bird. Sorry, no vulture pic. It was enormous, black, oddly graceful and butt ugly. There, you don’t need a pic of the bird now.

After watching the vulture from above, it was time to drop into this, which was even more fun than it looks.

For every fun drop in, there is an equal and opposite climb (shuttling excepted). Actually, no scratch that. Newton’s laws do not apply here. You descend fast and climb slow, so the climb is not equal and opposite. It just ain’t fair.

The climb up Borrego Canyon Trail and Mustard Road (below) was changed dramatically by the rain. It parallels a riparian stream most of the way. Obviously, the stream had water flowing down it on this ride. It had changed course, overflowed, and carried away topsoil all over the place. In a few places the stream ran down the middle of the trail. In other places it deposited deep sand across the trail. In still others it created ruts that were up to 5 feet deep. I don’t think they call them ruts anymore when they get that big, do they?

The climb up Mustard Road ends with an unrelenting 9-15% grade from hell shown in this pic below. It may not look that steep in the pic, but it is, take my word for it.

I headed back to the start, passing again through O’Neill Regional Park, and I came upon a photo shoot. So what did I do? I did a photo shoot of the photo shoot, of course. You see some of the most unexpected things in the wilderness sometimes:

The erosion from the rain did a lot of strange things, but none of them topped this. This rock flow used to be a smooth fast fire road. Clearly the rain had flowed straight down the road and washed away the top soil, leaving just the rock foundation. It was like having x ray vision. But bumpier. This must be how they make dirt roads so they have decent drainage in spite of our clay soil. It works great until it rains too much. I expect it will be repaired soon.

I treated myself to some Mexican food at Casa Ranchero in Ladera Ranch. I have heard it is important to get protein right after a big ride. What better way to get protein than at a Mexican restaurant, right? I highly recommend this place. I had the best beef taco in a combination I have ever had. And I have had a few. And the service was great. The free wi fi did not work though. But when you have a beef taco that good, who cares?

Dec 04

A Wide Range 2×11 Drivetrain

I recently modified a mountain bike that came with a 2×11 drivetrain. It was nice, but I wanted a wider gear range. The end result was a 10/42T 11 speed cassette paired with a 40/24T 2x crankset. I can hear the cries already: “A 24×42 granny gear? That’s madness!” “You will never get shifting to work with that!” “You will create a discontinuity in the space time continuum!” “What do you need gearing like that for?” Well it is not as crazy as it may sound.

front

The crankset was originally 36/24T. Now is it is 40/24T.

All I want to deal with in this blog is gear ratios. I am going to look at two things: the ratio of the front to rear gear teeth. i.e. for every rotation of the crank, how many times does the rear wheel rotate? By looking at those numbers we can compare 1x, 2x and 3x drivetrains on level ground. I also want to take one other thing into account, and that is the difference in diameter of the wheels. 29er wheels increase gearing vs 26″ wheels. How much? This is where gear inches come into play. Gear inches are how far the bike moves forward with a single revolution of the crank. Sound familiar? So we can use these two numbers together. More on this later.

Let’s start with a baseline: the classic drivetrain that was the standard of mountain biking for years until 2x, 1x and 29er’s entered the scene. And that is the following: a 3×9 drivetrain with a 11/34T cassette and a 22/32/44T crankset on a 26″ wheels. Here are high and low gear ratios:

High gear: 44/11 or 4.0
Low gear: 22/34 or .647

You can also calculate a range by dividing the high by the low numbers

Range = 4.0/.647 = 6.18

i.e, the high gear is 6.18x higher than the low gear. What good are these numbers? By themselves not much, we still have more number crunching to do. But with just this we can look at that range and compare it to a 1x drivetrain. Sram’s newest 1×12 drivetrain has a range of 500% since the cassette is 10/50T. The baseline 3×9 has a range of 618%. To put it another way, in order to get the same range in a 1x drivetrain, you would need a 10/62T cassette.

rear

The rear was originally 11/32T. Now it is 10/42T.

As for the 2×11 combo that I put together:

High gear: 40/10 = 4.0
Low Gear: 24/42 = .571
Range: 4.0/.571 = 7.0

I don’t think a 10/70T or a 9/63T cassette is coming out anytime soon, so if you want a range like this you need to go 2x, at least for now.

Let’s have another look at wheels. Gear inches are a function of the circumference of the tire, which in turn depends on the diameter. Circumference is pi times diameter, if you remember your geometry. But since we are going to divide the numbers, we can use just the diameter. The new ISO diameters are the best numbers to use. For 29ers, the diameter is 622mm, for 26″ it is 559mm. So 29ers increase gear inches compared to 26″:

622/559 = 1.11

rim

29er rims are 622mm at the bead. Not to be confused with the ERD of 605mm.

In other words, if the gearing is the same on a 29er and a 26″ bike, the wheel diameter would give the 29er 11% higher gearing. If we want to compare the 3×9 above to the 2×11, we should increase the gearing on the 2×11 by 11% giving us:

High gear: 40/10 = 4.0 x 1.11 = 4.44
Low Gear: 24/42 = .571 x 1.11 = .634

The range is unaffected. So while it may not seem like it, a 24/42 granny on a 29er is actually only slightly lower than 22/34 gear than on a 26″ bike (.634 vs .647). This 2×11 29er drivetrain provides a wider range of gears than our 3×9 26″ benchmark, and mostly on the higher ratios.

Of course the advantages for 1x are numerous. A drivetrain like this wide range 2X11 is not needed for most bikes. In this case it is for an adventure bike that is meant for off road use with a touring load. At the same time the bike is well suited for the road where it is a shame to be without the taller gears. You could use similar gearing on a road touring bike but with larger chainrings (say compact 34/50) and get gearing comparable to traditional 3×9 road touring triple group but with the simplicity of 2x shifting.

This is not the end of the comparison by any means. Some 3×9 groups have wider ranges with a 46T big ring or a 36T big cog. I think we will see wider gear ranges and more gears going forward for 1x drivetrains. i.e. the trend of 10/42T 11 speed to 10/50T 12 speed will continue. Shimano has patents on a 14 speed drivetrain. And what about 27.5? Now you know how to compare all of these drivetrain options.

Nov 29

Daejeon’s Expo Park / Smart City Region Ride

During a recent stay in Korea, I took the opportunity to ride one of my hotel’s loaner bikes around the neighborhood. Cycling affords an intimacy with your surroundings as well as the ability to cover ground like no other option. The neighborhood I was staying in was near the site of the 1993 World Expo, and had a lot to see.

bridge1

Expo Bridge and Hanbit Tower in the distance.

Expo Bridge is an amazing bit of civil engineering. I had driven past it several times before my ride. Much to my pleasure, the bridge is for bikes and pedestrians only. It is quite photogenic, and I obliged.

bridge2

There are too many good angles of this bridge for me to cover in one blog.

swans

I am sure these swans have a significance that eluded me, but that did not keep me from snapping a pic.

smartcity

The area near Expo Park were I stayed was the “Smart City” district. It was influenced by the expo area with its futuristic architecture.

gym

Expensive workout equipment unprotected in a public place, under a freeway overpass.

grafitti

Korean graffiti, in English oddly enough.

farm

Amidst the urban and industrial setting was this farm, which looked too small to be commercial.

housing

Korean housing. This is an impressive array of identical apartment towers. It is the kind of housing most people live in in Korea’s big cities.

reflection

A confluence of rivers and concrete.

golfer

Golf is big in Korea, I guess.

I learned afterward that most of the site of the expo is being demolished. The process was underway while I was there. Hanbit Tower, Expo Bridge and parts of the rail system will remain, however. 23 years is a good run, I guess, and it is like Korean culture to move forward. They do stay in touch with their past and seem to keep a good balance between progress and history. I hope that Expo Bridge and Hanbit Tower, impractical though they may be, remain a symbol of forward thinking in Korea.

Sep 24

Interbike 2016 Report

I decided to make a short visit to Interbike this year. They have customer appreciation day now, and I am appreciated I guess. This is not meant to be some exhaustive industry report of Interbike, you can get that from various magazines and such. This was just me having fun. I made the decision to go at the last minute and I am cheap, so I stayed at Primm Valley because it is the best way to get low room rates on short notice. It is on the way from Southern California and only about 30 minutes from the strip.

buffalo_bills

Buffalo Bill’s needs a little sprucing up

Primm ain’t what is used to be, let’s just say it needs a little maintenance. It does not seem as popular as it once was. As Vegas becomes more and more outrageous I am guessing that fewer visitors want to stay this far from the action. I did not ride the coaster or monorail but…

bonnie_and_clyde

Kind of weird to find something like this in Primm Valley now

I spent some time looking at the Bonnie and Clyde display, which is at Whiskey Pete’s. I DID mention that this was not a professional Interbike report, didn’t I?

interbike_sign

The big entrance

But I made it to the show.

cutthroat

My current n+1. Which may end up being an n-1 after I own it. But I doubt it.

The Salsa Cutthroat is my current object of desire. I don’t get every bike that I lust after unfortunately. If I get one, it will be blogged on here, worry not.

Inter E Bike

Overall impressions of Interbike? The eBike section of Interbike was huge and the show floor was segregated so the eBike stuff was all together. Sorry, no eBike pics. Someone seems to think eBikes are going to be big. I have dabbled with them and we will see. The technology will continue to improve because they will benefit from advances made by electric cars. I have not seen many eBikes in use on the streets or trail. They can be pretty stealthy but I can usually spot them. The premise of eBikes as basic transportation is a good one. They could help people in the USA cope with zoning policies, urban sprawl or rural areas that separate homes from jobs from retail by such great distances.

forgotten

I will take one of each

spear

I never thought of taking a spear and flippers with me on my bikepacking trip. Blackburn is just one step ahead of me. Or not.

italia_girl

I have no idea what they were selling at this booth. I ask permission before taking model pics, BTW, a policy that is always well received.

mtb_hall_of_fame

Mountain Bike Hall of Fame Inductees Chris Chance, Gary Sjoquist, Joe Breeze and Charlie Kelley

You never know who you will meet at Interbike. I ran into these guys while I was visiting the Mountain Bike Hall Of Fame booth. I was just having casual conversation with them then I started reading their badges and got a nice surpirse. They were all friendly and approachable. It was great fun. Chris Chance showed up with a beautiful 90’s vintage bike equipped with authentic and marvelously restored components. Charlie has published a book, “Fat Tire Flyer”.

I enjoy checking out Interbike. It is fun meeting the people and seeing the stuff, and it makes me want to ride that much more when I get back.

Load more