A New Kayak!


Finally… I got a kayak! After various rentals I liked the Wilderness Systems Pamlico 160T the best. It seemed the most comfortable after a long day, and one of the more efficient. The seats (Phase3) are the most comfortable, that’s for sure! I can sit in those all day long with no discomfort!

Now I just need to practice my stroke to avoid injuring my wrist or elbow, both of which get sore with my novice stroke. I use my arms far too much — need to learn to use my torso!! My back muscles could use a workout anyhow since I work a desk job and sit all day!

I didn’t get the rudder, so steering will be an issue with much cross current, but I might add that later.

Kayak Roof Rack Idea

Roof Rack 3D Model

This is my idea for a roof attachment for my new kayak… I’m seeking feedback before building it.

The artwork is crude, but hopefully it conveys the overall idea. The four central fore-aft boards (2×4) sandwich down over the factory roof rails (’05 Subaru Outback, shown in black) with a rubber strip between them using eight hex head bolts. The entire assembly can be removed by removing these bolts.

The lateral crossbars support the load of the kayak and are bolted to the top two fore-aft rails that hold the assembly to the roofrack.

Two more (longer) fore-aft supports run 6 or 8 feet along the length of the car and support numerous tie-downs illustrated near the front of the rack. These would be held in place on the port side by passing them through a hole drilled in the 2×4 and tying a simple knot (not shown). The starboard side would have cam buckles for each strap so that each one can be custom fit to make equal contact with the boat.

This would, I hope, create a hammock that would cradle the boat, while evenly distributing its weight over a large surface area, reducing the likelihood of oil canning. I suspect that the entire cost of the assembly would be around $30 and be superior in performance to more expensive saddle systems which often dent the bottom of the boat. The design only needs to be able to support the weight of the boat since the ripping forces of the wind are supported by the heavier duty straps going over the top of the boat.

Any opinions? Suggestions? Warnings?

Traffic Lights

I’m surprised by how many seemingly experienced cyclists really have no clue how to trigger a traffic light to make it turn green. Unfortunately cities don’t do much to make it easy for cyclists ride legally by marking the detector, but 90% of the time it is possible to ride with the flow of traffic and get a green light.

When you approach an intersection that is not occupied by a motor vehicle, be on the lookout for cutouts in the asphalt. Place your bike directly over the cutouts to increase the likelihood of being detected. I have about 98% success with this method (most intersections 100%, though if the cutouts have been paved over, 0%). Over time you get to know which ones work, and which don’t. John Allen has a great article on using these loop detectors.

If you encounter one that doesn’t work, try contacting the agency responsible for the maintenance of that particular intersection. Marked Signal Detector in Folsom.Some are very responsive (Chico, CA, Folsom, CA, Davis, CA), and others (Sacramento County, Rancho Cordova, CA) seem unconcerned. I wrote an e-mail to the city of Folsom about a detector that had been paved over. Within a day they put in a temporary marking indicating where it was, and shortly thereafter they painted a permanent standardized marking! Most cyclists are ignorant of even these markings. I sometimes wonder how oblivious people must be to not see them, but I point out this marking to other cyclists at least once per month. If you see such a marking, just park your bike over the mark and the light will eventually turn green!

OK, and while I’m preaching… 🙂 Don’t stop too close to the curb! The CA DMV website says:


  • must ride in the same direction as other traffic, not against it.
  • must ride in a straight line as near to the right curb or edge of the roadway as practical— not on the sidewalk.
  • must make left and right turns in the same way that drivers do, using the same turn lanes.
  • may legally move left to turn left, to pass a parked or moving vehicle, another bicycle, an animal, or to make a turn, avoid debris, or other hazards.
  • may choose to ride near the left curb or edge of a one-way street.
  • may use a left turn lane. If the bicyclist is traveling straight ahead, he or she should use a through traffic lane rather than ride next to the curb and block traffic making right turns.
  • are lawfully permitted to ride on certain sections of freeways, when signs are posted. Be careful when approaching or passing a bicyclist on a freeway.

Warning, bad artwork follows….
Stopping At Intersections Notice the red and green lines in this figure… if you stop where the red line is drawn you encourage motor vehicle drivers to squeeze alongside you rather than waiting for you to clear the intersection. Worse, you are also giving them implicit permission to pull along side of you, forget you are there, and then turn right in front of you! Very dangerous! Also, never stop or pass to the right of a car that is already stopped as they may suddenly decide to turn right, or a passenger may open their door to get out!

OK… done preaching! 🙂

Losing 60+ lbs

Me, 60 lbs lighter

One of my neighbors has a sign out on their front lawn saying that you can lose 30 lbs in some short amount of time, just ask them how. They’re apparently part of a multi-level-marketing program to sell diet supplements of some sort. I hear person after person say how they’ve tried EVERYTHING, every diet, yet nothing works. “I’m just predisposed to be fat”. Maybe… or… maybe the simplest answer is the right answer. I sometimes hear: “You’re lucky, you eat so much yet stay skinny”. I usually whip out my drivers license and show my picture at this point. When they pick their jaw up off of the floor I hear “You were a butterball!” Yeah, that’s me, ex-butterball. The shorts that I’m wearing in this picture were purchased {and fit me} around summer of ’05.

True story: When traveling overseas last year I had to show my passport at various border entry points. At every single one of them they’d look at me, look at the passport, look at me, etc. In Israel the girl looking at the passport smiled, looked at me, and tugged on her chin. Yeah, that was me. In London the guy working there had me a bit worried. I started to wonder if he’d let me continue my trip or not. Finally he asks “Is this you?” Uh oh! Fortunately he accepted my answer.

Growing up I was always far too thin. At almost 6’4″, I weighed about 130 lbs when I graduated from high school — far too skinny. Over the years I somehow managed to put on more and more weight until I finally reached 230 lbs. Busy life, desk job, poor diet, the usual suspects. A while back I started making some changes. I’ll lay them out here.

Get Your Priorities Straight

Why are you doing this? I believe that the best way to approach this is to make eating healthy foods your #1 priority, weight loss will follow. Healthy foods tend to be less calorie dense than unhealthy foods, so you can eat a lot and still lose weight.

Take Your Time

I suspect that the reason that many diets fail is that the person is trying to make too great of a sacrifice. I could have never done it if I’d starved myself. I cannot go without food. As I said above, I eat a LOT and didn’t want to give that up.

Don’t Starve Yourself

I couldn’t have done this if I had to starve myself. Yes, I was calorie deficient (you have to take in fewer calories than you are using to lose weight), but that’s because I was exercising too. I’ll talk about the exercise later, but the thing to remember is that you don’t want to be hungry. Always keep bananas around the house. They are healthy, fast to eat, and fill you up quickly. If you come home and you’re absolutely famished grab one and eat it. This will make it easier to make sensible choices about what you eat next. It’ll also take off the edge so that you can decide if you’re really hungry. This prevents you from tearing open the cabinet and stuffing whatever is in reach into your mouth, which is usually a cookie or piece of cake, or some other junk.


Don’t go cold turkey. Start with simple substitutions. For me it was replacing the cream cheese and bagel for breakfast with humus on flat bread, or an avocado, or yogurt with fresh fruit. Next I substituted the ranch dressing on my salad with olives, kidney beans, lemon or lime juice, etc. You can add a lot of flavor to a salad without adding dressing.

Cut Back

Don’t skip the ice cream, just eat far less. Learn to say “that’s enough”. After a while I began to prefer healthy foods and actually dislike candy bars, cake, and ice cream. Processed foods begin to lose their grasp on you and soon you’ll far prefer the taste of fresh foods!

Start Reading Labels

This doesn’t mean what you might think. I NEVER look at the number of calories on the label. Instead I started watching the saturated fat and trans fat (not total fat, I ignore mono unsaturated fats, which are generally good) numbers. If I was choosing between two otherwise identical products, I’d chose the one with less of those. Also watch out of partially hydrogenated oils — remember, health comes first.


Don’t go to the gym, that’s boring. Ride your bike to work! Save money, save the planet, enjoy nature! Learn to enjoy the fresh crisp air on a cool morning. Yeah, it takes some getting used to, but after a while it becomes such a routine that you don’t even think about it! Don’t spend the weekends watching movies, rent a kayak and paddle up a calm river, go for a bike ride, hike in the woods. Save your money on the gym membership, that’s for toning, but you have to have something to tone first! If you do this enough, you’ll find that soon you will have more problems with making sure that you consume ENOUGH calories than consuming too many.

Soon, you’ll also be hearing statements like “I thought that you were always a skini-mini!” (an actual quote).

Le Tour?

letourlogo.jpgYesterday I met another cyclist at a stop light and he asks me, “So, are you watching the tour?” After a brief moment of confusion I realized that the Tour de France was currently in progress. I told him that I don’t really watch much TV, and that includes the tour. He seemed somewhat displeased with my answer. I guess I could stereotype and point out that he was riding a colorful carbon fiber racing machine and I was riding a 30 year old steel framed (ironically French) bike with panniers. He was wearing matching jersey and shorts with many company logos, and I was wearing simple black cycling shorts and ‘commuter yellow’ jersey. I could stereotype, but I will.

Anyhow… this made me think. What is a ‘real’ cyclist? Would it be the commuter that rides thousands of miles per year and is content with practical bikes? Is it the racer who has to have matching overpriced gear? Is it the blue collar worker who rides his WalMart bike at night with no lights? I suspect the later wouldn’t care to be called cyclists, they do it out of necessity, but maybe the others all need to live and let live.

It’s still fun to occasionally drop the wanna be racers, uphill, loaded, while riding an old obsolete commuting bike. 🙂

I hear that Freddie Mercury of Queen composed this song while watching the tour… I have to say, I agree with the chorus!

I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like

Connected, Yet Still Disconnected From Nature

Tasty or Toxic? Who knows?One thing that I really love about my bike commute is that I’m so close to nature. In the mornings and evenings I seldom see anybody else, maybe one or two other cyclists, and that’s it. But I DO see hawks, eagles, skunks, snakes, lizards, bobcats, coyotes, geese, egret, ducks, owls, fish, etc… I love the connection to nature.

Toxic? Good to eat? Who knows?I also love picking the wild blackberries. They taste very good. I also love the figs that grow along the lake whenever I can find one ripe.

This morning I saw these two diffent kinds of berry bushes and I realized that I had no idea what they were. They looked interesting. Edible? Toxic? I’m not going to test them on myself!

It made me realize how little I really know about nature and how disconnected we’ve become. I hear about gooseberries, huckleberries, wild strawberries, and other wild things that are good to eat, yet I don’t know enough to identify them and would be afraid to try. It’s too bad that we’ve become so distant from nature that we don’t know it at all.

Snake! Snake!

The American River bike trail along Lake Natoma is known for having a large number of snakes. I see more snakes in a week here than I saw in my entire life before moving here. It’s not uncommon to see as many as four snakes in a single ten mile commute in the evening. The most common ones are rattlesnakes, though gopher, king, and others are also frequently seen.

So, the other day I’m riding my bike to work in the morning, as is my usual habit, when I seesnake_snake.jpg another rider not too far ahead of me. Just as I’m starting to catch up to him I see him suddenly jump off of his bike, throw it to the ground, and start pacing around quickly. As I get closer I hear what he’s saying… “snake, snake, snake, snake…”. I roll up to where the snake is and see that it’s just a harmless gopher snake.

So, I get off of the bike and start to point out the various features to show him how to distinguish it from a venomous rattlesnake. As I point to the head region my finger is just a few inches away from its head and he suddenly starts going crazy!! I briefly considered picking it up, but decided that I didn’t want to risk even the slight discomfort and possible infection that their otherwise harmless bite could cause. Besides, that wouldn’t be very nice of me. 🙂

I won?!?

If you knew me in grade school, you’d remember me as the kid that you never wanted on your team in PE. You’d remember me as the kid that was the last one chosen when the team captains would call out who they wanted. The one who got traded to the other team when there was an imbalance. The one who caused everybody to laugh and yell “Ha Ha, you got him on your team!” You probably knew me, I’m sure that I went to your school too.

Well, now it’s my turn to laugh back! 🙂 Some of my coworkers at my current job were into this series of MTB races south of Folsom at the Prairie City OHV park. They convinced me to go ahead
and give it a try.

I had never raced before, and had never ridden a mountain bike. The first problem that I had to address was my lack of a mountain bike. No bike = no ride. It turns out that I had this old hybrid bike frame sitting in the barn at my parents’ house that hadn’t been ridden in quite some time. It was completely in pieces, no derailers, no wheels, no shifters, no cranks, nothing. It wasn’t really a mountain bike, having no suspension, slick tires, etc, but I figured that I could make it work. So, I bought some knobby tires from Performance for $20 and a new front brake cable. I scrounged for parts in my parts box and stole some off of another bike that was in retirement, and after a few hours of tuning it up it was ready to ride.

Having never ridden a MTB before I was a bit worried about my ability to participate. Being as I’d never raced and never ridden off road I decided to enter the beginners category (it’s only fair!). Race one was fun, though the dust really bothered me! For race two there was a significant amount of rain and the course was MUDDY as could be. That race was really hard on the bikes. Three of my coworkers’ bikes broke from the torture. Mine required a COMPLETE overhaul afterwards. But it was a blast! Even better, I got second place. Since it was raining we got double points for that race, which helped me a lot overall!

As the end of the series approached I was WAY in the lead for points. I hadn’t really done spectacular, in fact I never got first place, but I was consistent. Seeing that the rules said that they would throw away your two lowest scores I began to calculate how close my competitors were. By the start of race 10 of 12 I was 6 points ahead of my closes competitor. Problem is, it was over 100 F that day and therefore a double point day. I wasn’t doing very well and he got quite a ways ahead of me. I pressed on. He kept looking back to find me, but after seeing me so far back after the last turn he quit looking. I managed to pull a second wind and push a bit harder enligneviagra.net. As I was coming behind him I could tell that he didn’t know I was there. Just as I was about to catch him he looks back and sees. The sprint for the finish was on. We both pushed as hard as we could. We were flying for the finish line and the guy watching the finish line was waving for us to slow down! PUSH HARDER! —- He beat me by 1/2 of a bike length and thus gained two points on me! I now only had a four point lead.

Race 11: I kept telling everybody that I wanted to gain enough points that race 12 didn’t matter. Most said that wasn’t very fun, but that was my goal. Sure enough, I managed to beat him by one position, enough to have a five point lead. I went home that night and immediately started doing the math. Sure enough, even if I weren’t to show up for race 12, and even if he got first place (which I thought was unlikely considering he hadn’t before), then I was still OK and would still win by one point.

Race 12: It’s strange. You’d never would guess how much your mental state affects your ability. Knowing that it wouldn’t change the overall outcome I couldn’t ride nearly as fast. I was so slow… allowing people pass me, talking to other riders… I did the worst I had ever done before (6th place). It turned out to be one of my two throwaway days. Good thing I had as much cushion as I did because my ‘nemesis’ managed first place. Wow! He did some good racing that day!

My bright red Series Point Champion t-shirtSo, now I have a nice bright red t-shirt that says “Series Points Champion” on the front, and I can go find all of those bullies from Elementary school who are probably now sitting with their cheap beer balanced on their enormous stomachs and say that I got the last laugh! 🙂

A Blog?

When riding my bike to/from work I often think of things. Some strange, some meaningful, some pointless. I started keeping a little log of these thoughts on my cycling page in hand coded HTML, but have decided that it’d be easier to just give in and use a content management program. Besides, I wanted to add the possibility for others to expand on my thoughts. I hope that this one works out.