My Bike Tour

Day 1:


[TOUR PICTURE]I decided to sleep in. This is vacation after all. I woke up completely congested, unable to breathe, and with a headache With the excuse that I’m waiting for rush hour traffic to clear I eat a leisurely breakfast. Strange that I was so anxious to go, yet now I’m taking my time! To complement my general feeling of malaise the weather reports from the week prior were wrong. It wouldn’t be mid to high 80s, but rather high nineties (102 when I was riding home on day three)! Woo Hoo!


[TOUR PICTURE]I finally get out, top off the tires, and am on the road at around 10:30. The first section of my ride follows the Adventure Cycling Western Express route (map 1) to Placerville, CA. It’s a fairly easy ride up to Rescue. The road is narrow, but traffic isn’t too bad. One black SUV passes close enough to elicit a verbal response, but overall it was peaceful. The further up I go, the steeper it gets, but still easy going. [TOUR PICTURE]The route is easy to follow for the most part, but there is one place where Green Valley road makes a poorly marked turn. I continued riding along the main road when I suddenly realized that I was no longer on Green Valley road, but was now on Missouri Flat Road. When I saw the street sign I flagged down a construction worker at the intersection in his pickup. He seemed reluctant to talk, but waited anyhow. [TOUR PICTURE]He said that he didn’t know the area, being from San Jose, but that the other workers just up and over the big hill where he’d come from would know. Anxious to climb a big hill for instructions I wasn’t, so I studied my maps more closely. It appeared that I’d just missed my turn, and looking around I could actually see where I’d gone wrong. Phew! At Placerville I diverge from the Adventure Cycling route and head into downtown Placerville. There is a vegetarian restaurant (they serve some meat) that I really enjoy there called Cozmic Cafe ( Unfortunately I’d not looked closely enough at the elevation profile of the route that I chose and now looking at Google Earth with 3D terrain turned on I can see that I passed over one of the highest peaks in the entire town! I got a nice 11% grade to prepare me for the upcoming mountains! In downtown I was riding along in the center of the narrow lane avoiding the door prize and keeping up quite well with traffic, until I hit a slight grade that slowed me down. The idiot behind me decided to express his displeasure using his auditory warning device. An oncoming driver in the other direction took the opportunity to shout what I was thinking “SHUT UP YOUR *F——* HORN!”[TOUR PICTURE]I ate a great meal, their Righteous Rice Bowl, containing organic basmati brown rice, balsamic beans, tomatoes, red onion, carrots, cabbage, melted Monterey Jack cheese, avocado, sprouts, green onions, fresh cilantro and sesame seeds, served with salsa, balsamic vinaigrette and cilantro sour cream. mmmm… makes me salivate to think of it. Along with copious amount of iced tea I refilled my two large water bottles and was on my way.I looked around for a city park to sit and read while digesting this treat, but didn’t find anything shady enough, so I decided to just press on.

[TOUR PICTURE]Leaving Placerville, I headed north on hwy 49 towards hwy 193. At hwy 193 I called home to let everybody know that I’d survived this far and that I would probably not have cell coverage for a while. The 11% downgrade was a fun rush. Unfortunately I couldn’t let it all out since I was afraid to let the loaded bike go above about 35 MPH. Turns out that I actually hit 38.4 somewhere along there, even though I was feathering the brakes most of the way. At the bottom of the grade, hwy 193 crosses the south fork of the American River. [TOUR PICTURE]I was looking forward to a refreshing dip in the river, but unfortunately at the bottom I found one side was a quarry, and the other side of the road had a private resort that was tightly fenced off. Darn. Since there was no shade here anyway I decided to just begin my climb back out of the river valley.

[TOUR PICTURE]The climb out of the valley was long and hot, though not nearly as bad as I expected. Living in the flatlands near Sacramento I don’t get a lot of practice hill climbing. My 20 mile RT commute has maybe 400 feet of climbing over 10 miles, so climbing isn’t my strong point! I spent a lot of time in my low (26/34) gear and just spun on up. The sun was beating down on me such that I was actually wishing more for shade than for flat/downhill. No uncomfortable run ins with cars, even on the blind corners, though a few drivers shouted out encouragement “You can make it!”. The views back down into the valley were breathtaking, though honestly I spent far too much time with my head down trudging away to enjoy it as much as I should have. Dismounting from a loaded touring bike on a steep hill isn’t exactly trivial, so I was very happy to have my well broken in Brooks saddle since rests usually consisted of locking the brake and putting a foot up on a guardrail.

[TOUR PICTURE]At the top of the big climb, things leveled out a bit (still uphill) the rest of the way into Georgetown. It was a nice quiet ride most of the way. One SUV passed me a bit too closely (pattern emerging?) and was pulled over by a CHP officer. Wow! Who’d have expected one to be sitting out there? I spent the next few hours worrying a bit about retribution, but it never came. Georgetown is quite small. I stopped at the first gas station that I encountered and bought a ginger ale. Real, brewed, ginger ale, the kind that burns on the way down. Yum, though difficult to drink after cycling. The gas station reinforced every stereotype of Georgetown that I’d heard. Guys wearing jungle cammo clothing, cammo face paint, and covered in tattoos were the majority of the customers. The others were tough looking girls with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths. I managed to drink about half of my ginger ale, then went looking for a restaurant. There were only three that I could find. Mexican, Chinese, and Pizza. The Mexican place was closed, so I finally settled on pizza.

[TOUR PICTURE]While locking up my bike in front of the pizza place, Hungry Dog Pizza, I asked a lady who was smoking out front if they made good pizza there. She said yes, then put out her cigarette and went inside. It turns out, the place was empty except for her (the waitress), a cook (her husband?), and myself. I ordered a veggie pizza (smallest size, 10″) and iced tea. While waiting for my pizza to cook I pulled out my book and started in on it. Copious amounts of iced tea (yes, there IS a pattern fully emerged here), a completely consumed 10″ pizza, and three refilled water bottled later I was on my way. She was quite surprised when she came over to offer to box up the leftover pizza and there was none. Oh, and she was right, the pizza was good.

The ride from Georgetown to Cool[TOUR PICTURE] was nice and easy, mostly a gradual downhill ride. I was looking forward to finding my campsite and things were looking good. My intended campsite was a few miles off of my planned course, but on the satellite map it looked really good, a group of trees near a small lake on BLM land. Reality didn’t quite match the mirage. The entire area was tightly fenced off with only a small gap for hikers. Many signs were posted insisting on no camping and that the park closed at 9:00 pm. Darn. Not wanting to risk problems I pressed on hoping to find something better. [TOUR PICTURE]A long descent to the confluence of the North and Middle forks of the American river found nothing. The land was too overgrown and steep to set up a tent on, and besides, it was all fenced off with no trespassing signs.

At the river I started to worry. It was getting dark fast. Auburn was only about 3 miles uphill to the left with motels and all services, or the long empty road to Foresthill to the right. Deciding that I was out there for adventure and not going to carry the heavy camping gear for no reason, I took the unknown road that I’d never taken before. Up, up, up, about 8 miles up. It was completely dark and I was burning my headlight and taillight. More and more desperate. After many failed attempts (too steep, too exposed, gate too narrow,…) I finally found some mountain bike trails that had an opening wide enough for my bike, though I had to lift the entire load up and over a bar about 12″ off the ground that I think was there to discourage motorcycles. The areas was more exposed than I wanted, but it was late. Digging for my flashlight… can’t find it… OH NO! NO FLASHLIGHT, I FORGOT IT! Not wanting to expose my position I also didn’t want to use my 20 Watt headlight! Setting up the tent (second time ever) by the light of my cell phone screen I suddenly hear a voice. “Hello, hey, hello?!?” My heart rate shot through the roof for a moment until I realized that I’d somehow redialed the last number that I’d called and that the voice was coming from my phone. Pant, pant. Funny, when I’d tried to use it a moment earlier to check in it hadn’t worked! Worried about my position being exposed in the morning I set my alarm for first light.

[TOUR PICTURE]Sleep didn’t come easily. It was HOT, lumpy, noisy (some road noise, but mostly crinkling of weeds under my tent), and I wasn’t entirely comfortable with my location. Just to add some interest to the night I had a horrible sore throat. Not the kind that comes from being sick, but it felt more like I’d bruised my esophagus. I think that it was caused by huffing too much air and water too fast. The sore throat lasted until the morning of day 3.

— 68.5 miles, many more than I had planned for a single day!

Continue reading “My Bike Tour”

A Bit Inconvenient

Fallen Tree on Bike TrailIt’s hard to see, the picture isn’t that great (I was facing the sun, and it’s a cell phone), but on the way to work this morning there was a tree laying across the bike trail.  No warning signs, no detour signs, nothing.  Moreover, I was told that it had been there yesterday as well!

This is a major (as bike trails go) transportation corridor for cyclists in the Folsom area. Had this tree fallen across a road intended for motor vehicles it would have been removed immediately! I hope it’s gone on the way home, it was difficult to press through the branches!

Rules Trump Reason

Riding in to work this morning I was passed by a school bus. Just ahead of where the bus passed me there were some abandoned train tracks that crossed the street. They’ve been out of service forever. There are signs indicating that they are out of service. There are big heavy chains hung across the tracks on each side of the road. Yet, the driver (who most likely drives this route every day and knows that the tracks are out of service) came to a complete stop, looked both ways, and then continued on. Shocking.

Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that the rules actually say to stop at ALL tracks, even those out of service. Why? So that the drivers don’t take on a lazy attitude and not stop at an active track? I’d like to argue the counter argument that the driver is now becoming so accustomed to this silly routine where the look is just out of habit, a motion of the head, not a real look, that they may be inclined to do the same when they do approach a real track! It goes both ways, you can’t legislate reason! THINK! Use common sense!

Tour Preparation

Preparing for the TourI decided it’d be a good idea to do a shakedown ride before heading off into the middle of nowhere. I loaded up the bike just as I am planning to ride it off into the sunrise (I’m leaving in the early AM, headed east!) and set off on a 15 mile loop around the lake.

Good thing too, since it immediately exposed a problem with the new cassette. There was a horrible griding in a few gears. I turned around after about .5 mile and rode back home. At home I put the original cassette back on and rode it around, the noise went away. The chain and original cassette only have about 1200 miles on them, so a worn chain is probably not the cause, but I guess I have some investigation to do tonight. 🙁

Time to Hit the Road

bigclimbone.JPGI can’t wait. Concentration escapes me. I just about have everything ready. Have I forgotten anything? I’ve thought it over so many times that I can’t see how it’s possible.

The picture is a screenshot from Google Earth. I’ve turned elevation exaggeration all of the way up, but that’s about how it’ll feel on a bike anyhow!

0813071433.jpgI’m planning three days of riding. I’ll be riding my Trek 520; a great touring bike, but with a brain-dead gearing setup. I’ve made a few changes to the bike to get ready for the big climbs. I replaced the 30T granny ring with a 26T ring (look at that jump!) and replaced the rear 11-32 cassette with a 11-34 cassette. It’d be better to put on a mountain crankset, but I didn’t want to spend that much on a new crankset and bottom bracket. Someday. I also replaced the rear rack with a Jandd Expidition rack to prevent my new big bags from swaying into the spokes, which happened far too often with the stock Trek rack. I installed a front rack long ago.
bigclimbtwo.JPGI packed over the weekend (yeah, far too early, but I’m anxious!) and weighed the bags, tent, and sleeping bag. The total weight, before food and water, was 35 lbs. Water is heavy, so I’m expecting the total to be about 45 lbs. Interestingly, that makes the total weight much less than I used to weigh, even without a load!

0715072150.jpgI can’t wait, I can’t wait, I can’t wait… By the end of the tour I will be quite familiar with my friend named Brooks…

Help Me Settle a Debate!


I’ve been debating with a coworker about which is a more useful tool for general purpose hacking, which one can solve more problems? Zip ties or duct tape? Help me settle the debate by voting on my poll!

Which is a more useful hacking tool, zip ties or duct tape?

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Please tell me why you voted the way that you did in the comments!

Dollar Coins

sacdollar.jpegThe few times that I’ve used the light rail to get to work faster (when I sleep in!) I’ve received dollar coins as my change. This got me thinking about the situation with coins in the US.

On a trip to Israel and England last year I found that their currencies had far more coins of larger value. I found myself using coins much more. Being unaccustomed to using so many coins it was strange at first, but I began to adapt and by the end of two weeks I was much more comfortable with the idea. This has got me to thinking… why won’t Americans accept the dollar coin? We’ve had so many of them, yet they’re never used in general circulation.

Consider the situation with light rail. If I take paper bills I run the risk of being unable to get the machine to successfully accept my money. Bill readers are notoriously unreliable! If I take quarters I have to feed the machine eight quarters. The time to do this is small, though still annoying, not to mention the bulk of six extra coins.

Today, with much trepidation, I tried one of my dollar coins in the vending machine at work. Success! It recognized it! That is MUCH easier than feeding a bunch of quarters, nickles, and dimes!

Considering that the average lifetime of a coin is something like 30 years, vs less than two years for a dollar bill, and that it’s 100% recyclable, vs something like 20% for paper bills, the dollar coin is even more appealing. Though, I wonder how the transportation emissions to move the coins from the US mint to the various banks compares.

I think that the next time I go to the bank I’m going to ask for a roll of dollar coins to start spending, especially on the transit vending machines!

SOLD: Recumbent Bike For Sale

Well, I’ve decided to sell my recumbent bike. I’ve found that I just don’t ride it as much anymore, and I have too many bikes in my garage. It’s in great shape, and only has a few thousand miles on it.

It’s a ’98 or ’99 (I’m not sure which) RANS V-Rex. New they sold for about $1300. It has some upgraded components: the original SRAM 9.0 stuff was upgraded to SRAM 9.0 ‘Betsy’ SL with composite brake levers, which was, as I understand it, a special component group (see attached pictures). I’m also including the Sigma Sport BC800 computer, Planet Bike recumbent fenders, RANS rear rack, RANS kickstand, RANS over-seat bag, mirror, and bell.

I’d like -SOLD- for it.

You can contact me at (—) ——–.

Click for larger pictures…

Moving The Kayak, Trailer — Phase2

**** This is a continuation of Phase 1. ****

Trailer After Maiden Voyage0805071314.jpg0805071317a.jpg0805071317.jpg

I’ve completed the trailer. I had to make a few changes along the way, but that always seems to happen. The pictures here were taken after my first trip to (and from) a launch point about three miles away. The route included a few hundred feet of vertical climbing as well.The trailer performed flawlessly during the trip. I got a lot of double-takes, (friendly) horn toots, and general comments. My favorite was the Prius owner who, while unloading his kayaks, said, “Now, THAT’s carbon neutral!”

The top kayak attachment bolts to the flat bed using four 1/4″ holes. Bolts are passed through from the top, with a fender washer, lock washer, and wingnut on the bottom to hold the assembly together. The boat hangs on two webbing straps that run across the trailer and the stern end rests on a cross member by the hitch. The boat sits backwards since the stern is much heavier, allowing me to place the wheels further forward (for maneuverability), while still having an acceptable tongue weight. The majority of my time was spent finding an acceptable balance between tongue weight and trailer position. I didn’t want too much tongue weight since it’d break my hitch, or mess up the handling of the bike.

The boat is wider than the trailer, so it has to rest high enough up that it clears the tires, which causes the bow (rear when loaded) to sit much higher in the air than the stern, but that’s probably a more stable configuration anyhow.

The overall assembly is probably heavier than it needs to be. Making it out of aluminum would probably reduce the overall weight, though compared to the 85 lbs of the boat, it’s probably insignificant. My original plans called for the boat to support itself and for the hitch to attach to a front section that strapped to the boat. Unfortunately, it moved around far too much, so I ended up using the 8′ 2×4 seen in the picture to support the length of the boat and to attach the hitch. This added a few pounds, but made the trailer easier to pull. A side benefit that I didn’t consider until much later is that the trailer can be pulled without a boat attached, which my original design wouldn’t have allowed.

Moving The Kayak, Trailer — Phase1

Trailer, Prior to ConversionOK, now that I have my new Kayak, I need a convenient way to get it to the lake. Lake Natoma is a little over a mile from my house, so driving there seems quite silly. By the time that I lift the heavy kayak up on top of my car, drive to the lake, pay the $5 day use fee, take the boat off of my car, etc, I could just ride my bike there! I have this old child trailer that I’ve been meaning to convert for cargo use, so here goes…

Trailer, During ConversionPhase 1 is to convert it from a child trailer to a flatbed cargo trailer. A cargo trailer would have many uses in addition to the kayak, so even without the kayak this’d be a worthwhile venture. Once phase 1 is complete, I’ll continue to phase 2, which is to build a kayak cradle on top of it and move the tongue forward. The final phase will be to convert an old Rubbermaid tub and lid to fit on top of the flatbed using the same mounting holes as the kayak cradle.

Trailer, Flatbed Conversion CompletePhase one is complete. I removed all of the excess parts from the old child trailer. Once it was stripped down to just a rectangular frame I drilled some 1/4″ holes along the perimeter and bolted 1×4 strips fore-aft to support the 1/4″ birch plywood bed using carriage bolts. Not much to say about this step, it was quite straightforward and took maybe 2 hours total, including cleanup.

So far, so good…

Continued in Phase 2.