Friday, January 30, 2009

My Response to the 62 Minute Jog

My first video and direct response to Ravages of Aging 62 Min Jog

I know, too much talking, not enough scenery. I actually videoed the entire run, about 45 mins worth and nearly 750MB AVI file. I edited with Avidmux on Ubuntu Hardy Heron.... YouTube only allows a max filesize of 100MB or 6 mins. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My Commute To Work in Photos Part Deux

It was another great day here in San Diego. Clear, sunny and 32 degrees leaving the house this morning. Decided to finish up My Commute to Work in Photos.

Long winter shadows entering Mission Trails Park

I've pretty much picked up where I left off from the previous commute post. This is turning right off of Ward St. The bridge in front of me is the 15.

Coming out of the little tunnel under the 15.
Camino del Rio North beside the 8 freeway.

Continuing along Camino del Rio North.

Tall bridges of the 805. I'm faster than the traffic.

Making my way to Mission Valley Mall. The big building on the left is the VA Building.

Met this rider along the way. He's retired, out for the day.

Riding past the mall. No traffic in the mornings, but it's way different on the way home.

Looking at the 163 underpass.

Riding past the Union Tribune.

Riding around the Union Tribune.

Past the golf course...

Past the hotel, plenty of them in Mission Valley.

Looking back at the 8 from the driveway to my building. Still faster than the traffic, and according to my calculations, I get the equivalent of 740 MPG riding. Lets see your hybrid beat that! :)

I've arrived!

You didn't sweat much on this commute. If you'd like to see what it's like to ride home after work, just read the blog posts backwards starting with this one.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

My Commute In Photos

I've been asked by many about bike commuting. Today, I brought the camera along for a typical commute to the office. You get to ride along without all that annoying sweat, increased heart rate and breathing, cold toes and fingers!

Like the title of this blog, I ride a Surly. It's a 2007 Surly Long Haul Trucker, outfitted with a regular rear rack and a pair of Ortlieb Backroller Plus panniers. The whole setup looks like this:

Pretty standard. The black case near the head tube is the battery pack for my light. Now, this bike isn't for the feint at heart. The way you see it in the picture above, it weighs in at 32 pounds. Not that I care necessarily, the bike is designed to carry a load and be comfortable about it. From time to time, I do see other bike commuters on time trial bikes, but they look so uncomfortable. All bent over with a backpack strapped on their backs. Maybe they don't have too far to commute, but I'm going 14 miles each way, 4 days a week.

Leaving the house I have to wind my way through the neighborhood, making my way to Westhills Parkway.

The photo is crossing the San Diego river. I actually cross the river 3 times during my commute. Crossing the bridge I got to the eastern edge of Mission Trails Park.

Once I get to Mission Gorge, I take a right and head towards Mission Trails.

It's a great park. I've spent many years running and hiking through it. I use the park to bypass the Mission Gorge hill on the way to work. I don't want to get all sweaty climbing the hill, where I work doesn't have any showers.

Most people don't know there's a lake in the park. It can't be seen from any roads, you have to hike in to find it. The early morning water vapor points out the location.

Entering the park...

There can be some great views...

Oops, speeding...

More great views...

I had a visitor on my commute! This is the first coyote I've seen since I started commuting Jan 2008. Little guy/gal didn't know where to go, so I gave it a wide berth not to freak it out.

I have to put the camera away for a couple of miles. This is at the top of a downhill. Just coasting, 40+ MPH is common, even with panniers. There's just too much traffic and I like to stay upright.

Ok, so I'm through the traffic and onto side roads making my way towards Mission Valley.

Long winter shadows...

At this point, my camera batteries have died! This is on Ward St going south. You'll have to wait until next week commute to see photos of the remainder of the ride...

I've added a slideshow of all the good, bad and even ugly photos I took during my commute.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Rainbow 200K ACP Brevet AKA "Paying My Dues 200K"

Beep-beep, beep-beep, beep-beep.... My alarm goes off at 5:15 AM on Jan 3rd to start the 2009 San Diego Randonneuring season! First up, our course: Rainbow 200K

Feet hit the floor and I quickly take a peek outside. Roads are wet, slightly cloudy and it's still dark out. Weather predicted 30% chance of rain, it's not raining now in east county so I think I'm good to go! I don't see any reason to take the rain gear with me, I'll just ride in my normal gear and florescent green jacket. I should be fine.... Before leaving, I make sure to properly apply sunscreen. Gotta stay protected!

I get to the start at Doyle Community park in La Jolla and it's what the regulars call a heavy mist... Well, I'm really not one to ride in the rain, but what the heck, there's only a 30% chance right?

I get signed in and promptly at 7 AM, we all head out. I always stay at the back of the peleton. It's safer for me and my fellow riders to just camp out in the back. By now, it's raining pretty good and by the first mile, I'm soaked and cold. Getting sprayed by all the rooster tails, I drift even further back by the time we get to the 5 freeway. As we slightly descend, all I can imagine is slowly sliding across the pavement in essentially nothing but my underwear... Despite the not so great starting conditions, I push on. I figure I'll warm up and besides, it's only a 30% chance of rain today.

I make my way north east and the rain subsides some. Few riders end up with flats, but in general I have an uneventful but cold ride towards the Elfin Forest. When I finally get there, no cookies. The elves must still be sleeping. It's starts to sprinkle again, I'm sure I'm getting very close to that 30% !!

I make it through the forest and we hit our first climb. Long and steep, and yes it's now raining very hard. Me and the Surly push on since it's only a 30% chance of rain, it should be stopping soon. There's a long downhill following, I'm on the brakes often. I still have thoughts of sliding across the pavement.

I make it to the first control at AM/PM in Deer Springs. Loaded up with water, switched around my fuel, made a natural break. Didn't stay long.

I crossed the 15 headed North on Champaign Blvd/Old 395. I took advantage of this road to eat another peanut butter sandwich. This old standby is really becoming my staple on bike food. I do carry Heed, and assorted gels as well, but sometimes having a decent sandwich stops the stomach growls. It's amazing how hungry I get riding. Taking the right on Old Castle Road, it's a long slow climb up that grade to Lilac Rd. I don't see anyone in front or back.

Turning left on Couser Canyon, I'm simply destroyed at the steepness of this hill. One of the few photos I took.

I had to take a break to sew my legs back on. Even though the Surly has rather low gearing, I'm still adapting to the hills. After a few minutes, I press on, but not before I get passed by one of the faster riders. Good news is, it's not raining! The RBA catches up to me, and this should have been clue number two, but didn't register. We have a grand time riding Couser down to the 76. Quick left on the 76, then right on Rice Canyon.

Rice Canyon is very rural. It's raining again and the road has plenty of roller coaster type hills. I'm totally freezing wondering where did I do the math wrong. We're past 30%!

The RBA drops me like a bad habit, and I get passed by another rider who recognizes me as that "Santee Guy". Yes, that's me! She goes on while I stop to check the sutures on my legs to make sure they'll stay on. Right before she leaves me, a couple of loose dogs appear on my right. Mail lady is delivering mail, but the dogs ignore her and the other rider. As I'm riding uphill, both dogs kinda pace me on their property. The dogs keep with me and take a small path down to the road. By this time the mail lady and my fellow rider is gone. One dog paces me on my right, the other on my left. I'm thinking here we go, attack from both sides! So, I do my best Lance impersonation, give them both the "look", upshift and go for the sprint! Probably not the best idea, but hey I'm not going down without a good chase. Both dogs roll over laughing so hard, they're no longer interested! The Surly and I dodge one...

Taking the left on 8th, then quickly on Rainbow Valley, I make my first of many wrong turns. I end up going left instead of right. I figure out the hard way after blasting down a small hill, the road simply ends! I grab handfuls of brakes and luckily come to a stop before getting clothes lined by a barbed wire fence.

I get turned around, figure out my mistake and start riding back up the small hill. I took a photo of the Old 395:

I see the fire station on the right, blink and miss the 5th street left turn! Well, I ride along for about a mile, and notice a bunch of bikes leaning up against this building. Oh, there they are and I pull in. The gentleman that comes out wonders what I'm doing and starts talking to me in Spanish. I don't speak Spanish and he didn't speak English so I figured I'm not in the right place. I continue on Rainbow Valley until I reach the 15 onramp. By this time, I finally figure out I missed a turn. So, I turn around and head back. I've probably gone 1.5 miles too far and when I get back to the fire station, I see 5th. Turning left, I made another wrong turn. Quickly flipping a U, I see another rider making the correct left onto 5th. The next control is up on the left. Upon arrival I get off the Surly and grab some fantastic hot soup. I sit on a bench with my feet out of my shoes trying to dry them off. They really aren't drying much so I take my socks off and wring them out. That helped. I stay at the control until it closes.

I head out feeling much better. There's a small uphill then a long downhill through Bonsall. As I get down near the 76, my trusty Surly starts getting this all familiar bounce instead of its normal smooth ride. I look down and notice my rear tire has a slow leak. I figure I could ride another couple of miles with it, but decide to stop in front of a gas station and a McDonalds that has a nice grassy area. Sounds like a great place to fix a flat.

20 mins later I'm back on the road. I couldn't find the little piece of glass in my tire that caused the flat. It was barely perceptible, I must have gone over that tire ten times!

I make my way to the San Luis Rey river bike path. First I made the correct turn, then for some reason decide it's the wrong way and turn around. I go back under College and ride to the end of the path! Quickly figuring out I made another wrong turn, I turn around again and start off in the correct direction. The bike path was a nice break from traffic and I pull out another peanut butter sandwich to enjoy. The bike path ends at N Cleveland in Oceanside. By this time, it's around 5 PM and getting dark. I know where I am now as I've done many train runs when I used to run marathons. I stop to switch on lights, rearrange my fuel and start doing the math. I'm not exatly sure I'm going to make the cutoff time at 8:30. I know for sure I won't make it standing beside the road, so I get back on and start riding.

This is the first time during the ride I know where I am. I just concentrate on keeping the pedals turning. Flying south through Oceanside, racing Amtrak and dodging folks running out of the local establishments. I ride by all the campgrounds with those wonderful BBQ smells! I was getting really hungry, but I pressed on to Del Mar.

I'm cruising through Del Mar, then it hits me... I have Torrey Pines hill to climb! Oh man, this is going to be close. I make my way down to Torrey Pines State Beach, ride across the flats of the beach and start my way up. Well, the sutures are holding and I make my way up very slowly. I keep grinding and finally summit! I have 45 mins to make it to the final control.

I make the right to stay on N Torrey Pines road, I make the left into UCSD. Doing my best to follow the directions, I can't find Campus Point, so I turned around once again. Heading back on Voight, I turn around again looking for Campus. All this time I have students asking me where the gym is for a basketball game. I'm starting to think I'm going to blow it right here, a mile and a half from the finish...

I finally find the turn on Voight to get me to Health Sciences Dr. I finally see Regents! I'm at the corner turning right and another rider sees me while he's driving home. I have about a mile to go. I arrive at Doyle at 8:10, 20 mins to spare! I could have grabbed a hot chocolate at Starbucks!

Thanks to Mike and Robert, plus another couple for sticking around to the bitter end for this lantern rouge! Total mileage 132 miles with about 8000 feet of climbing! Can you say bonus!

Up next, Dudely's Bakery 300K! Yum, tasty bread.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Does Surly Mean the Rider?

Like it says on the bike, "Fatties Fit Fine". Do they mean the rider?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Welcome to the Surly Randonneur!

I haven't ridden a bike in 20 years, how things have changed....

I'm going to blog this year during my first full season as a randonneur. I'm a former long distance runner that's converted to cycling. I started bike commuting in Jan 2008 on a Trek 7100 hybrid a couple of days a week. I enjoyed bike commuting, it was fun despite the traffic. Since I was recovering from yet another painful case of plantar fasciitus from running, bike commuting was quickly replacing running as my main form of exercise. Besides, 28 miles a day, I was too tired to think about running!

After a few months, I knew I wanted a better bike, the Trek was too uncomfortable, and I really didn't trust it carrying too much. I used a standard rear rack and a trunk bag. Just enough to carry clothes and food. I knew I wanted more...

After talking with a local friend, he pretty much told me I'd want a Surly. Specifically, I'd want the Long Haul Trucker complete. At first, I wasn't exactly sure if this was the kind of bike for me. I looked around at other bikes that cost less, but had some things missing here and there. Important stuff like braze-ons for racks. So, after about 2 months of thinking about it, comparing to the Trek 520 , the Surly won out. I thought the LHT had a slightly better ride than the 520. With Bush's stimulus check in hand, I went off to Adam's Ave Bikes and purchased a 58cm LHT complete in green.

I was commuting to work 3 days a week and enjoying it. One day on the way home from work when I was driving my truck, it started sputtering and would die at intersections. As luck would have it, I lost the lift pump on my Dodge 2500 diesel. Also as luck would have it, that pump is special order! It was going to take a week. Hmmm, well, I guess I'm going to ride full time the following week!

The Surly was new to me, but already proving to be an excellent ride. The first few days of riding to work weren't so bad. That first Friday though, I'm laying in bed as stiff as a board. My wife had already left for work, my truck wasn't fixed yet, so I had to ride to work. I told myself to just take it easy and get there, which I did. Well, the autoparts stare goofed up my order! I was going to have to commute another full week!! The second week wasn't so bad, actually I was starting to get used to riding to work everyday. I decided then to just ride full time. I needed something more spacious than my little trunk bag and a pair of Ortlieb Back Roller Classics were bought. Here near San Diego, diesel prices were over $5/gal!! Riding to work was saving a ton of cash, of which my lovely bride was OK with me purchasing stuff to make my commutes better/safer. This was getting addictive.

After a few months of bike commuting, I was longing for something more. The thoughts of riding across America started entering my head. Since that was too much to accomplish over a weekend, I ran - no pun intended - across this local San Diego riding group that really picqued my interest. I knew I'd like to go out on long rides, but was fairly intimidated by going out with large, faster groups. I'm not the definition of fast on a bike by any means, so riding with the San Diego Randonneurs looked like fun.

My first ride past 14 miles was a 105K (65 miles) populaire. I loved it. My next big leap was a 300K (186 miles) brevet from Old Town San Diego, to Huntington Beach and back. I was hooked. It was a slightly hilly ride, but very warm that weekend. A couple of the more experienced and faster riders stuck with us newbies giving me all kinds of great information about randonneuring. I don't remember how long it took me, but I ended up finishing in the dark.

I made another attempt at a brevet, the Jacumba 200K (184 miles). I figured I rode a 300K, I should be able to ride a 200K - right? Well, I learned something very important that day - a very hilly 200K in high temps in the east county of San Diego is much harder than a 300K that's flat by the ocean. I made it to the 100K turn around, all covered in white salty sweat, feeling not so great. It was high winds and hills on the return. I bailed, quit, I couldn't ride back. My wife drove out to get me. I was still hooked! I have to stop riding on Labor Day weekend due to coaching my son's soccer team. 2009 couldn't get here soon enough.

That's my story about how I turned from a runner to a cyclist....