SF Cyclotouring

Ride reports and other ramblings from a San Francisco cyclist.


WTB: 60-62cm road frame

I'm looking for a used road-bike frame for an upcoming 650B project. I need a frame that measures 60-62cm from the center of the bottom-bracket to the top of the seat tube, with a 58cm to 60cm top tube. Lugged steel preferred, anything Japanese-made built with quality butted tubing (Columbus SL, Tange #2, True-Temper, Reynolds 531, etc) dating from mid 1980s to early 1990s would work. Miyata, Bridgestone, Schwinn, Univega, Bianchi, Nishiki, Trek, Centurion, etc. Frame must be set up for 700C wheels and short-reach brakes, have fender/rack eyelets at rear dropouts, brazed-on down tube shifter mounts, 68mm English-threaded BB with under-BB cable routing, 1-inch head tube, and 126-130mm rear dropout spacing (6/7 speed). Cosmetics unimportant, but frame should be straight and sound with no rust. 27.2mm seat post would be ideal. I don't need a fork, but if there's one included that would be great. I want an old frame I can hack on and modify, braze things on, not care if I mess up the paint, etc. Budget for this is $100 or less. Contact me if you've got anything like this that needs a new home. Thanks!


SFR 200k Brevet

Distance: ~135 miles
Bike: Kogswell 700C P/R
Time: Overall 6:15am - 6:30pm; Course 7am - 4:40pm

Today I rode the San Francisco Randonneurs 200k brevet, the inaugural event for the 2009 season. After getting to bed an hour and a half later than I'd planned on Friday night due to various last-minute preparations, I was rudely awakened at 4:30am by loud voices and pounding techno bass provided by an inconsiderate next-door neighbor, who often seems to think her flat is an after-hours rave club (often until late the next morning; c'mon, grow up, yer over 30 fer chrissakes!). I'd planned to wake at 5am anyways, so the noise mostly served to jump-start the return-to-consciousness functions in my brain. After changing into the cycling "uniform" and some quick coffee and granola, Gabe rang to say he was on his way. I slipped downstairs to get my bike out of the garage just as he, Brian, and a third guy named Chris -- who'd they'd picked up on the way -- rolled up. We'd agreed the previous day to ride together up Polk Street and through the Presidio to the ride start at the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Pre-Ride Meeting We got to the bridge swiftly, and finding the check-in table in the parking lot was easy -- just follow the stream of yellow-jacketed riders and their blinking lights! After signing in and getting our brevet cards, we rolled up to the GGB Visitors' Plaza where other riders had already started gathering, waiting for our RBA to give the pre-ride speech. Somewhat to my surprise, since he mentioned to me earlier in the week that he felt like he was coming down with something, Gino arrived in short order. He continued on to sign in, and then promptly returned again. We strained to hear the speech over the rumble of a nearby early-morning bus and a garbage truck making its rounds...but the gist of it was that nothing had changed from the previous year. This is my fourth time riding this particular course, and I ride many of the route's roads on a regular basis, so I was just trying to glean any important or new bits of info, and there weren't any.

Gray Skies Overhead7 o'clock came, and riders started flowing out. I purposely held back and let everyone else go. In prior rides/years, I've rolled out with the main group and gotten caught up in the excitement of cruising in a fast pack of bikes, only to burn out early and then suffer for the rest of the ride. This year, I'd planned to pace myself better and focus more on riding at a steady, comfortable pace. I waited a moment longer for Gino, who'd paused to adjust something on his bike, and then the two of us continued on, hanging on to the tail of the group. We rolled across the east side of the bridge under pre-dawn gray skies, and I worried about that as-forecast rain...

Mill Valley PacelineWe passed a few riders as we headed into Sausalito, and ended up in a nice group on the Mill Valley Bike Path section out towards Tiburon Ave. Brian was in that group on his new BDB Pelican, and I snapped a pic of his new bike. We climbed up and over Camino Alto, finding Gabe stopped on the other side, fixing a flat. Brian dropped back to wait for him, and Gino and I soldiered on. We navigated the extended wiggle through the many small communities before Fairfax, finally reaching White's Hill, which -- in addition to being a long climb -- serves as the climate barrier between Fairfax and Point Reyes and northward. Any rain that's gonna fall usually starts at the top of this peak, but as we rolled down the other side, amazingly there wasn't any! Gino and I cruised on Sir Francis Drake Blvd towards Samuel P Taylor State Park, where we opted to leave the paved road for a bit and instead take Inkwells Bridge and the Cross-Marin Trail. SFD Blvd through the park is a dark, bumpy, rutted, narrow-shouldered, twisty road that weaves through the park, often with speeding auto traffic. CM Trail is quiet, peaceful, flat, and straight in contrast. Plus, it's a dirt road for the first few miles, giving us bragging rights to riding a mixed-terrain brevet!

Jim Gourgoutis
Originally uploaded by Gino
We made a quick restroom stop in the park, before tackling the climb out, up, and over to Olema. We connected with a couple of other riders at that point, and together we rolled uneventfully through Inverness Park and Inverness (proper). I guess the folks there just couldn't let their town get too big, so they had to split it into two? Or maybe it's some obscure zoning law -- who knows? I think somewhere along here I felt five or six rain droplets, but nothing materialized fortunately. The climb up to Point Reyes National Seashore splintered our group somewhat, but a few of us regrouped as we headed out onto the peninsula. Working in a paceline, we made decent time before finally splintering for good on one of the four (I counted, but don't quite remember now) rollers out towards the lighthouse. Amazingly, there was no rain and very little wind! During this time, I had a particular song from the band Fugazi stuck in my head, and I passed the time and pedal strokes humming it to myself and drumming on my handlebars -- it made for some excellent climbing accompaniment!

Cattle CrossingGino and I continued on, encountering first the flat straight roads, many bucolic cows (and their odor), a couple of coyotes hunkered down in the grass, and later the muddy roads and cattle crossings of the working ranches out on the Point. At the last ranch before the light house, we endured a forced pause whilst several dozen head of cattle were herded across the road by a rancher on a muddy ATV. As we continued on, we saw what looked like a scene from a Mad Max movie -- a large battered tanker truck came roaring down the road towards us, sans-mufflers and belching smoke that peculiar color of blue which only emanates from a badly over-worn engine that burns more oil than gasoline. It drew nearer and I could see that at some point in its history, someone thought it a good idea to chop off the cab's roof, turning it into a convertible or sorts... At any rate, I figured that the liquid cargo it contained was probably of bovine origin, so I didn't linger...

First ControlWe and I made it to the first control, where I focused on getting my card signed and refilling my water bottle. Gino had mentioned on the way up that he was starting to feel sub-par, and it looked like it was hitting him hardest then. We lingered, ate some more, and agreed to make our way into Point Reyes Station where we'd re-evaluate. After munching a bit more, we turned back down the hill we'd just climbed. I hit a particularly nasty pothole, my bike went "THUNK", and -- as if in a slow-motion comedy scene -- I watched a Clif bar eject from the side pocket of my handlebar bag in a graceful arc over my head. U-turning back to retrieve my lost property, Gino pulled ahead, and it took me awhile to make my way back to him. We pressed on, making our way back over the ranch roads, cattle grates, and rolling hills back to the mainland. On the fast descent into Inverness, I had a minor scary moment when I was going too fast to complete a turn and crossed over the double-yellow line. I felt like I couldn't make the bike stop enough, but I think this was due more to rider error than mechanical problem; I just lost my timing a bit I think.

We quickly slipped back through Inverness, and made the right-then-left turns into Point Reyes Station proper. We pulled up across the street from the Bovine Bakery, where I spied a few other intrepid randonneurs making a fuel stop before pressing on to the next control. Gino said to me "here's what I'm thinking" and proceeded to explain that, in his best judgement, he'd decided to bow out from the rest of the ride. "Stomach cramps, and I feel feverish" he explained, and I agreed that he shouldn't do anything to make himself ill. He called in for a ride, and told me to press on, assuring me that he'd just hang out on the nearby park bench, rest, and wait for his pickup. I felt bad about leaving him there, but after assuring me multiple times that he'd be OK, I realized that the clock was ticking, and headed up the coast towards Marshall.

Flying solo now, I pushed on up Highway One against the headwind that had developed. Many riders who had already checked in at Marshall passed me from the oncoming direction, already headed back towards SF and the finish. Even after 80 miles, I felt fairly good and was in decent spirits. I waived "hello" to as many riders as I could. An unidentified pro cycling team was out on a training ride (probably for the upcoming Tour of California), 20-30 members strong dressed in white, followed by a team car with some spare bikes on top -- of course they didn't acknowledge my wave! Oh well, they didn't look like they were having much fun anyways...

I'd hoped to perhaps catch up to Carlos at the Marshall Store, but I knew that if I couldn't, Gabe and Bryan were behind me somewhere, and if I needed to, I could wait for them there. Sure enough, Carlos was one of the riders who flew by me a few miles before reaching the next control! He was making good time today! The Marshall Store has graciously served as our checkpoint on this route for many years, and while they were busy when I arrived, they happily stamped my card as I paid for a helping of their tasty clam chowder and a Coke. I sat with a couple of other randonneurs and ate hurriedly, and then took my drink outside whilst I prepped to remount the bike. As I set off again, I caught up with four other riders who looked like they were trying to form a pace line, but didn't appear to be working well together, so after a little while, I accelerated past them. The left turn onto Point Reyes - Petaluma Road came up sooner than I expected, and I turned left onto it, heading up towards Nicasio.

I eased a bit to complete the climb up towards Nicasio, where I caught up with a woman sporting a Grizzly Peak Cycling Club jersey. I didn't think she was a randonneur, but I wasn't certain. Just as we made the right turn onto Nicasio Blvd, she called out to me "Hey, are you doing that randonneur thing?" "Yep" I replied, "are you?" She wasn't, but she knew several folks that were. I led here part of the way towards Rancho Nicasio, when I spied a familiar rider up ahead. I struggled to catch up to him, but started faltering, and the woman launched ahead and pulled me the rest of the way. "Jon" I called out, finally getting in range of the familiar face and bike, and we greeted each other. The three of us continued on, rolling past Rancho Nicasio and on towards the turnoff to Lucas Valley Road. Our female companion joked and offered us a Powerbar to draft her up and over Lucas Valley Road, but we politely declined -- I don't think either of us wanted to push the pedals any more miles than were necessary to complete our task!

Final ControlJon is a stronger rider than I, and he pulled ahead over the winding road from Nicasio. We rejoined on Sir Francis Drake Blvd, where we chatted and cruised on towards White's Hill, which came and went in due course. Over the hill, we took the bike route on the quiet side streets leading into Fairfax, and I munched the remaining half of my sandwich to refuel for the last few miles. We retraced our route from the early morning, winding through the little towns, up and over the Camino Alto hill, and back through Sausalito, stopping only briefly so I could refill my water bottle near the Mill Valley school. Jon pulled away from me on the climb up to the bridge, and I rolled into the final control about a minute after he did. Carlos was still there waiting on finishers, and "Cyclofiend" Jim was there as well, snapping many photos. It was quite nice to be greeted by friendly, smiling faces after a long day on the bike! My finish time was recorded as 4:40pm, making my overall time 9:40, which is a personal best for this route. I'm pretty happy with that result, and I think that it proves that if I pace myself during the early part of the day, I can improve my overall speed.

After my card was turned in, I started shivering, and ironically -- for it hadn't been needed during the day -- I donned my full rain gear to ward off the evening chill. After hanging out a bit longer to see other riders finish, I remounted the bike and turned the pedals to cover the few miles back through SF towards home.


Nutted Brakes for 650B Conversions!

Maybe you've got an older frame that's set up for nutted-mount brakes, and you've been thinking of converting it to 650B, but have been stymied on what brakes to use...?!? Most folks go for the Tektro R556, but you're grumpy because those won't fit your non-recessed frame! You've read about drilling your frame and other tricks, but don't really want to do that for fear of messing up the nice chrome plating! Well, your troubles are over my friend! Here's the R556 in a NUTTED MOUNT version! Whoopie!


West Point Inn Ride

Mt. Tam ViewDistance: 44 miles
Bike: Fuji CX
Time: 10am-3pm

Carlos and I met to ride up Railroad Grade to West Point Inn on Mt. Tam, where we enjoyed the sun for a few moments before heading back. While at there, we had a minor internet-fandom moment when a rider on a Romulus introduced himself as Brett and said that he'd been tracking our blogs for mixed-terrain action. Nice to know the good word's getting spread! Afterwards, I stopped by Box Dog to say hi to Gabe and pick up some spokes for my dynohub'd wheel build. 10am to 2pm or so, 44 miles total.


Stolen Bike Alert!

Steve C's blue Yuba Mundo cargo bike was stolen from his Oakland apartment last night. There are not many of these long-tail cargo bikes around, so this one should be easy to spot! For details, please see his Craigslist ad, and ping either him or me if you spot it! Thanks!


Solo Nicasio Loop

Distance: 80 miles
Bike: Kogswell 700C P/R
Time: 6:30am-12:30pm

The original plan called for a 7am meet up at the GGB. After quietly rolling through the moonlit, pre-dawn shadows, I got there at about 7:07, and waited a few minutes before calling Carlos, who was nowhere to be seen. Was he running late, or did he forge ahead? A quick phone call revealed that he was on the other side of the bridge. "I'll ride slow and you can catch up before Camino Alto" he said. I rolled on down to and through Sausalito, and no Carlos was to be seen. I climbed Camino Alto and rolled on towards Fairfax, and still no Carlos. At that point, I realized that Carlos' "slow" was still much quicker than my "fast" and resigned to my fate of riding alone that day... I climbed and then descended White's Hill, rolled past Woodacre, and reached the right-hand turn that leads towards Rancho Nicasio. The temperatures felt like they changed +/- 10 degrees (F) around every corner -- one minute I was warm, the next freezing! I was feeling OK and didn't stop at Nicasio -- for I had plenty of fluids and A Plan! After hanging the left turn that leads towards Olema and Point Reyes, I popped open the flap on my Zugster Rando Bag prototype (I've agreed to be a beta tester) and dug out half of a sandwich. I somehow managed to ride the stubborn Kogswell mostly no-handed for a short stretch while I slowly rolled and munched. Moving slowly is better and faster than not moving at all! By that point I'd reached the turn to Platform Bridge Road, which bypasses Point Reyes Station and Olema. "Which way did Carlos go?" I wondered to myself! "Ah, he needs to be home by early afternoon, so I doubt he'd take the long way around" I mentally agreed with myself. So take the short way I did, heading directly towards SP Taylor park and the nice Cross Marin Trail. I left the bright pavement and slid quietly onto the wooded path. Still no trace of Carlos! Nope, not at the handy facilities in the park. Nope, not near Inkwells Bridge. Nobody in sight on White's Hill. And although I was certain I'd spot his smiling face at the Java Hut, he wasn't there either. "Oh Well" I thought, and just kept on moving towards home. At one point I started feeling pretty grumpy and knew I was headed towards The Bonk, so I popped a gel and shot it. That seemed to help somewhat, and certainly fueled me the rest of the way home. I got back inside just before 12:30pm, much to the surprise of my wife, who thought I'd be gone all day! I later found out that Carlos arrived back home at 1pm, so I must've been just behind him until that fateful turn onto Platform Bridge Road, where he'd zigged towards Pt. Reyes, Inverness, and Olema, while I'd zagged straight towards the park and inadvertently jumped ahead of him!


Schmidts Original

Originally uploaded by jimgskoop
I finally got one. Boulder Bicycle made me an offer that was too good to pass up. I've got a rim (MA-3, 605mm ERD) which matches the others on my bike, so all I need now is spokes. And Mavic's handy spoke-length calculator at their dealer/tech website says I need 292.45mm spokes. The formula given in the SON instructions (spoke length = rim radius - 9.5mm, for 32 hole/3-cross lacing) yields a length of 293mm, so those values agree. DT 14/15g should do it...hmmm, I wonder what's in my parts bin?


Petaluma Deli Ride

Distance: 102 miles
Bike: Kogswell 59x700C P/R
Time: 8:30am to 5pm (8.5hrs)

Rode with Greg and Robbins, took the Kogswell with a new set of 700x32 Pasela TG tires (BDBikes only has TG Paselas, unfortunately) -- these definitely helped the bike's cornering grip as compared to the old-style 700x35 Paselas with the crap tread, but nowhere near as good grip or plushness compared to the new-style 700x35 Paselas. Oh well. Bike still somewhat able to ride no-handed with great effort, but does still speed-wobble if I plant my butt firmly on saddle. Wobble goes away if I unweight saddle slightly. Need to adjust saddle back ~3mm and angle nose down slightly. Food consumed on ride: 1 bottle Gatoraide, 1 bottle water, 2 pop tarts, 1 Tagliaferri's chicken-parmesan sandwich (quite good), 1 bag potato chips, 1 large Starbucks mocha frappuccino bottled beverage.


Marshall Wall Loop

Distance: 107 miles
Bike: Kogswell 59x700C P/R
Time: 7:30am to 5:30pm (10hrs)

Rode w/Greg and Carlos. Lowered the saddle 5mm on the Kogswell to good effect. Also tried the old-style 700x35 Pasela TG tires (30mm actual measure) -- these seem to cut down on the shimmy and speed wobble somewhat, but don't carve turns as well as the new-style 700x35s. Consider getting some new-style Pasela 700x32 tires, might be a happy middle ground? Constructed a new battery pack for the dual-Cree LED headlamp, which worked OK for the little bit that I used it, but the power plug popped out of the headlamp jack -- investigate this. Cold temps throughout the day, coupled with my overall lack of recent riding made this a very hard ride. Greg and Carlos dropped me at the Marshall Wall and again on Point Reyes-Petaluma Road. It was all I could do to slog home in low gear. Wool socks and the thin booties were not enough to keep my feet warm -- liner socks might be a good idea, or wear the heavy booties next time. Also a 2nd vest might've been a good idea to help block the wind during those times when a windshell got too hot/sweaty. Overall, however, 107 miles is a great way to kick off the new year! Food/liquids input: 1 bottle Gatoraide, 1 bottle H20, 2 pop tarts, couple handfuls of roasted+salted almonds, 1 clementine orange, 1 small Marshall Store clam chowder, 1 can Coke, 1 small Java Hut coffee, 1 cinnamon pastry.