Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Stone Lagoon

stone lagoon

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Over the bypass and back

If I’m going to ride a century, I have to tackle hills. So last week I began my official hill-climbing training with a “Tour de Fieldbrook.”

That caused some pain and agony even though the elevation and distance were minimal. In the days following that ride I was haunted by the words of my sadistic high school cross country coach – no pain, no gain.

So today I turned it up a notch and decided climb the Redwood National Park Bypass. I chose this climb because I’m familiar with the roadway, having driven over the summit more than 500 times. It has a nice wide shoulder and a steady incline.

The plan was to toss the bike in the car, drive to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, pedal over the bypass and return on the Newton B. Drury Parkway. It would be a nice loop.

Before leaving I quickly flipped through my newspapers and noticed that someone was attacked by a mountain lion the day before at the park. That was interesting, but it wasn’t going to alter my plans.

But when I arrived at the park, the Newton B. Drury Parkway was closed and a ranger informed me that I was forbidden from bicycling on the roadway due to the mountain lion attack.

Mountain Lion warning

This was posted at the park entrance. By “close range” they mean that a mountain lion’s jaws were wrapped around a man’s head. That qualifies as "close" indeed. Fortunately the victim survived.

I wonder why he was attacked? Why didn’t the lion just go after something like the tasty lion snack below? These fellows are all over the place and they look easy to catch.

Lion snack

Due to the lion attack, I had to change my route. I would stay on U.S. Highway 101. I would climb the summit, descend to the Newton B. Drury Parkway across the Del Norte County line and then reverse the route to get home.

The elevation where I started is about 100 feet. So I started climbing...

more northbound roadway

Then I climbed some more...

northbound roadway

Nearly 1,400 feet up from where I started, I reached the summit.


I was drenched in sweat, but I felt pretty good. So I descended the other side. Below is the view of the east.

forest view

When I got to the north entrance to the Newton B. Drury Parkway, below, I went into a funk upon the realization that I had to climb back up to the summit to get home. I was tired and felt like taking a nap. I wondered if I had made a mistake. It was too late now. I ate a PB&J, got back on the bike and worked my way back.


It’s a lot colder on the north side of the summit. I had to dodge some ice. Fortunately I brought lots of warm clothes. As you can see below, my rack trunk was stuffed to the brim.


It was a slow grind back to the top of the summit. I made it back to my car cold and tired. The total elevation climbed was well over 2,700 feet.

Monday, January 22, 2007

What a motel room at the old Rolf's looks like today.1.22.07

Elk dining at Rolf's

Friday, January 19, 2007

Weekly Bicycle Wrap.1.19.07

Emerald Triangle

This week’s total mileage: 68.5 miles

This week’s mileage on e-bike: 0

This week’s mileage on a regular bike: 68.5

Total mileage in 2007: 149.50

Total mileage in 2006 (Starting July 10. Prior mileage not counted.): 1,038

Total mileage since July 10, 2006: 1,187

Total e-bike mileage since July 10, 2006: 529.5

Total regular bike mileage since July 10, 2006: 658.5

Gas savings this week: 2.5 gallon

Gallons saved since July 10, 2006: 45.30

Price of gas today: $2.64

Gas savings since July 10, 2006: $187.35

Flat tires since July 10, 2006: 4

Found items on the roadway: One nice pair of tin snips (11/8/06)


The only notable ride this week was my Tour de Fieldbrook.

I biked from my house to the Arcata Bottoms, to Valley West, up Highway 299 to Fieldbrook Road, through Fieldbrook, over the hill, back down to McKinleyville via Murray Road, and home via the Hammond Trail.

For some reason this seemed like a really long ride in my head, so I set aside 3 1/2 hours to complete it. Turns out it’s only 20 miles and I was back home in an hour and 45 minutes.

The ride did reveal one of my weaknesses – hill climbing. I was in agony during a good portion of the hill coming out of Fieldbrook toward McKinleyville.

The solution to this problem: more hill climbing.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Weekly Bicycle Wrap.1.12.07

This week’s total mileage: 51 miles

This week’s mileage on e-bike: 0

This week’s mileage on a regular bike: 51

Total mileage in 2007: 81

Total mileage in 2006 (Starting July 10. Prior mileage not counted.): 1,038

Total mileage since July 10, 2006: 1,119

Total e-bike mileage since July 10, 2006: 529.5

Total regular bike mileage since July 10, 2006: 589.5

Gas savings this week: 1 gallon

Gallons saved since July 10, 2006: 42.70

Price of gas today: $2.64

Gas savings since July 10, 2006: $180.65

Flat tires since July 10, 2006: 4

Found items on the roadway: One nice pair of tin snips (11/8/06)


The Missouri

New to the fleet this week is a bicycle I’ve nicknamed the “Missouri,” after the famous battleship.

The Mighty Mo has a displacement of 45,000 tons, which is about what the “new” bike weighs.

I acquired the bike for free through the local Yahoo “Freecycle” website. A fellow wanted to get rid of the bike, and I was happy to take it off his hands. (Within the coming months I’ll have to unload some of my unwanted items on Freecycle to make up for it.)

The Missouri is an old single-speed Schwinn, probably from the 1960s. It seems like an adult version of the old Schwinn Stingray I had as a kid. It’s a giant, honking, American-made hunk of steel.

Today I took the Missouri on its maiden voyage – a 4.5-mile round trip to town and back. That’s a short distance and hardly noticeable on a regular bike.

But with the Missouri, every foot traveled feels like a mile. It’s like you’re pedalling uphill, even when you’re not. I instinctively reached down and tried to change the gears several times, but there are none. By the time I got to my office I was dripping with sweat.

At least one person I know saw me pedaling through town and gave me one of those “what the hell is wrong with you” looks. I responded by ringing the Missouri’s retro Mickey Mouse bicycle bell. RRRrrnggg! RRRrrngg!

The upside of the Missouri – besides its pristine condition and the Mickey Mouse bell – is the massive metal basket mounted on the front. I was able to haul a box containing 2,000 inserts back home, along with a backpack, MCSD meeting packet and a couple coffee drinks. Heck, I had enough room left over in the basket that I could have hauled a couple cinder blocks just for fun.

I don’t expect to use the Missouri much other than for some heavy hauling and for an occasional brutal workout session.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bike Commuting 101

arcata bottoms

Ace reporter and KSLG DJ Jennifer Savage recently asked for advice regarding what kind of bicycle and equipment she would need to commute to work.

If her commute was short like mine (4.5 miles round trip) I would suggest that she simply ride whatever bicycle she already owns. Just pump up the tires and go.

In a town like McKinleyville you can get by with almost any kind of bike – a road bike, mountain bike and even an old clunker. Nearly everything in town is within three miles or less of everything else and it’s relatively flat. McKinleyville is actually the ideal town for getting around on a bicycle, although you wouldn’t guess that based on the dearth of bicycles on the road.

But Jennifer wants to commute to Ferndale, which is about 24 miles one way. She would have to tackle some traffic, several hills and, depending on the weather, a strong headwind.

That’s a lot of miles and some tough terrain for pedaling to work, especially if you add inclement weather to the mix.

The trip is far enough, and difficult enough, that I don’t feel qualified to give her any advice about it at all. But I will anyway.

I would suggest that if she has a decent bike, she get it in proper working order and do a test run. See how the bike works. Climb some hills. Pedal 15 to 20 miles. If she’s comfortable with this, then she can easily do the commute one way.

If I were her, I’d be tempted to use Redwood Transit to get to work. Then I would bike home. You can click on the link for “Jack’s Electric Bicycle” on the left and look through the archives for my blog entry regarding using a bicycle and Redwood Transit.

If she has a choice of bicycles, I would suggest a road bike over a mountain bike. Those fat tires on a mountain bike really slow you down. Then again, the most important thing is that she feel comfortable on the bike.

In my personal experience, a great way to change the whole feel of a bicycle is to change the handlebars. I never used my road bike until I swapped the standard 10-speed “drop” handlebars for mustache handlebars. Now it’s my favorite bike. There are lots of different options. For instance, check out the handlebars on my Schwinn Suburban, shown in my Dec. 15, 2006 Weekly Bicycle Wrap. Drop bars also make a lot of sense. They provide a lot of different hand positions. But they’re not for everyone.

As for equipment and accessories, here are some suggestions:

• Helmet. This is a necessity. No ifs, ands or buts.

• Tool kit. This should have everything necessary to repair a flat tire. I carry a bunch of tools, patch kit and spare tube. If a bicycle does not have quick-release wheels, a wrench will be necessary.

• Pump. I carry both a mini pump and one of those CO2 cartridge doo-dads. I haven’t tried the latter – yet. Test out the pump ahead of time. I learned this lesson the hard way after I got a flat and discovered that my pump didn’t work. I ended up walking my bike home.

• Water bottle

• Fenders. To stay dry and keep one’s face and ass from being covered in mud and grit, get fenders. I have several bikes and I use the ones with fenders when it’s raining. When I have time, I plan on installing fenders on my favorite road bike (see photo above).

• Lights. If there is even a remote chance of riding in the dark, lights are necessary. For safety purposes, riders may even want to use them in the daytime. I have a pair of cheap lights from Kmart with bright, blinking LEDs. I use them at night, in the fog, or when I just plain feel paranoid about cars, which is a lot of the time and for good reason.

• A lock

• A bag, panniers or backpack. I have something called a “rack trunk” (see photo above) that I like. There are lots of different options.


• Gloves. I like wool gloves with the fingers cut off.

• Ear warmer. I took an old wool beanie hat and cut the top off. That left a nice band that wraps around my head, covers my ears and doesn’t interfere with my helmet. This is the cheap option. Or a fancy ear warmer can be purchased at a bicycle store for about $10.

• Windbreaker/Raincoat. A lightweight waterproof polyester windbreaker works for me when it’s dry or the rain is light. Underneath the windbreaker I layer my clothing. Layering is the way to go.

• Rainpants. I put rainpants over my regular pants.

When there’s a light drizzle or even medium rain, I’m pretty comfortable. When the rain is heavy, I’m a miserable wretch. Everything leaks. I come home cold and soaking wet. I’m still working on this problem and hope to have it solved in the coming months as I improve my gear.

Below are some interesting links. You'll want to read the archives.

Kent's Bike Blog

Bike Year

Monday, January 08, 2007

Ridgeline.Freshwater Lagoon.1.8.07

Ridgeline.Freshwater Lagoon.1.8

Friday, January 05, 2007

Weekly Bicycle Wrap 1.5.07

Big D
A gratuitous photo of Dutch, aka Big D, aka Big Brown Dog, near the Mad River.

This week’s total mileage: 30 miles

This week’s mileage on e-bike: 0

This week’s mileage on a regular bike: 30

Total mileage in 2007: 30

Total mileage in 2006 (Starting July 10. Prior mileage not counted.): 1,038

Total mileage since July 10, 2006: 1,068

Total e-bike mileage since July 10, 2006: 529.5

Total regular bike mileage since July 10, 2006: 538.5

Gas savings this week: 1.5 gallons

Gallons saved since July 10, 2006: 41.70

Price of gas today: $2.60

Gas savings since July 10, 2006: $178.01

Flat tires since July 10, 2006: 4

Found items on the roadway: One nice pair of tin snips (11/8/06)


I’m back after a holiday hiatus. My minimal mileage during that period is not included in the numbers above.

It feels great to be back in the saddle again. There’s nothing like a nasty case of the crud to make you appreciate your health.

I don’t really “do” New Year’s resolutions, although I always maintain a lengthy list of goals I want to accomplish. Some are big and some are small. Some are personal and some are business related.

Thankfully, few of them will ever be written about on this blog.

I culled the list down to just a few bicycle-related goals that seem appropriate for my weekly bicycle wrap. Here they are:

• Continue to use a bicycle instead of a car as much as possible. This involves learning to adapt to adverse weather conditions.
• Continue to hone my rusty bicycle mechanic skills to the point where I can take a bicycle almost completely apart, put it back together again and have it properly adjusted and in good working order – all within a short period of time.
• Ride at least 100 miles in one day.
• Take more landscape photos and nature-related photos on my bike trips. These are photos taken for no other purpose than my personal enjoyment.

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