Friday, February 23, 2007

"Wasted Days and Wasted Nights"

I took a short ride at the beginning of the week and came home soaking wet and covered in road grime.

That got me thinking – while I can’t stop the rain from coming down on me, I can stop it from coming up at me.

How? Fenders

So I purchased a set of Bicycle Planet “Freddie Fenders” from Life Cycle in Arcata and quickly installed them. The old Freddie Fender pop song “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” went through my head.

Just for the heck of it, I also decided to try out some old panniers that I purchased back when I was in middle school a long, long time ago. How long ago? Let’s put it this way: The top record of the year was “Rosanna” by Toto, “Ghandi” won the Academy Award for Best Picture and there’s a good chance that I longed for a Members Only jacket.

Due to the rain, I juggled this week’s schedule around and planned my major ride for today (Friday). Originally I planned to pedal east, but decided against it after seeing all the snow on the hillsides. The new destination was somewhere to the north, depending on when I left the house and the weather conditions. Basically I would pedal as far as I could.

There was a mix of blue skies and ominous-looking dark clouds when I left the house at 10 a.m.

Fueled on oatmeal and V-8, I made my way to downtown McKinleyville for a canteen of black coffee at Sutter’s Mudd, which had some oven-fresh oat bran bread filled with apple. It was still warm. I was a happy camper.

Vista Point 2.23.07

I waited until McKinleyville’s Vista Point to consume my “fuel.” I drank hot coffee, enjoyed the bread and looked for whales. I didn’t see any, but all was well in the world. Plus, as you can see above, those new Freddie Fenders look sweet. They compliment the handlebars and give the bike a classic look.

Scenic Drive

Not long ago, pedalling to Scenic Drive, above, seemed like an epic journey. Now it feels like a warm-up ride. That’s good. The training plan is working.

Agate Beach

I took a 7-minute break at Patrick’s Point State Park, located north of Trinidad. Patrick’s Point is one of the nicest parks on the North Coast. It’s a great destination for both short hikes and long hikes. If on a bike, it’s a nice and relatively safe ride from McKinleyville. Above is Agate Beach, where you can find agates.

North of Patrick’s Point you enter U.S. Highway 101 and things get ugly. There are portions of the roadway without any shoulders. You pedal like hell, pray to the gods and curse the people at Caltrans who managed to build a major freeway without even designating a measly 6 inches of shoulder for bicycles. At one point I heard a car coming, got scared, drove into a drainage ditch and almost fell over. Bastards!

After a couple scary miles everything was back to normal with decent shoulders. I went up. And down. And up. And down. And on and on...

I reached Freshwater Lagoon and felt kind of crappy. It was windy. I wondered whether I might have to stop and puke my guts out. I didn’t feel good. I was tired. Something was wrong with me. Big time.


I pedalled onward to Orick for my trophy photo, above.

I stopped, snapped the photo and turned around. Time to pedal back. There was a nice picnic shelter at Freshwater Beach where I could warm up and get my bearings. Once there I forced myself to drink water and eat some PB&J, even though I didn’t feel like it.

Oh man. This was turning into a nightmare. So far from home. Feeling crappy. Cold. Tired.

I put on a windbreaker, tucked my head down and started pedalling. It was slow going.

Little by little I made progress. I made my way over a hill and sped down the other side. My physical symptoms went away.

I suspect I just needed some nourishment. Once I got it, it was just me and the road.

Then I heard the word “Hello.” What the fuck? I looked to the left and there was a fellow I know from McKinleyville riding alongside me on a bike. Where did he come from? I hadn’t seen any cyclists on the road since Scenic Drive.

We chatted and then he raced ahead. Actually he zoomed ahead. He probably pedalled three to four times faster than me – at least.

I could have been demoralized by his superior athletic ability, but instead I was inspired. His speed and stamina are the result of lots and lots of rides like the one I was doing today.

No pain, no gain. He’s fast because of experience. I have a lot of catching up to do and maybe I’ll never be that fast, but I’m getting there.

I pedalled onward. I was tired and my legs hurt. When I reached McKinleyville, it started lightly sprinkling.

By 4:30 p.m. I was home. All told, I went at least 65 miles.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


Everything east of Blue Lake is unfamiliar country. I’ve only travelled those roads about a half a dozen times and those trips were far and few between. And all of those trips were in motor vehicles, including one bone-chilling ride in the back of a pickup truck. But that’s another story.

For this week’s Thursday training ride I decided to pedal from McKinleyville to State Route 299 and head east to the top of Lord Ellis Summit. I don’t know much about the summit except that it is mentioned on the police scanner as a place where there’s snow.

I got a late start due to the demands of the paper and my proclivity to ramble on, leaving the house at about 1:30 p.m.


Within a few minutes I stopped to say hello to this cow at the Fischer Ranch just down the street. If this cow continues to produce milk during the upcoming strike, will she be considered a scab?

I rocketed across the Arcata Bottoms to Valley West and then got on 299. I went by the new Almquist Lumber store, which reminded me that I should shop there more often. It’s practically in McKinleyville, even though I suppose it’s technically in Arcata. (When the civil war breaks out between McKinleyville and Arcata, we’ll have to fight over this territory.)

The ride to Blue Lake was pleasant and familiar. After Blue Lake, the freeway ended and I started climbing. I was in new territory and sweating like a pig.

I forced myself to drink water, even though I wasn’t thirsty. I operate on the theory that it’s better to drink water before you feel the thirst instead of after. By the time you’re thirsty you have a hydration deficit and it’s too late. (Note: This applies to water, not vodka.)

A short distance east of Blue Lake, there’s a different look, smell and sound. Between the occasional swoosh of a vehicle whizzing by, all I could hear was the roar of water. There are hundreds of little streams rushing downhill towards to the Mad River. There are pipes, culverts and countless mini waterfalls. There’s so much water coming downhill that it made me wonder why the Mad isn’t as wide as the Mississippi by the time it passes by Mack Town.

When I go on a ride, I always set a turnaround time. Since I left at 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. seemed like a reasonable time to head back. That would give me enough time to get back before dark with a little wiggle room for unforeseen technical problems.

At 3:30 p.m. I stopped. I wasn’t sure where I was, except that I had crossed a bridge over the North Fork of the Mad River and was about a mile and a half east of what appeared to be the Simpson Rifle Range.

I didn’t make it to the summit, nor was I clear how far away the summit was. I turned around. Before 5 p.m. I was home, sipping on a hot cup of tea and scarfing down a piece of white cake with fudge frosting.

If I wasn’t training for the Tour of the Unknown Coast, I would consider this week’s mission a success – I pedalled about 33 miles, climbed some elevation and had plenty of energy left over. The legs weren’t sore or stiff. I could have pedalled for another couple hours, easy.

But then it occurred to me: If I pedalled more than twice as far, from McKinleyville to Willow Creek and back the same day, the ride would be shorter and easier that the TUC.

Holy crap! I have a lot of training to do. This week’s riding was insufficient. I have to turn it up a notch, or two, or three...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Just in time for Valentine's Day – amorous elk


Love was in the air Monday morning at Stone Lagoon. This handsome fellow and his lady were "canoodling" as I drove by. Before I could stop and get some exclusive XXX elk porn for the blog, they were finished.


Check out the bling bling on his antlers. The bulls do that to impress the ladies, and it works.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Kneeland 95549

My weekly schedule leaves only Wednesday or Thursday afternoon to indulge in a lengthy bicycle ride, so I closely watched the weather forecast at the beginning of the week.

At first the National Weather Service predicted only a 30 percent chance of rain on Wednesday and Thursday. I interpreted that to mean there was a 70 percent chance of it not raining. Those are pretty good odds, so I started planning a ride that would involve both distance and elevation gain.

I decided to ride from my house in McKinleyville to Kneeland and back. It seemed like a swell idea at the time.

By Tuesday it was clear that we’d be getting some rain for sure, and by Wednesday it looked like a lost cause. It rained all that afternoon and more rain was predicted for Thursday.

But by around noon Thursday, my rain gauge showed that it hadn’t rain at all since midnight. Even though it looked bad outside, it was dry. So I loaded up the Panasonic road bike and hit the road. Within minutes, it was raining.

Screw it. If I didn’t ride, I’d miss a training opportunity. The clock is ticking away and the Tour of the Unknown Coast will be here soon.

I put on my rain pants, rain cape (bike poncho) and kept on riding. I crossed the Arcata Bottoms to Valley West, cruised by the LP particle board plant and made my way to LK Wood.

I passed by HSU and noticed that the students haven’t aged a bit since I attended a long, long time ago. I zig zagged through some neighborhoods and connected to Old Arcata Road via Union Street. From there it was a long haul to Three Corners Market, the start of my climb to Kneeland.

Three Corners

I was feeling pretty good until I passed Freshwaterwater Park and then – BAM – the road started going up.

It was a hell of a lot steeper than the RNSP bypass. One switchback after another. Up and up and up.

After awhile I considered turning back. Enough was enough. My legs hurt. My ass hurt. I felt like I was pretty far up the mountain, but where was Kneeland? What is Kneeland? Would I know when I had arrived? The elevation was high enough that my ears popped.


I trudged on and learned something – there’s no there there.

I’m sure there are some nice houses out in the sticks, but for a visitor it’s an unremarkable community. Nothing to see and nowhere to stop.

The Kneeland Post Office would have to suffice for a photo. I took a 5 minute break, slammed some Doritos and a PBJ and headed back down the hill.


Wet. Tired. Cold. Covered in road grit. A burning sensation in the legs.

It was a slow ride home and it rained the entire time. The entire trip was about 45 miles, with roughly nine of them consisting of the Kneeland climb.

It was a tough ride, and it felt like it.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Only buy genuine Linotype parts

Keep in mind that if the "distributor box matrix pusher slide lever cam roll pin" breaks, production stops and the Linotype sits idle until the pin is repaired.

The manual advises "Don't trust substitutes when a part must be replaced. Get genuine Linotype parts. They are durable... simple... up-to-date... efficient."

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Parts Catalog for Linotypes

linotype catolog

When the Arcata Union closed in 1995, I went down with the ship, but not before walking away with lots of artifacts that were dumped in the trash. Over the years these items have blended in with my other crapola. Tonight I discovered this catalog tucked away in my garage. It's good for models 8, 14, 25 and 26. If you have a model 18, you're screwed.

lintoype mechanisms

This diagram shows the Linotype's mechanisms. There's an assembly mechanism, a casting mechanism, a distributing mechanism and a driving mechanism. Each mechanism has numerous components, like a "cruciible mouthpiece wiper," "gasoline-kerosene burner," "slug lever" and, my favorite, the "pi stacker and tube."

When fixing this machine, be careful. It sounds like it could catch fire or drip hot lead on your typesetter.

Swinging Keyboard

When there's a problem with the "back cam yokes," you'll be happy you have a swinging keyboard.

note for craig

Inside the catalog was a note to Craig, apparently reminding him of the "Safeway pickup." My guess is that it was a note to the late Craig Hadley. He probaby needed to pick up the weekly inserts from the Arcata Safeway. Oh, and it looks like the Arcata Union was late with Larry's letterhead.

There was another hand written note in the catalog listing parts G-1603 and G-2467. Looks like they had a problem with the "distributor clutch shaft, assembled" and the "distributor clutch shaft gear."

linotype service

If they couldn't fix it themselves, they contacted the Mergenthaler Linotype Company in San Francisco. "RUSH ORDERS GO OUT ON THE NEXT TRAIN!" the catalog proclaims.

linotype tools

I'm glad I looked at this page, because I own a "revolving belt punch." It's been in my tool box ever since.... yeah, 1995, when I apparently dragged it out of a dumpster and brought it home. I also have some odd-shaped wrenches that are explained by this catalog.

Friday, February 02, 2007

New Stats & A New Mission

This week’s bike mileage: 56 miles

Total mileage in 2007: 276


Starting this week I’m simplifying the bicycle statistics that I’ve compiled since last July. Everything from 2006 can be found in previous postings. For 2007, I’ll just post the weekly mileage and total mileage for the calendar year.

The original purpose of all these statistics was find out how much gasoline I could save by using a bicycle instead of a car for getting around town. The numbers showed that I could save up to four gallons a week, although most of the time the savings were around two gallons a week. That’s $250 to $400 a year in gas savings, depending on a variety of factors.

I started with an electric bike, which was my “poor man’s moped.” That was fun, but the range was limited – so limited that it required a lot of pedalling. This got me in shape even though that wasn’t my intention.

I started riding my other bicycles and eventually rediscovered the joy of cycling. Besides using a bike for general transportation, I started going on longer recreational rides. I stopped using the electric bike, which I now plan to sell.

So my focus shifted.

A few months ago I told CP that I was thinking about riding the “Tour of the Unknown Coast.”

Her reply: “You should do it.”

That’s easier said than done. Not only is the tour 100 miles long, it’s brutal with about 9,000 feet in elevation gain. It’s known as “one of the toughest centuries in the West” for a reason. Below is a map:

(Source:TUC website)

Will I be able to complete the ride? As of today, the answer is no. Will I be able to complete it in May after a few months of training? Maybe.

It’s an iffy proposition, but one hell of a goal and an excuse for some really painful training rides.

So I’m tentatively planning on riding in the upcoming Tour of the Unknown Coast, with some caveats:

1. Rain cancels the ride for me. I don’t plan on freezing my ass off and being wet for 100 miles.

2. Before I commit to the ride, I plan to visit the Lost Coast and pedal up a mountain or two. If that works out, then I’ll sign up.

I’ll have to seriously increase my weekly mileage as well as the length and difficulty of my training rides.

If for some reason it doesn't work out, then I'll have to find another opportunity to complete a century this year.

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