Wednesday, April 30, 2008

2008 WNR 05

Forgot my camera tonight, but look at this cool old postcard I found!

This appears to be somewhere near the tire poppers, but it might be way back by the Athenian School... anybody know? The credits said "Circa 1920"
Took off solo at 5:30 thinking JB would catch me up pretty quick. Nice tonight, just a little breezy and cool.
There was a fast looking couple just ahead of me but they seemed to be riding very slowly - I didn't want to pass them and look like I was throwing down, but they were REALLY slow so just as I made up my mind to come around them, the guy took off in a sprint! Then the woman told me they were doing intervals and had just finished their rest phase... that explains it.
JB caught me at Chainbuster - I tailed him for about 100m but then fell off - he likes Wednesday nights. Claims the Cheez-its he ate gave him the extra energy for a sub 40.
My times are getting better, but far from good.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Los Vaqueros Time Trial

Found out about this event from a colleague at work. He said they were having trouble getting participants to sign up so I figured that meant I had a good chance of a high placing! It's put on by the Water District and they're one of our clients at work so I figured it might be good for business relationships as well.

Two days before my 49th birthday so it was kind of a ceremony as well.

I met blog reader Curtis at the start and we pre-rode the course. He's doing Chico Wildflower century tomorrow and didn't want to over exert himself but I assured him he'd quickly recover from the effort of a 3-mile TT by then.

Curtis said it's usually insanely windy out here in Brentwood - sometimes people come out for a ride and just say "forget it" and go back home. But it was not too bad today. The course was mostly flat with a half-mile hill at the end, about 11% I think, so it really was kind of fun... sort of like the prologue up to Coit Tower the first two years of the Tour of California.


They started us in one minute intervals and had a guy with a radio at the start line who would say "go" into the radio and then the guy at the finish line would mark the start and finish time for each rider... kind of rinky-dink but it worked.

There was a great tail wind the first mile and I was hammering at 30mph and then came this bend in the road and suddenly the wind shifted and I dropped back to about 16mph and my legs started to rubberize. I just got down nice and low and kept a smooth cadence through this bit. I was hoping to stomp up the hill in a big gear but instead I just sat back on the saddle and pulled on the bars and huffed it up that way and had just enough left for a little sprint at the top. I figure it was about the best race I could have ridden. The overall winner was 10m08s and I ws 10m29s so I missed a pair of new shoes by only 21 seconds. I was first in my age group though and got a dandy souvenier medal.

There were more volunteers there than riders I think and they were embarassed and apologetic that there wasn't more of a turnout but they liked all our ideas about how to get more people next time.

Saw this cool snake on the road and we pushed it off into the ditch - some other people there who sounded like they were knowledgeable about such things said it was a gopher snake.

The leader board was mostly empty.

I got sort of an honorable mention on the event website:

On the way home I stopped for a half-flat of fresh strawberries!

I couldn't decide which of these Diablo shots I liked better... so you get both of them.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sponsorship Gift Offer

I have an offer for my readers who enjoy pro racing. I have a home-made DVD of the Versus coverage of this year's Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders, and Paris-Roubaix that I'll burn a copy of (all on one disk) for anyone who sponsors me for at least $20. The coverage of each race was 2-hours before commercial cuts.

I recorded the races on my DVR, then edited them on to a VHS in 6-hour mode, then transferred the races to a DVD in 6-hour mode. All the commercials have been edited out so it makes for really great viewing. The quality isn't high-def but it's definitely watchable - probably similar to something you'd do yourself if you had the time, equipment, and motivation; but I'll send you a copy of MINE as a thank you gift for sponsoring me!

Click HERE to sponsor me and then when you get to the part about sending me a message - just say you want a copy of the disk. I'll respond within a day or two and confirm (if I don't, please click the "mail me" link on my sidebar.

I also have some other races done in a similar format from 2006 and 2007 including Tour of California and most of the monuments... drop me an e-mail if you'd like anything special and I'll let you know what I can do.

EDIT UPDATE: OK, zero takers so far on the 2008 classics, how about something more unusual - I have a disk with the 1989 Paris-Roubaix, and the 1989 Tour de Trump (first one!) See 7-Eleven in Europe and New England on their Eddy Merckx bikes.

See Greg Lemond just prior to his comeback TdF win, Sean Kelley, Larry Fignon, Alexi Grewal, Ron Kiefel in his USPro jersey... see Rishi Grewal go on a suicide breakaway from the starting gun.

Also Erik Vanderaerden, Gert-Jan Theunisse, and Henk Lubberding; even Viatchslav Ekimov at age 22 for the "Soviet National Team".

See Bob Mionske before he was a lawyer, and Bob Roll before he lost his hair, see the 25 mile promenade out of New York before the official stage start in New Jersey, see Donald Trump predict that his race will one day be as big as the Tour de France.

Some of the commercials remain... remember the Domino's Noid?

The video quality on this one is marginal - it's spent 19 years on a video tape. The race coverage is laughable... ABC Sports, a bunch of talking heads, Pierre Salinger(!), generally more interviews than racing. This disk is a slice of what it was like back in the deep dark ages before Versus/OLN. Definitely worth a $20 tax-deductible donation. Come-on... CLICK

2nd Edit: Another disk has just become available! The 1995 Tour de France as covered by ESPN including Phil and Paul and Adrian Carstou (I refuse to Google him for the correct spelling.) This was Indurain's final victory. Bjarne Riis was starting to challenge and he's wearing his Danish National Champion's jersey. Marco Pantani wins on Alpe d'Huez and endears himself to zillions of fans. Pre-cancer Lance loses a 2-man sprint. Casartelli dies in the Pyrenees and the whole peloton rides in funeral formation for the next stage. Lance takes a stage for his own and credits Fabio.

Also: Jaja, Bruyneel (in the yellow jersey!), Zulle, Rominger, Abdu, Gotti, Konichev, and Virenque!

The video quality isn't too bad, the editing isn't too good; the disk covers from the first mountain stage to the end. I'm getting desperate for sponsors - make me an offer! CLICK

Saturday, April 19, 2008


I was ready for a warm morning, but when I walked my dog at 6:30 my toes turned blue so I went digging for tights and arm warmers. Windier than I expected as well.

We waited at the Gate for one of JB's out of town friends, but he didn't show up. First part of the ride was pretty social and we kvetched about the cold and wind and smog. Rick bought some new pedals after the accidental cleat disengagement a couple weeks ago - Look Keo somethings... says he likes them but clicking in is different.

Dudley Driveby: About 8:40, just below ChainBuster. Rick noted that Hell must have frozen over because Dudley had long pants on.

Talked with a couple guys at the Junction and then went down the South side. Near Rock City there was a group of three that was kind of hogging the road - I found a safe spot and came around and Rick came with me. A little while later I hear this NY taxi cab kind of whistle so I move over and a woman passes me like I'm some kind of wuss-descender and she was one of the three I passed earlier. Watching her was almost a spiritual experience... she railed downhill corners like "Il Falco" and disappeared from view within 30 secs or so.

We hooked up with a group of Berkeley club cyclists on Diablo Road and made good time back to the golf course and then just tooled back to WC. We saw what at first appeared to be opossum road kill and turned around to investigate and realized it was a rare white raccoon... click HERE to see a semi-gory photo. Rick thought he was an albino but he doesn't have those pink eyes... who knows.

I'm really happy with my new cobblestone driveway so I took a couple photos there too.

Please click HERE to sponsor me and my daughter in the Tour de Cure diabetes ride.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Product Review: Bike Friday Family Tandem Traveler

Diablo Daughter has about outgrown her Giant Halfwheeler trailercycle but she still enjoys cycling with Dad so we decided it was time for a tandem.

The Giant Halfwheeler has served us well for 4 years.

I looked at quite a few over the last few years and after much review, decided on this one. The runner up (Co-Motion Periscope) was really neat but at least twice the cost. What really attracted me to this Bike Friday was not the "packable" feature, but the geometry that lets me set up the stoker postion for a 4-foot tall rider with a minimum of extra bits and futzing.

So I called Bike Friday in Eugene Oregon, told them I was ready to spend my 2008 Economic Stimulus Tax Rebate check (I didn't really have it yet), and we got the order going. They sell a lot of customized bikes (different components, paint colors, handlebar options etc) but this one is available as a stock bike and ships out the same day you order it so that was an advantage to me as well. The customer service rep was excellent and talked me through a couple things and then I got an e-mail with a UPS tracking number to follow.

Wednesday the box comes and I couldn't believe how small it was. I thought "There's no way there's a tandem in here." But I opened it up and started undoing all the bubble wrap and packing paper and gradually I did realize that they had sent me a single, folding bike by mistake! I was disappointed but not exactly mad and I fired off an e-mail explaining the situation and asking what to do. They got back to me right away and had the correct bike sent out by FedEx with a Saturday delivery - they were very apologetic and bent over backwards to make sure I was happy. When they say they pride themselves on customer service, they mean it.

Saturday morning, the new box comes...

Oh no - the box is the same size... could they have made the same mistake twice?

AHH! There be tandem parts here!

It took about 45 minutes just to unpack it.

Here's what it looks like when you get all the parts out of the box. Very considerate of Bike Friday to include two cages, two bottles, and a bell at no extra charge.

Then it took about an hour and a half to do the bulk of the assembly. The instructions weren't too bad; there were a lot of "Insert Tab A into Slot 1" type instructions. There were some minor confusing issues in the manual but nothing that wasn't cleared up with a little head scratching. All the threads were clean and pre-greased with just the right amount of stuff, all the tricky bits like the crank, shifters, derailleurs, and brakes were already installed. Pretty much all that was required was to connect the subassemblies and tighten some bolts. I frequently found myself admiring the clever engineering and quality of the parts as I was doing all this.

Diablo Daughter couldn't wait to get on even though I wasn't done building it yet.

The paint job is powdercoat and looks nicer than I ever thought powdercoat could look.

Nice head tube badge too!

The timing chain goes on one of the three chainrings of the rear crank. This allows use of a regular, single ring crank for the captain's end instead of an expensive tandem crank. You don't need an eccentric bottom bracket either; the tension on the timing chain is adjusted by actually lengthening the exposed section of bottom tube and then clamping it with those allen bolts near the stoker's crank - one of those operations where it helps to have three hands but it wasn't too tough.

The V-brakes and 8-speed shifting work really well, needed some adjustments out of the box... just the normal stuff. The tire selection was smart also.

A kickstand is a nice feature on a long bike. The pedals that came with the bike wouldn't accept toe clips so I scavanged some other ones from my other bikes; minor gripe.

Cables up front aren't exactly tidy but they don't get in the way either.

Cable splitters easify disassembly and reassembly.

Note how the stoker's bottle cage angles up - makes it easier to grab and allows for two cages on the rear top tube. Captain has an extra mount on the down tube too.

The quick release takes the whole steer tube out of the frame when disassembling.

I thought I might need to buy a kid-sized saddle, but Diablo Daughter reports the stock adult size one is comfortable.

We are ready to roll, baby!

This is the catalogue photo of our tandem and there are some interesting differences to the one we received: it shows a pump peg on the bottom tube that isn't on our model, it shows a chainring protector/chainguard on the stoker crank that isn't on our model, it shows front and rear reflectors plus wheel reflectors that we didn't get, and it shows the stoker handlebars coming out of the seat tube whereas what we got is a conventional stoker stem that attaches to the captain's seat post. None of these reduce the value to me any (I have mounted front and rear lights, use CO2 inflator, etc). This photo also only shows one set of bottle cage mounts for the stoker but ours has two.

Let me talk a little more about why I didn't go with a more conventional tandem.

Look how far up in the air this stokid is... how does she get up there, a step stool? Doesn't look like a good position to me. Yeah, and like she can really reach that water bottle 6 inches below her feet.

Another child stoker conversion to a full-sized tandem. The child crank is barely below the top tube!

Here's my beef with these child stoker cranks - you've now got two timing chains to synchronize and tension, they clamp on to the seat tube where clamping forces are not accounted for in the frame design, and they just look too busy. Bike Friday tandems require none of this.

So.... what did all this run?

$1395 for the stock bicycle, including shipping

$100 for the crank shorteners (sounds expensive but they're a standard item from QBP and that's what the price everybody pays).

$40 for handle bar extensions; probably could have found some cheaper ones but I was thinking they were somehow special and I'd need them for my stoker's short arms... turned out she didn't need them so I put them on the front.

$20 for one pair of pedals that accept toe clips.

I had existing red blinkies and white headlights that I put on too, along with a friendly sounding bell on the captain's bars. Free Incredibell with bike went on the stoker bars.

Now for the importantest bit: How does it ride?

The small wheels definitely give the bike a different feel than a full size bike. It only took a couple trips around the block to get the right combination of leaning and countersteering though. And it definitely handles way better than having a trailercycle attached to your seatpost. Most of all, it is really FUN! This bike doesn't scream to be ridden in sufferfest hilly centuries, it's unpretentious and unusual and unabashedly unserious. This bike, in my opinion, is a superior next step up from a trailercycle and a far better option than a child stoker conversion to a conventional tandem. It gets a 9 out of 10 on the Diablo Scott tandem rating scale.

Hey, if any of my readers orders a Bike Friday, be sure to drop my name and I'll get a referal fee and you'll get an honorable mention RIGHT HERE!

Click - HERE to be taken to the post where I do the Tour de Cure ride review on our Bike Friday Family Traveler Tandem.
And click HERE to see my post where we rode our tandem in the Tour d'Organics; including a fun video.
UPDATE JUNE 2010: My first referral!!! I get a lot of blog hits from people searching the web for Bike Friday tandem product reviews and FINALLY, someone bought one and dropped my name as the reference and now I get a nice credit from Bike Friday. Thank you "Johanne" whoever you are and I hope you really enjoy your new tandem... send me a photo. And the rest of you... be SURE to tell them "Diablo Scott sent me"... they'll know who you mean.
Also, you might notice the rear pannier rack we added to the back. Diablo Daughter and I like to ride the tandem to the swimming pool, but my backpack was always too close to her head. Now we have the rear rack and we use either a trunk bag or a side pannier to put our stuff in... works a treat! Also good for the farmer's market. Normal bike racks won't fit though so you have to buy one from Bike Friday. Normal bags from any bike store work fine though.

If you want a response to your comment, be sure to leave your e-mail.  You can also find my e-mail link at the top of the page.  I answer them all!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

2008 WNR 04

Parked on Doncaster and got going right away. On the way up to the Gate I noticed my Flight Deck wasn't picking up my speed. I pulled out the head and reinserted it and wiggled it around thinking it might be a loose connection... nope. So I figured the battery in the wireless transmitter had gone dead; it's probably about time and this is exactly how it would react and I have a spare battery in my seat bag so I planned on changing it while I waited for JB. Then I looked down and realized I put my front wheel in backwards and the magnet was on the wrong side. d'OH !!!

JB hadn't shown up by 5:30 so I got a head start. WNRs are always more competitive so I reasoned that I needed a little handicap. Absolutely perfect weather and a beautiful sky with an almost full moon made for some great riding.

Not many riders tonight for such perfect conditions.

The bugs at Junction were really thick, they sort of swarmed around like my head like the electron cloud around a heavy atom.

Minimal socializing, fast descending. Tally up another ride on the Mountain.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

AHA! Blogger Headslap!

After many frustrating failures, I've figured out why my photos don't enlarge when you click on them like they do on other people's blogs -

I've been saving all my photo files as ~16x12 size... roughly 200 - 300kb each... because I want them to fill your screen when you click on them but it hasn't been working and now I know why!

When you upload photos, they go to the top of the editing window and I usually write the text first so I've been using the "drag and drop" feature in the editor to put my pictures where I want them in the post and that sometimes breaks the link to the photo somehow - the trick is to use the "Edit Html" mode and cut/paste the whole block of picturecode rather than just dragging the photo in "Compose" mode. This is a lot harder because you can't really see what you're doing... but it's worth it for my readers ;-)

Example - the same photo, uploaded twice: The top one was dragged in the compose mode, and the bottom one was cut and paste from the html mode.

I'm going to have to get good at this to help justify the expense for a better camera, but from now on, click away people!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Jury Duty in Martinez

My summons was for Wednesday.

My first chance of getting out of jury duty was when I called in Tuesday night... "You lose," said the recording (or words to that effect), "be here at 8:30 tomorrow".

So I decided to make the most of it and ride my bike the 12 miles to the court house. I decided to take Jed because I was unsure of the bike security. I gave myself 80 minutes and it took 70. There are some pretty steep little climbs on Pine St... great fun. They have some security measures there at the court house but they didn't get excited about my helmet or anything. I changed clothes in the handicapped stall of the restroom.

My second chance of getting out of jury duty vaporized by 10 o'clock; they called me and 70 other people to Judge Sugiyama's court room. An "attempted murder and aggravated mayhem" case. Turns out they went through 70 other prospective jurors (PJ's) the day before... told us it'd probably be a two-week trial.

They questioned the PJ's 10 at a time for the rest of the day, and got rid of a few and told the rest of us to be back at 9 o'clock on Thursday. On the ride home I got to see Diablo from some interesting, new perspectives.

Thursday I decided to take Eddy - seemed like my tree was reasonably secure despite being next to the county jail. Fifteen minutes faster than Jed. They questioned more PJ's, 10 at a time, took all day, didn't get to me, told us to be back again at 9 o'clock today.

Today I decided to drive. The jury was all selected except for the 2 alternates and they hadn't gotten to me yet and there were still about 20 other PJ's yet to call, so I figured I'd likely be out of there by lunch time and could go to work (hoo-rah). Finally I get into one of the ten hot seats, and this was pretty intersting.

The lawyers and the judge had been concerned with PJ buy-in into the whole "presumed innocent" and "beyond a reasonable doubt" concepts. But one other thing they touched on (especially the prosecuter) was that we were not allowed to consider what the punishment might be when we deliberated.

Now I had heard dozens of other PJ's make really pitiful attempts at looking like bad options - (cops are all liars, cops are all righteous, I hate guns and violence, this one time in band camp...). But I had a serious concern with this penalty thing. I told the judge, "I need to know that the punishment associated with a guilty verdict isn't unreasonable." And he told me he couldn't tell me what the punishment might be but I should just trust the system. Then I was asked some more about this by the judge and the prosecutor and I said I thought it was a bad rule that jurors aren't allowed to know the consequences of their decisions. (oh here's the great part - one of the 12 jurors then raised his hand and said "Yeah, he's right, I don't like that either", and the judge told him, "You're already sworn in so you have to abide by your oath.") So after all that they adjourned to chambers and when they came out the judge dismissed me. It must have been close though because he told the attorneys he had changed his ruling on me (meaning in chambers he decided I was OK and then in the court room he reversed himself).

So I've yet to serve on a jury and now it appears that something I truly do believe might prevent me from ever serving. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not. When I'm an old man and look back at the experiences I've had in life, being a juror is one I'd like to have in my portfolio. But so is Wednesday Night Ride 2008-xx that I missed because of jury duty.