Saturday, December 18, 2010

New Crank in Slop

Surprised this morning that it wasn't raining harder... forecast was for heavy precip. I was prepared to cancel when I woke up but when I looked outside I decided to go for it. Got my new crank on earlier this week but I needed to put on the chain and pedals before the ride.

New and clean... that won't last long.

No one at the Gate, I put up the rock. Nice to hear the creeks burbling.

One nice thing about riding alone... you can stop whenever you want for a photo.

Wildlife Encounter: pair of coyotes at Burma Road... ran off before I could get my camera out.

Hardly anyone on the Mountain. Saw two riders coming down, and a ranger sweeping rocks off the road.

Oh oh... what's this???

Dayum.... they just repaired this section.

Hope they got a warranty.

Pavement hasn't broken off yet, but it's undercut bad and deep.

Saw a couple more cyclists at Junction.

Not really very cold today, just wet and a little windy... probably about 1.5 Belgian Hardman® Points.

Funky fungus at Big Shady Oak

Le Befoure Chotte

Le Afteur Chotte

I may have found a work-around on the photo blogging thing... crop all my photos to be tall and skinny... like 9w and 12h... that seems reasonable.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Foggy Mountain

Hit "snooze" a few too many times this morning. Was late to the Gate and the rock was on the post.

Stopped to watch a hawk (?) eat a rat (?) on the power lines near the Loading Dock, but he (?) wouldn't let me get close enough for a good photo.

North Gate pavement is getting pretty bad... some combination of age, construction, and weather I guess.

Up past Chainbuster the fog started to clear a little and I was treated to a show by "That Guy".

Still don't have the photo blog thing figured out. The issue is trying to manage the photos in my blog through the Picasa web album where the photos actually get stored. If I upload the photos from the blogging software they all go to the same folder which now has like 700 photos in there making it hard to find what I'm looking for. When I save them in easily managed folders within the Picasa web album they import funny into my blog and you readers don't see the whole image unless you click on it. So if you see a big photo (pavement, Guy) you should click on it to see the whole thing, and if you see a small photo (hawk) clicking on it won't make it any bigger. You can always go to my Picasa site to see all my photos, see the link in the sidebar. And if any other blogspot users want to tell me how to handle this better I'd really appreciate it.

Adventures in crank replacement:

Crank breaks. Went to Encina; they don’t have an Italian BB and can’t help, suggest I order a new crank and BB on line and then have them install it. Here are some close ups of the break:

Sunday: Found a good deal on a Shimano 105 compact crank from so I order it along with AN ITALIAN BOTTOM BRACKET and the special wrench. Paid extra for 2-day FedEx so I’d get it and have time to install it before next Saturday.

Monday: Tried to remove my old busted crankarm, but it’s a self-extracting style and the self-extracting doodad is missing so I take it to Sports Basement and ask them to remove the old BB and chase the treads and face the shell to get it ready for my new BB.

Tuesday: Sports Basement calls and says they got the old BB out but they don’t have AN ITALIAN BOTTOM BRACKET thread chaser/facer tool. I brought the bike home and cleaned him up and it looks like the threads are pretty good anyway so I decide not to have it done.

Wednesday: Performance package comes and I unpack it. I admire the beauty of the crank, solid feeling of the wrench, and simplicity of the BB outboard bearings. Hey, there are little arrows on there telling which way to tighten in case some newb doesn’t know that ITALIAN BOTTOM BRACKETS are righty-tighty on both sides. Hey wait a minute, the arrow on this one is pointing the wrong way, which can only mean one thing… this is not AN ITALIAN BOTTOM BRACKET. Bastards at Performance sent me an English BB. I inspect the box and see that the place to indicate English or Italian threads has no indication. I check the website see that Performance has taken down the option to order a 105 ITALIAN BOTTOM BRACKET; some guy knew he was sending me the wrong piece and to cover up his mistake he eliminated the choice.

Thursday: I call the Performance store in Walnut Creek hoping they have AN ITALIAN BOTTOM BRACKET that I can trade for my English version and they have none. Jeez these things are not obsolete, the industry has standardized on English but there are still a lot of bikes around with ITALIAN BOTTOM BRACKETS. So I called Performance customer service and the nice lady says she’ll refund my extra postage for two-day FedEx, refund the English BB including return shipping, and offer free shipping on a replacement - and by the way Ultegra bottom brackets are now on sale for cheaper than 105 bottom brackets (huh?). She checked with tech support who apparently told her that 105 bottom brackets aren’t offered with Italian threads. I was pretty sure this was bullshit (and have since verified) but no sense arguing with a customer support person about that. Besides, weather for Saturday looks good and I’ll be happy riding my Klein. My new Ultegra ITALIAN BOTTOM BRACKET should arrive on Tuesday.

So Eddy still is sans cranque. I considered giving him a real good cleaning since there are so many otherwise inaccessible areas that were now exposed … but he’s my foul weather bike and he’s going to get all sloppy on his next ride… I decided on just a quick wipedown.

Saturday, December 04, 2010


JB told me he wouldn't be coming... he's got some kind of throat bug. So I gladly slept an extra half hour and prep'ed for a solo ride. Forecast was for rain so I was expecting some Belgian Hardman points.

CLICK ON THE PHOTOS! Blogger software is clipping them so you're only seeing half the shot... I'll get this figured out before my next post.

The weather was holding out though and things were going better than expected up until just past the Bump when my cleat appeared to come loose. I stopped to inspect and couldn't find anything wrong, then started up again. But something was definitely wonky so I stopped and pulled on my crank and tweaked on my cleat and still couldn't find anything wrong. Started up again and SNAP... my crank arm just broke off.

You have to click on these photos to see the whole thing... Blogger is cropping them in a weird way.

Limped my way to Encina where Tim told me he didn't have anything that would fit my Italian BB and suggested I buy something on-line and they'd install it for me. Managed to one-foot it back the rest of the way home.

A little looking around gave me some serious sticker shock on crank prices but I did find a good deal on a 105 version. Life's too short to ride crappy cranks but the crap line isn't always clear. In the end, I'm glad this didn't happen while I was sprinting up the Dips because broken cranks usually equal pain.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Rain Cape

Second ride of the season requiring my full jacket, first ride with my winter gloves and rain jacket.

Some blue sky mixed in with black rain clouds... I knew I was going to get wet at some point.

Met Peter and JB at the Gate. After the Bump I quit watching my watch and just plugged along. Always nice to see other riders unafraid of a little precip.

Put the rain jacket on near the Upper Washout, pretty solid drizzle the rest of the way to Junction.

Didn't get too cold, managed to stay reasonably comfortable the whole ride. Wish I'd brought glove liners for the way down though.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hace Mucho Viento

Left home and it was chilly enough to wear my winter jacket for the first time this season. Turned on to NGR and it was like riding in a clothes dryer vent: warm and humid... very strange transitional weather.

Met up with JB and Peter at the Gate. They dropped me at the Bump.

Above the Bump it was really windy - the kind of wind that makes you get out of the saddle just so you don't get blown off the road. It was a pretty consistent strong wind, but every once in a while a gust would come by in a different direction that would yank my front wheel into a precarious angle.

Excuse du jour for being slow: business trip and airplane legs.

Coming up around Chainbuster I got passed by ex-regular Tomás. At Junction we all decided to go back down and pledged to be careful... it was a little scary around some of the hairpins. I stopped at the bottom of the Bump for a video and caught Dudley, Tomás, and Peter doing a little paceline. Sorry, but I didn't notice my lens cover wasn't open all the way.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Just Junction

Wow, four weeks in a row with no Diablo rides, that might be a record for me. Today was nice weather, and it's the last Saturday of Daylight Time.

Got to the Gate a little early and gave myself a head start on JB.

Not too many riders, only got passed by one guy.

Newsbit from the Mountain:

When JB got to Junction he asked if I'd seen the guy on the odd eliptical motion running bike. I said "no", but I've been seeing more and more of those things around, including a couple at Foxy's last month. Then the guy arrived and I took a video of him:

He looked a lot faster and smoother on that thing than I would have expected. He was a nice guy too and answered our questions about it. It's an EliptiGO and he said it was especially good for riders and runners that have messed up their knees (didn't say if that applied to him or not). Later from home I checked out their website and they have videos of guys doing THE DEATH RIDE, and other epic events on these machines. Pretty amazing, not for everybody of course but I'm in favor of diversity and having options so I declare the EliptoGO a good thing.

In other news, my Eddy Merckx is ready for foul weather, and I've swapped out my old Ultegra STI 8-speed for aero levers, downtube shifters, a mountain bike rear derailleur, and a super-wide range cassette. Mostly I was looking for lower gears for winter but the old brifters were pretty much shot (especially when cold) and I also wanted reliable shifting in the slop.

Shimano makes two kinds of plain brake levers, the Dura Ace model and the non-Dura Ace model... but the DA model doesn't actually SAY Dura Ace on there so... what's the point, really? I got the cheap ones, they look pretty much the same.

9-speed downtube shift levers only come in the Dura Ace branded version... nice.

Don't call it a "granny gear", call it a "Koppenberg Kassett".

Two issues with MTB derailleurs here: #1 the cable goes in kind of funky and you have to keep it short or it'll rub on your spokes, and #2 there's no cable adjuster since there's normally one on the MTB shift levers.

So if you've got downtube levers like me, there's no adjustment anywhere to fine tune the indexing. I tried to get the cable tension just right with only the anchor bolt but didn't even come close.

So I did a little on-line research and discovered an in-line cable adjuster thingie that I figured I could put in that piece of housing between the stay and the derailleur.

Went to Performance and talked to some dentally challenged chicken diddler who convinced me by his clueless response never again to pass through those doors.

Then I went to Sports Basement and asked the same question and got two guys who not only had the part but knew exactly what I wanted to do, and the younger one offered to install it himself for a 15-minute labor charge. He'd clearly done this several times before so I went home and got Eddy and while the young guy was installing the doodad, the older guy regaled me with stories of riding Paris-Brest-Paris and hiking in the Alps... a far superior experience than putting it in by myself would have been.

It looks a little klunky but works a treat!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

2010 Foxy's Fall Century 50km Family Fun Ride

Diablo daughter and I did this ride in great weather through nut and fruit orchards, watermelon fields, pumpkin patches, horse ranches, and assorted agricultural acres.

Two minute fun movie!

Saturday, October 09, 2010


I'm losing my status as a morning person - had a real hard time getting going this morning.

No rock so I didn't try to catch JB.

Wildlife Encounter: Coyote

Tarantula Tally: three. Local paper did an article on them this week so there were a bunch of cars driving very slowly looking for them. Pretty easy to photgraph since they move pretty slowly.

Approaching Chainbuster, I see four riders coming down kind of excited and one of them asked another, "Was that that guy?" I chuckled thinking "that guy" was "Chris Horner guy". One of the others answered "Yeah, he was getting a ticket for..... (couldn't hear the rest). Then around Chainbuster here comes Chris Horner guy (who from now on will be known as "THAT GUY"... like the way Marlo Thomas was "THAT GIRL" ... gOOgle it if you're under 50) and there was a ranger pickup with the "pull over" lights flashing. I didn't ask what it was for, but I'm pretty sure THAT GUY deserved it.

Then while I'm eating a banana at the Junction, JB comes down from Summit Road. There had been a rock on the post when he got there so he thought I was ahead. The system is not perfect.

We went down SGR and through the Hole. One of the mansions on Alameda Diablo had some awesome Halloween decorations up... check it out:

There were five or six of these things hanging from the trees; witch, skeleton, I forget what all but they're like 30 feet tall.

I've been riding over the Treat Overpass all week in my commute - here she is in a sequence on my way home today.