The end of an era

After five unexpectedly awesome years in Chico, it's time for me to wind this blog down. I've gone through a ton of life changes over the past bit of time, and the universe has drawn me back to my adopted home city of San Francisco.

To be Chico Gino in San Francisco just doesn't seem right. San Francisco Gino, or City Gino doesn't have the same ring either, so it's time to close this chapter. I'll leave this blog here though, because there's some great content, discussions and interviews.

What am I doing headed back to the city?

Well, a few things.

One
I've started a user experience and product development company, Seabright Studios Ltd.. We are working with other companies to help build kick ass software, and we're also developing web-based products of our own. If you'd like to keep in touch that way, we'll have a newsletter signup and RSS feed for our blog there soon.

Two
I'll be blogging at Gino Zahnd dot com from time to time. It won't be as focused on cycling as this blog has been, but bikes are an integrated part of my life, so count on seeing two-wheel related posts. Other topics will include beer and brewing, coffee, design, travel, and just general things about my trying to live a life worth loving. I'm also on Twitter.

Three
I'll be riding with my good buddies in the bay area! The San Francisco Randonneur and Bay Area Prestige cyclocross scenes will see a lot more of me. Oh, and those monkeys up in Santa Rosa now have to deal with my pro-level heckling.

To close out on a cycling related note, I could not possibly find the right words to describe what Chico's cycling scene has done to add value to my life. It's the best town I know of to ride a bicycle for transportation. That's saying a lot, because I travel a TON, and have seen all the great cycling towns in the United States.

I've made some new friends that are now old friends, and have no doubt that I'll continue going on crazy cycling adventures with them, even though we'll be a few hours apart. Roy, Mike and Ochs, I'm lookin at you.

Chico Velo, or what's now left of it, was instrumental in introducing me to a ton of great people and great routes.

Chico Corsa, while I don't race road bikes, has provided me with a Wednesday night excuse to drink every single Wednesday for five years straight at the Banshee.

I guess that's about it for ol' Chico Gino. I move to San Francisco this Saturday, until I come back to Chico next month to race as a girl at the yearly GallandCrossDressCrossRace™.

Tailwinds,
Gino

Film review: Ready, Set, Bag!

Note: This post is not bicycle related. But you should read it anyway!

Hey Chico, listen up. There's a movie that will be premiering at the Pageant in January that will make you blush with sympathy, and make you laugh repeatedly.

I had the pleasure of screening the wonderfully awkward-and-hilarious film called Ready, Set, Bag!, and it's a winner. I kept finding myself smiling, and feeling slightly uncomfortable in the same way Best in Show made me feel - except Ready, Set, Bag! isn't a mockumentary. The cast are all real-life grocery industry workers, some with dreams that lie elsewhere, some who are lifers in the grocery industry. The one thing they all have in common is they're headed to Vegas to compete in the National Grocers Associations Best Bagger competition. And they're serious about it. Really serious.

I bagged groceries in 1988 and '89, and had I known there were such a competition of epic oddball grocery-bagging proportions, I'd have been all over it. Pure comedy, this film. Go see it!

"Ready, Set, Bag!" HD Trailer from Ensemble Pictures on Vimeo.

Configurating for The Grand Tour of New Zealand (breweries)

In preparing for my upcoming tour of New Zealand, I tried these two different ways of carrying a light-ish load of ~18lbs (photos are below).

Interesting to note:
• I could easily ride no-handed with either setup, even on slight inclines going slowly.

• The rear panniers caused a big no-handed shimmy if they were even slightly behind the rear axle. If I moved them up 5mm to be even with, or slightly in front of the axle, the shimmy stopped completely. Luckily, I don't have any foot strike on the panniers.

Overall, either way would make a good setup for extended inn-to-inn touring, or for S24O's. For this trip, I'm going with the rear big rack simply because it's faster to assemble and disassemble.

What's in the bags?
• 2 pair cycling shorts, 1 Ibex, 1 Pearl Izumi
• 2 wool short sleeve jerseys (one Ibex, one Rivendell/Woolistic)
• Ibex long sleeve micro merino thing
• Wooly warm wool arm warmers
• Ibex wool 3/4 length leg warmers
• 3 pr Smartwool socks
• 2 pair Ibex wool boxer thingies for off the bike
• Ibex wool beanie
• 2 pair Defeet wool gloves
• REI rain jacket
• Puma sneakers
• Portland Cycle Wear knickers
• Patgonia quick-dry pants
• 1st aid kit
• toiletries kit (toothbrush, toothpaste, Dr. Bronners, floss, etc.)
• toolkit
• spare Hetre tire, 2 spare tubes
• cable lock
• saddle cover
• wet wipes!
• silk sleeping sack
• MSR camp towel
• cotton cycling cap

I think that's it. The panniers are about 70% full, and the handlebar bag is mostly empty (it'll be for food 'n whatnot.)

On my body, I'll have cycling shoes, one of the pairs of shorts/jerseys/gloves, a helmet, glasses, and all the regular crap one wears when cycling.

Configurating for The Grand Tour of New Zealand (breweries)

Book Review: Bike Touring - The Sierra Club Guide to Travel on Two Wheels


Bike Touring - The Sierra Club Guide to Travel on Two Wheels
by, Raymond Bridge
Sierra Club Books, San Francisco

Raymond Bridge has been writing about bicycle touring since I was born, quite literally. His first book, Freewheeling - the Bicycle Camping Book, was printed in 1974, the same year I was born. I happen to own the original, so when I was asked to review the new publication, I was quite excited! Oh, and for the record, here is his first book:



The core of the original is certainly alive and well in his new book, but the execution is significantly different.

With that, we can all agree that Bridge has had a while to contemplate cyclotouring, and to gain experience as an author on the subject. As one might expect, some things like equipment, ease of planning trips and availability of local information has changed significantly. The internet has revolutionized trip planning and the ability to find pertinent information en route. The average production bicycle that most people will tour on is a quantam leap from that of 30-something years ago. The spirit of cyclotouring however, hasn't changed very much.

Bridge covers all sorts of touring styles, from inn-to-inn (or roof-to-roof) touring, to weekenders and overnighters, to supported tours and cross-country journeys. He ties them all together before explaining any of them though, with the following:
"The underlying motivation for this book is to inspire readers to experience some of the remarkable rewards that cycling can provide to anyone with an adventurous nature who enjoys physical activity, the experience of the natural world, and the process of overcoming challenges that are both unique and personal."
Closest to me due to my busy schedule, his coverage of short weekend trips resonates loudly. The following paragraph certainly makes me think of ways to squeeze more of these types of trips in this summer and fall:
"A lot of touring consists of one or two-day weekend rides that cover a circuit fairly close to the cyclist's home, perhaps with longer trips on holiday weekends or vacations. The variety of touring that can be enjoyed even close to home is amazing. Since good cyclists are quite likely to cover 50 or 100 miles on a day's trip, there' is a wide range of possibilities starting from your own doorstep."
Aside from touring styles and planning, Bridge also goes into a surprising (to me) amount of detail with regards to touring bicycle handling, (such as subtleties of trail/caster), frame materials and geometry. The bike geek in me was pleased to see all of these topics covered. And where it makes sense in order to stay on topic, Bridge provides pointers to web sites and news lists. Phreds are mentioned several times in this book. You know who you are. :-)

A list worth noting here is his production road touring bike short list:

• Cannondale Touring 1 and 2
• Cannondale T800, T2000 (older models)
• Trek 520
• Fuji Touring
• Specialized Sequoia & Sequoia Elite
• Specialized Tricross Sport
• Novara Randonee (from REI)
• Bianchi Volpe (up to 2007)
• Jamis Aurora
• Raleigh Sojourn
• Kona Sutra
• Terry Valkyrie Tour (women)

I don't think that list would be complete without adding the Surly Cross Check and Long Haul Trucker. Likewise, I'd consider the SOMA Double Cross as a must-have in that list.

Several custom builders and higher-end makers are also mentioned including Rivendell, Bruce Gordon, Waterford, Kogswell, Co-Motion and others, but given the current explosion of framebuilders in the United States, one would have a hard time listing all the good ones.

The book is paperback, and filled with illustrations (but no photos). At over 460 pages, there is almost certainly useful information for most people with an interest in bicycle camping, touring, mountain touring, and just about any other kind of two-wheeled adventure travel.

Lastly, given that I tend to get "pointy" when it comes to the Sierra Club's stance on certain, but certainly not all, topics, I feel it important to mention that Bridge does an excellent job of keeping politics out of his book. This is a book about cyclotouring, and a thorough one at that. If I had to rate this book on a five star scale, I'd rate it 5 for completeness, 4 for production quality, 3 for design, and 4.5 for editing. There were some typos and extra words that weren't spotted by the editors, but eh, I don't really care. I was inspired to go touring, and that's ultimately what counts with a book like this: the author meets his goal, which is to get people on the bike.

Idaho Stop

I generally operate on logic, and for the best of me, I can't figure out how the "Idaho Stop" law isn't on the books in every state. It's simple, makes sense and still requires cyclists to behave like law-abiding citizens. Aside from that, this animation is visually great, so do yourself a favor, and watch it!


Bicycles, Rolling Stops, and the Idaho Stop from Spencer Boomhower on Vimeo.

Cyclocross Santa Rosa: Doyle Park

There's long been an idea knocking around in my head that I love Sonoma County and want to live there someday. This weekend furthers that notion. What a place on Earth - perhaps the best place.

Team Paul (minus Lau Ackerman, who is undergoing knee surgery. Get well soon Brother Lau!) headed to Santa Rosa for a weekend of rain-soaked muddy cyclocross racing, touring of three breweries in three days, and some bicycle day touring on the Sonoma coast. Mission accomplished: fast-n-dirty racing, brewery trifecta (Russian River Brewing, Bear Republic Brewing, Hopmonk), beautiful coastal riding, great fun and people second to none.



Barrier hoppin' and diggin' in




Roy Steves has some good photos of the team at finals a few weeks back.