Monday, January 23, 2006

The undiscovered world-class destination

I feel like I'm letting a big cat outta the bag here, but I have to say that Upper Bidwell Park in the winter and Spring is simply off the hook. Green grass, raging river, waterfalls and stream crossings everywhere, hardly any people.

It's as good as anything coastal California or Hawaii has to offer this time of year, only there aren't any people clogging up the land. You can come to the park too, just don't tell anyone else about it...

Claire and I did a trail run yesterday, and here's the scoop:

Activity: Running
Area:Upper Bidwell Park
Weather: Perfect. About 63 degrees and sunny.
Distance: Hour and a half
Avg spd.: who cares?! It was muddy, rocky, and flat out fun!
How I felt: Like I was cheating, in that I live in such a beautiful place
Thing to remember: Upper Park is a prime place to twist your ankles and knees. It's also a great place to obtain a countless number of stone bruises. Be careful!


Also, while I am still training quite a bit, the posting here is going to be a little less than usual because I'm working on a top secret online application for athletes. Well, it's not that top secret. It is called Distance Logger, and it will almost certainly be the best way for people of any distance-based sport to track, share, and monitor their athletic endeavors. More to come.


Also, I'm not going to hit my goal of riding 100 miles a week this month. I only got in about 65 last week, which sucks, but there's only so much time in a day! Ah well.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

What song gets you stoked?

As you may know, during the week I spend my days and nights in Santa Clara. Silicon Valley isn't exactly bicycle friendly, and it gets dark really early still, so after work I have no choice but to put in miles on the rollers. I hate rollers. I hate trainers. In fact, there aren't many things you can do on a bicycle that are more boring than spinning in your livingroom. And the only thing I can think of to make it better is music.

Tonight I was listening to The Colour and the Shape, by Foo Fighters during my workout, and it hit me: Everlong is the best song I can listen to that will make me pedal harder and forget the monotony. It has been since the first time I ever listened to it when running back in 1998 in San Francisco. After the bridge in the song, when everything kicks back in at like 3:30, I nearly came off the front of the rollers I was pedaling so hard. I looked down and I was hammering out 24mph on the ol' Kreitlers!

I can think of plenty of other balls-out rawk tunes that make me want to break stuff and go until I hurl, but Everlong is the top of that musical mountain for me.

So I'm curious. What song has that effect on you? Which lone tune makes you exert yourself like no other?!!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Introducing the Bicycle Friendly Flickr Group

Part of my desire to live in any place has always been how easy it is to get around on a bike. I got a small taste of the "bicycle lifestyle" when I was a college student in Athens, GA. I purchased my first "real" bike at that point in my life, and I rode it everywhere - to class, to eat, to the gym, downtown, you name it. When I graduated from college in 1996, I spent some time in Atlanta working my first job. But the whole time I lived there, I yearned to be out west, in the wild blue yonder; somewhere I could ride my bike, and have a beer while looking at snow-capped mountains. Atlanta was a horrible place to live if you wanted to ride a bike, or do much of anything outdoors for that matter.

Things didn't ever materialize quite like my romanticized vision of The Western Life, but I've done well in meeting my goals of living in some highly desireable American locales. And whether or not it was ever conscious, I have always made a big part of choosing where I live around how bicycle friendly that place is. The places I've lived since leaving Atlanta have been Marin County, Boulder, Colorado, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and now Chico.

As I've gotten to know Chico and the North State on bicycle, I've noticed quite a few bicycle-focused civic improvements, and much more bicycle-friendly evidence that I haven't yet photographed, but will as I have time. I only wish I'd have taken more digital photos along the way in all the places I've lived!

I've also noticed areas that could use improvement, and I've been to and lived in towns that outright suck if you want to ride a bike.

Along this train of thought, this evening I created a couple of groups on Flickr to begin this little exercise of documenting the bike friendliness of the two places I live and ride - and the suck factors as I find them. Without further adieu, may I introduce:

the Bicycle Friendly Flickr Group

and the Bicycle Unfriendly Flickr Group

If you have photos, or should go take photos of things that you think relate to these two topics where you live, I invite you to get out there, ride around, take some pictures, and submit them to the groups! And keep in mind - this isn't political! This is fun!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

50 + Chivo Velo cartography = 62.5

Activity: Road Bike
Area: Paskenta Century course.
Weather: numbing cold for the first 30 miles, perfection for the last 30. Windy for about 2/3 of the ride, however that works.
Distance: 62.5 miles
Avg spd.: 15.5mph!
How I felt: This ride was awesome. I'm getting numbness in both of my feet, which makes me think it's time to burn these crappy Sidi shoes. At mile 52 or so I bonked pretty nicely. The last ten miles were nice and flat though, lucky for me.

Thing to remember: I met up with a guy named Jeff. I didn't know him in person, but we had exchanged a couple of emails via the Chico Bike Rides Y! group. Jeff is the Principal at Prospect High School in Oroville, Ca, and it turns out that we have quite a bit in common. First off, he's a really cool guy (ha). But he's also a cyclist and a drummer, which if you didn't know, I am as well.

Being a high school principal, he had some hilarious, choice stories to tell. When I first asked him about said stories, he said he didn't think 50 miles (our intended distance) would be long enough to tell me all of his daily "challenges". If I weren't writing this in a public forum I might pass some of his stories along, but I don't want to put his reputation at risk. I'll just say that if you happen to be one of Mr. Ochs' students, you have yourself a very cool Principal. ;-)

The California school system needs more people like Jeff.

Anyway, once again the Chico Velo maps were all wrong in terms of distance, and we rode managed to somehow ride 62 miles on the 50 mile Paskenta Century course - by following the map. Maybe it's time to update your maps, or your mileage counters guys?

The upsides of this fact are that Jeff and I tested our endurance limits, and healthily finished a 62 mile ride. We spent our Sunday morning riding through some of the most beautiful countryside I've ever seen; oak-speckled hillsides, and emerald green fields of new winter grass as far as my eyes could take me. Mt. Lassen, to the east, followed us everywhere on this clear day. Tiny country roads guided us through the northern part of this great state - sometimes showing their age with pocked asphalt, and other times passing their newly acquired lack of irregularities through to our tires, and then through our bicycle frames, and our arses gladly accepted! We passed one brown cow who had escaped its fence, and she hardly stopped eating the fresh greens on the side of Meridian Road to look up at us as we rode by. Her eyelashes must've been two inches long, and I'm pretty certain she winked as we pedaled by. We saw evidence of the previous week's floods in the orchards. Walnut tree trunks were wrapped with miscellaneous human-made debris, and lined the side of the street opposite the river. The wind was pretty kind to us, and there were even some points that she was us pushing along at 21mph!

The question remains though - how am I going to feel tomorrow sitting at a desk all day?!

Update: Another point to make is that this ride put me at 110 miles pedaled for the past week. If I can keep that up, things might look good for 2006!

Bicycles outsell cars in Australia?

The Sydney Morning Herald reports today (or would it already be tomorrow there?) that the sale of bicycles have outnumbered the sale of cars for the sixth consecutive year.

This might be an interesting article, but I feel that there are some key elements in need of exploration to make this a journalistic piece, rather than a piece of marketing copy.

Firstly, the above fact was presented to the SMH by the Cycling Promotion Fund. The CPF is an organization which only includes companies involved in the bicycle industry in Australia, so we can only be correct in the assumption there is a *tiny* bit of patting their own backs here. That's fine and dandy.

Secondly, let's look at the pure economics. The Morning Herald says:

The CPF's Rosemarie Speidel said sales of 1,120,337 bicycles in Australia last year were 13 per cent ahead of motor vehicle sales, which came in at 988,269.

That's cute. But let's say an average new car costs $25,000 (I'm being conservative here).

988,269 new cars x $25,000 a pop = $24,706,725,000

And let's say the average bicycle - and I know this is too high - costs $1000.

1,120,337 bicycles x $1000 a pop = 1,120,337,000

Not bad! A billion dollar industry versus a 24.7 billion dollar industry. Cars make, produce, and consume a lot more money, and are certainly a bigger economic driver than bicycles in all aspects. They're also integral to keeping a country like Australia (or the US) running well. But it's interesting to look at pure sales figures (albeit my figures are manufactured). I would love to know these figures for the US, and also for China. Anyone have any idea?

I have no real opinion here in terms of the old political bike vs. car argument. I like to keep politics out of my cycling. As politically charged as I am, I like to try to think of my bike as the great equalizer with my political foes. My cars have their place as tools in my life, and I use them as such. But this is an interesting topic, and one that deserves more exploration.

Well, time for my Sunday ride.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

North American Hand Made Bicycle Show

March 3-5, 2006 is the North American Hand Made Bicycle Show in San Jose, California. I'm pretty excited about seeing new products from some of the builders in person, particularly Vanilla, Waterford, Calfee (oh, bamboo bike, wherefore art thou?)

I'm not sure which day I'll be going, but if I had to guess, I'd say either Friday or Saturday. So if you're going to be at the show, drop a line and perhaps we can hang out, geek out, or just shoot the bull.

On a semi-related note, when I was searching around about Calfee bamboo, I came upon this beautiful poster done by Mona Caron. What a fantastic advertisement for a modern product! Mona's artwork is all over the Bay Area, and she is truly talented. Check out her site!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

2006 Bianchi San Jose bicycle porn

I went ahead and put some up close and personal pics of my new daily driver over on my Flickr site.

Enjoy! And who is going to tell me what rack will best work on the back of this horse?

Sunday, January 01, 2006

No ride today... Chico's a flood zone

I woke this morning to more rain, and then more rain after that. The roads are flooded, yards are flooded, fields are flooded, homes are flooded. Our house and property are fine, but there's no way a sane person would go ride today. Visibility is nill. We've had about 8 inches of rain in two days. Ha!

I'm getting a little bit of cabin fever! My rollers are in Santa Clara and I'm in Chico, so I can't even spin for a while indoors! I guess I'll go install that under sink water purifier we bought... and it's been a great start to the new year, regardless of the weather.