Sunday, September 24, 2006

Ride Report: Ride the Rogue century

On Saturday, along with about 500 others, Jeff and I took part in the inaugural Ride the Rogue Century. The course started in the town of Rogue River, and meandered in a loop through the Rogue and Applegate valleys for 104 miles.

The course well very well marked, and everything was well-run. Kudos to the crew that pulled this ride together, and pulled it off. I've always had a magical picture in my head of what the Rogue River valley holds, and true to its name, I wasn't let down. The roads wind through various eye-candy-beautiful terrain (with only two small hills),including sections adjacent to the river, sub-alpine forest, and through a couple of small towns.

The rest stops were nicely placed; there was one about every 20 miles or so, including a stroke of genius stop located at mile 94. Placing one at this distance really gives you the fortitude to pull through those last painful miles, even if the only reason is because you get to see a bunch of other suffering fools who will finish the ride with you. That alone is enough to get you to the end. The absolute highlight for me was being pulled through Southern Oregon wine country in a slipstream averaging about 22mph; a close second was the 10 minute downhill at mile 35 (or so?), where Jeff and I were doing 35+ the entire time. :-)

Quite frankly, I wasn't prepared for the ride. My "training" schedule has been a joke this year because I split my time between Chico and Santa Clara. So my "training" rides have happened on Saturdays and Sundays, with a measly daily bike commute during the week. A graphic of my weekly training would look like an EKG:

That said, I made to the half way mark with no problems, averaging about 17.6mph. The halfway point also was the lunch rest stop... and after lunch I couldn't quite pull it together again. I stayed around the 17mph mark until mile 70, at which point I fully recalled the feeling of a full-on BONK; I mean, like BONKATRON 3000.

From the 70 mile rest stop, I was a limp noodle with legs pumped full of battery acid. I rode alone from mile 70-90, most of the time thinking how stupid it is to ride more than 60 miles, and that now that I'd finish a century, I'd never have to do it again. I went through that mental battle where the devil on my right shoulder was going, "Dude, you just have to stop pedaling and lie down." And the little guy on the other shoulder was saying, "If you quit you pussy, you'll regret it!" I don't think he was an angel though... At mile 80, there is a hill that will test your mental stability. It was the only time in the ride that I flipped over to my little chain ring; it was all I could do to get through it! That hill was probably the loneliest stretch of road I've ever pedaled. Haha.

At mile 90, a team from Land Shark (at least they were all donning Land Shark clothing and bikes) showed up and pulled me into the genius mile 94 rest stop. I laid down, sucked down a Hammer Gel, a PowerBar salty/caffeine gel, a bottle of water, and limped my way toward the finish line... ending with an average overall speed of 15.6mph.

All in all, it was a beautiful day. We started out with layers of clothes on and numb fingers and toes; we ended with shorts and jerseys. I love that kind of cycling day. not too cold, not too hot.

We ended the day by staying at a nearby hotel in beautiful Ashland, picking up a six pack of Drop Top Amber, and ordering a pizza... and sleeping for nine hours!

So now that I've done a century, will I do another one? One part of me says that's enough, just like I said after my first and only marathon. I did it, and now I don't need to prove it to myself again. Sixty miles is a great distance to ride. I get a killer workout, the riding is fun, and that amount of time seems good for me to be on the bike. Beyond the sixty mile mark, in my case, is the point of diminishing returns. The exercise benefit isn't increased, but the misery is drastically increased. Plus, what am I proving?

The other part of me says that I Live In Chico; and because of that, there is no choice but to ride the full distance Wildflower. After all, it's only 96 miles... we'll see.

Oh, and I'll definitely be back at the Ride The Rogue again next year, whichever distance I choose. What a beautiful ride! :-D

Friday, September 22, 2006

Product Review: Brooks B17 Champion Special saddle

The Brooks B17 isn't laden with technology. In fact, it hasn't much changed in twice my lifetime. The only surprise I have had with the Brooks B17 Champion Special is that I love it, and if anyone tries to take it from me, I will have no choice but to freak out.

I have gone through more saddles than anyone I know. I've tried Selle this and that, cut-out saddles that claim to prevent numb plumbing, carbon this, Italia that, and I know with 100% certainty that my heart and my tender parts lie with the fine products from Brooks England Ltd..

(Above photo from Wallbike)

The Champion Special model is quite a bit nicer than the Standard in both looks and quality. Aesthetically speaking, I'm a fan of the hand hammered rivets and copper rails. The functional superiority comes in the form of leather that is significantly thicker than the standard. You might think that there is a downside to thicker leather; that it might take longer to break in, or hurt more. The truth is that both my B17 Standard (which I will review later) and my B17 Champion Special were both the epitome of comfort within 100 miles of use. By 300 miles I was in love, hence the freak out threat above. By 800 miles, the Champion Special is quite simply a hammock for my butt.

I can ride 70 miles with zero numbness, zero saddle soreness and no chafing. This statement comes after years of futzing with saddles, wasting money on every kind of gimmicky saddle out there. Well, almost every kind.

If you're wondering why your Italian/plastic/padded saddle is leaving you less than satisfied, I recommend trying a Brooks B17. Don't believe me though; just look at every long distance tourer or randonneur; they all ride Brooks, and I have no doubt why. Ladies, Brooks makes the B17 S, which is specific to your anatomy.

Some people have said to me with exasperation, "...but Gino, those Brooks saddles are just so heavy!" To that, I offer the truth: what you gain in less saddle weight doesn't matter the least bit (I have a future post on weight), and your body will thank you. Unless you're an elite racer going head to head against other elite racers, who gives a crank about a few grams?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Not cycling-related, but burning laptops rule

From my other blog, Push Button For:

Stock price be damned! Today there was a mass evacuation of my building at Yahoo! in Santa Clara. Apparently someone brought in their personal DELL laptop and had yet to heed their battery recall instructions. Here are the charred remains. The fire was on the 8th floor, and the acrid stench of burned plastic could be smelled eight floors down!

I have yet to find out who the person was; I would like to get a recount of how the events that led up to this transpired. If I get an update, I will let you know.

Update: The machine belongs to a Yahoo! Research Intern. It was his first week on the job, from what I've uncovered. He was simply sitting there at his desk, writing code when his machine started smoking, and then flaming. Welcome to Yahoo, grasshopper.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Chico Mountain Bikers site launched today

After a slow summer of slogging through designing and implementing a site using WordPress, today we launched a spankin' new version of Chico Mountain Bikers.

CMB is a great organization, and it's too bad there aren't more like it. Their mission statement goes like this:

To provide group rides for people of all riding abilities in an effort to foster the fun, exciting sport of mountain biking; to promote responsible mountain biking through respect for property, trails, and other trail users; and to unite mountain bike enthusiasts in an effort to continue a positive public image of the mountain biking community through involvement, positive advocacy and trail maintenance.
If that ain't wholesome I don't know what is.

I've built trails with them more than I've ridden with them, mainly because I work in Silicon Valley during the week. That said, it's mighty nice to help out local groups in My Home Town, especially when the result of volunteer labor is a healthy contribution to my community. Special thanks goes to Irvin Szeto, programmer monkey extraordinaire. Without his help, the site would still look like 1996.

Well guys, rock on with your new site. I can't wait to start riding some dirt again this fall.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Ride Report: 1st Annual Elk Flat 3/4 Century

Update: Jeff's recall of Saturday is here.

On Saturday, team JuG went out on a cross country cycling adventure from Chico to far western Red Bluff, CA. I on Lloyd, and Jeff on his black steel SOMA Double Cross, of whose name I am not aware.

We set out at just as the sun peaked over the Sierras to the East; the air was crispy, and the first signs of Autumn gave us a feeling of excitement as we set out into the semi-unknown. I say semi-unknown because this was the second time I'd done the course. Maps in pockets, loaded with food and drink, we were off.

No more than fifteen minutes into the ride the wind reared its ugly head; and didn't let up for 62 miles. We rode into a 12-15 mph headwind for 5 hours; the gusts must have been 20mph because if you stopped pedaling, you stopped moving. I can say that this was the hardest ride I've ever done.

This particular course takes you across California's Great Central Valley toward the Yolla Bolly Mountains and Mendocino National Forest. The views tend to be beautiful on a clear day, and once you are west of I-5 the traffic is minimal to nonexistent.

On this day the views were in fact beautiful, but between the wind and gravel we weren't too concerned with the views; instead we focused on staying upright and fuel intake! In fact, we ate like rhinos! Into my 137 pound body I packed 2 bananas, 2 granola bars, 1 AB&J (AppleAlmond Butter & Jelly), 3 Honey Stingers, 2 Powerbar gels (with salt and caffeine), half a bagel, and 4 bottles of water over 5 hours and 30 minutes. I also had a bagel with cream cheese and coffee before the ride. I think Jeff ate about the same pile of food and beverage.

It's a bit sad looking down at a 13.1mph average, and only covering 72 miles in 5:30. However, in training terms it was like climbing for 72 miles and should make next week's 104 mile Ride The Rogue seem like cake... assuming we're not assaulted by the wind again.

I'll definitely do the ride again; hopefully Jeff will as well. Although next time I think we'll check the wind predictions. If they are they same, perhaps we'll drive to Red Bluff, and coast to Chico effortlessly... and spend that extra time and energy sipping pints at Sierra Nevada!

Friday, September 15, 2006

For The Love of God, No Bum Camps in Chico

Yesterday I was shocked to see this article in the Chico ER, wherein one of our elected officials is suggesting a "free" campground for bums to leech the city of Chico. I wrote a response to the Editor. I'm not sure that they will publish it, so I am publishing it here as well. We have to stop this kind of insanity before Chico turns into the next Santa Cruz hell hole.

I am appalled that City Councilor Andy Holcombe is an advocate of keeping bums in Chico.

The fact that he is lamenting the beautification and invigoration of our town center is appalling and incomprehensible. Every citizen of Chico should take that as an insult and a personal attack.

With bums (or homeless people, according to the Political Correctness Guidelines) come crime and drugs. It is that simple. Why do people like Mr. Holcombe feel comfortable ignoring that fact? For other examples of California communities who have welcomed vagrants to their own demise, we only need to look south at Santa Cruz, where the downtown area is no longer a place families can go. You can’t walk a block in downtown Santa Cruz without being offered drugs, badgered for money, or harassed in some other way. Keeping and welcoming bums in downtown Chico will certainly take our town down the same path.

Dignity Village in Portland is a colossal failure, and for Mr. Holcombe to cite is as a possible example for Chico to follow should be a wakeup call for every Chico resident. Any interview with Portland Police, and with most elected officials, reads the same way: Dignity Village is a temporary solution to Portland’s massive homelessness problem, and it a failure. Dignity Village is not decent, safe or sanitary. It is a drug-ridden flophouse for people who generally aren’t willing to help themselves.

Mr. Holcombe also idealizes a “free campground” idea. My fellow Chicoans, there is no FREE campground. WE are the ones who pay for these people to destroy our town. We are the ones who give tax money to support societal leeches. Why can places like Carmel keep bums out and nobody blinks, but when Chico shows self preservation and civic pride, we are met with opposition from the inside? How can we let this go unheeded?

Chico is possibly the last quality town in California, and I feel that the residents of Chico need to stand up for Chico. Keeping bums out of our town and our downtown isn’t a crime. It is an act of civic duty; a duty for our community, our children, and our future.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Handmade Bicycle Show: March 2-4, 2007 in San Jose

Top bicycle framebuilders gather at public show in San Jose, CA

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The 3 rd Annual North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS), the world’s largest consumer show for custom-built bicycles, will run March 2-4, 2007, at the South Hall of the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.

On display will be the finest crafted and most beautifully painted bicycles by framebuilding artisans from all over the world.

“A handmade bicycle is a thing of beauty,” says Don Walker, of Don Walker Cycles. The creator of the show, Walker says a mixture of passion and determination are responsible for the event’s success. “NAHBS is a celebration not only of the world’s greatest invention, the bicycle, but also the masters who have dedicated their careers to the creation of ridable art forms.”

Started two years ago in Texas, the event answers the growing need of framebuilders to meet and share ideas, and provides a venue to display their masterpieces to a public whose interest in handmade bicycles has increased in step with the recent resurgence of excitement about bicycling in general.

On moving to San Jose in 2005, the number of exhibitors grew from 23 to 90, and the number of visitors to the show grew from 700 to 2700. In 2006, more than 150 exhibitors and 10,000 visitors are expected. Among these visitors will be aspiring framebuilders, students of design, people with a casual eye for some striking style, and many cyclists looking to fall in love again.

Apart from dazzling displays of lug filing, pin striping, and tube bending, the show buzzes with ideas and knowledge as hard-learned skills and techniques are traded among the veterans, while tidbits are thrown out to the fledgling builders. Members of the public can glean gems of knowledge if they ask the right questions of the enigmatic and often eccentric masters of this craft.

Helping visitors to frame ideas and form the right questions are informative seminars throughout the weekend, led by industry insiders and the most famous names in the framebuilding world. For some, these seminars are the highlight of the entire show. Think of it like an audience with the great architect Sir Richard Rogers.

Adding a competitive element to the show are15 categories of awards based on visitor votes of all the bikes on display.

In only three years the show has built an extensive list of fans and supporters. "The NAHBS separates itself from the typical bike expo schwagfest thanks not only to the valuable presentations, but to the general audience who shares a passion for the knowledge and science behind bicycle design and frame material," said Teddy Allen of Gu Sports, a company that manufactures popular nutritional products for cyclists.

Whether building frames or other high-end cycling products like components, clothing, and energy bars, NAHBS exhibitors are a special breed not only because of their outstanding level of workmanship but also because they handle all elements of production, from design to shipping, in their own factories, without outsourcing.

This cottage industry aspect gives a very diverse look to the show booths, making it extremely valuable to exhibitors who can easily differentiate themselves in a grid of rows and aisles, as well as to consumers who, not exposed to repetitive products in every booth, can to zero in on the design that pulls hardest on their heart. And since many cyclists will tell you their bike is their second great love, eye candy is a pretty big deal at an event like this. “ Being a small builder in a sea of big box manufacturers is a daunting task, but having an opportunity to teach people about hand crafted bicycles at an event like the North American Handmade Show was a real honor and privilege,“ says Matt Bracken of Independent Fabrication, one of the exhibitors at the 2006 show who has already signed up for ’07.

Each handmade bicycle is the carefully considered expression of a skilled artisan who has dedicated many years to honing craft and style. Steel is the material of choice for most of these frame builders, who select from an exotic range to match the mechanical properties of the material to the myriad intended uses and physiques of their customers, who range from heart surgeons to cycle messengers.

Tickets to NAHBS Seminars are limited and cost $125 in advance, $150 at the door, pending space availability. Entrance to Exhibits only is $12 in advance and $15 at the show. More information about exhibitors, seminars, awards and other details can be found at

About The North American Handmade Bicycle Show

The North American Handmade Bicycle Show is dedicated to showcasing the talents of individuals around the world whose art form is the bicycle. It aims to be a gathering point – online and in person – for framebuilders and consumers looking for custom-made bikes, for the sharing of ideas and promotion of this special industry which has such a rich history. After two years of growing by leaps and bounds, NAHBS 2007 will feature still more exhibitors, consumers and a wealth of seminars. For more information, see .

Media Contact:
Jodi Hall
Tel: +1-415-990-1324

Exhibitors as of Sept. 6, 2006

Joseph Ahearne
Ahrens Bicycles
Bohemian Bicycles
Calfee Design
Castellano Design
Charter Oak
Cloud Nine Design
Coconino Cycles
Crumpton Cycles
Della Santa
Desalvo Cycles
Don Walker Cycles
Echelon Cycle
Engin Cycles
Grognard Bicycle
Igle Cycles
Independent Fab.
Jonny Cycles
Keith Anderson
Kent Eriksen
Kirk Frameworks
Kish Fabrication
Moyer Cycles
Nelson Titanium
Oswald Cycle
Patrick Cycles
Peacock Groove
Pereira Cycles
Rebolledo Cycles
Rex Cycles
Richard Sachs
Rock Lobster
Roark Titanium
Rue Sports
Sadilah Cycles
Soulcraft Bicycles
Steve Potts
Strong Frames
Thursday Bicycles
Townsend Cycles
Vendetta Cycles
Vicious Cycles
Vintage Studio
Waterford Cycles
Wolfhound Cycles