Monday, April 30, 2007

MacArthur Maze collapse: don't believe the media

Originally uploaded by Scott Jones.
I wish I could get more coverage on this post.

Over the weekend we all heard the horror stories predicting traffic mayhem due to the collapse of a span of the Macarthur maze in Oakland. Reality is this: I commuted in the casual carpool, the same as I do every morning. The only difference today is that I had a glimpse into How Much Better the bay area could be if people would stop driving and start taking public transportation, riding bicycles, or carpooling.

Apparently, everyone WAS doing those things today, because it took me 12, yes TWELVE minutes to get from Elmwood to San Francisco. Yep, 11 miles to San Francisco in 12 minutes at 8:30am on a Monday.

There were literally zero cars at the Bay Bridge toll booths. It was as if the bridge traffic went back to its not-so-humble beginnings in 1937:

I chose to take the carpool this morning because I wanted to see the damage first hand; I was willing to take the horrible traffic that had been predicted. And I have to say, as we were whizzing by at 60mph it was a fantastic site, to see such a large piece of Modern Construction lying in ruin. CalTrans already had their heavy equipment out tearing down the scorched remains, and otherwise things were better than normal.

I've also heard many stories at this point about companies allowing employees to telecommute during this Time of Crisis. Why can't tech companies just accept that many people are better at their jobs when not wasting their time commuting and sitting around in an office? Why save it for times of crisis? Hey employers, why not back up your Green Charade, and start practicing what you preach? Get more employees to telecommute. It's good for the employee, good for traffic, good for the environment.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Chico Wildflower: some notes

Gino riding in the Wildflower
Originally uploaded by jnkochs.
• This was my first Wildflower. I'd intended to ride it last year, but I had a nasty chronic sinus infection and was about half way through a Prednisone and antibiotic treatment. Yay! This winter I've been what I'd call full blown paranoid about touching people and things, and washing my hands. Shake someone's hand? Wash. Touch a door knob? Wash. About to eat? Wash. Apparently it worked - I've not been sick.

• I didn't drink coffee before the ride, whereas most days I have two cups. This was a mistake. I totally blew apart on the third climb of the day (Table Mountain) with a splitting headache, which I'm chalking up to caffeine addiction. Luckily my buddy Tony was still at the top when I arrived; he gave me Advil, which saved the day. The rest stop at the bottom of Table Mountain had shabby coffee, and it was the best two cups of coffee I've ever tasted. Headache gone.

• I'm not willing to give up coffee. I love it!

• I absolutely love my Rivendell Rambouillet, and my Brooks B17 Champion Special. I was never in pain, other than said headache. That wasn't the bike's fault.

• Mudflaps and fenders in the rain rule. The extra weight, in my opinion, is so worth it.

• In contrast with what I've read in various publications, the food at the Wildflower is overrated. All sandwiches were laden with mayonnaise and onions, which for me, couldn't be worse when riding all day. There were also far too many cakes, muffins and junk calories. Maybe I'm just a hippie health nut, but I'd have liked to see more homemade energy bar type things, more fruit, less cookies and cake.

• REI's Novara Stratos cycling jacket is actually a great value. It's not *quite* as lightweight as the Showers Pass jacket, but it performed as well as I could've wanted. The ventilation is excellent, the pockets are sealed and well-placed, and it packs up small enough to stick into my little saddle bag with other bits of clothing when not in use. Oh, and it's totally waterproof, and on sale as I write this.

• The event was really well run. I highly recommend anyone with an interest in Chico do this ride. It's a great way to see Butte county.

• Tony not only saved my ass with ibuprofen, but he also pulled me the last 20 miles of the ride. And to top it off, he bought me a beer at the end of the day! I owe Tony some lovin'.

• I volunteered to work the registration tables the Saturday before the ride. In doing so, I had the opportunity to meet people from all over the country. Folks from as far as Germany rode the Wildflower this year. Four people that rode this year have done it every single year since its inception in 1981. There were tons of people from Nevada, at least in my line. Welcome to Chico! Please don't stay too long. ;-)

• Ruffy Tuffy kevlar tires, while not the fastest, are possibly the toughest (ahem) tires I've ever ridden. I'm approaching 3,000 miles on this set, and I've never had a flat. I figure I'll get another 500 miles out of them, at least.

• This year on the Wildflower course I saw no less than 50 flats - so many, in fact, that people were pondering the possibility of sabotage.

• Riding with a front mini rack with a small load is quite different than no load. It steadies the front end of my bike in descents, making it even faster. However, after nearly 90 miles and 4300 feet of climbing, I felt like I'd worked harder to steer over the course of the day. Steering response isn't as snappy as without the rack. This isn't a surprise... I'm just sayin'.

• I like riding long distances with wool against my skin. By the end of the day I still felt great. Long rides in plastic always make me feel clammy, sticky, and give me that not-so-fresh feeling. That said, in hot weather I still take plastic jerseys over wool! Luckily the Wildflower was rainy and cool nearly all day. Perhaps I really would enjoy living in the Pacific Northwest.

• True to form, Jeff blasted off after lunch, only to be seen briefly on the last 1/3 of the course.

• I'll be back next year!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Chico Wildflower century and the Chico Enterprise Record

Perhaps I'll write up a report on my experience in this year's Chico Wildflower Century, but for now, I'll share this tidbit.

This morning, I "opened" the local paper to this article. The article then prompted me to write the editor of the Chico ER. Here is what I said:

Subject: Pedal vs. Peddle

Dear Editor,

This is in response to the following article that covered the Chico Wildflower:

Your staff writer, Sarah Kingsbury, made the embarrassing mistake of using the word "peddle" in every instance that she should have used "pedal."

One does not peddle a bicycle, unless that person is in business to sell bicycles. If a person is on a bicycle, he has his feet on the pedals, and is therefore pedaling.

Edit your news! The Wildflower is Chico's largest event of the year, and this article represents our town. With writing of this caliber, people will think that Chico's journalists do not know how to write.

Gino Zahnd
Chico, CA

Perhaps the Chico ER will hire me to cover the Wildflower story next year. I have a journalism degree from a highly acclaimed journalism school, and I can certainly write more compelling cycling stories than this.

Update: The Editor wrote me back.
Yes, you are correct. The writer and copy editor on Sunday have already been reprimanded.

David Little, editor
Chico Enterprise-Record
400 E. Park Ave.
Chico, CA 95928

Monday, April 02, 2007

April Fools Day

For my non-American friends, there is a "holiday" on April 1st of each year called April Fools' Day, in which pranks, jokes and hoaxes are played. The whole bit about me quitting cycling was a joke!

I didn't quit cycling, and have no intent to ever quit. I rode about 120 miles this past weekend (Friday-Sunday), and I am stoked about the upcoming Chico Wildflower century, followed by a few bicycle camping trips in May and June, followed by another century in September.

Get on your bikes and ride!


Sunday, April 01, 2007

I've decided to quit cycling

Cycling, it's not you, it's me. Well, it might be you too.

I've been in love with cycling and bicycles since the day I received my first Diamond Back BMX bike when I was seven years old. It has been a fun run, these past 25 years since then, but I'm frankly fed up with the whole "transportation under my own power" thing. You know? It's just much easier to hop in my truck and drive wherever I want to go. If I want to get somewhere on two wheels, I'll buy a nice BMW or Yamaha motorcycle, and get there in a reasonable amount of time. Bicycles just take too long, and honestly, I'm sick of the muscular pain and tweaks in my legs. Who needs it?

So there you have it. I guess this means it's also time to sell off all my bicycles and gear. I have two Rivendells (a 58cm Rambouillet and a 57cm Bleriot), a Schwinn Le Tour III, a 17" Schwinn Homegrown Factory mtb, pedals, tires, handlebars, and all sorts of other crap that I now feel is clogging up my garage, and my life.

If you want early dibs on any of it before I put it all on eBay and Craigslist, just leave a comment and I'll get in touch.

It's been a good quarter century. I like that. 1/4th of 100 years. That's enough time spent on a bicycle if you ask me.

Oh, and I guess that also means the end of this blog. So long, and thanks for all the fun. It's time to do something better than waste my time on something that kids and bums ride.