Tuesday, September 9, 2014

This year's century ride.

The track of my ride from "Run The Map" phone app.
After a hectic early summer I have finally gotten to my century ride! Inspired by the success of the reverse path of my Yankee Jims rides, I decided to reverse direction of my usual route to Grass Valley, going through Auburn and Meadow Vista, then following Dog Bar Road up to Grass Valley.

On Dog Bar Road.
This turned out to be a good choice. The climb up to Grass Valley took place during the cool morning hours, and Dog Bar Road seems to take on a completely different character going from south to north! I was in Grass Valley early enough that I didn't feel any need to stop for food. I did eat half of a PBJ sandwich I was carrying and drank a little.

Next was the descent on highway 20. Going the other direction, this is a challenging, long effort to get into Grass Valley. But going this way, it's a sweet descent with an occasional bump. I left Hwy 20 at the Smartsville turnoff. At this point I made a significant deviation from my old century route, instead of turning on Waldo road and riding gravel to Camp Far West, I stayed on Smartsville Road and proceeded to the valley.
On Smartsville Road, heading down into the valley.
This is a wonderful road. It's very open and you can see a long way. (This is a very good spot to ride a motorcycle...fast!!). Thankfully, there was no strong winds, I could see that being a problem some days.

This road eventually took into the eastern fringe of Linda, then I took some wonderful country roads to Highway 65 just above Wheatland. There I made my only supply purchase of the day at a gas station food mart, some cold water and a Frappacinno.

From Wheatland it was a familiar route to Sheridan, then Dowd road to Nicolaus road and into Lincoln, then 193 to Sierra college and then up and over the hill back to Loomis.
Basic ride stats.
All in all I was very happy with this ride. I definitely prefer this route over my old way. I also noticed that the old way was probably not really 100 miles! But with the long gravel stretch at Camp Far West probably made up for that shorter distance. I felt pretty good after this ride. Even my bottom was in good shape, thanks to the Sugoi Evolution bib shorts I recently bought, and a slight change in saddle position, (I raised the nose of the B-17 just a tad.)
Here's a shot of the Mercian post-ride.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fiddling with my bikes' set up and post retirement thoughts.

My LHT on Yankee Jims Road with 26 inch wheels and the Ostrich handlebar bag.
 Since I've retired at the end of July, I've been surprised how little time I seem to have. Well, a lot of it is going to preparation for our trip to Spain and walking the Camino de Santiago this Fall. Lots of walking and planning for extended travel abroad.

Still, I have been getting a satisfactory amount of riding in, plus I've been doing some work on the bikes as well. I've been interested in running handlebar bags "Rando" style. To that end I installed small front racks on both my Surly LHT and my Mercian. For a bag, I purchased an Ostrich F-106, a really big bag from Bike Touring News. I've never purchased from these guys before, but I was very pleased with the fast service. The bag is pretty nice, but I did modify it slightly to work for me. First, I used a Velo Orange Decaleur, and relocated the leather strap holder to the back, planning to strap the bag to the "tombstone" of the front rack. This wasn't really satisfactory, so I used a technique I found on the internet, Peter Weigle's "anti-decaleur" method which uses two "R" clips on the rack which are bolted to the bottom of the bag. (See the bad picture of this installation on the Mercian at the end of this post.) However, rather than being an anti decaleur, i use this method to supplement the decaleur!

This method of attaching the handlebar bag seems very stable. I rode the LHT down Yankee Jims washboard and it held beautifully. Handling with the handlebar bag also feels pretty good, maybe a tad slower reacting, but certainly not unstable at all.

Also on this ride, I used the 26 inch wheels with Continental City Tour tires. I bought these 1.75 tires because I felt my Schwalbe Big Bens were just to big at 2.2 inches. Turns out that these tires aren't all that much skinnier! Anyway, they also ride pretty well, and I don't seem to have the problem with tire clearance with these.

As I said, I also added a rando front rack and handlebar bag to the Mercian:
Current set up for long range cruising. Notice how nicely the Boxy bag matches the V.O. Crescent bag. That's purely coincidental!
Installing the Nitto M12 required a 1/4 inch hole on the fork crown which took me a year to do. In the end it wasn't a big deal, and the Nitto rack is really a thing of beauty. For the bag I used an old Rivendell Boxy Bag. Back in the day, Rivendell actually got Carradice to produce this cotton duck bag. They also had Nitto produce a clamp-on handle bar rack resulting in a pretty lousy system to run a handlebar bag! It worked, but took up handlebar space and held the bag too high, and the clamp could loosen and slip. Since I had this bag, it seemed like a good idea to try to make it work with a rando style front rack.
Original configuration was strapped to the M-12.
 Initially, I planned to strap it down to the rack at two points. while this worked, it was kind of a pain to set up and didn't hold the bag super-tight. So I decided to use the "anti-decaleur" system once again, and, along with the V.O. decaleur, a rock-steady system was born!
Velo Orange Decaleur pinned to the Boxy Bag. You can just see the leather patch behind the tombstone which I initially installed for a strap.
Bad picture of the "R" clip holding the bag on the rack.
This is such an easy installation, all you need is a couple of 3/8 inch clips, you can get a pair of steel ones at Home Depot for less than $1.50), a few washers and nuts and bolts. I recommend a "button"head-type bolt, (M5 or M6) and a nylock nut to fasten it securely. The one downside to this installation is that you don't really have a quick-release system for your bag.