Archives for the month of: April, 2014
that is what you see if you go to https://secure.flickr.com/photos/124082610@N02/

that is what you see if you go to https://secure.flickr.com/photos/124082610@N02/

I deleted all the 50-odd pictures I had on flickr today. I usually don’t care about how free stuff works on the web, but flickr has been screwing with everything every few weeks and I got tired of it, especially when I could only see MY OWN pictures if I logged into yahoo. Screw that. I will use some other free service for my photos and crap until that becomes too much of a pain and then I will just write in a blank book and sketch once in a while and only use a camera for work. Digital cameras suck without the interwebs or a computer, two things I really don’t need too badly.

Anyway, this is a long introduction to the caterpillar. Some privileged people that flickr does not malfunction for saw picture of a caterpillar I saw on the cross marin trail and missed out with the blanket deletion.

Well, here it is:

according to the interwebs this is a Battus-philenor, a pipevine butterfly caterpillar

according to the interwebs this is a Battus-philenor, a pipevine butterfly caterpillar

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it was wiggling the front, that is why it is out of focus

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with scale – it was about two inches long

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deviations from pelican standard: 57 square, 43cm chainstays, room for rock n roads or 40's and fenders

deviations from pelican standard: 57 square, 43cm chainstays, room for rock n roads or 40’s and fenders

I have a couple/few pelicans, two of them are prototypes. The first prototype is from the first batch of test pelicans when Gabe of box dog first started the process of production pelicans for everyone and is and always was my townie. I ride that bike the most of any of my bikes. The second prototype is a 650b in 58 size. Originally pelicans only came in 650b in the small sizes but I got Gabe to make me a custom (and one for him) in larger size and got lightweight tubes in the bargain as well. That pelican is red.

front end

front end

I used to own the pelican that was tested in VBQ a while back but that has gone to a better home. I have some of the first pelicans made by Ahren Rodgers and I also have one of the last, a standard 650b 58 size pelican, which is just a frame at the moment so it takes up less room in my apartment and in my mind.

modified rivendell bag

modified rivendell bag – the rag is for wiping stuff off the wheel rims when I am riding

I guess I like pelicans a lot, enough so that I spent way too much money and got a titanium pelican built for me by Steve Potts. Steve is a nice guy, getting my bike from him took a couple years. I like my titanium pelican – perhaps a monster randonneur – quite a lot and it has surely filled the empty space in my rides when I got rid of the VBQ test pelican. In addition to a custom bike, I also got two custom front racks for this bike from Jim G. The first is made to order, and the second is a modified standard rack. I am very lucky to have Jim for a friend.

titanium pelican somewhere on mount vision

titanium pelican somewhere on mount vision

 

The Fleche event is easy to like. If you take the trouble to form a team you get to pick your route and your riding partners, a sure recipe for fun! For the last few years I have been refining a route lent to me by Willy N. and modifying the team roster to make things better for me as captain and for everyone who participates. I made no changes to the route from last year, but this was good because I had to spend that extra energy on forming a team.

At first we had too many people, so we went through a wishy washy month or two of team members not wanting to steal the fun from others and offering to go away but not really going away and me, being middle aged and male solved things the only way that makes sense. I made like King Solomon and the baby and decided to cut the team in half. The half I kept was related to me one way or another, girlfriend Juliayn and Cousin Russ, and the half I jettisoned was Gabe, Bryan and Theresa. Gabe and Bryan found a home on different teams and Theresa came back. Gabe got invited to an adventurous mixed terrain ride and Bryan was invited to a team that is noted for developing routes with as little climbing as possible in the route.

The best part of a fleche in addition to the previously mentioned perks is making up your own team name. The team name I really wanted to use, the Flechebags is always taken by Alfie’s team, so instead of Schwetty Flechebags, or maybe Flaming Flechebags (that is for next year, although I am considering Oblio’s Ant Farm as well) I settled for Quo Vadis? which is Latin for ‘where ya goin?’ this team name is appropriate for a person from Indiana like me, where the nickname for residents is ‘hoosier’ which some say is a contraction of ‘who’s you?’. Questioning, we hoosiers are always questioning.

Like I said, I have steadily refined the route over the last few years, sometimes changing the start venue from here to there and I have a few different cue sheets lying around on my computer and of course this year I sent one cue with a start near golden gate park to my team, and a cue with a different start venue to the event coordinator. I did not notice the switcheroo, but Juliayn did and averted a bit of drama from the start of the ride. Our route does not have much opportunity for making up time in a graceful way if we have troubles.

The weather forecast was going to be beautiful, but that always worries me about car traffic for a ride. Nicer weekend days always seem to attract more people to hop in the car and drive somewhere, often ruining things for us poor cyclists that need the roads too.

The route is about 400k with something more than 15,000 feet of climbing. Almost all the climbing comes early in the ride when we are strongest.

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Russ has a new helmet this time

This year wind and stoplights slowed our progress out of town, and a fellow at the Roberts Market in Woodside sidetracked us for way too long talking of his exploits in Italy and showing off his humongous 25mm tires jammed into his ‘bike made for the cobblestones’. I resisted the urge to ask him if his bike was the $5,000 dollar cobblestone jobby or the $10,000 dollar cobblestone jobby and got my team moving over to our 1400 foot ascent of Old La Honda after which we climb another 1000 or so. Listening to Mr. Cobblestone Jobby we missed out on the 100 rider strong training ride on Mountain Home Road like we usually would, but we did get to see them all run the stop sign in front of the store before we left.

As we left that control I realized in panic that I was experiencing another cue sheet malfunction. My Farrah Fawcett swimsuit cue sheet was missing! Who was going to tell me with a flounce of curls, a flash of brilliant teeth and a jiggle that I needed to turn right in 0.78 miles! I was totally lost for a moment and shared my discovery of woe and all I got was a wrinkled-nose sour look from girlfriend Juliayn and Cousin Russ asking me how I would like if Juliayn had an Eric Estrada cue sheet. Bah! Eric Estrada is fat – maybe I could be jealous of Tom Jones or Sean Cassidy, but not a fat motorcycle cop. Jeeze.

Have you seen her? Come back Farrah, come back.

Have you seen her? Come back Farrah, come back.

On Old La Honda we shared the climb with a bunch of other local Woodside riders including two recumbent riders Theresa knows. I was feeling best at that moment and arrived first at the top, followed soon by Cousin Russ, then Theresa, then Juliayn and then the recumbent riders. We all rest a minute or two while Theresa chats with her fellow PBP anciennes the recumbent riders before we continue our climbing on Skyline.

Skyline is usually traffic filled with speeding cars and motorcycles but this year, like last year, there was minimal traffic. Last year I surmised they were home because of a rainy day forecast, but this year who knows? Basketball? Golf? 4/20?

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traffic free skyline

The wind was cold but the sun was hot so I put a neckerchief (I am often quite stylie) on to shield my neck. I use sunblock but it never seems to work well enough. The neckerchief worked very well for me. At the end of Skyline we make our first luxury stop at Summit Market. This time the sandwich counter was totally over run with mountain bikers and locals so I grabbed some pre-made sushi, a big bubbly water and a big beer for my meal. Theresa mimicked my sushi choice, Juliayn and Russ reached for a pre-made sandwich. The patio we ate at was shared with mountain biker people who have come from Nisene Marks which is further down the road on our route.

Theresa on skyline

Theresa on skyline

We finish up and leave, but the road is busier than normal due to all the mountain biker people driving to and from Nisene Marks. People who drive a car to ride their bike are tiresome. I wonder how many are driving because of all the cars on the road that scare them. As soon as we get past Nisene Marks we get the empty roads I am hoping for.

sometimes the road is all patches and potholes, but no cars

sometimes the road is all patches and potholes, but no cars

Dropping down to the Watsonville area the roads get more traffic, but all the drivers wait patiently to pass us safely and then do so with a very wide berth! Whatever is in the water down here needs to be added to the water of the rest of the nation – I will write my elected representative right now.

Theresa and Russ on Anzar Road

Theresa and Russ on Anzar Road

I request that we skip our usual group foto at the Mission and head to another luxury stop at an Italian Restaurant because the café we stopped at last year was closed. Food was good, the service was very good. With full bellies we rolled off to the highlight of the whole ride, the de Anza trail to Salinas.

This time the wind was strong and against us, and the hills the most brilliant green I have seen in years. A small gathering of bullocks were on the trail but were scared off by our movements and we took our usual group foto at the bench at the top of the first climb. At the bottom of the trail on the far side I chatted with a young fellow who claimed to be addicted to the trail – an affliction I can appreciate.

frightened bullocks

frightened bullocks

After the big hill the de Anza trail is paved on the way to Salinas but does not have traffic until we get within a mile or two of Salinas. The clerks at the 7-11 are extremely happy and encouraging to us about our ride and have not visited the de Anza trail once! I recommend they picnic there soon and we move on toward Santa Cruz.

Quo Vadis?

Quo Vadis?

The stretch of road from Salinas to Santa Cruz is one that I dread because of the wind we always encounter, but this year the wind shifts and even pushes us along effortlessly at 20mph for a while until it dies with the coming darkness.

time to put on reflective gear

time to put on reflective gear

Passing through the Santa Cruz/Capitola/Soquel/Aptos conurbation idlers on bus stop benches and roaming teenagers give us hoot or a cheer of appreciation when we roll past, warming our hearts and we hoot back or ring our bells in response. Those people made what is often a not very pleasant urban experience a very nice one.

Our server at the Denny’s in Santa Cruz took care of us despite the crowds and birthday parties she was also serving and even had time to relate how she has been run over by cars several times while riding her bicycle. I suggested off-road riding and she said when she tried that, she was attacked by a mountain lion. I refrained from making further suggestions, fearing for what I might learn has happened to her. While we ate the team from Atascadero stopped by and chatted with us. They are all very accomplished distance riders and each has placed well or won the Furnace Creek 508. Serious Cycling.

Leaving Santa Cruz we immediately encounter JT Conklin’s fleche team. Kitty hears of our start time and admonishes us we better get a move on! Well, we do. All of us (excepting me – I am captain) work hard and up the pace to 18 or more mph on the flats and smaller hills and keep it up for the next 30 miles or so. During that time we pass another team, Steve H.’s and fend off the approaches of the Atascadero people. We make up about 45 minutes to an hour with our faster pace and make it to Pacifica at 4am.

I do paperwork while Juliayn sleeps, the Atascadero team is in the background

I do paperwork while Juliayn sleeps, the Atascadero team is in the background

Warming up and eating fries and a shake, the three teams we passed show up and pile in to eat and sleep. We leave in the darkness a little after 5am and take our sweet time getting to the finish and still show up 5 minutes early to the greetings of Rob H.’s team and the volunteers. One of the volunteers just purchased a Box Dog Pelican frame and admired our complete team of Pelicans. It is difficult to find a better bike than a Pelican for what we do.

I get a spot against the wall and watch the spectacle of the teams arriving noting who looks good, who looks like they rode 24 hours, applauding as they come in the door. As the restaurant fills with other non-riding patrons they sometimes join in with the applause and add to the fun. Tall tales of woe and wonder are exchanged and cameras are passed around so we can see where each other has been. Sadly, the two teams I really wanted to see roll in did not while I was there, Brian O.’s team (with Gabe) dnf’ed somewhere down south and Max Polletto’s team had to change both the 22 hour control and the 24 hour control. I hope they both had a good time despite their setbacks.

Another year down and many more to go! Thanks Team, thanks SFR and the volunteers, another fine event!