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June 12, 2008

summer bike trip

I thought I would move my wandering updates from public libraries across the land over to the katieblog, since it is currently quite empty. I'm not sure if I can cheat or not, in order to make the dates more realistic, but I will try.

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Hey guys. Kerry requested updates from small-town California public librarys, and here I am, killing a hot afternoon in a library in Upper Lake, CA.

I left Wednesday afternoon from Davis, after some internal discussion on how to best attach Steve's fly rod. Most people who take long bike trips go for some kind of practice trip before setting out on the real thing, but as you all know I'm not one for extensive preparations or well-reasoned plans. So off I went. I immediately found that a bike handles like a tank with a very small engine when it's loaded with everything I own plus a flyrod that Steve owns, plus Michaela's world famous tortillas, which are exceptionally heavy.

On the way out of Davis, I passed a giant bus parked on Stevenson Bridge road, and some lady waved me down and wanted to tell me that she was supporting some kind of cycle-tour group of recovering quadrapalegics riding across America. Judging by the size of their bus, the lazy no-longer-paralyzed people weren't carrying their own gear. Come on!

After two long-ish days, today I had a nice easy day of riding, which is good because I hadn't been riding for the last few weeks and my ass is sore and I'm tired of riding my bike. I'll be met by Liz sometime tonight on our way up to the Lost Coast for a weekend backpacking trip. [Erin don't kill me for going there without you! Yolla Bolly was too snowy!!] Hopefully we can manage to hitch a ride to the trailhead as it's a through hike and we have only one car. I guess we could shuttle with my bike...who wants to ride handlebars?

Miles so far: 135
Rides from dubious strangers accepted: 1
Michaela's tortillas consumed: 5
Quadrapalegics dropped like hot potatoes: 0

This bike riding shit is way harder when you carry gear along.

June 17, 2008

Garberville to Mad River


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After our Lost Coast trip, Liz dropped my bike and I up off highway 101 and I started pedaling again in the afternoon heat. My personal records indicate only this:

21.8 miles
7.3 mph
suck.

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26x28 gearing is just low enough to turn the pedals over doing 3 miles an hour. At one point I stopped and tried to push, scraped my leg on the pedal, nearly dumped the bike, and said fuck this. After that I just stopped to catch my breath intermittently. Some fella on a little honda motorcycle gave me a thumbs up as he cruised down the hill I was climbing - that might have been what pushed me over the top of it. That, and the friendly tailwind I had on my way up. The climb was beautiful, but my oxygen-starved brain could process little of it.

I managed to take a wrong turn and do 7 or 8 miles on a gravel backroad. Finally I descended to Alderpoint, a crappy little town on the Eel river. I had an awful campsite off a side road, and a shit night's sleep. The closest I've come to bear meat.

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The following day I resigned to the reality that each day would begin with 2-3 hours of climing, which would net 6 or 10 miles. I owe my progress up today's climb to John, who invented Ramen and Mashed Potatoes, which I had for my second breakfast, as well as lunch. Carby, salty, and looks like albino worms in white dirt. Yum.

I made my way to Mad River (population 25) and stopped downtown for a hot dog and milkshake (best shake of my life). There was one building, and one trailer (which served hot dogs and milkshakes). At a Forest Service campsite, I decided to try my luck at fishing the Mad River. I found a riffle that looked perfect to my experienced angler's sensibility, and tied on some bugs. After half an hour of fruitless casting, I felt a strange wiggle on my line!

Steve started playing in my head - let it run, Katie! We battled for what seemed like hours, before the fish freed itself, taking my fly with it.

And if you want the true story, I felt a weird wiggle, said to myself, what the hell is that?? And before I could decide what to do about it, it was gone, along with my fly. Either I tie shit knots, or the fish had huge chomper jaws and bit the thing right off. Either way, it was at least proof that fish do exist outside of the supermarket.

June 18, 2008

Mad River to Hayfork

I left Mad River and got on highway 3 for a gorgeous, gentle climb through Shasta-Trinity National Forest. Finally a hill I could climb without killing my knees. The descent was awesome too; my loaded bike picks up speed quickly, and it was cornering like it was on rails. 15 mph corners were scoffed at.

I had the worst burrito of my life in Hayfork. Thought I was getting food poisoning on my way out of town, but happily it was just my legs giving out after a couple tough days. I didn't realize until too late that the land near Hayfork was all private - I was hoping to camp in national forest property. I eventually found what I thought was a small patch of government land, with a four wheeler track leading up a steep hill to a flat-ish area. I camped there.

As it got dark, I could hear some music in the distance. That, combined with the occasional sound of loud, revving engines, led me to believe that there was a crazy group of ATV-riding partiers in the forest. My tent was set up just off the 4x4 track, and as I slept, I convinced myself that I was going to be run down any minute by crazy drugged-out ATV riders. I slept with my headlamp in one hand, thinking I could turn it on if one approached and my tent would light up, so I wouldn't get run over. I didn't get much sleep.

I realized the next morning that the revving sound was the engine brakes of the big trucks on highway 3 below me. Who knows where the music came from, but I resolved to stay in campsites when possible, if only to avoid the paranoia that comes with being where maybe you're not supposed to be.

July 1, 2008

June 24 - 26, 2008: Salmon River

I've edited this entry, because it was a long, boring account of me riding down one road, then another, up a mountain, down a mountain, camping, and meeting up with Becca the next day. Here are the key items:

- if you're in Etna, ask me or a local man (careful or he'll try to grab your butt, assuming you're a girl) to direct you to the swimming hole. It's great.
- fishing with worms doesn't count
- the Salmon River is very beautiful
- all this riding left me tired and lonely. Luckily my friend E.L. Fudge showed up to cheer me up.

keebler.jpg

January 24, 2009

Bianchi revival

This bike's story starts with my friend Paul. Paul needed a bike to ride in the Tour de Cure, a charity bike ride in the Napa area. A friend of his had a bike and said he could use it to train for a while, so he took it to a local shop and asked them to tune it up.

They told him that there was no way they'd let him ride that bike. It had been crashed into the back of a bus some time ago, and the head tube was cracked and deformed, leaving about 1 mm of clearance between the tire and the downtube.

Paul eventually found a different bike, a sweet Schwinn Paramount from the early 90's that's 10 times better than the Bianchi. And I got the old frame and parts, a mix of early 90's Campagnolo Mirage and Veloce 8-speed stuff.

Eventually I found a frame on the ol' Craigslist, my love and surely my eventually downfall. It was another old Bianchi frame, and I'll be damned if it's not exactly the same model, but conveniently in my size. (To be fair, it was originally to be a bike for my sister, but she found something that suited her before I had a chance to build this one up.)

Here's the bike, in temporal order:

The new old frame.
Post powder coat!
Still loving that 50mm lens.
My apartment turned garage.
The fork situation is complicated...

I don't have all the tools necessary for this job, so I stripped Paul's Bianchi down to the frame and took it to my new favorite place in Berkeley, Street Level Cycles, the bike portion of Waterside Workshop. This place is great: they have half a dozen workstands and tons of tools that they'll let you use for free. They also have a couple volunteer mechanics to help you, used parts, and used bikes for reasonable prices. I pulled the headset from old old frame, and pressed it in to the new old frame. Brad came with me and trued up his wheel, which successfully stopped it from making the very annoying brake-rub-squeak with each wheel rotation.

I had to take the frame back to Mike's Bikes to get the bottom bracket/crank (forever joined together - another story) put back in, and the races swapped on the two forks that I now own. Watch this space for the fully assembled bike - hopefully I can put it together this afternoon.

January 25, 2009

Bianchi revival, part II.

I had some free time while the real mechanics were dealing with my crank and fork, so I decided to put the new used tires I had lying around on to the Bianchi's wheels. I went to take off the cracked, flat rear tire, and found that I couldn't get a tire lever under the bead. Because there is no bead. It's a tubular wheel, and it's glued to the rim. Oh ferchristssake. Tubulars, you're really going to make me deal with this? Add to the list of things to learn how to do: glue on a tire. For now, I decided to just pump it up and see if it holds air, and ordered a couple cheap training tubulars from probikekit.com, aka cheapest tires on earth.

I took a look at the front one. Good news - when whoever crashed the original bike into a bus crashed into a bus, they not only destroyed the frame and fork, but also the front wheel. They replaced it with a reasonable clincher. Comforting for multiple reasons.

When I started assembling the bike, I found that a) my fork steerer was indeed long enough (just barely!) and b) the stem from the wrecked bike was kinda rusty and ugly as sin. I'm currently on the lookout for a new one - if you've seen any sexy black quill stems in 25.4 clamp size and around 110 in length, hit me up. Once I find one, I can cut the cables and tape up the bars, and we'll be in business! Obviously no pictures til it's done right. I can say though that those Italians know style - even bottom of the barrel Mirage components from the 90's look so much nicer than the low-end stuff that Shimano craps out. We'll see if they actually work.

February 15, 2009

If horses were bikes

I used to do horse shows. Lots of people bring their expensive horses and expensive equipment and show off the skills they've spent hours, weeks, months, years perfecting.

Bike races, it turns out, are kind of like that. Except a better workout and not so many belt buckles. And faster.

We showed up in Palmdale on Friday night, hit the Motel 6 immediately and got to bed by 11:30. The race started the next morning at 7 am, so we were up at 5 the next morning. After several wrong turns, we made it to the course to enjoy Santa Barbara's techno jams in the dark, freezing desert. My bike computer said 24.8 F. Jesse thought he was going to die, and he made sure everyone knew it.

Women's C's were off at 7:15, with a powerful peloton, 12 strong. I think four of them were B's. The course was a ~10 mile loop, C's did two laps. Half of it was a big climb, and half a long easy descent, with a mile long flat section connecting the two. We rolled easy for a few minutes on the flat draggy bit, and then split into two groups. I stuck with the first group for a few minutes, but was the first to be popped off on the long climb. At that point, I figured I was in for a very long solo time trial. I decided to eat the energy gel in my pocket, which was totally gross. Warm mandarin orange powergel felt a lot like a momma penguin was puking into my mouth:

penguins.jpg

Near the top of the climb, a Stanford girl caught me from behind. I stuck on her and followed her down the hill. On the flat, I told her I'd work if she wanted to try to catch whoever may be so far up the road that they were invisible. I took a pull or two, when a girl from Occidental college rolled past us like we were standing still. Stanford was in front, so I yelled, get that wheel! She turned around and said "huh?" And I was all for christ's sake. So I came through and put in a big effort, getting us within a bike length or two. I told Stanford to come through, and promptly dropped myself. Goddammit. I. Am. An idiot. Stanford and Occidental rode off into the sunset together.

After spending a few minutes desperately trying to catch back on, I resigned once again to spending the next lap on my own. I put my head down and made it back up the the finish line for the second lap. I caught Occidental girl on my way up; she descends like a rock but I guess it's hard to push rocks back up hills. I considered waiting for her so I could follow her down, but decided to try to make it on my own. I passed a couple Men's D's, who left a few minutes before us, and that was a big ego boost to get me over the hill. I think I scared Mason with a big 'Rooooooooooooooooollll on you Beaaaaaaaaaaaars" as I passed him on the climb. Sounds like it helped though as he dropped a couple guys on the climb himself.

So now I'm all alone, coming down as fast as I can with my gears all spun out. Sure enough, near the bottom of the descent Occidental comes barreling past again. NOT THIS TIME. I managed to grab her wheel and tucked in behind in her ample slipsteam. After nearly falling over in the only corner on the course, I followed her up a draggy climb, and then came around. I told her to help me catch Stanford, but I guess she was cooked from the climb before and couldn't hang on. To my extreme surprise, I was able to bridge up to Stanford on my own. I caught her wheel stealthily, hoping she wouldn't notice me until she'd pulled me to the finish. When my idiotic broken water bottle cage started to rattle, she looked back and saw me clinging to her wheel.

The road was dragging up, and Stanford slowed down to what my frozen bike computer probably would said was 10 miles an hour had it been functional. I figured she was waiting for me to come around, only to follow me in. So I gathered my remaining strength and unleashed a mighty attack, the likes of which she had clearly never seen. Or maybe she was just tired. At any rate, I made it past and she didn't seem interested in following with any speed. I kept riding until someone told me I'd passed the finish. I guess there was another C up the road with the B girls, because I got second.

The next day were the time trials. Joanna cooked up a scheme to get me riding with her against the A's, leaving Anna and Denise to kick around the C's by themselves. Joanna and I warmed up a bit, and it became clear that I would be doing a lot of sitting on her wheel. When the race started, I was able to take some pulls until the little hill - she had to wait for me on top. When I caught back on, we were nearly to the turn, I thought I was going to barf, and I sucked wheel for most of the rest of the race. I think I came through twice after the turn, but I did what I could. We ended up bringing up the rear in the A category, but Denise and Anna kicked ass and won in the C's.

Finally, after gorging on frosting covered cookies and veggie chips, I had the individual TT. I rode down the road to warm up, and my legs felt like cinderblocks. This was going to be ugly. I took off down the road, and after what felt like 30 seconds, the guy behind me with the disc wheel and pointy helmet passed me by. I then got caught up trying to do some calculations to try to figure out how many people should pass me. If Katie takes 40 minutes to do the TT, and it's 11 miles long, how many people will pass her? Assume the fastest rider finishes in 29 minutes, riders start every 30 seconds, and a normal distribution of times. The standard deviation is 3 minutes.

Then I gave up and started singing this Queen song instead:


That helped. I finished in about 39 minutes, by my clock. I'm still not sure how I finished, but whatever. I rode as fast as I could.

Lessons learned:

- Cal > Stanford
- Always bring cream cheese frosting to the race
- Don't lose your license
- Don't pull your competitors up to your other competitors and then drop yourself
- Denise snores!

March 13, 2009

Bianchi revival, f'in finale.

It took me a while, but it's done.

You know I never noticed before I did the bike, but the trim in my apartment is exactly the same tealy-blue that's sometimes called celeste.


May 18, 2009

Tech review: my new shorts

These are the best shorts I've ever worn:

Giordana Formas. They're super soft, the edges are all seamless, they don't have the annoying rubber grippers on the legs, the chamois is comfortable for 4 hours + an hour on the couch eating a mexican sandwich. I'm going to have a hard time wearing anything else. Look out world, Katie's only wearing bike shorts from this day forward.

If you want some of your own, which no doubt now you do, www.chainreactioncycles.com has them for about half the US cost. Love that exchange rate.

June 1, 2009

Bike heckling

Things that have been yelled at me while cycling:

"You're not a car!!"
(From the car behind me, while patiently standing in the left turn lane waiting for the green arrow.)

"Your bike is hot!!"
(While Kerry rode my orange singlespeed down 5th street on our way to the cherry orchards.)

"You've almost caught them!"
(While desperately trying to catch back on to the main group in Berkeley's hilly crit, yelled by my sister.)

"Pfeiffer, Pfeiffer, she's our biker..."
(While desperately trying to catch back on to the main group in Berkeley's hilly crit, yelled by my chemical engineering classmates.)

"Don't wear spandex! You'll get a yeast infection!"
(With the Cal women's cycling team, on our way through Walnut creek. Comment came from an adolescent boy who likely just finished the women's reproductive organ section in health class.)

While yelling from motorists and onlookers is not always helpful to me in my bike-riding endeavors, it turns out that they're technically correct most of the time.

About bikes

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