2 February 13

Bike Forth

For some reason I’m very hard on pedals, and they never seem to last more than several seasons on my bike. We had a New Year’s Day brunch to head to a month ago, and planned to cycle there. Not long before leaving I realized that the right pedal was basically about to fall apart, and most likely would not last the 18 mile round trip to the brunch. Luckily I spotted an old right pedal I had saved from an earlier iteration of pedal replacement, so I replaced the broken pedal with the old pedal, and we went on our way.

The replacement pedal, being old, decided to fall apart early this week, the body of the pedal tending to slide off the axle. This was not going to work for my commuting for very long, so on Wednesday after work I headed over to Bike Forth to rummage through the parts bins and hopefully ride off with a working pedal. Bike Forth is a DIY repair shop that is run by the Davis Bike Collective and is housed just east of downtown. Their collection of parts salvaged from innumerable bikes is large, and if one doesn’t need fancy replacement equipment for a fancy bike, it’s a good place to go to try to fix one’s bike. A member of the collective is on hand during the hours it is open to provide repair tips and to collect a modest donation for the time spent in the shop and parts used.

I found a suitable pedal readily and quickly swapped it for the broken pedal — it couldn’t have been an easier bicycle repair. After 10 minutes and a $5 donation I was on my way. Not all bike problems I want to try to repair myself, but for those I know I can fix, it’s great having this option in town.

Posted by at 07:49 PM in Bicycling | Link | Comment

25 September 12

Axle Quest

I cycled home from work Friday thinking I had an awfully loose and creaking front hub and that it was time to adjust it but when I inspected it the axle turned out to be broken. Not so good to cycle on. Rebuilding a front wheel hub is a relatively easy task if one has the parts so finding myself with a spare hour on Saturday afternoon I went over to Bike Forth. This is a bicycle repair collective and DIY tool shop just east of downtown. They have lots of tools and very good spare parts bins, for which they ask a nominal donation to use.

I was reminded of a couple things during my visit. 1) There are always Tricks to repairs. In my particular case I just couldn’t untighten the nuts holding the cones in place. One of the volunteers showed me just how to get the right leverage to loosen these. That’s the tale when I do bike repairs: I know the goal but don’t have the experience to have the tricks to be efficient. 2) There really is quite a diversity of bike parts. Rummaging through their drawer of spare axles I ended up with one that was almost but not quite right. I didn’t finish working on the wheel that Saturday afternoon, but took it home to finish the job, only to decide yesterday I needed a better match for an axle after all, so best I go to a new bike store for a replacement.

The first bike store I stopped at this afternoon was unable to help — it was too old and oddly sized to have it in their parts bin. Maybe I should try going to Bike Forth, they suggested. Better luck this evening at the second store: the mechanic spent about four minutes looking through their collection of spare axles, testing these on a nifty thread socket board, to come up with one that seems like the right match.

I’ll try to finish the job tomorrow — let’s hope my axle quest just ended.

Posted by at 09:29 PM in Bicycling | Link | Comment

21 July 11

Well, well, well...

… I love learning new words, but I never thought I’d learn one while watching the live Yahoo UK text feed for the Tour de France. We’ve been riveted. The Tour is at a critical stage where there are four contenders, one of them, gasp, French. But he’s a gurner. He grimaces on the mountain stages, apparently more than others on this grueling 3-week hellride. Well worth a gurn or two if you ask me.

Gurning is a time-honored tradition, celebrated by competition in the oldest fair held in the United Kingdom dating back to the reign Henry III in the thirteenth century. It means making faces. Gurners often disfigure themselves by, say, having all their teeth removed, the better to swallow their noses.

Really. See. Here.

Posted by at 09:14 PM in Bicycling | Link | Comment [1]

23 May 11

DC 2011

SAG 10 On Saturday was the Davis Double CeIntury, the epic 200-mile cycling event now in its 42nd annual edition. As we have done for the past several years we helped out by providing radio support for the event. I worked all day at start/finish helping to operate the radio net control, and Pica drove the course as a sag support vehicle (SAG 10). (If anyone can provide a convincing etymology for the use of the word “sag” in cycling, we would be quite interested.) The weather was quite pleasant for the event (partly cloudy with a high around 80 degrees, and the riders seemed to fare better than usual as a result.

At left is a sketch of our Honda Element tricked out with ham antennas for the event, a dual-band 2 meter/440 Mhz antenna for voice communications, and a smaller 2 meter antenna for the GPS radio tracker.

Posted by at 09:27 PM in Bicycling | Link | Comment [2]

17 May 10

May Flowers, May Showers

Saturday we provided radio support once again for the Davis Double Century. The weather was very mild this year, with highs not much above 80 degrees F. In part because of the mild weather the riders had a relatively easy time of it, and not too many had to be sagged back to Davis. The riders even got a dose of fog climbing into the mountains of eastern Napa County. Pica drove the entire course and then some as a sag vehicle; she was impressed to see so many wildflowers still out. It’s been an odd spring, with brief periods of rain every week or so. I meanwhile stayed behind at start/finish and worked at radio net control, and was especially pleased to see that the GPS radio tracker I had built was working well in Pica’s vehicle, and I was able to follow her progress via the APRS software we had running at net control.

Today was the second stage of the Amgen Tour of California, the stage starting in Davis and ending in Santa Rosa. Last year’s first stage also started in Davis, but the race was in February. It was pouring that day, and rained off and on throughout the week. So the race organizers moved the race to May in part to get better weather (never mind the conflict with the Giro d’Italia). I was amused to note when I went out to watch the peloton start to ride out of town that it was sprinkling. The riders must not know what to make of Davis weather.

Posted by at 11:57 PM in Bicycling | Link | Comment

15 May 10

Up Early, Even For Me

Today is the Davis Double Century. It’s too early here even for kingbirds. I must leave the house in an hour, having drunk enough tea to keep me going on a 200-mile course with many zigzags back and forth between rest stops (I’m driving, providing radio support, not cycling, but still). It looks like it won’t be too hot, meaning fewer heat exhaustion cases, but there’s always something, and it’s best to be prepared. Hope I am.

Today is also the 27th Worldwide Sketchcrawl. Can’t believe there have been that many. I won’t have much chance to sketch today but will try at a couple of the rest stops: cyclists are good drawing subjects, plenty of muscle definition to be had. And they all line up in exactly the same way for water and Gatorade and peanut butter sandwiches and bananas and potatoes and soup and coffee and muffins, staggering around on cleats, wondering how the hell they’re going to get up Resurrection and wondering whether this was really such a good idea. They’re a cheerful bunch, though, and this is such a well supported ride that it’s a good one for the “maybe I can make its.” Unfortunately for the support people, sometimes those ones maybe can’t, and need shuttling around. And their bikes… but then I get to meet really interesting folks and chat on the way to the next rest stop.

I’d like to put in a word here for an artist I admire greatly and whose work I’ve followed for some time now. Debby Kaspari of Drawing the Motmot lost her house and her studio on Monday in a tornado. She, her husband Mike, and cat Gizmo are all fine, but they have lost all their possessions. (I just saw in an update that after sifting through the rubble they were able to find Debby’s banjo and Mike’s guitar intact; I burst into tears when I saw this.)

There’s an art supply whip-round going on through Facebook through friends. If you have paper or paints or pencils or anything you think she could use, please check it out. There’s a paypal link too.

Right. Off to don the Second Ugliest Tshirt In The World and check in with Net Control. KI6IMU, Sag 10, reporting for duty…

Posted by at 03:50 AM in Bicycling | Link | Comment [3]

18 October 09

Bikes, a Bride, a Big Boo-Boo

Pica's route through the Foxy Fall Century, October 17 2009 Yesterday was Foxy’s Fall Century, a fun bike ride of 100 miles, 100 K, or 50K out of Davis put on by the Davis Bike Club. We’ve been providing radio support for Bike Club rides pretty much since I got my license. Yesterday I was SAG 10 again and Numenius helped out in Net Control.

There were flats all day. I handed out many tubes. Seems like the puncture vine thorns got washed onto flooded areas of roads during Tuesday’s storm and ended up in tires. One woman had mended 4 flats and declared if she got another one she was heading in… don’t blame her! The weather, on the other hand, was perfect, warmish in the morning and just barely breaking 80 during the day (though it did get a bit muggy). No wind to speak of.

Two people who met at Foxy’s last year arrived in bow tie and tiara and got married on the course; I sagged in a guy who clipped a wheel and fell down in gravel just west of Winters. He was tough and would have carried on but his bike wasn’t up to it. After bringing him back I took Numenius with me west to do one final sweep.

Just by Lake Solano we were flagged down by a bunch of cyclists. Two were sitting down — always a good indication of trouble — and it turned out that a guy on the UC Davis race team had hit a pine cone and gone down, taking the guy on his wheel with him… Broken nose, probably, and blood everywhere. Ugh. We radioed in and waited for emergency services to arrive. Grateful of my Red Cross training, I want to do some more, and I definitely want to have more equipment in the car for first aid next time. We were lucky to be close to Winters and the guys responded right away (they were awesome, all volunteers) but sometimes you can’t count on that.

A great day. I love doing this! Numenius will be working on a tracker for us for the next one so we don’t have to snag one of Dave’s…

Posted by at 07:55 AM in Radio | Link | Comment

4 September 09

Project Rwanda

cargo bicycle/coffee bike, Project Rwanda When I got to work on Monday, this fancy gorgeous cargo bike was leaning against the wall. One of my coworkers, the director of the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project in Rwanda, had bought it. She spotted the bike in Rwanda when she was there in August, it rider hauling huge loads of coffee beans. It turns out to be the Project Rwanda Coffee Bike

She plans to do most of her grocery shopping on this bike once she rigs it up with adequate paniers. I love the colors, I love the concept. I love the project. It costs $300 to get a bike like this into the hands of someone for whom it will make an incredible difference. Check out the link, and consider buying a transport bike for your own grocery shopping!

Posted by at 07:40 PM in Bicycling | Link | Comment

16 May 09

Riders in the Heat

Today we did radio support for the 40th running of the Davis Double Century, which always makes for a long day, both for us and for the riders. And it got hot: the temperature hit 99 degrees here in Davis. This year we split up assignments — Pica drove the course as a sag vehicle, and I spent all day at start/finish working as radio net control. There are always crises when one sets out to work such events; our started last night when Pica discovered the car wouldn’t start since the battery had been drained after the interior lights had been knocked on. We hooked the battery charger I usually use to charge my 12-volt SLA batteries for the radios and let the car battery charge overnight. Happily, the car started in the morning, and the battery got plenty of charging over the day. And then there was the issue with our mobile radio whose mike now wants to stick open. This is still unresolved, but didn’t end up being much of an issue on the course.

Pica drew the luck of arriving on the scene at the first and I think most serious accident of the day — a tandem in a descent hit a pothole and both riders got thrown. The stoker was unconscious for a little bit, and both riders ended up being transported to a hospital in Napa by air ambulance. Fortunately, the riders weren’t that seriously injured, and they were discharged later in the afternoon. I meanwhile at net control had to deal with lots of reports coming in all at once — such pileups occur in dribs and drabs. I’m glad the radio ops out on the the course are patient and don’t mind repeating things.

It’s a lot of fun working these events, but we’re going to have a mellow day tomorrow.

Posted by at 10:38 PM in Bicycling | Link | Comment [1]

27 April 09

Trip on Transit

handspun yarn I went to Pleasanton yesterday — about 90 miles away — on my bike, bike on train, bike on BART. I haven’t put my bike on a train before and it was surprisingly easy. My bike trip at either end was only about three miles.

Jarrett Walker of Creature of the Shade has started a new blog, Human Transit. I feel lucky to be in a place where this kind of trip was not only possible but very easy. Of course we had to wait for the bridge to go down outside Martinez — they were letting a ship through — but I’d have had to have done that in the car anyway.

On the way to the station yesterday, I ran into a) a criterium, which made me alter my route through b) the antique Volvos show, on the way to get c) asparagus, which I threw into a tub of pre-prepared lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, and a little tarragon to throw on the grill at the Lazy, Stupid and Godless knitting/dyeing/spinning party. I learned to spin. I hung out with some awesome people. And then I turned around and did the whole thing backwards, running into the fixed gear event in Pleasanton — at first I thought it was part of the city code, that you couldn’t ride bikes with gears. But no. Just some tired guys at the end of the day, looking at the overpass with fear and loathing. I turned right to the subway station.

Oh, and on the way down on the train I conducted a birdathon in support of Yolo Audubon. 48 species, including Western gull, Clark’s grebe, and chestnut-backed chickadee, all of which are hard to find in Yolo County. You can’t do this kind of thing from a car…

Posted by at 07:16 AM in Bicycling | Link | Comment [2]