Friday

Big-Ol' Tire

 A long time ago, in Olden Times (the 1970s), I had a 1966 Mustang Fastback. SUPER cool car. Naturally I modified it - pipes, suspension, tires... I put a set of bigger wheels and much bigger tires on it. Boy did it look cool! First thing, I jumped in and headed for my "test track" - a near by street with a few bends in it - to see how they cornered. Well, they were a disaster. Probably would have been great for drifting, but that wasn't even a thing then. The point is, even though they were oversize tires, they were NOT grippy.

I've been mostly a road rider all my cycling "career". I like pavement. But I don't like skinny tires, never have. I was always the guy who rode 700-28 & 32, while my frieds were suffering with 700-18 & 23 tires. My last road bike (the blue one that I took the little overnighter on) had 700 x 42.

Well, I seem to have finally reached a limit - oh, not my limit! It seems that on the old steel frames I like to ride, my 700x42 are about the upper limit, size-wise.

So, when my son started trying to get me back on a bike so I could go gravel-gring & adventure-riding with him, I eschewed 700c tires. Yup, I decided I wanted some truly FAT tires. So, I bought a Mountain Bike with the intent of turning it into an All-arounder. I suppose I could have sought out a Cross-over bike like the Bridgestone XO-1, but do you even realize what those puppies (still) cost? Never mind the fact that they are all being hoarded. Anyway, to make a long story short, I found a suitable Mountain bike to convert while I was looking and snapped it up.

Where was I? Oh yeah, chubbies - I mean fat tires!

One of the greatest things about off-road bikes is the room they have for great big tires! I started looking for something that would roll well on pavement, have a lot of grip and still tolerate gravel roads. SO a true slick was probably out. Likewise those "City" tires that have slickish tread that's reall thick (adding to the weight). 

These new Continental Contact Speed 26 x 2.0 tires are GRRRRR-IPPY. They feel a lot like tubulars. Smooth. Swishy.

I love them!

Thursday

I'm back!

Well, at least I'm on my way back.
Several years, health challenges, age...

Anyway, after a period of being "cycle-less", this is my new whip:


1988 MB-3




1988 Bridgestone MB-3! 

Yes, I know it's old. Hell, I'm old. In the 80s, Bridgestone was quite an innovator. Grant Peterson was spec'ing and marketing the line. They were "insider hip". Bike industry folk knew they were hip. Insiders with experience who were the thoughtful types. People who didn't care about the current fashion trends.

But the public? Apparently they didn't get it, unfortunately.

Japan's lugged-steel frame-building capabilities were at an all-time high. Their work was the equal of anyone's. And, In case you didn't know: Lugged Steel Bicycle Frames are superior to every other frame technology. They last longer, they're repairable, and they look better. And Bridgestone's Japanese-built bikes of the 80's were among the very best around. Thier upper 2 or 3 models worked as well as custom, handbuilt bikes. Bridgestone's XO, RB and even some of their MB series were highly respected and sought after. Here's what the specs of the MB-3 looked like.


  • Ishiwata Triple-Butted Chro-Mo frame. Not quite Tange Prestige, but good, lively, strong construction.
  • Unicrown Fork. Tig-welded crown, lots of clearance and strength.
  • Deore-XT gruppo. The "full gruppo" - Derailleurs, Shifters, Brakes, Cranks, even Hubs.
  • Top-mount shifters. My personal fave.
  • Ritchey stem, Nitto bar. As good as any.
My short-term to-do list for the bike:

  • New cables
  • New Continental Contact Speed file-tread tires - check! (WOW, grippy!)
  • New grips - check!
  • Overhaul all bearings
  • Brake pads
  • Saddle-bag & pump holder
  • Water Bottle cages
  • Cut-down handlebar 
  • Saddle - check! 
  • Pedals - check! 
  • Brake levers - check!
Long term, after more research and putting some miles on:
  • New handlebars- Porteur? North Road? Dirt Drops? (The whole handlebar thing deserves a post of it's own)
  • Brooks saddle (B-17 or Cambium C-17 or C-19) No better saddle to be had!
  • Front rack - Randonneur or possibly even a porter (have to research what the front Trail dimension is)
  • Front bag - appropriate to the bike's geometry
  • Frame bag
  • Rear rack - for a bag & Panniers
  • Panniers
  • More tires!
  • Lightweight tubes
I plan to use the bike as a Commuter/Gravel/Adventure/Allroad bike. I've only owned a couple of other Mountain Bikes, and never used one as my all-around daily. Well, there was a time when I rode my Stumpjumper daily, but I also owned a nice roadbike at the time.

This pic of a 1986 Stumpy is exactly like my old one, except for the tires and my custom one-piece Landshark stem/handlebar. Damn, I loved that bike!



This "new" Bridgestone MB-3 is uncannily similar to my old Stumpy. I guess this Old Dog is in a cycle rut, but at least it's a comfy one.

Monday

The Ride - 24O

30-some years ago, I was an avid cyclist. An avid Urban Cyclist and Commuter. Although I rode about 12,000 miles a year, 75-mile distances were pretty much my max for a single-day ride. I could go at a decent pace, but that was my limit. I realize now that some of the issue for me at the time was hydration and fuel.

Now, I'm taking baby steps again as a cyclist, recovering from a minor injury and striving to regain some small measure of fitness.

A couple of months ago Nick emailed me to suggest we go on an overnight camping trip sometime soon. The earliest opportunity we could work out turned out to be the weekend of June 16-17. As I said, I never did extended distance rides of more than about 75 miles, and I've never gone bike camping, so I was looking forward to this as a new adventure. I've read what Grant Peterson has written about his 'S24O' getaways, and we were thinking of that sort of trip for this weekend. Initially, I planned a rugged, mostly off-road route (we took road-bikes for this trip) with just over 7000 feet of elevation gain. The first day, that is! As the time to ride drew closer and my injured knee continued to keep me off the bike, I began to scale my plans back. Finally we settled on a shorter, easier route that varied the terrain and scenery as much as could be managed within an 85-mile Urban/Rural loop.

I wanted to use my old SR road bike (the only geared bike I had at the time) and I thought our route should cover as many different areas of San Diego as we could manage within that range.

Loaded for travel.
Army Surplus pack as Handlebar Bag
I fitted my biggest (40-622) and heaviest tires for the trip.

We tackled the climbing portion of the route first thing on Saturday - 1000 feet elevation gain to Jamul all in one chunk, over about 19km. We had held off our departure until just past noon, intending to arrive at our overnight stop before dark.

Turning south, we began the descent to Otay Lakes over Proctor Valley Road.


Once we had gone a short distance on Proctor Valley Road, it became an unpaved surface, and passed through some relatively wild areas before finishing the descent to Upper Otay Lake. The road surface was unfortunately very rough - wash-board, in fact - from heavy and high-speed vehicular traffic. It's a shame the surface was so abused, because the scenery out there was really pretty nice - very open and uninterrupted. But descending this road was a literal handful, so we had to focus on the road.

Finally reaching smoother terrain, we went from Fire Road to Single track closely tracing the Western shoreline of Upper Otay Lake, then emerging onto wider vehicular road, and stopping for a photo at the dam separating the two lakes.

Nick lead us down to Otay Lakes Road, unfortunately narrow (no bike lane at all!) and frequently traveled by cars, truck, RVs, etc., which we had avoided as much as possible for just those reasons. A short Westerly jog quickly connected us to Wueste Road. This is a fine little bike-friendly road, super smooth (what a nice break) that goes by the old Olympic Training Center and the west shore of Otay Lake.

Back to dirt just north of the Water Treatment Plant, we carefully picked our way down to the floor of a the gorge where Otay River runs (according to the map, anyway). We stayed in the gorge on good dirt roads under the 125 freeway, and eventually struck a paved road just East of Soak City Water Park. Continuing West past Soak City, our route connected us to Palm, then Beyer, and finally Coronado Ave., which we rode all the way to the Pacific Ocean. I'll admit I was pretty beat by this time. In fact, I was riding in survival mode, managing a few sustained efforts interspersed with near exhaustion. Nick was patient and didn't mind my yo-yoing. We backtracked a couple of blocks to a friendly neighborhood dive for a Cerveza and some Mexican food to restore our (my) resolve, then headed North up the Silver Strand, stopping shortly before dusk near Silver Strand State Park.





Although outside the park, there are nice picnic facilities (with decent restrooms and running water) on the East side of the penninsula. Unfortunately, camping isn't permitted at this facility, so we rested a while, watched the sunset and freshened up before pushing on to find a place to sleep.

I was dog-tired. It had been a really long day for me, especially those last few westbound miles before dinner. I'm sure Nick thought he'd need to tow me the last little way, but I managed it - barely - under my own power. Too much couch, not enough bicycle had taken their toll!

We woke in the morning to a curious sunrise - no sooner had the sun cleared the mountains East of Downtown than it started creeping above the blanket of inversion layer covering the bay and West San Diego County, so we only had a few minutes of full-strength sun before the usual coastal morning weather resumed. I enjoyed the show, frankly.


We breakfasted at Clayton's Coffee Shop in Coronado (Huevos Rancheros for me - noticing a pattern?). Clayton's is my favorite place in Coronado - it apparently hasn't been re-decorated since the '40s. No, I don't mean it was MADE to look that way, like, say a Ruby's... I mean it has been there since then, unchanged! Still serves good food, promptly, with a smile, and for a very modest price. Look them up. Drive over the bridge JUST to eat there - it's worth it.

Of course, bicycles can't be on the bridge, so we rode to the Ferry landing (got there a bit early and had to hover a while), and ended up at the 5th avenue landing - a very curious place for a ferry landing - right in there among multi-zillion dollar yachts that were such an ostentatious display of wealth and excess... well, it was simply a-m-a-z-i-n-g.

We kept to the bike path west along Harbor Drive, past the Airport and into Point Loma. Crossing up to Catalina, I decided this was the Achile's Heel of the ride. I must find a better connection to Catalina, Talbot is a WALL. Next time, I'll use Chatsworth, I guess...

We had decided to ride to Cabrillo National Monument. The road out there is really nice, traffic courteous, lots of cyclists around.

Nick was struck by Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery on the South side of the road. Somber.

As the sun broke through, we doubled back at the entrance to Cabrillo National Park, and I was grateful that most of the climbing was now over. Catalina is a fine ride in either direction, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. We worked our way carefully through OB, finally crossed to Bacon St., and then up to Robb Field. Nick wanted to check the Skate Park there, because a couple of his buddies were supposed to be there. We lucked out - they hadn't left (barely) yet, and Nick got to say 'hey'.

Back on the bike trail Eastbound to Pacific Highway, then South through Old Town and up Washington Street to University, then through Hillcrest. We were again impressed by the 'Tour de San Diego' nature of the ride. We'd covered a lot of varied terrain, diverse roadway and culture on this route, for sure. And our timing was good, it was just past noon and shady on the patio of Mama Testa. An order of Tres Cochinitos and a Cerveza for me!


After lunch, I had renewed mental resolve, but fatigue had a firm grip on my legs. It was a slow ride the last 10 miles home to La Mesa, but this has been a fun trip. Nick has got me hooked on this - I look forward to more overnight trips this summer.

Lessons learned:
  1. My Brooks B-17 Standard saddle was amazingly comfortable, in spite of my lack of saddle-time over the last few months and the the relatively short time I've owned it (less than 500 miles). Nick had the same saddle on his Surly and has had no complaints in a month of daily commuting.
  2. We over-packed, and my bike doesn't seem to like a bag on the bars (shimmy-shimmy). Next Time I'll pack lighter, and have a rear rack (I don't like the look of them, but ya gotta go with what works, right?).
  3. Nutrition - next time I will gobble down energy-packs more frequently, and I'll be in better condition!
  4. Attitude - My nephew and riding buddy Nick is one of those rare folks with a truly adventuresome spirit. His positive attitude made this trip a joy when it could have gone bad (I was nowhere near ready physically, for this trip). He didn't make me feel like I was slowing us down or a drag on the ride (although I was). He treated me as a peer. Thanks, Nick - you've set the tone for me - I'll be doing more of these rides and I'll fulfill my promise to ride much stronger the next time we do this - maybe up in your neighborhood, next time?






Saturday

Bikes

Just updated the "My Bikes" page here, as I've shifted around some components and spruced-up my bikes for the Summer.

Wednesday

Monday

Not quite

I'd intended to try to hit a hundred miles over the New Year weekend, but fell a bit short.

The weather here has been incredible - mid 60's to low 80's (depending on whether you're at the beach or inland) every day - just our normal, amazing Southern California winter weather, thank you!

Anyway, I got out late on Saturday, so opted for a short 10-mile blast to the lake and back. Tried to keep it as intense as possible, but the lake was super crowded - definitely not the place for a hot lap. It was already cooling and pre-dusk when I got back, so I decided to try to make it up on Sunday and Monday.

I got out late again Sunday and rode the 25-mile out-and-back to Adams and Park, initially intending to take a turn through downtown or maybe even Ocean Beach. When I got down to around 30th St., I was a little surprised at how much cooler and breezier it was (compared to home). Still, it was pleasant, but I decided to call Park my turnaround point, and resolved to go early and long on Monday.

When I left the house this morning, Monday at 9:30, it was just barely cool enough for the sweater I was wearing, but I had a hunch I might need it later, so I was carrying bungee cords in case I had to take it off, but hedging against cooler weather. I was only a block away from the house when I decided to turn back - that bottom bracket clunk was annoying and I decided I didn't want to fret about it on a long ride (more about the clunk in a later post). Too bad, I was really looking forward to riding the Blue bike - it felt so light and lively!
After transferring the water bottle and saddlebag to the single-speed Relic, I was on my way, and planning to do a 100K loop up to Del Mar, over the Hwy 56 bike trail and home - an ambitious ride for an old fart on a single-speed, but I've been riding a bit stronger lately, so I decided to go for it. I could always use public transportation for my bail-out plan, right?
I shed the sweater on the first climb, only 2 miles from home. It was gloriously warm and sunny, and looked like it would be a great ride day. Once I got down into the San Diego River Valley, I was glad I'd opted for the sweater and put it back on after getting to Mission Bay Park. The ride from the bay up the coast was fine, and I even felt pretty strong going up Gilman, chatting with a fellow cyclist, staying in the saddle about 3/4 of the way up, finally dismounting to walk it only up the last 70 yards or so, then re-mounting as soon as it leveled a bit, then up through the UCSD campus and over to Torrey Pines Rd. Coming down Torrey Pines grade, I was almost wishing I'd had something warmer than the sweater, but it proved to be enough once I started pedaling again.

The bike path next to Hwy 56 is really nice - rolling, clean, smooth, and quite scenic in spots. I wanted to take pictures for this post, but didn't want to fuss with digging in the saddlebag to get my phone.

Turning south on Black Mountain Road saw me doing more hike-a-bike, mostly because I was feeling a little gassed and my right knee was getting sore. Once I made it to Mira Mar road, the going was pretty easy, mostly downhill through Kearney Mesa and down to the Stadium. I was dreading the climb up to La Mesa, certain I'd be doing a lot of walking on my (now very tender) knee, so I opted for the bail-out, taking the trolley from the Stadium to within 1-1/2 miles of home.

It was a fine way to start the year, and sets a good benchmark (about 90 miles) for me to surpass. I intend to work up to 100-mile weekends in the spring (on a geared bike), and hopefully 100-mile days shortly after that, and perhaps even 200K brevets before year-end.