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Too little time – June 12, 2010

Posted by Bill in Equipment, Photography.
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My intention has been to regularly post the photography generated by the request from the kind people at the California State Fair for the benefit of the Pedaling to Adventure bicycle exhibit, and my blogging time has been overridden (pun intended) by the balance of life.  My apologies to friends who have been looking for promised posts.

Quite apart from this photo assignment has been the infrastructure of my ride, the ways and means by which it can happen.  Without the ride, there is no blog.  As mentioned before, my wife has joined me in this interest such that our life includes the bicycle, in in a form that gives me enormous pleasure.  She is the true foundation & rebar of my bicycle infrastructure.

Earlier posts have detailed the process of the ’08 Madone 6.9 coming into existence, with its debut last February.  bicycle madone 6.9I built this thing up from parts acquired through a number of sources – see those posts – but the combining of parts alone, without the finesse of experience, does not let one of these lovely bikes sing.  I have thrown together kids’ bikes from scrounged parts, and they worked fine.  What I did not understand was that the tolerances of adjustments in bikes designed to go fast with little mass were well beyond the instincts of a newbie.  A half degree on the angle of a derailleur hanger is critical.  Whodathunk?

So meet Brendan:

Brendan, at City Bikes Citrus Heights

Brendan not only did the final tune and handle bar wrap for my Madone, when the bike turned up with an annoying tick coming from the rear wheel, he cheerfully rechecked the tune, finding (and repairing) a very slightly out-of-true hanger.  This photo collection for the state fair could not be complete without due credit.  I already have a link to City Bicycles on this blog, as they have brought me great pleasure and security that someone in this town knows what they’re doing with bikes, and does it cheerfully and with passion in what has to be a very competitive business.  If you know City Bicycles, don’t feel you need to schlep into downtown Sac to get the job done.  Go see Brendan in Citrus Heights, on Greenback just west of Sunrise.


Sunset at Sunrise May 7, 2010

Posted by Bill in Photography.
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Whether you’re an Eppie’s Great Race’er or a bicyclist craving a break, the old footbridge next to the Sunrise bridge has been an attraction for a very long time.fisherman at sunrise footbridgeWhether you’re under it or just passing over, the community has preserved this icon of the parkway for all of us.two bicycists riding from the bridgeWhile nearly all of these photos were taken from the American River Parkway bike trail, I’ll admit I had to hike a few feet away from it for this shot… the day was late, the angle of the light superb, and the water caught the light as only sunset riffles can…old fair oaks bridge over the american river

William Pond Park April 29, 2010

Posted by Bill in Photography, Reflection.
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Photography and bicycling.  Applying one’s art to one’s love can be tricky and frustrating, I find, because the expectations rise so very high that one address the other with quality.  While I’m usually pretty satisfied with my adequate photography, I don’t find automatic satisfaction here.  The process has been very satisfying, but my assessment of the product finds it lacking.

William Pond Park is a centrally-located and attractive watering hole/rest stop/gathering place used by most regulars on the bike trail.

This couple obliged with a repeat of a performance they had enacted spontaneously just moments before:

couple at william pond park

This WAW recumbent is a work of art in itself… combat-ready: [do you ride it? drive it? fly it?]

WAW recumbent cycle

The parkway bike trail; a good place for friends…

two women on road bikes

and yourself; you and two wheels…

cyclist on the bike trail

Wildlife on the bike trail April 21, 2010

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Biking on the American River Parkway is about more than escaping text-messaging drivers.  Sacramento living can truly suck if you are limited to the 80/50 corridors, forever at the mercy of white pickup trucks and lowered Honda Civics pretending to be boom boxes on wheels.  There is a thirty mile-long retreat waiting for you…

Two more images for you.  The first of a critter I complained earlier would not hold still:

jack rabbit in the grass

"I am invisible!"

Next is an image that, for the life of me, I just do not understand why I like so much.  Is it the explosion of flowers to the crown?  Is it the dashing red pigment?  Something about it just reeks of vitality, so maybe that’s the GeezerWheel connection.  At any rate, if you hurry down to the Parkway prior to our lovely 110 degree weather, you’ll be treated to sights like this one at the foot of the Howe Avenue bridge.

grass plants

Sunrise on the Parkway April 12, 2010

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These days, to get across the river to ride toward Folsom, one needs to navigate the Worm Hole Time Tunnel that is the Sunrise Bridge pedestrian walkway.  It gets a little creepy when some fool stops mid-span to take pictures.sunrise bridge pedestrial walkway

However, the rewards of making your way to the Lake Natoma side are yours for the peddling. Birds on the lake, it should be said, favor the north side nearest the bike trail and furthest from lake-level development on the south shore. Egrets and great blue heron nest in trees on the north side, and sights like these water-landing Canada geese are common:lake natoma canada geese coming in for a landing

Beyond the iPhone April 10, 2010

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Photography for a cyclist on the American River Parkway bike trail is something of a love/hate experience.  I’ve shot a fair percentage of those places I’ve called home over my life, and a much smaller percentage of those I haven’t.  This blog, however, hasn’t been about photography.  It’s been about riding, speed, conditioning, feelings about getting older, blah-de-blah.  The pics have been there to keep your eyeballs and imaginations entertained.

It seems, though, that images on this blog have attracted the attention of the California State Fair, so I am motivated to shift the focus of this blog, for the coming months at any rate, to the visual end of things.  I’ve been asked to contribute images of the views we cyclists take for granted as we travel the parkway for a cycling exhibition at the fair this July in Sacramento, so this is what you’ll be seeing here for a while.  It’s hard work, I find.  Putting miles under me with an occasional “oh wow!” at the scenery, whipping out the iPhone for a snap underway is not the same as photographing it.  I’ve been retracing those miles, now stopping for a setup and shoot.  Here’s one of my first scores:

couple enjoying the river off the bike trailThis couple was gracious enough to let me record their blissful respite.  They’ve been all over, traveling on two wheels to see those places in the world they need to see.

Encounters with great people like this are just part of what makes the parkway a special place for cyclists.  If you’re too busy getting ready for a race or you’ve got time-cramped weight loss goals to reach to occasionally enjoy the other people on two wheels, don’t worry; there’s time.  Or is there?

Camera work on the parkway is real work.  At least it feels like work because my modus transportatus, my pleasure place, is interrupted by frequent photo setups.  Having the question in my mind “Feel the stroke, pace the breath, hydrate, relax” replaced by “What views would be important to share here?” as I ride is a fantastically different experience.  However, like all good work, the rewards are unexpected and surprisingly real.

The parkway holds wildly diverse rewards, and I use the word “wildly” with purpose.  I discovered that jack rabbits and turkeys are none too fond of cyclists stopping, taking off a backpack, opening that backpack, removing a camera, and setting up for a shot.  Sad, as they are frequent companions, along with the occasional coyote and rattlesnake.  This dude, however, was more than willing to hang out within telephoto range as he went through his mating display:great blue heron mating display

This great blue heron joins the river otters, salmon, egrets, endless birds, deer, and (if I don’t mention them they’ll get me sure) the kamikaze squirrels that frequent the bike trail.

The above-mentioned turkey that wouldn’t hang around for my dismount & setup was, in fact, almost hit by a cyclist who had the good sense to slow to a crawl as the hen watched him approach from her vantage point, just off the pavement.  She, of course, opted to cross directly into a collision course.  His laugh scared her into the grass; a welcome outcome considering the alternative.

If you love the parkway as I do, watch this space.  I’ll be adding shots over the coming weeks, with versions of them hopefully to be selected for display at the fair.

I don’t care what they say February 15, 2010

Posted by Bill in Equipment, Reflection.
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After today’s inaugural 20 miles on my “new” build Madone, nobody can ever tell me that a non-racer geezer doesn’t belong on a race bike.  Well, they can tell me, but now I have no reason to listen, without a moment’s doubt.

madone 6.9 inaugural run Why should the pleasure of easy climbs followed by acceleration off the crest unlike anything a heavy bike can produce be reserved for young team and pro riders?

There is no practical and age-appropriate machine for any particular individual or age group.  If you want to feel a snappy turn and you want your bike to shift effortlessly, without hesitation or grumble, you find a way to make that happen for you.

After this build, giving me a truly awesome ride at 15 pounds 2 ounces (with pedals, without water & tools), I have something that tells me in uncomfortably unforgiving terms that the only limitation is the rider and the condition thereof.  This bike screams “Come on!” as I think about how to spend my time.  Do I take advanced training in Tivo programming, or do I divert into the garage and spin for awhile?

Posts to come will have more to do with returning to a higher level of conditioning at a certain age.  WIsh me luck.  Or better yet, join me.

I’d like to thank the Academy… January 31, 2010

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madone almost finished

When I stepped back after the laying on of WTB Vigo saddle and Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels, the message I had to suppress was, no joke, “Nobody’s going to let you get on that, you know.”

Still missing bar tape, a chain, pedals, and tuning, but this puppy knocks me out.

This Geezer’s 2008 Trek Madone 6.9 Pro…

Thank you, Danielle…

Closing in on the thrill January 31, 2010

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The one part of this project that offered me any heartburn at all, save the international flavor and “how the hell can all this stuff actually go together?” anxieties (previous post), was the thought of starting cabling from scratch.  I’ve had a sufficient number of binding cable runs, etc., to know that it’s not automatically successful, and I was less than happy about learning on this build.  Fortunately, I stumbled into my nearest (almost nearest) Trek dealer, City Bicycle Works in Citrus Heights.  There the neighborly mechanic not only sold me some of his personal stock of hard-to-find (in Sacramento at any rate) SRAM white cable housing, he gave me the quick tour of which fittings go with which kind of housing, the difference between brake and derailleur housing, how to cut it, the works.  madone with cablesHis significantly younger helper, not to be outdone, demonstrated skills with hand motions and eyebrows in thumbs-up expressions of support and good will.

The Citrus Heights City Bicycle Works store is the corner hardware store version of the City Bicycle Works kingdom.  You want people who’ll take the time to bring you to understanding, this is the place.

If you look closely at the lever positions, no, they are not quite in the right spot, but everything works like a champ.

Oh, and brakes… why does Campy sell front brakes with backing inset nuts that are too short for 90% of all forks out there?  Is that to keep their advertised weight down?

Campagnolo, I had translated what I have to say to you about that:

Ciò è una strategia stupida.

Brilliant engineering… January 31, 2010

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madone frame with cranksetThis build began with a modest degree of fear.  I have built a number of machines in my time, and I have repaired that which was built by its builder, with all the parts coming from the same source.  Or, at least the parts at one time started out fitting together, and leaving in completed form from the same place.

This build, however, was anything but that.

Frame: American; Waterloo, Wisconsin; used, via Ebay.

Drivetrain: Italy (pretty, but have you seen that tower in Pisa?)

Other parts: China (very glad there’s no dog food in this bike)

Installing the Campagnolo Record Ultra Torque bottom bracket was nothing less than an affirmation of my faith in international community of engineers.  OK, maybe the European Space Agency and NASA can’t keep their feet and meters straight when they jointly send something to Mars, but when Campy and Trek put their heads together in this revolutionary bottom bracket design, they totally got it spectacularly right.  Once the hard-to-find Loctite products arrived (primer from San Diego, adhesive from butt-nowhere), the BB went together in about five minutes.  I had to stand and wipe grease from my hands multiple times just to slow down the experience.  It’s beautiful, it’s light… I pity the poor slobs who pay someone else for the pleasure of installing it.