Thursday, March 29, 2007

Fairies Wear Boots n' You Gotta Believe Me

Yeah I saw it, I saw it, I tell you no lies
Yeah fairies wear boots and you gotta believe me
I saw it, I saw it with my own two eyes.

My morning commute isn't always marked by Flipper-baby townie morons questioning my sexual orientation, some days it's simply magical. The location is Conant road in Weston between 117 and 20 if you want to see this scene for yourself.

Harvard Ride

This past saturday I met up with Chris, Zeke, and Pete in Davis Square which is in Somerville Massachusetts, not in California last time I checked for a four or so hour ride out to Harvard Massachusetts which is also not in California. It was a lovely day and we were all overdressed except for Zeke who rides with a lock in his pocket, baggie shorts, and has a tattoo of Howard Blackburn (a guy who literally rowed his fingers off after getting lost at sea in a winter storm) on his calf. He doesn't complain about cold knees.

By the time we crested Oak Hill Road out of Littleton Chris was crashing, he needed food, I promised him relief in the form of the quaint old general store in Harvard center...the one that is now closed. Oops. Lucky for him (and me) there were these nice old dudes selling crates of oranges on Harvard common. "Gentleman, just take whatever you need, don't worry about it".
They kind of saved the day.

We had ridden into a headwind about the whole way out and as is often the case in New England the wind changed direction for the ride home, it was even blowing east-west on Mass Ave. I felt so opressed I was ready to call Kofi Annan (even though he's not the Secretary General of the U.N. anymore I'm just not ready to joke about calling Ban Ki-Moon yet, although his name is fun to say too...I'll probably warm up to him).

I didn't tell anyone but on the way home I was stressing about getting to UPS before five so I went to the front and basically time trialed home. I made it to UPS with four minutes to spare, I felt like I had won a Tour Prologue.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Come back from San Francisco

Alright this is my last California post, I promise. I don't race until the 21st of April, whatever are we going to talk about until then? I suppose I can share tales of the commute, tally up how many people I flip off, scream at, and baselessly threaten with violence. It is funny (I use the term loosely here) that one can swerve at a cyclist, squeeze them to the curb, do basically whatever belligerent thing they want with their motor-driven 2,000 plus pound hunk of steel but if they picked up a two pound 2 X 4 and waved it at someone they would get maced, tazered, wrestled to the ground, and end up with a knee on their neck courtesy of the nearest man in blue. Funny.
So yes, California, my last night there I went out to Dinner with the Robbseses, Indian, very good, very interesting to read about I know. Zoe is wicked cute, she gets two photos in this piece.

After that Big D. Robb and I hit The Zeitgeist, San Francisco's premiere pedal-biker bar for few Bear Republic Racer 5's. Then it started to hail, yes hail, in San Francisco, insane. It lasted all of forty seconds but it was still just bizarre. It wasn't as crazy as "Thunder-Snow". Does it make anyone else nervous that they are coming up with new names for weather occurences in our lifetime? I just hope I'm not around when it starts "Fire-Raining" or "Angry Rabid Ferret Flooding".

Yes, and after a couple beers I think it's a good idea to take macro shots of gnarly bathrooms, it's true.

Cheese Factory Ride/ Tamarancho with The One-Headed Cerberus

This is another one of my favorite rides out of Fairfax. You head out Sir Francis Drake, start a ten minute climb two minutes into the ride, descend down toward Lagunitas, then bang a right and head over to Nicasio Valley. On this day I was riding into a 20 MPH headwind straight out of the west, normally I can make it to The Cheese Factory in less than an hour, it took me an hour and fifteen minutes, of course the rip home took well under an hour and I felt like perhaps the Brie I sampled at The Cheese Factory was spiked with amphetamines and EPO. That's really the best part of this samples at The Cheese Factory, you gotta do it. The usually have some sick Brie deal as well which leads to me riding home with jersey pockets stuffed with delicious cheeses which are well beyond room temperature by the time I get back.

When I got back from my morning Cheese Ride, I grabbed a coffee in Downtown Fairfax, as I ordered I observed a very large, agitated Mentally Challenged individual cutting a Newspaper to ribbons with safety scissors muttering unintelligibly all the while as an aged folk singer sang about impeaching the president, that's Fairfax for ya. After coffee and a snack I went back to the house, hopped on my friend Pete's Intense Dually, wrangled Maggie the dog out of the house and went back up to Tamarancho to see how the other fully suspended and geared other half live. I was all bluster for the first half of the ride, but after lugging that beast (not the dog, the bike) around for an hour I was a diminished man. I couldn't let Maggie see any signs of weakness or I was gonna be dog food for sure.

It took some Dog Whisperer tricks to get her to stop being a total crackhead, nipping at my feet, running donuts around me, by the time we reached ride's end we had come to an understanding. We actually picked up another dog as well, this one had the tendency to run in front of me then stop suddenly, after a couple collisions she wised up and took to staying behind me as Maggie ran point, acting as an unattainable rabbit to my lethargic Greyhound.
I rode myself into a dark place, hadn't been that tired on the bike in a long time, but it wasn't anything a couple bombers of Muylan's Double IPA and some pizza couldn't fix.

Tamarancho/Solstice Rigid Ride

It was a rainy saturday in Fairfax, I'd heard there was a road ride going off from the Golden Gate Bridge, I don't like road riding in the rain unless I'm commuting, actually I don't like that either but I have to do it, so I do. My buddy Bru called me up, said he wanted to go off road, he was willing to ride from his place in the city to the Marin side of The GG bridge, the least I could do was pick him up. By the time we were ready to ride it was almost nice out, we set out for Tamarancho, all of three blocks from the house. I was riding my friend Pete's Zion rigid single speed as a sort of experiment,
Bru was on his rigid Pink Bianchi SS, which was personally bequeathed unto him by (drunk) Sky Yeager herself.
Tamarancho is like the Middlesex Fells of Marin, if you are in the know it is beyond "played out" but like Paradise loop it works just fine for a guy from Somerville on winter vacation. We ripped through Tamarancho at a good pace then opted to head up the B-17 Extension over Sir Francis Drake to Solstice, a terrifying decent even when it's dry. out.

The hike up Gunsight was fun, I suppose you could ride your 22 X 34, the SSes weren't havin' it. The rain picked up as we went, I was bordering on extreme discomfort but staying quiet about it. Solstice was INSANE in the rain, on the rigid, with nothing but road miles under my belt, there was a whole lot of hand shaking out going on. Only a bit of it was totally unrideable, the bit pictured below. I've ridden it on a dry day with suspension (135mm of it)you have to shoot it, you can't just scooch down it riding your rear brake.

By the time we hit Terra Linda for the paved spin out back to Fairfax I was pretty close to Hypothermic, but knew it would all be over soon.

A couple years ago I was in a similar position to Bru, cold and wet and far from home, but my ride buddy had to meet some folks for Sushi so he dropped me at a train station while he went home to take a hot shower...I haven't really spoken to him since. Needless to say I made Bru ride back to the city in the rain, on a single speed, it took him like three hours too. The abused becomes the abuser. I kid, he got a ride home, I got a Burrito out of it and everybody was happy and warm and dry and Bru still speaks to me.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Now I Wanna Beat Your Dog

Cascade Canyon is an amazing spot right near Fairfax center ( in Marin County CA). When I was residing in the area this time last year me and the she-demon you see in the photos here (she answers to the name "Maggie", her true name cannot be spoken by men, our tongues will not form the sounds which comprise it) spent a lot of time up there. I found it very relaxing watching her tear the earth apart, kick the living crap out of rocks submerged in streams, and launch off the edge of fire-roads down steep ravines (I often facilitated this behaviour by throwing sticks over the edge).

The really fun part of any trip to cascade with Maggie (or a trip anywhere with Maggie) is that she whines, barks, runs circles in the back of the car, and drools on the back of your neck the entire way there, thankfully the drive to Cascade is a just a few minutes. On the way home she's a veritable lamb.

Cascade Canyon is also the place where the famed "Re-Pack" downhill finishes up, I never did get a chance to check it out, maybe next time.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Yup, still writing about Cali here, at this rate I'll be caught up in time to post my Single Speed World's report (september 2nd).
It was raining in the AM, not looking like a good day for the riding of the bikes.
I sat in front of the computer looking up guitar tab for Dylan songs and drinking coffee after coffee. Around three it cleared up so I set out for a short ride, shortly into the short ride it began raining again, awesome. I went back for my rain jacket, retrieved it and set back out for the Golden Gate Bridge, as I neared the bridge the weather began to look downright lovely. I continued on to Sausalito, instead of heading up the bike path for a loop on Paradise which would inevitably end with blinky lights on I opted to ride as far up Tam as I could before dark, telling myself that I would turn around at dusk and head for home, here's where the bad decisions start piling up.

It was cold on the mountain, and I was climbing, I stopped to pilfer a newspaper from a driveway to shove in my jersey. When I hit the junction with the Panoramic highway I decided to continue on up to the peak "thinking" that I would call my friends Pete and Mo and ask them if I could pick up their car in Fairfax and take it back to the city (I was to house sit for them over the weekend so I though this would expedite the process of lugging my gear up to Marin). First reception on the mountain, second was already getting dark and it's an hour or so to Fairfax, third problem it began raining, cold, cold rain and I was cold while it was still dry. By the time I hit the decent into Fairfax it was pitch black, I was soaked thoroughly, and my blinky was not doing much to illuminate the way as I railed down the winding road to town, waiting for cars to approach so I could latch onto them like a remora on a shark and use their light to guide me. I was completely spent at the bottom of the hill but I couldn't get out of the big ring, my hands had stopped working. Initially as I set out on this endeavor I thought that if Pete and Mo weren't home I would simply ride the hour and twenty minutes back to San Francisco, in the state I was in there was no way that was happening. I shambled into their house and stood shivering in the hallway trying to raise one of them on the cell. I got Mo, after an extra small amount of small talk she told me she had just pulled up in front of the house...maybe there is a God, a god who smiles upon me... then again that would be the same god who allows Genocide and all sorts of other bad, bad things to occur, so maybe there isn't a god, or if there is he simply has no nuts whatsoever.
After a hot shower, the loan of some sweats, and a feast comprised of two varieties of Kettle Chips, a strawberry milk shake, a veggie cheeseburger, fries, and several Marin IPAs I was back amongst the living. I would live to make stupid choices and nearly die another day.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Rest Day

And on the 6th day I rested. The day started out so damn crappy that I had no intention of riding, I just got in that mode and stuck with it. My buddy Dave and I set out with his daughter Zoe for a stroll to Noe Valley, had some lunch, and did some record shopping. Zoe is adorable, I took some photos, that's about it.

Monday, March 05, 2007

A Place of Wind and Ghosts (Ok, just wind)

After the tuesday night ride I crashed on Pete and Mo's couch in Fairfax, I was awoken by Maggie the dog (she would turn the Dog Whisperer into The Dog Crying for his Mama-er-rer) licking the back of my head. I had to get back to the city and the weather wasn't looking to shabby so I got on the bike and took off up Sir Francis Drake toward Point Reyes.
Of course the very second I got out the door the deluge began and kept up for an hour, just when I was about to turn back and hop a ferry or take the valley back to San Francisco it let up. This ride is beautiful, you come into Point Reyes Station from the north on Highway 1, stop for pastry at The Bovine Bakery,
then roll down the coast through Eucalyptus groves back to the city. This day the headwind was strong but the rain stayed away, I know the ride well enough that I was gauging my effort appropriately, what my gauge didn't account for was the fact that the highway was out after Stinson Beach, I mean GONE, it was cliff with the Pacific churning 700 feet below, yikes.
So my busted-ass had to turn and climb up most of Mt. Tam to get down to Mill Valley and back to the city. One thing I was psyched about as I hit the ridge (besides the obvious fact that I was done climbing) was that I got to take a look at the former home of the now deceased Dieter Dengler, subject of the Werner Herzog documentary "Little Dieter Needs to Fly"
he is kind of a hero of mine. I highly recommend the film, it's on Netflix, check it out, you won't be sorry, makes Grizzly Man look like "Uncle Buck".

Finally made it back to town about 4.5 hours after leaving Fairfax, went straight to El Toro on Valencia and got myself a burrito sent by the gods. I had to say it was a good day.

Hamana "Mo-Ron" Tuesday Night Ride

Here's where things get more interesting.
When I was living out west last winter I fell in with this crew called
"Team Hamana". They are a group of hardcore riders who go out rain or shine and climb up Mt. Tam for an hour in the dark, risking hefty fines from Rangers, all so they can descend some of the sickest singletrack on earth. They are alright. I was only in town for a week and I had one opportunity to hit one of these rides so tuesday afternoon I rode the road-type bike the 25 miles from San Francsico to Fairfax to meet up with them. Many of the usual suspects were there: Ron Bolds on his Steelman Cyclocross SS, Pete Verdone on his $250 Zion beer-can frame with a $1000 parts group, Mo (the Mo in "Mo-Ron)), Russ, "Fuzzy" Eric, Karen, Craig, and another guy who's name I'm forgetting. I borrowed Pete's five inch travel Intense Something or other 38Lb. dually.

I had only ever ridden my hardtail SS on these trails so this was new and awesome to me. The thing climbed like a guy in four layers of cotton clothing swims, but the pay off was the descent, I was actually able to keep up with Pete "if I'm not eight feet in the air, going forty miles an hour I'm bored" Verdone for the first time ever, I did mention he was on a crappy cheap-ass hardtail didn't I? I can also beat up a woman and some midgets.
What really sets a Hamana ride apart is the safety brake portion. Folks bring pies, cookies, fruit, Pringles, assorted tasty weirdness, and "Candy Juice", allegedly a Swiss Rum, it looks like hydraulic brake fluid and tastes like BURNING (thanks Ralph Wiggum). No Mo-Ron ride would be complete without the sensation of this vile potion bubbling back up your gullet every time you pedal up a rise.

After waiting a while for hill climb winner Ron "I brought a 'cross bike to an MTB ride to find out what riding a 29er is all about" Bolds to descend back to the parking lot we headed back into Fairfax for tex-mex and BEER. Great success!