It’s official! I’m a member of the Tarik Saleh Bike Club

Tarik Saleh hat 2Tarik Saleh buttonsTarik Saleh Dalek Tarik Saleh is  very nice  guy who has had an awesome blog for years, and  runs a very cool bike club with two simple rules:

1.  Ride Bikes

2. Don’t be an Ass.

I bought two of his awesome cycling caps, once of which I am wearing above. He sent me a bunch of great club buttons too, but unfortunately one was taken by the miscreant you can see above. He’s always an ass and going on and on screaming “EXTERMINATE!” all the time. Don’t really know what his deal is.

Maybe if he rode a bike, he’d be less of a jerk.

Anyway, the hats are great. They fit really well, are  super comfy, and makes me look uber-cool to boot. Tarik  might still have some hats, so click the link above if you are interested.  The hats are all handmade by RandiJo Fabications.  She has other great stuff too, so you might want to check her site.

So as far as the rules of the club,  I got rule #1 down.  I ride everywhere. Hate using the car unless I have to. In fact,  I got an Xtracycle  a few months ago for cargo trips and even more recently ordered a stokemonkey, which is an electric motor designed specifically for longtail bikes like the Xtracycle, which will allow me to carry my wife on the back of my bike as well as our dogs in their trailer up a 20% grade to our weekly dog training classes. I am also hopeful that I can talk her into doing some local bike camping as well. Very excited about that possibility.

As far as Rule #2 goes?… Work in progress.

Ty

Xtracycle to the Rescue!

I’ve had my Xtracycle for a few months now and have found it very handy for a lot of purposes:  Shopping, taking my wife and our dogs for a Sunday ride, E-recyclables to E-Waste, etc. I’ve read on other blogs about other owners finding things along the road. Furniture,  knickknacks, etc., but that hasn’t happened with me. At least, not yet…

Last night, I went on my weekly pizza run  Papa John’s with my pizza warming system ready. I wrote about this recently here. While on the way, I saw one of my coworkers from work walking down the street. To protect her identity, We’ll call her Lily L.

Anyway, I don’t usually see her walking in this area, thought nothing of it, waved hi to her. I was about to ride on when she looked up, recognized me and said, “Ty! Ty!” and seemed a bit distressed. I pulled my bike on over and she said she had parked her car near the train station that morning, but couldn’t find it now. She asked me if I could look for it for her. I pointed to the rear deck of my bike and showed her the foot rests and stoker bar (passenger handlebars, which you can see below if you look closely,

Ty's Xtracycle with Doggyride mini

and said “You can hop on and come with me.” She looked at it and said ok and got on. I checked to make sure she was ready and off we went

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Lily looked for her car, and then within a minute  exclaimed “Oh my gosh! I parked at the other train station in Belmont! My car is nowhere near here!” I told her no problem as Belmont was only two miles away. We set off down the road.

Lily thanked me profusely as she would have had to call a cab otherwise, as nobody was home to pick her up. She seemed to really enjoy the ride and kept commenting on how fun it was and kept asking if I was ok, as I was doing all the work. I said no problem as it was good training for me and her light weight was no burden at all. Image

We got to train station and I let her off saying, “That will be $20.”

Just kidding…

But maybe I do have a future career in pedal cabbing?

Carrying Pizza on an Xtracycle!

So I decided one of the things I wanted to do once I got the Xtracycle set up was to go get my own pizza on the bike. I could have done it with the CETMA five rail rack on the front, but it would have been more awkward.

The main issue with going to get your own pizza is coming back with it warm. I don’t mind cold pizza the next day, but hate it when I first get it from the pizza place. So first step was to get my own pizza bag. I  did extensive research on the subject – basically went to Amazon and spent five minutes looking at reviews, and got this one.

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Next step was going into the realm of invention. I knew the bag would keep it warm, but I wanted it go come home piping hot. What to do? I got the idea to get a warming pack from a pet bed we have. It has a heavy round plastic insert that is microwaved and radiates heat for a couple of hours. I wanted to get one  that fits well in a pizza box, so found this one Image

that is designed for people who take casseroles to pot luck, church social., etc

 

 Then I got a medium-sized pizza box from the good folks at my local Papa John’s and crudely put a bunch of venting holes on top.

 

 It is the right size for the warming pack. It won’t move around too much. The warming pack assembly goes in the pizza bag, and the fresh pizza goes on top. Heat rises and all that…

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 Since the pizza bag is soft, I kept a couple of large pizza boxes from the last run to give it some stability. I put those on top of the warming pack, put it in the pizza bag, cargo netted the whole thing to the deck of my Free Radical, ordered two pizzas (buy one, get one free night) and off I rode the two miles to Papa Johns.

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 The Pizza guy did a double-take when he saw my pizza bag and was quite impressed by it.  “I can ‘t believe no one else thinks of this!” he said. He was also impressed by my improvised warming technology.

I put the fresh pizza in the bag and headed home.  FYI – temps were in the low 50′s. When I got home and pulled out the first piece I was immediately rewarded with piping hot pizza! The wife, who usually rolls her eyes at my ideas had to admit this was a good one.  We kept the pizza in the warming bag and took slices out as we needed them. The best part was the pizza stayed hot until we finally put the leftovers in the fridge. The only down side is that I ate almost twice as much pizza as usual. My excuse was the pipinghotedness of it was hard to resist and I did ride to go get it!!

 

 In any case, if you like pizza, I highly recommend you adopt my method. Even if you go by car <shudder> it still is nice to have it stay hot all night.

Haulin’ Plasma

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Freshly-converted Xtracycle with Doggyride mini trailer

 

 

So I got my old Specialized bike converted to an Xtracycle a few weeks ago. The conversion is taking an existing bike, and then adding what they call the Free Radical to it. It extends the rear of the bike, and lets you carry lots of stuff, including passengers.

It’s been something I’ve wanted to do for a long, long time. So far I’ve taken the dogs for a ride (above), gone to Costco, Pet Store, Smart and Final, etc. The Xtracycle can handle 350 lbs including rider, so with my current 211 lbs :(, that means I need to keep the cargo at 130 lbs max.

 

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Loaded up with 8 gallons of distilled water and 40 lbs of ktty litter. Approximately 120 lbs dry weight.

The big challenge was hauling my 2004 Pioneer 44″ Plasma TV to the E Waste at Goodwill. It was one of the earlier ones, so it weighs close 100 lbs. .Just getting it on the bike by myself and not having it fall over was a chore in itself.

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To counterbalance, I put the stand, which weighs about 6 pounds on the other side. I stuffed some shirts I was going to donate on that side as well, and set off.

The Goodwill was only two miles away on flat ground, but as soon as I got going I the bike started to shake alarmingly . This is somewhat normal with a longtail bike, but it was exacerbated by so much weight being on  one side. I was carrying less weight than when I brought back all the water and kitty litter, but that weight was distributed much better.

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With careful riding, I managed to keep the shimmy down to a minimum, get to Goodwill. 

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As I was gingerly getting off the bike, I heard a young guy say, “That’s so cool!” and gave me a thumbs-up when I looked over. In any case, I managed to offload the TV without the bike falling over, fill out my paperwork, and head home. The bike felt like a carbon fiber Trek after all that! When I got home, I cracked open a nice frosty KCCO beer (my new favorite) and congratulated myself on a job well done.

Would it have been easier and quicker  to use the car, sure. 

Would it have been a slightly nail-biting adventure, heck no!!!

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plasma tv causing bike to sway alarmingly (which you can’t see, work with me people!)

 

 

Coffeeneuring Challenge Wrap Up! Controls 6 and 7. Peets Coffee and San Mateo Coffee Company.

If you have followed any of my coffeeneuring posts you might recall that the challenge MG set up was to go to seven different coffee shops over the last six weeks. It had to be at least two miles round trip. You could only go on the weekend, you could only go once per day, and you could not go to the same coffee shop twice, unless it was a chain and they were different locations. You could combine coffeeneuring with shopping, or other errand, but you could not combine it with sanctioned ride or randonneur brevet.
I had five visits under my belt, and last weekend was my final opportunity to complete the challenge. I had to go each day. This was going to be a little tough, as there were things needing doing at the house, but I could spare an hour and a half each day for a coffeeneuring trip.
Coffeeneuring Control #6 – Peet’s Coffee, downtown San Mateo California (not the same one from Control #1!)
One of the things I had to this weekend was to pick up more beans from Peet’s. Normally, I get them at my office in San Francisco, but I forgot last Friday. I always get a half pound so that I get a free regular coffee and also because the beans are fresher that way.
I set out in the early Saturday afternoon with my Salsa Casseroll, sadly now discontinued,  and got to Peets around 2:30. Surprisingly, it was rather full and there was no place to sit at first. I maneuvered my randonneur bike over to the side wall and placed my order. 
 I asked for the beans to be ground at setting #3, which is a fine grind,  so it worked best with our Aerobie coffee press at home. I got a peppermint mocha and a piece of coffee cake. After ordering, I saw that a table had opened up and went and grabbed it.
I had never been to this Peets before, and I quickly noticed that they operated at a much slower pace than the Financial District of San Francisco. It took about five minutes to get my mocha, and there was nobody in front of me. This barista would have been quickly overwhelmed at the downtown San Francisco Peets!
Anyway, when I finally got it, it was quite tasty and went well with my coffee cake.
When I was about halfway done, I ordered a regular mocha for Tanya and put it in my thermos and took it home for her. 
Coffeeneuring Control #6 complete!
Distance: 6 miles round trip.
Coffeeneuring Control #7 – San Mateo Coffee Company
Sunday, I did a quick scan on my MacBook Pro, and saw an interesting mom-and-pop store the opposite side of San Mateo from the Peets I went to the day before. It looked to be about two miles away.
I set out at 12:30 on a very sunny  and found it very easily. Nice little place, just down the block from “Vinyl Solution” which is a used record store that I haven’t popped into in 20 years. 
Thought I might as well, so pop in I did,  and thought it strange that I knew all the music until I realized that since I am old enough to remember records, most of the music would be from the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s… my time!
Making a mental note to go back when I had more time to really browse, I walked my bike down two stores to San Mateo Coffee Company.
 
I parked my bike to the side and then went to the counter and spoke to one of the co-owners. His name was Scott and I cleverly figured out he was a bike guy after noticing his shirt:
 I ordered a cup of coffee and a couple of scones, one to bring back to Tanya.
He told me he noticed my bike right away when I walked in. He said, “I could tell you like to ride in comfort after I saw your handlebar bag and Honjo fenders.” I had to tell them the fenders were actually from Velo Orange and much less expensive. He was pretty impressed with that!
The coffee was very good, a proprietary blend of theirs. I really liked it. Scott also only charged me a buck for each pastry as “We’re about to close in and they will be day-old by tomorrow anyway, so what the heck?”  Now that’s great customer service and something only a mom-and-pop would do. Pretty cool!
Scott told me that they also made sandwiches. When I asked what kind, he said “anything you want!” and showed me a little card you fill out where you check the type of meat, bread, condiments, etc. Nice build-your-own set-up.
Oh, and they have other stuff too:
Scott told me about some of the bikes he had. One that really sounded interesting was an old tandem he bought and removed the rear cranks and stoker bars, and turned into a cargo bike. Sounded like an early xtracycle. He told me he sold it to some guy that wanted to take it to Burning Man. Sounded appropriate. Sadly, he couldn’t find any pictures.
All in all, San Mateo Coffee company was a nice little place,  and absolutely worthy of another visit. I’ll have to go back and try their sandwiches soon.
Coffeeneuring Control #6 complete!
Distance: Four miles round trip.
Final thoughts on completing my first coffeeneuring challenge.
I thought it was a cool idea when I read about the coffeenneuring challenge when MG did it last year for the first time, but for whatever reason, I never did it. I think what got me moving this year was a desire to ride more. As I said in my first post about this, I had been injured last summer in a dooring incident and was wanting to try to get out and ride a bit more. I had only ridden my first 200K a year ago, and had done two more, a couple of populaires, and a Double Century (200 miles in one day) before I was hurt. I had hopes of completing a 300K, a 400K, and perhaps a 600K.  It was very disappointing to have my riding come to a halt due to my injury.
So if I wasn’t ready for Randonneuring, then Coffeeneuring would fill in! Even though it was for short distances, I found myself looking forward to the rides. And like a brevet, I discovered new things, new places, and met some cool people and experienced things that I wouldn’t have done if not for the challenge.
The regular rides also, somehow, gave me the confidence to attempt a bit more of a physical challenge when I rode up to Mt. Hamilton with my good friend Sam last weekend, Mt. Hamilton, at 4,200 feet being the highest mountain in the San Francisco Bay Area.
It was 22 miles up and 22 miles back down. I made it all the way up to the Lick Observatory at the top, slowly, but I didn’t stop except for two five minute breaks, and I did NOT walk my bike up. My ass hurt like hell, my hand hurt like hell, and I swore I would never do it again when I was done.
It was so awesome!   (Randonneurs are weird, huh?)
Bottom line is the coffeeeneuring challenge gave me the bug to try a tough ride again. Saving my receipts, watching my time. It just got me back in the mindset, and for that I am grateful.  Now to work my up for a real brevet when the season starts again next January.

Curryneuring…or Coffeeneuring Control #5

Last weekend I was very busy and had no time for a coffeeneuring trip during the day. However, a friend and I had discussed going out for Indian food on our bikes that weekend and I thought that I could have coffee with my dinner, and hopefully that would still qualify under the rules.
We went to our mutual favorite place for Indian food, “Curry Up Now” which in downtown San Mateo, Ca. Even better for Coffeeneuring purposes, the logo incorporates a bike!
Curry Up Now started as food truck and the idea was to bring the taste of great Indian street food to the San Francisco Bay Are. The owner started with one truck in San Francisco, and quickly expanded to two. It didn’t take too long until they decided to open a brick-and-mortar operation. Luckily for me, that happened to be only 2.5 miles from my house! They are now in process of opening up a second restaurant in Palo Alto.
I discovered them initially in downtown San Francisco, which is where I work. One day as I was walking to lunch on Bush street and I saw this food truck with a line of 20 or 30 people leading up to it.
I saw it again a few days later, and then again. Thinking that it must be good to always have a long line like that, I walked closer. The smell of what appeared to be delicious Indian Food wafted toward me. That was enough for me, so I decided to try them out.
Turns out their specialty was a chicken tikka massala burrito. I had to wait almost 20 minutes to get it, but it was phenomenally delicious! How can you go wrong combining burritos with Indian food? You can’t!  After that I was hooked, and became a regular customer.
So Saturday night Sal and I set out for Curry Up Now. I rode my Surlyized bike and he rode his hybrid. We weren’t going far, and I had no fear locking this bike out front of a restaurant at night. I would not feel so comfortable with my Casseroll, along with SON generator hub and Edelux light (stay tuned for a post about that soon.)
Downtown San Mateo was really jumping. The majority of businesses are restaurants in this area, and a lot of people were going in and out them for dinner. The big theater multiplex is right there as well.
We locked up our bikes and went inside.
Sal had a deconstructed Samosa
 and I had a chicken tikka massala burrito and sexy fries (Criss-cross fries with chicken and curry sauce
To comply with the coffeeneuring rules, I ordered a Desi coffee, which is a special type of Indian coffee. I was only planning on giving it a token swig, but it was actually really good. Very sweet with cream. Not my usual taste, but a pleasant surprise.
After we finished, we loaded our stuffed selves back on our bikes and rode 2.5 miles or so home. It was a darn good meal!
I’ll have to go Curryneuring again!

Coffeeneuring Challenge Control #4 – Three Bees Coffee.

So last Sunday 10/28/12, I went to Three Bees Coffee in downtown San Mateo, CA. I found this in my search of coffee houses on google. It had the top ranking in San per Yelp in San Mateo so it looked like a good choice. Not sure why I didn’t see it last week. Maybe the rankings changed?

This was all part of the coffeeneuring challenge that I am in the middle of attempting. I have to go to 7 coffee shops by mid-November. The distance each way has to be at least three miles. I can’t do two trips in one day. It must be on the weekend.  I can combine the trip with a trip to the store, or other errand, but it can’t be combined with a sanctioned randonneur brevet.

It is about the same distance (3.5 miles each way)  as one of my previous stops, Bean St. Coffee. In fact, they are about one week apart. As I reported in my earlier post, my first trip to Bean Street Coffee ended up being my last as they closed that weekend. When I rode by it, I saw workmen inside moving equipment out of the store. Very sad indeed, but were it not for coffeeneuring, I never would have gone.

I went inside of Three Bean Coffee and thought the place looked very nice indeed.

To either side, there was some very interesting artwork.

Grouch Marx meets Grateful Dead?

Clearly this was in honor of Halloween, which was in the next few days.

I had a gingerbread latte and a piece of their coffee cake. The latte was quite nice, and she even put a little smily face in the foam! Excellent touch.

I had heard about this sort of thing of course, but had never had it myself.

I finished my latte and coffee cake and rode home.  All in all, a very nice outing.

Next week I plan on completing two more, one will be part of a 60 mile ride to Mt. Hamilton in Jose. Probably 6-7,000 feet of elevation. This will be the first real test for my hand. My max distance since the accident in July is 30 miles, and that had much less elevation.

I hope I can handle it. More importantly,  I sure hope there is coffee out there!

On the train in the bike car. Heading home. Cold, frosty Anchor Steam. Listening to my local guys call the first game of the World Series. Ahh…

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Coffeeneuring Challenge Control #2 and #3.

Bean Street Coffee, San Mateo, CA.

So this weekend I went for coffeeneuring control #2 and #3 as part of the Second Annual Coffeeneuring Challenge.

I was in a bit of a dilemma. Evidently, I am a creature of habit as I was at a loss trying to decide where to go for my second trip. You see, I pretty much always go to Peet’s coffee. Ok , not pretty much, let’s just say always.

My solution was to use Google. I just typed in “Coffee Shops San Mateo, CA,” and would see what I got. Well, the first one was Bean Street Coffee. It sounded familiar, and I realized that I had ridden by it hundreds of times on my way home from the train station, thinking ” I should go there sometime” and then never did.

So I set out last Saturday 10/20/12 to check it out. I had to ride through a pretty fierce headwind to get there, but it was only 2.5 miles, so  I managed.

I got there, parked my bike in front, and went inside.

Interior of Bean Street Coffee.

It’s a very small shop, barely room enough to stand in front of the counter and order. It has a very nice atmosphere to it, with a very friendly vibe. I ordered a cup of coffee and a piece of coffee cake and sat at one of the three small tables at the front of the store.

The coffee was very good and the pastry quite delicious. I thought to myself, “Must come back here again.” It was then that I glanced up at the wall and saw this sign announcing their closure. Last day 10/21/12.:

Sad news from Bean Street Cafe.

I felt it was somewhat bittersweet. I discovered a great new coffee shop, only to find it was closing its doors. However, if it weren’t for the coffeeneuring challenge, I never would have gone there. Thanks Coffeenuring Challenge! ;)

The next day, I went on a short 20 mile ride with a friend. I used my Salsa Casseroll for this ride, and went to the Mini Coffee shop in downtown San Mateo on the way back for Control #3. Polar opposite of Bean Street Cafe. Nothing wrong with it, but nothing special either.

The coffee was ok, and the shop owner did heat up my muffin, and that was a nice touch, but not enough to get me to come back.

My Salsa Casseroll in front of Mini Coffee.

I’m going to expand my choices for next weekend and look for something new and different. Perhaps… gasp! A different town?!

Stay posted!

How to make your own “Deflopinator.”

I am in the progress of turning my old Specialized mountain/ commuter bike, “Big Blue,”  into a cargo bike.

One of the things I needed to do was stabilize the front wheel. I noticed that when I had the bike on its dual kickstand, and there was weight in the panniers, that the front wheel would flop over and face the rear of the bike. Very annoying, as it would slam over very fast.

Weight from the panniers has lifted the front wheel off the ground. Wheel immediately flops over to one side and ends up facing the rear of the bike. Don’t like it!

I had seen a wheel stabilizer at VeloOrange and thought it looked pretty good. However, when I tried it, the down tube of  Big Blue was too large. It wouldn’t fit. Otherwise, I think it would have worked great. What to do…

In the spirit of redneck tech, two thoughts came to mind: Bungee cords, and duct tape. How to meld those tried-and-true methods into something that would work?

I had gotten a set of bungee cords some time ago in random sizes. I found a couple that were seven to eight inches long and started playing around to find a good way to employ them.

Quickly, I found that if I hooked one end around the brake mount, looped around the down tube, and then back again, it just might work.  Turns out it did, but then I was concerned that the metal ends of the bungee would end up scratching my new Surly rigid fork, so I put a small bit of used inner tube around each end, and used some gaffer’s (sorry, not duct) tape around them to give the fork some protection.

The system works very well. Not as quick of a pull-back as the VeloOrange wheel stabilizer, but I actually like it. It is more of a gentle pull, but it does keep the wheel straight when on the duel-leg kickstand. The other added benefit is that I can ride no-hands a LOT easier than I could before. It really enhances the bike’s natural tendency to go forward.

Front wheel, still pointing forward, even though weight from panniers is lifting it off the ground.

Next step is to install a similar system on my rando bike. I think I will go the VeloOrange route for that, purely for aesthetic reasons. But it really needs it too. When I have my handlebar bag full, I cannot take my hands off at all. It would be really nice to be able to access my bag and take my hands off, at least for a little bit, when I am able to ride a brevet again.

Still waiting on the hand to heal a bit more for that, but that is another story…

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