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…

This is one beautiful machine! very unique, to say the least. I want one!

Squash Practice

Ellen and I came up with the DateTrike concept after our experience with our Burning Man quadricycle demonstrated the pleasure of side-by-side tandem traveling.  What was missing from the quad, cobbled together from a pair of mountain bikes, was performance.  The quad was a lot of fun, but it was hokey even before we put the Hokey Spoke lights on the wheels.  We had a nice bench seat which provided comfort, as long as you weren’t pedaling. However, despite the performance shortcomings, the quad provided for relaxed conversation with your traveling companion, and gave you a comfortable place to sit when you arrived at your destination.

For pedaling comfort, we have found nothing much nicer than Ellen’s Sun EZ3-USX dog-running trike. Several years ago when Sammy, our friendly and energetic dog, joined our family, Ellen got the trike so that she could give Sammy a good workout. The added stability of the trike reduces the risk…

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To clip, or not to clip…

Tikit with clipless peddles

I ‘ve been debating some time about clipless vs. platform peddles. I’ve always used platforms, and have just resisted the whole idea of being “locked in.” However, after jumping into randonneuring last September, I noticed that nearly everyone who was into long-distance cycling was using them in one fashion or another.

I do fine on most of my brevets, not remotely fast, but I keep going steadily along. However, I do seem to lag on the hills. Part of this is probably training, but I am gathering that I am missing a significant advantage by not being able to pull up when locked into clipless peddles. Plus, I hear of other advantages too, such as not having to spend energy keeping feet on the peddles, being secure over bumps, not having feet slip off peddles in the rain, etc.

I asked the San Francisco Randonneurs Google Group for their recommendations and advice regarding the whole subject.  The SF Randos are a great group of people, so I was not surprised by huge outpouring of emails. One member, Gintautas, offered to loan me his Shimano SHM021 shoes and SPD 520 clipless peddles.

Gintautas’s Shimano shoes.

I met him at the Montgomery Bart station next to my office, and then went to Huckleberry Bikes to get them installed on my Bike Friday Tikit on the way home. Zach, who did my bike fit a few weeks back had urged me then to at least consider them.  My thought was I would try them on my commuter bike for a couple of days, then put them on my Salsa Casseroll for a longer test on the weekend.

While there, Keven, ace mechanic and service manager,  was kind enough to give me a lesson. It seemed pretty easy, but he did caution me to unclip whenever I came to a stop or light. He said it would eventually become second nature, but be careful and remember to do it, otherwise I might flop over.

Well, it actually came to me pretty easy. I rode through commuter traffic in downtown San Francisco, clipping and un-clipping at lights and stops on the way home. I had no problems at all and felt very smug as I pulled into the Caltrain station and prepared to go to the train to head home.

I pulled in and saw the concession stand and thought to myself, “You deserve a beer! (legal on Caltrain) You did a great job! You are clearly far superior to the rest of the un-coordinated types, who all struggled took a long time to get used to these pedals! Yes, you are awesome! You got it right away!”

So I get close to the beer stand, un-clip my right foot,  lean to  the left to reach for my wallet and…. slowly… topple over,  as my left foot was still clipped in, and I couldn’t remember how to get it loose. I remember thinking, “Oh, f*ck….” , frantically pulling at my left leg, as I fell to the ground in slow motion.

Amazingly accurate photo recreation of my fall.

I hit the ground, felt like an idiot, and hoped nobody saw me, when a couple of very nice people came over and asked me if I was ok. I said, “Thank you! I’m fine! Just a little user error!” One, a kindly senior citizen had a perplexed look on her face, clearly not understanding why I would fall over from a dead stop.

So, I got my beer, now not a self-congratulatory beer, but a consolation beer and headed home on the train.

“Back in Black,” a black IPA from local brew-pub 21st amendment, in hand. Delicious!

Consensus on the peddles?

So far, I like them! I absolutely can feel a  difference when I climb
as well as just trying to crank hard into a headwind. It is a
conscious effort to pull up, when I do I can feel the effect. It
is undeniable, so I don’t understand the view by a minority that it
makes no difference. No question in my mind that they do.

I’m not sure at this point if I want my Tikit to have them all the
time. I use my folding bike for quick trips to the store, and am not
sure that I want to change shoes every time I go for a quick jaunt to the store. But then I worry that I won’t be “used” to them for weekend rides if I don’t use them during the week. Something to consider…

I’ll keep using them for a while for sure. I really haven’t put in nearly enough miles for a full evaluation, but so far, so good!

This picture really bugs me for some reason… 😉

lomaxbike

Photographer Eco Suparman couldn’t believe his eyes when the praying mantis he was photographing jumped up onto a plant – and looked like he was going to go for a bike ride!

Student Eco, 23 said: “I took this photo in a cemetry in the Ambawang River village, Borneo Island, Indonesia.

“I was focusing on taking pictures of the mantis when I noticed the curled plants nearby.

“Straightaway I thought it looked like a bike – but I couldn’t believe my luck when the mantis walked over and climbed onto the plant.

Have you ever seen anything like it? What next a bee looking like its riding a penny farthing or a caterpillar on a Specialized S-Works! Let me know if you’ve ever seen any other animal related cycle photos!

Lomax

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My Bike Friday Tikit

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My Season Tikit after it came back for warranty repair 5/11.

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Season Tikit under my desk at work. Note the original red canvas carrying strap.

This is a testimonial I sent to Bike Friday 12/09 regarding my thoughts about my Bike Friday Tikit. I had had it about a month or two at this point. I’ll write a review of my randonneuring bike, my Salsa Casseroll, very soon.

You can see the orginal testimonial here:  

 I looked at a lot of folding bikes over the last year. Bike Friday, Brompton, Dahon etc. My wife Tanya, an avid researcher, spent a lot of time as well. She asked me, “What is important to you? Do you really need the compact fold of the Brompton, or do you want a folding bike that rides like a real bike?” That really got me thinking.

Well, I test rode a Season Tikit at Warm Planet Bikes in San Francisco, and also tried a friend’s Brompton. I also tried a Strida and a Dahon. My wife kept researching. I kept looking at bikes.

I kept coming back to Bike Friday.

I finally bought my Season Tikit a month ago after about a year agonizing over my decision.

Me with the Tikit, shortly after purchase.

It is in Green Gear Green and I have named it Kermit! (You know, “It’s not easy being green.”) It has been fantastic! I knew I would like it, but I can’t believe the difference it has made in my commute.

It has made in a huge difference in two areas primarily. One is getting on and off the train. The other is getting in and out of my building at work. I live in San Mateo, CA and commute to San Francisco, CA via Caltrain.

My Tikit, still with original solid green paint job, hiding under my desk.

With our local Caltrain, there has been a problem for years in bike capacity. At least once every couple of weeks, I was bumped from the train and had to take the next one.

http://www.sfbike.org/?caltrain_bob

Now that I have the Tikit, I get on the train with no problems. In the first two weeks alone, I was able to get on at least four trains that I would ordinarily been bumped off. The folding bike is always allowed!

My other issue has been my workplace. Frankly, it is NOT bike friendly. Before my Tikit, I had to take my bike through the loading dock, down a one-floor freight elevator to the basement, and then try to sneak my bike onto another freight elevator up to the 10th floor where my office is. I say sneak, as the building has a “NO BIKE” policy. They want me to put my bike in room designated for that purpose in the basement. Just getting my bike in and out of the office took 10-15 minutes extra, time crucial if you are trying to make the train home.

Tikit with custom leather carrying strap. Designed and made by my wife Tanya.

Well now I pull up to the front of the building, fold my Season Tikit, and walk right in and take the main elevator. The security people smile at me and nod as I go by. No hassles! I also can stick my Tikit right under my desk, so that I can easily leave in a moment’s notice. I honestly think that with the increased time I get at work, the Tikit will be paid for in no time at all!

Oh, and here’s the other thing: It is a joy to ride! The other day, a group of my fellow commuter’s asked about it. They genuinely liked it, including one friend who has Brompton with a three gear internal hub (He was jealous, in a good-natured way, about my eight year nexus hub), but one of them made a bit of a derisive comment and said his folding bike, a citizen, only cost him a few hundred dollars, and insinuated that I was stupid for spending what I did for my Season Tikit.

I noticed he had a regular commuter bike, and not a folder with him, asked him why he wasn’t riding it at the time. He said that the ride was somewhat clunky and the fold was cumbersome, but he liked it just fine. I smugly thought to myself that he just made the point of the Tikit for me. Why have a folding bike that, frankly, sucks? Why not pay for quality, and have a bike that you can actually enjoy?

Anyway, I could go on about all the other things I like about my Tikit, but I think that would require a few more pages… long story short, I am an extremely satisfied customer!

Best Regards,

Ty Smith

Submitted by: Ty Smith December 3, 2009
Update: Still riding my Tikit. Since I bought it, the train situation has improved. Now there is far more capacity, so bumping is much less of an issue. However, I still love the Tikit for quick and easy access to my office at work, and for quick trips to the store at home. Still comfy, still rides great! My Tikit will always have a place in my stable.
About a year ago, I had a problem with the folding mechanism. Since it has a lifetime warranty on the frame, I sent it in for a warranty repair.  While it was there, I had changed the solid green  to a two-tone paint job and added the updated seat mast. I also  changed its name from “Kermit” to “The Green Lantern” because of the paint job. 
 
The guys at Bike Friday surprised me with a  custom head badge when I told them the new nickname I was thinking about. It was a total surprise when I got the back back from them.  How cool was that? Just another example of the great customer service you get at Bike Friday.

Why the Crazy Randonneur, and What’s with that helmet?

So I thought I should explain why I am calling my blog “The Crazy Randonneur.”

Well, there is a “Lazy Randonneur,” a “Daily Randonneur,” so why not a crazy randonneur? I really wanted to write a blog myself. I was very much inspired by  Vik’s “Lazy Randonneur” blog, so I hope he takes this name as a compliment!

http://www.thelazyrandonneur.com/

So why the name? Well, I pondered this for a while:

Here I am, very seriously, pondering why I named my blog the crazy randonneur. hmm....

So you probably noticed the propeller on top of my helmet.  So that is really the idea. I put this on my helmet a few months ago, and got big reactions to it. Usually, people will yell out ” I love it!” as I ride by, or “Where did you get that?” Occasionally, they will ask me if it helps generate power for my lights, and I reply, “No, it’s my smile generator!”

That is really what it is for. People can’t help but smile as I ride by as the propeller on top of my helmet is spinning furiously.

But really, the whole idea came from my dog Guinness. Prior to last Halloween, my wife and I were looking for costume ideas. Yeah, yeah… I know… Pretty silly, but don’t judge us!

Anyway, he is a therapy dog and we go to dog obedience class with our friends. Every year, there is a Halloween contest. So this year, my wife and I found this great hat for him.

Guinness wearing his propeller beanie for the first time. No, he is not saying "Pa! Why did you put this on me!""

As soon as I saw it, I said to Tanya “OOOHH!! I want that! I could find one, and cut off the top, and put it on my helmet with glue…”

Forgetting all about it, a few days later she found this website that not only sells propeller hats and beanies, but also one specifically designed to be mounted on a bike hemet.

http://propellerheadhats.com/shop/

So big shock, I ordered a couple…

I wear it all the time now. I sometimes forget I have it on my helmet now, and wonder why people look at me with a bemused expression on their face. Big shock, it makes people remember me.

In fact, after my last 200k, I was at our local REI, and was just leaving when a young man on a bike asked me, “Weren’t you at the Two-Rock 200k a couple weeks back?”

I said, “I was. I’m surprised you recognized me. There were 150 people or so?”

He said, ” I probably wouldn’t have, but I remembered the propeller hat!”

So the more  brevets I ride, the more my legend grows.

Now if I only I could finish in the middle of pack, instead of at the end…

 

Vik was kind enough to post this on his “Lazy Randonneur” blog. I thought this would be another good one of his to respost, while I am trying to figure all of this out!!

The Lazy Rando Blog...

Ty’s first Brevet, The Del Puerto Canyon 200K, or “Descent into Hell!”

“The day started out just fine. In fact, during the pre-ride introduction, Rob Hawks, the local SF Rando club president, introduced me as the newest member of the RUSA. as they had just processed my application last week. The whole group of 76 cheered and clapped. I thought it was a nice gesture, and I really appreciated it.

Left town and was quickly dropped of course since I was riding my under-geared 99 Specialized Hardrock mountain bike. I had done my best to make it suitable, by putting on Specialized Fatboy 216 x1.25 slick tires and fenders, but still very slow compared to the rest of the proper road bikes.

It started out with a slow climb out of Livermore. The descent was awesome! I was going so fast, that I thought “whew! I better slow down!” Literally…

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Here’s a great post by my blogging inspiration, Vik.

He and his gf Sharon did a 50k populaire on their Bike Friday tandem. Awesome job!

Now if I can only talk my CFO at home into letting me buy one…

The Lazy Rando Blog...

Sharon and I rode the 50K route at the BC Randonneurs Victoria Populaire Sunday. Add in ~20kms riding to/from the event and we rode farther than ever before on the tandem. Sharon also rode her longest ever distance on a bicycle. Obviously 70kms is not going to impress folks that ride 1200km events, but considering Sharon didn’t ride a bike when I met her this is a great achievement. Even better Sharon’s talking about riding the 100km route on our own this spring. Our distance riding progress may be slow, but it’s steady…=-)

We met up with Aaron and Laura at the start. They were riding Dahon folding bikes so we were all rolling on 20″ wheels. We were joined by Brian and Mike on their big wheel bikes. The day was sunny and there were something like ~140 riders joining us on the course. The organizers did a…

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The Newbie Randonneur

So I decided to start a blog. I like commenting on friend’s blogs, and thought it might be fun to try my own. I thought I would talk about a newbie’s take on randonneuring, plus go into other things that I am interested/involved in, like bike commuting, comics, pet therapy, etc.

I have a pretty goofy sense of humour, hence the title of my blog. I know I am going to run a fine line and don’t step on any toes. Suggestions are welcome!

Well, that’s it for now. Funny that once I decided to start, that I got a little stuck/paranoid about what to write about first. Any suggestions are welcome!