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

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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?

How to Have a Large Handlebar Bag with STI Shifters

STI shifters with V-brake noodle adapter

I thought I would post this, as I know many randonneurs like to have a front handlebar bag but have been dissuaded from doing so if they had STI shifters. Two reasons. First is that if your handlebars are not wide enough, the shifter levers will hit the side of the bag. The other reason is the STI shifter cables usually poke into the side of the bag, and make opening and closing the lid problematic, as well as accessing the side pockets. In fact, when I was first looking into buying my large Gilles Berthoud  bag, a few experts advised me against it.

Top view. Unobstructed access thanks to Vbrake noodle adapters.

However, Gabe at BoxDog Bikes pointed out that as long as the levers don’t hit the side of the bag when shifting, I should be ok.  Luckily, that was the case, so one hurdle down. He also suggest using a Vbrake noodle to route the cable. I didn’t end up doing that at first, as the setup was functional.

However, it wasn’t aesthetically pleasing as the cables pushed against the side of the bag, and pinched the top, ruining the clean lines.  I also had to be very careful when taking the bag on and off. Once the cable got underneath the bag, and had I not noticed it, would have affected steering significantly.

It was just  awkward opening the bag while riding, particularly on a long brevet. Closing was also tricky, as I had to push each side down again against the cable to really shut the bag properly.

So after a few months of this, I was in Huckleberry Bikes, which is where I bought my Salsa Casseroll. I mentioned Gabe’s idea to Kevan, their ace mechanic. He was intrigued and said he would like to try it. He took a Vbrake noodle, cut down part of it to make a clean angle, and installed it.

Clean front view with Vbrake noodle adapter.

In practice, it works great. I can see no downside to having this setup. I really like my STI shifters, and had come close to getting rid of them and getting down-tube shifters to accommodate my handlebar bag.

However thanks to Gabe’s original “out of the box” thinking and Kevan’s tweaks and application, I think there is no reason not to have the handlebar bag with STI shifters with this adaptation.

 

This just gives me the fuzzies…

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Fuzzy green bike on New Montgomery Street in San Francisco. Locked up right outside of the Chipotle Burrito restaurant. I’ll bet someone likes guacamole…

Front view of the fuzz-monster

Why I like commuting home on Saturday on the train…

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Need I say more?

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Commuter Bike Racing, or How to Feel Like a Man in Two Short Minutes!

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I have been guilty of commuter racing for some time now. I think the best part of it is that your opponent is usually unaware of the competition. It makes the inevitable victory so much sweeter…;)

But rarely do I get feedback from any of my valiant adversaries. I was fortunate enough to get such feedback this morning.

I catch a train at 6:14 am in San Mateo, California, which takes me to San Francisco, where I work. From the train station, I have about a two-mile trip to my office. Occasionally, I will engage in a friendly little race to my office. Again, the situation is usually that I come up to some carbon bike, or whatever, at a light and I think to myself “NONE SHALL PASS!” If you have ever seen the Black Knight from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” you know the voice I hear in my head.

I guess I enjoy it because I am riding my steel bike with fenders, front bag, trunk bag, and propeller helmet, and I know I they think I am  slow. I get a very rewarding, and completely underserved, ego boost when I blow by them.

So on the train this morning I engage in conversation with my new commuter friend, Kent. We’re both about the same age (I’m turning 51 this Saturday). Anyway, he noticed the Randonneurs USA logo on the back of my visibility vest, and was curious about the sport.

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Ty's RUSA visibility vest. I wear this always . Every little bit helps!

He  rides a nice carbon road bike with aero bars, and rides pretty regularly, about 40 miles every weekend, and was intrigued. I gave him my “newbie” perspective, and encouraged him to ride in the SF Randonneurs Populaire this Saturday, March 31st.  He is not sure he is quite up for that yet, but does want to learn more about it. I gave him my card, in case he has any questions, or has trouble remembering how to spell “Randonneur” when he searches for more information when he gets to his office.

So the train arrives, we both pack up, and leave separately. He was ahead of me at the first light. When I pulled away he said “Hey! I came up behind you the other day. I thought, ‘I can beat this guy, steel bike, fenders, propeller on the helmet’ … and then I couldn’t keep up! That wasn’t right!”

We both laughed and I told him that I did the same thing with my folding bike, a Bike Friday Tikit http://www.bikefriday.com/bicycles/commuter, as the smaller wheels actually accelerate faster from a stop.

I also told him that  in my opinion, carbon bikes don’t have all that much advantage in the scheme of things. He had asked me earlier if he needed to get a special bike for randonneuring and I had told him that though the classic randonneur bike is steel with fenders, there are plenty of people out there in full carbon bikes, etc.  It is really personal preference.

So yes, I am a commuter racer. I know it is silly, and I know my shrink would probably have something to say about it, but I do try to keep it safe. I don’t blow through red lights, and I don’t cut in and out of traffic. It makes it fun, and also makes the short ride at least a bit of a workout.

Funny thing, but with the randonneurs,  I’m pretty slow, a regular Lantern Rouge. But  on the wild and wooly streets of San Francisco, fighting the commuter biker wars, I’m Lance Armstrong… or maybe Bob Roll?

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!