Not Dead Yet

August 15th, 2018 by tony

July Jersey Ride had 13 riders

 

“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

Road Tubeless Update

August 4th, 2018 by tony

Schwalbe Pro One, 700×28, on Hed Belgium Plus rim

 

For almost two years I’ve been running road tubeless tires on my bike and I’ve commented about my experience here and here. It’s been an experiment on several fronts. In addition to using tubeless tires I have also been using sealant, which is optional although often recommended. I have the tires set up on HED Belgium rims, which at 25 mm are much wider than standard road rims usually at 20 mm. This allows the tires to take less of a “lightbulb” shape and actually increases the volume of air. This means I can run lower pressure and get a cushier ride. Whereas I usually run rims about 85 to 105 psi, I have been running the front tire at 45-50 psi and the rear tire at 55-60 psi without risk of bottoming or a pinch flat. Finally I’ve been riding on fire roads and some easier mountain bike trails with these tires despite running a strangely low spoke count of just 28 (32 is most common). The tires are Schwalbe Pro One, which are nominally 28 mm in width but on the wider rims they measure out about 30 mm. I think the only person in the club running a fatter road tire is Nancy on her 32 mm Continentals!

The bottom line is that these tires have been reliable after the initial teething issues I wrote about and have held up well on dirt. I’ve put almost 3,300 miles on these wheels and the tires are still going strong. I’ve had only two noticeable punctures both in the rear tire. I say “noticeable” because it is possible I’ve had more punctures but they may have sealed so quickly that I never saw them. That said I do check my tires after nearly every ride for signs of sealant, embedded objects, and lowered pressure and I haven’t noticed any other punctures. But two punctures in nearly two years is low for me. So I am guessing that in reality I have had other punctures but the sealant took care of them so quickly that I never had to deal with them.

At this point I can cautiously recommend tubeless for road. The main convenience is the ability to ride even after a puncture and without having to stop and replace a tube. The main inconvenience is getting sprayed with sealant after a puncture; fortunately sealant seems to be easy to wash out of clothes and it’s fairly easy to remove from your bike. If you run fenders, which I did in the winter, then you won’t have this problem. There is a problem that I yet to encounter but is a distinct possibility: getting a tire gash or a large puncture that sealant cannot plug. Guess what? You either walk home, call for help, or put in a new tube. If you’re the Boy Scout type, you’ll still be toting a spare tube, pump, and levers thus obviating any weight reduction by going tubeless. (You’ll need to carry a pump regardless because you never know how long it will take a puncture to seal. In one case the tire was down to 28 psi before sealing!) By the way putting a tube into a tire coated with sealant is messy, so pack a couple of latex or nitrile gloves too. You may have read about struggles others have had with tight beads on tubeless tires making it difficult or impossible to mount a tire. I haven’t had any issues with my set up.

The last thing I’ll say if you are contemplating going tubeless is that the paeans you read in cycling rags about the ‘magic carpet ride’ of tubeless road tires—“it’s like riding sewups!” is greatly overstated. Good tubeless tires have heavier casings than regular clincher tires and that makes the ride less supple. Another wheelset I have, which is very similar to my tubeless set, has expensive Michelin tires and latex inner tubes and it has an even cushier ride that IS just like setups! Of course when I get a flat on these tires it’s all old-school repair. But it’s clearly the better ride despite not being tubeless. An increase in comfort is primarily going to be function of the sophistication of the casing and the inflation, not because it’s tubeless.

The First Gay Pride

June 27th, 2018 by tony

Our 1983 Parade Float with Spokers

The year was 1983 and the club had only been in official existence a few months, since November 1982. But the Founding Daddies & Mamas had a goal to have Different Spokes participate in the Lesbian/Gay Freedom Day Parade. Mission accomplished! Our “float” may have been decidedly homemade but it fit in with the ethos of the club, plus we didn’t have money anyway. From the August 193 ChainLetter:

“The Sunday Decide & Ride on June 26 was already decided for us nearly a year ago when we established as a long-range goal our club’s participation in the 1983 Lesbian/Gay Freedom Day Parade. Rising at the crack of dawn, nearly 30 of us assembled at our South of Market “slot” in the parade at 9:00 a.m. and began decorating our bikes and our bodies for that glorious gait down Market Street and all the gaiety that lay ahead. Dick’s truck, topped off with all the great looking bikes, added an element of butch appeal to our motley crew! Our buddy Hal kept a tight reign [sic] on things, his tail perched on the tailgate of Dick’s truck and his broken leg cast out to the thousands! Meanwhile, our mobile members pedaled continuous rings around the truck as we paraded down S.F.’s main drag, all the way to Civic Center, flashing all the way! Shay, David, and Ron spent the day at the booth and reported a lot of interest shown in the club as a result of all the fanfare. Thanks to Dick for the use of his truck, to Bob, Derek, and Peter for engineering the affair, to Lenny for securing the contingent monitors, to David for setting up the booth, to Shay for Parade Committee liaison, to Bianchi/Vespa for sponsoring us and providing our sign, and to everyone who participated in any way to make the Parade such a big success! It was a parade unlike any other I have ever seen, except the 1980, 1981, and 1982 Lesbian/Gay Freedom Day Parades…the difference was that you WERE THERE (and Walter Cronkite wasn’t for a change)…And we were SINsational!”

Hal Baughman (broken leg) on our float

The club T-shirts had just been designed by Michael John (D’Abrosca) and everybody was sporting them. We did not have a jersey yet.

Jamie, a very young Den Daddy, two others, and Dick

Jamie (love the mullet!), Luis, and Curtis

Pride Goeth Before A Fall

June 24th, 2018 by tony

2018 Pride Ride Crew

 

The Pride Ride is a fairly new Different Spokes regular event, offered every year on Pink Saturday. Back in the day there was no Pride Ride for the simple reason that the club used to have a parade contingent (with float!) and run a booth at Civic Center on Pride, and preparation consumed all the energy (well, at least until party time Saturday evening!) The turnout for the Pride Ride seems to run hot and cold, probably partly due to the weather and partly due to whether folks flee the crowds and weekend festivities or dive in deep. Last year it was just two people including the ride leader. But this year we had 15 cyclists turn out including at least one non-member who saw the announcement of the SF Pride website; David Gaus posted the ride on Facebook and that probably brought out the numerous ALC folks. The weather, lucky for us, cooperated with fine, sunny skies and moderate temps making a stroll through San Francisco a real delight rather than a struggle.

For me the highlight was seeing some old faces: Ann Dunn, Laura Petracek, and Nancy Levin. Ann isn’t a “real” old-timer since she joined in 1991 but she qualifies in my book because she was a member during the club’s heyday with Bike-A-Thon (also in the Den Daddy’s book because he invited her to the Old Farts Ride). I hadn’t run into her in several years, the last time being when she showed up unexpectedly on a ride I was leading in Orinda. Ann was one of the strong women who knew how to put down the pedal in earnest. Many former members of Different Spokes such as Ann drift away from the club; I’ve never gotten around to asking her why. For some the club is a temporary port—cycling served a purpose in one phase of life and then it no longer did—but cycling is no fad for Ann; she’s in it for life. She showed up at the Pride Ride on an upright hybrid with flat bars and flat pedals rather than her racing bike. She confessed to me that she had crashed no less than three times in 2016 and since then has been rather timid. We commiserated about the indignities of aging that make cycling in our dotage a real challenge. Of course, once we were afoot she promptly went to the front, flat pedals and all! I love it when we oldies can fool fate maybe just for an afternoon and pretend we are young once again by dropping you youngsters!

Laura Petracek also drifted away from the club. She came to the club through CAR or ALC, I forget which. But having a hectic job—at a prison no less—and taking care of a family meant she was riding less and less. But now she was back…with a new job and a new hip! She is just six months post-surgery from a hip replacement and here she was riding her bike. She did pretty damn good for just the fourth time back on the bike. She may not have been the fastest (well, actually she was the slowest) rider but she kept a steady pace all the way back to Peet’s. One of the things I love about Laura is her undeniable positive attitude despite all the crap she’s had to put up with. And she never complains.

Nancy Levin has been pretty scarce on club rides recently. She’s another Spoker who’s had some unfortunate crashes and has gotten a bit gunshy. But you couldn’t keep her away and she’s back riding again. Nancy is the Ann Dunn of this era: she’s often the lone female who shows up on a “boys” ride and isn’t afraid to do the nasty up Mt. Diablo or any other ridiculously hard ride. Nancy also likes to bike tour, so we’ve had many a conversation about international touring as well as the state of the club while we’re climbing together.

The Pride Ride careens around the west side of SF, through the Presidio, Golden Gate Park, down the Great Highway and up Mt. Davidson. As you would expect from a large group the pace was all over the place. Some blasted away and others strolled but we had several regrouping spots that gave plenty of time for chitchat, posing, and looking fabulous. Eventually we all assembled again at Destination Bakery for well deserved noshing and a long break. By the end it was just Roger Sayre, David Gaus, Laura, and Roger & I to head back to the Castro. When we hit Valencia Street the relative quiet we had until then was replaced by rampant car traffic, most of which was making its way to the Castro for Pink Saturday and the Dyke March. The only misfortune was David getting ambushed with a flat on Valencia just before the end. The Pride Ride may not be a long ride or a hard ride but it put us all in the right frame of mind for Pride Weekend. See you next year!

Reflections on Tiburon Loop

June 11th, 2018 by tony

I don’t remember my first Tiburon loop. I moved up to San Francisco in 1982 and although I was mainly into running at that point in my life I still rode my bike on occasion. As running injuries mounted I decided to go back to cycling and surely did the Tib loop on my own. I do recall that my first Different Spokes ride was—what else?—Tiburon loop! During the time I lived in the City I did the loop regularly as do many of you. It’s a convenient, medium-sized ride that gets you out of the urbanity of San Francisco into the sub-urbanity of Marin, which at the time seemed like a godsend. Plus, you got to ride over the Golden Gate Bridge; even on a bad day the ride over the bridge is scenic and rewarding. In those days the club had frequent Decide ‘N Rides on weekends—people met up at McLaren Lodge and jointly decided where to go—and more often than not we ended up doing the Tiburon loop. Why exactly Tiburon loop became the ‘default’ ride bears some pondering but other rides seemed either too short or too long. Even in those days before the tech explosion, life in the City could feel busy and pressured, and the Tib loop was long enough to feel like you did a “long” ride but short enough that you could get home and get your weekend shopping and chores done.

In the time I lived in SF it felt like I’d done the Tib loop a thousand times. It got to the point where I would grudgingly do it simply because it was there and not because it gave me much enjoyment. It was a convenient training loop if a little dull. Why we didn’t ride south of SF more often seems strange in retrospect. But I do recall in those days getting out of SF by Skyline or Highway 1 meant nasty car encounters and lots of broken glass and that likely discouraged us from heading south except in a car to get to the Peninsula to do some ‘real’ riding.

As I mentioned in a previous blog posting, when the Jersey Ride was created in 2001 initially there wasn’t a set route but it quickly settled on the Tib loop. I never went on a Jersey Ride exactly because it was the loop; it may have made the perfect route for an all-club ride but it had worn out its welcome.

With Joseph’s long tenure as Jersey Ride Coordinator coming to an end, we’re continuing the Jersey Ride/Tib loop but now any club member can volunteer to be the ride host. It’s the perfect ride to try out being a ride leader because just about everyone knows the route anyway and it’s hard to get lost! If you’d like to lead the Jersey Ride, shoot an email to me. Over the next few months we have board members volunteering to lead it. Last month Roger Sayre, our secretary led it, and this month Roger and I co-led it. In July and August David Gaus will be your host.

In the early Oughts I moved to the East Bay and I hadn’t gone back to SF/Marin to do the Tib loop more than two or three times. One time was to show it to Roger and another was—finally!—to attend a Jersey Ride about five years ago. So getting to lead it was–surprise surprise–something I had never done before. After a prolonged absence I can’t exactly say it felt like riding a new route; in fact it was depressingly familiar. Not depressing because it was unpleasant but depressing because I didn’t feel a blast of excitement at riding one of the signature rides of the Bay Area. It was as if I had just ridden it yesterday (for the millionth time!) Where was the awe? Another example of familiarity breeding contempt.

But that didn’t mean I didn’t notice the changes that have slowly washed over the ride. The passage of time has brought some changes into ugly relief. Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge is a lot more dangerous than twenty years ago. There were an unbelievable number of cyclists on the west sidewalk, practically an unbroken line both north- and southward in the afternoon. It was very difficult to pass slower cyclists without taking unwise risks, i.e. riding three abreast. Making matters worse the storm fencing along the outside reduces the rideable width of the sidewalk. The west sidewalk has always had an inordinate amount of “furniture” compared to the east sidewalk. But now there seems to be even more equipment piled up so that at times it feels exceptionally constrained. And lord help you if you’re heading southward and you’re foolish enough to draft someone and carelessly drift to the right because it’s hard to see those equipment bulb-outs until you’re almost on top of them! Although Blazing Saddles rentals have always been numerous, they’ve been joined by an equal number from Sports Basement in the Presidio. All we could see heading towards us were SB and BS handlebar bags. I didn’t see any crashes but the onslaught of casual cyclists mixing it up with testosterone fueled Rapha bros had me wondering how many ambulance calls are made on a typical Saturday. I especially loved the Blazing Saddlers who were rolling along iPhone in hand videoing their ride.

Besides the increase in cycling traffic I noticed the awful condition of Paradise Drive. In the late ‘80s it was mostly repaved and made for a smooth, fast run into Tiburon. It looks like it hasn’t seen a paver since. When you ride the same road day after day you hardly notice the slight deterioration—you just get used to it. But bouncing over the potholes and deep ruts after years of being away, well, let’s just say it wasn’t like it used to be.

On the positive side there have been some nice improvements. The Mill Valley-Sausalito bike path now has speed lights, a roundabout, and a 10 mph limit at the sewer plant. Having nearly been hit a couple of times by cyclists coming across from Strawberry or being walked into by clueless pedestrians, those are all welcome changes. Doug and Sal suggested we take the Corte Madera-Larkspur path on the other side of Camino Alto. Is this new? If not, no one in the club knew about it back in the day. Although Tamalpais Drive isn’t bad to cycle on, the path is a more pleasant alternative to get away from cars albeit more roundabout.

Of course the other part of a ride is the company, and this time it was very simpatico. We stopped for lunch at the Woodlands Market just across the street from the defunct Shark Deli. We sat outside for an hour noshing our sandwiches and talking about nothing of significance, the conversation wandering from the trials of airline travel, the state of the SF Symphony and SF Opera, where to get one’s bike repaired in SF, cycling in Japan, Doug’s wheel saga, and how awful traffic in SF is these days. Back in the day club conversations had a tendency to devolve to the latest club gossip and who was seen with whom. Another welcome change? Eventually we hoisted our sorry rears back onto our saddles and made back to SF with a short detour via Strawberry Cove. Like a supermodel who is past her prime, Tib loop may be overdone and overexposed but at least it’s easy on the eyes, still fabulous, and waiting for the next photo shoot.

Summer Time Means…Centuries??

June 5th, 2018 by tony

Riding a century, one hundred miles, is a watershed accomplishment for many recreational cyclists. It’s long but not crazy long  and is doable by most recreational cyclists with a little will power and some training time. (Note: it’s official that rides over 199 miles or involving sleep deprivation are totally fucking crazy.) But it pretty much kills an entire day especially if you have to drive to the start—which is all the time—and then drive home. Let’s just say that afterwards you’re not going to be eager to mow the lawn, cook dinner, or engage in social conversation with your significant other that involves uttering more than monosyllables. That’s where metric centuries come in. A metric century is 100 kilometers or about 64 miles. A metric is long enough to get a prodigious workout and see some great countryside but not so long that you’re wasted at the end. Well, that’s really up to you because you can do a metric at full bore and end up wasted. But you still wouldn’t be as wasted as if you had done the 100-mile route. And guess what? You don’t have to get up (as) crazy early to get to the ride (most centuries want you registered and on the road by 7:30 a.m.) Your morning may not be leisurely but at least you’ll get a normal night’s sleep. And when you’re done, you can actually get home and have enough energy to be a real human being!

Most of us are used to riding 30-40 miles at a time, so a metric is just double that—certainly something that is within reach without any special preparation. A full century is a much bigger reach on just a diet of weekend rides. On the other hand if you’re doing a hundred miles a week, you could do a full century but you’re likely to be in the pain cave for the last 20 miles or so. Keep in mind that in Northern California a full century is also going to have a lot more climbing than a metric, so it’s not just the miles that make it hard.

One of the nice things about organized century rides is that you get to ride in unfamiliar territory. Who wants to ride the same roads over and over? Plus, you don’t have to worry much about food or drink because it’s all organized for you. If you’ve picked a well-hosted ride you can be sure the snacks at the rest stops and the provided meal will be tasty. Fortunately that applies to almost all the centuries in NorCal! Both the Tour of Napa and the Marin Century, which take place in August, are club favorites and they both happen to have excellent mid- and/or end-of-ride meals. The bonus is neither is far away: the Marin starts at the Marin County Fairgrounds just north of the Marin Civic Center on 101 and the Tour of Napa starts in Yountville.

But what makes riding a metric century the best? Being able to ride with your friends so you can encourage each other and make the time pass oh-so-pleasantly. Join your fellow Spokers this August!

Different Spokes Seattle Folds

May 22nd, 2018 by tony

Our club Different Spokes came into being in 1982 and was the forerunner for an efflorescence of LGBT cycling clubs. In general the 1980s was a spawning period for LGBT social groups and with that came an onslaught of athletic clubs—softball, tennis, bowling, swimming, running…and bicycling. I suppose we were the catalyst, as LGBT communities around the US quickly had their own cycling clubs. In those days sustaining a club probably wasn’t too difficult because the competition was, well, nonexistent and the newness of it all had its own enthusiasm. Our communities weren’t yet politically legit nor organized as well as they are today and social oppobrium was the widespread norm (as opposed to the not-so-widespread today). So naturally we sought out each other for sustenance. In essence, we were ghettoized but perhaps that drew us even more tightly together.

Different Spokes LA (now Southern California) still exists but who remembers Rainbow Cyclists in San Diego or Different Spokes Sacramento? For whatever reasons they faded away. Fast and Fabulous in NYC dissolved about a year ago and became a Facebook “club”. At least NYC has another LGBT club, Outcycling. Now I find out that at the end of 2017 Different Spokes Seattle came to an end. You can read its farewell message at the website.

Why have some LGBT cycling clubs gone belly up? We are in an era when cycling is more popular than ever and LGBT acceptance is more mainstream so that being out incurs fewer penalties. Shouldn’t we expect clubs to grow rather than dwindle? Some have speculated that as acceptance has grown there is less need to self-ghettoize and LGBT cyclists, if they ride with others at all, find friends and cycling companions in mainstream clubs. Our communities are so much stronger now that perhaps we find sufficient sustenance in other LGBT spheres, i.e. we compete with other LGBT social circles for attention. It’s difficult to discern if the fading of DS Seattle is part of a pattern or just an idiosyncrasy. Perhaps the explosion of LGBT cycling clubs was merely the result of social conditions that have changed so much that our clubs no longer serve a meaningful function.

What of Different Spokes San Francisco?

The Jersey Ride

May 18th, 2018 by tony

The Jersey Ride is our “all-club” monthly ride on the second Saturday of every month. It’s easy to forget it’s there because its ride listing is the same every month and it doesn’t have a cute, fey title to get your attention. Like Coit Tower it seems the Jersey Ride has been there forever. However the Jersey Ride is actually a rather recent innovation. The very first Jersey Ride was on August 18, 2001—almost 17 years ago. My recollection is that the idea came from Chris Larussell, who was secretary at the time and then became the club president.

There were likely two influences. First, other local cycling clubs had all-club rides, the idea being that there should be an opportunity for all the different ability levels and subgroups in the club to get together on a regular basis. In my neck of the woods Grizzly Peak Cyclists have “Alex’s Second Saturday Ride” and it has exactly that origin. GPC is a considerably larger club than Different Spokes and probably was even during our heydey in the late 1980s and 90s when we had a membership well north of 300. Grizzly’s ASSR currently gets 30 or more participants, which is still less than 5% of its club. Even in the early Oughts when GPC was smaller it likely had a good turnout and would have impressed anyone. Second, at the time the first Jersey Ride appeared on the calendar we were undergoing a serious decline for the first time. Membership was sinking and ride listings were becoming sparse. The Jersey Ride was a way to generate club spirit: everybody show up in your club kit and let’s ride together! Apparently it worked because the club did not fold and resurged dramatically. Perhaps the Jersey Ride played an important role in unifying the club and aided in the rebuilding.

The Jersey Ride was probably just a modification of the Decide ’n Ride, an irregular club ride that goes back to the very beginning of the club. In 2001 the Decide ’N Ride had a slightly different form than when it started in the early ‘80s. It still started at McLaren Lodge and the route depended on the consensus of whomever happened to show up. However unlike the original Decide ’n Ride, which didn’t have a specific date during the month and usually was put on the calendar by the ride coordinator when we had an empty weekend date with no scheduled ride, it now was scheduled for the first Sunday of the month. It wouldn’t be much of a reach to rebrand the DnR as the Jersey Ride. In fact, after the appearance of the Jersey Ride there were no more DnRs. The Jersey Ride, like its DnR predecessor, would always be on the calendar on a specific date free of the vagaries of member posting.

The initial Jersey Ride was a little bit different than today’s. First it didn’t have a set date. It moved around at first simply because there wasn’t someone available to lead it on the second Saturday. The set schedule didn’t take place until November 2001. But it also varied between the East Bay, Peninsula, and San Francisco before settling on the Tib loop forever. The initial Jersey Ride’s three options were slightly different than today’s. The easy route never went to Tiburon; instead riders went to Sausalito and then turned around to go back to SF. The nice thing was it made the easy ride only 17 miles instead of 27, but those folks never got to hang out with everyone else for a bite to eat in Tiburon.

The conundrum for the creators of the Jersey Ride was that a shorter, easier ride doesn’t sate the appetite of stronger riders but a longer, harder ride puts off those who either can’t or don’t want to do something that pushes their limits. The Tib loop was in essence a compromise albeit flawed. Adding the Conzelman loop to the Tib loop was a way to keep the ‘serious’ cyclists involved. The Jersey Ride faces the same problem that the Orinda Pool Party has: how do you create a single ride that is appealing and doable by the majority of Spokers? And like the Jersey Ride the OPP standard ride is also a compromise. Of course this doesn’t even address the issue of pacing. Without multiple leaders or a sweep, the group if large enough is bound to fragment. And then you have the problem that the DnRs faced: part of the group takes off never to be seen again and slower—usually newer—riders feel left out. From the beginning of the club one of the perennial criticisms is that the club caters just to “serious” cyclists. There is another history here about attempts the club has made to broaden its base but I’ll save that for another time.

Riding With The Den Daddy

April 22nd, 2018 by tony

Roger and Derek brunching

Like the Energizer Bunny the ‘Den Daddy’ Derek Liecty just keeps on running and running. We had the pleasure of his company on our most recent Social Ride where we sauntered up the Ohlone Greenway in Berkeley all the way to Richmond and then motored down to Lafayette for a fabulous lunch at the Creekside Grill in Rossmoor. (Dining in Rossmoor?? Yes people, there is excellent fab food in the retirement center of the universe!)

Derek is amazing. When others his age are rockin’ a rocking chair rather than a road bike, he just keeps churning out the miles. Approaching his 86th birthday he now relishes riding his Felt e-bike rather than the Mikkelson or the bizarrely painted Vitus 979 he used to sport. But he still puts down the miles and shames many a Spoker with his prolific riding. Of course with his new e-bike he’s still able to put you to the sword if you choose to challenge him just like he did when he was much younger. But he’s more intent on enjoying the ride and your company, chatting away, than he is on getting up (or especially down) the hill in first position.

On the recent Morgan Territory ride, which Derek and I both attended, some much younger (well, much younger than I) Spokers asked, “Who was that old guy?” That old guy happens to be the oldest member of Different Spokes. Not only is he the oldest in years and still riding strong but he’s also the longest extant member of our club, having joined immediately after we formed in the fall of 1982. Not only was he a prolific ride leader and creator of an inordinate number of rides particularly over here in the East Bay but he’s been actively involved in Different Spokes for decades. I don’t think I can recall all the roles he’s taken on but I do know he was the Men’s Outreach Coordinator for eons and he was the AIDS Bike-A-Thon Coordinator (a hellish job) in the later years of the fundraiser. He’s also been a multiple medal winner in the Gay Games over the years. Promoting the Gay Games has been one of Derek’s other avocations. He was involved with the very first one in 1982 when he volunteered to officiate the soccer games. Prior to diving into cycling he was involved in soccer officiating and FIFA—all that running certainly helped make him a fast cyclist! He’s planning to go to Paris for this year’s Gay Games although not as a competitor this time.

But I digress—it’s easy because Derek’s history is long, deep, and interesting, and goes well beyond just Different Spokes. Among other things Derek has always been a peripatetic world traveler, usually lugging his Bike Friday along whether it be in the hinterlands or the megalopolises. Years ago he recounted traveling solo in some Southeast Asian realm where he was on his bike, teased some monkeys on the roadside who were following him and eyeing him (probably for a handout), and suddenly they becoming irate and chasing him tooth and fang bared—one of many of his adventures! This winter he and his friend Denise did a month-long trip through Chile and Argentina through the Lakes District and up into the Andes (mostly by car this time, not bike; although he has done that same route twice before by bike). When Derek isn’t riding his bikes fast, he likes to drive his cars very fast. Derek has two hopped up hotrods in his garage and if you’re (un)lucky he’ll show you exactly how fast they can go.

Derek and I go way back. Although since I joined Different Spokes “much later” (I think it was in 1983) I’m always going to be the Johnny-come-lately to the club, the “youngster”. I recall he, I, and bunch of other Spokers were riding the Tierra Bella one year; we were riding together and he casually mentioned to me that he had an 11-tooth cog on his cassette. In those days the standard small cog was a 13. An 11? No one had an 11—It was unheard of. I couldn’t imagine anyone needing an 11-tooth cog! As we approached a downhill he proceeded to show me how he used that 11—he vanished downhill at bobsled speed.

On our Social Ride we weren’t breaking speed records and wisdom has come to Derek: he has finally tamped down on his hellbent descending, which is good because at his/our age Humpty Dumpty is very hard to put back together again. When we got to Lafayette the plan was to get brunch at Hideout Kitchen, a gem that is apparently no longer a hidden secret. When we were told the wait was 45 minutes, Derek suggested we instead get lunch at Rossmoor, where he presently abides. Rossmoor, seriously? Seriously! What the hell, why not? So off we go to Rossmoor, which was just minutes away. And then we were at the fabulous Creekside Grill—among our peeps, i.e. oldish farts—in a serene island away from suburban bustle. Any skepticism or disparaging thoughts I wisely kept to myself. When our lunch arrived I was very happy to eat not only my unspoken words but every bit of the delicious cream of broccoli soup and grilled chicken breast sandwich. Alas, you have to be either a resident of Rossmoor or an invitee in order to eat there!

Over lunch at Rossmoor after our Social Ride in half-jest I asked him what his future travel plans might be. He pronounced he was working on a “four year plan” of adventures at which point he would be 90. I told him I hoped his four year plan would be more successful than Mao’s second Five Year Plan (FYI: millions starved to death miserably). Derek’s already traveled through over half the countries in the world, usually by bike, and in his golden years (which he claims “suck”) I’m not sure he’s up for roughing it anymore. If he plans to haul his e-bike along he won’t be able to take the battery—carriers won’t allow lithium batteries on planes—so he’ll have to rent an e-bike at his destination or just do with the Bike Friday. But don’t underestimate the Den Daddy: he always finds a way.

Saddle Challenge 2018

April 16th, 2018 by tony

This year’s Saddle Challenge had six official participants, rode a total of 2,346 miles, and raised about $373 for Project Inform. Here is how this year’s event compared to the past few previous years:

 

2018            2,346 miles            6 riders            $373

2017            2,381 miles            10 riders            $452

2016            2,835 miles            14 riders            $523

2015            4,435 miles            11 riders            $493

 

As was the case last year, we had another very wet March that inevitably diminished enthusiasm for logging miles yet participants still managed to raise a good chunk of change. We had nearly a full calendar of rides set up this year—nine rides, almost one for every weekend date—but five were rained out. Ironic to say, but drought years may be good for Saddle Challenge although probably for nothing else!

This year we offered incentives for Saddle Challengers, some for those who raised the most money for Project Inform and some for those who participated in the most Saddle Challenge rides.

 

Sal Tavormina            Most $ 1st            Spurcycle bell

Matthew Bittleston            Most $2nd             Bontrager Flare R taillight

Gordon Dinsdale            Most $ 3rd            Bontrager 100R headlight

Gordon Dinsdale            Most miles 1st            Road to Valor by Aili & Andres McConnon

Jerome Thomere            Most miles 2nd            Mountain Biking the San Francisco Bay Area by Lorraine Jackson

Special thanks to ride leaders for hosting a Saddle Challenge ride—David Gaus, Tony Moy, Roger Hoyer, Joseph Collins, Stephanie Clarke, Ron Hirsch, Gordon Dinsdale, David Sexton, and David Goldsmith. Thanks also to David Gaus and Tony Moy for the donation of the prizes.