Thursday, October 11, 2007

Buddhist Bicycle Pilgrimage 2007 - first day

The alarm clock was blaring at 4:30 in the morning on saturday, 9/29. Megan and I woke up slowly, got out of bed and began to get ready for our ride today. We trained and completed our first double century this season (STP in July) so getting up early is no big deal. We are familiar with the routine of getting ourselves ready to ride in the morning. This is one ride that I look forward to every year, because it's the ride that got me into cycling and it's pretty special compared to most other organized ride.

The Buddhist Bicycle Pilgrimage started when Dennis Crean, an editor, cyclist and Buddhist practitioner thought that it would be fun to ride from the Bay Area to Abhayagiri Monastery where he practices with a few friends. That idea evolved into the first Buddhist Bicycle Pilgrimage in 2002 where about 100 people, cyclists and volunteers included, participated in the event. I have known Dennis, partly because my own connection to City of Ten Thousand of Buddhas (CTTB; a Buddhist monastic campus in Ukiah; it's a stop on the ride and close to Abhayagiri, the destination) and he asked if I would like to participate and help coordinate communication and set up at CTTB. I was very intrigued of the idea of riding a bike for 150 miles and also getting to meet other people interested in Buddhism and cycling. I went to Missing Link in Berkeley and bought myself a Marin Mill Valley ALP and started training. That was my initiation into the world of cycling and bicycles.

Fast forward back to the morning of the ride in 2007, we got our gears and bikes into my friend Steve's car, picked up my friend Annie at her place on the way and headed for Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, near San Rafael, California. I have participated in every one of this event (6 times) as a rider except for the second year when I broke my arm one week before the ride, ironically, training for it. Even though, I always get really excited over it because it's probably my favorite organized cycling event. We start in Spirit Rock every year, and wind our ways through the beautiful backroads of Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino County to our destination in Redwood Valley near Ukiah. We stop at the end of the first day at the KOA campground in Asti (15 miles north of Santa Rosa). The second day we stop at my old stomping ground CTTB for lunch and then reaching the destination Abhayagiri Monastery by mid-afternoon. There is a gear truck that helps carrying all of the pilgrims' gears (including tent, sleeping back and clothes) along the way, and just like most other supported rides, there are pit stops along the way, and SAG vehicles patrolling the route. What's different, is that there are Buddhist teachers giving the pilgrims encouragement and Dharma talks along the way (there are at least 4 formal gatherings for Dharma talks on the ride) and pilgrims are encouraged to be mindful of their thoughts along the way. The objective is not so much to get to the destination (although that's important, too), but to engage oneself in mindfulness along the way.

(Megan and others climbing up Cheese Factory Grade)
We started rolling at around 7:30am from Woodacre. The route takes up down Sir Francis Drake to Nicasio Valley road, then over a small climb to the town of Nicasio. Megan and I are very familiar with this road as we trained on it many times during the summer. Along the way we passed fellow pilgrims and usually greeted each of them with a "hi" or a wave of hand. We rode through Nicasio and next to the reservoir and made a right turn on Petaluma-Pt Reyes Road to climb the "cheese factory grade" (the famous cheese factory is on the other side of it). The fog has already cleared out at this point, though the temperature is still fairly low. The pilgrims worked over the top of the grade, descended and rolled past the factory. The first stop is right after the left turn on Hicks Valley Road at the one-schoolhouse Licoln School. As we rolled in, cyclists, volunteers and monks gathered. We grabbed some food, filled up the water bottles and chatted with a few folks. The first few years basically no one from my personal group of friends rode it with me. During the last 2 rides I started to get a few friends to participate with me. I made sure that they were all ok, grabbed Megan and got on the road.

(Steve and Kevin on the top of Wilson Hill)
We rode on Hicks Valley Road through mostly ranch landscape. I know the route well and told the group that was with me that we are hitting Wilson Hill pretty soon. Wilson Hill Road is only a handful of miles from the first rest stop and I consider it the most difficult climb of the entire pilgrimage. I can remember the difficulty I had when I first attempted it. After 5+ years of cycling regularly Wilson Hill is no longer a monster for me, so went down to a comfortable gear and spun my way up the hill with Megan (who is a superior climber) at a decent pace. The view on top is quite nice, as you get a good sense of pastoral Marin county. Several friends of mine were not far behind and I stopped to snap a few pictures. The descend on the other side is fast and fun and it leads to Chileno Valley Road where the route takes a left turn.

Chileno Valley Road typifies the pilgrimage route very well--country road, mostly of the ranch variety with low car traffic and rolling terrain. It was very pleasant on this early autumn day. I rode with various groups of riders and chatted with a few of them. Many of them are first-timers and most are pretty impressed by the fact that I have been doing it every year since the beginning. What seemed like a long stretch on Chileno Valley Road even a couple of years ago didn't seem that long this time (the stretch is 9 miles). We rolled into Two Rocks School, our second rest stop at around 9:30 and had plenty of time to stretch, eat, go to the porta-john, chat with people. We probably stayed there for 20 minutes (a bit too long), and decided to roll toward our lunch stop.

After Two Rock the route varied from last year's route; instead of taking Valley Ford Road all the way to Valley Ford and then go through Freestone, Occidental, Monte Rio, and the Guerneville (and along the Russian River for part of the way; I love that stretch), we rode inland on Roblar Road toward Sebastopal. The roads are nice with light traffic and quite scenic, but I couldn't help but miss the rumbling in the woods and by the river on the old route. Part of the new route took us onto West County bike path, which I thought was neat; we were off the street for quite a while. It was only 18 miles from Two Rocks to our lunch stop Sae Taw Win Center in Sebastopal.

It's a Burmese Buddhist retreat center. Dr. Thyne Thyne is the resident lay teacher, living there with her family. The property has a main house, a few barns and a nice garden. It also has a shining, reflecting Buddha Pagoda. We ate simple lunch (salted boiled potatoes, pretzels, fruits, PB&J) and hung out with other riders. Ajahn Amaro from Abhayagiri who traveled with the pilgrims on the route, and Dr. Thyne gave Dharma Talks after lunch. It was nice to be together with everyone for lunch, but I thought the time was a little too long.

At about 1:30pm, I filled my bottles, grabbed some more fruit and got on the road. In past years when I didn't ride as much as I did this year, the afternoon of the pilgrimage always presented some challenges for me. For one, it used to be longer (by going inland, the distance was 12 miles less than years past, with all the miles lost before lunch time). Another factor is that I used to not know how to hydrate myself properly and always experience cramps in the legs in the afternoon. And I simply wasn't in as good shape as I was this year. After training so much in the summer (for a 6-week stretch, I was riding basically a century every saturday, and then 30-50 miles on sunday), 35 miles in the afternoon seems fairly easy going. Megan and I went at a comfortable pace to take in as much scenery as we can and chatted with other pilgrims as we go. It felt great to be able to relax and not feeling exhausted. The afternoon route is pretty much the same after the initial 6-8 miles. We rolled through beautiful vineyards in Sonoma backroad toward the Mendocino County line.

I couldn't help but thought having all this grapes around as a waste. We had a drought this year in California and pretty much the rest of the country, and yet we have all these grapes that need irrigation when water is being rationed in some parts of the country. It's true that some of the water got turned into grape juice or more likely wine, but it's in much smaller amount and one has to pay premium for them (and no one normal will use wine to flush his/her toilet, i guarantee you). I am not against grape growers, but compared to the need of water everywhere, irrigating grapes seems to be a big waste of water.

This section of rolling roads in Sonoma vineyards went by rather quickly. The weather was still cool and it was rather pleasant. we crossed the lambert bridge and made a left turn at the Dry Creek Store. Megan and I decided not to stop at the 4th rest stop and continued riding. There is a slight hill after the right turn onto Canyon Road. I saw Rinaldi ahead taking a break. He has been going full-speed all afternoon. While it shows his progress after all summer of training, I can't help but want to tell him to slow down a bit and enjoy the ride. Afterall, when you finish riding, it's done. Megan and I went at a pace that is slow compared to the pace we were going when we were doing the Seattle-to-Portland (STP) ride, but we were not as good shape as in the middle of the summer and we wanted to enjoy the ride.

After going under the HWY 101 overpass, we were onto the home stretch. I always enjoy this last stretch on the frontage of 101. I have been more careful with my hydration since the slight disaster at the STP so my legs were ok and not cramping. We rolled through the last stretch and were getting ready for the final climb.

I got down to my lowest gear on the middle chainring and, got off my saddle and started to go slowly up. Megan, though complained about being tired, kept a faster pace up the hill. Just as when I began to lose sight of her, I started to see the campground. I told myself that there is less than 100ft to go. Before you know it, i was there.

We tossed the tent together, took a shower and felt really pleased. It was a good first day.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

One of the best thing about my job is my commute on my bike

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, which was listed as the third most congested metropolitan area in CNN's recent news story. I have a very long commute, even by Bay Area standard; I live in Berkeley and my office is 45 miles and at least one bridge away in Menlo Park near Stanford University. This is already an improvement as I used to work for a chipmaker in Sunnyvale, which is 10 miles further from my house than my current office.

I used to drive or carpool with my neighbor (who still drives to San Jose on a daily basis), and it takes about anywhere between 50 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes in my experience to get to work. That roughly translate to 500 hours of commute time in a work year (that's 12.5 working weeks!).

And most of this commute time is wasted because you really cannot do anything else but focus on the road. Part of the reasons I think the traffic is so congested is because people try to do other things to utilize this "waste of time", but ended up getting into traffic accidents and clogging up the traffic even more.

I decided that this was too much a waste of my life and began to take public transportation to work. This sounds like a no-brainer until one considers the distance, and it would take a local bus 3-4 hours to travel that far. I ended up studied all the routes, schedules, fares, and policy regarding bringing bicycle on-board of all the transit in the Bay Area to figure out how I can do my commute on public transit relatively painlessly.

My typical day starts with a short (less than 5 minutes) bike ride to an AC Transit bus stop or the downtown Berkeley BART station. BART is the rapid rail transit system in the Bay Area that circumvent any possible car-congestion, but bicycles are not allowed on-board past 6:40AM (from Berkeley station) in the morning; the restriction isn't lifted until the 8:47AM train. So unless I am leaving before 6:40 or after 8:47, I would go for the bus. There are at least 4 different transbay bus lines within 5 minutes of biking from my house. I usually go for one particular line, if I was late or the bike rack already filled, I would ride to another stop to catch another line. I sort of have the schedule figured out so I can go in a general circle if I continue to miss buses.

It takes about 25 minutes on BART to go from Berkeley to San Francisco, and anywhere between 25 minutes to 50 minutes on a bus, depending on the line and the traffic on the Bay Bridge. Once I am in San Francisco, I would ride about a mile from either the bus terminal or the BART station to the Caltrain commuter train station near AT&T Park (the home of the San Francisco Giants). The bike trip takes between 7 to 10 minutes.

Caltrain has these express trains that skips certain stops. The fastest ones are called "baby-bullets" that basically skip a lot of stops. I usually opt for any express trains and the trip from San Francisco to Menlo Park is between 22-30 minutes. My office is less than 5 minutes biking away from the train station.

In the best scenario, it takes me 1 hour and 15 minutes door-to-door, but usually the trip is between 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 40 minutes. On the surface, it seems that I am spending more time commuting than when i was driving, but I always spend time reading, doing some work, or catching up on sleep on the train or bus, so time is actually not wasted.

Things are not so easy for us commuters with bicycles, though. Caltrain and AC Transit buses have limit on how many bikes they can accommodate, so sometimes we are "bumped" from a certain train or bus. And since public transit is a minority option in the Bay Area and most likely not sufficiently funded, the next train/bus can be an hour away. However, without my bike I cannot make the connection happen in the time I described, and will stretch my commute time beyond what's reasonable.

I also arranged with my office so that i can work at home once a week. The local government has always tried to address the congestion issue, but in my opinion not in the right way. We spend so much money building a new span for the Bay Bridge when instead that money can be used to extend BART further south to make some sort of loop or increase the number of trains/buses. The real solution to resolve congestion and all the ailment that comes with it (pollution in greenhouse gas and otherwise, time wasted, road rage, additional road maintenance, etc.) is that we should all simply drive less. I heard a figure that 40% of Bay Area commuters work less than 5 miles away from where they live; if a significant portion of these people can simply take a bus, or ride their bikes to work, our congestion will surely be reduced dramatically.

On my way home, I usually relax and just enjoy the beautiful view of the bay and the city on the bridge. I usually get off a few miles from home and then ride my bike through parts of town I would otherwise not visit (rockridge, mostly). My routine takes me finally through the Cal Berkeley campus and then descend to my house. I often get to marvel at how young college students look to me nowadays.

I like my commute because I get to ride through San Francisco and sense the city's vitality during its busiest hours. I also love riding on the bus across the bay bridge, especially in the afternoon when I can get a view of the city skyline with the sunset in the backdrop. My commuter is my old chrome fixie, which I mentioned briefly in a previous blog, and will devote an entire entry to it in the near future.

[This is a view I have on my bus commute]

Friday, July 20, 2007

Northwest trip and the STP

About a year ago, I described the Seattle-to-Portland (STP) bike ride to Megan, and she exclaimed, "let's do it!". "OK!" I said. "Let's do it in one day", she added. "Are you sure?" I asked. So we started training informally since early Spring, then really put in the time from mid-May to late June on the saddle. Time flies, and a little more than a week ago Megan and I packed our bags with cycling apparels and some change of clothing and hopped on the Amtrak train in Oakland.

We left Wednesday (7/11) night and the train was scheduled to get there by 9PM on thursday (7/12). The train ride was generally comfortable and the scenery was awesome, but both of us were tired from traveling the week before (we were visiting Megan's folks in the South). The train was seriously delayed, and we didn't get into Seattle until 1:30AM (close to 5-hour delay!). We put the bikes back together (on the Coastal Starlight line, Amtrak requires bikes to be boxed. The station has boxes; $10 for a new one, or no charge for a used one. We both opted for the latter, and paid $5 each for 'handling'. The boxes are tall enough that all you need to do is to take off the pedals, turn you handlebar sideways, and roll the bike into the box) and headed for our hotel along 1st avenue in the Belttown district of Seattle.

It was thursday night and Belttown has a club scene. Even though it was close to 2 in the morning, club-goers still litter the street. Most of them were minding their own business, but we did get a couple of benign hassling--"Tour de France is in Europe", for example. We got to the hotel on 1st and Wall and stopped to ring the bell. No one responded. I called the front desk, and no one picked up. Finally, we were let in by 3 party-going guests. After calling, knocking on doors (where the night-shift guy supposedly stayed), and calling some more, we decided to try to get some rest on the couch in the lobby. Hotel guests came and went, and no one came to ask us why we were staying in the lobby.

Finally, in the morning, the cleaning lady showed up and got the night-shift guy for us. He was obviously very embarrassed and apologetic. He gave us keys to our room and we got some short but much needed rest. After cleaning up, we stepped out to do some errands. The manager of the hotel apologized profusely and told us that we wouldn't be charged for the room (I certainly hope not!) and he will "take care" of us if we come to stay next time. Overall the hotel is very nice, and even though they screwed up, they handled it pretty well. I would consider staying there again in the future (and make sure that I get there before 12).

We ran some errands in the morning on our bikes, including picking up our STP packets at the Seattle downtown REI (it's huge! this store is an attraction by itself), and after checking out, we rode our bikes to College Inn in the University District, close to the starting line of STP.

[the picture shows my Specialized Expedition Deluxe in front of the door of College Inn, which is an European-style hotel. I brought my Carradice Carradura saddle bag with quick release with me]

My friend Joseph is finishing up his PhD at University of Washington, so we met up with him. He took us to this vegan buffet on the corner of University Way and 43rd. It was really god and just the kind of carbo-loading we needed.

After lunch Megan went back to the hotel to take a nap while I rode around the neighborhood a little bit to figure out the route to the starting point in the morning. I was also trying to find a map case. I went to Performance bike first, and the summer workers there didn't even know what I was talking about. One of them did point me to Recycled Cycles near by, which is such a nice bike shop. They have lots of cool parts and bikes, such as a red Murray track bike hanging from the ceiling. The workers there know their stuff, but unfortunately, the shop didn't have a stand-alone map case either.

Although we were still pretty full from lunch, we pre-paid for a buffet meal at Whole Foods for dinner, so we went and ate some more. We got back to the hotel at around 7:30pm. After getting all our stuff ready, we went to bed.

The excitement/anxiety kept me from sleeping deeply and I got up by 3:30. I woke Megan up 20 minutes later and we got ready to go. After some breakfast at 4:30 (since virtually everyone staying at the hotel was there for the bike ride), we got on our bikes and rode the 5-minute trip to the starting point (at the E1 parking lot behind UW's Husky Stadium). There were so many cyclists there and people were waiting at the starting line to get started.

[The picture shows Megan and I near the starting line. The picture is blurry because it is still pretty dark at the time]

At 5:05AM, we and maybe 200 other cyclists started our day's journey. There are so many cyclists around! The police pretty much blocked off all the roads for us and all of us were riding on city streets unimpeded. It was a wonderful feeling. We rode along the shore of Lake Washington all the way to the REI headquarter in Kent (mile 24).

[The picture shows the crowd at the Kent REI rest stop]

There were so many people at the rest stop. We used the porto-john, loaded up on some fruit, food, and drinks and got going. The riding was awesome in the morning; since there are so many riders on the road, and the terrain is so flat, there are so many packs of riders everywhere. You can join in pretty much anytime. if you get left behind by a stoplight, no worries, the next wave of riders are coming right behind you. Through most of the morning, we were riding at a pace of 16-22 mph.
The only real hill (though there were many rollers, especially in the afternoon) was at mile 43, near the town of Puyallup. It's about 7% grade for around a mile. Being used to the many and more serious hills in the Bay Area, this hill is not really all that daunting, though it was definitely a change from the flat terrains we have been riding up to that point.

Throughout most of the morning, we were riding on city streets through suburb towns. Near mile 70, the route takes us onto a long bike path. I commute daily in the city of San Francisco, so riding on the street does not unnerve me, especially when one is riding with such a big group. However, riding on off-street path is still very lovely. I did not bring enough fluids and electrolytes, and was starting to feel the onset of some fatigue and cramps. I had to stop several times to get water along the way.

Just a little before noon and with my trip meter topping 100 miles, Megan and I arrived at the town of Centralia, which is the mid-point of the ride and where we planned to have lunch.

The location of our lunch and mid-day festival is Centralia community college. At this point there are lots of things set up and the gear trucks were unloading stuff for the two-day riders, most of whom will be staying overnight in Centralia.

One small complain I might have about the STP is that the food is quite mediocre, especially for vegans. We ended up sharing a baked potato and ate some more of our energy bars. We left after sitting in the shade for a while.

The afternoon was tougher, mainly because for stretches it was quite hot. I remember a stretch before the first stop in the afternoon when i was dying from the heat. I didn't bring my own electrolyte (clif shots electrolyte really works for me) powder and gatorade barely works for me, so I started to cramp a little. The herd of cyclists has thinned out considerably, partly because many riders are actually two-day riders who got an early start, partly because the fast riders have gone on, leaving us slow-pokes to fend for ourselves. At this point I basically ride at a decent pace for a few miles, then have to get off my bike to stretch for a minute, then start again. I feel sorry for Megan, who doesn't have cramping problems, but was kind enough to wait for her worse half. After the first stop, the weather actually cooled off again, and helped me a lot. We were not riding at the brisk pace of the morning, but still going at about 15 mph. The rollers are more pronounced in the afternoon, too. I was punished for not pedaling through the first few, but smarted up afterward.

At this point, I pretty much have to stop at all the stop to get more water/sports drink. We got slightly lost at one point following a group of riders. It seems that it might be an alternate route because I saw some of them at a later stop. We went for about 2 miles off route, got off our bikes, read the map, and decided to retrace our steps. Up to that point, we have been simply following folks and the signs on the ground, but after getting lost a bit, we decided to read the maps more carefully.

So we rode (and I struggled with cramps) for a while, until we got to the Lewis and Clark Bridge with about 60+ miles to go. I think it was between 3-4 in the afternoon and we began to face the prospect of not getting there before dark (my fault, of course). I could actually still ride at a good pace at that point, but my legs would cramp after some miles, by which point I have to get off, stretch for a minute, and start again. I have had this problem before, and know how to manage it and complete a ride, only it slows me (and Megan) down.

The bridge itself was fun (another aside, one of my bottle cage broke off, so I had to carry one of the bottles in my back pocket, which is already cramped with arm warmers, clif cars, and other stuff), and it was windy. I really enjoyed the Columbia River when I was on the bridge. The weather was cool now, and that was really good.

We got onto HWY 30 at this point, going east toward Portland, we will spend the next 45 miles on this freeway. It goes through towns near Portland, and has a wide shoulder, but the cars drive fairly fast on it. Although there were some variation of scenery and terrain, it was fairly monotonous. We now are just trying to get there as early as we could, knowing that we cannot get there before 9PM. We still see quite a bit of folks on the road and at rest stops, which gives us comfort that we weren't the very last ones, and that there are people on the road with us.

Even though STP was a very well-supported ride, many riders still had their own personal-support vehicle. Megan and I feel somewhat annoyed by it, as there are more cars than necessary on the road. I kind of understand that friends and family want to accompany the riders on the road. Maybe the STP can arrange some sort of vanpool for companions of riders who want to do that. There were still a few stops along the route in the last miles, and we stop and eat and drink, and generally see the same group of riders who are presumably like us, just trying to finish the ride. There is some solidarity in that.

About 30 miles from the finish, we were on a especially wide and fast portion of HWY 30. Megan was ahead of me (not very far) and all of a sudden I saw a large coke cup flying between my body and my bike. It missed me and hit the side of the road, and ice and liquid splashed. I looked over and saw a black pickup truck pulled ahead fast and exited at the next ramp. Apparently I had been the target of a "hit-a-cyclist" prank, except the prankster had bad aim (luckly me!). Megan was upset about it. I was just happy that it didn't actually hit me. Sun is setting about this time. We still had some daylight but not very bright at this point.

With about 15 miles to go, we finally see some semblance of a big city. We rode through neighborhoods and districts. At one point we crossed one of the many bridges in Portland to NE Portland. By now we had a band of cyclists following us, and we all chatted with each other and said things of encouragement as we all figured out the end is near. I am fairly used to riding in the dark and in city traffic, so they stayed behind me and followed my lead. We got to Lloyd Center finally around 9:30pm. The cheering crowd (mostly family members of people who are still on the road) cheered for us, and one volunteer handed us a patch for finishing. Megan and I are tired but happy that we did it. We stretched slightly and went to grab our luggage at the Double Tree hotel next to the park. There seems to be still a few bags there, signaling that we weren't the last group. We put our bags on our bikes and walked 2 blocks to the motel I made a reservation at. Over there, another group of fellow STP'ers were arguing with the hotel management about a reservation the motel apparently didn't get: there was no vacancy left, but apparently someone over the phone promised something to these folks. They were kind enough to suspend their arguments and let me grab my keys first. Fortunately, the group already had one room, but now they just had to squeeze.

We got into our rooms, took a shower, drank some fluid, and fell over and passed out. We did our first double century (actually it was 210 miles, according to both of our cyclometers, maybe because we were lost for a little bit). We were really happy! It was a lot of fun!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A blog about bikes and rides

I started to become more interested in bicycles and cycling in 2002--although I have been riding bicycles since I was young and have always enjoy riding around--when a friend of mine asked me if I would like to participate in a 2-day 150-mile bike ride here in Northern California. I was living in San Francisco at the time (Marina area, actually, for those of you familiar with the city) and decided that the best way to train for it is by riding a bike 4 miles to the Caltrain station and then getting off the train 5 miles from work and then ride to work. I didn't have a bike at the time (I had a campus cruiser when I was a graduate student at Stanford that I gave away when I graduated). I went to Missing Link in berkeley, and was originally intending to spend around $400 on a hybrid, but after I tried a Marin Mill Valley ALP, which is essentially a road bike with flat handlebar, V-brakes, and slightly bigger (700x28c) tires, I was overwhelmed by how smooth it felt(compared to all the bikes I have had before) as it glided across the pavement in downtown Berkeley near the shop. I ended up buying that bike and started my love affair with bikes and cycling.

At the time I also bought a helmet, lock, water bottle, light, and an assortment of accessories. I'd wake up at 5:15am and started riding from my apartment in the Marina at 5:40 to catch the 6:10am train at the train station at 4th and King streets. I really enjoyed it a lot although I had a major accident less than a month into it and almost died (more on that in a different entry; I had my helmet on, which for sure saved my life). I continued to ride after recovering from the accident and repairing the bike. At the end of the season, I was able to complete the ride (Buddhist Bicycle Pilgrimage) that I set out to do in the beginning of the season fairly easily. I have always been fairly fit and in-shape, and at the time run and play basketball a lot, but I was hooked on cycling for life.

Somewhere in between then and now, I got into bicycles--learning about them, repairing them, building them up, their components, different bike makers--and have since helped several of my friends and girlfriend getting into cycling. This blog is to be a deposit of the processes I have gone through, as well as experiences and knowledge I gained as I continue to work on bikes. I will also include ride reports on different rides I go on. In a few weeks I will be in Seattle doing the STP (Seattle-to-Portland) ride and I will try to write a report on that as my first ride report for this blog.

As I have more time, I will start to post pictures of my bikes and write about how I set them up, and various bike projects I take on for my bikes of bikes of my friends and family. I do most of the work myself, though do not yet trust my skills in wheelbuilding (Chuck at missing link is a great builder and I recommend his service to anyone). I will also recount some learning experiences I had in the recent past on building up or repairing some interesting setups.

Currently I have a Rivendell Romulus, a 84' Specialized Expedition Delux, and a fixed gear bike that is coverted from a italian frame of 60's vintage and unkown origin. I will have separate post for each of them, but for now I will just post pictures of them.