Monday, February 18, 2013

SFR Valley Ford 200k: Workers' Ride

sequoia and golden gate bridge

I planned on riding the San Francisco Randonneurs' Valley Ford 200k brevet this month. However, the event was actually on the same weekend as M's birthday, and I didn't want to be away for the whole day. So I signed up to work as a volunteer and rode on the workers' ride instead. The workers' ride follows the same route and requirements as the actual event, and needs to fall within a week of the actual event.

Sunrise Skyline
I woke up early to get on a transbay bus to San Francisco. It is still dark at this time, but the sky was more a spectrum of grey than black, and getting brighter. I got to East Beach of Crissy Field on time and waited for the handful of others who are also doing the workers' ride today. After getting the brevet card we got on the way, and it is bright at this point. The first part of the course is the same as the Point Reyes Lighthouse 200k I did 2 weeks before--through the southern Marin towns of Sausalito, Mill Valley, Larkspur, Ross, San Anselmo, and Fairfax to get on Sir Francis Drake (SFD) Blvd. Two weeks ago when we were riding on the Mill Valley bike path, the light was barely grazing the top of Mt Tam. Today daylight was in full effect as we passed through the same stretch. Camino Alto's gentle gradient always helped to get my warmed up and stretch my legs some. However, the descent on the other side, though not steep, brought the temperature back down. As I was riding through these towns I remarked to the others--Tom, Steve, and Lisa--that it was colder than two weeks ago. Even with two pairs of gloves on I constantly blew into my hands to keep them warm, and the wooden bridges on the Mill Valley bike path had frost on them in the morning.

Point Reyes-Petaluma Road
Whites Hill on SFD always presents a challenge to me. The climb is of medium gradient, but not short enough that I can get off the saddle and power myself through. Also, the shoulder is pretty narrow at times so I have to constantly keep myself out of cars' way. After Whites Hills, we tackled hills on Nicasio Valley Road and Point Reyes-Petaluma Road. The hillside pastures are glowing green, with dots of early spring yellow wild flowers mixed in. By the time we rolled into Petaluma at a quarter to 11, the temperature has risen to be quite comfortable. Peet's Coffee served as a nice spot to sit for a bit and get some warm fluid in my body. I also got a burrito at the nearby hi-tech burrito for an early lunch.

Peet's Coffee Control
Lisa decided to call it a day and turned back. Steve, Tom, and I headed for Valley Ford. At this point, the day has mellowed out to become a nice winter day in the Bay Area--sunny, breezy, just warm enough so that a thin jacket is sufficient, but not too hot to make you sweat. The road to the coast tends to come with consistent headwind, though today it was pretty calm. Though I was doing OK, I couldn't keep up the pace of my companions. They graciously waited for me and pulled me for a couple of stretches. We covered the 20 miles to Valley Ford in a little more than 75 minutes of riding.

World touristBesides getting a receipt for the control, eating some food and using the facilities, we also chatted with a bike tourist who is on a world tour on bikes and sailboats only. She told us some of her adventures as well as how she handles the logistics of transporting herself across oceans and surviving on less than a shoestring budget. As we spoke she was on her way down the coast to Los Angeles to catch a sailboat to Mexico, then onto Australia. We wished her the best of luck. What an adventure!

HWY 1 outside of Tomales
Besides two smallish climbs on HWY 1 before Tomales, this next stretch to Point Reyes Station consisted mostly of rollers and flat roads. Just outside of Tomales, on the stretch with a creek running along side the road, I saw an owl sitting on the side of the road. I tried to get as close as I can to take a picture. It was slow to respond, but was definitely alive. I hope it was OK, and not sitting there because it was injured. The mid-afternoon sun is not slanted toward the horizon, and water in the bay is glittering with golden reflection from its rays. Now the weather was perfect! I passed Tom as he caught up with the tourist, who left Valley Ford ahead of us. They were chatting about the best route into the City. Steve has motored ahead at this point. Though I speculated that the tailwind between Marshall and Point Reyes Station wouldn't be as strong as usual as it was calm on Bodega Highway heading west, we still got a decent push from behind all the way into Pt Reyes Station at not quite 3PM.

Sequoia in Nicasio

We sat in the sun for a good 20 minutes and ate some food. I was definitely doing better than 2 weeks ago. Even though I was on similar timeline as two weeks ago, I had taken more and longer rest today, which means my average speed was higher. I kept a moderate pace through Nicasio, then Woodacre. Tom and Steve were kind enough to wait for me again in Fairfax after descending Whites Hill. We rode all the way back to the City today. After getting a receipt at Sports Basement for the final control, I headed for BART as it was getting cold again. The time on our receipt was 6:45pm. It was certainly an improvement, and we did take quite a bit of breaks today. I think I should be ready for the 300k in a month.

Sequoia in Nicasio
I took the newly repainted Specialized Sequoia for the ride today. I added a small wedge saddle bag to hold the tools and create more space in the VO front bag. The combined capacity was adequate for the ride. I lowered the stem when I built it back up, and though I was mostly doing OK, toward the end I had to consciously shook my hands to prevent them from going numb. Otherwise I was pretty comfortable. I have bar-end shifter on the right hand side, and downtube on the left, and it worked out well as I spent 90% of the ride on my 46T big chainring, but used all 8 gears on the cassette. The drivetrain was quite even on the big-big cross gear. The bike felt lighter than the Kogswell from two weeks ago--both of them respond to my pedal strokes in a "planing" effect, thanks to their standard-size tubing. The other major new components were the handlebar and the fenders. The rear blinker's attachment was not super solid, and made a rattling sound. The handlebar provided ample space behind the brake levers to rest my hands; the bar tapes were too short for the bar so as not to cover enough metal. On this cold day I couldn't put my hands closer to the center, but that's a minor complaint. The drop was deep, which makes a better aero position, but reaching for the levers from the drop was not as easy as was on the midge bar. Overall, this was a great set up for me, and the ride was very enjoyable.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Sequoia Now Pink Part II

A better rendering of actual colors

I have assembled the Specialized Sequoia back into a bicycle after getting the frameset from the powdercoater last week. The assembly was not without some difficulty.

Head tube
The crown race was deformed beyond being usable when I was removing it from the fork. Though some shops and ebay sellers sell a Tange 26.4mm crown race for less than $5, I wasn't sure whether it will work with the bottom cup and bearing of the Origin8 Propulsion headset I had on this bike. I could probably call Origin8 and see if the company can send a replacement, but that might take some time. At the end, I decided to buy a cheap 1" threaded headset--a Ritchey Logic--from my local bike shop Missing Link, and used the bottom half to go with the top half of the threadless Origin8 headset. Since both were silver, the headset doesn't look particularly mismatched until closer inspection. I have the tools to press in the cups, and I asked Missing Link to press the crown race on for me.

I also had the shop chased some of the threads that I couldn't do myself, mainly the bottom bracket. Later as I was putting on the drivetrain, I realized that the derailleur hanger needed chasing, too. It's a 10mm thread, which is not a common size. I remembered that I still have a wheel axle from a busted Surly hub from my fixie-riding days. I cranked two nuts together and used them with a pedal wrench to turn the axle once I got it threaded into the dropout with some cutting oil. After applying significant force the hanger was usable again. The drivetrain went out without a problem after that.

Front wheel fender line
The third difficulty was reshaping the fenders. I bought some Tanaka 45mm alloy fenders for 700c at a discount. For this project Honjos were simply too expensive, and VO was out of stock on its 650b 45mm fenders. I used the Tanaka fenders once before on a fixed-gear build, and thought they were of decent quality. It took a little time to spread and bend the fenders into the right diameter for 650b wheels, but they turned out pretty well, and slightly wider because of the reshaping. I moved the chainstay attachment closer to the wheel axle by using a nylon spacer to improve the fender line further. Now the fender lines look nice for both wheels, but I might have to deflate the rear wheel slightly to remove it.

I also changed some of the components and set up on this bike. I am using a more traditional road drop handlebar than the ultra-flared Midge On-one I had on the bike. Velo Orange's Grand Cru Classic Round handlebar is the choice. It looks very nice and comparable in terms of weight to the nitto bars I have on my other bikes. This handlebar is deceptively long, though, as a full roll of Soma's thick and zesty bar tape can barely wrap the handlebar adequately, leaving more than usual metal exposed. I also moved the left-hand shifter to the downtube to reduce drag from the extended housing. However, I like how the bar-end shifter work with a top-normal rear derailleur, and had less than satisfactory experience with a downtube-top-normal derailleur combo, so the right-hand shifter stays at the bar-end.

Drive side 3/4
I wanted to find a solution in the front so I can put on the take off a front low-rider rack (Tubus Tara in my case) without messing with the fender's attachment, as both need to use the rear-facing eyelets on the fork. I thought I had the solution--I can screw on M5 bolts from inside to outside the fork, put the fender's R-clips on the bolt, and use a M5 coupling nut to secure the fender attachment. Then when I want to put on the low-rider rack, I just need to use a M5 bolt and secure the rack's lower mounting point to the outer end of the coupling nut. Alas, I can't find a M5 coupling nut in the two local hardware stores I visited. Peter White sells fender nuts for installing SKS fenders to recessed brake holes. If I can't find M5 coupling nuts, I can buy those from him.

The rest of the build list is the same as the bike before it was painted. But I will list the parts here for reference:

- Specialized Sequoia frame with Paragon cantilever posts added to the chainstays; 58cm
- Kogswell 64mm-offset Konversion fork 1" threadless, with Paragon cantilever posts added
- Mismatched headset: Origin8 Propulsion upper half, and Ritchey Logic lower half
- VO Grand Cru Classic Round Bend Handlebar 46cm
- VO threadless stem 90mm 6 degrees
- Soma Thick and Zesty bar tape, yellow
- Tektro R200 brake levers with mismatched hoods
- Tektro CR720 cantilever brakes
- Nitto M12 front rack
- VO Campagne boxy handlebar bag
- Velocity Dyad/Shimano LX dynamo front wheel; 32h
- Busch and Muller IQ Cyo Senso head lamp
- Velocity Dyad/Shimano LX rear wheel; 32h
- Panaracer Col de la Vie 37mm (on dyad rims) tires
- stock seatpost 26.8mm
- beat up Terry Liberator saddle
- generic bottle cages x 2
- VO 1st-gen compact double crankset; 46/34T chainrings; 165mm crank arms
- SRAM 9-speed chain
- IRD bottom bracket; 68x107mm
- Campagnolo Veloce double front derailleur
- Shimano LX top-normal rear derailleur
- SRAM 11-32 cassette
- Tanaka alloy 45mm fenders (originally for 700c)
- Suntour ratchet shifters (L: downtube; R: barend)
- Crane bronze bell
- Crank Brothers Candy C pedals
- Cygolite Metro 300 rear blinky mounted on the fender

I think going with a powdercoater who is very experienced with bicycle frames is very important. The powdercoater I used this time overall did a good job--the paint was pretty even, not too thick, and seems to have good coverage. However, not all the threads were covered properly, and the stainless steel dropout were painted also. If I were to paint my frames in the future, I would go with an powdercoater experienced with bike frames.