Sunday, March 20, 2011

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

So it's raining still. There was a nice sunny window this morning which inspired me to formulate an Oakland cafe plan, one that I would ride to...504 over on Wesley St. A bit risky yes, but worth it. So I got my locks together, put my laptop in a plastic bag inside my backpack, put on a weatherproof jacket (over my street clothes) and wheeled the Miyata out the door. Of course it started showering at that exact moment. Of course. I dashed under the roof of my backyard deck and sat there a while watching the half hearted rain, imagining myself getting wetter and wetter riding over to Lake Merritt, so I bagged the whole idea.

I like the minimalism of 504. My previous visit on a Wednesday, on my way to work, it was pouring buckets and a torrent of raging curbwater was coming up onto the sidewalk in front of the cafe. There was a city bike parked against the window, seemingly cowering from the flood. Inside 504 are a few round tables, and the cafe prep area. It's a small hole in the wall kind of place, but this is precisely what appeals to me. The barrista that day was a young woman, hip, attractive, and distant. The music playing was something really cool I've never heard before... part female angst vocals, part hypno-electronic trance vibe. Perfect. They do "pours" at 504. I'm discovering that "pours" are the new cool thing in coffee. Yeah, well...

I've been doing pours for 30 years, but didn't know it...I've always called the method "filter cone". Simple, makes excellent one cup brews. I didn't know how ahead of the curve I am on this. For once I can celebrate my prescience in this matter. The big difference in my pours and coffee house pours is the 1000% markup in price, I mean, they charge more for this service than regular vat brewed java. Hand made, right? Ah, I know I am really paying for the ambiance and free internet anyway. 3 bucks for inspiration to write a blog is good dineros invested in my opinion.

So I mentioned I almost took a ride today. Man, it's been raining a lot lately, more than last year if my memory serves me. There is always that nagging worry of falling out of shape and becoming a fat, gelatinous blob. Don't worry about it. Consider the spacestation astronauts, who after 6 months of weightlessness, return to Earth as weak as someone who has been in a coma, for crying out loud. It comes back fast.

Besides, it's a good thing to sometimes get out of the same old routine, to resist your usual habits, do something different. Yesterday I helped my old folks---fixed their shower head, their broken washer faucet, their bedroom telephone that wouldn't work, their "Helping Ears" TV headphones that were not plugged in and had dead batteries. And just spent some time visiting. That almost never happens on Saturdays, I'm always off riding. There is that nagging little voice that says perhaps I am too self involved in my own interests---LALALALALALALALA---there, it's gone now. Back to blogging.

The only aspect of cycling that stirs any interest in me right now is SRAM's Apex groupo. Apex is in a nutshell a compact drivetrain with a mountain bike rear cassette, meant for road use. Not that they had a lightening strike of inspiration. I've modded my bikes this way before, and many of you on the team, MacGyver for instance, have a similar, even lower geared Shimano setup. SRAM's tagline on their ads for Apex is: "Kills triples dead". Hah. That's not too original, in my mind that's a direct steal of Black Flag's insecticide ads which boldly proclaimed "KILLS ROACHES DEAD". Kills triples dead. I don't think so.

Their claim to superiority over triples is the lighter weight of their system with essentially the same low gear ratio, or better. Granted. However they totally avoid the fact that you can do the same thing as Apex with a triple, and more. As I have on my Lemond. I have much lower gearing than Apex as I have a 28 on the front whereas Apex uses a 34 compact ring. But my setup is costly in terms of weight, if you want to argue that a half pound makes all the difference on a bike. I think light weigh only goes so far. Why am I able to ride up hills faster than people with bikes that are 5-10 lbs lighter than mine? Lower gears and higher power to weight ratio.

Sure, a super light bike feels great, but when the road starts going up, your body weight plays an ever greater factor in your climbing speed. That's why some of our team's small thin women can outclimb the big muscular guys. Overall, the total weight package is lower. It's as simple as that, and that is why I think spending thousands upon thousands for slightly lighter bike gains is something that I'm not going to be doing soon.

So, back to the cafe. I'm sitting in Spritzer's here on the Island. I drove here after doing some errands. Got a nice cappuccino, which is now lukewarm. But the inspiration has been provided. Good middle road rock music playing, internet is fast and easy to connect to. Couch is super comfy.

Lastly, I got a text message from Thailand last night From Z_rider. You will recall a group of Team Alameda cyclists are on a tour over there. It read like an old fashioned telegram and simply said something like "had a great time, thinking about all you could blog about here". Got a similar short email from McNulty last night as well.

Nice. There they are on the other side of the world, just having had an adventure of a lifetime, and they are thinking of me. Of how I would have written it up. A monumental epic ride report done in Flashblog style. That means a lot to me. Thanks guys.

Ride On My Friends


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