Thursday, June 26, 2014


Went late into the night cleaning out my old office last night, and have officially reported to my new command today, which was decorated with dozens of pictures of dogs on surfboards -- as was the hallway, my nameplate on my door, the break-room, etc.. -- all courtesy of my predecessor who is having way too much fun with the whole "dog blog" thing.

I could be in for a long tour . . .

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Dog With a Bike Blog

One of the quainter aspects of being in the Navy is our love for our storied traditions.  One of my personal favorites has always been the Hail and Farewell, where the wardroom comes together to send up those who are departing the command and mildly embarrass the newbies by calling them up to be introduced to the assemblage.  Well, it was my favorite until Friday I think.  As I'm in the midst of changing commands (don't panic Bikeist fans, I'm staying in San Diego!), I have been going through a whirlwind of farewells from my old command and one, unfortunate, hail from my new one.  Don't get me wrong, the hail was a perfectly nice event, and a great opportunity to get to know my impressive new shipmates.  The problem was the whole indignity part --

As I've seen at dozens and dozens of other such events, the hailee is called to the front of the room to be "introduced."  As is standard, you supply the MC (usually the XO or Chief of Staff) with an info sheet before the event for her or him to use as fodder to make you squirm a bit.  No big deal for me, as I actually enjoy the whole ordeal and have no problem with being the butt of any joke or prank.  But, messing with my blog is a whole different story!

In my case, I provided the standard information about my family, including reference to my "useless backup auxiliary Boston Terrier/Chihuahua, Benny." (You're welcome CoS!  Nothing funnier than a big, bad guy like me owning such an ineffectual pooch!). Then, under the "Something Interesting About Me" category, I of course, proudly, revealed that I write a bike blog under the pseudonym "The San Diego Bikeist."  Fascinating, right?  Who wouldn't be instantly impressed and enthralled to have a legitimate celebrity in their wardroom?  We'll never know --

It started out well enough, the CoS -- who looks and seems like he could be the love child of James Duvall's "Great Santini" (complete with flight suit) and Jesse "The Body" Ventura --
-- pointed out that I devoted more space in my info sheet to my dogs than my own daughters.  Good stuff -- squarely hitting the softball I provided.  Then it got ugly.  "And, as if that's not enough, this guy spends his free time writing a 'Dog Blog'!"  That's when everything just became a blur to me.  Witness accounts report that I clearly mouthed "It's a bike blog!" through the look of supreme anguish and befuddlement that instantly wiped the stupid new-guy grin off my face.

Really?  A dog blog?  Instead of an ultra-cool bike enthusiast, my new shipmates have now been given the first impression that I'm one of those dog people.  Sure, I love dogs, and most animals, but NOT more than people.  More importantly, I don't think that they are people, and certainly wouldn't devote an entire blog to them.  I mean, "dog person" is just one, very small, step above "cat lady."   I obsess about frames and saddles and pedals, not paws and whiskers --

I have very little memory of the rest of the evening, except shaking the hands of lots of folks in flight suits and muttering "It's actually a bike blog" over and over.  Pretty sure nobody heard it over the din, though.  

Not sure if I'll ever recover from this.  Might be time to start seriously considering an alternate form of employment.  Wonder if any local kennels  are hiring . . .

Friday, June 20, 2014

"Squeak, squeak, squeak . . ."

Apologies for this extremely late edition of The Bikeist.  The problem is that I've been distracted to distraction by my squeaky, creaking, noisy saddle all week. Tried to replace it with a Specialized Toupe, but the brand new saddle creaked even more!

A quick Google search by my crack research team revealed a plethora of riders with identical complaints about Specializes saddles.  The big problem, though, is that almost all riders, noise or not, rate Specialized Body Geometry saddles as the most comfortable they have ever ridden.  I have to agree.  After decades of gutting out numbness, pain, and tingling, my Specialized saddle has made all of that go away like magic.

I have tried everything with my current saddle:  readjusting the rails, oiling them, untightening and re-tightening everything, slightly varying the saddle position.  Yet, there it is whenever I begin to apply the slightest bit of torque -- a rhythmic "eee-aww, eee-aww, eee-aww . . ." not unlike having a minute donkey trapped in my saddle-bag.

Guys at the shop recommend I try a Fiz•ik saddle, like a lot of pros ride, but they're pretty expensive, and I've read complaints about them being uncomfortable (comfort being the #1 feature we should all look for in a saddle, with unsqueakiness running a close second).  Some of my friends say I ahould break down and get a Brooks leather saddle.  

They are soo beautiful and well made (the Cambium, non leather, model I have on my urban assault bike never squeaks, but is too hard for long rides).  But, they can take a year to break in and are ruined if they get wet.

This problem is so typical of the problems faced by avid bike riders.  When you spend so much time in the saddle, you become very particular about your bike and how it performs.  So, a small thing like a sqeak can just about drive you insane.  Even more maddening, though, is that, even though bicycles are refined machines, there never seems to be an obvious, scientific, black and white answer to these sorts of problems.  I'd be better off going to a psychic than to a bike mechanic to figure this one out.

So, after months of experimentation, I decided to seize the opportunity to pester all my cycling club friends at once last night at the farewell we held for one of our legendary riders (and avid member of The Bikeist's fan-base), Chris.  And the near consensus was that I should go with the Selle Anatomica:

It's a leather saddle, that incorporates the modern, Specialized-type approach to relieving pelvic pressure, that riders claim is comfortable right out of the box -- so no prolonged break-in period!  

I'm sold!  Hopefully, it will be more solidly constructed than the plasticky Specialized saddles I've been riding and trying out.  I'll be sure to let you know.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Happy Father's Day To Me!

Oddly enough, Father's Day, one of only three days of the year that's supposed to be all about me (along with Bike-to-Work-Day, of course, and the annual commemoration of my birth), is one of the very few in recent memory that did not find me on one of my various bikes.  That did not stop me, however, from carbo-loading on fresh bagels in the morning as if I was about to embark on a double century ride.  Going to have to put in a lot of miles and burpees this week to work those off.  Completely worth it!

Not being in the saddle does not mean that I refrained from all bike-related activity, though.  Now that I, finally, have wifi up and running at the new Bikeist Worldwide Headquarters, this Hallmark Holiday provided the perfect excuse for me to go online and treat myself to some new gear.

First up was this snazzy new helmet from Giro:

Can't wait for it to arrive!  I have been riding with the same Giro road helmet since 2007.  Manufacturers say you should trade out helmets every two or three years (of course), while some publications say you can go longer (although, there is no really good research out there on the shelf-life of helmets that haven't suffered impact).  I'd say that, both scientifically and anecdotally, though, that seven years is probably kind of pushing it.

For all you "buy local" folks out there, please don't hate me for purchasing this through the interwebs.  My local shop only sells Specialized helmets, and they said it was too much of a pain to special order the "Aspect."  

As for the helmet, Giro touts it as being high performance along with its fashionably utlitarian look.  Extremely lightweight with venting that is supposed to keep the helmet off the scalp itself.  The visor (key for me) is removable and gives the helmet the look that makes it just as suitable for pulling up to a brewpub as it is for shielding your eyes on a long Saturday ride.  As someone who uses my bikes equally for fitness, commuting, and errands, I love gear that performs well but doesn't look ridiculous when I'm riding casually or off the bike.  More to come on this helmet when it arrives and I get to try it out.

Speaking of gear that fits just as well in a coffee shop as on a group ride, my next treat to myself was to order two of these:

Notice how it looks like a bike jersey, with many of the same features (plus a pocket that looks to actually be useful), without the whole stretchy spandexy thing?  Leave it to LL Bean to provide something classic and useful that doesn't make you look like some sort of martian on two wheels. Please don't get me wrong, while I like to tease about spandex, I understand the benefits of skin-tight clothing for, actual, competitive cyclists.  Given that at least 98.34% of the folks I encounter on the road are not that, though, I just like to demonstrate now and again that there are alternatives to looking like an overstuffed sausage when you go out riding.  Again, had to go online to get this shirt, since bike-shops just don't sell this sort of useful gear.

Wow, my new Ridgerunner shirt is really going to look great with my new helmet!  Especially as I slurp noodles during a post-ride recovery session at Underbelly!  I think I'll probably take the helmet off, though, to eat the noodles . . .

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Pure Joy

Littlest Bikeist has been back in the hospital all week, but, thankfully got to come home today.  No opportunity to do a full-blown post.  But, who needs a bunch of words strung together, when you can witness pure, unadulterated, "bikeism" in its visual form?  Thanks to loyal reader, Larry, for alerting me to this awesome video:

Strider Championship Series Thailand 2014 from BKKStrider on Vimeo.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Racking My Brain

Any of you been on Orange Avenue in Coronado lately?  

If you are a bike enthusiast (and who isn't?) you have undoubtedly noticed that the Crown Island's main drag has become a veritable menagerie of bike racks.  Like the mish-mash of home styles that clash with each other on Coronado's residential streets (Craftsman, Victorian, Spanish Colonial, Billy-Box, 21st Century Nouveau Rich Greek Revival, Plasticine, etc.) the random variety of bike racks on display downtown defy any and all notions of uniformity, cohesion, or, in some cases, common decency.

I think the sudden proliferation of competing styles of racks may have been been sparked by the placement of these, experimental, bike corrals in place of certain parking spots last year:

The nice things about them (besides taking away parking spaces and, in turn, further incentivizing using bikes for errands downtown) is that they can accomodate lots of bikes (whereas a single rack can only handle one or two) and that their simple design allows for placing the lock and frame in a variety of positions.   The main, problem with them, though, is that they are just plain ugly --

These would have gone over great in 70's era Soviet Bloc countries.

For a far more visually appealing bike corral, one need only saunter across the bridge and up the 163 to Hillcrest --

Same concept (also occupying a parking space), but so much prettier!  These also appear to offer even more potential points of attachment per rack.

In acknowledgment, it appears, of the bland ugliness of the "new" bike corrals, it seems that the City has deployed several new experimental models for the public to examine and critique.  The. Most striking are these, I think:

They look even faster than the rocket-ship parked behind them!  Much, much, more stylish than the purely utilitarian corrals, while offering a multitude of attachment points (so important with a U-lock or when you want to get your frame and front wheel attached to the rack via one lock).  They'd look even better, though, if they were in a parking space!

Next up is this model spotted on the sidewalk near Cafe 1134:

Also sporting Coronado Islander Green, like the racer racks, these seem to blend utility and style --

It's easy to tell that some research and purposeful engineering went into these racks.  They are designed to prop up most bikes with built-in wheel wells, and an angled upper frame that will be adjacent to the frame (vice just the wheel) of the bike:

It would be super-easy to attach my U-Lock to the rack, frame and front wheel of my Urban Assault Bike (pictured) with this sleek frame.  The problem, though, is that a single one of these can only accomodate two bikes (hence all the cafe-goers bikes propped against the nearby tree.

Next up is this very interesting rack:

While not quite as stylish as the racer racks or the Ikea-style rack in front of Cafe 1134, this one is still more visually pleasing than the corrals (which isn't very hard to be).  What I like about them, though, is how they stand in stark contrast to the crappy, old-school rack in the background.  Look at how this design allows multiple bikes to get the frame and wheel adjacent to a point where a U-Lock can be utilized to lock both -- especially the frame.  The one behind, only allows the wheel to be locked -- which is useless against bike thieves who can detach the frame from the wheel and walk off with it in a split second.  Same goes for this rack spotted outside the Galley at North Island:

When I see one of these, I do exactly what the Sailor who owns the mountain bike pictured did -- lock it to the side of the rack frame, where my lock can reach the bike frame itself.  Thus, a rack supposedly built for about ten bikes is really only effective for two.

Also spotted on Orange were some parking meter enhancements that make it somewhat less awkward to turn them into impromptu bike racks.

Not as snazzy as the other designs, but the oval provides lots of potential angles and points of frame attachment.  Here's another "enhancement" that appears to have been part of some other era's rack experiment:

Need to look a little closer:

It looks to be designed to provide a slot to fit the fork into when leaning the bike against the meter, but I'm really not sure what use that is.  Could just be a vestigial  leftover of something that was once useful.

Of all the varieties of racks we have all over downtown, this organic "rack" is the style I have probably used the most over the years:

Useless for a U-lock, but (easily cut) cable locks can reach around.

Leaving the Emerald City again, I spied these on a recent ride through Balboa Park:

Classy!  Plus, I like the logo built into the wheel.  An array of these filling a bike corral with a nice Coronado logo, could go a long way toward approaching that whole unity and style thing I alluded to above.  

Finally, I give you this remnant which can be spotted in a few places on Coronado sidewalks:

Pretty nearly useless, while doing the near-impossible:  making the bike corrals look attractive in comparison.

Now it is your solemn duty as bike enthusiasts and citizens to flood the Transportation Commission with your own views on how bike racks should be deployed in Coronado and/or your neighborhood/community.  Tell them The Bikeist sent you . . .

Friday, June 6, 2014

Bikeist Undercover

Your beloved Bikeist has gone deep undercover to produce a hard-hitting exposé on the state of bike racks in Coronado.  Ooh, it's going to be juicy!  Here's a little something to whet your appetites until I go to press:

Pretty sure this is going to get me that Pulitzer I've been angling for .  . .

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Bike-to-Work-Day (The Aftermath)

Well, I hope it was as good for you as it was for me -- Bike-to-Work-Day that is.  As threatened, I was out of bed at 5 am and amongst the eager throngs ready to board the 5:40 ferry to Broadway.  As always, Tyler-"Claus" (the proprietor of Holland's Bikes) was there with his merry band of bike-elves handing out free coffee, muffins, and other baked goods along with SANDAG-provided t-shirts and goodies.  Larry Hofstetter, the Grand Poobah of all things bikes and biking in Coronado, commandeered the ferry's PA system and served as the MC for the occasion, providing an official welcome and kick-off to the grand festivities.

Once we, finally, got to Broadway, it was every rider for themself as we (ok, I) came charging off the dock in a crazed frenzy to accumulate as much free stuff as was humanly possible before getting to work. Unfortunately, I had a hard deadline of 7 am since I had to be on time for a command run (yes, running on Bike-to-Work Day, can you believe it?).  With my iPhone in hand, though, and the below map displayed on Google Maps, I had no problem making efficient use of my time.

First, I pedaled hard up Broadway to hit the pit-stop at Horton Plaza.  Nice people, but the folks running this organic, etc., juice truck either hadn't gotten the memo that Bike-to-Work Day started at 6 am sharp, or were just the hippy-dippy sorts for whom being on time isn't of much (any?) importance --

Anyway, I got to overhear them talking about juice, but didn't get any myself.  Wah!  I did get a second t-shirt, though (for bigger little bikeist), a velcro pant-leg-cuff, and another Cliff Bar.

Next it was off to the Civic Center where my buddy Jeff (who rode the ferry over with me and does understand the importance of being on time) was manning the pit-stop where he was handing out sliced bagels and fresh coffee he had purchased himself.  What a great guy!   Especially enjoyable, though, was getting heckled by the sizeable  group of homeless folks who had amassed near this pit-stop and who berated us for riding to our offices to go "kiss our bosses' asses."  Some people just refuse to get into the true spirit of Bike-to-Work Day.

From here, it was a short hop to the next pit-stop -- right on the sidewalk on A.  I quickly grabbed my final t-shirt ( for littlest little bikeist -- awesome -- 2014 back-to-school wardrobes acquired!), then headed up Fifth to seek out the new bike lane and a pit-stop which promised to have woodland creatures on display!

The bike lane did not disappoint:

Fifth Avenue looks great on its new "diet!"  As discussed in my last post, the street "diet" is part of Downtown's new "Bike Loop."  When you see these, on the pavement, you'll know you're traversing part of the loop:

It was an absolute pleasure to pedal up the hill in a lane all my own -- downright luxurious even!  As you can see, the lane didn't exactly create an instant traffic jam in the two other lanes left for cars -- plenty of room for everyone.

Have to admit, though, that I was, somewhat, disappointed at the "woodland creatures" roaming about at the pit-stop at the Laurel and Sixth entrance to Balboa Park:

Felt a little bit like Sally Brown waiting up all night to see the Great Pumpkin and getting a melodramatic Beagle instead.  I was robbed!  Where's my Arroyo Toad?  Anyway, the folks from the Environmental Org that sponsored this pit-stop were actually quite nice -- and probably the most enthusiastic of any I encountered.  They were also knowledgable.  As us riders began discussing the new bike loop, someone questioned the placement of the lanes on the lefthand side of the streets.  One of the volunteers pointed out that doing so made good sense because placing them to the right of the one-way streets would result in buses constantly coming in and out of the lanes to access stops. No such problem on the left.  Nice.

Now it was time for some fun, as it was all down Bankers' Hill from here to work, much of it in my very own bike lane on Fourth.  The folks from Sharp actually relocated their pit-stop to Fourth to take advantage of all the bike-traffic in the new lane -- they set up conveniently on the curb on the left side of the street.  I said a quick hello there, grabbing an awesome free aluminum water bottle, then flew down Fourth to Ash (which has no Ash trees, by the way, all Jacarandas) which took me to my last stop on Harbor right by the beautiful new Waterfront Park  (which has, happily, been teeming with kids from the moment it opened).  

I lingered a little at this last stop, chatting with some of the other bike-commuters -- clinging to my last few moments of Bike-to-Work-Day magic.  Yes, for one morning every year, The Bikeist gets a rolling festival that feels as though it was created and executed just for me.  Sure, Christmas is great, as is the Fourth of July and all the other holidays, but those are for anybody and everybody.  Bike-to-Work-Day is much more specific and personal -- a celebration of a profound lifestyle choice I made 19 years ago and that almost anybody can make themselves with a little planning and commitment.  Sure, it's not for everybody, just almost everybody.  When's the last time you heard a bike-rider complaining about their lousy commute to work?  How many regret the time they could be stuck on the freeway or the clogged rush-hour streets of downtown?  It's great that us bike-commuters get our own special day and all, but I encourage any of you who drive to work to come on out for the other 364 days of the year to see what all the fuss is about.  I guarantee you won't regret it . . .