strava, google maps, exploration

Exploring a new locale is part of what makes travel fun. One thing I like to do is go looking for interesting bike rides.

To that end, I’ve been using Strava because they have a neat feature called the “segment explorer”. It shows you the popular rides in any given geography, so now you have instant access to the derived preferences of the local cycling community (or at least, the Strava-using subset… but that tends to be the most enthusiastic subset of cyclists anyway, so it’s an excellent proxy). No more looking at maps and guessing where the good rides might be.

I’m also pleased to note that Android’s Google Maps recently enabled voice turn-by-turn directions for biking directions, which is quite simply, trĂ©s awesome.

To give a concrete example, yesterday I was looking for some hills to ride up. I had been looking at San Bruno for a while, verified in Strava that people do indeed ride it, and decided I wanted to go to there. Navigating from my apartment to the base of the climb was a bit complex, as it involved quite a number of turns on unfamiliar streets, and typically would have resulted in multiple stops to pull out the phone in the middle of a ride to check my location and the map and hoping I was going in the right direction.

No longer. I queued up the base of the climb in Google Maps and got directions from current location to that destination. Then, go into the Navigation feature, and start riding. I normally don’t wear headphones while riding, but I did this time to get the directions. A little voice chirped in my ear along the way… “in 600 feet turn right on Geneva St. Go 1 mile on Geneva St.”

That’s quite a bunch of technology working all together, and I must say, it felt like magic. And for a 2-hour ride, having both Strava and Google Navigation running simultaneously didn’t seem to kill my phone’s battery at all, still ended up with >80% charge.

Now go forth and ride!

(image below is clickable to get stats on the ride)

tour de fat, 2010


Tour de Fat was lovely this year, one of the most fun I’ve had.


As always, the costumes were amazing. Special shout-out to Brett and Lindsay, whose “Up” outfit was the belle of the ball. As we rode down the street, everyone was yelling and pointing at them in awe. Not a bad way to spend your one-year anniversary!

You can check out all my photos here: Tour de Fat 2010 on Flickr.

And here are Brett’s photos.

Here’s a link to other photos tagged with Tour de Fat.

The local rag’s Tour de Fat article.

And what the twitterverse is saying about Tour de Fat.

there, i fixed it

tire lever?

Decided to ride my roadie to work yesterday and I flatted on the way home.

No problem; one tends to be prepared for these things on a roadie. Opened my saddle bag to grab the spare tube (check), compressed air (check), and tire lever (whaaa?). Oh drat, I took the lever out the other day to fix a different flat and forgot to put it back. Sigh.

But hey, I just finished reading Jared Diamond’s The Third Chimpanzee and my large Cro-magnon brain realizes that I can use my bottle opener keychain for something productive (rather than for its normal purpose, i.e. gaining access to Cro-magnon brain-killing chemicals).

Alex: 1, Bike: 0.

[nb, my spare tube was ripped at the valve stem so I ended up needing to call Mikey Brown for a ride home. Guess I need to stick a patch kit in there too.]

Alex: 1, Bike: 1, Planet Earth: 0

sick solstice ride

2008 Solstice Ride elevation profile

137 miles in a day. 10,000 feet of climbing.

In the end, the anticipation was killer; the ride was not.

I spent the leading week riding a few mellow rides, just getting miles into my legs, and eating a lot of yams, but other than that, nothing special.

I really only felt bad once, while climbing out of Buena Vista (pronounced “byoona viss-tah” by the locals) on our way to Trout Pass. The sun roasted us while we pushed the pace slightly, and I overheated quickly. Luckily, I am wily and I managed to recover by controlling the pace with extra long pulls at a slower speed. Whew.

Everyone did great, and our biggest problem as a group was our collectively sore junk-al regions. Ouch.

Overall, we were able to maintain a 14.3 mph moving average for a total of about 9 hours, 30 minutes of riding time and something like 12 hours from car to car.

View Larger Map

washing helmet liner pads

Bicycle helmets can get pretty full of stank. In my case, the ripeness seems to come from the little liner pads that are velcroed in there and soak up sweat and grease. Removing them for cleaning is pretty easy, but I haven’t had such great success with hand washing in the sink. Plus, that requires effort.

On the other hand, simply throwing them into the washing machine just about guarantees they’re gonna get lost. And being a dude means I don’t own a linen bag for my “delicates”. What to do?

The solution is simple — throw the pads into a jersey that has a zipper pocket, zip the pocket closed, and then throw the jersey in with the rest of the wash. Done.

raleigh sports

B66 springs

Brooks B66 saddle for my newest project — a 1972 Raleigh Sports. The paint job on this guy is a little rusty, but I’m gonna keep the original, and perhaps just refinish the fenders. Also on the TODO list: adding wire baskets, finding some nice lights, oh, and perhaps rebuilding the hub to get rid of the little bit of skippage in there. Ho hum.

As always, Sheldon knows the answer:

Raleigh Sports

Cement Plant to Budweiser

This is a nice route to ride when you just want an easy day, as it’s relatively short (~30 miles), and stays in the flats. Keep in mind, of course, that in the Front Range, even “the flats” have a few small hills.

The topos below show the route starting from my house. Once you get back to town near the end, the topo shows staying on Prospect Rd. the whole way because I was too lazy to show the little maze through the CSU campus and Old Town that I ride to get back. I don’t recommend riding on Prospect if you can help it due to the high amounts of traffic.

Cement Plant-Budweiser Brewery Overview

Cameron Pass

Long and forever climbing with tons of traffic. It’s not the nicest climb out there due to a non-existent shoulder and heavy RV traffic, but it is challenging, and probably wouldn’t be too bad on a weekday. It never gets more than about 5% grade, but the sheer length — about 55 miles of climbing — is what makes it daunting. Finally, coming back down isn’t all coasting either, due to all the false flats and small rises that you don’t notice on the climb up, as well as the fact that there is usually a prevailing 20 mph headwind blowing up-canyon. Bottom line is, if you do this route, it’s a real accomplishment.

The topo below shows a descent after reaching the top of Cameron Pass, which is me going to the Crags Campground area just on the other side of the pass.

Cameron Pass overview

Cameron Pass detail

34-36 Loop

This is probably one of the easiest “legitimate” century rides you could do, clocking in just around 100 miles. There is a fair bit of climbing (total of ~5100 feet, max elevation of ~8100 feet), but the grade is very easy, never more than perhaps 5% or 6%. The McDonald’s in Estes Park is a great refueling stop, if you’re into that thing, especially because they have Powerade in the soda fountain. The stretch on 287 is pretty bad right now, but should hopefully get better as they finish the construction.

34-36 Loop Overview