All posts by Jim

Shakedown part 2: Changing Cadence

I woke up at 4:00 AM this morning. Seems that when I go to bed at 10, that’s what happens. The good news is that means I got to see how many stars are in the sky when you’re not in the City. Caseopia and Scorpio clearly visible to the north and south. Don’t you love it when the Milky Way is unmistakable?

I had a beautiful day for part 2 of the shakedown trip. Good thing because even with lovely weather it was hard to get breakfast, coffee, and the camp broken down before 10:00. I suppose I’ll get better at this. After all “you get better at what you do””. Hey, who said that? Oh  I digress.

Couldn’t help but be a little anxious and distracted today though. See the big news of the day at our house is that we put in a bid on a second house. We’ve been dreaming of a place near Pt Reyes for years, hoping to buy a lot and design a home. But there are precious few lots left there, most of which have major flaws. So this time we bid on a “build ‘er over” house, which has distinct advantages in that somebody as already got the permits for a house, water, septic, etc. So it’s looking like we might gain this great big HUGE PROJECT for me to spend a bunch of the next few years on.

Heaps of potential!

What’s this got to do with druther bike? Nothing except I rode there today and I can’t think of anything else. This is a life commitment.

Which does bring me to the theme of the day, the epiphany of the ride as I think of it (endorphins + time alone = epiphany, sounds trite but it happens frequently. True epiphany or merely brain chemistry makes pondering seem profound, I know not. Q: if you can’t tell the difference does it matter? I digress yet again)

Back to the point. The predominant memory of the day was of seeing all these super serious racer types heading in the  opposite direction . I kept trying to make contact with them – after all I’m a somewhat serious cyclist too, but I was mostly met with “no love”, averted eyes, no contact, cold… I  “toodling” along, heavy bike, slow and steady, but feeling very  into life. I had several conversations  with like-minded folks. But I kept seeing these serious guys as former “me”s that I could not relate too. They  all seem focused on  something going on in their heads that is/was  of their own making. I’ve been there, for more of my life than I’d care to admit. (This is what Megan and her colleagues call pro-ject-ion). Anyway I felt glad to be in a different place, feeling joyful, happy for the opportunity to enjoy the day, healthy, and with ( for today anyway) no real worries.

For my next step in life, I  choose engagement, risk, lack of knowledge, mistakes, hair pulling frustrations, and whatever else comes my way.

Which reminds me of the title of today’s post – credit the wonderful book by Michael Dillon – Changing Cadence. It’s was a big influence in deciding to do this trip.

Above at camp before leaving. $44 a nigh, really? Anyway it was a lovely morning with oatmeal, a cup of joe and John Muir’s first summer in the Sierra to keep me company.

Bonus pets if you can spot the bike nerd mirror

I like the way this pano turned out – captures the moment which was frenetic tourists trying to capture the moment.

Shakedown Cruise

Today the trip got really real. I decided months ago to do a pre-trip trip to check out my setup, get the kinks out and do a mini test run. I almost ran out of time but today was the day! I packed up my whole gear list (everything I expect to need for 2 1/2 months of travel, and set off for Olema.

First I had to do the weigh in (you can’t manage it if you don’t measure it). The bike runs a steady 35 lbs, plus about 50 lbs of gear. I thought I could hold it to 40, hah! Anyway, you kind of notice 85 lbs of bike and stuff going uphill. Otherwise it went well. And as soon as I figure out how to get video off the GoPro, we’ll have that too!

Bit of trivia – this is the exact spot that the “happy cows” commercial was filmed. No really. How could I make that up? This is the ridge above Olema, probably the worlds most expensive cow pasture.

Happy cow view

Same spot, looking at today’s goal down in the valley.

Made it to Olema

More Cowbell

Ok I’m running late on this one but before I left I swapped out my old handlebars (background) for my new Salsa Cowbell  bars. They have a little “flare” so no more hitting my knees on the bars when I’m sprinting up hills (cha right).

So clearly the big news is that, me and all my gear actually made it about 40 miles, got the tent set up, and we’ve proven the concept. That is, assuming I can get all my stuff back in the bags and back home again tomorrow. With Olema’s delicious $16 hamburger in my belly (my dad is rolling over in his grave), I’m ready to call it a day.

Ok JK. Just kidding. 4000 miles? Ha!

This weekend it hit me. 4000 miles? Ha ha ha ha ha. Just kidding y’all. I’d have to be nuts to decide to do that. On purpose. Ha ha. ha. Ha. Ehem.

This weekend I road 75 miles on a 18 lb carbon frame in beautiful conditions. They had rest stops every 20 miles stocked with all manner of snacks handed out by friendly volunteers. They had fruit, and cookies and gu and chips, coffee and bagels, pb&j, all just for the asking.  Hats off to the folks at the Grizzly Peak Century. They do a nice job and have one of the longest running centuries in CA.  I think they started in the 70s,  but I digress.

And it was exhausting. I came home starving for food and sleep. Reality check! That’s 10 miles farther than I plan to do every day on a bike that weighs, fully loaded, about 75 or more likely 80 lbs. and the plan is to do that 6 days out of 7. Ha ha hahahahaha. Piece of cake.


Donate  now or I quit.

No really. Help me buy legal and scientific defense of the environment or I stop this foolishness.

Get fit

Thanks to prodding from my colleagues Grant and Sadie, I got fit for my bike last week with Matt. And I’m glad I did.

Matt is a cycling coach who does fitting using a tool called Retul. It uses motion capture to figure out the best placement of your seat, bars, petals, cleats  – everything really so that you have the right contact on your bike. Through the motion capture it can check a lot of bio metric measurements to make sure that you’re getting the most for your effort and not putting undue stress on your body. Given how much saddle time I have coming up, it would be foolish not to be in the right position on the bike.


Still I was a little skeptical at first because I thought I knew if it was right for me. I went in pretty sure that my seat needed to come up and my bars needed to move forward. Actually Matt suggested that I lower the seat a bit, move it forward quite a bit to get my knees over the pedals and flatten out my stroke a little. Seems I point my toes a little more than average.

The other cool thing that this software does is it gives you all the measurements on where you end up so that you can recreate it if needed. Basically it gives you a full electronic representation of your bike (including shape of the seat and hoods). That came in handy later when I accidentally lowered my seat – now I know exactly where it is supposed to go. Also I’m planning on replacing my bars so I’ll be able to know right where the new ones should go.

I highly recommend getting a proper fit. Matt made a few small adjustment (new insoles, moving a cleat to counter hip rotation, and moving the seat) that made a big difference in the feel of the bike. I feel like I’m in a lower gear all the time – it’s just plain easier to pedal.

Check out Matt’s website if you want to know more – he’ got some great videos on this and other topics. Or if you’re a total bike geek let me know and I’ll send you the full report.

Before I start out on my big trip I’m doing a lactate threshold test too (one before and one after) to see how much my fitness improves (or doesn’t) after a couple of months of 65 mile days.

It’s bike to work month

I love bike-to-work month. At my company, kW Eng, we compete hard at this and have won 5 out of the last 6 years in our size (less than 50 employees – now deemed “extra-small” hurrumph). This gives me a good excuse to train like hell because…

Oh my god it’s 4 weeks until launch!

I am just not ready. There’s too much to do. Crap how is it all going to get done?

I’ve had a recent bout of “oh crap what did I get myself into”? On the one hand I absolutely can’t wait to start my trip. On the other hand, what was I thinking telling all these people that I’m going to ride across the country. I’ve done a lot of cycling, and a few weekender bike trips but I’m not near as experienced at touring as lots of folks I meet on my rides.

Put Bags on Your Bike and You Meet People

This is the truism of yesterday’s training ride, aka, “the new normal”. For the first time, I fully loaded my bike (40 lbs + 35 lb bike) and did a 63 mile ride. That’s my target distance (well 65) for my trip to stay on pace. I was pretty trashed by the time I made it back of the hill to our place but it was pretty do-able. But the thing that stood out is how many more people talk to you when you’re loaded up. I literally met like 5 people on my ride, from Charlie the nurse (did a trans-am in 2006?) to “Springfield” who is also from Missouri like me (his high school and mine competed), to Zach and Leslie who completed the standard trans-am route in 2014. Zach and I chatted for maybe 10 miles and he had lots of great pointers on doing the trip right. Very encouraging!