I absolutely love the classic looks of a touring bike. Especially when punctuated by leather accents and accessories. I honestly am not sure what it is about the touring style that draws my attention so much (even though I can’t seem to get the stuff together to get my own touring bike project off the ground.) And the 2016 edition of the North American Handmade Bicycle Show provided plenty of beautiful examples to fulfill that interest. Keep reading →
I’d been waiting all day for the phone call that was supposed to come around 12:30. It was almost 12:45 and I’d taken to looking at the time every 3-4 minutes. Finally, the phone rang. I was practically in the elevator before I even thought to answer it. She was done with her meeting. It was time to walk the 4 blocks to our designated rendezvous point.
I had to contain myself as I made the hike. Somehow it seemed that, right then, everyone on the sidewalk was hell bent on walking directly in front of me… slowly. I made it to the address. She was supposed to be standing outside. Oh god… I don’t even know what she looks like.
But then I spotted it…
It would appear that the circumnavigation attempt – by bicycle – of Vin Cox has been certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the fastest yet. The Guinness records site has not yet posted anything regarding this, so I’ve not been able to validate this directly from them. However, other third parties such as Road Cycling UK are also reporting confirmation of the time of 163 days, 6 hours and 58 minutes as the new fastest. This bests the previous record holder Mark Beauomont’s time of 194 days, 17 hours. Potentially of interest is the fact that both Vin Cox and Mark Beauomont are both from the UK.
There are numerous races both large and small that make up the pro cycling season. However, none get quite the attention of the three grand tours: the Tour de France, the Giro de Italia (Tour of Italy) and the Vuelta a España (Tour of Spain). However, this year I’ll also be doing three of my own grand tours:
- Group Health Seattle to Portland Classic (July 17/18) *
- Tour de Ross’s Commute (Aug 22)
- Tour de Tahoe (September 12) *
* My wife Melissa will be with me on these two rides
Wait. The Tour de Ross’s Commute? What the heck is that??
For over three years now, I’ve been commuting an average of 3 days a week between my home in Sacramento, CA and my work in Palo Alto. It is about 125 miles or so by car. Of course, I don’t do it by car. However, after a couple of the “Oh – did you ride here from Sacramento” jokes from coworkers as I rolled my bike into the office, I decided to make it so that I could actually answer “Yes!”
That’s right, I’ll be throwing my faith (and bike, and life) into the hands of Google maps and their new bike route mapping to plot my safe path the 139 miles I’ll be riding.
There are some interesting challenges and points of interest in my route:
- Davis, CA. Arguably one of the best bicycling cities in the country.
- Vacaville. Famous for being Vacaville.
- Jelly Belly factory. Convenient should I need to restock my Sport Beans supply, or maybe a pro rider to pull for me.
- The Sacramento river delta area. Home of a thousand head winds.
- The Benicia-Martinez. 2.5 miles over Suisuin Bay, with views of the Naval Reserve Fleet.
- Alamo. No, not that one.
- Castro Valley
- Dumbarton Bridge (second bridge of the day. Third if you count the Yolo causeway as a bridge)
I don’t fully know what to expect of this ride yet. That is part of why I am so excited about it!
I got home from work to find that the entry packets for next month’s Group Health Seattle to Portland Classic (STP) had arrived for my wife and I. I’d actually been kinda looking forward to this. However, upon opening one of the two envelopes, I was a little bit overwhelmed by the explosion of materials and promotional items that poured out.
- Flier for an additional 10% off of anything (including bikes) at select Pacific Northwest Performance Bicycle shops. Also worthy of note – the Seattle location near the start line is open 24 hours on the night before the start. Brilliant thinking on the part of the store management if you ask me.
- Ad from Carter Subaru. Apparently the Subaru Outback is great for carrying mountain bikes.
- Flier for STP merchandise.
- Sample of Chamois Butt’r. Cause there is no better time to try out a new chamois cream than on a double century!
- Ticket to get my bike transported back to the University of Washington from Portland at the end of the ride.
- Parking pass allowing me to leave my car (the Prius mentioned earlier) on the UW campus while I do the ride.
- Flier for Marathonfoto.com. Apparently they will take pictures of me.
- Jersey number with 2 attached luggage tags. They transport bags for you from Seattle to the end, and to the midway point if you are doing the ride over two days as my wife and I are. My wife got number 4771, I got 4772. Clearly she is the team leader.
- Handle bar numbers. (Huh?)
- Helmet number (a sticker). (OK, so to end the confusion that I had on the handlebar/helmet numbers, I read the FAQ.)
- 4 saftey pins. Presumably for jersey number.
- 3 twisty-ties (you know – those paper-coated metal wires) Presumably for the handlebar numbers.
- One branded rain jacket / wind breaker
- Cloth bag. I’d like to say it is a musette, but the straps aren’t nearly long enough.
- Route sheet for the Personal Support Vehicles. I don’t have one currently. Maybe I can pick one up from Carter Subaru?
- And finally – the ride guide. All 23 pages of it.
All joking aside, I’ve been very impressed with the organization of this event from the first minute I started checking out the website. Given over 200 miles of planned route and 10,000 participants, I would hope for nothing less.
I happened to run into a couple of heavily laden bikes with some rather interesting signage while on my commute home. Signage that claimed these folks were on their way towards South America on bike. I seized on the opportunity to get a quick interview with them. The full audio is available here in mp3 format:
[Text transcript of interview]
Ross Del Duca: We’re here at the Caltrain station at 4th & King in San Francisco and we’ve got a couple of heavily laden bikes that just made their way off the train. What are you names?
Jessica: I’m Jessica.
Antonio: I’m Antonio.
Ross: I see you’ve got a couple of other passengers, who are they?
Antonio: Sophia and Tonio
Ross: And so, what are you guys starting today?
Antonio: Today we’re starting our way down the coast of the United States and the coast of Mexico through Baja and into central America. And we’re not really sure how far into south America but that general direction.
Ross: Are you doing it entirely on the bikes I see in front of us?
Antonio: Both the same, yea.
Ross: So, have you done long trips like this before?
Jessica: This is our first one.
Ross: This is your first one? That’s amazing
Antonio: We didn’t know much about bicycles like three months ago.
Antonio: We were running a hostel in Las Vegas.
Jessica: We had a guest named Mark Doherty, and he was cycling around the world.
Ross: Oh interesting…
Antonio: It was interesting to hear his adventures, and follow him on his blog. We have our own blog now and also we want to start our own hostel. We didn’t really like Las Vegas, it wasn’t for us. So we’re kinda hoping that a South American beach somewhere will be our home. We like that kind of living where we live at home and clean up after people and meet people…
Antonio & Jessica: laughs
Antonio: The cleaning up is just part of the job.
Jessica: It’s like traveling without having to go anywhere.
Ross: Nice. Anything else that you’d like to let people know before we sign off here?
Antonio and Jessica together: Check us out on FunkyMonkeyFamily.com
Ross: Excellent. Thank you very much.
Antonio and Jessica together: Thank you.
Don’t let their relative newness to cycling fool you though. These are definitely not folks who just jumped on their bikes and started pedaling. In fact, if you check out their list of gear purchased for their trip, you see some very smart purchases. Their pair of Surly Long Haul Truckers are, to some, the very definition of touring cycling. They have clearly done their homework.
Another interesting tidbit picked up after the recorder was turned off: they were actually starting their ride in San Francisco following a Critical Mass ride.
So join me in wishing Antonio, Jess and the twins a safe, interesting and enjoyable trip. I know I’ll be following their blog with interest.
You may not have heard of them before, but you’ve really got to check out The Woodward Family. I honestly do not recall how I found these folks initially, but their blog details a ride they did together across the United States – from the east coast to the west coast. Right now (yes – possibly this very minute) they’re at it again – only this time they are traveling the California coast line. They are posting blog entries, videos and photos along the way. You can also keep track of their travels via twitter feeds @zachwoodward and @somewhereonabike.
Join me in wishing them the best of luck, no flats, safe roads and tailwinds all the way.