Get Yer Vintage On

I just returned home from a city council meeting in the town of Paso Robles, California, the next town north along US101 from where I live in Templeton. Pretty much every week I am riding in or through Paso Robles at least once, since I lead a weekly ride for the San Luis Obispo Bicycle Club starting in Paso.

This is very exciting news for vintage riders like myself – the council unanimously approved hosting an international event for riding vintage bicycles (pre-1987) called L’Eroica for the second weekend of April 2015. It’s going to benefit HospiceSLO, a county-wide organization for which I volunteer as in-home support for clients. I presume that HospiceSLO also is going to be involved with the management and production of the event since they have years of experience with events such as the California Festival of Beers and the San Luis Obispo Concours.

Here are some of the movers and shakers for the local L’Eroica also attending the city council meeting

Gracie, Steve, Kris and Wes.

Gracie, Steve, Kris and Wes.

Gracie Rey, the events & development director for HospiceSLO, spoke before the city council to promote the event, and both Wes Hatakeyama and Steve Fleury stepped up to the mike to speak in favor of it. Wes used to own a bike shop in the county, while Steve and his wife Carol own Best Bike Zone in Paso Robles. Kris Kington-Barker is the executive director of HospiceSLO.

Beginning in the Tuscany region of Italy circa 1997, L’Eroica now is coming to San Luis Obispo County. Check out the L’Eroica web site for the history, philosophy and implementations of the event. From what I read, one reason for starting the event was to protect “le strade bianche” (the white roads) of Tuscany. These are unpaved roads, dirt and gravel, which typically are a lighter color than your standard strip of asphalt, ergo “white”.

Since I moved to SLO County earlier this year, I have been exploring many of the white roads nearby:

  • Cypress Mountain Road
  • Santa Rita Road
  • Arbor Road
  • Kiler Canyon Road
  • Penman Springs Road
  • Moss Lane

all of which are joyful pedaling experiences. But, but, but, there are many more white roads nearby on private lands, dirt lanes through vineyards that we mortal riders never get to traverse. In my fantasy ride I get access to those roads… however, I’m lacking one requirement. I have a vintage engine but I need a vintage bike.

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Frost Warning

He’ll sit on your wheel letting you pull all you want, then when you start to falter he’ll come around and make you eat dust. When you’re riding up a long ramp, your skinny corpus hiding from the sun in his shadow and thinking this big guy won’t stay when the pitch increases, well, there he is taking the climbing points from you. Think you’re a good descender and you’ll gap him? Think again as he matches you turn for turn and then laughs a belly full going past as you’re skidding off the shoulder into the gravel.

I’m just sayin’, I’m just warning, Mike Frost has your number.

Mike Frost

Mike Frost

I first met Mike several years ago when he called me up to ask if he could come to an Andy & Renee house concert I was hosting in Torrance. He had already retired from his job and moved from Manhattan Beach, just a bit south of LAX, to Morro Bay in the California central coast. He was coming to LA to visit with his daughter and wanted to take in yet another Andy & Renee performance. I think he has been to over 100 of their performances.

Mike told me he is a cyclist and if I were to head up his way, look him up for a ride. Not only did I head up his way, I retired and moved to the central coast myself. Not Morro Bay, but just over the hill, and now we get to ride together at least once a month. Today we rode together for a promenade Mike arranged to celebrate his own birthday. I don’t know which one, just a bigger number than mine. But it doesn’t matter if it’s bigger, he puts me in the pain place anyway.

We started at Shamel Park in Cambria and headed north to Ragged Point at the south end of Big Sur, stopped for a break, then continued on to Gorda.

Between Ragged Point and Gorda, we saw a string of touring bikes loaded down with panniers, pulling trailers, or both. Looked like a struggle pulling all that weight up those slopes. We took another break at Gorda, then turned and headed back to Ragged Point.

At Ragged Point we found the touring group engaged in some serious calorie replenishment, and I took the opportunity to photograph some of their bikes.

We left them to their plates and continued back to Cambria with a short stop at the old Piedras Blancas motel. It’s no longer a functional motel, looks like one of the park services uses some of it for offices. I think it’s also a staging area for shuttling tourists to the Piedras Blancas Light Station, which I blogged about earlier this year.

From the old motel we started a pace line back to Cambria, and Mike was right in the thick of it. I started to falter toward the end and ate dust, but I had fair warning.

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I Love It. I Quit.

I have had a bike since I was 5 years old and was given a little red Schwinn with training wheels. Dad pushed for a bit one afternoon then I was gone. Next I had a black Schwinn Typhoon, still single speed with a coaster break. At 14 my folks bought a used blue Schwinn Varsity 10-speed from my cousin and I was off and spinning.

Even so, in my teens and 20s a bike was just something to carry me from place A to place B. What I LOVED was running. I ran as a football halfback in junior high and high school, and ran track during the same years, competing in the quarter mile, half mile, half mile relay and mile relay races. Made it to the Michigan state track finals one year, but just pack fodder. I didn’t care, I just loved the full-body running workout. In college I would go out and run, run, run to forget about homework, exams and working, and continued running all through my 20s.

In my early 30s I saw the writing on the wall, or rather, felt the pain in my legs. Because I never jogged, I ran, giddyup! It was just my style, and it had to end or my knees and ankles would be ground to nubs. That’s when I took up cycling in a dedicated fashion. The bike allowed me to giddyup without leg pain, for hours at a time.

But frankly, after all these years, as much as I love cycling, I still miss running. A shaded deer path through the forest on a hot summer day, wearing just a pair of lightweight Adidas, socks and shorts. Working up a head-to-toe sweat, stopping to pee and watching mosquitos biting my slick stomach muscles. Oh well, nevermore.

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Look Ma…

Don’t worry, I have health insurance. Thanksgiving Day ride, Wellsona Road, SLO County. (photo courtesy of Kristie Lahr)

Look Ma...

Look Ma…

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Pilgrimage to Hog Canyon

On my first Thanksgiving Day in SLO north county, among the many things I give thanks for are Carol & Steve Fleury from Best Bike Zone setting up group rides like what we did today. From la villa pequeña of San Miguel at a semi-chilly 9am, we started by heading east across the still dry Salinas River into the rolling vineyards along River, Wellsona, Airport, Tower and Jardine roads.

At the start in San Miguel:

On the way to Hog Canyon:

Our intermediate destination was Hog Canyon Road where it intersects Von Dollen Road at the Castoro Cellars “Hog Heaven” vineyard. The riders doing the shorter route then headed west on Von Dollen and wound their way back to San Miguel, while the riders doing the longer route headed northeast on Hog Canyon up into Monterey County, then returned south on Ranchita Canyon Road. On Ranchita we found a brown tarantula risking life and limbs crossing the pavement, so I stopped to get a closeup and shield it from oncoming riders.

Once the longer riders came back south on Ranchita, we started smelling the cranberries and headed west on Cross Canyons back to San Miguel. The boss was there, waiting for all the riders to make it back, then we all headed home for tequila-basted turkey and pumpkin pie under a thick layer of whipped cream. Paraphrasing actor John Houseman, who parlayed his gravitas into being a spokesman for the Smith Barney investment firm, “I earned it.”

Back home I gave additional thanks for

  • Sunny, 70 degree weather in late November.
  • Indoor plumbing, especially hot showers.
  • Being able to afford a nice house with a well-equipped kitchen, including an automatic dishwasher which, as a single guy, I seem to fill up and run more often than one would think probable.
  • Electronic texting technology which allows me to send nearly instantaneous Tday greetings to friends and relatives.
  • Having friends and relatives.
  • Meals sourced at Trader Joes.
  • George Foreman grills.

Foreman grills? If you don’t know George Foreman, he is a former heavyweight boxing champion who made piles of cash lending his name and advertising finesse to a series of electric kitchen appliances for convenient grilling of foods. I use mine mainly to make pressed panini sandwiches, which was the main course of my Thanksgiving dinner. Sourdough bread spread with mayo and spicy mustard, thinly sliced onion and tomato, spinach, dill havarti cheese, and smoked turkey breast slices (antibiotic-free, humanely raised, nitrite/nitrate free, gluten & casein free!!!). Here is the prep and the result:

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Feeling Buff

Yes, today I am feeling buff. When did that word enter the English lexicon? Hard to say, but the word does have multiple meanings as indicated by Urban Dictionary, as well as the more traditional Merriam-Webster. Most of the more contemporary meanings have to do with “looking good” in some manner, but there also is a reference in there to “a device having a soft absorbsent surface.” Keep both of those in mind.

Early this year, at a ride I put together for my birthday, I was lamenting the shortcomings of the various pieces of cycling head apparel that I owned. Not the helmets, but what I wear on my head under a helmet. My pal Bridget Fitzpatrick mentioned headgear called “Buff” to me and suggested that it might be a solution. At the time, I also was in the middle of selling a house and preparing to move to Templeton, so I promptly forgot about her suggestion.

Then mid-year, on a rideshare day, I rode my bike to the temporary bicycle station in Paso Robles being handled by Carol and Steve Fleury of Best Bike Zone. Of course, I was already retired from my job, so the rideshare aspect of the trip was moot, but still I was happy to accept a swag bag. Included in the swag bag was this “Original Buff Multifunctional Headwear” piece shown below.

feeling Buff

feeling Buff

“Oh yes” I thought, this is what Bridget was talking about. As you can see, the print job on the piece was specific to rideshare day, but the functional part of “multifunctional” was inarguable. As soon as I put it on I loved it. It does everything I want below-helmet cycling head apparel to do:

  • A comfort layer between my thinly populated scalp and the helmet ribs.
  • Sun barrier.
  • Sweat wicking.
  • Can be pulled down over the ears for cold weather riding.
  • Does not leave a crease in my forehead.

Crease in the forehead? That is the downside to the several “Headsweat” apparel pieces I have in different colors. They all have an integrated terrycloth sweat band positioned to keep sweat out of your eyes, but the seam at the top of the terrycloth section always leaves a crease in my forehead that stays with me for several hours. If I end my ride and have to get a-movin’ to my next appointment, even a hot shower does not release the crease and it looks awfully goofy to whomever sees me next.

I also tried cotton bandannas from Boot Barn. Fold the square into a triangle, wrap around head and tie in back, but their biggest ones just are not big enough, so it’s not a viable solution.

The Buff product does the trick. It is a tube of soft microfiber material, with, count ‘em, zero seams. I pull one end of the tube onto my head down to my eyebrows, the other end just flops down off the back of my head, and as a bonus, provides sun protection for my neck. You can also pull the whole tube over your head and down onto your neck so that it serves as a neck warmer. In this position you can then pull the top of it up over your nose for extra warming service. It’s nice and stretchy, goes where I want it to go without protest.

I like it so much that I finally got around to buying a couple more of them online from Buff USA, an early Xmas present for myself.

more Buff

more Buff

When they arrived in the mail, each piece came on a thin cardboard slat that also is printed with images showing different wearing methods, along with product and company information. I fully expected to see “Made in China” somewhere in the text, but surprise, the company is Spanish and they actually are made in Spain. How often do you buy something made in Spain, other than olive oil and red wine?

Already I feel like I want more of them in other colors (to match jerseys) and patterns. Also, for those very brisk days, to wear one around my neck and one on my head. Soft and absorbent, good-looking, very buff.

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New Jersey

I’ve been in the state of New Jersey twice, the first being way back in 1980 driving through on my way to NYC. The second time was in September 2007 when I did a house swap with a woman who had a penthouse apartment a couple of blocks off Central Park. While in NYC, my pal Alan Geiger, previously blogged about here, arranged for a bike loan and we rode across the George Washington bridge into NJ and then north along the Hudson River palisades.

However, today I’m not posting about that New Jersey. I’m posting about this new jersey

Connie and the velobum at Point Vicente (courtesy of Mario Obejas)

Connie and the velobum at Point Vicente (courtesy of Mario Obejas)

The jersey I am wearing is from a local business here in central coast wine country. A fellow who rides regularly with the groups here, Gregg Bone, has an olive farm and his own processing facility on the west side of Paso Robles. It’s called Kiler Ridge Olive Farm. Recently he took delivery on cycling kits produced by Voler out of Grover Beach, just down US101 a few miles. A couple weekends ago I moseyed on out to the farm and bought myself a jersey, then interrupted one of Gregg’s facility tours to model it for his olive oil clients.

Last weekend I was in LA and wore the jersey on one of the Beach Cities Cycling Club rides into Palos Verdes. The picture above was taken by my pal Mario during the mid-ride break at the Point Vicente Interpretive Center overlooking a whale migration path just offshore in the Pacific Ocean. When setting up the shot I knew the jersey would look good, but realized we would need some eye candy to offset me doing the modeling, so we called over our friend Connie to join me.

This is only my second new jersey this year, the other one being a 50th anniversary jersey for the Great Western Bike Rallye. If I could ever manage to get to San Luis Obispo at some hour when the Bike Kitchen is open, I’d have a third new jersey, like this

SLO goin' jersey

SLO goin’ jersey

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