Karoo 2 Setup and First Experience

I’ve been doing some retail therapy the last couple of months, and right at the top of my list was replacing my six year old Garmin Edge 520. 

That GPS was OK in its day, but time has passed it by. The map screens were always atrocious – useless, really – they couldn’t be seen in many riding conditions. Using a route while riding drained the battery in something like four hours. If you research it, you will learn that most Garmins have problems with excessive battery drain when riding with a route. And, loading routes onto the GPS was quite the little adventure. 

But still, the old GPS did its job reasonably well – when it was newer. Then, about a year ago, the GPS’  Bluetooth decided it no longer wanted to connect to my phone, so uploading rides meant connecting the GPS to a computer using a cable. Routing started getting flaky – it would tell me I was off course when I wasn’t off course, and it had trouble recognizing I was on course after restarting a ride after stopping for a while. (Which is how I ended up leading a group of riders the wrong way out of Yountville on this year’s Darth Veeder ride, and why I was asking people “now, how do you go?” as we were pulling out of Castro Valley BART on the Palomares ride.)

Then, there are the never-ending annoyances of Garmin Connect and connect.garmin.com, software that feels like it was developed 15 years ago and never got significant updates. And, there’s Garmin’s strategy of dealing with customers who have problems – “what, your GPS doesn’t work? So sorry. We’ll be glad to sell you a newer model at a discount. (But we’ll never fix yours, it’s out of warranty.)” 

I decided I was tired of thinking that Garmin was the only way to go (since that’s the brand I started with), and tired of being locked into buying Garmin devices as the only path forward once my Garmin device stopped operating as it should.

I did some research and decided I wanted to give the Hammerhead Karoo 2 a try.

I’m not going to shill for the Karoo 2, but I will say that its huge, bright screen was what seduced me. I’m getting older, and, well, the eyes are going. Wait, what, I’m going to be able to see maps on my GPS again? Wow. What a concept.

The sections that follow are my experiences as I was upgrading from my low-end, six year old device to one that’s brand spanking new and higher end. So I can’t be too hard on Garmin here. But Garmin’s had close to a monopoly on the cycling GPS market for years (OK, I see you, Wahoo). It does feel good (so far) to get out from under Mama Garmin’s thumb.

I’m three rides in now, and so far, very pleased with my new toy. Here are my impressions setting the new GPS up and riding with it the first couple of times.

Powering Up

  • Wow, the packaging is so nice. Did I buy an Apple something or a Google something, ‘cause this feels like it. Yeah, I’m superficial. Nothing like opening up a pretty box.
  • Nice. This thing has a USB-C interface, just like my computer, my laptop, my phone, and everything else I have that’s less than 5 years old.
  • But, oops. They’re protecting the interface with a stupid little black plastic plug? I wonder how long it’s going to be before that gets lost.
  • OK, I started it. Why does this GPS take so damn long to power up? It’s taking as long as the Garmin does. Bleah.
  • Huh? This is an Android device? Wait – I  already know how to use Android! Less of a learning curve!
  • It’s got a touch screen. Yay! Nice upgrade! (I could have had one if I had bought a more expensive Garmin than the 520, so I’m not blaming the lack of a touch screen on Garmin – more on my buying a less expensive Garmin model.)
  • Oh. My. God. That screen. High resolution. Brilliant display. It’s almost as good as my MacBook Pro – at least in these indoor light conditions.

Setup Experience 

  • There’s support.hammerhead.io and dashboard.hammerhead.io? Why do I need two accounts, and two sets of login credentials. Weird. Not like.
  • I’m making my way through Karoo’s setup instructions on-line, and they’re pretty good. I’m well-positioned to assess that – I write this kind of stuff for a living.
  • Wow, soooo easy to connect my Hammerhead account with Strava and RideWithGPS.com. 
  • Now I’m loading a route, in advance of doing my first ride. All I have to do is go to routes on dashboard.hammerhead.io, click Add, and then supply the URL from RideWithGPS? No “download the route, connect the GPS to my laptop, drag the route to the NewFiles folder” dance? C’mon, Hammerhead, you’re making this too easy.
  • I paired the GPS with my phone. Straightforward and easy.
  • And unlike the Edge 520, maybe Bluetooth is actually going to work on this thing.
  • I also downloaded the Karoo 2 app, but I’m not sure why. The Internet told me to, and it seemed like a good idea.
  • Uh, oh, hardware problem. The Karoo 2 comes with an attachment that you can put on the GPS that makes it compatible with Garmin mounts, but the mount has to be far enough away from your handlebars so that the GPS will fit on your bike. Mine didn’t. So I was either going to have to get a new Garmin-compatible mount or use the Hammerhead mount. I opted to take the Garmin mount off the bike and replace it with the Hammerhead mount. Took me all of 5 minutes, and y’know, I’m klutzy with that kind of stuff. 

First Ride

  • Holy crap. I can actually make out what’s on the screen. In bright sunlight, in shade, and everything in between. With or without my sunglasses.
  • The screen resolution is AMAZING.
  • I don’t even mind dark mode on this thing. I’m not a fan of dark mode for everyday work, but it works well with this GPS.
  • Routing worked flawlessly. No “off course” warnings when I wasn’t off course. And it started up right away, no delay at all.
  • Needless to say, I forgot to click start, to tell the GPS to start capturing ride data. It’s a tradition when I get a new GPS, and I forget to do it even when I’m well-acquainted with my GPS.
  • Holy crap again. I can actually see the maps. Maps are useful on this GPS? What a concept.
  • I can see how much battery power I have left. Nice. And I even know where to go look for it, because it’s Android and I know how to use Android. It’s in the upper part of the screen, just like on my cell phone.
  • The climb feature is REALLY cool. The screen shows me how many climbs I have to go on my route, and once I’m on a climb, it tells me how much longer the climb will be, and what the grades ahead are going to be. Sure could have used this on Morgan Territory Road the other day, when I was swearing at the grades and wondering how much more of that damn climb I was going to have to suffer through.
  • So, no more “let’s see, Mt. Diablo is about a 3,600 foot climb, and Camino Alto (which I’ve done a million billion times) is about 300 feet, therefore, the climb ahead is going to be 12 Camino Altos. OK, David, you can do 12 Camino Altos if you pace yourself…down to ten Camino Altos, you can do it…halfway there, so only 5 Camino Altos to go…one more Camino Alto, you can do one Camino Alto…” Yeah, that’s me. 
  • Uh, oh. Cadence and power are not registering. I must have done something wrong when I set up the device. Back to the drawing board on those. 
  • Hey, this thing uploaded my ride to Strava, just like my Garmin used to do before Bluetooth crapped out. And I can even change the ride title right on the GPS to something other than Morning Ride? Sweet.
  • My three hour ride’s done, and I still have 75% power, even though I had routing on the entire way. Nice. That’s the kind of battery life I was hoping for in up a new GPS.

After the First Ride

  • What!? This thing uploaded my ride to RideWithGPS, too? But I only use RideWithGPS for creating routes. Guess it’s OK. I don’t want to take the trouble to figure out how to suppress the uploads.
  • Goodbye Garmin Connect, you piece of crap. So nice to delete you from my phone and my computers.
  • OK, I am able to clean the screen on this thing. I hope that lasts. Seemed like I could never get the Garmin screen clean, I think it had a small amount of moisture in it or something.
  • Apparently I need to set up a ride profile so that I can see cadence and power data, so I set one up. It wasn’t trivially easy. But with the touch screen, it was way easier than doing it was on the Garmin once, (Serves me right for buying the lower-end Garmin.) I got the hang of it. 
  • Multiple ride profiles (different sets of screens) are a nice concept. I don’t know that I’ll ever use any other profiles other than the main one I set up, though.

Second Ride 

  • Oh, dang, the touch screen doesn’t work with long-fingered gloves. Oh, wait, yes it does, I just have to press a little harder.
  • My ride profile was not well set up. The information I’m getting about turns and climbs ahead are covering up other data fields. I’m going to need to redo my ride profile. 

After the Second Ride

  • Revised my ride profile after my first ride. Way easier to work with the second time around. 

So there you have it. Two rides in and so far, I’m pretty happy with the new gear. If you’d like to see it in operation, join me on a ride sometime, and I’ll be glad to show it to you.

Update (Apr 18, 2022)

I just discovered a major problem with the Karoo 2, which is that it needs a WiFi connection to upload rides. That means that even though I’ve established a Bluetooth connection from the device to my phone, rides don’t upload. That’s a downgrade from almost every Garmin, including my low-end 520.

You can either wait till you get home, when the Karoo 2 will connect to your WiFi and the ride will automatically upload, or you can start a hotspot on your phone. Neither is a great option. I’m going to try the hotspot after my next ride, but I’m not real happy after finding this out.

There have been many complaints about this on Hammerhead’s support forum, but so far, the Karoo 2 hasn’t been updated to provide this capability.

Custom-Fitted Cycling Helmets

Disclaimer: please note that this post does not constitute any sort of an equipment recommendation on my part. I wrote it to talk about a new trend in helmet manufacture.

As President of Different Spokes/San Francisco, I get lots of email, and most of it’s junk. But every once in a while, I come across something that piques my interest.

In the first part of the year, I got an email from a company called KAV that’s making custom-fitted helmets down in Redwood City. Truth be told, I’ve always felt a little helmet-challenged. I always wear one, of course, but it never feels all that comfortable, and sometimes, stuff like this happens:

My POC MIPS helmet. If I remember correctly, it was something like $160.

The velcro wore away, and now there’s no way to attach new pads to the helmet. The pads are completely shot, too – they’ve separated and didn’t respond well to getting superglued back together. And guess what – replacement pads aren’t available from POC right now (or maybe ever). I wasted an hour or so trying to find them on the Internet. So I got maybe 2 years of use out of a pretty expensive helmet.

But I digress. KAV was offering me the chance to get a custom fitted helmet for “only” $300 if I signed up for their Kickstarter. I thought, what the heck, why not, and wondered if my fellow board members thought the club might be interested.

Crickets.

So I went off on my own and ordered one, and then didn’t hear from back KAV for months.

In the meantime, I needed a (dental) crown last summer. I thought it was kind of cool that it was going to be 3D-printed – same technology that KAV was going to use to make my helmet. The crown’s been great so far, and I have high hopes for the helmet.

About a month ago, I heard back from KAV that they were ready to fit me. They gave me the option of doing the fitting over Zoom, or coming in for a more personalized session. I thought I’d get a better fit if one of the experts at KAV did it, and I really wanted to see their manufacturing facility.

The fitting took only ten minutes, but the fun started after that – a tour of their facility. Here’s what a place that prints 3D cycling helmets looks like:

3D Printers
Adding straps
Painting the helmet

They said this one was close to my size

About a month later, this came in the mail:

It’s a test shell that they send you to make sure their sizing was accurate. I emailed KAV back that it was good, and they told me to expect delivery of the helmet around the first of the year.

So some time in the new year, you’ll see me wearing a custom fit helmet!

Here’s the link to KAV’s kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kavsports/kav-the-bike-helmet-reinvented

And here’s a link to their web site, in case anyone’s interested in learning more: https://kavsports.com/pages/bike-helmets

Up the Hill

Those of you who have known me for a while remember when I used to commute by bike down to the South Bay twice or three times a week with the group, sf2g. Those days ended when I returned to working in downtown San Francisco almost 7 years ago, but I’ve pretty much always been a morning workout guy. I did a 7:30 AM spin class for about 5 years, but the gym I was going to is closed now, and it’s not coming back. God save me from $$$oul Cycle, but I might check it out when it gets going again if I can’t find another good workout.

Anyways, I’ve been faced with the question many of us are facing now, which is how to get in shape after we’ve put on our “covid 15.” Well, for me, it’s been more like a “covid 7,” but that also feels like too much extra weight to be dragging around on a Tib loop. In addition to the weight, I’ve been stymied by a shoulder injury for months that just wouldn’t get better. But even though it got better around October, I just couldn’t get motivated to get back in shape.

At the last Jersey Ride, I was talking with Joan, and it turns out she likes to ride in the mornings, too. That’s how she commutes to her work on the western side of the city. So I asked if she might be willing to ride with me a day or two a week up the big hill in the middle of the city, and she said yes.

Joan is a lot faster than I am right now, and she’s been wonderfully patient with me huffing and puffing my way up Corbett.

We haven’t posted the ride as a club ride so far, but I wanted to see if anyone else might be interested in getting together with us at Philz on Castro 6:45ish and do a short and pleasant, but intense, morning workout. Great company, too!

Happy 2021!

I’ll always remember this lousy year:

  • We cancelled more rides than we held.
  • We postponed our Pajaro Dunes ride weekend.
  • We had more virtual meetups than rides. (Well, it felt like more to me. I haven’t actually counted.)
  • We had a holiday party – but on frigging Zoom!

We did have around a dozen in attendance at the holiday party, and it was nice to see everyone.

Yeah, 2020 sucked. Still, there were members who made very valuable contributions during this time of Covid-19. Thanks, Tony, for the incredibly valuable work you did putting together the club’s Health and Safety Plan, and keeping us abreast of the requirements we’d need to meet to start riding again. Without your work, it wouldn’t have been possible for Jeff to start leading rides again last fall.

Thanks, Jeff, for getting club rides going again.

Thanks, David Ga. for organizing the virtual meetups and the white elephant exchange at the holiday party. You kept the club’s social life going during a difficult time.

Better times ahead in 2021!

David

We’re Riding! Gazos Creek and Stage Road loop.

Jeff P. led a Gazos Creek and Stage Road loop from Half Moon Bay yesterday. Here’s his ride report:

If Sonoma and Napa are the Wine Country, is the San Mateo coast the Pumpkin Country? On today’s ride from Half Moon Bay down to Gazos Creek and back via Stage Road and Purisima Creek, we saw a lot of pumpkin fields – perfect for a Halloween ride! Adding to the spookiness, it was so foggy on the coast until we reached the Pigeon Point lighthouse, that it made me think of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, though no headless riders were seen.

It became a beautiful, sunny Autumn day with perfect temperatures. Our riding group from the past 3 weeks shrank by one, and today we just had Joan, Nancy, Scott and Jeff. At our stop at the Pigeon Point lighthouse, we took time to read the history plaque and snap photos of Whaler’s cove. We had our socially-distanced lunch stop in Pescadero, using the tables have been set up on a parking lot next to Duarte’s. We noticed that people were using the tables in the garden behind Arcangeli, so maybe that is an option for next time. Leaving Pescadero, we stopped to snap a couple photos in the creepy old graveyard, by the Goulson family plot. It just seemed right on Halloween.

The second half of this ride (Stage Road, lower Tunitas Creek, and Purisima Creek) is a personal favorite of mine. With 3900 feet of climbing, I think we all earned our pumpkin spice latte or whatever Halloween celebratory beverage we decided on for after the ride.

Ride Report: City Loop 10/17/2020

Many of us have done city loops a million times, and it normally wouldn’t occur to me to write a ride report about one, but Saturday’s city loop was special: after months and months of canceling rides, the club did our first group ride of the Covid-19 era.

Tony Moy has spent a ton of time researching the conditions under which we would be able to have a group ride. He put together a Health and Safety Plan for the club, as required by the City and County of San Francisco. We updated the club’s waiver to include some language about coronavirus. Jeff Pekrul was kind enough to volunteer to lead the ride. And, the board decided it was time for the club to start having group rides again.

So, we met on a gorgeous day in front of McLaren Lodge.

Note the nicely-distanced Spokers! For obvious reasons, part of our Health and Safety Plan is to maintain 6 feet between cyclists when we’re off our bikes. As you can see, we generally did a really good job of it.

Jeff gave a safety speech before the ride. It’s not something we normally do, but in the time of Covid-19, it’s essential. Our most important goal right now is to have rides that people feel safe going on.

Jeff P. delivering the first safety speech of the covid era (which we all hope is over soon).

Then it was time to ride.

The 6 of us left McLaren Lodge, went over to Arguello, then up to the pretty lookout:

From there, the familiar route through the Presidio, down the Great Highway, around Lake Merced, up Sloat, across Monterey, through the Mission and the Castro, over the Wiggle and back through the Panhandle to McLaren. 24 miles, around 2 hours rolling time.

A couple of observations from me:

  • It was much easier riding in a mask than I thought it would be.
  • The group did a good job distancing, and it felt safe to be riding with this group.
  • Jeff and I checked in with the riders, and they all agreed about feeling reasonably safe on this ride.
  • Alas, no pacelining, which is a lot of fun (for me) but just not very appropriate in this era. We’ll get back to it some day.
  • The ride felt nice and sociable without being huggy/kissy.

The weather was spectacular Saturday and of course that helped.

You might ask, why did we start with a short, 24 mile ride? Couple of reasons. A lot of us are out of shape, and we wanted to start with rides that will help those of us who are out of shape get back into cycling gently. The City and County limits the amount of time groups like ours can spend on outdoor activities. So, 2 hours rolling through San Francisco is the current max. Third, the first few rides we do, including this one, are experiments. The board wanted to see how we would do as a club meeting the conditions set down by the City and County for group events.

My opinion: we did splendidly.

Big thank yous to Tony for putting the club’s Health and Safety Plan together, which made this ride possible, and to Jeff for leading the ride.

On a personal note, I’ve had a physical problem that’s kept me from riding for almost a year now. This was my first time back on a bike since last year’s Mt. Hamilton climb (which I was unable to finish). I’m not out of the woods yet, but it felt great to be back on a bike again, and to be able to ride with the club. It felt like I was riding in molasses the second part of the ride, but I guess molasses is pretty sweet.

Flat, Flat, Flat, Flat, Flat

Seems I’ve been wrongfully maligned recently, on this very blog:

Last summer President David was on a ride we were leading and he got a flat. As he popped a spare tube and a CO2 cartridge out of his saddlebag he mentioned that he had never done this before. Hmm.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of riding in the Tour of Napa Valley with Roger S. and David Ga. It was a pleasure until 5 miles out, when … flat.

I got off my bike, took off the rear tire – yeah, the yucky back one, the one that’s hooked into all those disgusting, dirty, chainy, move-y things. I managed to get the wheel off, then get the tire off, swap the tube with a nice new one from my saddle bag, and filled the tire with CO2. Got the wheel back on the bike even with that weird chainy thing. All by myself. (Well, OK, Roger helped me get the wheel back on, but whatever.) Take that, Tony.

It’s fair to say I’ve never been in love with fixing flats. I’d be the first to admit it. I’ve had a couple of lessons in it, but truth be told, I rarely flat on rides. So even though I was OK at it 3 years ago after I took the class, now I’m slow and clumsy at it, have forgotten all the little things you need to do, and don’t mind it when other riders are kind enough to help me. On my own, it usually takes me about 20-30 minutes to get the wheel off, get the tire off, get the new tube on, inflate it, put the $!!(&%%@ tire back on the wheel, figure out how to get the stupid thing at the end of the cassette back into the place where it belongs (usually takes me several tries and even then I’m not sure I’ve done it correctly), say a prayer that I’m not going to get a pinch flat, and then get my sorry ass back out on the road.

Back when I used to bike commute, I marveled at how fast certain folks could change flats. The group would stop and watch while one of the butch guys or gals took out some tools, went zip zip wavey wavey, and in about 3 minutes the group was back on our way. I flatted a couple of times with that group. I’d say something like, oh, no, I don’t want to slow the group down, I know the way, you go ahead. After you, please. They would, and then I’d fumble and fuss and swear for half an hour or forty five minutes or whatever, trying to get the tire back on that stupid, awful chain-y thing.

But my cycling life has changed in regard to flats in the last 4 weeks.

Because the flat 5 miles out on Tour of Napa Valley was just my first one. I flatted three other times that day, and poor Roger flatted five times – FIVE TIMES – the same day. As the dreadful scene played out over and over and over again, I found that I was gradually getting a little better at fixing my flats. Oh. My. God. Unimaginable. See, Tony, I just needed a little practice.

And I got some more practice this morning, on the way out of town through Golden Gate Park on the SF to Pacifica ride that Nancy and Ginny led. Just after we passed the DeYoung, on JFK Drive, in front of a nice waterfall. Even my choice of locations for flatting is improving. I heard the familiar thump, thump, thump and thought to myself dammit, why don’t they pave the stinking roads in this park. But thump, thump, thump continued and I yelled back at Nancy, “I flatted, didn’t I?”

So, back to the side of the road I went. I wasn’t fast but I felt competent for maybe the first time ever. It took me somewhere between ten and fifteen minutes and we were on our way. And that was the REAR tire, the one with the horrible chainy thing that you have to figure out how to get around. I remembered to undo the little tab-y brake-y thing, to take off my GPS so I didn’t scratch it all up, and to get into a gear that would make everything easier. Got the tire off and the tube swapped out, and even got the tube back on pretty quickly. (I was shocked to hear a compliment made behind my back about that, and someone saying how hard it was for them to get the tire back on.) A little CO2 and we were on our way.

Best of all, my repair held, I rode on it the rest of the way with no problems.

I’m normally all thumbs, and believe me even a simple repair like fixing a flat does not come naturally to me. I go “yuck” when I have to get my hands dirty on a ride. Ewwww, grease. But this story is meant to be inspirational. If a doof like me can figure out how to fix a flat, maybe a doof like you can, too.

And nyah, nyah, nyah, Tony.

 

How Much Do We Ride?

Part of my job as DSSF Ride Coordinator is to collect the waivers from all DSSF rides. Since the start of the year, I’ve been feeding the information on the waivers into a spreadsheet that aggregates the mileage and climbing various different ways.

Yeah, I’m a data geek.

I’ve been presenting the numbers at the club board meetings since I built the spreadsheet, and I thought the club members might be interested in seeing how many miles we’ve ridden and how many feet we’ve climbed.

As of 9/23/2012:

Number of club rides in 2012: 95
Number of different riders have ridden with DSSF: 211 (includes both club members and non-members)
Number of DSSF members have led rides: 25
Total number of miles DSSF riders have ridden on club rides: 38,848
Total number of feet DSSF riders have ascended on club rides: 2,369,759

(Disclaimer: I am at the mercy of the ride waivers for this information! Statistics are accurate as far as the waivers are accurate and legible.)

Our ride leaders have done extraordinary service on behalf of the club. The next time you go on a club ride, be sure to thank the ride leader who set the ride up. Four ride leaders have led 10 or more rides: our club President, David G. (25), Joseph (21), myself (17), and Chris T. (11).

Six club riders have ridden more than 1,000 miles on club rides this year. One DSSF rider has climbed over 100,000 feet! Go riders!

Shout-outs to the following ride leaders:

Will B., for organizing the Amador County weekend and leading three rides on it
Chris T., for organizing Double Bay Double 2 and leading a wonderful training ride series to prepare riders for that event
Neel E., for leading an East Bay ride series to prepare Double Bay Double 2 riders
Tony and Roger, for hosting our club’s pool party on Labor Day weekend
Tony, for continuing to lead the rides in his 30th anniversary series
Joseph C., for continuing to lead the jersey rides and almost-weekly rides in Marin

Keep riding! I’ll provide updates in the blog from time to time, until we are able to get this information on dssf.org.

Double Espresso Ride to Rulli’s

It was a beautiful day for a ride yesterday, and so 12 of us met up at Peet’s at the utterly civilized hour of 10 AM for a jaunt up to Marin, lunch at Cafe Rulli, and the ride back.

Because of the distance and pace, the ride was attractive to all levels of riders. We had a smattering of fast and experienced folks, some mid-level riders, and several new or almost new friends with us today. Jeff joined us on his recumbent and kept up admirably. Howard and Gene rejoined DSSF for their first ride after a number of years of being away from the club. Andrew, a strong rider who recently moved here from Chicago, made it to his first club ride. And Mark, a newer rider, braved our pace to join us, and did well.

Rico and Andrew joined the group at the Bridge. I’m pretty sure most club members know this, but in case it never occurred to you – on most rides, it’s not necessary to meet the group at the starting point – if there’s a convenient place mid-route you’d like to join, that’s a possibility. Before the ride, check with the ride leader about the appropriate time to meet up with the rest of the group at your desired meeting point.

IMG_0221

I did not bill the ride as such, but I decided that NRLB – No Rider Left Behind – would be a good policy to follow today, since so many of the riders were new to the club and not 100% sure of the route. So I swept for the group and had the pleasure of getting to know some of the newer riders. I think in the future I will bill such rides as NRLB if I’m leading, since I think this is an attractive thing for newer riders or people who don’t ride with us that often. Nothing sucks quite as much as going on a ride with the club for the first or second time, getting dropped, maybe getting lost, and then having to ride alone the rest of the day. I probably wouldn’t want to advertise a faster, longer ride as NRLB, but for a 37-miler with relatively few hills, definitely. There is a need for this kind of ride and I would encourage others of you to post similar rides if you’re up for it.

You all know this route, so there’s not a whole lot to say about it. Lunch, coffee, and dessert at Rulli’s was superb as always. The guy behind the bar was as cute as ever, and he had a big ol’ hickey to boot.

IMG_0223

IMG_0226

IMG_0227

Pizzeria Pico, which is about a block south of Rulli’s, looked empty. This place is supposed to be great. Please post a comment if you might be interested in a ride that stopped at Pico for pizza some time and if there’s enough interest, I’ll organize something.

The group split into 3 after lunch, with several riders taking the ferry from Larkspur home, several others going off to do the Tiburon Loop, and the rest of us turning around and climbing Camino Alto as we headed back across the Bridge. Nice long stop at Bicycle Odyssey (a DSSF sponsor) for a bathroom break and toy shopping. It was a particularly nice ride back today – so gorgeous, I did something I haven’t done in a couple of years, which was to stop in Sausalito and take pictures of the City across the Bay.

IMG_0231

IMG_0233

(All photos courtesy of Eric S.)

Hollister – Aromas – Castroville – Fremont Peak – Hollister

Just three riders – the other David G., Doug, and I – met in Hollister Sunday for a terrific day of riding. I had never done this route before, so it was all new ground for me.

David’s route took us out Hollister and up into the coastal ranges, past the entrance to the GrantiteRock quarry, and into funky little Aromas (so named because of the odors of a sulphur spring, according to ePodunk.com) for our first stop.

There’s not much going on in Aromas on a Sunday (or any other day I expect, unless the CrossFit Games in town), so we continued east after a short rest. After a few more miles, we turned right down Elkhorn Road, and proceeded through the Elkhorn Slough. Elkhorn is a huge tidal slough and estuary, the largest in California except for San Francisco Bay, and we rode for about 6 miles through this most beautiful, largely deserted  place, surrounded by birds, tidelands, mud, and mudhens.

33IMG_0821

33IMG_0822

Coming up out of Elkhorn, we climbed a small hill now named “the hill of dropped chains,” a new tourist attraction something like the Mystery Spot. Both Doug and David experienced the same mechanical difficulty within a few feet of each other.

Through suburbia now for lunch in Castroville at the Giant Artichoke!

33IMG_0827 copy

Then more mostly flat riding into Salinas before our big climb of the day back over Fremont Peak and a bumpy descent down the poorly-maintained road. (David told us to observe road quality as soon as we got to the San Benito county line, and the difference was truly remarkable.) Finally, screaming tailwinds took out of San Juan Bautista after our last regroup and home to Hollister.

A great day, and an extremely well thought-out ride.

http://ridewithgps.com/trips/32460/embed