A long black dress may cover a multitude of sins but not budget deficits. A dirty little secret of our club is that these days we need about a hundred paying members to break even and keep the club running like the smoothly oiled machine that it is and we’re not there yet. We’ve been supplementing our coffers by depending on the kindness of strangers: fundraising additional dough with the great help of the Lookout Bar. To stabilize the club we’d love to have 150 members (okay, we’ll settle for 130 members!) But in the meantime Holly Golightly needs some sugardaddies (and -mommies) to keep her afloat! Our $20 member dues provide for our web site, club insurance, taxes, post office box, and membership events run on a shoestring budget. Did you know our membership dues haven’t increased since the 1980s? We are soliciting member donations so that Different Spokes San Francisco can fund additional programs and nicer events. For example, we’re looking to continue our club’s RideWithGPS membership (which we got as a gift from Saddle Challengers last March), provide a Different Spokes app, and give our ride leaders better capabilities so we can fully move to electronic ride waivers. If you would like to help the club out in this way, please consider adding $50, $100, or $200 to your normal $20 dues for the year. Oh yeah Daddy/Mommy, you know we’ll get some extra love in return. (You know generosity is always well rewarded!)
The last time Roger H and I had been out to Treasure Island was March 2018 and there have been some big changes. With redevelopment plans gaining steam, wholesale demolition of older housing and buildings has turned TI temporarily into, well, an unpleasant construction zone. Views of the East Bay, San Francisco, and the Golden Gate remain fantastic but let’s say that the ambience is a little bit ‘unaesthetic’. Nonetheless we had a pleasant visit despite the demo work partly because we were there on a Sunday and mostly because the weather was near perfect: cool temp, very light breeze, and full sun. At some point TI is planned for about 24,000 residents compared to the current level of less than 2,000 and that’s going to make it both less and more hospitable—less because there is going to be hella traffic and more because the infrastructure to support all those residents is going to be in place. A Slanted Door on TI? Maybe. But for now it’s still very sleepy.
The demolition meant that Google Maps was no longer accurate, as a bunch of streets were blocked off to all traffic. After some confusion wandering about trying to follow the route I had designed, we took Will up on this suggestion to go to Mersea for a break. Mersea is a restaurant/cafe made out of repurposed shipping containers. The other choice on the Island currently is the Aracely Café, which was too busy for our taste (plus loud rock music on a Sunday morning? Seriously?!). Aracely is tucked away in what looks to be the front of a school building; Mersea is near the Bay facing SF and has a glorious view. This day we took in everything from the top of Twin Peaks to the enormous cruise ship at the Embarcadero. Mersea has $9 all-you-can-drink kombucha, which Will imbibed, whereas Roger, Leonard and I drank more mundance espressos. Their homemade croissants are very tasty. After languishing there for ages enjoying the sun we saddled up and headed back to the East Bay. The portion of the Alex Zuckerman path into the Port of Oakland has finally been completed and it’s buttery smooth. Being Sunday the Port was a ghost town and looked very apocalyptic-Post Industrial except for some massive new construction. Eventually we meandered over to Alameda for lunch at Speisekammer.
It was crowded. Wow. They’re always jammed at Oktoberfest but it was a surprise that they were doing very good business on a regular Sunday morning. In the past we’ve always been able to sit outside within view of the bikes. But Alameda has been ‘discovered’ and German food is now on trend rather than being the subject of sneering. So we forewent waiting for a table al fresco for immediate seating inside.
Since Roger and I don’t drink, Will and Leonard had to do double-duty for hoisting the adult beverages. God, that was a delicious lunch! As I get older my ability to inhale immense quantities of food has really diminished. Normally I would partake of the wienerschnitzel platter. But two large slices of pan-fried, breaded pork plus the potatoes and salad was going to be a bridge too far and I wisely got the wienerschnitzel sandwich with only one slice. Roger had the vegetable strudel and said it was delicious; Will had the jägerschnitzel and red cabbage, Leonard the pork roast. Everyone was pleased.
The nice thing about this ride is Speisekammer is only a few miles from the end. So you can scarf ’til the cows come home without fear you’ll barf afterwards. Since I can’t eat as much as I used to, that just means we’ll have to come back here again and again to enjoy their heavenly food.
Last Wednesday we had our first general membership meeting that wasn’t the annual Spring Kick-Off Membership Meeting in more than ten years, probably even longer. Probably none of you realizes that our bylaws require us to have a minimum of four membership meetings annually; this has been true since we achieved official non-profit status, which was roughly a couple of years after we were founded. In the beginning this was hardly an issue since—believe it!—we had monthly membership meetings. Initially we met at the Haight Street branch library meeting room and when it closed for renovation years later we moved to the old MCC in the Castro.
It may seem excessive to most of you to have had 11 or 12 club meetings a year especially since they weren’t required by law. But this was all pre-Internet (technically it was when a few were using Compuserve, Prodigy, maybe AOL, or were lucky to have Internet through academia or DoD work ) so the business of the club had to happen mostly face-to-face. How were rides created? We lugged a big box of maps and guide books out of the storage room of the library and members perused them to think of rides they might lead or talk to other members about possible routes. There was no website so information (and juicy gossip) was shared verbally. Board meetings took place at the beginning of the club meeting so everyone could see what was being discussed (either to their complete boredom or their horror, depending).
We didn’t always have an official program (a speaker or a topic of interest to the membership) and sometimes the meetings were tedious and mundane. But people showed up probably because it was the main way to meet other members and see what the club was about. Yes, you could just show up on a ride but the monthly meetings were a lower key way to introduce oneself to the club and vice versa. That was certainly my introduction to Different Spokes.
Somewhere along the line the regular monthly meetings went away although I can’t remember exactly how that happened. Some clubs like Grizzly Peak Cyclists (Berkeley) and Almaden Cycle Touring Club (SJ) continue to have monthly meetings. Others such as Valley Spokesmen hold quarterly meetings and some clubs such a Diablo Cyclists appear to have no meetings at all.
Club meetings especially if they involve food are a low-key, convivial way to hang out and meet other clubmates, see each other out of cycling drag, and find out “officially” what’s going on with the club.
In the future we may have more NTKOMM meetings but it will depend on whether a board member (or regular members who want to help!) has the energy and an idea for it.
But I digress—back to the recent NTKOMM: David Goldsmith happened to be chatting with Ari, the owner of Bespoke Cycles and idea of a club meeting that didn’t have the onus of the Kick-Off Meeting (introduce the new board, cover a year’s worth of upcoming events, a program, etc.) came up. It was really an excuse to hang out in a cool bike shop and chat with clubbies. As a plus Ari volunteered to talk about whatever topic struck our fancy. We told Ari that perhaps opining on new bike technologies might spark some interest and so the meeting was born.
For the food David went to the trouble of getting lots of fabulous Detroit-style pizza from, I think, Square Pizza Guys south of Market St. Ari threw in a bunch of different kinds of beer and soft drinks. I grew up in Detroit and I had never heard of “Detroit” pizza, which apparently is a thing in SF now. Perhaps it was because I grew up in a Chinese family where Italian food was limited to a very infrequent can of Chef Boyardee. Or it could be because I—horrors!—predate such hometown trends. In any case it was pretty damn good. Pizza Square Guys also make a vegan pizza but such concepts baffle me and there was no way I was going to venture into the unknown when the pepperoni was so good. I’m going to have to check this place out in person…
There were eleven of us who attended including a brand new member Michael whom I chatted with only briefly and didn’t get the chance to find out why he joined Different Spokes SF sight unseen. And he came all the way up from San Jose! Almost the entire board was there—David Go., David Ga., Nick, Roger, Ginny, and I. Roger Hoyer, Carl Stein, Stephen Shirreffs, Jeff Mishler, and new member Michael filled out the dance card.
Ari talked about three topics: tire trends, drivetrain maintenance, and ceramic bearings. Punchline: tires are getting wider with little or no detriment to speed and big gains in comfort. The narrow-is-faster orthodoxy turns out to be empirically false in most everyday situations so manufacturers are making wider tires and wider rims to take advantage of the comfort angle. Ari said there has been a movement away from 23 mm road tires to 25 mm and now even 28 or larger tires are being recommended. He said the wider rims support the wider tires so that cornering is excellent even at lower tire pressure, and lower tire pressure is what wider road tires is all about: more comfort, just as much flat protection, and better grip. Surprisingly Ari is not a proponent of tubeless tires although I don’t recall exactly why except he mentioned the mess they make when you do get a puncture that doesn’t seal right away. (I can vouch for that!)
Ari then recommended that the next thing recreational cyclists should do is be more diligent about drivetrain cleaning and lubrication. Using wax based chain lubricants reduces drivetrain grime and makes a quick rubdown with a rag at the end of a ride a lot easier than breaking out the chain cleaner. In particular he recommended Squirt lube (yes, that’s its real name and no, don’t go to squirt.org to read about it; try squirtcyclingproducts.com instead).
Finally Ari went gaga over ceramic bearings and brought out some sample bottom bracket bearings and chain pulley bearings—standard steel bearings or bushings versus ceramic bearings—for us to compare how they feel. The ceramic bearings did indeed have less friction and he claimed they did not need more maintenance than regular bearings. Less friction means less effort to go fast on the order of 5-10 watts. Although Ari may have a point, I am not convinced from the maintenance perspective. But he did mention that Ceramic Speed, the maker he’s selling, stands behind its products.
By the way Ari also does bike fittings and has been doing it for ages. He didn’t say anything about it that night but it might be interesting to hear him talk about how he does bike fittings and changes to bike fit thinking with the advent of gravel bikes (a.k.a.” regular road bikes” back in the day).
A very big thanks to Roger Sayre, Will Bir, Peter Phares, Nick Kovaleski, and Jeff Pekrul for volunteering at Jock Sunday at the Lookout on Sunday November 3. These guys gave pandering a good name by selling jello shots to the packed crowd of Millennials and raising $603 for Different Spokes! Of course a very big thanks to the Lookout for continuing to support local LGBT sports clubs by putting on Jock Sundays and allowing us to participate once again.
Membership fees do not cover the costs of running the club (yet) so fundraising events and generosity are important for us staying above water financially.
Although hanging out in a gay bar isn’t everybody’s fav way to spend a Sunday afternoon (but we’re not sure why not with all the eye candy), volunteering for club events is a great way to contribute to the club. So on behalf of the board thanks to all five of you. Next time you see one of our very own Pro Panderers on a club ride, please be sure to show them how much you appreciate their hard work!
If you’re going to dress to be chic, it will cost you. You already knew that, right? Let’s see—Rapha, Assos, Castelli….or Bike Nashbar, Performance, Decathlon? We all want to be PRO and not Fred, so our closets are filled with physical incantations that will transform us into Those To Whom We Aspire. You should not be surprised that this also applies to your bike. Hence the current obsession with hydraulic disc brakes. Setting up and maintaining hydraulic brakes perhaps becomes second nature after practice. But the learning curve is a lot steeper than with old-fashioned rim brakes. Cutting lines and setting the olive and barb, bleeding lines and making sure they’re free of air, to name just a couple of tasks, are probably unfamiliar to most road cyclists while very familiar to mountain bikers at least those who do their own maintenance and repairs.
Nowadays road bikes are getting more complex and the tradition of DIY maintenance and repair is slowly eroding away. Having your LBS handle routine brake maintenance is going to cost you not just because it’s more time consuming but also because you’ll probably need to have it done more often than you would with rim brakes.
The other dirty little secret of hydraulic brakes is that the replacement parts are much more expensive than for rim brakes. I alluded to this in an earlier post but I was incorrect about the cost. I said that rim brake pads and disc brake pads cost about the same and that is not accurate. Top end Shimano Dura Ace brake pads cost a mere $9 a set—$20 for two sets and you have brand new brakes. Contrast that with hydraulic brakes: Shimano replacement pads run about $25-30 for one set. You will also have to regularly change the rotor, which wears out quickly. Shimano rotors run about $60-75 for one rotor. I run through about three sets of pads before I’ve worn down the rotor to the point it needs to be changed and I run through about one rotor per year. So in a year I’ll be spending about $130 on replacement parts for disc brakes. Another way to put it is the per wheel cost: the average maintenance cost per wheel is about $50 for hydraulic brakes but for rim brakes it’s just $9. For me rim brake pad wear is measured in years but rotors and hydraulic disc brake pads it’s months. Of course the unmentioned cost with rim brakes is that you eventually will wear out your rim. But in my case that’s somewhere north of 25,000 miles so the cost per year is really quite small. Of course the cost is less important if your use case warrants it. When I’m going down fire roads those hydraulic brakes are a blessing!
The San Jose Mercury News reported that October 21 was the deadline for remediation of the infrastructure for BART’s as-yet unopened Milpitas and Berryessa stations in order to open by the end of this year. If you recall last June the opening date for the new stations was delayed yet again until “November” or “late 2019”. Everything was set back when “thousands” of problems were still unresolved between the VTA-constructed stations and BART. Apparently those problems are now down to a “handful” and BART blew its deadline yet finally began testing the new line a week late on October 28. Nothing ever seems to go smoothly with BART especially its dismal PR. Since BART never appears to rush headlong (yeah, we wish!), the odds of it being able to open Milpitas and Berryessa by Dec. 31 are about zero. One would think that being one week behind schedule means it will open a week late. Well, originally it was “November” or “late fall”. I think we might see it before June 2020 keeping in mind BART never admits its timelines are always ludicrously unrealistic.
On the other hand we just had dinner with a German friend who commented that the new Berlin Tegel airport was originally set to open in 2011. But due to the 2008 recession subcontractors went bankrupt disappeared and along with them the schematics of their work. So now the airport is “done” except that nothing works and they’re untangling that mess slowly. New opening date is now late 2020. Does that sound familiar to you? In another example of stellar German planning the Hamburg opera house, the Elbphilharmonie, finally opened in 2017 but ran into cost overruns that put construction on hiatus twice, I believe. It eventually opened six years late. So maybe BART is actually ahead of the curve. Whoa, what a thought!
We hope you’re all planning to come to the Lookout (3600 16th St. @ Market, across from Cafe Flore) on Sunday, November 3 for our important fundraiser. The fun begins at 3:30 pm when your fellow Spokers will be the hostesses with the mostestes, selling raffle tickets and jello shots to raise cash for our club. Funds raised will go towards our 2020 budget.
What can be more fun than jokes and drinks on a balcony on a sunny (or even cloudy) afternoon overlooking the passing Castro parade? These Sunday afternoons/early evenings guarantee a hot, friendly, and frisky crowd of athletic supporters in an afternoon schmooze and booze with door and donations benefitting LGBT sports teams. We call on all DSSF members—both boys and girls, as it’s all gender friendly—to come out in their kit and gear to support and promote our club. In previous years we’ve raised a princessly sums of money ($400-1,000!) for club activities.