The Fourth Dimension

And this was a “non-technical” section

Memory is the fourth dimension to any landscape. —Janet Fitch

About a month ago I led a mountain bike ride to Bolinas Ridge Trail on which I crashed and broke my collarbone, my very first fracture in 65 years. What puzzled me about that day was, how could I have been so wrong about this trail? I hadn’t ridden this trail since the early or mid-90s and although I was expecting it to have changed, riding the trail was like visiting a foreign country for the first time. My recollection was of a fire road, non-technical, with a few short, steep stairsteps but mostly a pleasant slow climb up Bolinas Ridge to Ridgecrest where you turn around and then descend back to the parking lot. I thought it would be a good ride in our reintroduction of mountain biking back in the club.

I called the few remaining mountain bikers and they all couldn’t make it for one reason or another except for Roger Sayre and my husband, who was trusting in me to select a trail he could handle. Just the three of us wasn’t too surprising as dirt riding, which used to be so popular in Different Spokes, has all but vanished.

Right from the get-go I started questioning the accuracy of my memory when we got to the trailhead and there wasn’t a parking lot that I distinctly remembered was there. There wasn’t a lot in sight, and furthermore there was a seemingly aged, wooden fence with a very narrow stile as the only entrance. I looked around and nothing resembled what I had “imprinted” in memory. Could the lot have been removed? But the weathered fence belied that possibility.

Once we were rolling the general terrain was familiar but something was terribly different. The fire road was in horrible shape, pocked with rocks and potholes. But worse on every short incline the double tracks had become eroded mini-trenches demanding that you steer carefully and straight in order to proceed. The option of rolling outside these twin trenches was virtually impossible because the center was uneven, rocky and full of tufts of overgrown weeds and the sides of the trail had grass at least four feet tall with a surface of uncertain quality. The three of us lunged forward and a couple of times we ended up walking when we just couldn’t steer around the mini-trenches.

After almost two hours we had barely made it five miles. Roger turned around when the Marin Municipal Water District boundary had a sign that clearly forbade e-bikes. Roger S. and I continued on only a little bit further to a shady spot to rest before we turned around as well. At this rate it was going to be a long day and I didn’t want to miss lunch at the Olema Inn. On the way down I crashed; separately my husband also crashed—twice—but was comparatively unscathed. I ended up walking out to the car and we both headed to the ER.

Having to deal with a broken collarbone is painful and miserably inconvenient. But the most upsetting aspect of the day wasn’t the injury, it was the apparent unreliability of my memory. Was it a senior moment, a sign of impending decrepitude, or—hopefully—just the lack of trail maintenance? Not being able to do much of any value with a broken wing, I spent my recovery hours working on miscellaneous club tasks such as tying up the loose ends before the Marvelous Monterey Weekend. I was also doing some research on the club picnic by perusing my old ChainLetters when I ran across a ride listing for the Bolinas Ridge Trail in 1991. Who was the ride leader? To my surprise it was me! Actually there were two ride listings because I led the ride twice in a matter of months. Here is the listing and the two ride rumors:

July 1991 ChainLetter, Sunday July 7 Bolinas Ridge Run
Join Dennis [Westler] and Tony on a mountain bike jaunt over Bolinas Ridge that overlooks Mt. Tam and the Pacific Ocean. Starting just outside the town of Olema, a fire road rolls gently along Bolinas Ridge for 11 miles through redwood groves and open fields with terrific views. At Bolinas-Fairfax Road we turn around and go back the same way, and after the ride have a late lunch in town. Bring water, snacks, and a windbreaker (the weather is unpredictable). 3-B-22. Look for a very small parking area at the top of Bolinas Ridge on the left side of the curve.

October 1991 ChainLetter, Bolinas Ride Run
Alas, Prez Dennis Westler’s parents and nephew showed up in town and filial responsibilities required that he attend to their needs rather than ours, so he wasn’t able to co-lead this ride with me. Too bad, ‘cause this one turned into a real winner. I too had an out-of-town visitor, my old college roommate. But I borrowed Dennis’s bike and hauled Paul up with me for his first mountain bike ride.
Ten folks showed up , and mostly new I might add, since the only “old timers” were myself, the Den Daddy, and Dr. Bob. The weather was windy and thick with fog. But the gradual ascent up Bolinas Ridge was still beautiful. There were fewer wildflowers to entertain us, but plenty of cows.
Things got a bit muddy when we entered the redwoods—the fog dripped down steadily and turned the forest floor into a muddy obstacle course. There were big puddles and slippery tree roots, but no one seemed to flinch except wimpy old me. Most of the group was ahead of me and so I took my time picking the least muddy route around pools, mud patches and roots.
Fortunately I managed to stay less muddy than everyone else (remember, this is relative only), no doubt a victory of Fashion over Speed. I’m not sure how things were going with the main group since mostly everybody was ahead of me. Poor Anne [Dunn] was struggling far behind. Having just moved, she couldn’t find any of her bicycling clothing and had to ride in jeans and a borrowed helmet. Being last meant she had to close all those cattle guards too.
At the top it was easy to tell who was fearless. Generally they and their bikes were coated in a brown film. The descent back was terrific. The gonzos took off, and in a fit of insanity I actually tried to stay with the Den Daddy. I was screaming down rutty, gravelly sections at 35 mph—a tribute, I suppose, to demonic possession. Big fun!
At the end, most of the group trundled down to the Olema Inn for a stately lunch on white linen tabelcloths set on the outside deck, as the sun finally showed itself. Just another bodacious dirt ride.

Hitting 35 mph downhill? That would be impossible today with the utterly degraded terrain. My friend Paul had never ridden a mountain bike before and it’s impossible to believe I would have taken him on a super-technical ride!

November 1992 ChainLetter, Bolinas Ridge Run (October 19)
A small band of six dirt-o-philes showed up to climb Bolinas Ridge. The last time we did this trail, we had to put up with dense fog and muddy conditions. This time it was a picture-perfect day: brilliant sunshine, no fog, no smog, and warm. The climb up sure seemed harder than I remembered it, and the “2” terrain rating was probably conjured up in one of my rosy but hazy recollections of the undulating trail, which at times forced all of us into our lowest gears. It’s probably more of a “3”, or maybe even a “4”. Unfortunately this was an unpleasant surprise for Paul, a newcomer to the Club. Sorry about that, folks. (Hope you come back, Paul.)
The only untoward incident happened when the group unceremoniously left Paul and me behind, and then for the first time in my life my chain decided to snap in two, leaving me gearless on the hillside. What was irksome was that because I don’t have Hyperglide–which is notorious for chain breakage–I stupidly thought I would never need to bring a chain tool with me. Now I know better. Luckly Paul was able to forge ahead and the group was politely waiting for us under a tree. Prez Dennis zoomed back with a tool and in no time I was back in the saddle.
The sunny weather brought out the hordes as we passed many other hikers and bikers. At the top we ran into an enormous group from Single Cyclists preparing to descend Bolinas Ridge. We beat a hasty retreat after snarfing our PowerBars. Without the Den Daddy to inspire us, no one was in the mood to kamikaze, so our return to the cars was uneventful, although that gave us time to enjoy the view.
Afterwards we converged at the Olema Inn, which graciously reopened its kitchen to prepare a late lunch for our dusty little group. Just another fabulous Different Spokes mountain bike ride!

In the ride listing and ride rumors there is no mention of technical difficulty on the trail. Plus, the relatively benign terrain listing we gave it supports the recollection that the trail was just your standard fire road back then.

Then I ran into another ride rumor from 1999. In that period the annual club picnic was held at Samuel P. Taylor State Park, not China Camp, which is just down the road from the Bolinas Ridge trailhead and as part of the picnic festivities that year Doug O’Neill led a dirt ride on the Ridge:

July 1999 ChainLetter, Different Spokes Goes to the Cows
Perfection: bright sunshine, a gentle ocean breeze, and a challenging yet fun trail. This is what six riders enjoyed on the Samuel P. Taylor offroad ride. Three particularly brave riders, Ellen, Kevin, and Michael, were on their first offroad ride, completely unaware that they were witth the club’s only certifiably insane ride leader.
The initial climb to the Bolinas Ridge trail was a bit of a challenge, but not for studly Dan, who pedaled by some others who succumbed to the desire to walk a bit, or in David’s case, the need to adjust his seat height. At one particularly stunning crest, the group was stopped by a herd of cows in the middle of the trail. Not to be outdone by Dan’s earlier show of studliness, Michael cleared the path and saved the group from a charging bull. (The family nature of this publication prevents us from disclosing the technique used.)
The determined group made it up the final set of hills to the promised “big rock”—no, it was not some mythical place. Tired after their earlier feats, Dan and Michael decided to relax a bit, enjoying the rock, sun, birds, and the cirrus cloud formations—a moment away from the bustling and foggy city. Ever-ambitious Pam, apparently not challenged by the climb, decided to do a bit of crosscountry on the way back. Everyone enjoyed the long and picturesque descent to the feast waiting at the barbecue.

Again no mention of the trail being particularly technical and this was eight years later. To boot there were several newbie dirt riders that day!

So it is likely that my memory wasn’t playing tricks on me and that something happened to the trail after 1999. That’s still 20 years ago so one shouldn’t expect things to be exactly the same! Perhaps I was expecting it would receive regular trail maintenance. The Bolinas Ridge Trail runs through the GGNRA and Mt. Tam watershed area. The section where I crashed was under GGNRA control, which also controls the Marin Headlands trails, which do receive grading and maintenance. Yet the trail looked like it hadn’t seen a grader in years.

Perhaps one day it will see some love and be restored to what it once was. Although it behooves those of us who do ride dirt trails to volunteer to do trail maintenance, working on a fire road is really the provenance of heavy machinery operators. Nonetheless it was an exclamation point that trails don’t just take care of themselves and that human care through hard work, taxes, and donations is how we keep the trails we love. Will I go back? Probably. But memory will serve me right the next time.


The Dinner

Let the chomping begin…

There is a misconception perpetrated by the club’s velominati that getaway weekends are all about the rides. Tasty rides at infrequently visited yet gorgeous locations are the bait that hooks Spokers into signing up for a weekend away from home. The prospect of different roads and beautiful scenery away from the dull drudgery of laundry, slogging the grocery cart through Whole Foods or Gus’s, and another same-same takeout dinner always has good PR appeal. We all like to ride, right? So let’s go away together to cycle on some new, righteous paths! And yes, it’s true that riding of any sort but especially riding on new roads is generally heartwarming and refreshing.

Perhaps it was because I’m still nursing a fractured, not-yet-healed collarbone that the Marvelous Monterey Weekend rides didn’t make much of an impression on me, at least not this time. Roger and I went down for the Marvelous Monterey Weekend even though neither of us were planning to ride our bikes, in my case because it would have been insanely foolish and in Roger’s case because he, insanely, prefers to spend time with me than to ride some picturesque roads with friends. Yeah, go figure.

The MMW was almost a train wreck before it began. Four weeks ago we both crashed in a mountain bike ride and got injured, so much so that I ended up with a bum arm and no biking for eight weeks. Our ranks began depleting when separately two other Spokers had to cancel because of sudden work commitments. Then another participant had a family emergency and had to back out at the last minute. What else could happen? Maybe a tsunami while we’re in Monterey…?

Since we were the organizers we went down, and it was going to be a good escape from the manse where we mostly had been sequestering ourselves post-crash. Five of us made it down early enough on Friday to go out to dinner together in Seaside—David Go., Ginny, Roger S., Roger H. and I. We went to an inexpensive Vietnamese joint that had prices that would be impossible to match in SF. How about $6.99 for a huge dinner plate?! $1 more if you wanted a “large” platter when the regular size was huge! Thusly we were reminded of the true cost of living in the Bay Area. The place was fairly quiet despite having a steady stream of customers and we were able to have a pleasant dinner conversation without shouting or straining to understand due to the lack of cacophony.

Saturday Jenn and Steph along with Peter Phares joined us along with Jeff and Benson you couldn’t leave the Bay Area until after work. They all went out and did a good 53-mile ride while Roger and I went out to do a hike at Pt. Lobos. Which was so crowded that we switched to plan B and went to Andrew Molera. Folks came back to the rental house around 3:30, cleaned up and relaxed a bit, and then we prepared dinner together.

Ginny put together a scrumptious vegetarian enchilada casserole pretty much on her own, carefully chopping and sautéing the ingredients before composing the layers. We’d brought some homegrown tomatoes and basil for a simple bruschetta; normally it would have taken just a short time to make it but I am still having difficulty cutting or chopping. And forget lifting anything with the right arm! Roger cut up Bartletts, Gravensteins, and peaches from our garden along with other fruit we got from the market for a dessert. Jeff and Roger S. went to work starting the grill and barbecuing the chicken and portobello mushrooms. David put together a green salad with homemade croutons made by Peter. Roger and I had planned to bring down our own basil pesto but we only remembered it when we got to Castroville. Sigh. it doesn’t help to make a checklist if you don’t check it. So Costco pesto was the last-minute substitute.

Without much coordination dinner “organically” came together by itself. Yes, it took an hour longer than we thought therefore keeping a Different Spokes tradition alive: always be fashionably late! Working in an unfamiliar kitchen may have slowed us down but the earnestness of the labor and the everyone’s attentiveness made it all the more delicious.

Like the production of the meal the conversations around the table came about organically. They started even before we were preparing dinner, probably helped by the group-friendly dining table that made hanging out, noshing, and relaxing very easy. There was of course chat about—what else?—cycling, especially Different Spokes cycling with a lot of navel gazing and ruminations on the state of the club. I don’t recall how it got in the mix but I will never forget Jenn’s story about her nephew skinnydipping in the bat ray petting pool at the Monterey Bay Aquarium: lost five-year old flasher sets off frantic search! The aquarium is always crowded and the bat ray petting exhibit especially. How everyone could have “overlooked” a naked kid swimming with bat rays is incompre- oh wait, doesn’t that sort of shit happen on BART and no one blinks and eye? Other topics ranged from people’s phobias, having your bike stolen and blaming yourself (!) despite using a hefty U-lock, parking in SF, the resurrection of the restaurant scene in the Castro, adventures with pacemakers and Kaiser, taking care of aging parents, spin classes versus regular indoor trainers and riding in the rain, adventures of a new census worker, David and Roger’s seven flats at Napa… Well, you get the idea. It was another rambling set of discourses bouncing along disparate topics, and in that respect not a whole lot different from some club rides that start at a known location but sometimes end up somewhere quite unexpected. The dessert of fruit salad and ice cream with cookies was doled out and the gabbing continued. People were still chattering away at 10:30.

That is one of the pleasures of a getaway weekend: getting to know fellow Spokers better, going beyond “shop talk” (ie. bike nerd stuff), and learning that there is definitely more behind the Oakleys and Lycra.

Ragging on BART

Waiting for Godot…

If you follow the local news, you can’t have missed the stories about BART’s problems with rampant fare evasion, phone theft, human waste in cars/elevators/stations, homeless people using BART as daycare, drug use on trains, problems with the new trains that were going to make BART oh-so-better, and the now ordinary—almost routine —service delays. BART has managed to wrangle the poster boy status of—literally—crap transportation away from SF Muni.

I’m so cynical that I wonder if all of this bad news actually helps BART in other ways, like in keeping people’s attention away from the delay in opening the extension to Milpitas and Berryessa stations. Those stations, like the Warm Springs station that preceded it, are now three years late in being opened. I ragged on BART last year about the delay in opening these extensions. But because their opening had again been put off to an indefinite future it fell of my radar until the recent track maintenance started on the Antioch line.

Track maintenance? Three weekends ago BART started long term work on track repair on that line, starting at Lafayette station, which is near where I live. The prospect of this made me groan because they’ve done this before. Actually they did it for what seemed like years: on weekends they’d suddenly announce track maintenance and then service through Contra Costa singletracked and became delayed. BART had a nasty habit of not announcing they were doing work until shortly before the date, making any planning (e.g for rides) difficult. Why there was so little repeated track maintenance happening anywhere else in the BART system was a “puzzlement”, as the King of Siam said. The fact that this one section required so much work makes me suspect that something very serious has been festering there for years. You may recall that during the last BART strike the workers who got killed by the train being run by a scab were also working on that line. They wouldn’t have been out there during a strike, when resources are limited amidst the labor turmoil unless something really needed to be addressed.

In any case after years the track work abruptly stopped and we’ve had a couple years of respite. Now they are restarting, and seemingly as if nothing was learned BART announced that lanes of Highway 24 might be shut down to facilitate work although they never mentioned when they would do that. We found out exactly when: smackdab in the middle of a Saturday, all day. Although a weekend day is a better choice than a weekday, that didn’t seem to matter as traffic backed up as if were the commute hour. WTF!? I just looked at the announcement at the BART site and see that they’ve carefully changed it (without indicating it had been updated) so that lane closures will be happening on “select” weekends. Although night work would be a better time in terms of highway impact, I suspect they can’t do that because for some reason they need to work on the track during daylight hours. (Yet Caltrans manages to work on highways at night regularly.)

Anyway enough of the digression and back to the main story: the Milpitas and Berryessa station openings. This past June Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) finally finished its part of the work and handed over the stations and tracks to BART for testing. The construction of the new line and stations to San Jose is being done by VTA and as each section is done it hands it over to BART for testing before it can open. The Warm Springs station, which was the first one on the line extension, was also delayed for years with one snafu playing a major part: integrating the new electronic infrastructure with the old turned out to be replete with problems. Now BART is saying Milpitas should open by “late 2019.” That will be too late for the Mt. Hamilton in the Fall ride, which usually happens in early November but this year is taking place on Oct. 27. That’s too bad because the Berryessa station is close to the ride start. (Since BART opens late on Sundays, if you choose to ride to the start you will have to disembark at Warm Springs and ride quickly to make the start of Mt. Hamilton.)

Are we to give credence to this news? BART skeptics already know the answer: if you believe it, I’ll sell you a bridge. The chronology of delays is depressingly familiar. In April 2017 Milpitas station was “96% complete” and testing was to begin and it would “open ahead of schedule” in June (even though by that time it was already late for the original 2016 date!) Oops, in August 2017 BART said there were delays in testing and it would open June 2018. In January 2018 BART reiterated that Milpitas would open in June. But in March BART said delays in testing, lack of personnel, and “breakdowns in communication” between BART and a contractor would delay opening. In fact VTA hadn’t handed over the station even by April 2018 (!) so June seemed impossible. BART was changing the control systems at Warm Springs so that caused delays for the new stations downstream. Furthermore BART apparently did not have enough staff to work on both Warm Springs and the two new stations and they couldn’t find any knowledgeable consultants to fill in the gap. In February 2019 BART said the new stations could open by November 1. In June VTA did indeed hand off the stations to BART and now we’re hearing more mumbo-jumbo estimates on opening: now it’s “late 2019”. BART has an ingrained habit of setting amazingly ambitious target dates (as in: “Of course we won’t run into any problems and everything will happen in the most optimal fashion!”)

If you’re a betting man/woman, BART is not the place to wager if you like to win. But you know it will always be later rather than sooner. Since it’s already three years behind, what’s the diff if it’s another year or two? Mt. Hamilton 2020 or 2021?

I’m sure construction projects routinely run into unforeseen problems. But project managers never seem to factor their track record into estimates on the next project. If you’re three years late on the Warm Springs station, then why should we expect anything less for Milpitas or Berryessa? Maybe because you’ve learned from your past mistakes? Nah!

What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits: the Orinda Pool Party 2019

Yes, I’m going to a party, party!

If you missed it yesterday, you will have to wait another year, the Orinda Pool Party and Ride that is. We had eleven people do the ride and eighteen at the party. I would love to give you a full report on the 10th edition however I missed the ride part due to a broken collarbone from a mountain biking accident. And no, it was not as David Go. remarked, “He broke it when he fell out of the sling!” although I was indeed sporting an arm sling as my new fashion accessory (basic black, of course, from the House of Kaiser!) Since everybody who rode made it safely to the manse with smiles, I assume that the ride was fabulous and that copious, gay chatter along the way added to everyone’s delight. Thanks to David Gaus and Stephanie Clarke for leading the ride and making sure the sheep did not go astray (and you know they like to stray).

So I’ll confine my remarks to the only part of the day I witnessed and that really mattered, the pool and the food! Special thanks to Jim Lemburg for assisting us with setting up for the party as lifting chairs and lugging food and daypacks around was a little bit too much for my bum arm and Roger had already been doing double-duty in prepping the garden, pool, and deck when I couldn’t help him much (if at all).

After almost a decade of the same menu—pesto with basil from the garden, Aidell’s sausages, and Caesar salad—we gave the meal a facelift- er, “meal-lift”. It’s not like we were still serving retro-fabulous dishes such as Baked Alaska, Vichysoisse, or Crab Rangoon (and if you don’t know what those are, you are not ‘of an age’) but almost as bad since pesto is so…1980s. And yes honey, it does taste delicious but as they say, how can you miss me if I don’t go away? That said, several people came up to me during the meal and expressed their sincere fondness for the homemade pesto, and perhaps next year it will launch a comeback tour!

What was the new menu? We decided to go full Americana—smoked pork ribs, cole slaw, and potato salad—to fit with summer. Some years ago we were invited by family friends to a barbecue where the son-in-law was smoking up a storm. We had a long conversation with him about smoking at home, and in a moment of stupendous lucidity Roger ordered one immediately after we arrived got home. After years of practice and experimentation now Roger has smoking ‘skilz’ and they were fully on display with the ribs. Everyone (well, except the vegans) was commenting on how delicious and tender they were, how the ‘meat fell right off the bone’, ‘those ribs had so much meat on them!’, ‘you knows I like to chew on tasty meat!’, etc. This time Roger used apple wood for the smoked flavor. The potato salad was the ‘hippie’ version with whatever we had in the fridge being chopped up and thrown in along with plenty of weed- er, herbs. The homemade cole slaw was, well, nothing special and I didn’t see anybody spitting it out after tasting it, so it must have been palatable.

More than quiche and mimosas?

Fortunately for the vegans we had some delicious non-animal dishes as well. We provided vegan cole slaw and potato salad in addition to the regular kind; Lamberto and Joe brought vegan chili (“We used the Instant Pot!”); and Jim made a delicious lentil dish.
This year the A-M group had to bring desserts and because we were A-M heavy we had a lot of desserts. I didn’t taste them all but the homemade lime bars that Chris made were OMG “oishi” and Darrell’s chocolate brownie cake was “sugoi!” And Stephanie, was that incredibly sweet melon and delectable prosciutto a “dessert”? No matter. The prosciutto was “rustic” (cinghiale?) and fantastic. (She must have smuggled a stash home of The Real Stuff on their last trip to Italy!)

Besides the splishin’ and splashin’ in the pool, the lunch was long with conversation; we didn’t break up until the sun had moved well towards the horizon and no longer needed the awnings to keep the back deck from feeling like the portico to hell.

Tubeless Road Tires, Pt. 6

I have a post coming soon with some final thoughts on road tubeless tires but I thought I’d pass along this article that the Technical Editor at Velonews, Lennard Zinn, penned about a month ago about the dangers of accidently burping tubeless road tires. You can find the full article here.

It is not a secret that you can burp tubeless tires if the pressure is too low or say, you’ve done a ‘ghetto’ tubeless set-up with rims not designed for tubeless use. In the past I’ve heard these stories associated with mountain bike or fat tire wheels. But this article seems to show that burping road tires is also possible and that the consequences can be devastating. No one wants to crash and when it’s caused by equipment failure you really begin to look at and question your equipment choices.

That said, this story has to be framed against the overall picture: there have been plenty of crashes on sewups and clincher tires. No one I know in Different Spokes is still using sewups or even has any experience with sewups. But I did. I stopped using sewups not because of safety but because they’re really a lot more work to maintain than clinchers. Sewups are glued to a tubular rim. Those of us who did use sewups knew that the glue job had to be carefully done in order not to peel a tire off in a turn because it could be devastating just as in the story above. In the 2003 Tour de France Joseba Beloki had a terrible career-ending crash due to a sewup tire coming off his rear rim. (Video here, at 1:44 minutes). If you glued a sewup, you let it cure for days in order to make sure the solvent in the glue was completely evaporated and the adhesion was good. Yet as the Beloki incident shows even glue jobs at the highest level of the sport can fail.

Clinchers have a similar story. Catastrophic failure of clincher tires due to blow-outs are not unknown. If you hit a rock hard at high speed you can instantly deflate it, and since nothing holds the tire on the rim except air pressure you risk crashing just like the dude above. We had exactly this experience on our tandem while touring in France many years ago. We hit a rock with our front tire at high speed (>40 mph) descending and our front tire went flat very quickly. But because of luck and Roger’s excellent tandem instincts and the fact that the curve we were in was very broad he steered the bike straight to a stop just off the road by applying only the rear brake. The tire (and tube) did not come off the rim. Fortunately we did not run out of road.

So yes, you can burp a tubeless road tire and because the tire’s air volume is small you risk deflating it to the point it comes off the rim. Note that Zinn calls a rim with spoke holes “standard” in contrast to “tubeless-specific” rims, which he takes to mean ‘has no spoke holes’. The general point he makes is a good one: be careful when it comes to marketing lingo. Many rims are called “tubeless compatible” and what that means is vague. A rim may have no spoke holes and still not be “tubeless-specific”. The HED Belgium rim in the above story is a “tubeless compatible” rim whatever that means. That said, I use exactly those rims in my tubeless setup. What Zinn doesn’t explicitly mention is the Universal Standard Tubeless (UST) rim and tire combination. This was invented by Mavic, Hutchinson, and Michelin originally for mountain bike tires but they now have moved that over to the road. This has a very specific rim and tire bead shape to help the two interlock and so mitigate the danger of burping and rim-tire detachment. If the above story gives you pause but you still want to try road tubeless, consider using official UST rims and tires. Just know that you will be limited to a small subset of available wheels, rims, and tires, as the UST has not taken off either for mountain or road bikes.

Taking The Ferry To Your Ride

Better than BART!

Whoa folks, SF Bay Ferry announced that it is now running ferries between San Francisco and Richmond on weekends, not just weekdays! There are five runs each direction and you can get the schedule here. If you use Clippercard, a ticket costs $7 and it takes about 35 minutes to do the crossing. This comparable to BART: if you were to take it from Embarcadero to the Richmond station it would be about 36 minutes and cost $5.30. But then you’d have to be on BART and we all know how enjoyable it is to ride that rolling urban blight! Keep in mind that the weekend SF-Richmond ferry is an experiment and how long it lasts will depend on whether enough people use the run to make it profitable.

The first ferry from Richmond is at 9:30 am and gets to the Ferry Bldg. at 10:05. So you’d be able to do a ride in SF mid-morning although not the common 10 am rides you see on our ride calendar. That ferry turns around at 10:15 am and gets to Richmond at 10:50, still mid-morning.

If you live in SF or the Peninsula, you’re thinking, “Now why do I want to go to Richmond to ride??” Here’s the reason: the Richmond ferry dock is at the old Ford Motors assembly plant on the Bay. This is also the location of the Rosie the Riveter Museum as well as Assemble restaurant (yum!). It’s right on the Bay Trail and you can take it along the Bay to Emeryville and then all the way to the San Mateo Bridge for a good, long flat ride. You can also head north to Pt. Richmond along streets, where eventually you’ll be able to ride to Point Molate by bikeway. Don’t forget you can also exit the Bay Trail to get to the Alex Zuckerman Path on the Bay Bridge, which will take you to Treasure Island. You could make a great out-and-back ride from Richmond to TI and back. Or just cut it short and ride to West Oakland BART.

Weekend Richmond service joins the already existing service lines from SF to Vallejo, Alameda, Mare Island, and Jack London Square in Oakland, which already have weekend service.

Happy Trails

Have you ever wondered what happened to a Spoker you knew that dropped out of sight? A lot of folks have come through Different Spokes since 1982 and that means we have a lot of former members. What happens to them? I’ve been thinking about this because part of building the new website has been porting over the enormous photo gallery from the old website. We have digital images going back into the early ‘90s but most of them have been since 2004, and I’ve been going through the pictures one by one from 2004 through 2006. Unfortunately the pics on our site gallery had no narrative or names. At the time it hardly seemed necessary since members knew each other, mostly. But years later it’s sometimes a mystery who these people are. I’ve been trying to annotate the images as best I can and that’s gotten me thinking about people who used to be so active in Different Spokes but are no longer members and don’t bother to come on rides. Why is that?

In the early days of the club members disappearing often meant one thing: they were sick with HIV. Like many gay institutions of the ‘70s and ‘80s the club was hit very hard. But that is much less the case now. Obviously people move away and leave the club. The most notable example of that is Bob Krumm, our first president and one of the original members who was instrumental in the club coming into existence. After he helped form the club and get on solid footing he moved away to New York and continues to live there today. But most lapsed members leave the club for other reasons. Some people come to the club looking for a relationship and if they find it, then the club becomes less important to them and they leave; others (probably most!) don’t find a boy/girlfriend and move on to another social venue.

I wonder how many leave for other disparate reasons. Whatever need the club met it no longer was important. A long time ago we had a very active member, Abel, who rode all the time. But then he got into—of all things—Scottish dancing and Highland games that became his first love! He would occasionally ride his red DeRosa but he just found another outlet for his physical expression. Did he “outgrow” the club? Maybe. It was a “stepping” stone for him.

Some move on because the kind of cycling they like changes. If you’ve become enamored with really long rides—brevets and randonneuring—there aren’t many other Spokers who love to ride all day (and night) nor do they offer to lead that kind of ride. You’re most likely to gravitate to SF Randonneurs for that activity. If you’re into fixies and alley cats, you won’t find that in Different Spokes and no racing of any sort either. So maybe you start looking for a racing club.

The former Spokers I wonder about are those who were really avid cyclists and came on so many rides, and then stopped attending. Did they leave cycling? Or, did Different Spokes just lose its appeal and if so, why? Is it that cycling ceased to be important or did Difference Spokes no longer fill the cycling heart they had? In some ways it’s like breaking up with your lover: you move on and other than occasionally passing each other on the street you no longer occupy each other’s attention. Maybe there is some bitterness there and probably many fond memories. Perhaps the “drama” just got tiring and for your sanity you had to break up.

But affections are not abstract—if someone spends a lot of time with us it must be because they enjoy the company and have formed friendships. Sometimes those friendships end up moving outside of Different Spokes—you’ve found your riding buddies, those with whom you ‘click’ (clique?), and you start riding with each other outside of Different Spokes. Soon you realize you don’t need the club anymore. Perhaps it’s partly the transitory nature of Bay Area life: rootlessness and a certain measured disconnection from relationships due to constant job change and moving are more the norm?