Monday, February 28, 2011

President’s Day Weekend….

Well, it’s starting to look like Spring which is both a good and bad thing….it’s a good thing in that the weather is getting nicer and I’ll be able to get out on the bike again. It’s a bad thing in that the weather is getting nicer and I’m way out of shape for the rides I have coming up…..soon…..

With it being such a cold, wet winter, I haven’t been riding nearly as much as I have in winters past and both the bathroom scale and my fitness will prove that out. Unfortunately, in direct conflict with my lack of fitness is a pretty aggressive Spring riding schedule…..The first of these challenges and the most pressing comes in about 4 weeks. A bunch of us are headed down to Death Valley for the Hells Gate 100….100 miles and 8500ft of climbing. I’ve pretty much already decided I’m doing the metric on this one.

With all of this in mind, and with 3 days off work, I figured I should get my butt in gear and get some exercise. Saturday was spent doing my chores, Sunday Deb and I had a great hike around Coyote Hills. The weather was clear and fairly warm and it was a really nice hike. Watching the hawks soar effortlessly over the hills was really cool....they were everywhere.

Monday, I got up early and headed out to do the Palomares loop. This is a great 30 mile loop with about 2300ft of climbing. The only problem is that it was only 40 degrees when I got to the start and got on the bike and I’m not sure it warmed up very much all morning. By the time I got to Sunol and the halfway point my toes were numb and although I have some really nice neoprene shoe covers…..well, they were at home.

The last half of the ride I don’t really remember the cold. Mainly because riding along Niles canyon I was so focused on not getting run over by the cars zooming by within inches that I didn’t think about the cold. Then once you enter Palomares Canyon proper, the climbing begins and I was pretty focused on keeping my heart rate under control and not blowing up. The canyon was beautiful though.

As you come down from the top of Palomares, there’s a steep, fast descent followed by great section of rolling hills and curves. The steep part is always good for some top speed and today was no exception. My gps showed 46mph.
The last rolling section really allows you to hammer along in the drops and focus on spinning the pedals. In addition, I kept getting glimpses of a group just a couple turns ahead of me and although I was giving it everything I had, I just could close the gap.

Eventually you come out of the canyon and I finally caught the group ahead of me. Granted they were all standing around chatting while I was trying to get my breathing under control so I didn’t appear to be dying. I’m pretty sure I actually pulled it off as I gasped out a “hey” and rode on by….

After getting back to the truck, getting home and standing in a hot shower till I could feel my toes again, Deb and I went and had a nice lunch then took a hike up at Redwood Regional Park. It was one of those hikes that starts up on a ridge and wanders up and down. We had a great time talking and looking at the views until we decided to turn around. It was then that we realized we had been going pretty much down for the last 40 minutes..….which of course leads to more than an hour of heading back up in order to get back to the truck….

All in all a great weekend and some tired legs on Tuesday….

Monday, February 7, 2011

2 Years, 3 Cameras….

Well, I’ve managed to kill another one….camera that is....

The first camera I managed to kill was a Canon Powershot SD 1000 7.1 megapixel point and shoot.
This was a great little camera that I bought after reading a bunch of reviews. It was on sale for right around $200.00, was supposed to take really good photos and was compact enough to fit in my pocket but still provide a pretty decent zoom. It survived about 8 months…. Granted it may still be alive and well as I lost it on the California Coast Classic ride so it could still be plugging along taking very nice photos for someone....
As I mourned it's passing and began to think about it's replacement, I fondly remembered the adventures we had experienced and the shots it had taken….
So, moving forward I was once again reading online reviews, surfing the web for deals and trying to figure out which camera would fit my needs. I wanted good pictures, a pretty small format and as much bang for the buck as I could get for right around $200.00….

This time it was the Panasonic Lumix DMC FS15 a 12 megapixel beauty in black and silver.  Like it’s predecessor this was another really well reviewed camera with a nice zoom and an a Leica lense.  Not quite sure what that means, but evidently the reviewers all agree that Leica is a good lense and that this camera offered a lot of value for the price. Plus, it was on sale for right around $200.00
This camera was supplemented with a 4/3rds format digital SLR so it mainly fell to job photos and my outdoor adventures where I couldn’t (wouldn’t) go with the DSLR.

I had originally been looking at the “outdoor” cameras that claimed to be waterproof and crash-proof but although they fit the majority of my needs, they were still too far out of my budget being at or above the 300-350.00 mark.

The Panasonic was a great camera. It was small, took really good pictures, didn’t have any of the delay or lag that you sometimes get with these cameras and although the screen is scratched and the housing has some dings, it just kept taking great photos….up until the New Year’s Day ride this year in which it was either raining or so foggy/misty it might as well have been raining.

It was here, almost a full twelve months after I purchased it, that it started to act up. At first it wouldn’t open when I turned it on. Then after shutting her off and on a couple of times she seemed to work ok.  Later though, I noticed some of the shots were blurry, almost like they were out of focus or that the lense hadn't been fully extended.

It seemed to rebound after that ride though and continued to work without any issues until last week when it just refused to open all the way and then wouldn’t close. Cycling the power on and off did nothing to help, the lense just stuck out there, neither open nor closed in a half mast, useless and inoperable way.

So, as I’ve done with all the other no-longer functioning electronic gadgets and doo-dads that I’ve accumulated in life, I threw it in the junk drawer to be recycled at a later date and thought back on some of the places we had been together.


This time, I had decided I was going to get one of the supposedly waterproof, shockproof, dustproof, nuclear explosion resistant cameras.  No matter the cost, I wasn’t burying another good soldier for lack of armor…..

Lo and behold, after much reading of reviews and perusing of photography websites, I found just the item, the Olympus Stylus Tough 6020 camera. This baby has it all. Armor – Check, Waterproof – Check, Dustproof – Check, Shockproof – Check, It’s even Freezeproof down to 14degrees….not that I’ll ever be riding my bike at that temp, but it will be going skiing with me so I guess that’s good.

The best part about this camera, it’s on sale for $80.00 off and is now $199.00 – right dead center in my pricepoint crosshairs…..

Reviews to follow…..

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

You Meet The Nicest People On A.....

A couple weeks ago, Jerry and I did a lake Chabot ride on Sunday after church. The ride itself was pretty uneventful and totally enjoyable.

After the ride though, we met a couple of guys in the parking lot as they were getting ready to leave. Stepping way out of my comfort zone (I’m terribly shy you know) I struck up a conversation with the gentleman who it turns out used to be a cyclist but now rides a scooter.

Evidently he used to ride several (20+) centuries per year with various local riding groups but now he just tools around on his scooter. The really interesting part is that he doesn’t ride alone. He has a good friend Rusty that rides with him in a special pack.

Rusty you see is a Chihuahua and not only does he ride in a special pack, he also has goggles and a helmet with his name on it. Together it sounds like they’ve been all over the place on that little scooter.

It’s true, you do meet the nicest people on a Honda Scooter