Saturday, December 30, 2006

Colorado bicycle shop dog

Bo joined the sales staff two weeks ago at High Gear Cyclery in Longmont, Colorado.

Bo says, "Support your local bike shop!"

High Gear Cyclery carries Giant, Marin, Titus, Black Eye, Freeagent, and several recumbent lines from Bacchetta and Burley. High Gear's owner, Buzz Feldman, is a League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructor (LCI) and is very active in cyclist advocacy efforts locally and statewide. Read a case study in his marketing efforts at BIke Marketer.
Photo info: Longmont shop dog by richardmasoner.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Bicycle blogs

Returning the link love. Here are bicycle and other blogs that have linked here over the past two or three weeks.

The Wash Cycle: Cycling advocacy in the Washington D.C. area.
Go Clipless.
Rad Spannerei: Cycling in German.
Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space on urban development.
Cycling Edinburgh.
Podium Cafe.
Meredith the Bike Messenger in Washington D.C.
Wheels of Justice in Australia.
Masi Guy.
CKs blog by a NYC marketing gal and friend of Masiguy.
Freewheeling spirit.
Roger Kramer is a cyclist near St. Louis, MO.
Jill is Up In Alaska.
Bike Commute Tips.
Cycling Dude.

I'm returning the link love here. If you've linked to Cyclelicious over the past couple of weeks but I missed you, please feel free to comment here.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Product review: 2007 Princeton Tec Switchback LED bicycle light

Princeton Tec Switchback 2 Summary

Good for: Casual trail riding, epic five hour treks into the backcountry (and back), long training rides on dark roads, any kind of city riding. If you bike commute and actually need the 5+ hours of burn time, I salute you. Except you probably don't have time to read this review.

Probably not for: Competitive singletrack at night. The Switchback 2 provides enough light to illuminate the branch just as it thwacks you in the head. Get something brighter, like the Switchback 3.

What about the Switchback 1? Princeton Tec markets the Switchback 1 as "the perfect secondary light," but at $199 it's a bit spendy for that. A good LED backup is a good investment for those relying on high power HID systems, some of which are prone to sudden failure. The Switchback 1 is certainly brighter than the dim blinkies that most night cyclists use. If you need a primary light, I'd spring for the extra $70 and get the Switchback 2.

Princeton Tec has been selling lights for outdoor enthusiasts for 30 years. In 2005, Princeton Tec began marketing a couple of their existing headlamps to cyclists by modifying straps to make them helmet-mountable. Lights designed for 1 mph hikes, however, don't provide much visibility for cyclists.

For 2007, Princeton Tec has introduced several good bike-specific designs, including three versions of the "Switchback" LED light. The Switchback is a reincarnation of a now-discontinued incandescent headlamp; I happen to own one that I used for backpacking before the advent of LED headlamps.

Princeton Tec has designed the Switchback with endurance racers and commuters in mind. I don't ride singletrack in the middle of the night, so I'll give my views from my perspective as a year-round bike commuter.

Switchback bike light specs

Princeton Tec Switchback bicycle light comes in three models: Switchback 1 with one 3 watt LED, Switchback 2 with two 3 watt LEDs, and the Switchback 3 with (wait for it) three 3 watt LEDs. Each of these lamps features a quick smart charger with universal plug adapters, hours of burn time, lightweight lithium-ion battery, voltage regulated to ensure constant brightness, 12 volt car charger, helmet and handlebar mounts, and extension cords and cable straps. Here are the specifics of each model.

Model Burn Time Weight MSRP
Switchback 1 5.5H Flash, 4.5H High, 6H Medium, 10H Low 436 grams $199
Switchback 2 6H Flash, 5.5H High, 7H Medium, 16H Low 586 grams $269
Switchback 3 6.5H Flash, 6H High, 12H Medium, 50H Low 826 grams $389

Using the Switchback 2

Click on photos to see large.
Princeton Tec Switchback 2 bicycle light mounted on handlebar
The Princeton Tec Switchback 2 bicycle light mounted on my handlebar. Two 3 Watt LEDs provide illumination that can be seen even in light.

Battery pack for Princeton Tec Switchback 2 bicycle light
The battery pack mounted on the top tube of my bike frame. The battery can also be mounted on the handlebar or placed in a hydration pack or jersey pocket.

Princeton Tec Switchback 2 bicycle light
Battery and light connected. Instead of one annoyingly long cable, the headlight has a short cable. If you need the battery further away, use the included extension cable.

I've tried the two LED Switchback 2. I don't have any way to scientifically measure the lumen output of this light, but the two 3W "Maxbright" LEDs are comparable in brightness to 10W+20W halogen systems that many of us are familiar with. The lens focuses a fairly tight and round beam, easily illuminating obstacles and debris several yards ahead. I can comfortably ride about 20 mph on a dark road with this light at high power.

The flash mode is interesting and useful in my opinion. Most LED lights have a "blink" mode to preserve battery life and enhance visibility by motorists, but it can be difficult to navigate when the front light constantly strobes. The Switchback's blink mode blinks rapidly twice then stays steady for a second before cycling back to blinking. I haven't tried this yet in real conditions, but this seems to provide the "be seen" benefit of a blink with the "see" benefit of a steady bright light.

The battery has a built-in battery life indicator -- red and green LEDs shine through the transluscent case to show the level of charge. I've lost my lights in the middle of a ride from a yanked cable, so I appreciate the locking cable connectors.

Quite a bit of thought has apparently been put into the design of the Switchback bicycle light. The light itself has a sleek, low profile that I like much better than the bulky headlights I usually see from other vendors. The handlebar mount is a little large, but I like the design, it works on good range of handlebar sizes (unlike some mounts I've tried), and the quick-release works very well. If you need to change the direction the light points because, for example, you mount the light on a curving part of the handlebar, a small allen key is required to loosen a bolt to allow adjustment.

Velcro straps to mount the light to a bicycle helmet are straightforward. A unique rubber case with wide velcro straps allow the battery to be mounted on the frame or handlebar or even the saddle rails. A provided extension cord provides additional flexibity in battery location.

The Switchback 2 bike lamp probably isn't quite enough for singletrack racing at night, but it provides plenty of light for night time training rides and the evening commute home.

Buying the Princeton Tec Switchback LED bike light

Because Princeton Tec traditionally hasn't sold bicycle products, they do not have a presence in the specialty bike store channel. They say they're working to change that with an expanded sales force dedicated specifically to local bike shops, but right now Princeton Tec products are mostly available in sporting goods and outdoor shops such as REI. Currently, the only bike retailer selling the Switchback is

Bike-powered billboard

From this story:
"For five days last week in a parking lot in downtown Vancouver, this billboard was lit around the clock by pedal power to demonstrate the energy efficiency of LED lights. The DDB/Vancouver project, on behalf of BC Hydro, required some 120 volunteers — from the client, the agency and local organizations — to keep the 1,500 LED lights aglow. According to BC Hydro, if the billboard featured traditional mini incandescent bulbs, only 120 lights could be lit with the same amount of energy."

Five things about me

I've been tagged by Biking Bis. Five random things about me, some of which may truly amaze and astound you.

1. DEATH. Cora May Goulder of Wichita Falls, Texas passed away Tuesday this week. Cora is my wife's stepmother (my stepmom-in-law?) and she practically raised my wife so they were fairly close. My wife went to Texas last week after we were told that Cora would not last until Christmas. Nobody has been able to contact my brother-in-law, Monty Buchanan of New York City, about this. I paid a people search service to locate him but all phone numbers are old or disconnected.

2. GIMP. My daughter was born with talipes equinovarus -- clubfoot. She was treated non-surgically with the "Ponseti method" by the man himself: Dr. Ignacio Ponseti at the University of Iowa Health Care Center in Iowa City. Dr. Ponseti is one of the most amazing people I've been blessed to meet. He got his start in medicine during the Spanish Civil War, went to Mexico as a refugee, and immigrated into Iowa where he had to start over with his M.D. While surgical correction became the accepted method of clubfoot treatment, Ponseti developed his method, quietly practicing it in Iowa and teaching it to his students at the medical college. In the 90s, doctors started noticing that children treated surgically had very limited function in their feet when they became adults, and a large percentage of them require further corrective surgery later in life. In the meantime, clubfoot patients from Iowa did nearly as well as a control group with no clubfoot deformity (78% vs 85%) later in life. These studies were just coming out when my daughter was born, and today doctors who see her are amazed at her flexibility and function. Dr. Ponseti, who has been practicing medicine in Iowa since 1948, continues to practice and teach today.

3. TAMU. I was a member of the Fightin' Texas Aggie Cadet Corp at Texas A&M University. I was in Air Force ROTC Squadron "Seagrams" 7, which was disbanded while I was there because of persistent hazing and drunkenness. I cannot recite the Four Fish Answers today, though I still do know my old student ID -- 8401404.

4. HOLY. I was Saved in a Pentecostal church in Texas -- fully dunked in a tank of water in the name of the Lord Jesus, filled with His Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, the whole bit Hallelujah. I've even been a Pentecostal minister, but I tend to put people to sleep when I speak. Today, I'm happy sitting jumping in the pews. Yes, I often ride my bike to church. This church in Urbana even installed a shower (partly) to accommodate me, and I use the locker room and showers at my current church. Merry Christmas.

5. LATE BLOOMER. I was the last kid who learned to ride a bike in my neighborhood in San Diego, California. I think I was in third grade when I finally managed to ride without training wheels.

Tagging these folks next:

Vonage: "Lines are temporarily busy"

The blizzard in Denver has affected my travel plans to Colorado. I've been trying for nearly 30 hours now to get through to Frontier Airlines but I consistently get the message "Lines are temporarily busy. Please try again later. Oh. One. Zero. Six."

I thought it was Frontier's 800 line being overwhelmed, but just now I called out to another number (a local one) using my Vonage "landline" phone and received the same message with the same voice! This was a Vonage redirect, not a Frontier Airlines one. Aaaagh! I tried calling Frontier Airlines on my cellphone and I got right through!

Thank you, Vonage, for making it clear that the message originated from you. NOT!

Denver Light Rail

Since I mention the Denver blizzard, I should note that while Denver RTD has suspended bus service because many highways and roads are blocked by abandoned vehicles, RTD Light Rail Service is operational. Unfortunately, not all stations are accessible because of monster drifts.

I'm not a big fan of light rail -- I think Bus Rapid Transit is a better use of transit funds, in general -- but this a good illustration of one of the benefits of commuter and light rail. It doesn't matter how clogged the freeways are, the trains can keep running at full speed.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

California three foot passing law

California Assemblyman Pedro Nava introduced Assembly Bill 60, which requires at least three feet of clearance for drivers passing bicyclists. This bill additionally allows a person to drive a vehicle in a designated 2-way left-turn lane when overtaking and passing a bicycle. Many cyclists favor this bill.

The disaster scenarios predicted by some critics are ridiculous, revealing the level of ignorance of our lawmakers on traffic safety.
[Assemblyman Bob] Huff said the math doesn't add up: A 2-foot-wide bicycle, a 7-foot-wide car and a 3-foot-wide buffer zone can't squeeze into an 11-foot lane and would cram a 12-foot lane.

AB 60 could solve one safety problem by creating another, forcing cars routinely to cross center lines into oncoming traffic to honor the 3-foot buffer, critics say.
It's as if these people don't know what the brake pedal is for.

While cyclists should support AB 60, some cyclists believe we should use our legislative resources on more worthwhile efforts:
Punitive legislation aimed at motorists is popular among some bicyclists; however it is unnecessarily antagonistic to the auto-lobby and generally yields minimal real improvement for cyclists. Funding for bicycling is a far greater and more important challenge. I would prefer the "bike lobby" not waste scarce resources on "feel good" bills that offer scant improvement. Should California bicyclists support AB 60? Of course. Should we make it our top legislative priority? Absolutely not.
See also Kiril's commentary for additional background and history on AB 60. Three feet is the law in Florida, Utah and Grants Pass, Oregon.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Kindler, gentler Hummer

General Motor's Advanced Design Studio created this winning entry for the 2006 California Design Challenge contest -- the Hummer O2 Phototropic car.

The Hummer O2 features a "phototropic" shell with algae-filled body panels produces oxygen that is aspirated out through two-way valves. The motors -- located in each wheel -- receive power from hydrogen fuel cells. The vehicle design specificies the use of 100% post-consumer recycled materials to reduce its environmental footprint.
HUMMER 02 Phototropic concept vehicle

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Why so wide?

The handlebars on my 1986 Centurion are 15 1/2 inches wide from edge to edge (about 14 inches center to center) . I rode a 2007 Specialized Roubaix this weekend, and this baby sports handlebars that are almost 18 inches (16 ½ center to center). It seems the trend has been for handlebars to get wider over the years, but this seems ridiculous.

Why are road bars getting wider? Fashion? Or is there a good design reason for this?

The 2007 Specialized Roubaix with carbon frame and forks rides like a dream, incidentally. I have no idea if the "Zertz Viscoelastic Dampers" actually do anything besides look cool, but the '07 Roubaix offers a plush yet responsive ride for my middle-aged body. I'll try to post a more complete review in the near future.

Photo info: 2007 - 17 3/4 inches by richardmasoner.

Contest: Win a Masi frame

Post a video to YouTube based on MossyGuy's "Daily Drive" posts and win a special prize from Masi Bikes!

The video must be based on the Daily Drive posts -- you can be on bike, car, boat, train, plane, unicycle, or whatever. You must show off your socks just like Mossy Guy does. And it must be funny. Read the details at MasiGuy.

Yeah, I'll be entering. Remember, the sooner you post a video to YouTube, the more views you can get at YouTube.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The healing power of these magical machines

"More than anyone else I've ever met, he was born to ride a bike. His bicycle gives him wings, both physically and emotionally. I agree with him that many medical professionals have vastly underestimated the healing power of these magical machines."   — Racing author Dave Shields on pro cyclist Saul Raisin, with whom Shields is currently writing a book. Raisin suffered a serious head injury after crashing during a race this spring.

I own the road

T-shirt: "As a matter of fact I DO own the road." Found at CafePress. Via Freewheeling spirit.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Driving in Sydney

Tim Jackson drivetime meme

Phil @ Spinopsys has jumped on the bandwagon with his own drive time video. Phil tells me that 15 minutes after taping this, some old geezer cut in front of him and totaled his car!

Because this is a bicycle blog, I should mention that Phil works for Woolys Wheels, a bicycle shop in Sidney, NSW, Australia.

Seattle's most dangerous location for cyclists

The most dangerous location for bicycle riders in Seattle is on a bike path.
Most of the bike traffic spends little time on the roadway, moving east and west along the Burke-Gilman Trail, parallel to Blakely. According to Seattle Transportation Department traffic records, the crosswalk where the popular bike trail and 25th Avenue meet has been the spot of more serious bike-car crashes - eight - over the past five years than any other location in the city.
CycleDog has a few things things to say about the Brady Bunch and bike facilities advocacy.

National Safe Routes to School Task Force meeting.

The first meeting of the National Safe Routes to School Task Force will
be held in Washington DC on Thursday, January 11th at the Holiday Inn Capitol in Washington, D.C. This meeting is open to the public and will have time allocated for public testimony. The public is welcome to present written or oral comments to the Task Force. For more information, see the notice published in today's Federal Register.

Cyclist indicted in BALCO probe

American track cyclist silver medalist and Olympic hopeful Tammy Thomas was charged with perjury and obstruction of justice. She is the first cyclist and first woman to be charged with lying to the grand jury investigating Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative.
Tammy Thomas

Ms. Thomas told the grand jury that never used performance-enhancing drugs provided by the Burlingame nutritional supplement company. Read more in the Mercury News or the Chronicle.

North Carolina weekend cycling

Nick is a high school student in North Carolina who likes to ride his bike. Way to go, Nick!

My Non Daily Drive

I never drive, but I sacrificed just for Tim Grahl and Masi Guy and for my loyal fans. I know my drive is fascinating, so I have a 57 second video just for you to watch.

Austin Bicycle Sport Shop

The Sock Guy socks de la nuit are for Bicycle Sport Shop in Austin Texas. When I travel to Austin on business, instead of using Hertz or Avis I rent my bike from Bicycle Sport Shop on South Lamar -- and my employer travel department reimburses me for the bike rental.

Be sure to visit Onechick's blog. She lives in Austin. Also check out this article about Austin's efforts to become bicycle friendly through engineering.

Photo info: Austin Bicycle Sport Shop by richardmasoner.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Contest winner....

I drew a little bit after noon because I ended up going on a lunch-time bike ride -- a quick there-and-back-again across the Dumbarton Bridge to the San Francisco Bay Wildlife Refuge visitor center in Fremont. The mud flats smell wonderful this time of year.

The winnner of the contest is Warren T of Overland Park, Kansas, which, I presume, is somewhat colder than California since he writes about how guilty he feels driving to work because of the cold temps and snow on the ground. Warren also writes about other cycling related topics at his blog.

Thank you everybody for your comments and for dropping by. I'll probably have another contest before Christmas.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Contest: Win $50

C'mon, people, you can't win if you don't comment. Read the post and maybe win a prize. I'll pick a winner at random at noon Pacific Time on Wednesday.

And yes, I realize the answer is readily apparent, but take a look at the CCM Calendar anyway. Willow Naeco did a great job with it.

While you wait for the contest to end, read Paul Dorn's very good essay about cyclists who don't stop at stop signs. I have more to say about the subject also, but that will have to wait until later.

Bicycle messenger video

"King of messengers"

This is a pretty good video about NYC bicycle messenger John "Yac" Yacobellis.

Stay tuned, some more messenger videos are coming soon.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Monday mashup of bicycle news ... Contest too!

CycleDog refers to an LA Times article about doping in sports and the World Anti Doping Agency.
The worldwide sports anti-doping program, created to fight performanceenhancing drug use in international athletics, imposes severe punishments for accidental or technical infractions, relies at times on disputed scientific evidence and resists outside scrutiny, a Times investigation has found.
Part 2 specifically addresses the role of the WADA in cycling.

Governing magazine reports on the growing trend in the United States to make our cities more bicycling friendly. Via Streetsblog.

City Cycling is an ezine about city cycling. The current issues discusses YouTube cycling videos.

Contest: $50 Gift Certificate

Update: Contest is closed. Warrent T is the winner.

Download the Chicago Critical Mass 2007 Calendar and win a $50 gift certificate. Comment below with the correct month that Cyclelicious is mentioned in the calendar and I'll select a winner randomly from the commenters. Prize is a $50 gift card from Random drawing will be held Wednesday at noon. YOUR COMMENT MUST INCLUDE SOME SORT OF CONTACT INFO -- this could be a or Flickr profile, or a link to a contact form on a website, or an email address that can be made valid by me. Technical issues preventing you from leaving a comment are not my problem. Life isn't fair. Winner will be contacted via email and, after a response, the winner may be announced on Cyclelicious. IF YOU DON'T READ YOUR EMAIL YOU WON'T GET YOUR PRIZE.

Backwards helmet on national news

If the news guy points his camera your way, be sure your bicycle helmet is on correctly. You might want to make sure you put pants on that day, because you, too, might end up on national television.

Photo info: takin helmet wearing to a ho nuther level by faster panda kill kill.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Nutcracker Suite with bicycle parts

Specialized Holiday Card

Specialized created this Nutcracker Suite Christmas video. According to the video, the music was created with bicycle parts! Via Go Clipless.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Slogan creator

Every bicycle blog needs a slogan. Props to Cycling Dude. You can use Sloganizer to create a unique signature for BBCODE discussion forums.

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Jessica Simpson plays Bike Messenger

Jessica Simpson in bicycle messenger clothing in Blonde Ambition

Jessica Simpson as bicycle messenger in Blonde Ambition

Filming is under way for the film Blonde Ambition, in which Jessica Simpson stars as a woman working her way up the corporate ladder, while finding love and battling helmet hair along the way. Hopefully, she'll also learn how to sling that messenger bag over her back instead of letting it dangle in front like that. I think the kneepads, pink legwarmers and multicolored document tubes rule.

The bike looks like an older steel singlespeed mountain bike with slicks and rigid fork, which works well for cycling in the urban environment.

Jessica Simpson, incidentally, has a Bacon number of 2. Kevin Bacon played Jack Casey, a stockbroker who lost everything and then found love as a bike messenger in the movie Quicksilver.

Via Bike Commuter Tips. You can see more Jessica Simpson "bike messenger" photos at Leona's Jessica and Ashlee Simpson fan blog.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Winter bike haiku

The Derailleur, the publication of Chicago Critical Mass, is looking for Bike Haiku (or Baiku) to publish for the winter issue. Winter-themed Haikus are the best.

Submit your oriental bicycle poetry to willow naeco via email, her MySpace page, or through Flickr.

For inspiration, don't forget to visit Chicago Bike Winter. For even better inspiration, get out in the cold and ride your bike!

Tour of California 2007 route details


Coverage of the First U.S. Professional Race of the Season Will Air Nightly on VERSUS Network February 18-25

LOS ANGELES, December 6, 2006 –Specific route and race details for the 2007 Amgen Tour of California, a Tour de France style cycling road race in which 16 of the world’s top professional cycling teams will compete along a demanding 650-mile course from San Francisco to Long Beach, Calif. February 18-25 were revealed today by AEG, promoters/presenters of the second year event.

Amgen Tour of California 2007 stage map

Building on the inaugural stage race that attracted 1.3 million spectators, the 2007 Amgen Tour of California is one of the most anticipated professional cycling races in the U.S. and will feature an even longer, more challenging route. A national television partnership with VERSUS (formerly OLN) will bring daily race coverage to fans throughout the country was also announced.

Over eight days, the race will visit 12 host cities for official stage starts and finishes, with communities along the route getting the chance to see firsthand a lineup of some of the best and most recognizable teams in the world, which already includes Discovery Pro Cycling Team, Team CSC and Predictor-Lotto. Host cities for the eight stages include: San Francisco, Sausalito, Santa Rosa, Sacramento, Stockton, San Jose, Seaside, San Luis Obispo, Solvang, Santa Barbara, Santa Clarita and Long Beach.

"California's varied landscape makes for challenging geographical features, and we designed the 2007 route to include some the most picturesque and demanding terrain in the state," said Shawn Hunter, president of AEG Sports, presenters of the race. "The striking scenery resulting in a truly challenging level of difficulty along the route will ensure an exciting race for riders and spectators alike."

Fans throughout the nation will have the opportunity to enjoy all of the excitement and suspense of the 2007 Amgen Tour of California with nightly recaps on VERSUS, which joins the race as the official television partner. Available in more than 70 million homes, VERSUS, which has provided live coverage of The Tour de France since 2001, is widely considered America’s home of professional cycling. Totaling 14 hours of action-packed programming, same-day coverage will air on VERSUS each of the eight days of the stage race at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT (most weekday nights) with live and recap coverage on weekends.

"We deliver the best, most comprehensive cycling coverage to our viewers and the Amgen Tour of California is a compelling addition to our cycling line-up and a great way to kick off the 2007 cycling season on VERSUS," said Marc Fein, senior vice president of programming and production. "It’s a great television event because, in addition to showcasing intense competition between some of the best cyclists in the world, California provides a beautiful backdrop for all of the action."

Highlights of the 2007 Amgen Tour of California race route include:

Prologue: San Francisco (Sunday, Feb. 18 )
At 1 p.m., riders will kick off the 2007 Amgen Tour of California with a short, but intense Prologue through the streets of San Francisco. Starting by the Ferry Building at Pier 1, the cyclists will ride 1.9-mile individual time trials along the Embarcardero, making the sharp left onto Bay Street and then up the tight, steep climb through Telegraph Hill to the finish at Coit Tower.

Stage 1: Sausalito to Santa Rosa (Monday, Feb. 19 )
Starting on the northern side of the San Francisco Bay, Stage 1 will cover almost 100 miles from Sausalito to Santa Rosa. The stage begins with a climb from Mill Valley up to Mt. Tamalpais State Park before turning toward Muir Beach. The route mirrors that of 2006 all the way to Valley Ford, but where the riders headed east to Santa Rosa, the 2007 route will continue north to Bodega Bay and turn onto Coleman Valley Road, a landmark climb in Northern California. Then, spectators can watch the stage win unfold as the field heads downhill from Occidental for three finishing circuit laps in downtown Santa Rosa. In 2006, Santa Rosa set the mark for one of the most enthusiastic and largest crowds of the entire Amgen Tour of California.

Stage 2: Santa Rosa to Sacramento (Tuesday, Feb. 20)
A scenic start through several Sonoma County wineries will quickly turn into one of the most significant climbs of the race as the peloton heads east en route to Sacramento. Twelve miles from the start, Trinity Road's vertical climbs and treacherous decent into the wineries of Napa Valley will make it one of the most difficult climbs of the entire race. Continuing east past Lake Berryessa, the peloton will head through Davis, recently named the best cycling town in the U.S. by Bicycle Magazine. With a quick turn to the north, the route will follow the Sacramento River to the well-known Tower Bridge and on to the Capitol Mall. The stage concludes with three circuits through downtown, finishing on the front step of California's Capitol Building, a perfect viewing location.

Stage 3: Stockton to San Jose (Wednesday, Feb. 21)
After a neutral start with parade laps through Stockton's revitalized downtown area, the peloton will head west through California's farm lands. After passing through Tracy, the riders will encounter a climb new to this year's race, Patterson Pass. After passing through the city of Livermore, The route then connects to the familiar roads of the 2006 Stage 2 route on Calaveras Road. This long, constant grade leads to the most difficult climb of the race, the Category One (highest ranked in order of difficulty) Sierra Road climb in San Jose. After completing this KOM (King of the Mountain) competition, the peloton will finish the 94.6-mile course in front of San Jose City Hall.

Stage 4: Seaside to San Luis Obispo (Thursday, Feb. 22 )
The remarkable views of stage four will make it a favorite for riders and spectators alike. Beginning in Seaside with a short neutral lap and traveling along a similar route to last year's Stage 4, the peloton will head south on scenic Highway 1 where the mountains and redwood forests flank the Pacific Ocean. At more than 130 miles and with three KOMs, this is the longest stage of the race and will test the riders on consistently hilly and technical terrain. The six-hour day will take the riders through Big Sur and by Hearst Castle before shifting inland toward the finish at the intersection of Osos and Monterey in San Luis Obispo.

Stage 5: Solvang Individual Time Trial (Friday, Feb. 23 )
The quaint Danish village of Solvang hosts some of the ProTour teams for training camps as well as some of the largest cycling events in the U.S. At only 14.5-miles, and with the start and finish located only two blocks apart, Stage 5 is an ideal location for spectators to view the race. The route will highlight some of the most beautiful areas and towns of Central California, winding through quaint towns, vineyards, farms, and one short but steep climb. This year's shorter, flatter and faster time trial will create a challenging test for the riders.

Stage 6: Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita (Saturday, Feb. 24)
This could be the pivotal stage for the 2007 Amgen Tour of California. This is one of the longest stages at 105 miles, and it is heavy on climbs with four KOMs, two Sprints and a demanding finishing circuit in Santa Clarita. With the individual time trial late in the tour, there could be several riders separated by just a few seconds. After a start in view of the Santa Barbara shoreline, this will be the last chance for a solid favorite to emerge before the circuit race finale in Long Beach. Once the peloton hits Highway 150, the racers will face two KOMs before passing Lake Casitas and riding into the town of Ojai for the first Sprint of the day. The third KOM is just a few miles outside Ojai, and then the course will head downhill into Santa Paula for the second Sprint of the day among fragrant citrus groves. The ominous Balcom Canyon will be the final climb of the day, where in 2006, nearly 10,000 fans formed a narrow corridor for the riders. The cyclists will end the day with three circuits in Santa Clarita that finish at McBean Parkway at the Valencia Town Center.

Stage 7: Long Beach Circuit Race (Sunday, Feb. 25)
Stage 7 is flat, fast, and will be a favorite with spectators, featuring a lot of sprint action as the cyclists race in 10 laps around a circuit course in downtown Long Beach. This course is part of the famous Long Beach Grand Prix course used for the CART race cars, meaning a legacy of roads that are wide and fast. Views of San Pedro Bay and the Pacific Ocean will be visible for the entire course, with a backdrop of the famed Queen Mary in the bay. Organizers expect a hard sprint to the finish; as with all the Grand Tours of Europe, winning the final stage of the 2007 Amgen Tour of California is a prize coveted by the riders.

For complete course maps and elevation profiles for each stage, visit

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Night commute San Jose to Scotts Valley

I bought a camcorder yesterday, zip-tied it to my bicycle helmet, and hit the "record" button. Fear the results.

I demonstrate amazing feats of bicycling derring-do such as stopping at lights, yielding for pedestrians, signaling my turns, riding with adequate lighting and taking the lane. I also demonstrate a few "do as I say" things: filtering forward at intersections, passing on the right, and riding in the door zone.

If anybody can tell me how to keep my helmet level with a camcorder tied on the side, I'll be a happy man.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

DIY shoe covers

Recycle leftover conference bags into useful cycling rain gear

Anybody who attends conferences usually has goody bags to bring home. Amanda usually donates her bags to Goodwill, but the bag from her latest trip was made of vinyl, "just right for raincovers for cycling."

She writes:
"I drew the pattern based on my favorite winter shoes, but they will fit over my Keen sandals too. Those spandex type covers sold to cyclists may look slick, but when you take them off all muddy and wet they wad into a stiff ball."
"I did make the bottom pieces bigger by sewing together scraps. Then I took apart the bag to salvage the vinyl piping to use to stiffen the top of shoe covers. I had velcro salvaged from another clothing item to sew on the ends so they would close over my heels. Both piping and vinyl were easy to sew on my machine.

"It only took me 3 hours to sew them up which gives me about $7.50 an hour given the price of the cheapest rain booties I could have ordered from Campmor, but no one else was paying me for my time yesterday and I didn't have to wait for them to be shipped.

"They have a clunky charm and the asymetrical color combo is stylish. The gap between pants and raincovers won't matter too much because the flair of the pant cuffs seems to keep the rain off. And this way there will be some ventilation. Poor ventilation is the biggest complaint about rain booties. For traction I may run a line of Shoe Goo across the bottoms."

Photos and narrative seen at Earthworm's Flickr photostream and used with her kind permission.

Greetings to Makezine visitors. Other Cyclelicious DIY: Some uber-geeks may especially appreciate the bike search page. Type "DIY" in the search box and see what you find.

Friday, December 1, 2006

A difference between Colorado and California

"Missing Hikers Found"

I think most of you are aware that I'm a recent transplant to California from Colorado. It's interesting that an item that would barely make the police blotter in Colorado is frontpage news in multiple local newspapers for two days in a row now.

Conversely, cyclist and pedestrian deaths warrant a couple of sentences in Bay Area newspapers -- usually in the context of "Traffic was backed up beyond Middlefield Road while commuters waited for authorities to scoop the corpse out of their way" -- while Colorado Front Range papers typically give these incidents a little more attention.

I've gone off trail in the Rocky Mountains but I've never been really really lost. I can easily imagine getting disoriented in some parts of the Santa Cruz Mountains, though. The Rockies have several easily identifiable peaks. To me, the Santa Cruz Mountains are a disorienting jumble. I can read maps and use a compass, but I need landmarks to line up with to locate myself.

Since I'm already off-topic, I might as well mention that I strongly disagree with many of Representative Tancredo's views, but this is just wrong and fascist.