The Sound of (mechanical) Silence

I love you, but I don't want to hear you!

A quality road bicycle that is well maintained is a remarkably quiet machine. There are only five sounds that one should expect to hear. The chain should make a soft ‘brr’ sound while you pedal. When you stop pedaling the ratchet mechanism in the freehub makes a soft ‘clicking’ noise. The tires roll along the pavement with a subdued ‘swish’. And when shifting gears there is a distinct ‘click’ followed either by a ‘thunk’ or a brief rattle before the derailleur settles the chain into perfect alignment.

The 5th sound, of course, is my labored breathing as I try to keep up with my friends climbing Stoney Creek Road. This noise was quite audible yesterday. As I rode along in the company of four strong riders, I was struck by how little noise our bikes were  making. Since there was very little wind and few cars, we could hear each other’s labored breathing quite clearly (some more labored than others). But the bikes made not a sound out of place.

This is not always the case. When a club rider’s bike is making an unwanted noise it is quite noticeable. The other day my rear brake make a very loud squeal whenever I applied it, irritating me and my companions. I tried cleaning the pads and the rim, without success. A new set of brake pads eliminated the problem.

An unexpected source of clicks and squeaks

Other times, the source of some unwanted noise is harder to diagnose. Over the years I have gotten pretty good at figuring out what is wrong and how to fix it. Chain noises are obvious and simply cleaning and lubricating will eliminate the noise, unless the chain is worn out (about every 2000 miles).  Sometimes there are little squeaks or clicks that most people wouldn’t even notice, but if they come from my bike they sound as loud to me as a heavy metal band. And the offending component can be hard to identify.

Speaking of metal, and carbon fiber, there are many places on a bike where two surfaces are held together under tension or pressure, and any of those is a potential source of the offending noise. And there are multiple sets of bearings, any of which may become contaminated with dirt or moisture, or simply wear out and start to make noise. Some examples from my own experience:

Saddle rails might squeak or click. A thin layer of grease on the rails before tightening the clamp can fix this.

The quick release skewers have a cam that is metal on metal under tension. A little Tri Flo will eliminate the noise.

If  noise is coming from a chain that is clean and well lubricated, check the cassette and make the lock ring is screwed on tightly. This requires a special tool (about $5).

Squeaky pedals? Clean the cleats and the pedals, and check the bolts holding the cleats to your shoes and make sure they are tight. I like to put a thin layer of grease on the bottom of my shoe when I install new cleats since that interface can be a noise maker.

Bottom bracket creaks and squeaks and clicks are the worst. Sometimes you need new bearings, or sometimes lubricating the threads and crank spindle will to the trick.

Loose bolts anywhere can be the problem. Check the bolts holding your bottle cages; for some reason these seem to come loose and will make a mysterious rattle or click when you hit some rough pavement. And when you install bolts it is a good idea to use a thin layer of grease on the threads unless the directions say not to do so, or specify using thread lock compound. And yes, it is an EXCELLENT idea to read the directions that come with the parts!

Those are just a few, and if I sound like a bike mechanic let me assure you that I am no such thing.  But I don’t want to take my bike to the shop when there is a quick and easy solution at hand. So I will keep playing noise detective and try to keep my bikes quiet. The gasping is another matter; I can’t do much about that.

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3 Feet of Controversy

Does this law keep cyclists safe or make drivers even more irritated?


When I went to Colorado for a cycling trip back in 2009, I was a little startled to observe that most drivers who passed me were giving me a lot of room. Even when I was riding on a wide shoulder the cars would move to the left to increase their clearance. At first I thought it was simply that drivers were more considerate and cycling friendly than they are in California. But then I learned that Colorado has a ‘3 foot law’ that requires drivers to give cyclists that much space.

California has recently passed a similar statute, and I am afraid that the difficult and uneasy relationship between motor vehicles and cyclists is going to get even worse because of it.

The biggest problem seems to involve narrow roads in the foothills. Many of these roads are twisty and have limited visibility and lots of double yellow lines. Even if cyclists are riding single file and as far to the right as is safe, these roads are too narrow to allow a car to pass a rider with 3 feet of clearance without crossing that line, at least briefly.

At least this one says 'Please'. A little civility on all sides wound be nice.

Some motorists think this puts them in an impossible position, stuck behind slow moving cyclists without being able to pass. And they are not happy about it. There is even talk of banning cyclists from roads where there is not enough space (in their opinion) to allow traffic to flow freely and safely. In other words, if a bike is going to hold them up for even 1 minute, that cyclist should not be on this road.

Since narrow, twisting and hilly roads are usually a cyclist’s favorite roads, this is a problem.

I’m not a lawyer but after listening to some law enforcement people, it seems true that it is illegal to cross a double yellow line to pass, even briefly. On the other hand, where I live there are lots of slow moving farm vehicles using the roads, and sometimes that tractor is moving slowly enough and the driver of a car behind can see far enough that a quick pass crossing a double yellow line is perfectly safe. Drive around Linden during walnut season and you will see this happening all the time.

I’m going to offer some practical advice to both motorists and cyclists. Both should have some consideration for the other. These are my opinions and I know not everyone will agree.

First for the cyclists: we do not own the road. When we are riding in a group 2 or 3 abreast we are making it difficult for motorists to see and hard for them to pass. Pelotons are fun, but they also impede traffic when they are travelling well below the speed limit. I know many ‘racer types’ despise mirrors, but I suggest every cyclist wear one and use it. And when riding in a group, someone who notices a car behind should call ‘Car back’ and the group should form a single file line to give the car a chance to pass. Once the cars get by and the road is clear behind, we can resume a bunch formation. Pacelines and echelons are fun too, and double pacelines are even more fun, but the roads are not there for our entertainment, and we need to do our part to allow faster moving vehicles to get past us safely.

Now drivers; remember that cyclists have a right to use the roads. And if a car and a cyclist collide, the cyclist could be severely injured or killed. I do not insist on 3 feet of space, but please do not roar past me at 60 mph or more only 12 inches away. Ease past smoothly and safely, and if you can see far enough ahead that crossing the double yellow with two wheels for a brief moment would be safe, do it. Treat me like a slow moving tractor around Linden.



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Looking around Lucca

Movie Star Looks and Sprinter's Legs: The Lion King


At the end of our walking tour through the charming walled city of Lucca in Italy, I asked our guide Lucia if Mario Cippolini ever came back to his home town. I admit I was showing off a bit; I am certain I was the only person on the tour who knew ‘Super Mario’ was from Lucca. She does tours for English speakers and probably gets that question once a year at most.

Her response was interesting; she said he still comes to town quite a bit and has a residence there. “But some people don’t really like him”, she informed me. Then she said “I think he is a little full of himself”, displaying an excellent command of idiomatic English.

I had to chuckle at this. Mario, ‘The Lion King’, won 42 stages of the Giro d’ Italia, and 12 stages of the Tour de France. He won Milan – San Remo, Gent – Wevelgem (3 times) and the World Championship Road Race. And he is better looking than George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon put together. He would have to be a saint NOT to be a ‘little full of himself’.

Walking around Lucca is a treat. Inside the walls the streets are narrow and cobbled and most are closed to cars. Locals ride cruiser bikes to get around; with baskets to carry purchases from the bakery or small markets. And signs of how much cycling is embedded in the local culture were everywhere.

Coffee and Cycling Italian Style

We saw a display in an optician’s window featuring a high end frameset designed to catch the eye of pedestrians. We walked into a bar/café that also appeared to be selling cycling equipment. There was a Molteni jersey on display that looked old and worn enough to be an original from the 70′s. And inside the Roman amphitheater we saw some vintage bikes in a storefront window, although the shop itself appeared empty and under construction.

When we saw a small group of road cyclists gathering for what was likely the start of their regular ride into the surrounding hills (which looked pretty steep from the bus) I was quite jealous. I would much rather have been joining them than heading back to the comfort and luxury of the ship, where the only cycling available was the stationary bike in the gym. Maybe someday; as soon as we got on the bus Stoker and I started considering whether we could come back to Lucca for an extended stay sometime in the future. It probably won’t happen but it was fun to think about the possibility. If we can get our tandem there and can find some Tuscan Hills that are not too long or steep, who knows?

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Cycling at Sea

One Good Thing: No Flat Tires to Worry About!


I typically ride my bike 20+ times each month, for a total of 700-800 miles. Sometimes I will ride even more than that, especially if I’m doing a cycling tour, where we might do something like 450 miles in 6 days. But in November I only rode 75 miles and only mounted my bike twice.

Stoker and I took a decidedly non-cycling vacation for most of the month. We got on a ship in Monte Carlo, visited ports in Italy, France and Spain,  and then crossed the Atlantic (5 days at sea) before stopping in Bermuda and the Bahamas and then arriving in Miami. With travel time to and from home we were away for 24 days and I did not turn a single pedal stroke on the road.

With all that time off the bike, and with excellent food and beverages available on the ship 24/7 (not to mention the delicious pizza lunches we enjoyed in Italy and Spain), there was a good chance that I would lose fitness and gain weight. I tried to avoid this by making good use of the ship’s gym. I did pretty well on the fitness part, but the weight is another story.

When I was working full time I used to do a fair amount of indoor cycling, often early in the morning while it was too dark to work outside on the farm. It helped keep me in shape for riding on the road, but I never really liked doing it, and now that I am mostly retired I leave my trainer in the garage gathering dust.

But on the ship there was no other option, so I dutifully put on my shorts and strapped on a heart rate monitor and got to it. 14 times during the 22 days we were on the cruise found me puffing and sweating and looking at my heart rate and power numbers and how much time I had left to complete the workout. I always did 40 minutes, and based on my heart rate data I was riding pretty hard, even if I wasn’t getting anywhere.

Now that I am back, I’ve done a couple of rides outside when it isn’t raining. My legs and lungs felt pretty good and I was thrilled to be back on my very nice light bikes covering miles of pavement instead of grinding away going nowhere. I’m probably not ready to do a 100 mile ride or a multi-day cycling tour, but a couple of weeks back on the road will fix that. And perhaps put a dent in the extra pounds I brought home too.

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Goodbye Gary…

Gone but Remembered: Gary Johnson


Gary Johnson passed away last week. He was a long time member of the Stockton Bicycle Club and a regular on club rides. He was also a great friend to many people and a mentor to lots of neophyte club cyclists. He was both to me.

When I first started riding with the club I really couldn’t keep up with anyone. Gary would wait and make sure I knew the route and give me someone to ride with. When I finally got strong enough just to keep up with him I felt like I had really arrived as a rider. If Gary hadn’t been so nice to me I might never have become a cyclist, never ridden in Europe, never had a VO2 test (sorry about the tech speak), and never gotten a tandem to ride with Diane. Believe me, riding that tandem is special for both of us; we’re going to do it in France next summer. Without Gary’s mentoring who knows if any of that would have happened? Or if Diane and I would have ever met some of the wonderful friends we found riding our bike?

I always enjoyed carpooling with Gary, especially to out of town rides. He was great company. He was also the kind of guy who would offer to pay for his share of gas without being asked. And he would offer more than was fair. I wouldn’t always take his money, but when he offered to buy my lunch sandwich I would say ok.

He made a hobby of buying and selling very high quality used bikes. He probably ‘test rode’ more high quality framesets, components and wheel sets than anyone outside of the bicycle industry. He would occasionally bring a ‘new used’  bike to a ride and claim that this one was so nice he would never sell it, but he always did, eventually. It was an adventure watching him unload his bike at the start of a club ride; you never knew what he was going to unveil. But it was sure to be a stunning cycle purchased at a great price and available for sale if it fit you, which it usually did.

But what Gary was really wonderful at was helping new riders. A first time ride with a bike club can be an intimidating experience for newbies: everyone seems to know each other, and everyone seems strong and faster than you are. But Gary would saunter up and say hi, make some small talk, introduce himself and a few other people to the new person and try to make him/her feel relaxed and among friends. He would wait for new people who got behind to make sure they didn’t miss a turn or get lost, and sometimes he would ride with them at their pace even though he was strong enough to be out front. My first club ride did not go especially well, and I went home and told Diane there was no way I could ride with the club; they were all too strong. But I went back for a second try some months later, and Gary made sure I had a good experience. That started me down a path I never would have anticipated; cycling ended up becoming a major part of my life, and Diane’s too.

I’ve probably ridden over 30,000 miles with him over the last 14 years, and enjoyed at least that many laughs and smiles and cycling stories. Another of his friends estimates that they rode over 100,000 miles together. But there will not be any more of those miles. The bike club will continue but I doubt Gary will ever be replaced. Or forgotten either.


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“Who steals our purse…

Gone but not forgotten


Takes trash, ‘twas ours, ‘tis his, and has been slave to thousands;

But he that flinches from us our CoMotion tandem;

Takes that which not enriches him,

But leaves us poor indeed.”

With due apologies to Shakespeare, I know two very nice people who have been left ‘poor indeed’. Al and Cindy are fellow Stockton Bicycle Club riders and, like Stoker and me, they ride a tandem. And this summer they have been riding a whole lot, training for a 100 mile ride along California’s Hwy.1 from Carmel to San Simeon. 100 very hilly miles too, and anyone who has ever driven that road knows. But they finished that ride with big smiles at the post ride party.

On Saturday they did the Foxy 100 km ride in Davis, and when they returned home in the early evening they decided to leave their tandem locked to the roof rack top of their car since they were going to drive to Linden for the club ride on Sunday morning. They live in what seems a very nice and safe neighborhood in Lodi, the bike’s front fork was locked to the roof rack, and the front wheel was locked inside the car. They probably didn’t even consider that someone would break a lock on a quiet residential street in an upscale neighborhood to steal a tandem that didn’t have a front wheel. They were wrong. The next morning the tandem was gone, and neither they nor their two dogs heard a thing.

Smiles stolen too

I have suffered through having a very nice bicycle stolen, and it is an awful feeling. At least I had another nice bike and I could still ride. But almost nobody has a spare tandem, so Al and Cindy are not going to be able to ride together for quite a while. And this is a shame; they have been riding extremely well this season and they seem to have at least as much fun as Stoker and I do. They certainly have been doing more riding and more difficult rides than we have, and Cindy is always smiling no matter how hard the hills get.

For most cycling enthusiasts, their bicycle is more than an expensive toy or tool. We spend so much time on them, and create so many memories riding them, that they become part of what we are. For a tandem couple who are also a married couple, this process takes on even more significance; the bike is part of what WE are, a metaphor for our life together.

Stealing anyone’s bicycle should be a felony, but ‘flinching’ a tandem should be a capital crime.


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Testing; 1…2…3…

I'm not declining; I'm just as mediocre as ever!

… or perhaps 2…8…0…?

I’ve been writing about some of my friends and fellow club riders who have become much stronger during the last year. The Editor went from non-climber to 5 Pass Death Ride Finisher. Red Shoes Eric climbs away from me when a short time ago it was the other way around. Bionicbabe and Doug were inducted into a Hall of Fame for completing 50 (!) double centuries; 200 miles in one day and within the time cutoff.  People are setting PR’s on Strava segments and doing epic rides and tours.

I was starting to think that not only were lots of people getting better, but I might be getting worse. And although I had a great ride up Mont Ventoux in June, I really haven’t done anything notable since. No centuries, Death Rides, PR’s or epic tours. I haven’t felt weak, but I haven’t felt really strong either. I’ve been in a kind of cycling rut.

A couple of weeks ago, I had to miss the Saturday club ride because I needed to help Stoker prepare for a big party we were co-hosting that evening. But I did have time for a two hour early morning ride from our house, and I decided to do the dreaded 20 minute ‘Functional Threshold Power (FTP) Test’. The FTP test is an excellent measure of cycling fitness and would give me some idea of whether or not my performance had deteriorated.

The FTP is ‘dreaded’ because doing it correctly really hurts. You do a good warm up, with a couple of 1 minute all out efforts to get the lungs going. Then you find a stretch of road with no stop signs and few turns and light traffic. You can do this test on a climb as long as there are no downhill segments, but a flat course is ideal. The idea is sustain the highest constant power you can for 20 minutes, and you want the pacing to be as even as possible; the power you generate for the first 10 minutes should be close to the last 10, and by the end of the test you should be close to exhausted.

After the test you use your power meter data to determine the average power for the 20 minutes. Then you take 95% of this number; this is your FTP. You use the FTP to set up training zones if you want to take a systematic approach to getting stronger, or at least keeping the fitness you have. Of course you could follow Eddy Merckx’s advice about how to get better: he said simply “Ride a lot!” But I’m betting if power meters had existed in Merckx’s day he would have used one.

I’ve done 4 FTP tests over the last 3 years, usually one in late spring and one in early fall. All of those tests came out in the 275-280 watt range for the 20 minutes. The last was in April 2013, and I averaged 280 for that one. So I was kind of surprised when I looked at the data after last week’s test and found I averaged 289 watts for the 20 minutes. And my pacing was pretty good; 292 watts for the first 10 minutes and 287 for the last 10 minutes. Surprised and satisfied; this is my highest FTP test ever.

So I guess I’m not getting any worse. And if/when I do start to deteriorate as a cyclist (more like ‘when’; I’m not getting younger) my power meter will let me know exactly how much.

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Tail Gunner

Stoker's Dog Deterrent


After Saturday’s hot ride in the hills, on Sunday Stoker and I decided to do a completely flat and relatively short ride from home. From our house there are quiet country roads in all directions and we found a nice 32 mile loop without any back tracking required. Or stopping either; traffic was so light that we never had to put a foot down once for the entire 2 hours of riding.

As we turned off of Cox Road and onto the delightful east end of Baker Road (lovely shade and smooth as glass pavement), Stoker reached down for her water bottle, even though she wasn’t thirsty. She was assuming her role as tail gunner.

Cyclists complain about aggressive, distracted, or careless drivers. But on a quiet Sunday morning in the Linden area countryside, we are much more likely to have an incident with man’s best friend, who is not always so friendly toward cyclists.

The most serious injuries ever suffered by one of my riding friends were the result of a run in with a dog. Paul was descending Chili Camp Road behind another rider, something he has done dozens of times. No one had ever seen a dog on this stretch of road, but suddenly one appeared and chased the rider in front of Paul. Then the dog suddenly veered in front of him and stopped, and Paul crashed hard. Some crashes are at least partly the rider’s fault, but not this one; Paul was riding safely and there was absolutely nothing he could have done to avoid this except not be on his bike. His injuries were serious but thankfully not life threatening, although he had to endure several days of hospitalization and a long recovery. If he had not been wearing a helmet he might have had severe brain damage or even died. You have been warned.

Stoker was pulling out her bottle because a few weeks back we were chased by a fairly aggressive barking dog along this stretch of road. Every cyclist has their own method of dealing with these unrestrained and uncontrolled animals. Mine is to yell ‘Bad Dog!’ loudly enough to strain my vocal cords. ‘Go Home!’ is another verbal defense. I actually got bit while riding once, badly enough to require 6 stiches.  So I really put a fortissimo effort into it. One thing I learned from that bite; if you can’t outsprint the dog and he gets close to you, stop pedaling, and if necessary dismount and try to get the bike between you and the mutt. Dogs will snap at your pedaling legs because they are in motion and resemble a rabbit or squirrel that they want to catch.

Another good technique that usually stops the dog in his tracks is to spray water at him/her. When I’m riding my single bike this can be a bit of a trick; the dog is running beside me and barking and I must steer with one hand, avoiding him or any other riders around, while reaching down to grab my bottle from its cage and shoot a stream of water his/her way. But on the tandem Stoker is in charge of dog deterrence tactics and this allows me to keep both hands on the bar and (hopefully) keep the CoMotion under control. She was taking no chances and arming herself in anticipation of an encounter. Her preparation proved unnecessary; the dog did not appear.

Bruiser's Twin plays 'Chase the Tandem'

On this Sunday spin, we did meet a dog on Walnut Road accompanied by two young kids on a skateboard and a scooter. We approached the big bounding German Shepherd cautiously, and Stoker got her bottle ready. He wasn’t at all aggressive but he did lope along beside us for a while, a little too close and unpredictable for comfort. Diane asked the kids his name and they said ‘Bruiser’, which was not exactly reassuring. Eventually we were able to get past safely and ride away without incident.

Stoker and I love dogs, and anyone who follows us on Facebook knows how our dog Luke owns his peoples’ hearts. But sometimes when we are out on our bike we wish some dog owners would take the county leash law seriously.

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Heat in the Hills

The jerky wasn't the only thing getting dried out; cyclists were too.

By the end of Saturday’s ride, the jerky wasn’t the only thing dried out.

Despite consuming a couple of bottles of water, a bottle of Gatorade (as opposed to gator jerky), and a Coke over 4 1/2 hours of riding, I was pretty near dehydrated at the finish. A cold bottle of water and a can of V8 helped revive me on the drive home from Ione, but before I stepped into the shower I weighed myself and learned that I had lost about 3.5% of my body weight despite the post ride hydration. I’d like to hold this down to 2%, but sometimes it is just too hot for that. The body can only absorb so much liquid, and beyond that excess intake can contribute to GI distress. It has happened to me, most recently in France last June.

Other than the heat, which was pushing 100 for the last 1 1/2 hours, the ride was very entertaining; an excellent route and some good company. Only 6 of us took on the long ride, a 65 mile loop (with 5100 feet of climbing) out of Ione that passes through Plymouth, Fiddletown, Volcano and Sutter Creek. The Cast of Characters:

Steve N, aka C2K, our club president and double century veteran. For him this is a short ride.

Dr. Paul, physician to several club members and also a long ride aficionado. He doesn’t ride with the club too often; most of our rides are too short for his taste, and our long breaks waste valuable road time. It sometimes seems like he has seen 1/2 of San Joaquin county as a patient; as we were putting our bikes away a patient of his who was out on his motorcycle stopped to say ‘hi’.

Roger, aka ‘Thor’, so called because of his size and strength. Roger is a medical marvel. He had a genetically defective heart valve, a very serious condition. But last summer some incredible medical care replaced it with a cow’s valve and it functions perfectly. In fact, some of us wish the doctors had used a slightly narrower valve to reduce his power somewhat; Thor is a hard man to keep up with.

Eric the Red Shoes is a club regular and a rider I used to be able to leave behind, especially on climbs. No longer; Red Shoes has lost weight and trained hard and leaves me behind whenever he wants. He was out front on the entire 15 miles of the Lockwood climb.

Alex is an enigma. He is a very polite man and he always calls me ‘sir’ despite my efforts to get him to stop. He dresses warmly even in delightful weather and appears unaffected by heat. He goes long periods of time without riding with the club, or even riding at all; then he suddenly appears and picks up riding strong as if he never stopped.

Alex had some very bad luck on Saturday; while descending Rams Horn Grade his front tire blew out as he was negotiating some steep downhill hairpin turns, and he crashed. I only saw the aftermath; he was on his feet and claimed he was fine, even though his knee was badly scraped and bleeding and his arm and shoulder looked severely bruised. He did finish the ride but I’ll bet he is quite sore today. Very bad luck; Alex is a good and strong rider and fine bike handler, but a flat front tire while descending can really ruin your day.

Except for the crash, six of us had a delightful time. It didn’t even seem that hot on the long climb, but when we paused at the summit, sweat stopped evaporating and started accumulating on my arms and forehead, indicating I was losing a lot of fluid. The salt crusted on my helmet straps were further proof of that. I didn’t feel really great in Volcano, hence the Coke, which is a rare mid-ride beverage for me but sometimes is the best thing. The bubbles can sooth a queasy stomach and the caffeine provides a little lift for the final 25 miles.

The road along the creek down from Volcano back to Sutter Creek is known to be shaded and cool but on Saturday afternoon it felt like an oven. So out on the road from Sutter Creek back to Ione, where there is no shade at all, the oven was turned all the way up to broil, which is what we did. We didn’t hang around too long for post-ride gab like we usually do. I put my bike away, got a cold bottle of water from the ice chest I packed that morning (I knew I’d probably need it), and got the car’s AC cranked up to try to cool down. And after a refreshing shower I took C2K’s advice and planted myself on the couch watching football. And not eating gator jerky.



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Treasure Hunt

Everything I need except a corkscrew!

You never know what you might see when you are out riding your bike. On Tuesday’s ride I saw a tarantula, and came within a couple of feet of running over it. The creature looked huge, at least 3″ long. I had never seen one on our local roads, but some of the Valley Springs residents I ride with assured me that tarantulas are around and visible at this time of year.

Tuesday was my 5th consecutive day on the bike, which is more than I do unless I’m on a tour someplace. Friday was a hard ride with a power meter, Saturday was a moderately hard ride,  and Sunday I rode the tandem with Stoker, which is fun but is never really easy. Then on Labor Day I did the club ride, which one participant described as ‘briskly paced’.   After these four efforts  I decided to ride the regular Tuesday retired persons ‘coffee and conversation’ ride at moderate speed and not get involved with any Strava PR chasers.

So while I was spinning easily about 6 miles from my car, I happened to look down and see something metal on the side of the road. I doubled back and picked up a really nice tool. It turned out to be a Leatherman Rebar multi tool. It felt like a high quality implement, solid and weighty, and when I went online I discovered that it sells new for around $60. The one I found was in great shape, and I added it to my cycling discoveries tool chest.

Over the years I have stopped to pick up a pocket knife, a couple of screwdrivers, a wood chisel, a hammer, a 30 foot tape measure, and some open-end wrenches and an eight-inch adjustable wrench. Those are the ones I recall; there are probably more.

Tools are nice, but money is even better. Alas, my luck in this regard is limited. But Stoker urgently asked me to stop the CoMotion on a side street in Ione last week. Although completely mystified as to why we needed to stop, I did so, and she bent down and picked up $16 in US money! Coffee is on us!

Another time I was riding with Gary J in Lodi, and just in front of City Hall he stopped and found $5. That got me to looking around and about 30 feet further up the road I discovered another $25. I gave it to Gary because without his initial find I wouldn’t have noticed the cash; he offered to split it but I insisted.

When I’m riding in a group, or traffic is heavy, or I’m speeding down hill, I give my full attention to the road. But in quieter moments when not much is going on around me, I keep my eyes peeled for unburied treasure.


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    Rich Freggiaro

    Richard Freggiaro is a Stockton area native who grew up on his family’s farm. After an nine year detour to Davis for College, Washington DC for work, and Iowa for graduate school, he returned to San Joaquin County and spent the next quarter century farming with his father. He has been married to Diane for 31 years. He is (mostly) retired which leaves him plenty of time to ride each of his 4 bikes, and he is an enthusiastic and passionate cyclist. Read Full
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