Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Brief Cycling Gear Review - iSSi Thump Pedals

Some of you might know that I finally had to ditch the clipless pedals - I was getting breathtaking hotfoot, even with the Cyclesoles custom orthotics.

I tried the MKS Lambdas (Riv GripKings) - too long, and my shoes wouldn’t stay stuck on them, especially when wet.

Then moved on to the VO Sabots (oh SO pretty).  My shoes stuck much better, but my feet still hurt.  I had been riding with Five Ten shoes, and decided they were too flexy, so I reattached the cleat mount cover to my PI X Alp shoes, which I’d bought a few years back, and promptly shelved because hotfoot.  That helped.  Some.

Then I watched a review of the iSSi Thump pedals from the Path Less Pedaled folk.  The “concave” design caught my attention - less pressure on the part my feet which suffer from hotfoot.  Bought a pair, size small.

Went for a 100km ride.  It was a very hot day.  My shoes did not slide.  My feet did not hurt.

Winner.  They’ll be promoted to the usual long ride bike for further review.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Perm Pop in Tucson

Being as we were going to be in Tucson for a week, I started looking around for a RUSA perm to ride.  Michal’s excellent map provided a list of perm pops (typically just over 100k, about all I’m up to at this time), and John Lee’s #3752 Rillito - Pantano - Saguaro Sashay showed only 1600 vertical feet and a lot of separated bike path.  And a National Park (gotta exercise that Senior National Park Pass sometime).

Excellent.  An exchange of email, including a scan of the required signed release and a general range of days I might choose to ride during (LOVE the new “slippery perm start time” rules, I DO.  Especially during vacation, when one isn’t all that super detailed about daily plans.)

We drove down to Tucson from Portland, so I did’t have to disassemble and pack a bike; brought the Lemond Zurich, with the Specialized Power Mimic saddle I am trying out.

So, after a careful study of the weather (there’s altitude and heat here, which I am not really accustomed to), picked the least hot day.  The plan was that I’d start around 9am; Fitz would drop me off at the start and play a nearby round of golf, as these activities consume about the same amount of time.

Got to the Jack in the Box, unloaded the bike, said goodbye and had my traditional pre-ride orange juice, breakfast being consumed previously.





Started out, and quickly realized that I didn’t need to navigate the first 2 miles, because all the cyclists were headed to the Loop, just like me.  The outgoing leg of the first out and back (after a bit of off-course, caused by turning immediately left onto the first bridge I saw, rather than the one just a bit up on the right) flew right along.  It is spring, and Tucson is blooming.  Passed a couple of parks with restrooms to remember for the return.

Got to the turnaround, snapped a picture of the info control and headed back.  Wait.  There’s a headwind.  Not supposed to have a headwind.  It wasn’t that bad, but it was more fun zipping along at 18-19mph.

I was using RWGPS to direct me along.  It seemed a bit confused after the turn until a good mile past where I had gotten on the Loop at the Mountain Ave Bridge.  I was “off course”, which it claimed was 8.6 ft to the right.  Or, in the Rillito River Wash.  Go figure.  Anyway, as I was to be on the Loop for awhile, it didn’t much matter.

The Tanque Verde crossing was interesting, in that I had to cloverleaf up to the road, cross the wash, and continue on the other side, to transition to the Pantano River Path.  A bit drier out this way, and some super trippy trail decorations - painted rocks around plants, glittery stuff, and so on.

The Loop is essentially a 2 lane road, but for non-motorized transport.  Nice 2 lane road.  It was fabulous to ride on.

Leaving the Loop at mile 27.7 to get onto Golf Links Rd, heading out to Saguaro National Park.  If you are looking for services of the food variety (you’ll find restrooms and water along the Loop at several points; not marked, but you’ll see them off to the side), Golf Links Rd is where you’ll find it.  There’s a shiny new Circle K on the right, and various fast food options on either side; you’ll be returning this way, and there’s another Circle K at Harrison and Golf Links.  That’s about all there is to recommend about Golf Links, but it does get you where you are needing to go.  After a brief stretch on Houghton, you turn onto Old Spanish Trail, which has considerably less traffic and pristine pavement.

And then, not quite 3 miles along, you’ll come to the Saguaro National Park entrance.  There are restrooms, a bottle filling station, and a nice covered area with more water, if you want to pause to reapply sunscreen, refill your bottles, and eat your banana.

If you’ve not got a National Park pass, there is a fee to enter.  The ranger said “you know the drill” (MANY MANY CYCLISTS HERE), and I said “nope”, and she immediately warned me about the first descent, which is super steep and has a hard right at the bottom.  It comes right up, too.  I really  appreciated that warning.

So, the Cactus Forest Loop (the road in the park) is ranked one of the top 15 National Forest roads for a bike ride.  As it was still early enough in the spring, everything was green and flowering.  The number of saguaro cacti was staggering.  Apparently they grow here in greater numbers than anywhere else.  Wish I’d had a proper camera.  I took pictures, but they don’t really capture it.











The route is one-way until the Tanque Verde trailhead access (also signed “Picnic Area”), so you can enjoy the first 3.4 miles of delightful roller coaster riding without worrying about oncoming vehicles.  The speed limit is 15mph, so the chances of unpleasant vehicle interaction are greatly reduced.  I was there on a weekday; it might be more crowded on a weekend.  Lots of pull outs if you want to take pictures.

After the first info control at Loma Verde, the road does start a reasonably steady climb with not as many bits of downhill.  Not depressingly steep, though.  Be sure to keep pushing the water and electrolytes.




After the Tanque Verde info control, it is downhill for miles.  Old Spanish Trail rolls a bit, but then Golf Links Rd rewards you with a downhill all the way to the Loop.  The turn to get back on the Loop is a left at Pantano Parkway.  I kind of spaced there, so did a Copenhagen Left at the crosswalk after the turn.










Then it is just 13 miles back on the path/Mountain Ave/Ft Lowell Rd.  You can cut into the parking lot at the Sketchers and get back to the Jack in the Box (if that is where you are choosing to finish) without having to go all the way to Campbell Ave.

It is a delightful ride, and I’d recommend it if you are planning to be in Tucson.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

The Problem With SW Walker Rd between Hwy 217 and SW 106th Ave

(This is here so I never have to type it in again.)

small pic.  Click to embiggen.
Our previous commissioner wasn’t helpful, as “SW Walker is the only continuous street that can be useful when the Sunset Hwy is backed up or closed”.  Right.  SW Walker Rd east of Hwy 217 is signed No Thru Trucks.  Until you get to SW 106th, walking on either side of the road is chancy; the most recent repave put soft gravel on the sides, making walking even more chancy, especially with a stroller.  The STATUTORY speed limit is 35 mph, the 20 mph is only a caution/recommendation.  Sight lines are nonexistent.  If SW Walker gets filled up because the Sunset is unavailable, the traffic will slow way down anyway.  Maybe we need a 25 mph speed limit and sharrows.  I’d want the ditches filled in, and proper paved shoulders, but that’s an “in my dreams” situation, plus it would only encourage drivers to drive even faster.  SW Walker has at least 6 streets intersecting with it, plus driveways from the houses on SW Walker.  Folks that live on the north side of SW Walker and choose to walk or bicycle out of the neighborhood have to cross it, and safe crossing between SW 107th and Hwy 217 is non-existent.  You can be STANDING at an intersection, which is an unmarked crosswalk, CLEARLY wanting to cross, and even the WashCo Sheriffs cars won’t stop for you to cross. There’s no Vision Zero at all here.  This stretch of SW Walker is on the boundary of CPO 1 and CPO 3.

fyi: SW Sunnyhill is right of way, not county or city property.  I often ride through there to avoid the 3 way intersection at SW 108th/SW Polsky.

A close analogy in terms of traffic, intersections, and driveways is SW 92nd (?) / SW Garden Home.  The posted speed limit is lower.  There is a cheesy attempt at a sidewalk on the north side, not that I’d ride my bike on it.  SW Garden Home DOES have “Bicycles on Roadway” signs - I was at least one person asking for them when the Fanno Creek Trail was closed and we were detoured onto SW Garden Home.

Learnings:
From Washington County's map, they don't intend this stretch of SW Walker to get any wider than 2-3 lanes.  You can see in the picture below that SW Walker between Hwy 217 and SW Canyon is light blue, which the legend clarifies as 2-3 lanes.  This picture is from WashCo's future plan for all the couny's roads.