The Friday Cyclotouriste

a geo-photoblog chronicling my "excursions velo"

Archive for the ‘BICYCLING CALIFORNIA’ Category

Guest Post……Samuel P. Taylor State Park, Lagunitas CA

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ingrid

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By Forest Sun Schumacher

I took this photo of Ingrid Serban biking through Samuel P. Taylor park in West Marin.  Shot with my iPhone 5gs. Drove to the park with the bikes on the rack. A mellow afternoon ride on Cross Marin Trail. Cruising through the redwoods along Lagunitas Creek. The road is flat most of the way and only about 8 miles round trip, so the ride goes by fast but leaves you feeling satisfied. No traffic and hardly any one else on the trail. Love it! Many of my fondest memories in life are on a bicycle.

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September 21st, 2014 at 7:35 am

On the Road……Marshall Wall–Tomales Bay Loop

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Staying out in Marshall, CA for a few nights afforded me the opportunity to try an epic Marin loop ride with two notorious hill climbs — the Marshall Wall and Wilson’s Hill. I really didn’t know what to expect; I don’t have many miles in the saddle this summer.

Here’s my impressionistic account of this classic 36-mile Marin ride:

Gear, clothing, and food: wool knickers, merino wool t-shirt, wool ankle socks, bata bikers, TA handlebar bag, basic tool kit, spare tire, single water bottle, small bag of trail mix, one apple, two sticks of string cheese.

Miles 0-3, Marshall Petaluma Rd. heading east: What am I doing? I’m not ready for this. The climb starts so quick! Where’s the friggin’ bike shoulder? Some rancher in a pick-up truck is going to plow into me from behind on a blind curve. Wait a minute, I actually feel good. There’s no one out here but me! I’m standing up on the pedals. I feel strong. F**k yeah. Take that Marshall Wall. Boom! 750 feet of climbing in 3 miles. This ride is going to be a breeze!

Mile 4-10, Descending the Marshall Wall and beyond: A super steep 2-mile descent on pot-holed roads. Should be interesting. Wait! My guardian angel whispered something into my ear. Stop the bike. Check the brake and front tire. What? The front brake was disengaged! The front wheel’s quick release skewer was not set! Holy sh*t that was close. One bump and off comes the front wheel going 30 mph on a steep descent. Thank you Guradian Angel. Thank you! 

Mile 11-13, Wilson’s Hill: Ok the second big climb of the day. I’m sure glad all this climbing is early in the ride. Wow that looks steep. I’m talking SF real estate prices steep. 10% grade at the top. Alpe d’Huez averages only 8.1. But Ok, this is going fine. Going good. Real good! No, it’s actually going quite badly now. This is very, very bad.  How is it even physically possible for my tire to adhere to the road at this angle? Why is the asphalt not rolling off the road’s sub-surface and piling in a clump at the bottom of the hill? Why is darkness closing in around me? Who needs food, shelter, love?  Hierarchy of needs dammit! All I need is to get to the top of this darn hill. 

Mile 14-22, Chileno Valley Rd: How I love thee, Chileno Valley Road. Almost no cars. Perfect weather. No wind. Flat or very gently rolling roads. Scenery. Oh the scenery. A hidden gem of a bicycling road!

Mile 23-31, Tomales-Petaluma Rd: Did I make a wrong turn? Why am I going north? I’m getting tired. The wind seems to be picking up. That’s a mighty strong headwind. Hmmm. I hope it’s not much further.  I’m not really hungry, but ‘eat before you’re hungry, drink before you’re thirsty,’ is the bicyclist’s motto. I’ll eat half a stick of string cheese. Oh my god, this headwind is brutal.  It’s some kind of pacific ocean el nino tornado vortex. Why is CNN not covering this? Anderson? Anderson? Am I hallucinating or am I really in my 42×28 hill climbing gear riding on a flat road? I’m really sad now. Maintaining radio silence. Energy levels dropping.

Mile 32-36, Shoreline Highway, Hwy 1:  Food! I have food! Glorious food. No time to stop and eat. Just eat from the handlebar bag like it’s a trough. One hand on the bars, the other hand feeds the mouth. Bag of nuts. Done. Remaining string cheese. Done. Apple. Done. No! Not more rolling hills. Good god, these are steep. I thought this stretch was supposed to be flat. These are huge rollers. Up 150 feet. Down 150 feet. Rinse. Repeat. Legs burning. Yikes. Please be the last hill. Yes! Close to home. That’s Hog Island up ahead! Tomales Bay swim, hot tub, fresh oysters, and local ground-beef grilled hamburgers await! 

Sunset

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June 19th, 2014 at 9:17 pm

On the Road……An Egg Ranch in Tennessee Valley?

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It seems a little crazy to spend $8-$9 for a dozen eggs, but fresh eggs are one of the things that I’m willing to splurge on.

A carton lasts me a week and I just love the dark, golden yolks.  And I swear fresh, old fashioned, eggs really do taste much, much better than mass produced factory eggs.

So noticing this place (the Wooly Egg Ranch) on my ride back from the ocean was a revelation since it’s not too far from where I live.

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June 11th, 2013 at 8:31 pm

On the Road……Tennessee Valley Rd. to the Pacific Ocean

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These are a few photos from a ride out to the Pacific Ocean via Tennessee Valley Rd.  The post from bike to work day shows my turn around point on the sandy beach off on the horizon.

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The road is rough — and super steep — in a few places. The only other bikes out here were mountain bikes like the one above.

But the Ebisu soldiered on…

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June 9th, 2013 at 8:07 pm

On the Road……Redwood Grove: 4 years later

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On a recent ride in the hills above Fairfax I passed this spot.

There’s a natural drainage running along this north facing slop, which Bolinas-Fairfax Rd. bisects. It’s cool and moist and there’s a stand of redwood trees.

This is also the spot where I made my very first photograph for this site almost 4 years ago to the day!

Here’s a link to the photograph and post #1.

And here I am, 4 years later writing post #448.

I wonder where I’ll be 4 years from now?

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May 27th, 2013 at 1:37 pm

On the Road……A Poem – on Bike to Work Day

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In the dream,

we till the loamy soil

and work the byways and flyways

of pacific salmon

and monarch butterflies.

Days flow like cycling migration patterns of hummingbirds and

humpback whales.

— nourished by seal pup carrion and wildflowers.

Lew is right. There is no place else to go,

but remember that rascal Chuang Tzu.

Waking up he says,

“Maybe my life is only a butterfly’s dream.”

-Nathan, May 9, 2013

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May 9th, 2013 at 7:37 pm

On the Road……Coastal Sunset & Digital Metering w/ Sony RX100

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Here’s the sunset at 8:04pm from Thursday’s ride in the Marin Headlands.

The light was tricky. It was well into twilight, and there was a sharp contrast between the lightest and darkest areas in the scene.

(Note: roll your mouse over the image to see the extreme difference in the unprocessed camera file.)

For a landscape scene like this a serious photographer would typically use a large-sensor DSLR camera plus:

  • a tripod (to allow for a long exposure to let in more light without introducing blur from inadvertent camera movements) and
  • a graduated neutral-density filter (to control the scene’s dynamic range by reducing the brightness of the sky — but not the foreground).

However, my little Sony RX100 (reviewed here by NY Times tech writer David Pogue) handled the scene fairly well.

Here is the processing technique I recommend for this — or really any — digital photograph:

  1. Choose an exposure that preserves the brightest areas in the scene. That is, “expose for the highlights” to retain the vivid color and detail which might otherwise get “blown out”.  Metering the scene like this will render the rest of the image too dark, but that’s okay. When mousing over the above image, you can see how everything — except the sky, the bike’s shiny metal parts, and the clear water bottle — is way (and I mean way) underexposed.
  2. Tweak the shadow areas in post-processing according to taste.  Here is where we adjust areas that are too dark. When I opened-up the shadow areas in Photoshop using a curves adjustment layer there was surprisingly still enough detail hidden in the file to create a decent image (at least for viewing on the web). In most images the before/after differences will be less extreme, but the technique will be the same.

By the way, this is the exact opposite of what Ansel Adams did in his black and white film photography. He would “expose for the shadows“, that is, meter the darkest area of the scene to preserve wanted detail, then in the darkroom develop the highlights to taste.

The difference in technique is a function of how digital sensors and film emulsions handle highlight rendering. For a good discussion of Adams’ technique and his Zone System, see this article.

-Nathan

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May 5th, 2013 at 5:11 pm

On the Road……Sunset over the San Francisco Bay

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April-May and Sept-Oct can always be counted on for balmy weather in the Bay Area. Today, it was 80+ degrees in downtown San Francisco!

The wind was gusting a bit in Sausalito when I arrived home from work, but around 7pm the wind just stopped.

Even at this hour the air was still warm. So I couldn’t resist a short climb up to the Golden Gate Bridge and then further up into the Marin Headlands to watch the sunset.

Even on the long descent coming home (as it was getting dark) I was completely comfortable in just a short-sleeve, cotton t-shirt.

These pictures were made at 7:53pm.

It’s not fair to extrapolate anything from a single picture, but it’s kind of funny that the guy is checking his phone, while the girl is totally digging the moment.

I’m not casting judgement because I’ve been that dude — maybe we all have.

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May 2nd, 2013 at 10:04 pm

On the Road……Crunching the numbers: Cars vs. Bikes

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My Honda Fit needed some repairs (valve adjustment, transmission fluid and oil change, tire rotation, driver side mirror wiring harness, and visor clip) so I had to figure out how to get to and from the dealership twice this past week.

I decided the most efficient solution was to drive to the Honda shop after work and bring my bicycle along. Then I could drop off my car and use the bike as transportation to get back home. When my car was ready for pick-up later in the week, I would repeat this in reverse, i.e., ride my bike back to the dealership, then drive the car and bicycle back home together.

Since I would be making essentially the same trip by both car and bike several times I jotted down some numbers:

  • by car it was a 9.1 mile one-way trip (mostly on highway 101) and took me all of 13 minutes.
  • by bicycle it was a 10.6 mile one-way trip (mostly on bike paths and back roads) and took me 46 minutes.

Adjusting for the mileage difference, the bike ride was almost exactly three times less efficient in getting me from point A to point B. But it’s probably more accurate to just say the bicycle was three times more time consuming.

Examining the bike’s efficiency (in isolation) is problematic. One can argue that all the time and energy spent riding the bike should count against the car. If one expands the boundary conditions of this hypothetical efficiency equation, you realize my bicycle riding was only necessary because of the needed automotive repairs!

However, in the process of bicycling this route twice in one week, I enjoyed myself quite a bit, got some needed post-work exercise, and became more acquainted with Marin bike paths and the new bicycle and pedestrian tunnel that opened last year, connecting Larkspur and San Rafael.

So what now? Do I register this joy and satisfaction on the bike’s or the automobile’s side of the ledger?

Now I’m really confused.

Anyhow, the picture above is in Mill Valley. Gotta love the classic VW bus.

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April 30th, 2013 at 10:02 pm

On the Road……Pt. Reyes Birding and Nature Festival

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The 4th annual Pt. Reyes Birding and Nature Festival is going on this weekend.

As a novice birder, I settled on a beginner’s 3-hour bird walk through the meadows and forests near the Pt. Reyes visitor center off of Bear Valley Road. Rich Cimino, with 45-years of birding experience, lead the walk. (Rich also runs a company, Yellowbilled Birding, specializing in small group, birding trips, in the western US.)

The most exciting sightings for me were the Purple Finch and Winter Wren. The latter has one of the most complex songs of any bird (listen on this page). The Winter Wren can be quite elusive and difficult to spot. Rich said it takes some California birders many years before they see one!

Here’s my list of the birds I spotted:

  1. California Quail
  2. Turkey Vulture
  3. Red-tailed Hawk
  4. Acorn Woodpecker
  5. Nuttall’s Woodpecker
  6. Great Horned Owl (heard, not seen)
  7. Stellar’s Jay
  8. Western Scrub Jay
  9. American Crow
  10. Common Raven
  11. Violet-green Swallow
  12. Winter Wren
  13. American Robin
  14. Wilson’s Warbler (heard, not seen)
  15. Purple Finch

The previous day’s schedule had a workshop called Birding by Bike at Bolinas. Here’s an excerpt from the on-line class description.

Whether you are a beginning birder or have been at it for decades, bicycling adds a whole new dimension to the pursuit and study of birds…Bolinas has a rich diversity of habitats and there is no better way to experience those qualities than by bicycle. As we move through the landscape we will be birding by ear, listening for the voices of returning migrant breeding and resident species alike…With so many habitats all mashed together, participants will take advantage of the opportunity to visit at least seven distinct habitat types and learn a bit about the plant communities therein. Being the height of spring, bird birdsong and bird detectability will be at their peak. As it happens, bird diversity is also at its spring peak during this period. The group will make frequent stops on our “migration” to search out as many species as possible.

I’m not completely on-board with mixing these two activities. I feel the same about SUP yoga — each one (yoga and stand-up paddle-boarding) already seems whole and complete on its own.  Combining the two risks lessening the other, don’t you think?

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April 27th, 2013 at 10:15 pm

On the Road……One more from Rodeo Lagoon

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Here’s one more image taken by Rodeo Lagoon. This was my first time riding on a new set of Grand Bois tires (I’ll write more about these tires later).

On a side note: I’m so grateful to be living in a place as beautiful as the Bay Area. I hope I don’t ever take living here for granted.

 

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April 21st, 2013 at 10:35 pm

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On the Road……Fort Cronkite calla lilies

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I find the calla lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) a very elegant and photogenic specimen. They’re native to southern Africa, but have made their way around the world to places such as California and Australia. Australia classifies them as pests and toxic weeds. Hey Australia, that’s no way to treat a visitor!

This bunch of lilies is growing against one of the old, military buildings in Fort Baker. (Note the red-roof: it’s a signature architectural feature of the structures inside this park).

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April 18th, 2013 at 9:41 pm

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On the Road……Coastal Trail near Rodeo Beach

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Sometimes when you’re exploring by bicycle you discover little things you never noticed before. On Saturday, I discovered this section of the Coastal Trail.

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April 15th, 2013 at 4:34 pm

On the Road……Late Saturday afternoon at Rodeo Beach

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The wind settled down for my ride home, but approaching Rodeo Beach it was gusty!

This body of water is Rodeo Lagoon and on the other side of that massive sand bar is the Pacific Ocean. For the most part, the two bodies remain separate. But on occasion (usually in winter) tidal storm surges let in ocean water, which keeps the lagoon rather brackish.

This “lake” is a productive ecosystem that supports endangered species like the brown pelican and a family of river otters that feed on them!

Check out this graphic that details: How otters take down pelicans.

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April 14th, 2013 at 9:40 am

On the Road……A sandy beach near downtown Sausalito

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This little sandy beach is within easy walking distance from my place in Sausalito.

Here you can rent SUPs (i.e. stand-up paddle boards) or a sea kayak or just kick-back on the sand. La Garage the french bistro is nearby too.

That’s appropriate because this view — with the sunshine and yachts — made me think of Marseilles or Saint Tropez; Jean-Luc Goddard; and French Ye-ye music such as this song by Francoise Hardy (which was prominently featured in Wes Anderson’s film Moonrise Kingdom).

 

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April 4th, 2013 at 4:30 pm

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On the Road……The Life Aquatic: Marshall, CA

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If people ask me my favorite town in Marin County, I answer Marshall.

I do it for the puzzled look I inevitably get since few people have heard of the little community that has a population somewhere between 50 and 400.

My second favorite? Dogtown, with a population of 30.

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March 25th, 2013 at 7:30 pm

On the Road……Tomales Bay, Marshall CA

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The Marshall Store — one of many spots on the east side of Tomales Bay to stop for fresh oysters.

If you like shucking the oysters yourself, you should visit the Tomales Bay Oyster Co., Hog Island or Drakes Bay Oyster Co. (which continues to fight the Park Services’ decision prohibiting them from renewing their commercial lease to farm oysters in a nationally designated wilderness area).

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March 24th, 2013 at 7:23 pm

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On the Road……Toward Pt. Reyes on Sir Francis Drake

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Finally, finally, finally, part of Sir Francis Drake Blvd. heading out to Pt. Reyes Station and Tomales Bay has been resurfaced.

This was one of the most scarred, chipped, and potholed roads in Marin. I always pedaled on the Lagunitas bike path because it’s more scenic, but a road in this condition (even without bike lanes) is tempting!

Note: the resurfacing isn’t complete. There’s still several miles of really bad, beat-up road that resumes just before Devil’s Gulch if you’re traveling west.

 

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March 14th, 2013 at 8:38 pm

On the Road……Brompton front Basket in Sausalito

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When I bought my folding bike I knew it had to have some handlebar luggage. In the end, I settled for a simple, folding basket.

The basket is big — it holds a lot more than one would think. I’ve over-stuffed it with a large, heavy, travel backpack (as you can see here, here, and here) and it handled the load quite well.

What’s unusual about the Brompton design is that the basket doesn’t track the movement of the handlebars and front wheel — rather it’s always aligned with the frame and rear wheel. In other words, the basket always faces straight ahead even when you turn the handlebars side-to-side.

This is disorienting at first, but something you quickly become used to.

In the images above and below, the basket carries a full shopping bag of laundry on the way to the cleaners.

 

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March 3rd, 2013 at 8:25 pm

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On the Road……Golden Gate Park Bike Rack

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The bike rack in front of the de Young Museum is much happier than this lonely bike rack. Note that Sutro Tower is visible in both photographs (obviously in this photo; less so in the linked image).

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I made this before viewing the Girl with the Pearl Earring exhibit at the de Young.

To find out what all the fuss is about (or at least my take on Vermeer and the Dutch Masters) stay tuned.

-Nathan

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February 26th, 2013 at 11:02 pm

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On the Road……Plum Blossoms (Ume) in Golden Gate Park

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The cherry plum blossoms around the Bay Area are in peak bloom — or that’s how it looks to me after watching them for the last 2-3 weeks!

In Japan, the plum blossom has been overtaken in popularity by the similar looking cherry blossom. In case you’re curious, the Japanese word for cherry blossom is Sakura; for plum blossom it is Ume. Both are members of the genus Prunas.

It’s common to celebrate blossom time with festive picnics (and sake drinking) under the beautiful flowering trees.

Here’s an excerpt from wikipedia’s cherry blossom article:

In Japan, cherry blossoms…symbolize clouds due to their nature of blooming en masse, besides being an enduring metaphor for the ephemeral nature of life, an aspect of Japanese cultural tradition that is often associated with Buddhistic influence, and which is embodied in the concept of mono no aware. The association of the cherry blossom with mono no aware dates back to 18th-century scholar Motoori Norinaga. The transience of the blossoms, the extreme beauty and quick death, has often been associated with mortality; for this reason, cherry blossoms are richly symbolic, and have been utilized often in Japanese art, manga, anime, and film…

 

-Nathan

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February 21st, 2013 at 9:28 pm

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On the Road……Sausalito Ferry Terminal

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The line of bicyclists waiting to board the 6:10pm ferry to San Francisco stretched down the pier, around the parking lot, and then back-up Bridgeway Blvd.

These cylotourists (most of whom rented their bikes from operators in the Fisherman’s wharf area) bicycled across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, and are now taking the ferry back to the city.

This page has everything you need to know about biking (as a tourist) from SF to Sausalito. And here’s the Golden Gate Ferry, Bikes and Ferries page.

-Nathan

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February 19th, 2013 at 7:03 pm

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On the Road……Downtown Sausalito’s Seal Statue at Twilight

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About 8 minutes before sunset, on February 16, 2013, nearing civil twilight. (For more details on twilight — civil, nautical, and astronomical, see one of my favorite posts on this blog.)

Under challenging conditions, this is the best I can get from my iPhone (by the way, those are birds in the sky; not dust specks on the lens).

For an exquisite interpretation of this subject, check out this local photographer’s image of the Sausalito sealla composition par excellence!

-Nathan

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February 18th, 2013 at 10:57 am

On the Road……Downtown Sausalito’s Seal Statue

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I have a love/hate relationship with the iPhone’s camera.

This twilight photo made over the weekend seriously stresses its photographic limits and although the camera is often good enough, it has two big flaws:

  1. Image quality: it cannot handle wide dynamic range and low-light conditions very well.
  2. Handling: it is slow to start up, clunky, and ergonomically infuriating.

Nonetheless, the old cliche still applies: “The best camera is the one that you have with you.”

And I almost always have the iPhone with me.

Still, for me, it’s a highly unsatisfying photographic tool. And, the tools we use in our daily lives — the quality of their craftsmanship and their aesthetics — are important. Right?

I recently sold two older digital cameras on eBay so I’m allowing myself to look at new cameras again. The highly touted Sony RX100 is a pocketable camera, but with image quality, resolution, and low light capabilities that vastly outperforms every other small-sized camera on the market.

Unfortunately, the Sony still does nothing for me from an aesthetic standpoint. It has few manual controls and no viewfinder, for instance. So it really only solves half the problem presented by the iPhone’s camera — i.e. vastly improved image quality. It does not fully address the handling issue.

If only an aesthetically pleasing, elegant, and functionally designed camera body like the Olympus XZ-2 or Fuji X10 could be married to Sony’s wonderful, large sensor.

That combination would be a truly satisfying photographic tool!

-Nathan

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February 16th, 2013 at 9:22 pm

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On the Road……Amsterdam-style Bike Sighting

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Here’s an Americanized version of a classic Dutch bicycle (the Amsterdam manufactured by Electra) spotted at the Sausalito Herring Festival on Sunday.

I like the chain guard and the front wicker basket. I really, really dig the rear pannier bags. These are the real deal — a Dutch company called Basil makes them.

But overall, I think I prefer Electra’s Ticino model over the Amsterdam. I just don’t care for the almost gooseneck-like curve of the frame’s top tube.

If you’re going to get a Dutch bike I like the Jorg & Olif, which I featured in this post.

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February 11th, 2013 at 10:54 pm

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On the Road……Sausalito’s 1st Annual Herring Festival

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I rode my Brompton down the street to meet some friends at the 1st annual Herring Festival, but I couldn’t believe they ran out of all their herring by 1pm!

I did manage to sample the grilled herring on a skewer and the pickled herring (I preferred the pickled herring).

One of my favorite places to eat in Sausalito, Fish, was on hand, as were others, to help raise funds for one of the town’s community boating centers, Cass Gidley Marina.

During the afternoon, I also spoke with a CA fisheries biologist who filled me in on this local, commercial fishery — it seems we have at our doorstep a truly sustainable fishery.  The season started in January and is open through mid-March.  Last year’s catch was more than 1,600 tons of fish.

Interestingly, the primary product is the herring roe, which is sold to the Japanese. In Japan, herring roe is called Kazunoko.

I was excited to learn all this because in recent weeks I’ve been seeing awesome displays of bird life (and a few sea otters looking fat and content) out in the harbor. I captured a bit of this spectacle in this photograph.

Now I know what all the fuss was about — the little Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii).

 

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February 11th, 2013 at 10:49 pm

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On the Road……Near GGNRA’s Coastal Trail: Marin Headlands

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Riding east on Bunker Rd. I found this picaresque spot, made even more so by the recent rain which created a mini-wetland.

It’s directly off the main road, but also at the end of a fork that connects to the Coastal Trail (used for hiking and mountain biking), which leads up the ridge to the traffic circle on Conzelman Rd. or (if followed in the other direction) down to the beach at Rodeo Cove.

The Coastal Trail eventually reaches Fort Cronkite, which houses an eclectic group of organizations including the Headlands Center for the Arts, Foundation for Deep Ecology, and The Marine Mammal Center.

 

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February 9th, 2013 at 10:43 pm

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On the Road……”Wintertime” ride to Alpine Lake in Fairfax

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Last week-end, I packed a light lunch and took one of my favorite rides out to Alpine Lake in Fairfax.

The sun was bright and strong, but it was still very cool in the shade. So I wore a pair of wool knickers and two cotton t-shirts (one long-sleeve and one short-sleeve), which was perfect.

During the long downhill stretches — through the redwood groves where the cold air tends to chill you to the bone — I put on a light wind jacket. On cold days, I always keep an inexpensive one stuffed in my handlebar bag. Mine is a basic, clear plastic, no thrills jacket that cost less than $20, but is the difference between freezing on long descents or being comfortably warm.

As it turned out, the long-sleeve wool layer (that I forgot at home) wasn’t even necessary.

These sunny, Northern California winter days are glorious!

-Nathan

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February 3rd, 2013 at 11:13 pm

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On the Road……Light lunch at Alpine Lake in Fairfax

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February 3rd, 2013 at 11:12 pm

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On the Road……Pt. Bonita Lighhouse entrance

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Rust-colored moss, bright green plants, and a churning light azure, icey blue sea — a collage of color at the entrance to the Pt. Bonita lighthouse.

Unfortunately, I arrived 8 minutes after closing time (and couldn’t get into the actual lighthouse or up onto the high point of the rocks and the viewing platform).

To add further insult, the park ranger scolded me for showing up at the bottom of the paved, 10-foot wide, 1/4-mile path with a bicycle — even though I walked it all the way down.

Apparently this is a no-bicycle zone (not a “no-bicycle-riding” zone — simply “no bicycles” period), which makes this picture of me that much more scandalous!

-Nathan

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February 2nd, 2013 at 10:48 pm

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On the Road……Above Bonita Cove: Views of the Bridge and Sutro Tower

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I’m not exactly sure what this graffiti artist is trying to communicate. Perhaps, it’s that war = destruction? (since the opposite of creation is destruction).

But speaking of language, the December 24th issue of The New Yorker magazine had a curious article by Joshua Foer about an amateur linguist named John Quijada. When he wasn’t working at the Department of Motor Vehicles, Quijada spent his spare time (extending over 25 years) engineering a new language and grammar system combining what he believed were the best aspects of all the world’s languages.

Here’s a quote from the beginning of the article:

In his preface, Quijada wrote that his “greater goal” was “to attempt the creation of what human beings, left to their own devices, would never create naturally, but rather only by conscious intellectual effort: an idealized language whose aim is the highest possible degree of logic, efficiency, detail, and accuracy in cognitive expression via spoken human language, while minimizing the ambiguity, vagueness, illogic, redundancy, polysemy (multiple meanings) and overall arbitrariness that is seemingly ubiquitous in natural human language.”

Ithkuil has two seemingly incompatible ambitions: to be maximally precise but also maximally concise, capable of capturing nearly every thought that a human being could have while doing so in as few sounds as possible. Ideas that could be expressed only as a clunky circumlocution in English can be collapsed into a single word in Ithkuil. A sentence like “On the contrary, I think it may turn out that this rugged mountain range trails off at some point” becomes simply “Tram-m?öi hhâsma?p?uktôx.”

This is really quite odd.

Ithkuil seems to be a language devoid of nuance, implication, metaphor, and for that matter: poetry!

-Nathan

 

Written by fridaycyclotouriste

January 26th, 2013 at 6:33 pm

On the Road……Marin Headlands Gun Battery on MLK Holiday

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The coastal fortifications (as seen in the image above) from a time when nation-states confronted each other with crude, 20th century explosives and projectiles are hard to miss as you bicycle through the Marin Headlands.

These gun batteries are now quiet, but our world still does not embrace Martin Luther King’s practice of non-violent resistance or Mahatma Gandhi’s ethos of satyagraha.

King was influenced by Gandhi, who, according to the author Thomas Weber (Gandhi as Disciple and Mentor, Cambridge University Press, 2004), would quote the poet Shelley at his mass rallies in India.

So in honor of Martin Luther King Day, here are a few stanzas from the English Romantic poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Stand ye calm and resolute,
Like a forest close and mute,
With folded arms and looks
which are Weapons of unvanquished war. 

And if then the tyrants dare,
Let them ride among you there,
Slash, and stab, and maim and hew,
What they like, that let them do. 

With folded arms and steady eyes,
And little fear, and less surprise
Look upon them as they slay
Till their rage has died away 

Then they will return with shame
To the place from which they came,
And the blood thus shed will speak
In hot blushes on their cheek. 

Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you-
Ye are many — they are few  

–Percy Bysshe Shelley (from The Masque of Anarchy)

Written by fridaycyclotouriste

January 19th, 2013 at 10:56 pm

On the Road……Entrance to Battery Wallace

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From the days, when gunpowder was king.

These batteries housed guns 12″ in diameter with 36 foot long barrels that fired thousand pound shells 268 football fields out into the Pacific Ocean.

That’s my bike in the sunshine on the other end of the tunnel.

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January 16th, 2013 at 12:42 pm

On the Road……Old Tree at Battery Wallace, Marin Headlands

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I think this was once a Monterey Cyprus (Cupressus macrocarpa). It’s located near Battery Wallace, a former armed outpost (from 1918 to 1948) meant to defend SF bay from marauding seafaring types.

 

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January 14th, 2013 at 10:12 pm

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On the Road……Descending Conzelman Road

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After riding uphill steadily for 4 miles (from the town of Sausalito), bicyclists will dive sharply toward the sea, before the road flattens out and heads toward the spit of land seen off in the distance where the Pt. Bonita lighthouse sits.

The section of road seen below is most certainly the steepest stretch of pavement I’ve ridden. Although the steepness may not be readily apparent from the image, looking at the elevation graph on the route map page, one can see that the road drops away precipitously right after the summit.

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January 8th, 2013 at 8:33 am

On the Road……Fighting shadenfreude pedaling toward Pt. Bonita

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What a beautiful, clear winter day! The image below is a popular picture taking spot just where the road reaches a plateau (below Hawk Hill) and before it plummets back down to the sea.

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The Park Service made some major infrastructure “improvements” along Conzelman Rd., expanding parking and creating new scenic vistas and pullouts. Now, more people driving up here in cars can enjoy the scenery, but my sense is there’s more traffic and delays. On this day, cars were lining up and I was sometimes overtaking vehicles on the uphill!

I have to admit, it was a rich, satisfying feeling passing snarled cars while pedaling uphill on my bicycle. The Germans, I believe, have a word for this sense of delight in the misfortune of others: they call it Schadenfreude. Studies have shown the human brain’s reward centers are activated in these schedenfreude-like situations, which confirms my own experience.

For the record, I’m not proud of this at all — humility after all is one of my velosophic tenets — but noticing unconscious negative habits, and then slowly perfecting oneself is what life is all about.

Written by fridaycyclotouriste

January 5th, 2013 at 8:17 am

Route Map……Sausalito to Pt. Bonita Loop

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Overall, this is an incredible 15-mile ride. The loop has views that tourists come from a world away to take-in; roads in very good condition with a bike shoulder for much of the way; and, interesting and varied terrain.

If this ride were a restaurant, it would earn a 3-star on the Michelin scale!

Beginning at sea level in downtown Sausalito and cresting at the top of the Marin Headlands near Hawk Hill, I was surprised the elevation gain was only 800 feet. It felt like much more. That’s barely a third of the way up Mt. Tam (elevation 2,571′)!

Here’s a map and elevation chart extracted from the gpx file created by the gps logging device I sometimes carry with me.

Elevation Profile

Written by fridaycyclotouriste

January 3rd, 2013 at 5:21 pm

On the Road……The End of the Road

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This photo from Sunday’s ride has a certain Wes Anderson/Steve Zissou feel to it, I think.

It’s also one of my favorite geotag locations. So make sure you click on the icon under the picture to see the location on a map.

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Whenever I’m standing on rocky outcroppings like this looking out onto the Pacific Ocean, I think of the words of the Beat poet Lew Welch.

Here’s the last two stanzas from his glorious poem, THE SONG MT. TAMALPAIS SINGS:

This is the last place. There is nowhere else to go.

Once again we celebrate the
Headland’s huge, cairn-studded fall
into the Sea.

This is the last place. There is nowhere else to go.

For we have walked the jeweled beaches
at the feet of the final cliffs
of all Man’s wanderings.

This is the last place
There is nowhere else we need to go.

-Lew Welch (1921-1976)

 

Have a Happy New Year Everyone!

-Nathan

Written by fridaycyclotouriste

December 30th, 2012 at 10:57 pm

On the Road……Christmas Eve Day in Fairfax

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I spent most of the long holiday weekend in bike-friendly Fairfax (with my mother, brother, nephews and my brother’s extended family). Taking advantage of one splendid sunny day, I went for a short ride up into the surrounding hills — the same hills where legend has it the “mountain bike” was invented.

Make of this account what you will:

‘Twas the day before Christmas, when all thro’ the land,
not a storm cloud was in sight, not even in San Fran.

I set out on my ride with an Italian holiday treat;
’tis called Panettone, ’tis all I had with me to eat.

‘Twas packed with a thermos filled with hot tea;
but where to stop and enjoy I must wait and see.

My handlebar bag deftly handled the load,
as I pedaled my way up Bolinas-Fairfax Rd.

The summit was sunny, ’twas a true joy to be there;
yet riding down ’twas cold, so I descended with care.

Then who should I see — why it happened so quick.
But if I’m not mistaken it was good ol’ St. Nick!

I heard him exclaim, as his lugged, steel-framed bike disappeared out of sight –
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!


And one of the creation legends surrounding Panettone, according to Wikipedia:

“…a 15th-century legend from Milan gives the invention to the nobleman falconer Ughetto Atellani, who loved Adalgisa, the daughter of a poor baker named Toni. To help her, the nobleman disguised himself as a baker and invented a rich cake to which he added flour and yeast, butter, eggs, dried raisins, and candied lemon and orange peel.

The duke of Milan, Luduvico il Moro Sforza (1452–1508), agreed to the marriage, which was held in the presence of Leonardo da Vinci, and encouraged the launch of the new cake-like bread: Pan de Toni (or Toni’s cake).”

-Nathan

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December 25th, 2012 at 11:00 pm

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On the Road……Sausalito Bike and Walking trail

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It’s pouring rain here in the Bay Area and Sausalito is windy and stormy.

These images are from a sunnier moment last weekend. I’m guessing the bikes belong to some of the nearby houseboat dwellers.

This hidden trail runs a short distance along the estuary behind Sea Trek kayak rentals to the small, but lovely little beach at the end of Liberty Ship Way.

-Nathan

 

Written by fridaycyclotouriste

December 23rd, 2012 at 2:45 pm

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