The Friday Cyclotouriste

a geo-photoblog chronicling my "excursions velo"

Archive for the ‘Ebisu’ tag

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……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.


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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……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……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

Gear Gallery……Having it all? Versatillity, speed, and sprightliness

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Is it sacrilege (or fickleness) to doubt my relationship toward my two primary bicycles: the Guerciotti and the Ebisu because each has something the other lacks?

I made some tweaks to my Guerciotti’s set-up about seven years ago and ever since I’ve been pretending it’s a randonneuring-style bike and the truth is it’s really not. The Guerciotti is a racing bike with classic Italian geometry. It doesn’t hold a front handlebar bag that well and although I’ve shoe-horned 28-29mm wide Grand Bois tires onto it, the bike’s narrow clearances will not except fenders.

The bottom line: it’s fast and really fun to ride, although a bit twitchy like an Alfa Romeo.

But most importantly the bike’s super light tubing allows it to “plane” — an elusive (some say phantom) sensation whereby the frame’s flexibility works in a sort of mysterious, mechanical harmony with the rider. Jan Heine, the publisher of Bicycle Quarterly, coined the term “planing” as it pertains to bicycle performance and has written about these subjects extensively.

Guerciotti (circa 1982-83, 59cm frame)

My Ebisu, on the other hand, was purposely built to carry a loaded handlebar bag (it can even be set up with front panniers for a short tour) along with wide tires (up to 38mm wide) and fenders. But if I’m honest, the Ebisu is not quite as responsive and fun as my Italian racing bike. Continuing the car analogy, if the Guerciotti is an Alfa, the Ebisu is a Subaru Forrester.

So what are the underlying causes of these differences? I’ve pinpointed two:

  1. Responsive shifts: the 9-speed cassette on the Ebisu makes manual friction shifting a fine, delicate operation. On the other hand, the Guerciotti drivetrain is based around a more direct, positive feeling, 6-speed freewheel. The difference is significant.
  2. Planing: my Ebisu frame feels stiffer than the Guerciottti and it does not noticeably plane while riding. Understandably so. The Ebisu was constructed by master builder Hiroshi Iimura as more of an all-around bike capable of mid-to-light weight touring. But I do miss the feeling of riding my racing bike when I ride something else. The joy of pedaling hard and covering varied terrain is related — at least for me — to the stiffness of a bicycle’s frame.

It took time, but I discovered my preference for a more flexible frame through trial and error after pedaling different kinds of frames many miles over northern California’s hilly roads (and from reading Jan Heine’s articles in Bicycle Quarterly).

My Ebisu is perfectly designed for its purpose and performs more the way I like when it’s carrying extra weight. It seems that the additional weight (since I’m only 150-55 lbs.) causes the Ebisu frame to flex more than normal thus making the frame more responsive and lively when fully-loaded (as opposed to when it is ridden un-loaded).

Ebisu (circa 2006, 59cm)

Where does this leave me?

It means I need to find a bike close in design to the Ebisu, but with light, flexible, tubing like the Guerciotti. The only question is whether to base it around a 700cc 32mm tire or the highly-reviewed 650B 42mm Hetre tire?

Below are some images of bikes and makers which include the option of using super lightweight tubing in their designs.

Jan Heine’s custom Rene Herse MAP bicycle in 700cc wheel size
Boxer Bicycles MAP bicycle in 650B wheel size
Box Dog’s Pelican (a local Bay Area company).
Terraferma Cycles (courtesy chasingmailboxes)

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April 10th, 2013 at 10:23 pm

On the Road……Miramonte Park along the 3rd St. bike path

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In the early evening, right before a rain, this small garden-park had a palpable feeling of serenity and harmony. Lingering here, I felt calm and more connected to nature — the plants, the stones, and the slight breeze.

Later, I associated this feeling with the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi and other aspects of Japanese garden design.

I’m sure Tucson is full of little parks like this; I just happened to stumble upon this one (which was completely empty for some reason).

Love the outdoor chess board!

A zen rock garden — Tucson’s own Ryoan-ji?

Many professionals would object to the word “zen” in describing a traditional Japanese dry rock garden.  The publisher of this delightful, bi-monthly journal is especially disdainful of the term.

Either way, the journal (I am a subscriber) is probably the best source of practical information on Japanese gardens and architecture around. Plus, it’s very easy to read!

Let the wind speak. That is Paradise. — Ezra Pound, Canto CXX




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August 17th, 2011 at 9:02 pm

On the Road……Jitensha Studio, Berkeley CA

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Jitensha Studio projects a humble store front, yet inside Hiroshi Iimura — a modern bicycle constructeur — creates some of the most beautiful, functional, and harmoniously integrated bicycles I’ve ever seen.

A constructeur (as opposed to a framebuilder) assumes a holistic approach to bicycle creation. The constructeur integrates lighting, fenders, racks, and pannier bags; and, simultaneously, balances the bicycle’s intended use with its frame geometry, tire size, clearances, and a myriad of other choices, e.g., stem length, handlebar width, chain ring sizes, saddle and peddle type, etc., etc.

The most famous constructeurs of the 20th century were Rene Herse and Alex Singer, both from France. Hiroshi Iimura reflects this tradition.

I love this quote from Hiroshi published in a 2006 New York Times profile: “If a customer wants a component that is not to my taste, I refuse…I have to satisfy my own tastes first.”

Jitensha Studios, Berkeley, CA

Unfortunately, Hiroshi’s shop was closed the afternoon I was in Berkeley so I missed the chance to say hello. Although, I suspect he gets tired of people dropping by to say hello since he always seems to have a bicycle project or three in the works.

Jitensha Studio, Berkeley, CA

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[Full disclosure: I own one of Hiroshi”s production Ebisu 650B models]

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July 12th, 2011 at 9:39 pm

On the Road……Two Angel Island Ebisu Portraits

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Along the Tiburon promenade with Angel Island and San Francisco in the background.


I’m starting to prefer the tighter field of view of this image vs. the (similar) image I posted earlier.

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August 19th, 2010 at 7:06 pm

On the Road……San Francisco Bay’s, Angel Island

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I bicycled to Angel Island (via ferry) over the long holiday week-end. It was a typical July day on the San Francisco Bay — patches of brilliant sunshine mixed with belts of fog and massive wind gusts, due to cold ocean air being sucked into warmer inland areas.

The image above was made on the SW side of the island below the summit of Mount Caroline Livermore (El. 788′). Note downtown SF, Alcatraz, and the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. (You can click on the image for an expanded view).

(Wikipedia fact: Angel Island was part of the mainland until about 10,000 years ago, when sea levels rose as the last ice age came to an end.)

More images, a map, a short ride report, and an espresso review to come.

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July 10th, 2010 at 12:39 pm

On the Road……Farmer’s Market loop

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February 20th, 2010 at 8:14 pm


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On the Road……Super Bowl Sunday

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The view from the the top of the secret (or not-so-secret) bike path connecting San Rafael to San Anselmo that I mentioned here. From the San Rafael side, the path connects with Fawn Drive in San Anselmo.

I’m returning from the farmer’s market and the Ebisu’s rear rack is filled with leeks, carrots, and onions; the front bag with a dozen eggs, a head of cabbage, a turnip, and a shallot.

Oh yeah, congratulations to the Super Bowl champions — the New Orleans Saints!

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February 8th, 2010 at 4:01 pm

On the Road……Nicasio Valley Road

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This image was buried in my cleaning house 2009 posting. On second viewing, it deserves full-size treatment. A few others from that gallery will probably show up full size as well, if they deserve it.

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January 6th, 2010 at 9:29 pm

On the Road……Bolinas Ridge Climb

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Riding back up the Bolinas ridge was a struggle.

The road climbs 1500′ in only four miles and as I described in my ride report the ‘man with the hammer’ was sneaking up on me. This pull-out along the serpentine road gave me an excuse to stop and rest, which turned out to be a brilliant idea! I ate half a sandwich and felt better.

The wikipedia bicycling glossary has this take on ‘the man with the hammer‘:

…a phrase that describes what happens to a rider who suddenly loses the ability to race, as in “The man with the hammer got him” or “He got hit by the man with hammer“. This is a reference to the experience boxers have when their legs become powerless and weak just before collapsing (as if they have been hit with a hammer) following a severe blow to the head. The abruptness with which this happens differentiates it from hitting the wall. Alternative expressions are “‘tapped'” short for “he got tapped by the man with hammer”.

Maybe it was the wall I avoided. Either way — hammer or wall — I needed rest and food.

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November 19th, 2009 at 5:29 pm


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Gear Gallery……Bicycle Saddles

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When I built up my Ebisu I decided on a Brooks saddle, my first. I went all-out and purchased the Team Professional with titanium rails (figuring I’d save some weight) and by good fortune found a used version with nearly zero miles.

They say you need to break a Brooks in and indeed the leather softened up and took on a more comfortable quality after about 400-500 miles (though it has broken in a little unevenly from side-to-side. Sadly, I’ve heard talk that Brooks’ quality is deteriorating).

Nonetheless, I love my Brooks saddle. I’m a convert.

My other saddle is a Concor, Selle San Marco from the early 80’s (I double checked and although the wording has mostly worn away it is the coveted superleggera (Italian for Super Light) model — super comfy and still going strong after 25 years!

Seen from the back in this post, the Concor is the original saddle on my Guerciotti and usually stays there because I’m too lazy to switch the Brooks back and forth between bikes. But fairly frequently, I do switch them because as comfortable as the Concor is it just can’t beat the Brooks in that category.

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November 4th, 2009 at 7:01 pm

On the Road……Heading South, Golden Gate Bridge

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It may not look so, but it was foggy, cold, and very windy this morning. I was comfortable only after putting a windbreaker over two wool layers.

Also, we found out the bike path on the west side of the Golden Gate Bridge is closed during the week.


This made entering and exiting the bridge a little more complicated.

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August 7th, 2009 at 11:08 pm

Ride Report……Heading to Santa Cruz

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A hastily arranged portrait of my fully-loaded Ebisu just before setting out (around 6:30am) for the trip to Santa Cruz.

From Fairfax it is almost exactly 100 miles, one way. My brother and I decided to make the trip in a day.

A few years ago, I covered the same distance, but took two days stopping to camp on the beach near Half Moon Bay. This time there would no camping and I would either pedal back after a rest day or catch a ride back to the Bay Area from our friend in Santa Cruz.

Despite it being just a long day ride, I attached pannier racks to my existing front rack and packed like it was a short tour. For clothes, I had wool riding pants, an extra pair of pants and a short-sleeved collared shirt for my day off the bike, a wool t-shirt, a wool pullover, 2 pair of wool socks, a rain/wind layer, a wool beanie, a baseball cap, and (non-wool) underwear. I pedaled in Adidas Sambas and also packed a pair of Rainbow flip flops and a swim suit for the Santa Cruz boardwalk.

As far as equipment, I brought a miner’s headlamp, two spare tire tubes, plastic tire irons, a bunch of zip ties, a bicycle multi-tool as well as a small selection of allen and other wrenches (to help with roadside repairs that might otherwise be difficult with just the multi-tool), a small digital camera, and a cell-phone and charger. I also brought a few toiletries in a small pouch: shampoo, sunscreen, and tooth brush.

For food, I packed 4 PB&J’s, 4 hard-boiled eggs, a mango, 2 apples, and 2 oranges. Plus, two water bottles.

Fully-loaded, the bike weighed in at around 55 lbs. I think the bike itself (with full fenders, racks, rear basket, lighting, and a handlebar bag) weighed around 30 lbs., which means I was carrying 25 lbs of STUFF. That seems like a lot of weight considering there would be no camping.

Think how heavy my bike would get if I added cooking, cleaning, and eating gear, extra food, a tent, and a sleeping bag!

Read Part II here

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July 23rd, 2009 at 8:24 pm

Gear Gallery……The Indomitable Ebisu

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Long overdue, here is the official introduction to the companion to my Guerciotti.  Heavily influenced by the designed of French cyclotouring machines of the 1940s, 50s and 60s, I commissioned this 59cm bike from Jitensha Studio in Berkeley.

I told Hiroshi, the proprietor, I wanted a versatile bike for light touring and brevets; I wanted the option of carrying 10-20 lbs. upfront on low-riding front racks; and, I wanted the frame based around the 650B wheel size (and 38mm tire width).

The build included both new and vintage parts including a SON front generator hub powering the headlight, integrated front and rear racks (including detachable low-rider pannier racks) and Honjo fenders, Brooks Team Pro TI saddle, Simplex retrofriction downtube shifters, TA cyclotouriste cranks, and Shimano Ultegra derailers. A Berthoud decaleur is used with the front handlebar bag, which was custom ordered from the Guu-Watanabe in Tokyo. I believe I was their first customer from outside Japan (more on that story here).

Now that I’ve been riding the bike for some time there are inevitably small tweaks I would consider: slightly more geometric trail so it handles better unloaded thereby making it more of an all-around bike (this would require a new fork), indexed shifters (to go with the 8-speed Shimano cassette) or a 6-speed freewheel (to go with the current Simplex shifters), and maybe some slight changes to the gear ratios (currently 47×34 front and 13-27 rear). I’m also eagerly awaiting a true 38mm wide tire from Grand Bois as a replacement for the Panaracer Col de la Via which actually measure 2mm less than 38mm.

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July 23rd, 2009 at 8:20 pm

On the Road……View from the Peak

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June 15th, 2009 at 7:59 am

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On the Road……Heading Toward the Summit of Tamalpais

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Lots of variation in terrain on the way to the summit — from oak-studded grasslands and chaparral to the misty Douglas fir and Redwood forests around Alpine Lake seen above.

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June 15th, 2009 at 6:55 am

On the Road……Nicasio Reservoir

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June 8th, 2009 at 7:19 pm