Super Supple, Buttery Smooth

I posed a question on a randonneur forum whether it was worth it to switch from 38mm tires to 32’s. You can imagine the range of responses I might get. It’s just not a simple question. Besides the obvious difference of decreased tire contact the smaller you go, there’s weight, tread, and casing differences. I actually had a tire in mind; the Grand Bois Cypress.

Grand Bois Cypress
Grand Bois Cypress

My Sam Hillborne came with Continental TourRides; heavy and stiff, at 38mm (this is what is measures, I think the labeling lists the tire at 42). Everyone agreed, Grand Bois tires are quite magnificent, though some believe a little more flat prone than others. Some recommended staying with a 38mm for comfort, and a common tire of choice was the Pari-Moto. This tire also has a nice recommendation on Rivendell’s website. However, coming from 23cm on my Lemond (which I sold in Jan.), I felt like 32mm would still provide me with plenty of comfort. But, what turned the tide in favor of the Grand Bois was the description by fellow randonneur who said, “Going from heavy, 650 gram, super-thick, tough Conti TourRides to not-quite-paper-thin, super-supple, buttery-smooth 290 gram Grand Bois Cyprès tires will, indeed, give you a very different ride.” Yep, that’s what I’m hoping for. I ordered them yesterday from Compass Bicycles.

The Conti’s are great for commuting and mixed terrain. I have full confidence in them rolling over street debris and don’t think twice about riding off-road, like a fire trail. But, for lots of road riding, increased time in the saddle, and some events I want to participate in this summer, I just wanted the super supple, buttery-smooth ride.


Spring Sale

Now that Spring has arrived, the winter apparel is beginning to go on sale. I scored a new rain jacket, a Showers Pass Touring jacket. I received it earlier this week just in time for three more days of forecasted rain. I wore it Wed. morning on my commute; no rain but it was dark and cold. I was totally comfortable and I attribute being warm but not soaking all my layers underneath to the excellent underarm vents.

touring-yellow_0Plus it’s yellow which obviously increases my visibility. My older jacket it all charcoal, you could even say black. Not great visibility. It doesn’t roll up really small like some of the wind breakers, but it was too warm (though is dropped 20˚ by the end of my ride and I should have put it on) to wear it on the ride home and I was able to fold it in a manner to fit under the flap of my Barley bag. I’m thinking of getting some of the really small bungee cords and attaching it to the outside of the Barley in case I need the room inside the bag.

The jacket has changed names, it’s now called the Transit, but all the features are the same. It also comes in other colors, blue and black, maybe red too. A two-way  zipper, a front pocket at the chest (perfect for the garage door opener), and velcro adjustments at the wrist. Another feature I really like is that it’s cut loose, one could say it runs a little large, but great for layering clothes.

So, I’ll get another chance to use it this weekend; it’s suppose to rain Sat. and Sun.


So, when I commute by bike to work, I ride about 4.5 miles each way with a BART ride in between. As my mileage requirement for training increases, I decided today to do the 4.5 miles to BART in the morning and pedal all the way home from work. First off, it dropped about 20˚ (rain is on the way) from the time I started until I got home, and there were really strong headwinds. Though I’ve never really ridden this area, I had no idea most of the route in the direction I was going was also uphill (dang those cars are deceiving). To say the least, I was bushed with a measly 19 miles! Now, I do have to say, I have a physical job; so maybe it takes more of a toll on me than I realized.

I’m trying not to be demoralized about this experience. It’s such a great way to get an increase in mileage. I’ll try it again next week…..

“Good morale in cycling comes from good legs.”   Sean Yates

Iron Horse Regional Trail


Today we rode 25 miles on the Iron Horse Regional Trail; a really nice off-road path that travels Concord to Dublin just west of Mt. Diablo. We actually started pedaling shortly after 10 AM, and there were again, lots of people enjoying the trail by then. This multi-use, whole-access trail between the cities of Concord and Dublin follows the Southern Pacific Railroad right-of-way established in 1891 and abandoned in 1977. Currently it is complete from Highway 4 in Concord to Dublin. When fully completed the trail will span the distance from Livermore in Alameda County to Suisun Bay in Contra Costa County, a distance of 33 miles, connecting two counties and 12 cities. Many trails are both near and cross the Iron Horse, for example the Canal Trail, and the Lafayette Moraga Trail is not far from it either if you’re in Walnut Creek.


As you can see civilization isn’t very far away. It’s pretty nice, but if you want to really get into a rhythm it’s best not to ride on a weekend as there’s lots of people and unfortunately one has to slow to check for cars for many streets the trail crosses. But this was our long mileage day, and the goal was long, slow distance. So while it was sometimes a bother to have to slow, I imagine if we could get going earlier we’d miss a lot of people and cars on the cross streets.


We just took our time, and because it was our first time on this trail we had a couple stops for navigation purposes. Then there was the little shopping center diversion for a restroom, and we didn’t seem to notice that the first 12.5 miles were slightly uphill. We did an out and back route. We stopped at the turn around spot and enjoyed some water in the shade and headed back to the start. Since we now knew our way combined with the downhill I think it took us half as long to cover the same distance back to our starting point.


I didn’t mention that there are BART stops all along this route, in fact, we started at the Pleasant Hill BART and just rode south. K seemed to enjoy the trail and I think we’ll probably do our 30 miles next weekend on it too. I have a new Revelate Designs tangle bag and I’m planning on using a bladder next weekend. What’s great is the bladder will fit inside the bag and has a hole so the tube can exit right along the stem. Between my Carradice bag and the tangle bag I’m still getting away with no backpack. I also tried a new Hammer product today; the Electrolytes Fizz, grapefruit flavor. It was really good. I used the capsules in my training for my Kayak race and they worked well too. Since I’m drinking water anyway I thought I’d give these a try. Thumbs up! I’ve also used the Perpetuem powder; I’d make a multi-hour bottle. I did well with this product as my stomach doesn’t really like food when I’m exercising. Today however, I used the Perpetuem tablets, which are extremely convenient, but I don’t like them as much as the powder. Just so happened I have several of the tubes of tablets left, so they’re getting used up first.

A Good Week

Sorry no pictures today even though I went for a ride. I repeated Fri.’s ride with K. Again, beautiful weather. And, again, we didn’t get out as early as I’d like. Lots of street traffic and others on the trail. But it was still great, and I felt stronger on the hills today. That always makes me optimistic. K didn’t like all the traffic (human and motorized) but it’s impossible to do longer rides without going on some streets. Next Sun. we’re bumping up the mileage as we’re both going to ride a 60k in San Jose, the Terra Bella, mid-April. Next week is an out and back on the Iron Horse Regional Trail in Contra Costa County.

“Distance measured with a pair of compasses is not precisely the same as when measured by the leg.”      -Jerome K. Jerome Three Men On The Bummel