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Instead of a regular monthly column, Naomi will be frequently blogging about bicycling issues, ideas and trends.


Naomi Bloom Naomi's Biking Life Blog

by Naomi Bloom

Blogs 37 to 46 of 46

3/11/2010 9:23:13 AM
East Coast Google Follow-up

Ed Pavelka at Road Bike Rider, who lives in eastern Pennsylvania, was quickly on top of Google's new mapapp too. "We tested it by asking for a route between RBR headquarters and our favorite bike shop... . Google instantly produced a map and directions. Unfortunately (and needlessly), during the 14.2-mile (22.9-km) trip, Google put us on major highways for a third of the distance.

"The good news is that it's easy to click and drag within the map to change the route. It takes just a few seconds to detour onto roads that really are better for cycling, and the turn-by-turn text directions update instantly." But, he points out, if you're not familiar with local roads, you'd be in heavy, fast-moving traffic.

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3/10/2010 12:17:05 PM
Google's Bike Maps Not Ready for Prime Time?

Lots of buzz on club email lists the past couple days about Google's announcement of the new Grab Your Bike and Go with Google Maps. And not all of it's good.

"Look at your maps carefully to see where you are routed," warned David Coale. "I did a route from my house to La Honda and it found the bike path by Gunn High School but then it put me up Windy Hill Open Space, which would be very difficult on a road bike. Google might have to distinguish between road bike and mountain bike routes. This would make their job more difficult."

"Only 1,817 turns from San Francisco to New York," Steve Sloan discovered. "It told me to take the ferry across the bay! Sent me through some pretty desolate desert roads across Nevada. If I don't make it the buzzards would have a hard time finding me out there!"

"I asked it to plot me a route from my home to work...in Santa Clara," Mark S. added. "The current route that I take is 8.1 miles, and avoids most major streets... .  The route suggested by Google by bike takes me up the Guadalupe river trail past the airport (unpaved section)...a total of 10.1 miles, including rides down roads which I would not classify as bike safe. It looks like they were trying to get the most miles possible on bike trails."

Paul Metz pointed out that Google's online info warns, "Bicycling directions are in beta. Use caution and please report unmapped bike routes, streets that aren't suited for cycling, and other problems here." The word "here" was hyperlinked, Paul said, but I couldn't find a link to the message Paul quoted. But there is a "report a problem" link in the lower right-hand corner of the map.

Apparently those of us who know our local roads and trails are best off following our noses as usual. If we're looking for good routes in uncharted territory, Google may be a good starting place, but check out a hard-copy map, too. Or use those club email lists to query others about the routes they've found to be reliable.

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3/6/2010 12:15:41 PM
You Call This A "Biking Life"?

OK, I admit I've been avoiding posting here lately. I just didn't want to rant and whine about not being able to ride lately. It's either been raining cats and dogs, or my non-biking life has gotten in the way. (I'm an active volunteer, which puts me off the bike most Monday and Fridays, plus some Thursdays and Sundays!)

Then today, my schedule is clear and the sun is even making an appearance. So what happens? I wake up with a sore throat that promises to be a full-fledged cold by the end of the day. As a long-ago friend used to say: "Rat Snot!"

At least I survived a half-hour on the trainer (aka "Vomitron" -- but I didn't). Maybe, maybe I'll be well enough by tomorrow to do a measly 15 miles or so.

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2/13/2010 5:20:43 PM

Here's a weird turn of events: While yours truly has given up writing a monthly column in favor of a blog, Our Man in Briancon Bruce Hildenbrand has been asked to give up his Active.com blog in favor of monthly columns! Rumor hath it that he's burning out on all this writing stuff. Suck it up, Bruce! Your name is legend in "bikewriting" circles.

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2/8/2010 10:10:24 AM
Movie Review: Klunkerz

Last night we followed up on the SuperBowl with a DVD of "Klunkerz." It's a documentary about the (arguably) first mountain bikers in Marin County. What a kick seeing some of those folks as they are today -- well, in 2007, anyway. I remember meeting and interviewing quite a few of them -- Wende Cragg, Joe Breeze, Charlie Kelly, Jacquie Phelan -- for California Bicyclist.

It was a bit of a shock to watch John Findlay Scott pontificating about it all. That interview must have taken place very close in time to his death.

There was plenty of footage from those clunker days back in the '70s, going back to before the "Repack" races. If you've ever had a mountain bike, ridden single track in the Bay Area, or wondered what the big deal was about it all, see this movie. You won't regret it.

Naomi, Thanks for the kind words. It was a glorious day in Davis w/JFS. Eerie. JFS Tribute pt1 http://video.google.com/videosearch?client=safari&rls=en&q=youtube+finley+%231&oe=UTF-8&um=1&ie=UTF- - Billy Savage - 2/8/2010 6:30:05 PM

1/26/2010 10:46:26 AM
Dueling Steep Hill Rides

All this rainy weather has had lent some desperation to our email comminiques here in the South Bay. When word arrived of an annual ride in Portland featuring 7400 feet of climbing, including a whopping 30% grade, the competition began.

"I know a route," boasted Franz, that is "about as much climbing in even less distance." Start in Los Gatos and climb "Pierce/Mt. Eden, Montebello, Redwood Gulch, Sanborn, and Bolhman/On Orbit."

Paul rejoined with 44.3 miles and 8586 ft climbing (193 feet per mile), starting in Felton and climbing Felton-Empire, Empire Grade, Alba, Jamison Creek, Big Basin Highway and China Grade (not necessarily in that order).

Don't know if either relied on Lucas Perreira's Compact Cycling Gradiometer, but it's a good source for this kind of contest.

What about your section of BikeCal Country? Got any competition for the Portland Steep Hill Ride? Please comment!

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1/22/2010 4:59:30 PM
That Darn Tandem/Those Darn Accordions

Stomp your feet and pedal faster! Captain Jim and I can really identify with this little ditty on YouTube.

Note: If you read the June 2002 article linked above, keep in mind that nearly 8 years have passed. Jim is no longer at The Bicycle Outfitter, and tandems cost a heck of a lot more these days!

Naomi, This is hilarious - Tom - 1/22/2010 6:32:44 PM

1/18/2010 9:06:07 AM
A Bit of Rainy Day Doggerel

Forecasters said a storm was due,
It came and went and the sky turned blue,
One thing I'd really like to know is
Where did all the riders go?
40's what we usually had,
Four showed up, that's really bad.
Please consider, if you can,
Not to trust the weather man!

--Pete Blasberg, ride leader for Western Wheelers

Except for today, and tomorrow, and the day after that, and probably the day after that too!

Riding your bike in the rain
It's just so much of a pain
You can just bet
You'll certainly get wet
and what will you really gain? - Tom - 1/22/2010 12:56:19 PM

1/14/2010 5:15:56 PM
In Your Facebook

Well, here I am at last. The club newsletter has been put to bed and I've got enough time now to fill you in on some of the stuff I've been following online.

The bicycle vs. car wars have been making a heck of a splash on Facebook. Seems like this kid (just out of high school) started a Facebook "group" in November called -- get this -- There's a perfectly good path right next to the road you stupid cyclist!. The photo accompanying his entry was one of a cyclist being doored.

This kid, it seems, lives in Colorado. You know, the state where my friend Bill Bliss was killed by an off-duty cop.

One of what I like to call "the good guys" -- LAB Licensed Cycling Instructor Dan Gutierrez from SoCal -- responded by putting up a group called Cyclists are Drivers.

By now, most of the "members" of the "anti-cyclist" group are cyclists who joined to rail against the stupidity of the whole concept. "The anti-group to this group [Cyclists are Drivers] now has more members. THE IRONY IS PALPABLE, and Awesome," commented one. And they've raised the question more than once: Is this a spoof?

It could be. The originator (the kid from CO) ain't sayin'. He may be hiding under his bed, or having a really good laugh. What do I think about all this? I think it's great that so many of us are rallying around Dan and the cycling community. If you're a Facebook member, check it out and let me know what you think.

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1/3/2010 9:19:18 AM
Naomi Bloom's New Blog

Naomi will be frequently blogging here on any and all bicyling topics. This will replace her monthly column, although she may still do one occassionally. Visit often for the latest blog.

hi Naimi. I saw your blog announcement in the black and blue bottom. I have a new custm frame all built up and ready to ride. I have to stare at it for another 2 weeks, though, as I'm still waitng on a replacement chainring. - Bob Orr - 2/9/2010 9:32:43 PM
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