Almost made it home…

12 03 2011

I was just as soggy!

I’m out of town for a couple weeks working so I wanted to score some much needed training on my bike before I went away. Unfortunately the forecast was for rain all week. Aaron and I picked one night and decided to just see what happened. I figured a bit of night riding would be smart to confirm that our lighting was working adequately. We met at a coffeeshop in town with the plan to see how the weather was looking. I had downloaded a 100km route of the internet that looked good, but I am no glutton for punishment so I won’t set off on a long night training ride in the pouring rain.

When the appointed hour came things were looking dry and clear – nice! Not being foolish enough to count on that holding we decided to ride the south part of the route and if things got gnarly we’d be close to home so we could bail. My Garmin Etrex Vista Cx wouldn’t follow the route I had downloaded because it had too many waypoints! So I had to quickly hack off the last 23 turns to get the GPS to load the route. I had the whole route backed up so when we reached the end of the current shortened route I could hack off the top bit of the route and get the GPS to work the rest of the way. I’ve been trying to hang on to this unit and make it work for at least this year, but this kind of lameness isn’t helping its cause!

It was just getting dark as we rolled away from the java stop with a working GPS and headed down to the ocean. The road along the coast is a nice way to circumnavigate Victoria. It’s winding and scenic with neat houses along the way. There are so many cyclists in town that drivers are courteous and aren’t shocked to see a bike on the road. The coastal roads were quiet in any case and I had fun getting to know my Boulder Bicycle All Road a bit better. After 21kms or so we reached the official start of the route and the weather was still holding – sweet! After a short snack break we headed north along the coast. Victoria is located on the 30km long Saanich peninsula which is surrounded by water nearly 360 degrees. Which allowed a lot of the route to be near the coast in view of the water. In the dark it was peaceful riding and it seems like the views would be lovely during the day.

The route...with Victoria at the bottom and Sidney at the top...

We reached Sidney in good spirits and decided to stop for a snack. That snack consisted of turkey soup and toast washed down with a pint of beer! Going back out on the road was tough as it had cooled down and we were a bit damp from our efforts. I had a double layer of wool on my legs and torso plus a wind vest on top of the wool as well a neck warmer and ear warmer under my helmet. The weather was still nice so we got out butts moving to warm up and rounded the north part of the peninsula where the ferry terminal to Vancouver is and started our return south. I love hitting the halfway point on a ride and knowing every pedal stroke from now on was talking us back home.

The route down the west coast on the peninsula was really nice. Very winding with more climbing, but nothing outrageous. Traffic was light and the rain held off for quite a while, but sadly not long enough for us to get home.

With about 20-25kms left a moderate steady rain started. *sigh* I pulled on my rain jacket, but skipped the Rain Legs, rain gloves and shoe covers figuring it was warm enough for my wool to get me home. Slightly tragically I goofed looking at the GPS and we rode a few bonus KMs in the rain up a steep hill. Luckily I didn’t totally zone out and follow the pink line back to Sidney! Retracing your path after an unnecessary excursion always seems twice as long as it did to ride that leg in the first place…the rain didn’t help…=-(

Not much to say about the last 90mins of the ride in the rain. It was wet. I wished I was home, but it was warm enough that the suffering was not awful. I will never be one of these folks that enjoys rain riding. I was very happy to peel off at my house and throw my bike into the garage before eating some chocolate, having a hot shower and passing out!

104kms covered in 4:45hrs on the bike with an 1hr off the bike at 22kph avg. Nothing revolutionary, but given the fact this was all night riding with a good chunk of rain at the end and neither of us have been out for a 100K in months – I’ll take it.

Wet and ready for the garage!

Although I could have done without the rain it allowed me to put my gear through a more challenging test on this ride. The 100kms my legs needed was priority #1, but it was great to get a chance to try out how my gear worked at night in the rain and when it was dry and cool.

  • bike worked great overall, fast and climbed well
  • lighting was great when dry and adequate when wet, not having to think about batteries was nice
  • Superflash taillight [sealed with electrical tape] didn’t mind the rain
  • fenders w/ mudflaps kept road spray off me so I only had to deal with the clean rain that was falling
  • I only used the middle ring the whole ride and didn’t get as far as the 32T cog so I may need to simplify my gearing at some point
  • bike was comfy no hand, foot or saddle issues
  • cotton front bag was easy to use at night and stayed dry inside during rain
  • 42mm tires are fast and smooth as expected which allowed me to relax even when I rode over a bump or some gravel I didn’t see until the last second
  • GPS can only handle 50 waypoints in a route [lame!] so I’ll need to break out a longer ride into several legs
  • GPS worked well to navigate us with turns indicated early enough and it was nice riding along in the dark without looking at maps or cue sheets
  • my DIY GPS waterproofing repair seems to be working
  • I couldn’t read my bike computer or the cue sheet as I didn’t have a small light and I need it attached to the helmet in any case…I’ll track one down before the next night ride
  • my REI Vertia rain jacket performed well keeping me dry and warm with no more sweat build up than when I was riding with just a windvest earlier
  • wool tights and leg warmers did okay when wet at 8 deg C, but next time I’ll take the time to put my Rain Legs, MEC rain gloves and shoe covers on

Not too lumpy...

Thanks to Aaron for coming along on this ride. I’m enjoying having company on my rando prep and since we are well matched in terms of speed and personality I think we’ll do well on upcoming brevets. I can’t imagine going back to the solo TT vibe that characterized by rando training/rides back in Alberta…not to mention I have to say the scenery and roads on Vancouver Island are top notch.

Sannich Metric Century route info – click here.



12 responses

12 03 2011

Nice job Vik, I get sick of riding solo sometimes but I don’t actually mind riding in the wet as I kind of enjoy the challenge of staying dry using my wet weather gear. Thanks for the inspiration, I think I’ll get a night ride planned soon 😉


12 03 2011

Vik, I’d be interested to know about mounting your handlebar bag. What steps were involved in mounting the bag? It seems the Berthoud is the bag of choice for many long distance riders. Is this due to its large capacity, the way it mounts to the bike, or its ease of operation while riding?

I’m also interested in your choice of the Selle An-Atomica saddle. Is this your first S.A.A.? I’d like to hear your impressions after a season.

12 03 2011

@John – I have two SA saddles and just ordered a third – so I like them a lot. My most comfortable saddle by far and if you get the waterproof version zero hassles in the rain. I like the Brooks B17 a lot as well. I would give the B17 8.5/10 for comfort and the SA 10/10. If you have specific questions about the SA let me know. Saddles are a personal thing so I don’t suggest my experiences will be yours, but many people do like SAs so they are worth a look at least. Berthoud is now making a leather saddle that is getting a lot of good press. I would like to try one at some point.

The bar bag I have is only a good idea for a bike with a low trail front geometry which is designed to carry a load on the front of the bike. For a modern high trail bike I would use a small conventional bar bag like Ortlieb makes for on the bike essentials and carry everything else at the rear using a seatbag or rack top bag, etc…

The front end of my bike [rack, fork & fender] was designed to work together so they all bolt on without hassle. The bar bag was selected from a number of sizes to get the top up near the stem, which in my case req’d the largest bag. There are a number of ways to attach the bag to the rack including a decaleur [metal QR bracket] or simply leather straps around the bar. If your bike is designed for the rack and the bag it all goes together easily. If not you can certainly add them to many bikes the result will depend on your bike.

The popularity of the GB bags is due to their usefulness, attractive design and how well they function. On a bike designed for them they are a joy to use. As noted above I wouldn’t put all my gear in a bag on the front/bars of my bike if it didn’t have a low trail geometry as the handling would be unpleasant.

12 03 2011

Thanks for your comprehensive reply. In fact, I would like to ask a few specifics concerning the saddle.

I own a S.A. saddle myself. Once I established the correct position (height and setback) I really grew to enjoy it. It was similar to my Brooks B-17, but softer – if that is the best adjective. That is to say, the saddle felt good from the get-go without any hassle.

But as I’d owned the saddle for a couple weeks, I noticed a couple things that bothered me. First off, there was a annoying squeaking noise emanating from the bolt which runs to the nose of the saddle. I fixed this with dry graphite. Next, the saddle nose itself was very sloppy, twisting left and right – even though I wasn’t “bottomed out”. Secondly, the saddle seems to need re-tensioning at least once a week. Once in a while, i’d notice I was not as comfortable as I should be, and upon inspection, realized the tension had been lost and I was actually pushing into the saddle rails. Finally, re-tensioning the saddle is not as easy as it should be, because the nose of the saddle protrudes directly over the bolt I need to tighten, which makes it difficult to get to.

In sum, I guess I’m wondering if you have had any of these symptoms with your saddles. As I said, I really like the saddle when all is well .I’m hoping my particular saddle is just defective, which can be solved with a new or newly repaired saddle. It’s tough to say, because by looks, nothing is wrong.

As for the low trail…I ride a Rivendell Sam Hillborne. I’m not sure what kind of trail this bike has, since I’m not technically minded. I just like to ride! I’m interested in a front bag, however, because I like to have stuff where I can get to it while riding – especially a rain jacket since I live in Western Oregon! I used to use a Rivendell supplied front bag which sat on Nitto’s “bar rack” which Rivendell still sells. But the bag and rack were stolen some years ago. Since I have a Nitto mini front rack on my ride, I figure, why not use the platform for a large front back such as the one you use. Maybe you have an opinion (likely) about the trail of my bike and its ability to carry a front bag?

Thanks much for any helpful suggestions.


12 03 2011

John, I’ve been riding a Surly Cross Check with a very similar front rack bag made by Acorn for over a year and it works just fine. It took a little getting used to at first, and I’m sure it feels much nicer with the appropriate geometry (I’ve got a Boulder All-Road on the way so I’ll know soon) but I know plenty of people that use front bags on medium to high trail bikes that don’t really have a problem.

12 03 2011


Thanks for your input. Is the Acorn bag large enough to hold a rain jacket and a few other odds and ends? Also of concern: my frame is large, with a long reach between the rack and handlebars. Is this a tall bag, or is it deep? As for mounting: is your Acorn bag velcro’d to the rack, or do you use some sort of decaleur?

12 03 2011

@John – I have no issues tightening my SA saddles [there is a slot in the leather leaving room to access the tensioning bolt] and I have had the occasional squeaking when my tension bolt was too loose, but a couple turns and the problem was solved.

I had a SA from something like 4yrs ago that was part of a bad batch that loosened/stretched too fast and they replaced it with a new saddle no questions asked. My current two SAs have been wearing well.

I’m happy enough to have ordered a third SA.

I don’t know what the geometry on your Riv is, but based on my general knowledge of their bikes I’d say it was medium to high trail. I have a Surly LHT [high geometry] bike and loading up the top of the front rack with cargo results in very poor handling. Can you ride it like that?…yes. Would you really want to?…no. Rather than get into a theoretical debate about bike geometry load up the top of your front rack with approximately the same weight as you’d carry in a bar bag. Try riding it, cornering, braking, riding no hands, etc… If you are happy with the experience than you’ll be happy with the bar bag…if not save your $$.

12 03 2011

The Acorn bag has velcro straps on the underside to secure it to the platform. It also has the same style of leather strap/sleeve as the higher-end Berthoud bag line, which slides over the upright rear section of the rack (the part that looks like an upside-down U). This part fits pretty tightly. I don’t use a decauler with it. There really would be no need for me as the combination of the velcro and the strap on the bag keeps it from bobbling around much. It’s certainly not going to come off accidentally. The top does move a little bit while riding but it doesn’t bother me. If you want it to be rock solid a decauler is required (and usually pretty easy to install).

If your rain jacket is on the lighter side, sure you can bunch it up and stuff it in. I’ve gotten quite a lot of stuff in there. The nice thing about this style of bag is that it’s flexible, and the lid secures with stretch bands so you can overpack it if you need to. I’ve used it commuting to work and stuffed rain pants & jacket in there, along with lunch, and the assorted “pocket odds and ends” like keys, wallet, phone, etc. The pouch on the front is pretty handy for sunglasses and a few small odds and ends.

The rear pockets are perfect for a spare tube (or two) and a good multitool. I also keep latex gloves and hand cleaner wipes in the side pockets. I can’t stand heading out for a long ride and having to do something early on that gets grease all over my hands and being stuck with it all day!

15 03 2011

regarding the GPS – i just picked up a used Etrex Legend CX a few weeks ago. i have been experimenting with loading routes from ‘rubber to the road’ (a collection of rides here in Portldand:

I was also disappointed to find the limitations in loading data. i understand that there is a finite amount of space, but i feel it’s a bit ridiculous to impose limitations on routes/waypoints when there is up to a 2gig capacity.
i found the following things help with routes:
– with, you can simplify the routes to 250 points (the limit). i did this to a 1000+ point route and still found it readable/followable. seems like a decent algorithm.
– in the mapsource software, you can split the route in to smaller legs. this is annoying, but i feel like it would be necessary for anything over 200km (depending). you can access the point numbers and pull out 250 point chunks by deleting everything over 250. i start by calcing how many legs i will need and make a copy for each leg. then get to deleting. total kludge, but it works and doesn’t take all that long.

i am also prepping for a brevet. my first one is coming up in April. before that i will do a small trip out to the coast for some solo camping for 2 nights, and get in a lot of miles. and then there is the endurance race in May…!

15 03 2011

@Alan – my Etrex only allows a max of 50 points – not sure why? That’s very few indeed! If I can’t adjust that I’ll probably have to upgrade my GPS sooner than planned.

15 03 2011

yeah, i am still trying to get my head around all the data types and what the major differences/uses are.
so far there are routes, tracks, and waypoints.
i double checked the manual. first off, mine is the legend, not the vista, so maybe there are higher limits? the ‘route’ limit is 250 points, but i didn’t see a waypoint limit.
are you creating a route from the waypoints you created? i did see this: “Saved routes with more that 50 points cannot be navigated using the follow roads option.”

perhaps the HCX doesn’t have as stringent limitations. and then you wouldn’t need to learn a new OS…..nope looks like it’s the same….lame, but i got mine cheap and it will do for a while.

15 03 2011

I was trying to follow a route from a website online and the 50 waypoint limit for follow the road nav was what I ran into. If you don’t use follow the road nav you’d have to put in a ton of waypoints to stay on course.

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