I had such a wonderful year on the bike. I met a lot of awesome people, went on some amazing rides and pushed myself to break a few personal records.Read More
I don't really follow the goings-on of Oprah Winfrey but of course, I am aware of who she is. I have also heard that she has a list of "favorite things" every year. I looked at her list. None of her items appealed to me. So I decided to write about some of my own favorite things of 2015.Read More
I finished. I rode my bike on every street in Stockton. On Saturday, December 27, three months after I started my quest to ride every street in Stockton, and just a few days before my self-imposed deadline, I crossed the ceremonial finish line. In those three months I rode 1,566 miles throughout Stockton, taking 119 hours. That was, by far, the most I had ever spent on my bike in any three month period in my life.Read More
I love living in Stockton and I love riding my bike throughout Stockton. There are so many great neighborhoods and so many interesting places. But for as long as I have lived here (nearly all of my life), I am embarrassed that there are so many parts of it that I've never seen. That's about to change.
Recently, I set out to ride my bike on every street in Stockton. Yes, every street!Read More
The Pebble watch has landed. Finally. Well, it landed for me on July 15. So now, after more than a month with the Pebble, here's my review.
I was going to do the good, the bad, and the ugly, but there's really only the good and the bad.
First, what is the Pebble Watch?
The Pebble Watch is a digital watch that interacts with iPhone and Android smartphones. In May 2012, Pebble successfully funded their Kickstarter project with over $10,000,000 from over 68,000 backers. Kickstarter is a website where companies and individuals can get funding for their projects from all over the world, normally by giving incentives to those that "back" them. (side note: I had the honor of making the Kickstarter video for the successful "Amazing Fist" project, a comic book written by my friend Adam Messinger, illustrated by Matthew Farnsworth, and inked by Frank Stone.)
First, the bad.
I missed backing the campaign by just weeks and ended up pre-ordering instead. I pre-ordered in June 2012. At the time, they estimated a late 2012 launch. The company hadn't officially been launched and they had only built prototypes before the massively successful Kickstarter campaign. They still hadn't determined who would manufacture the watch, or how it would be manufactured.
The updates started to come in. With each of them came a later launch date. First 2012 was a no-go, then early 2013, then Spring 2013. While the early updates seemed to have some details, time eroded not only my hopes, but also any concrete date when my wrist would actually meet my Pebble.
I was finally charged for my Pebble in January 2013 and was promised that my watch would soon be ready.
Then nearly all communications ceased. No responses to my Facebook messages or e-mails for months. They had originally promised that they would send regular updates via e-mail so it was disappointing that after I paid I heard nothing from them.
Then, in late May 2013 I received the message that I had been waiting for: my Pebble would be shipping SOON!
Pebble then announced that they would be selling black Pebbles in Best Buy stores across the country. They assured backers and pre-order customers that this was in the best interest of everyone, and that this move would mean we would get our Pebbles sooner - easing the stress off the supply chain or something like that. My pre-order was for a grey watch, but I was invited to request a refund from the company and then could go buy a black one in a Best Buy.
The salt in the wound came from the CEO and founder, Eric Migicovsky. On July 4, 2013, Forbes.com featured a piece titled , "Deconstructing Pebble's Mainstream Push", where the CEO said he was unfazed by complaints.
"Migicovsky is unfazed with the complaints. Because Pebble charges a customer’s credit card only after their watch is ready to ship, he says that those who pre-ordered Pebble have not paid in advance. Availability of Pebble at a local Best Buy, thus, makes it quicker and easier for such customers to buy the watch, he adds."
Unfazed with the complaints. That is something no company should ever aspire to be.
Clearly, the second sentence was factually incorrect; I had paid for my watch six months before.
And what did "shipping soon" mean? Six weeks. On July 12, my Pebble shipped. I received it just a few days later.
Thankfully, once I received the Pebble watch, the story began to improve. That is, after I unpacked the watch from the box. No aesthetically pleasing packaging here. Just a watch stuck in a box. Stuck to a box that was also the shipping container to be more precise.
Within a couple of minutes of getting the watch out of the box it was on my wrist and working. It didn't require much setup other than discovering it as a bluetooth device from my iPhone.
Text notifications work great. I have always preferred getting no alerts for e-mail, no buzz, no sound, no dancing paper-clip or other animation on my computer, nothing. I have, though, used the built-in VIP feature within iOS to get notified when I receive e-mail from certain people. That works great because my family and close friends don't often e-mail me, but when they do, I can get a notification on my watch.
I don't carry my iPhone with my all day long. I usually throw it on my desk when I get to work (well, more like slide it on the desk) and only rarely look at it. Now, if I am within bluetooth range of my phone I'll get my text and e-mail alerts to my Pebble. I like that it gives a short vibration, but somedays I turn that off.
I really like having caller ID on my watch. My phone doesn't ring when I get a call (or make any noise for anything) and only sometimes do I have it vibrate when I get a call. That means I actually miss a lot of calls. Well, I miss a lot fewer calls now that my Pebble tells me I am getting a call. Although it is supposed to work with the latest version of the Pebble OS, it doesn't always give me the name of the caller (from my contact list), but the number is fine.
I really wanted the watch because I like the changeable watch faces, and those are great! Pebble doesn't offer many watch faces, but a third party site, mypebblefaces.com, has a lot. I rotate through several throughout the week depending on what I'm doing.
There are apps, but it is still pretty limited. The RunKeeper app is great and works flawlessly. I hope someday they'll let me change the display to show current split pace rather than entire workout pace, but for a free app it works great. Plus, it convinced me to move from Strava to RunKeeper.
FreeCaddie is a great free golf app that I recently downloaded. I have never used my iPhone to get the distances while playing golf, but having it sent to my Pebble is nice.
I also really like being able to control my music from the Pebble. Works perfectly when I'm out on a bike ride, especially since I no longer have to ask Siri, "who sings this song?". The small added bonus of seeing the album name is cool, too.
Overall? Awesome first generation product! The lack of display colors is fine... but I'm sure that will evolve, if not by Pebble than likely by Apple or Google. I really, really, like having a watch that I can wear to work, as well as on a run, or a bike ride, or a swim (did I mention that it is waterproof - up to 5 ATM, which is great for wearing it while I swim or water the lawn, or get hit with an errant water balloon). The battery life is great, only having to charge it every few days or so.
For the price, $150, I have been very pleased with it. Every once in a while someone will compliment the watch, and then when I show them all the stuff it can do they usually have a very surprised reaction. I'm happy to have been an original pre-order customer.
I still can't seem to get the foul taste completely out of my mouth about how they treated me as a customer. They surely didn't treat me in a way that would cause me to be loyal to them. The Pebble watch is a great product but I'd feel a lot better about owning it if the company seemed to care about its customers.
Did you get one? What do you think? What do you think is next in the "wearable" market"
Check out GetPebble.com for more details on the watch.
And that would prove to be an understatement.
I had planned on doing the full century, 110 miles and over 10,000 feet of climbing.
I headed of Patterson about 6:30 AM and it was already starting to get warm. After a couple of miles through town, I started up Del Puerto Canyon Road. There was a little breeze and the sun was out and casting long shadows. There was a tad bit of chill in the air as the small little climb started, but it was clear that it was going to be a hot day.
I rode easy up to Frank Raines Park before heading up toward the junction. There's 8 miles from Frank Raines Park to the junction. The last 3 miles of that isn't much... the first 5 miles, however, is tough! I had forgotten just how tough this climb was. Five miles, climbing 1,400 feet, in the heat, was about all I was going to muster this day.
I stopped at the top before the last 3 miles to the junction and decided I would turn around at that point. Maybe I'll head up to Diablo Grande when I get to the bottom of the canyon. There wasn't going to be a full century in me today. And I was okay with it. Did I mention it was hot?
I did not do Diablo Grande. I just headed back to Patterson. I was starting to feel ill.
The ride back to town was tough and getting tougher with every single degree of temperature increase. SAG seemed to be taking loads of riders back to the start.
Back at the school, I got back in the car, turned on the AC and drank all the water in the ice chest. Once again, they served an amazing lunch! They also had towels in ice water and were handing them out to riders. I talked to many of the other riders. Interestingly, there were a lot of similar stories. Almost everyone I spoke with rode less than they intended and many had to wait a long time for SAG to pick them up.
3,667 feet of climbing
14 bottles of water
Next year? Well, if it's 90 degrees or below, maybe.
This metric-ish century, put on by the San Joaquin Bike Coalition, was named The Best Ride Ever Ride. With a name like that, what could wrong?
It was a perfect morning for a bike ride. A little chilly in the morning but a forecast of clear skies and warm temps were ahead. The best ride took off from Cycles Gladiator Winery on Woodbridge Road in Acampo and headed east toward Camanche. It didn't take long for the temperature to get close to 90. Thankfully, the head wind on the return wasn't as bad as it can be.
Most of the climbs on the way out were subtle, but there were a couple of attention getters, especially for the first climbs of the year.
The course was marked very well and the rest stops were placed in great spots with great volunteers. It was cool that they had Gu gel packs available as well as good snacks.
The post ride meal of pulled pork sandwiches was a great end to the best ride ever.
Definitely doing this ride again.
58.7 miles 3:51:29
Today, I rode in the Ride For A Reason with a group of other cyclists from work.
This was the first time I have done this ride and wasn’t sure what to expect. All I heard was that it was a great way to spend a half day on a bike while supporting some very worthwhile charities. With the focus on improving the lives of those fighting Parkinson’s disease and cancer, the RFAR benefits the Davis Phinney Foundation,Livestrong, UC Davis Cancer Center and Triumph Fitness Program.
As bike rides go, I wouldn’t normally have done this one. Driving almost 60 miles to do a ride less than that has always been an unofficial no-no in my book. I enjoy riding centuries out on the open road. The ride, however, was absolutely worth it.
This ride was a party from the start. The start line was at Nimbus Flat at Lake Natoma. There was great food and drinks and tons of raffle prizes. They were giving away bikes to the top fundraisers and had other great prizes. The cool things was that you could buy raffle tickets for $1 and put them into whatever drawings you wanted to. The general raffle had some of the best giveaways, including 4 pairs of Oakley Livestrong Jawbone sunglasses. The ride started at 8 AM and the ride was a 12-mile loop along the beautiful American River bike trail.
Along the route were great themed rest stops with more food, drinks and prizes. At the Beale Point rest stop I took my chance at horseshoes and won a couple of small prizes. With each stop I also got more tickets to enter in the raffle. The volunteers (there must have been hundreds) were arguably the most energetic and friendly group of volunteers I have ever seen at a ride!
After the first loop, including Beale Point, I went around the circuit two more times. Lunch at the end was better than at any other ride I’ve done: bar-b-qued steak and chicken, caesar salad and rice from The Outback Steakhouse. Of course, I was hungry, but I wasn’t there to eat. I wanted to win something. Before the raffle winners were announced, John Crews, the owner of Bicycles Plus in Folsom, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, gave a very touching speech. He got choked up a little and it was then I realized the power of this ride. My eyes welled up as he thanked the organizers, volunteers and riders. I didn’t win anything in the raffle but it was still a lot of fun to see everyone else win great prizes.
In the end, I logged 44.4 miles and had an awesome time. The big difference with this ride was the fact that none of it was on the open road. That was nice because of lack of car traffic. It was challenging at times because of the amount of other bikes and joggers out on the trail. On the other hand, it was so cool seeing families out on the ride and everyone was cautious and careful. I will definitely be doing this ride again next year!
I did take a few pictures. Check them out here.
Yesterday, just like in 2007, I rode the Party Pardee Century with Mike and his son Spencer. Howard Park in Ione greeted us with chilly temperatures. It was 29 degrees when we pulled in and probably didn’t get much above 30 for the first hour on the road. I dressed appropriately for the ride, meaning that I froze for nearly the entire first hour. My face was so cold I would have surely sounded drunk if you tried to carry on a conversation with me. I can deal with cold feet and legs. What made the first hour and a half tough was that my hands were frozen. Even though I was wearing long gloves, I felt like I had ice blocks on the ends of my hands. I rode 5 miles or so sitting up with my hands held tightly under my armpits. It helped a lot and allowed me to eventually to use my shifters. I also stayed in a lower gear then normal and tried to keep my cadence over 110 until I got warm.
The Sacramento Bike Hikers sure know how to put on a great century. This year’s theme was Puttin’ On The Ritz. Almost all of their volunteers wore top hats and they had costumed volunteers at all the rest stops. The check-in was very smooth and fast. They had tons of great food at the start and even better food at the rest stops. My favorite item was some concotion made with fresh blackberries and cream cheese. They had that sitting next to the container of Nutella spread. I grabbed a couple of quarter-bagels and slapped some of each on them. There were also a ton of fresh fruit and plenty of water, cytomax and lemonade. At every rest stop the volunteers were very friendly and supportive.
As for the ride, I was reminded why this is my favorite metric century anywhere! The route treats us to some of the best views in the foothills and by the Lake Camanche and Pardee Reservoir. Then there are the hills. That’s why I love this ride. This is not an easy ride-in-the-park metric century. With 4200 feet of climbing, it’s a good challenge for this early in the year. I still ride a triple and I was able to stay in my center ring over all of the climbs. Near the end of the day, on the last climb, I was tempted to pop down to my little ring but alas, I persisted up the hill without it.
Mike and Spencer rode very well. Spencer had not ridden in months and probably hadn’t climbed since the last time we did this ride. His strength continues to amaze me! Mike, the best riding partner a guy could ask for, fought the hills and came out victorious. Although he will tell you that he suffered (duh, we all did) through the hills he still made it to each peak and still ended the day strong! As he always does, Mike was there with plenty of encouragement and just a little bit of smack-talk.
The other thing I love about doing rides like these is the people. Riding all day and “talking shop” with a bunch of other cyclists is a great way to spend the day. At the last stop I ran into David who I met at last years Sunrise Century and of course Allan, the guy with the music. At the end of the day, as we packing up, I asked a passer-by to take our picture (the one above). The guy that took our picture just happened to be a guy that I found on Twitter the night before (@smflash). What are the odds!?!
Stats: 65 miles 4:51:00 on bike 13.4 MPH 4200’ of climbing 2 sunburned legs
Great job Bike Hikers! You put on another great event. See you next year!