Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic

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Biking the Silverado Trail....not!

Some food critic on the radio said wine country was having its Fall Colors, and it looked like the vineyards were "on fire". Photo op! And also a biking op, since they have all kinds of bike things up there. So I went online, snarfed a map and some pointers, and decided The Thing To Do was drive to Napa, park somewhere near a street called Trancas, and bike the Silverado Trail.

Except for one wrong turn just past the Benicia Bridge, everything went as planned, till I got to the Trail, and instead of parking I decided to drive up it a ways first, and find someplace to park along the way. Maybe 50 feet in was a perfect spot, with a van parked there which had an empty bike rack. Looked safe, plenty 'o' room, but by the time I saw it at 50mph, it was too late to pull in. And there was no place to turn around for miles. And miles. About 10 miles later, I was happy to have not parked back there, because the trail is all uphill, and the scenery was not all that great - the only good thing is it has a very wide, well-maintained bike path. But there were hills on both sides which hid the Grand View.

My cell phone said there was a message from my folks, so when I finally pulled over behind an abadoned and partially stripped car (no license plates, no hub caps, and the police "tow me" sticker had even been torn partway off), I phoned home. Dad had spilled apple juice on the computer keyboard. He poured water on it to try to clean it. I am having a tough time believing this, because dad was an electrical engineer who designed electronic circuits. He knows better. Lucky for him, the computer BIOS is set to halt if there is no keyboard response, so he called. I told him to just go to WalMart and buy a new keyboard.

I thought about getting out the bike right there, but it didn't look safe, and the hill was pretty steep. So I drove till I found a familiar looking sign - Oakville cutoff. Cool. I drove back towards Hwy 29, and found a perfect parking place near Oakville Market. Got on the bike and rode towards BV Winery, where I sat on a bench and ate my picnic lunch. That was about a mile and a half from the market, and the sign said St. Helena was 4 miles more. That was about the distance I wanted to ride, so I went for it, stopping to take pictures now and then, and zooming in and out of winery parking lots to see if any of them were harvesting or crushing (they were not).

All along the way I was having trouble with the major gear shift. I thought I'd had it adjusted right before I left, but apparently not. I could make it go into two out of three gears, at best. The minor gears worked fine, which made the ride not all that bad. Got to St. Helena, and crossed the street at the first stop light, which was near the Cyclery. Almost went in to ask them to fix the gears, but it was pretty crowded in there, and I figured I could handle it. But on the way back it just kept getting worse and worse.

But the real problem came at about mile 9.5 of my ride, three miles from the car. I got a flat. I had a patch kit, but no pump. It was on the rear wheel, which is a pain in the butt to fix, so I figured what the heck, I can walk. It's a nice sunny day, only about 3 pm, a stiff breeze blowing, I had plenty of water and glucose tablets, and I need the exercise. And it let me stop and take pictures too. I'll download them some day.

The walking didn't bother me at all. What annoyed me is how LOUD the traffic is. On the bike at 15 mph it wasn't very noticeable. But walking it was horrible. There is lots of traffic, but unlike the height of summer, traffic is moving at close to the 50mph limit. The flat terrain doesn't soak up the sound at all.

After 45 minutes I was back at the car, hung the bike on the carrier, and walked to the market. I was feeling a bit light-headed, needed salt and sugar, so I bought a brownie. Ate a couple of bites, had a lot of water and was fine.

The drive back seemed very long. Just for grins took my blood pressure when I got home and it was 104/63, pulse of 54. Way low. Instead of my usual dinner I had split pea soup with ham, which is more carbs than I needed, but lots of salt and water. That got me back to normal.

Oh yeah. There were almost no fall colors, the vinyards looked very not "on fire". Pretty green, though, and lots of big clusters of purple grapes.

The blood pressure incident reminded me I had the meter in the car which I had bought at Long's last night. I wanted to return it - which I did. I'd bought one which has a USB port, and advertised it could upload to the PC. I do this with my blood glucose meter and it both keeps me honest and amuses my doctor. I'd bought the package which didn't have the software or their proprietary cable. I exchanged it for the one with those items, for an extra $20. Which is what it would have cost online, but this way I got it today instead of Who Know When.

Also have been playing with my Sony Mini-disk player, loading tunes onto it. By some web searching and luck, I found the free software I'd tested at Sony, which is better than what the unit shipped with. It still has issues, but it doesn't blue screen as much, and has a better presentation. First I tried with MP3s on my hard drive, but they sounded mushy when I converted them to Sony ATRAC, so I tried the same settings, only this time from the original CDs. That worked very well. Next I'll see what it does with WAV files - those should work the same as the CDs. Hope they do, because it will save a lot of time.

Tomorrow lunchtime I'll got to Kaiser to sign a release to get a letter (to be sent in 10 working days) describing the drugs and equipment I'll have in my carry-on. And tomorrow night I'm taking the bike to REI to get new tires & inner tubes & their patented cleaning & tune-up. And a replacement gear cable. I really don't need this expense right now, but with most of a month of bicycling weather left, I don't want to wait till after vacation.

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