Fashion Makeover: The New DSSF Website!

April 9th, 2019 by tony

Me Talk Pretty!

 

Why The New Look? I’d like to say it was time for a “fashion makeover” at the House of DSSF. But in reality the real reason why your club website looks so fabulous is more because we had some real problems with the overall structure of our online communications rather than because we wanted to look more chic. But we do look prettier, don’t we?

It’s actually a side benefit of moving the website over to Club Express that we got to play around with the graphics and style, thanks very much to Nick. (That boy has some real fashion sense!) Jerome built us a pretty good website that got the work done. The problem was it was built around the idiosyncrasies of Yahoo! Groups for communication. Our site did most of the heavy lifting—publishing rides, hosting our resources, showing our pictures, and partly communication and partly membership. And it was the “partly” part that got us in trouble. The details are gory, semi-impenetrable, and frankly boring. But in a nutshell trying to coordinate membership between the Yahoo! group and the website was a mountain of unnecessary work, and since access to the Yahoo! group depended on membership that put a crimp on our communications since we could no longer tweak the Yahoo! group into what we wanted. The bottom line was we couldn’t communicate with you, our members, effectively and without a ton of work. No wonder more than half the membership wasn’t accessing our Yahoo! group.

That’s all about to change with the new DSSF site because membership, communication, ride calendar, and to some extent finances are all in one place. Plus, maintaining the membership list will be mostly automatic (since you do it!) rather than cross-checking different email addresses and lists. That Yahoo! email address you had to create in order to access the DSSF group? You won’t need it any longer (at least for DSSF). Instead of wrestling with the craziness of Yahoo! groups and email, that time will be better spent keeping you up to date on club plans and events, and also for board members to actually get out and ride!

At the moment the only component that continues to exist externally is the Different Spokes ChainLetter aka “the DSSF weblog”. It’s still hosted by WordPress rather than CE. But that may change in the future.

The new DSSF site was only a twinkle in the eye until this January—basically, we got a new website after three months of off-and-on again volunteer work. Although the current and previous boards both contributed to where we are today, the heavy lifting was really done by Nick, who put a crapton of hours into designing, laying out, and getting feedback from the other board members and implementing it. The other guy who put the pedal to the metal was David Goldsmith, who put a ton of work into coordinating the transition, dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s as well as making sure we didn’t have any egregious errors or oversights in the website. Many thanks to Jerome for assisting in the handoff and for many years of volunteer webmeistership.

And wait there’s more! The website is up and running but the board is working on the improvements that are yet to come…

If you haven’t yet seen the site, go there now. If you’re a current member, you should have received an email giving you temporary access to the site so you can go in, check your personal contact information and emend it, and set up your login. If you haven’t received an email message (and you’re sure you are a current member), please contact David Goldsmith or Nick Kovaleski (see the Leadership page at the site). And if you’d like to join DIfferent Spokes, go the website and click the “Membership” link.

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Where to Ride, Pt. 2

March 9th, 2019 by tony

“There’s room for more–pack ’em in!”

 

It’s just beginning to dawn on residents of the Bay Area that it is nigh impossible to build our way out of traffic congestion. Folks realize that the land available for high speed road and freeways just isn’t there—the core of the Bay Area is not going to get any major new roads. Currently CalTrans and local agencies are trying to extract “efficiencies” from existing roads by trying to engineer the hell out of our existing infrastructure. So what we get are reductions in freeway shoulders and medians in order to add a lane, synchronizing traffic lights, metering lights to optimize traffic flow at onramps, and speed studies of roads to bring speed limits up to the 85th percentile rule. For the most part these efforts accept that car driving should not be impeded unless absolutely necessary. Of course this isn’t completely true: for example freeways such as the Central and the Embarcadero have been torn down. I’m not sure that removing either of them reduced congestion. Push back from cycling advocates has produced more bike lanes, some at the expense of car lanes. But generally what commuters want is faster commutes by car, not mass transit or bikes. So transit agencies are loathe to do overt social engineering to force drivers out of cars. Instead they attempt to alleviate the pain that comes with driving a car on congested roads.

It’s equally difficult to expand mass transit infrastructure such as BART, Caltrain, or high speed rail. Perhaps there is a naive belief that mass transit expanded ad infinitum will solve congestion. We hear talk of a second transbay tube for BART and extending the BART system further eastward into Brentwood (Pittsburg-Bay Point line) and Livermore and beyond to the Central Valley (Dublin line). The reasoning seems to be, “If we have BART go to cities where commuters flee, then they’ll stop driving their cars and traffic congestion will go down.” I used to believe this: building more BART/Caltrain/SMART/etc. will get drivers off freeways. But I don’t believe it anymore.

Just as road building is growth inducing—building more roads to reduce congestion actually leads to increased traffic and fills to capacity—we can expect the same effect with BART. Assuming that BART can even catch up with existing demand–that’s a big if–building more BART may temporarily reduce congestion (both on the freeway and in getting a seat on BART). But more capacity will likely induce growth in transit use and lead to…more congestion. As it becomes more tolerable to commute by BART from Pittsburg, and then Antioch, and then Brentwood, and then further east, it exacerbates the growth pressure on those communities. That will drive housing prices up as those communities now have an asset—shorter commutes by BART—that will then drive growth further eastward.

There’s no end to this process.

So what does all this have to do with cycling? If you throw your bike in a car and drive to a ride start, it’s not going to get better. You’re still going to get stuck in traffic unless you drive during off-peak times and the likelihood of you spending even more time in the car is going to go up. Short of a dramatic economic downturn, I don’t see how it can get better and it sure isn’t going to stay the same. If and when BART expands it will make it easier to go further away from the central Bay Area. But what the roads at those end points will look like is a dreary prospect; the roads will be built for suburban traffic. If you want to see what that means, go to Antioch today. You’ll find wide boulevards with occasional strip malls dividing up the subdivisions, in other words nothing much you’d want to spend any time riding on. Antioch city roads are designed to speed car commuters quickly to the next arterial.

What about the roads close to home? Infilling and taller, denser housing are going to mean more people, which means more cars. Do you really think people will give up car ownership even if their condo doesn’t have a dedicated parking spot, even with Uber and Lyft? I don’t think so. Since roads won’t be increasing, it means more traffic congestion and very likely more traffic on the roads we like to cycle as commuters forsake clogged arterials for secondary roads. Even when traffic is nightmarish people still drive. The future doesn’t look good for us.

I’ve come to believe that the mantras about better roads, better mass transit, more housing, and especially more housing equals less commuting are all bandaids for the real problem: growth. None of these pie-in-the-sky solutions is going to make it better—they perhaps stand a chance of making things less worse in the shortrun. Accommodation for growth allows more growth. At what point does it become so unlivable that people stop coming to the Bay Area? Unless growth itself is addressed we as cyclists better get used to riding on more dangerous and no less congested roads.

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Different Spokes Chiang Mai!

March 3rd, 2019 by tony

“Wearing our freak flag high”

 

This past winter longtime Spoker Roy Schachter ditched the 40+ hour per week grind to retire to Thailand, specifically Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. Of course one of the difficult parts of his move was, “Gee, which bikes should I take to my new home??” [The only right answer is ‘all of them!’]

“Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?”

You’ll find him there now enjoying the hella good life, studying Thai, riding his bikes when it’s not incredibly hot and the air quality is tolerable, and brushing up on the typology of Thai boys.

While it’s raining like heck here, it’s 96F and 90% humidity in Chiang Mai…

 

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Where To Ride, Pt. 1

February 27th, 2019 by tony

The San Francisco Bay Area is enormous and becoming more enormouser every day. The tentacles of growth are slithering in every direction and not just east to the Central Valley where land and housing are cheap(er). Housing development has meant some of our favorite riding areas have changed, usually for the worse. Morgan Hill used to be a farmtown; now it’s a suburb of San Jose, and Gilroy further south is quickly being suburbanized. People who work in San Jose even consider Hollister a reasonable commute. In the north, quiet Sonoma towns such as Sebastopol are no longer sleepy and are putting in higher density housing to meet demand. The SF-Sacramento corridor is turning into one long suburban tract where it all used to be farmland.

As the Bay Area puts more land under development there are fewer and fewer quiet places to ride road bikes. Many places that used to be rural are now surburbs or even bona fide cities with downtowns, witness Walnut Creek. When I was in high school in the late 60s we used to ride to Cupertino and Saratoga—it was all orchards. Today it’s completely built over and Cupertino’s tasty fruit has been superceded by a very different kind of ‘fruit’. When Different Spokes was formed Contra Costa County was mostly ranchland east and south of Lafayette. We used to ride on empty “back” roads such as Sycamore Valley Road or Tassajara, which today are motor-filled boulevards full of commuters. The complete paving of Contra Costa County is taken for granted today despite the rearguard actions of the Greenbelt Alliance.

Nonetheless the forethought put into preserving some open space has saved us some pretty nice areas to ride without having to pile into a car and drive miles and miles to find greenery (or brownery in summer). Most Spokers, when they want to escape city streets, ply west Marin roads precisely because they’re fairly close by and easy to get to by bike from SF. We are fortunate that much of west Marin is an agricultural preserve locked out of development. Did you know that the Marin Headlands between Rodeo and Tennessee Valleys—called Gerbode Valley—was slated for 30,000 residents and even skyscrapers? That idea was quashed and it remains open space today. San Mateo has a similar situation with its coastside where development is tightly constrained preserving beautiful roads such as Stage Road and Tunitas for cyclists to relish. Where I live, the East Bay, has two entities—the East Bay Municipal Utility District and the East Bay Regional Park System—that control significant swaths of land that cannot be developed thus conserving open space and parks. Although these lands don’t have many roads open to road cyclists, the adjacent roads are often pleasant to ride, for example Pinehurst and Redwood roads.

So, where do we ride? If we stay within the confines of the Bay Area we are left with urban and suburban roads. They’re convenient because we can step outside our front doors and go for a ride. With so many of us pressed for time that’s the choice that makes sense. But increasing traffic means increased danger too. Very close to where I live there are several examples of roads that were pleasant to ride on but are now nerve-wracking at certain times of day. I’ve written about Pinehurst before, a very quiet redwood-shaded road up to Skyline. It always has been used as a cut-through to bypass the Caldecott Tunnel. But with Waze and Google it has become much more widely known. Most of the time the car traffic is nonexistent except for locals coming and going to the tiny “town” of Canyon. But during commute hours or whenever the eastbound bores are jammed, cars race down this narrow, curvy road at 30-40 mph to make time. With no shoulder and some terrible sight lines Pinehurst is an anxious place to ride from about 2:30 to 6:30 pm on weekdays. Even with the one-lane Canyon Bridge still in place commuters find this way quicker than sticking to the freeway. Pinehurst is just one example: streets that cars rarely used are becoming commuter roads, forcing cyclists either to put up with the increased danger or discouraging us so much that we search for other roads to enjoy.

How do we respond? One could stop riding outdoors at all—just stay on your trainer! With TrainerRoad, Zwift, or the old Computrainer you can do a faux road ride at home or at the gym. Car drivers would love that: get all the cyclists off the road, period. Another is to give up on road riding and go where cars can’t, i.e. dirt roads by mountain bike or all-road bicycle. But getting to trails and fire roads require that you either drive or…ride your bike on roads to the trailhead. A third way is to drive out of the Bay Area to where the roads are less crowded. That might work occasionally but on a weekday driving out of the Bay Area is easier said than done. Another strategy is time-shifting: ride when fewer cars are around. When I lived in San Francisco and had to work into the evening (sometimes until 10 pm), I would go for a ride at night and there were certainly fewer cars. It was quiet and peaceful! The trade-off is statistically you’re five to seven times more likely to have an accident at night than during the day because car drivers can’t see you (and/or they’re drunk).

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Saddle Challenge and Project Inform

February 18th, 2019 by tony

If you pledge or collect money for Saddle Challenge, your funds go to Project Inform. Project Inform has been our sole beneficiary because in 2003, the second year of Saddle Challenge’s existence, the club decided to support the Ron Wilmot Ride For Project Inform. Although the RWRFPI was a separate event held later in the year, the board apparently felt strongly enough to raise money for it separately rather than just encourage members to participate in the RWRFPI. I’m guessing that since the RWRFPI involved doing laps in GG Park—not unlike AIDS Walk—it was going to be a lot more fun and interesting to ride elsewhere for a month!

Ron Wilmot was a member of Different Spokes in the early ‘80s and ‘90s and eventually died in 1997 but not before raising an insane amount of money for AIDS services through the AIDS Bike-A-Thon and then starting his own ride in 1995 after BAT vanished. Ron’s ride raised over $750,000 for Project Inform from 1995 to 2007. Although Ron was well-connected, he simply announced his event and convinced a lot of his friends and acquaintances to do it. His event—like Saddle Challenge, Bike-A-Thon, and Double Bay Double—was done with very little overhead. Thus the maximum or near-maximum amount of contributions could go directly to Project Inform. It was truly grassroots fundraising done by an one individual who was able to inspire many others.

Project Inform was one of the first AIDS service agencies that popped up in the San Francisco at the early stages of the epidemic, in 1985. Every year the club selected about a dozen beneficiaries out of the many AIDS services to whom riders could forward pledges. PI was at times one of the organizations that we selected. PI differed from other agencies such as the AIDS Foundation, AIDS Emergency Fund, the Stop AIDS Project, and Pets Are Wonderful Support. Instead of focusing primarily on direct care services and support, PI developed as essentially a research and information clearinghouse. Information about AIDS and HIV, medication and treatment, and clinical trials was difficult to access and ignorance and misconceptions were rife. PI formed not only to organize and disburse information to the community but also to medical professionals. Today PI also focuses on Hepatitis C information and treatment.

Note that PI was and is not simply a “neutral” information center providing education. PI has long had a history of advocacy by fighting for streamlined drug approval, representing the HIV/HepC community to the government, and making sure health care is available to all who need it. PI’s role is thus not only educational but in policy advocacy and improving public health. What made PI interesting is that it was truly community based rather than set up on high by a medical or scientific organization and thus under the control of those whom the epidemic hit the hardest.

For more information, please go to the Project Inform website.

If you’d like to support Project Inform, please participate in Saddle Challenge in March! You can sign up at our website.

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Different Spokes and Charity Fundraising

February 8th, 2019 by tony

Double Bay Double

 

As you know Saddle Challenge is our sole club fundraising effort now that Double Bay Double is on hiatus. Every March we offer Saddle Challenge for two reasons: to encourage members to get out of the rainy wintry doldrums and start riding in earnest, and to raise a little money for Project Inform. The amount of money we raise for Project Inform is pocket change, just $300-500 each time. But SC is a low-key event and running a cycling fundraiser in March is “challenging”—witness last year when half a year’s worth of rain came just in the month of March and washed out most of our rides. It also pales before our club’s first fundraising project, the AIDS Bike-A-Thon, which over its eleven years raised about $2.3 million for various Bay Area AIDS/HIV agencies. Know that AIDS Lifecycle is the 800-pound gorilla that sucks up the majority of AIDS/HIV related fundraising around here and it’s important to help out other significant AIDS/HIV services.

It’s not uncommon for local cycling clubs to do fundraising if they offer a century ride. The monies they collect don’t simply line their coffers to fund extravagant parties for members. These clubs donate funds to local charities, oftentimes cycling related such as Bike East Bay or SF Bike. For example, Valley Spokesmen, to which I also belong, puts on the annual Cinderella Classic. VS has donated event “profits” to Stand Against Domestic Violence, A Safe Place Domestic Violence Shelter, Bay Area Women Against Rape, and the Rainbow Community Center along with 19 other organizations. In effect clubs such as Valley Spokesmen perform a function similar to Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis Clubs, Optimists International, and Lions Clubs: they raise money and do service in their communities.

Half of the 1985 Bike-A-Thon riders…

 

Different Spokes also has a history of fundraising even though the club didn’t start with that intention at all. When the Founding Daddies & Mommies started Different Spokes it was to be able to cycle with other LGBT folks. Some cycling clubs form at least partly because they want to field a racing team. Not Different Spokes! We were the antithesis of an amateur racing club in that the original founders were not interested in racing in the very first Gay Games and wanted specifically to tour and do recreational rides with each other. Such is the origin of recreational cycling clubs: girls and boys just wanna have fun! But the fact that we were a queer club meant it couldn’t just be about getting that endorphin high from riding. The very fact we existed, loud and proud, was a direct challenge to stereotypic notions of queers as were all LGBT sports clubs in that era, and at the time the club officially formed AIDS was beginning to hit our community. I won’t recapitulate how the AIDS Bike-A-Thon came into being (you can instead read my account here) other than to say it was started by Different Spokes in 1985 and ran for eleven years. By the time the club handed BAT over to Project Open Hand we were ready to take a break, as organizing each BAT consumed a year’s worth of planning and work by about two dozen dedicated Spokers. In subsequent years Spokers participated in the California AIDS Ride and AIDS Lifecycle but there was no club-backed fundraising project until we inherited/adopted the Ron Wilmot Ride For Project Inform, which because it ceased as a separate event in 2007 exists now only as a reference point in Saddle Challenge.

…And the other half!

 

The most recent charity effort was Double Bay Double, which was the pet project of member Chris Thomas. If you’ve done ALC, you’ve probably either heard of or run into Chris. Chris not only rode ALC religiously, he became a TRL and annually led his own training series in the South Bay, which he supported with his blog until he moved out of the Bay Area a few years ago. As a side project he started Double Bay Double in 2011 and he ran it for four years almost singlehandedly. Double Bay Double was a much lower key local version of ALC to raise additional money for the SF AIDS Foundation. He designed DBD to be fleet: no bureaucracy, brutally efficient, get-in-and-get-the-job done. It was deliberately a small-scale effort in order to fly under the radar of local agencies, city halls, and the police by avoiding the need to acquire permits. It also required minimal support from SFAF thus turning DBD into essentially free money for them (i.e. SFAF was the dom, Chris was the sub). Although Different Spokes was the sponsoring club and a few members did participate and assist, it was really Chris’s show and the club rode on his coattails. The interesting thing about DBD was that it raised at least $52,400 for SFAF in four iterations with a total of only 70 riders! Those numbers are comparable to those of the very first BAT, which raised about $33,000 with 63 riders back in 1985.

Double Bay Double

 

When Chris moved out of the Bay Area, Project Inform adopted Double Bay Double. PI ran it in 2015 with Different Spokes providing almost no support. If I recall correctly, the results were dismal and the event was then put on hold. In 2018 PI and DSSF revived DBD and despite a significant amount of planning and support including some from our club, the interest in the event was virtually non-existent and it was cancelled less than two months before it was scheduled to take place.

So that is where we are today. The club has a storied history of charity fundraising even though it may have been accidental or half-hearted at times. I say half-hearted because the club has always been schizophrenic about fundraising; there have always been two tendencies within the membership—those who are enthusiastic about charity fundraising for AIDS efforts (note there hasn’t been any other focus) and those who just want to ride their bikes. For recreational clubs a fundraising event such as a century is invariably a major stressor. It takes a lot of work to put on a ride on public roads for hundreds (sometimes thousands) of cyclists. A club may have a lot of members but only a fraction eagerly volunteer and only a slightly larger fraction can be cajoled into helping out. Most members just want to ride their bikes. Different Spokes is, ironically, no “different” except that we are much smaller—less than 70 members currently whereas Grizzly Peak, Valley Spokesmen, and Western Wheelers each have several hundred members, which makes rounding up volunteers to staff rest stops, plan food, get up early to run registration, stay late to close down the course, etc. easier (but not easy).

Today much of the energy for service is sucked up by ALC. You only need to see the dedicated TRLs and roadies to know ALC has done a wonderful job of harnessing that enthusiasm and dedication. I wonder sometimes if there is really room in Different Spokes for more fundraising effort. The club is not large and a small but significant number of members put their energy into ALC (in fact some put their energy into ALC instead of Different Spokes). Perhaps that’s for the better and that the club return—full circle—back to its roots: a LGBT recreational cycling club that focuses on fun.

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Ride Recap: Tour of Lamorinda to the Creekside Grill

January 31st, 2019 by tony

Boy, that was a hard ride!

 

Talk about being a lazy bastard, this ride started and ended near our house, went down a multi-use trail I use several times a week, and traveled streets I’ve done so frequently I could probably do them blindfolded. Ah, but there was one twist: despite having lived near Rossmoor for 16 years and having friends live there (including the Den Daddy) I have cycled on its roads exactly once before. Until this ride. So now it’s twice! Last year we did a Social A ride that ended up at an excellent restaurant in Lafayette. Unfortunately the rest of the world had also discovered this fact and not wanting to wait an hour for a table, at Derek’s suggestion we rolled over to nearby Rossmoor, where he lives, to have lunch at its Creekside Grill. That was a good move because it was not crowded at all, had delicious food and a fawning staff used to catering to an obviously entitled elderly crowd (a demographic that I have immediately adjusted to with glee now that I have a Senior Clippercard). We had a memorable al fresco lunch on their pleasant outdoor patio next to a stream, hence the eponym.

I’ve always wanted to go back and thus this ride. Although I still occasionally like to turn a pedal ‘in anger’ as Phil Liggett says, I saw the light many years ago in Italy where every cyclist stops for a REAL lunch—I mean like a three or four course lunch that lasts at least an hour and a half—and I always look forward to a delicious repast mid-ride these days. (And no, I’m not talking about going to Subway!) Clif bars will do in a pinch but a good ride has an excellent food stop where one can enjoy a proper meal. So it is with the Creekside Grill.

Roger Sayre and Bill Knudsen joined Roger and me although they had no inkling that the central highlight of the day was going to be lunch. Nonetheless we sauntered out to Moraga to catch the Lafayette-Moraga Regional Trail, an excellent rails-to-trails path. Everybody had the right frame of mind and we headed out at a B pace chatting away. Down the path we went and because it was a Saturday morning there were plenty of peds, doggers, and kiddies along the way, all the more reason to keep the pace al piano all the way to Walnut Creek and thence to Rossmoor.

You are probably thinking, “Isn’t Rossmoor a gated community?” Why, yes it is! If you approach in a car, you will be accosted at the security gate and asked whom you are visiting. But if you arrive á bicyclette you do not need to be subjected to such indignities. So we rolled right through with nary a glance from the guards and made our way to the Creekside Grill. You may be wondering what Rossmoor is like. Well, let’s just say the association fees are well spent: it’s manicured to the nth degree with a lovely greenway heading up to the nearby hills. The Den Daddy and I had agreed he would meet us for lunch. But when I phoned, he was in Santa Barbara enjoying a warm, sunny day in his hometown! So Bill and Roger would not get the spiel from him on how delightful it is at Rossmoor, how there’s a fabulous LGBT group, a cycling group as well, how politically left the Democratic club is, etc.

This time the Grill was hopping but fortunately we scored a table in the bar and did not have to wait. We were quite hungry despite having done an easy jaunt. I hadn’t had breakfast and apparently neither had Bill who while riding prated on and on about donuts and where the nearest confectionary might be. Despite the chasms in our stomachs we were quite demure in ordering: both Bill and Roger S had the Creekside Sirloin Burger while Roger H had the Rossmoor Reuben and got my fave, the Riviera Charbroiled Chicken Breast Sandwich. It was all delish and even their French fries were not at all run-of-the-mill and were pleasantly crisp and crunchy. Lunch was of course occupied with idle, pointless conversation. But most of it revolved upon Bill’s imminent departure to explore the country by—gasp!—RV. Ever the trendsetter Bill has gone “tiny house” on us and deserting Wanderson to follow his Wanderlust. But he’s taking his bikes with him so he can ride with LGBT cycling clubs all around the US!

After a long lunch Bill popped a front spoke in the parking lot and after much consternation and discussion we headed off back to Orinda anyway. Bill made it fine even with a slightly bum front wheel.

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Showers Pass Body-Mapped Baselayer

January 30th, 2019 by tony

Your next top?

 

That name sounds like text from a porn story, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s subtle marketing from the evil minds at Showers Pass in Oregon. This is just a long-sleeved undershirt that’s very good at wicking moisture away from your skin and it is just as worthy as the Assos Body Insulator I swooned over a few years ago. The Assos baselayer is my go-to shirt for the cool winter weather we are having. It’s warm, supremely comfortable, and made from some hi-tech synthetic that promised just about everything under the sun. On top of that it fits very well and has a short neck zipper and collar for adjusting the right amount of cooling or warmth that. The strange thing was that the Assos marketing speak turned out to be mostly true. Even more awesome is that I can wear it for about four or five rides and it doesn’t smell rank and repulsive. (I remember the first Helly Hansen polypro t-shirt I bought in the mid-70s when synthetic athletic wear was nascent: it reeked after one wearing and had to be washed.) Well guess what? This Showers Pass shirt is every bit as good as the Assos. I just got through wearing it for six consecutive rides and it barely has any odor—unbelievable!

It comes in only two sizes for men but is very stretchy; women get four sizes and in an even nicer plum color versus the drab grey for men. The shirt is made of a bamboo-merino wool blend that is adept at wicking sweat, staying warm, feeling plush, and doing what a baselayer is supposed to do: be invisible and unnoticed. It also has thumb holes so that the arms stay in place; I find them very helpful when putting on a cycling jacket with form-fitting arms so that the sleeves don’t get bunched or pulled back on my arms. This shirt is so comfortable in cool and cold weather that I like to wear it just lounging around the house or backyard. I can’t say much about durability since I’ve been using it for only a short time. But it’s not fraying and the seams show no signs of stress or failure. My only wish is that SP would make a version with a higher neck and a zipper like Assos used to. On the other hand, this shirt is about two-thirds the cost of the Assos. Oh, and Assos stopped making base shirts with a high collar and zipper so these two are directly comparable.

And Showers Pass is having a sale right now where you can get this shirt fo $55, down from $69.

https://www.showerspass.com

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Different Spokes Kit for 2019

January 28th, 2019 by tony

Loud ‘n Proud

 

Am I Dark Enough?

It’s not often our club gets a new jersey. Over the 37 years of existence we’ve had only four jerseys. Either you don’t give it a second thought—probably because you’ve got a closet full of cycling jerseys already, or because you’re happy wearing the same three jerseys over and over—or you wonder, “Why the hell don’t those lazy board members get off their sorry bike saddles and design some fab new clothing? After all, I can’t wear the same clothing year after year without getting called out. So when cycling Fashion Week comes around, WHERE THE HELL IS OUR NEW FASHION STATEMENT!?”

I mean, our last kit was in 2017 to celebrate our (gulp) 35th anniversary—that was literally so two-years-ago. Well boysettes and grrlenes, your wait is over. Our fab Apparel coordinator Brian got on the stick and has not one but TWO different kits for you to ooh and aah over. If you missed the first ordering period, which closed last Friday, no worries: he has reopened the Jakroo store so you won’t have to gaze with green envy at your fellow Spokers who jumped at the chance to be Abso Fab.

We are offering two kits for 2019, one mad splatter design and another more contemporary blackish-is-the-new-black, with matching bib shorts and even a cycling cap. The jerseys are $64, the bibshorts $104, and the caps are $18 each.

To view the full kit and to order, go to the Different Spokes Jakroo store: http://shop.jakroo.com/Different-Spokes-San-Francisco

Lucky boys and girls who got in on the first order will have their goods by February 4. If you order now, your goodies will be here after February 26.

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Ride Leader Appreciation Dinner on January 27

January 15th, 2019 by tony

 

We’re two weeks away from the club Ride Leader Appreciation Dinner on Sunday, January 27 at 6:30 pm. This is our annual dinner to thank ride leaders for hosting rides for the club. Last year we had about 60 rides. Of course there were quite a few other rides that were cancelled especially last March, which was quite wet, and in November when the Camp Fire literally rained ashen havoc on our air quality. Believe it or not, 60 rides is less than half of what we used to offer. So the rides we do have are even more precious!

This year we’re going to the Firewood Café in the Castro, just across the street from the Castro Post Office and easy to get to by BART and Muni (or bike if you prefer). The Firewood is known for its wood-fired pizzas, salads, and pasta dishes. The cost is only $25—such a deal! Go to the club ride calendar to get the full details. We hope all club members can make it. Just be sure to RSVP to the club ride coordinator (me) no later than January 23.

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