Rigorously lab tested and OWC certified.

Sprinter Photography Adventure Van: Delivers Aug 5, then proving it out in the field

I’m taking delivery of my Sprinter photography adventure van on August 5th in Reno, from thence before any upfitting it will get a trial run stubbed out with simple table and chair, bed platform, etc.

The main problem will be power for the computer gear; I may have to temporarily pop the hood and run things off the auxiliary battery* (basic power inverter with alligator clips), since the Lithionics 5120 Wh battery won’t go in for 2 weeks or so. Also I don't think I can take the iMac as the computer, as the power consumption may be too high for the auxiliary battery, so I’ll have to use the laptop this go-round trial run.'

* See “X27 Additional Battery Package $380” on the overview page.

Phase 1 upfitting to follow in mid to late August: Lithionics 5120 Wh battery, Xantrex / Schneider Electric Freedom 815-3012 SW 3000 watt inverter/charger, side and rear and rear door windows, marine grade flooring, roof fan, skid plates, Cooper Discovery AT/3 235/85R16 E-rated tires (11 ply equivalent).

Phase 2 will be late November; I want to give myself a few months of field use before I finalize the final built-in desk shape and other details.

Sprinter cargo van before upfitting

NEW: Sprinter photography adventure van

Read all about my Sprinter photography adventure van.

Delivery around the end of July, upfitting phases 1 and 2 to follow.

Sprinter cargo van before upfitting
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Completed: 2017 Eastern Sierra Double Century

Lloyd’s 2017 Eastern Sierra Double bib number

Weather was superb, relatively mild being cool until the June Lake area and then only a little warmer as cloud cover broke. Wind was strong coming south from Lee Vining (a boost going north, quite an impediment going south), but Hwy 120 was no problem. Even Chalfant valley was only in the high 80s and the wind was mild by comparison to last year.

I had gone up a week in advance to acclimatize and I was feeling great, having watched my diet, done some climbing, etc. I was all set up if not win then finish in the top few riders, but alas my rear wheel/tire tubular glue job screwed the pooch. It was a comedy of problems for me:

  • My SRM power meter failed at around mile 4—no wattage, no cadence, but still had speed and miles and altitude.
  • The rear tire started rubbing on the left chainstay right away, more on that below.
  • The Di2 Shifting was flaky at times at mile 100 on out.

My rear tubular tire screwed my race, or rather the bad glue job did. My local bike shop has always done a good job, but this time the results ruined any chance I had of being competitive—

  • The night before I had noticed some slight rubbing; the rubbing went away when I retightened the skewer, so this fooled me into thinking I had fixed the issue. I ought to have checked more closely, but not having a spare rear, I’m unsure what I could have done anyway.
  • Within the first few miles, the rear tire started rubbing on the left chainstay. Mild at first it steadily worsened. I stopped four times to tighten the skewer, but this did not help.
  • Climbing the big grade past Paradise, the rubbing was very noticeable, robbing me of a lot of power, and fatiguing me prematurely from the braking effect. Downhill, I could not catch any riders except those air-braking themselves, showing that the friction was substantial.
  • At mile 60 or so, I went to 140 PSI, thinking that this would slightly narrow the profile (by not allowing the tire to deform as much)—I did not want to peel the tire if I could just avoid the rubbing. This seemed to help at first...
  • By the June Lake area at mile 80 or so, the rubbing become a thump by each revolution, with a huge frictional drag that I could feel with every wheel revolution.

So at mile ~80 just shy of the village of June Lake, I stopped and peeled off the Veloflex Criterium. The Criterium was OK except for some smeared rubber on the sidewall, but the base tape was torn in one place, so the tire was kaput except as an emergency spare. The Moots Vamoots RSL chainstay was well polished and with stuck-on rubber pieces around the polish area. I mounted a Veloflex Record 22C race tire (one of two spares I carried), thinking this would clear the chainstay. Indeed it did for a while, until it blew-out 50 miles later, the tire destroyed and useless with its sidewall worn away.

Blown-out tire sidewall (by rubbing on chainstay)

At mile 130 with the first spare destroyed, I mounted my 2nd Veloflex Record spare incorrectly, intentionally: I decentered it as well as I could away from the chainstay. This seemed to work OK, because I finished that way, and the tire appeared undamaged. I think the glue might also have softened because when I peeled it off post-ride, the glue had mushed out even more, letting the tire seat more deeply (the first spare was sitting on top of ~3mm of glue in the problematic area.

The problem? WAY too much glue on the wheel:

  • So much glue that it was hard to stretch the exceptionally pliant Veloflex Record onto the wheel, noticeably more difficult than usual due to the increased circumference. In one area, the glue appeared to be ~3mm thick!
  • Most of the glue had all mushed to one side of the wheel, thus forcing the tire towards the left chainstay. It was impossible to seat the tire properly; it would seat only skewed 2-3mm to one side. This is why even the 22C Veloflex Record blew out at mile ~130 by rubbing on the chainstay.

Below, excessive glue mushed over to one side of the rim makes it impossible to center the tire properly.

Excessive glue mushed over to one side of rim

What might have happened: I had biked up Lee Vining Canyon with a daypack and on the steep descent I used a lot of braking power. My theory is that this heated up the wheel and softened the glue. Normally that would not be an issue, but the amount of glue was excessive. And so, unknown to me, the tire mushed over to one side. Then the glue hardened again, and the tire and glue were stuck fast, decentered by ~1-2mm. At first it was not enough to rub badly, but enough to just start to rub, which is why I was fooled into thinking it was a skewer-tightness issues. But as it turns out, a little rubbing begets more and worse rubbing, as smeared off rubber on the chainstay increases friction on the tire, causing more rubbing/pulling, causing the tire to shift even more until ultimately I was probably losing 50 watts from friction near June Lake with a pronounced thump at each wheel revolution. I think also that when pedaling uphill, the torque of ~250 to 300 watts must have been forcing the wheel just a bit closer to the chainstay.

Bottom line: an event that I was hoping to win turned into 18th place of 105 men and women (#6 in age group), along with two destroyed tires: the rim tape on the Criterium was torn off when peeling it, and the Record had its sidewall blown. But by mile 130, I didn’t have the energy to be upset about it any more!

Excessive glue mushed over to one side of rim
Excessive glue mushed over to one side of rim
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Completed: Davis Double 2017

I completed the Davis Double Century (Highland route), my 6th double century this year. I had a strong performance for the first 160 miles or so, but the heat or something got to me around mile 160, and I could eat nearly nothing. Even my favorite licorice I could hardly make myself gag down even a few bits. No stomach upset, just a feeling of nausea and I could only eat a little for 7 hours afterwards. My car’s cooling system having failed, it was 7 hours after finishing that I got home around midnight—long day having been woken up at 2:30 AM and starting at 5:15 AM.

Last year I was half an hour faster, and clearly a better performance (193 vs 176 watts), but being impaired the last 30 miles or so and able to produce only ~170 watts and given the heat, I was very pleased with my performance overall, which was my best this year. As far as I can tell, I was one of the fastest riders, since only two people passed me the whole day (and they were pacelining each other, a major advantage)—though I can’t rule out someone starting earlier and riding faster. As usual I soloed it (never took any draft though I did pull the fast group for 10 miles or so, passing them all by mile 100). Those pacelining in a larger group save huge amounts of energy for many miles, which is the “smart” way to ride if you want a group-effort time that is an external assist, though many riders get very upset about that idea when put into those terms (cognitive dissonance I presume).

Next up is the Eastern Sierra Double Century where the snow-capped mountains ought to be lovely this year and the fish nervous. I don't think I'll be as fast as 2016 and my chances of winning it as I did in 2015 are slim to none, as I’ve been fighting some fatigue problem for several months (allergies and perhaps food reactions). Cutting out all grains (not that I eat much wheat but I do adore Panda licorice now abandonded for the time being), and also peanuts seems to have helped in eliminating the bloating. But the heavy rain this year has every grass and tree and bush pollinating the air heavily.

2017 Davis Double power (watts) and elevation
2016 Davis Double power (watts) and elevation

Completed: Central Coast Double

I completed the Central Coast Double Century (Highland route), my 5th double century this year. See the 2017 route sheet.

But no worries, I have a full 7 days to recover for the Davis Double a week later (usually 4-5 days is enough), then a lazy two weeks until the Eastern Sierra Double Century where the snow-capped mountains ought to be lovely this year and the fish nervous.

I don't think I'll be as fast as 2016 and my chances of winning it as I did in 2015 are slim to none, as I’ve been fighting some fatigue problem for several months (allergies and perhaps food reactions). Cutting out all grains (not that I eat much wheat but I do adore Panda licorice now abandonded for the time being), and also peanuts seems to have helped in eliminating the bloating. But the heavy rain this year has every grass and tree and bush pollinating the air heavily.


Update (finished): all done and with no stomach cramps or physical isuses; I felt decent the whole time. That in itself makes it a huge win for me. But I took care to eat more and my stomach felt good to start with. Being 10 pounds too heavy and not in 2015 or even 2016 shape, the decline in average power (graphs below) from 199 watts (2015 win) to 184 watts to 168 watts (course harder this year, somewhat) is more than a little frustrating but it has been a tough few years so I’m going to be delighted in not feeling nauseated or wanting to vomit or falling asleep on my bike as in the past two doubles—no physical problem this time.

I cut out all wheat and peanuts and cut way back on dried fruit* about two weeks ago and this seems to have eliminated the bloating and problems I was having. Food sensitivity has been dogging me for months, though I still don’t have a hard answer on which food(s) are the primary cultprit. [Update: I had a reaction two days later, I suspect cantaloupe now which some say may be related to ragweed proteins].

* See Are Grains the Culprit in Health and Weight? Is 'Wheat Belly' a Crackpot Diet? (UPDATED through 29 April). However, on this ride I did consume 100 grams of Panda black licorice which I think worked very well. The whole sensitivity (to what exactly?) remains murky but I won’t be eating bread or wheat products in general this year I think—I want it to stay settled down.

Photo tip: Nacimiento-Fergusson Rd offers some really lovely stream shooting on the east side, and the view the west is spectacular, with many excellent viewpoints. I had no time to admire the view, being much more interested in not crashing the twisty descent, but I stopped for this one photo.

Below, yet another garbage-quality iPhone 7 Plus photo from the 2X lens —barely acceptable even greatly reduced in size to 2400 pixels. I am hugely disappointed in the 2X camera of the iPhone 7s.

Pacific Ocean from Naciemiento-Fergusson Rd, a few hundred vertical feet summit.
Aid station is near the bridge down below, 2017 route wends its way down, then reverses.

2017 Central Coast Double power (watts) and elevation
2016 Central Coast Double power (watts) and elevation
2015 Central Coast Double power (watts) and elevation
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California Oath for Volunteers

Below, proof that while California may be 99% screwed-up, it is not 100% so: witness the oath to the constitution of the United States.

I feel outrage when I see illegal aliens* waving assorted non-USA flags on state campuses funded with my tax dollars and protesting against this country. Every such moral degenerate ought to be required to sign this oath before being allowed to benefit from anything the USA has to offer. I had to sign it just to participate in a fish survey, and I’m a citizen!

* Notwithstanding the Orwellian doublespeak of the term “undocumented” to the contrary: if I don’t pay my taxes am I “untaxed”? I define an "illegal alien" as someone who is a non citizen who has entered the country in violation of our laws.

California Oath for Volunteers

Completed: Devil Mountain Double, but with weird symptoms again

I completed the Camino Real Double Century in on Feb 18, then the Solvang Spring Double on March 18, then the Southern Inyo Double Century on April 1. Thus Devil Mountain Double (DMD) was my fourth double century this year.

The good news was warm weather, as nice as it has been in five years I think (last year was awfully cold).

Being as heavy as I’ve been in five years (186 pounds, I have been 168 when 8% body fat), I had little hope of a fast time, but the first 100 miles gave me reason to believe that I might have a modest but consistent effort for a solid finish. That didn’t work out so well.


The route was easier and shorter this year due to road closures in Morgan Territory and in the Calaveras Reservoir area. But still very hard.

Early on, I missed the turn to Mt Diablo and lost 2.7 miles—can’t see aging dark signs in the dark, even with lights—at least not at high speed, and I saw two riders ahead who had missed it (at least 5 riders total including me missed the turn). Later due to a blatant RideWithGPS map error (I’ll never trust RideWithGPS again), I made another miss and in total lost probably 20 minutes. (the official ride sheet had disintegrated, so I was using my backup cue sheet from RideWithGPS, I don’t use a GPS).

I made one almost deadly mistake: I failed to look behind for a left turn into the aid station. The first Harley with a 300 pound shit-stuffed dirt bag had passed me far too close for comfort (intentionally I guess); the second one almost slammed into me, but I heard his brakes screech right behind me. I was lucky. Always, always, always look behind before turning left or right. In my defense, I was not fully alert, which is also a reason for criticism: care should rise as one fatigues and that’s the rub—when tired it’s hard to stay alert to road hazards. That I didn’t go on full alert after the first road rat passed me tells me that I was already losing it mentally, in alertness terms. That is just not like me—well, not until this year, see what follows.

I’m really discouraged since all my double centuries this year have been disappointing to uncomfortable. There are three more, and I just wonder if I should skip them, until I figure out what is going on with my body, which is not isolated to double centuries, but a general problem (inability to lose weight, bloating). I have to cut out a lot of foods and see first if that might isolate something, but food effects can take at least a week to calm down, so it’s all very confusing. And it could be something else, like a screwed-up gut biome.

What follows is more for my own reference than anything...


I took a GU and some HEED (maltodextrin mostly, in water) at the summit of Mt Hamilton which I had ascended with not great but acceptable power (200 to 215 watts). That’s well below what I ought to be able to do (250 or so), but I deemed it not too bad for this year. I descended and headed towards the next aid station, but the nutrition (which had 40mg of caffeine) seemed to have no effect at all.

I started feeling weak not long after getting down off Hamilton, about 10 miles prior to the aid station. Not physically weak as with legs, but a general inability to focus my attention. The GU and HEED feeding should have been adequate, but had not seemed to work, so I did something I do not normally do: I ate a small lunch consisting of a (1) small bag of chips, a few blueberries and two pieces of cantaloupe, 90 calorie junk drink (apple-based I think), one Oreo and some Recoverite (mostly maltodextrin with 10% whey protein).

After this modest lunch, I started out slowly so as to give my stomach a free hand at digesting (blood flow to stomach). Within about 30 minutes, my stomach was bloating up (“6 months pregnant”) and I found it extremely difficult to maintain attention on the road, feeling like I desperately wanted to fall asleep. At one point I swerved toward the center line as a car was approaching (not too fast fortunately), but I recovered and got back on the right—scared me a bit—I wonder if I has briefly gone somnolescent enough to actually, briefly, enter sleep—dunno. Still, it took another 30 minutes of sheer mental effort just to keep my mind alert. Then things started to improve—slowly—and I felt reasonably alert by the next rest stop—but badly bloated up.

Following that rest stop I went conservative—HEED (maltodextrin drink) and GU only, neither of which had any appeal but I forced it down. Slowly the bloating came down and by the last rest stop I felt half decent and power had been slowly picking up to normal levels. I had one more GU and plain water at the last rest stop, and then proceeded to ride more strongly to the finish (15 miles) than the prior 50 miles. Indeed at least for a few minutes at a time I could muster power like in the first few hours.

I had no sense of any limitation from my legs (muscles), heart rate and breathing were modest showing no particular effort; this all seems like a whole-body physiological problem starting in the gut it seems, but dragging me down in a whole-body way.

Clearly something is wrong physiologically and I think it is associated with the bloating—perhaps my stomach isn’t processing what goes in so that I’m just not getting much nutrition into the bloodstream and that’s why I feel weak. I don’t know. But it’s not confined to double centuries; whatever is dogging me has been going on for a few months (bloating, an occassional strong day but too many days of no energy). All blood tests paint me as a poster child for the picture of health (all conventional ones for a physical, plus testosterone, thyroid, blood sugar, etc).

2017 Devil Mountain Double: power (watts), heart rate and elevation profile

Completed: Southern Inyo Double Century

I completed the Camino Real Double Century in on Feb 18, then the Solvang Spring Double on March 18. The Southern Inyo Double Century on April 1 was thus my 3rd this year.

The Southern Inyo Double Century normally runs in early March, but in 2017 it was rescheduled to April 1st to avoid excessively windy conditions. But ironically we (or at least I, wind varied by time of day) had the worst wind ever!

Across the southern leg along the dry Owens Lake bed, I was sandblasted and pelted by gravel like hail. I could just control my bike, barely, weighting my front wheel (Lightweight VR8). Had I ridden the Lightweight Autobahn VR with twice the surface area, I would have been blown off the road! Prior to the southern leg of Owens Lake, a big brown dust cloud polluted the air south of Owens Lake to the turn-around point (ferocious headwind heading north, high-speed initially going south).

Fortunately, I had seen the conditions from high above at Cerro Gordo the day before, and I am thankful to the caretaker for finding a dust mask that I made use of for 50 miles or so, not wanting to inhale the sand and dust. Together with my sunglasses, some of my face was protected from gravel and sand. I could tell that the mask was working in two ways: first, every time I pulled it off in order to drink or eat, I could smell the dust. Second, I had no lung spasms or coughing the whole day, even when done. IMO, the event organizers should offer and provide dust masks for this particular event—dust is always an issue it seems.

2017 Southern Inyo Double Century: wearing a dust mask, helmet blown sideways on head!
2017 Southern Inyo Double Century: south side of Owens Lake, out of the hyper windy and dusty area


It took me 52 minutes longer (riding time) and I burned 700 calories less in 2017 vs 2016—seems about right given my poor power output.

As for physical, I started at 6 AM sharp, and I believe I was one of the fastest riders (top several I think and only 1 or 2 left after me)—since I think I passed almost everyone and they all started earlier. But from my personal point of view my performance was awful: I began to feel nauseated around mile 140, and that persisted the rest of the ride, making it unpleasant to eat or drink.

I don’t know what really was responsible but at mile 160 or so I really felt puky awful and stopped for a few minutes. The top woman rider stopped and took pity on me, giving me half a bottle of her special drink. It helped and I resumed riding, slowly. About 4 miles later SAG gave me a bottle of water and I ate a GU and took some Endurolytes and felt better for the remainder. Still, I began to feel nauseated by the finish again (I had not eaten or drank again for 20 miles).

After finishing, I sat in my car for 10 minutes, trying to let the nausea pass. That sort of helped, so I loaded my car and drove to find a campsite. Dinner was one scoop of Hammer whey and a dried persimmon—all I could gag down. At 3 AM I awoke and scarfed some water and sardines, and went back to bed until 6:30 AM or so then got up. I wasn’t hungry at all, but I was OK to eat again!


I always have a little nausea on this double, but this year was really awful.

In retrospect, I ate only 1400 calories the entire ride with a very modest breakfast and so my theory is that what I experienced was mainly a beginner’s mistake: a bonk (maybe). How that explains the nausea I am unsure, so maybe it was a combination of feeding and hydration and electrolytes. At any rate, it’s clear that I screwed up big time on feeding.

This year has been a lousy year —my power (watts) are way down, my endurance if anything is just fine, but in total it is terribly frustrating.

It might be related to seasonal allergies—clear nose/sinuses and small airways all clear after a day or two in the mountains. But within 24 hours of returning home, small airway impairment ratchets up and sinus blockage begins. Time to see the allergist again—ObamaDontCare forced me to waste thousands of dollars having to switch 3 times now, restarting shots over and over and I finally abandoned out of frustration (and cost)—but looks like it was a bad idea. So start over again on the shots, which do work.

Diet (grains) may also be a factor. I stopped eating all grains for a long time and re-tried, but I seem to bloat up and it takes 10 days to normalize. Makes food choices much more limited... and I like Panda licorice for my doubles, which are wheat-based. Gah!

My whole training season has been pretty screwed and it is rare that I am able to do a hard workout—most days I drag my sorry ass home at very low power. It’s like having a low-grade flu that never ends. The double centuries I have been able to do at lower power levels and by resting 2 or 3 days prior to the event (no riding). It’s intimidating to think about Devil Mountain Double because my weight is 10 lbs over last year and it is a brutal climbing course. I might not do it.


Completed: Camino Real Double Century

I completed the Camino Real Double Century in Irvine, CA on Feb 18. I don’t know what the “poker run” reference is to.

Weather conditions were not good, but were not too bad either—some rain and wet roads. Of 100 or so registered riders, only a few dozen showed up, due to the monsoon wind and rain the evening prior which looked super scary for doing a double.

Ride notes:

  • Very complex route requiring many turns; this cost me tons of time checking the map, several false turns, etc. It’s really hard to read a map while riding (jiggle/bounce) so often I had to slow or even stop.
  • Extremely unpleasant loud traffic along I5 in both directions, loud enough that I think it would causing hearing damage if done too often. On the way back, we had to disobey traffic laws by riding past a posted sign that said bicyclists were prohibited on the interstate.
  • The most mundane, urban, and just plain boring and ugly double century course I’ve ever ridden. The best parts were along the Camp Pendleton airstrip and along the levees, but these are not a lot of mileage.
  • Never really possible to settle in and get into the groove. It seems liked dozens upon dozens of stop lights and stop signs. Sometimes I got lucky, other times I kept stopping, stopping, stopping... gah!
  • Hot soup at mile 170 or so in the rain really helps!
  • No flats! Always a plus with tubular tires. Flat-tire rate was very high according to the sag driver, so I got lucky.

I don’t plan on ever doing Camino Real Double Century again. There just are not any plusses.

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Self Driving Cars: a Threat to Cyclists?

Self-driving cars are disquieting enough, but to have to worry about them on the road... well maybe they are better than pot smoking drivers, a frequent occurrence on my daily rides now.

IEEE Spectrum discusses how self-driving robotic cars pose a risk to bicyclists.

Robotic cars are great at monitoring other cars, and they’re getting better at noticing pedestrians, squirrels, and birds. The main challenge, though, is posed by the lightest, quietest, swerviest vehicles on the road.

Bicycles are probably the most difficult detection problem that autonomous vehicle systems face,” says UC Berkeley research engineer Steven Shladover.

Nuno Vasconcelos, a visual computing expert at the University of California, San Diego, says bikes pose a complex detection problem because they are relatively small, fast and heterogenous. “A car is basically a big block of stuff. A bicycle has much less mass and also there can be more variation in appearance — there are more shapes and colors and people hang stuff on them.”

... However, when it comes to spotting and orienting bikes and bicyclists, performance drops significantly. Deep3DBox is among the best, yet it spots only 74 percent of bikes in the benchmarking test. And though it can orient over 88 percent of the cars in the test images, it scores just 59 percent for the bikes.

Better hope your’re not in that 41% of cyclists that can’t be properly detected, by the best system. In what irresponsible world would a 1% failure to properly detect be tolerable? It’s OK to say “oops” for 1 in 100 humans on the road? But we’re talking 41 times worse than that.

Why should someone else’s convenience and/or profit-at-any-cost motive become a risk to my life?

On the other hand, at some point self-driving cars might be safer for cyclists, and then the losers of the world can smoke that joint on the way to collecting their free food and healthcare and what-not. I welcome one that won’t pass me on double yellow blind turns, for starters. But I also wonder just how much room such a car will be programmed to have vs the cyclist? The minimum required by law?

California DFG Heritage Trout Challenge

The California Department of Fish and Game has just posted a new PDF for the Heritage Trout Challenge.

It’s a well written document that anyone who likes trout fishing should find interesting. My only disappointment is that the PDF images are relatively low resolution.

See also The Year in Trout, 2016.

Golden Trout for 2 Nice Dinners
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