30 Days of Rapha – In Search of Otto Miller Part II


The Ride Out

Thompson to Skyline, the real ride began with a solid climb I liked for its enveloping trees and two imposing stone tunnels that we skirted over paths thick with fallen leaves. Between the leaves I saw what looked like moss. I rode gingerly expecting it to be slippery, but Slate's 'Seven' didn't seem bothered at all. It had been so easy to fly up and not worry about transporting a bike. All I'd needed to do was raise the saddle a touch and put on my pedals. The familiar Campy drive train was comforting and I expected the 48/34 | 12/26 gearing to come in handy on the double-digit gravel of Otto Miller.

Slate and Daniel could have dropped me anytime they liked but I hovered ten to twenty yards back till the last steep pitch where Slate took off like a rocket and Daniel used the opportunity to lie down in the road to photograph me riding by (I smiled, just the kind of thing I'd have done). It was foggy enough at the top that it took a few seconds to spot Slate circling the intersection waiting for us to regroup.

After announcing I'd just completed the second hardest climb of the day, Daniel pointed North and led the way along Skyline. Truthfully I can't climb worth a damn. With a blustery wind quartering behind us we sped over an undulating sequence of rollers, that were much more to my liking.

The exact sequence of events that followed is already a misty blur. There were ramshackled cabins roofed with Tarpaulins, the Dodge Truck, a Llama, the orange dumpster and the Plainview Grocery (and Auto Parts) store where we stopped, though not necessarily in that order.

Rock Creek road began with a quick descent over sketchy pavement that included the off-camber railroad tracks the Dutch Canyon cue sheet had warned about. It actually didn't seem that bad. Did I mention it was cold. Even though I thought I had made good Rapha clothing choices, the damp windy conditions after the first heated climb were starting to chill me.

A tight right hander signalled the beginning of our second ascent up to Skyline. I enjoyed this climb more, I think, because I let the other two go and just rode at my own pace. I'm guessing it was about two miles long. Daniel and Slate appeared as I approached a forestry road crew, then a descending cyclist passed and Daniel announced the climb ended just over the next rise, to which Slate replied "not quite" As it turned out Slate was right. There was one last formidable ramp to scale, and that's exactly where Otto Miller decided he wasn't entertaining guests that day.

Something happened to my chain and the bike began false shifting – by that I mean it sounded like the derailleur was engaging for a shift (I wasn't making) but it just reset itself on the same cog with a jarring re-engagement. We stopped.

After an unsuccessful attempt to remedy what seemed like a shifting issue with the barrell adjuster, Slate discovered a frozen link in the chain. On close inspection it looked like the flange on the inside plate had been bent and no amount of twisting and flexing would free it up.

Continuing would have been crazy with a good chance the chain would break. Stoically we turned around and headed 100 yards back to the intersection with Logie Trail that would take us down to 'the thirty' and home we hoped.

final installment tomorrow

Today's Ride and Kit

Commute: 25 miles roundtrip
Weather: Sunny Temp: 70 deg.
Rapha Kit:  Merino Base Layer, Touring Shorts over Bib Shorts, 07 Winter Jersey
Accessories:  Merino Socks, Rapha Cap, Fixed Backpack

The picture seems particularly appropriate after a 22-hour day on Tuesday travelling to Portland and back. I'm definitely a shadow of my self. The 07 winter jersey may be Rapha's most comfortable piece, once on I'm loathe to take it off. It was certainly perfect for today's commute. I'll be wearing the 08 Winter Jersey with its additional wind-stopping front panels later this month.

16 Responses to 30 Days of Rapha – In Search of Otto Miller Part II

  1. Pingback: 30 Days of Rapha – In Search of Otto Miller Part I | VeloDramatic

  2. Richard says:

    Is #5 in the gallery just about your only recorded grin in this whole series so far..?

    Great pics as always. Makes me want to ride!

  3. Busted!

    I believe you are right Richard.

    I’ve been getting some stick about not smiling in any of the pictures. It does happen from time to time, particularly if I’m anywhere near Daniel who can be stand-up-comic funny.

  4. Richard says:

    Certainly looks like you had a blast. Looking forward to the final installment.

    (BTW – thanks again for the detailed camera info, much appreciated. A decision has been made. Meantime, started to add snaps into my log site as per your advice. You were dead right – looks a shade more interesting, but reinforces the desire for a full redesign. Time…)

  5. I’ll have a look later today Richard. Whatever you do will surely look great. As you’ll read tonight, we dropped by Ira Ryan’s shop on the way home (I’ve communicated your offer)

  6. Richard says:

    As I have said before, you are one of this worlds few remaining gentlemen. Whichever way it falls, thank you kindly.

  7. Patrick says:

    OK, I bought a classic kit from Rapha and it’s basically based on this site. If you want the 20% friend discount let me know, if not, one of your readers can get it. You certainly earned it.

    Here is the deal, though, I’m 6’3″ 185 pounds so skinny for general public, but not for cycling. Not fat, just not rail thin. I had gotten a country jersey and it was too loose in the waist. I know have this kit and the classic jersey fits me in the chest, little small in the shoulder, but that’s OK as I’m broad, is a little loose in the waist and is long even for me at 6’3″ and it’s a size large. I know I’m not a medium as I did try on a medium and it wasn’t going to work, as no medium really should work given my size. Basically it fits like a T-shirt – tight in the chest, long in length and loose in the waist. I tried using the side cord adjusters, but those are only marginal.

    Is this just how it is?

    I’d appreciate your thoughts.

    Great site, BTW.

  8. Hi Patrick,

    thank you for the discount offer I’m sure one of the other readers would be happy to have it, let’s see if someone pipes up otherwise I’m sure I can find one of the regulars who’s willing.

    from your description it really sounds like you’ve got a V-shaped torso, broad shoulders, thin waist (most people would kill for that problem) and probably long legs. Most cyclists at your height tend to have torsos that are straight up and down.

    What’s your waist measurement. I wear Large and my waist is 34″

    Have you experienced similar problems getting a good fit with other brands?

    I know you don’t want to face the prospect of spending MORE money on your kit, but a good tailor could probably bring the waist in a bit for you.

  9. Jim says:


    Quick question. If you had to choose between the lightweight soft shell or the stowaway jacket for bay area riding which one would you choose? It sounds like we do the same rides in the south bay and up the pen.

    If the 20% is still available, I would love to use it on the new jacket purchase.



  10. Tough call Jim, but I’d give the edge to the Stowaway because I could see it being worn from October to April, it’s as light as a feather and it can be stashed in a jersey pocket if you only need it for a descent (say climbing Mt. Hamilton).

    It’s also a little racier looking with the striping down the sleeves.

    I gave your email to Patrick who had the discount code, he should contact you directly if it’s still available.


  11. Jim says:

    Thanks for the info! I will give the stowaway a shot. I really enjoy your blog and the great photos. Hopefully I will see you out on the road some day.


  12. Good stuff Jim. Let us know how you like it after a few rides.

  13. Puskas says:

    You needed to stop at Skyline Burger and have lunch. THAT would have brought a smile to your face.

    Jonathan C. Puskas
    HUPster from Portland, but stuck in Kansas for just a bit longer:-)

  14. timcox says:

    Frozen chain link huh? Well he evidently is not oiling each roller link in the chain, as I recently learned when reading Mr. Washingmachineposts’s venerable blog. I just did that to my chain and let it sit overnight. Wow what a difference! Yes it feels every-so-slightly OCD to oil each link, but it makes one’s bike feel brand new again. Which, I’m sure, adds at least 50W to your power the next day!

  15. Puskas… I’ll make sure we stop at Skyline Burger next time, been forever since I had a great burger.

    Tim… and the additional 50W would bring my total power to, 58W ;-)

  16. Pingback: 30 Days of Rapha – In Search of Otto Miller Part III | VeloDramatic