Preparing For Another Organized Ride But Not Routine

Well it’s a day before Santa Cruz Mountain Challenge, and I’m still questioning my sanity.  This is a really hard century/double metric, with majorly difficult climbs, and I’ve only really been climbing again for the past 3 weeks.  But this is a special ride.  Karen and as bunch of other riders from Southern California are coming up to do this, so I cannot disappoint by not riding   As Karen says, it’s an annual event, must do.

I think I’m OK to do the climbs, but don’t think my endurance is quite there.  I’ll probably start with the first spur, then follow the rest of the metric century route.  I’d still have to do Jameson Creek, which is tough even when I’m 100%, and it’s just before lunch.  Man, what torture.  I think I’ll channel my Andrew Talansky in me, off in the back.

I was going to try hitting some hills a week before the ride, but when I got to Boulder Creek, I got a flat, and thought it best to come back along Hwy 9, so that in case I got another flat, I would be in range of help.  So no Jameson Creek prep ride .. I’ll just have to wing it.

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The last prep I had was Montebello on Sunday, and Mira (which is only a short 0.5 mile climb but pitches to 20%).  I figure a couple if days rest off the bike is in order (not even commuting in).

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Longest I’ve done since my accident was 65 miles, and I figure this will be close to a full century.  I’m actually pretty nervous about this …. About as nervous as I was for DMD, but for very different reasons.  But I’m also excited to ride with Karen, Ramon, and the rest of the gang making the trip from LA.

Wish me luck.

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Recovering From Crash with Tandem with Sore Ribs

It’s been about 6 weeks since my accident with the tandem, where I suffered cracked ribs.  I fell on my right side, and getting in and out of bed was a painful ordeal.  In fact, I had to sleep in my lounge chair for about 3 weeks.  This is probably the most painful accident I’ve endured, only because it’s the ribs.  They take a long time to recover from.

The first few weeks, I couldn’t really do any sudden movements.  Any laughs or coughs would make it really painful.  Then, I suffered a cold and cough. which set me back some time too.

After a month, I was able to get some flexibility back, and was able to get back on the bike.  However, not only did I lose fitness, but my core strength was gone.

I got back with the Meetup group for a Sunday ride, and it was great to be back with the gang.  I was able to climb Old LA Honda, but the time was painfully slow.  I just barely made it in 40 minutes (15 minutes slower than my Personal Best).  I ride up with Rhysly, who was also recovering from her own fall in the velodrome.

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For the 4th of July weekend, I went down to LA, and we had a ride going up GMR then to Baldy Village.  GMR was closed to car traffic, so I had to take advantage of this.  It was tough but I did make it up to the junction of GMR and GRR, and that’s as far as I would go.

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I was at least able to revisit my favorite past time on these rides, taking in terrific views before heading down the mountain.

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A few days later, I did some more climbing with my friends Ken and Vic in PV (Palos Verdes).  That was nice.  Short climbs, so that my endurance wouldn’t suffer too much, and of course, spectacular views.  We did around 40 miles that day, with about 3000 feet climbing, and I was still feeling the fatigue.

This past weekend, I did a climb up Redwood Gulch and onto Kennedy and Shannon in Los Gatos.  That was tough, and I could feel myself struggling to make it back .. Another 40 miler. 

I decided to try my hands at a longer distance, a 70 miler that my friend John was leading for Western Wheelers, going to Devil’s Slide bike trail.  The pace was easy going in the beginning which was good.  As with most rides to Pacifica and Half Moon Bay, fog could be an issue, and it was this day.  Too bad we really couldn’t see anything.

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The hard part was climbing over Higgins, Lobitos, and Tunitas.  That really took a lot out of me.  I struggled through this, but wasn’t feeling the pain I thought I would.  Instead of lower back pains, my legs were feeling it.  This is different than before, and it seems that my climbing is coming back, but it is slower.

My friend Karen wants me to do Santa Cruz Mountain Challenge with her.  Last week, I would have said no way, but now, I might consider it.  I’ll have to do my Big Basin loop, and see how I feel there before I make a decision.

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Groundhog Day Meets the Matrix

To all my typical blog followers, you normally expect something cycling related, but since I’m off the bike for a while, I have to do something to occupy my time.  It’s a perfect time to catch up on movies. 

I decided to go and see Edge of Tomorrow.  Now I normally don’t like Tom Cruise, but I wanted to see this because he dies multiple times … Kind sadistic isn’t it, but this is part of the plot of the movie.

This was an adaptation of a Japanese military sci-fi flick turned into a feature  film.  The story is set a few years into the future, and mankind has banded together so that it can fight this alien life form that is taking over the world.  The alien looks a little like the attacking drones in the third Matrix film.

Cruise is playing his typical character, smug, snobby, who became an officer, and not a military man.  Then, he gets put into the trenches in the battle.  He dies in the first 10 min, only to be resurrected to the beginning of the day.  Oh darn … Is this a hidden Church of Scientology message?  So this is the Groundhog reference … So he gets killed multiple times, and re-do’s the same day till he gets it right.

The other interesting aspect of this is the technology … No not the CGI, but the military armory and artillery that each soldier has.  They also have the concept of having these weapons that us dependent on battery life.  So as you can see, this has the perfect combination of action, violence, and hi tech geekiness.  Oh yeah, he does get to kiss Emily Blunt, but that’s about the only romantic part of this.

I won’t spoil this for those wanting to see it.  I do highly recommend this for any of my geek friends, who like the combination of action and high tech. 

I saw this with no iMax, no 3D, and I felt I was still able to enjoy this.  Thus flick holds well without all that other technology.  Oh, I was going to see the 11:30 am showing, and I arrived at the ticketing window at 11, and they were still offering tickets for the 10:45 showing.  Came in and caught the beginning if the movie.  Maybe I’ll use this strategy on movies in the future?

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Time to Re-Evaluate My Goals For the Year

I first had a goal of completely DMD this year.  The year started out well, was on track, completing Solvang Double first, and was all prepared for DMD.  My thought was maybe if I finish that, I could do another Triple Crown.

I didn’t finish DMD this year … Bailed  on Sierra.  Oh well, maybe I could still do triple crown by doing Davis and Grand Tour.

However, I had a couple of personal setbacks after DMD.  First, my whole lost Drivers License and Debit Card ordeal.  That made me not in the mood for training.  Do I lost two weeks of fitness there, and was not ready for Davis at all.  In fact, I would be lucky if I completed 60 miles.  So I bailed on Davis.

Then, Memorial Day Weekend came around, and an opportunity to build up my climbing core.  On Memorial Day, I had just finished Page Mill to Woodside loop, and was ready for the ride home.  Then, without warning, I slammed right into the rear of a tandem.

Ouch, that hurt.  Luckily the couple on the tandem seemed OK.  I felt really awful about that.  There didn’t seem to be that much damage on my bike
(shredded tire, out of true wheel), but I still need to take it into the shop.  But I did suffer some bruised on my ribs, and that hurt.

The first few days after the accident, I’ve been having some challenges moving around.  Coughing and laughing made my sides hurt, and getting in and out of bed were a challenge.  Ok, this is a definite sign … This will force me to take some time off the bike.

Now the hard … Time off the bike.  I guess I have to now think of things normal people do when not on the bike.  That’s hard.  But I guess I can catch up on movies, catch up writing blogs, clean the house, and reevaluate my goals for the year.  I think I won’t be able to do this until I am completely healed.  This will most likely mean missing Santa Cruz Mountain Challenge, and that really pisses me off.  Oh well, what can I do.  Guess I’ll have to live life like a normal person … Nooooooo!

I envy everyone that is able to ride their bike this weekend.  Just be attentive, and be safe, ride defensive.  Beware if traffic around you, especially if you are looking down at your Garmin.  I’m not sure, but I think that’s what happened to me.  I feel really stupid after this.  :(

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No I’m Not Driving at 2 am for 2 Hours then Ride a Double

I signed up for Davis Double, but I didn’t reserve the day off like I normally do.  Things happened all of a sudden, and with my worries with my Debit Card, I didn’t think about taking a PTO day and renting a motel the night before.  So this meant waking up really early Saturday morning, driving at 2 am for 2 hours, checking in, then ride for 14+ hours.  When I finally got everything together, my mind was not on the mood, so I went back to sleep.

It was a shame because a bunch of my friends are riding it, and it would have been cool to ride with them.  After my DNF at DMD, I didn’t do much riding at all.  I had my list DL and debit c to deal with … I was on call, so no riding on the weekend, and I had to waste another Saturday waiting for my replacement card via UPS.  My only real riding was last Sunday, and even on that, I was suffering and a fairly flat 62 miler.  Basically, I lost core fitness, and not really ready for a double.

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To make up for it, I decided to do a pretty tough 50 miler up Mt. Umunhum.  At first, I would see how I feel climbing up Kennedy, and if I felt well enough, I’d do Hicks, and then if I’m up for it, Mt. Umunhum.

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I surprised myself that I was able to make it to the corner of Hicks and Mt. Umunhum Rd.  Since I’m here, what the heck, let’s continue. 

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It always amazes me that I never see any other cyclists up this road.  I know others climb this, but I hardly ever see any others when I do this solo.  Or an I just that insane?  Don’t answer that!

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As I get closer, I can see the cube at the top of the mountain.  Currently, it’s off limits, and looking forward to when they open that up to the public.  It would be one hell of a chimbfest though.

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I’m kind of lucky that the weather cooperated nicely … Temp was in the high 70s, so heat exhaustion wouldn’t be creeping up on me.  I think that helped me get to the Umunhum gate.

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I continued past this gate, and the further I went up the steeper the climb got.  Funny how that works out.  It also slowed me down a lot.  I know I’m pretty close to the no trespass line, and its not much to see there.  I figured I shouldn’t kill myself to get to that spot, so now is as good a time to turn around. 

As I’m on my way back, I do notice my back aching a little bit.  This must mean my core strength has gone south.  My endurance is shot, and this makes me glad I bailed on the Double.  I continued on, and was ok as long as there are not too many hills.  This just means I need to do some abs work, planks, and just keep working on endurance rides.  Daily commute are not helping on endurance. But at least I was able to complete Mt. Umunhum, which is no easy feat.

Stats: 56.5 miles, 4164 feet climbing

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Probably The Worst Customer Service Experience I’ve Had To Date

Couple of weeks ago, the inevitable happened … My Drivers license and Debit Card fell out of my jersey pocket.  I thought at first that I didn’t bring it with me when I went on my ride after work, but when I checked the office the next day, it wasn’t there.  Oh crap.

So I went into my local branch to try to get a replacement ATM card, but then they needed an ID card in order to give me that and I didn’t have it.  I went ahead and got an ATM card ordered on Monday and they told me it would be on a 2 business days delivery Express Mail.  I called on Wednesday to try to get
a tracking id, but then they said it was thru UPS. OK so what’s the tracking id? They didn’t have one. I actually arranged to work half day from home, just so that I would be here, just in case I needed to sign for it. Well, I waited all day and it never came.

I called them to report that the ATM card never showed up I asked if they had a tracking ID but they still didn’t have one. They suggested I call back good in the morning to follow up on this. They said that the original order that was cut on Monday never got printed so it never actually got past home plate. At this point I’m really irrate. And yes, I did escalate this … In fact every time I called, I had to escalate it.

So now the customer service agent orders a new card and says I would get that next business day but that I would have to call back later for a tracking ID. I proceeded to call multiple times, and each time, they give me a different story. One says the card in process, another says it’s for 5-7 business day delivery …. Arghh. The fact that the agent told me next business day and this one contradicts that … What the hell is going on here? Finally after several more calls, I find out the Thursday order is not next business but 2 business day, which would mean Monday. Nooo … This would mean almost 2 weeks without a debit card. I need it now! They then authorize for Saturday delivery, but guess what … I have no tracking id.

I call in again Friday afternoon, and they again say it’s not expedited and is schedule to arrive in 5-7 business days. I explain the situation yet again, but they don’t see it expedited. The agent says they will try to get the debit card person involved but she is not at her desk. She says either she or the debit card person will give me a call back within the next 24-48 hours. No, this is not good enough. I get them to promise to call me, either way with a status before COB, which would be 9 pm.

I get an email at about 6 pm from UPS regarding delivery for Saturday, and for the first time, with a tracking id. Notice I never got a call from customer service. I did get my card finally at 1 pm on Saturday. It meant having to wait for this package, and I had to cancel a ride with my good friend Karen, who was up for the weekend for Mother’s Day. That really pissed me off.

Oh the call that I was promised? No call yet. Chase, you failed miserably.

Oh my lesson here … Put my id in my saddle bag so that I did risk it flying out of my jersey pocket. Wow!

All this ordeal was hanging over my head, and I was not in the right frame of mind for riding. Now that I got this squared away, I an enjoy my ride. Two weeks lost training, and Davis Double is coming up next week. I think I’ll just have to wing it.

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Devil’s Mountain Double was Epic, but DNF’d

I finally got the courage to enter and ride Devil’s Mountain Double, despite the advertised 206 mile, 18,600 feet total elevation.  However, the result was a DNF, but it’s not that I am disappointed at this.  I am pretty happy with my performance.

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I got really good news on Thursday, that my co-worker, who lives 12 minutes from the start, was offering to let me stay overnight.  Cool.  I was originally going to drive over at 3:30 am (meaning I’d have to wait up by 2:30 am).  This meant getting at least an hour more sleep, and a much shorter drive, and a civilized start of the day.  This was better than a 5 star hotel.

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We rolled out at 4:59 am, and started out with Curtis and Rick.  I made sure I took it easy at the start, as I knew we’d be heading straight up Mt. Diablo first.  I was amazed how many riders had the bad luck of having a mechanical, even before starting the climb.

This year, DMD is not one of the Triple Crown Stage races, and the organizers wanted to stress being able to enjoy the surroundings, and enjoy the scenery.  Ok, I can do that … don’t have to twist my arm.  One thing I’ll have to say … early morning Mt. Diablo climbs are spectacular, and even the best pictures, and best descriptions don’t do it justice.

Curtis and Rick ended up summiting Mt. Diablo before I did.  I was trying to stay within comfortable limits.

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When I finally got up to the top, my friend Victor was helping support the ride, and he was taking pictures if everyone summiting Mt. Diablo. Funny, he didn’t realize it was me until I pass by him. Very cool.

OK, down the hill, and here I made up some time because for some reason, I acclimated to the cold better than others, which caused them to be a lot more cautious on the descent, and I eventually caught up with Curtis and Rick.

We continued ride together through Morgan Territory, then over to Livermore, but split up by the time we got to Paterson Pass. This was the defining moment of the ride, as this is what kicked us all in the ass. We had gale force winds, plus the Double digit grades we had to climb. This combination was brutal.

I descended down the other side, and the route merged with the Wente RR.  As they pass me, I get a real cool kudos from the lead pack.  “Is that DMD you’re riding?  Awesome” … that’s pretty cool to get kudos from some hot shot racer.

One thing I have always feared was making the time cut off. We had to get to the Mines Road checkpoint and leave no later than 1:30 pm, then get to lunch at The Junction by 4:30 pm. It was pretty flat getting to Mines Road but I wasn’t sure how well I was doing on time. There were other riders near me, so that made me feel a lot better. We ended up getting there a little past 1 pm, so that’s one hurdle we crossed.

Now it’s onto Mines Rd., which Eye on the Bay called “the road that goes to nowhere”. That is such an appropriate adjective, as it just kept going on forever. I also had Scott in the SAG wagon, checking up on me just to see how well I’m doing. I started thinking if I’m the last rider, and will I make the cutoff for lunch? About 10 miles from lunch, we had a water stop and they confirmed I’m not the last one … It just felt like it, with no one behind me.

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Finally, I get to lunch, and there are still people here .. Woohoo. Victor was there to greet me, along with Kermit and a few other Double Century notables. More importantly, they had food here … Mmm chicken sandwich never tasted so good.

Off to climb Mt. Hamilton. I didn’t climb from the Junction to the top of Hamilton in a while … Maybe I should have? I forgot about the double digit grades at mile 10-12. I thought it was all from mile 5 but they still have some kickers before that. At this stage, the climbing was all a matter of survival .. Just turn the crank and keep moving. I had just done this climb a week ago, so at least my body is used to this, except I only had 25 miles in my legs, as opposed to 120 miles. The one saving grace is at least there is still some sunlight left.

I get to the top and only one person passed me. I was a little surprised by that. I thought there were more behind me. There was no rest stop at the top, and I had to go down to Brothers, so time to layer up, and get ready for a cold descent. I had no toe covers so I just gotta suffer through it.

The sunset coming through the clouds was a cool and eerie sight. I was descending this but really enjoying the scenery (I guess you can say I’m taking Scott’s advise, and take in the beauty). I wasn’t cold either, and this was probably my favorite part of the ride, as I’ve never descended Hamilton at this time of the evening.

The rest stop is off of Crothers and in someone’s home. Now that’s the way to have a rest stop. Nice warm soup awaits. I caught up to Curtis here, not knowing he was ready to their in the towel, due to cold, and not being able to keep control. That’s too bad, as I finally was able to ride along with him.

Ok, continuing on, and Sierra Road awaits. Lucky for me it’s dark so I won’t have to see how steep the road is that I have to tackle. As I climb, a group of DMD volunteers were parked in the hill, cheering me on, ringing cowbells … I I’ve that enthusiasm and I really appreciated it. This was just awesome .. Now if only I can finish the climb. Well that’s easier said than done.

I was struggling to find leg strength and it just wasn’t there. I found myself stopping about 5 times. I even walked a few hundred steps, but I had to keep on going. Another push, then I see a car coming down thinking “I wonder if that’s a SAG wagon” … and it was. I officially throw in the towel at this point. Checking my Garmin, I’m at 159 miles and just under 17,000 feet climbing. Wow these stats are out if this world.

http://www.strava.com/activities/134737680

So I DNF’d … I still feel great about what I accomplished. Some couldn’t even fathom doing this. I started but I simply did not finish. As my friend Lynn says, consider it as a kick ass training ride.

I got to chat with some of the finishers at the end, and it was refreshing to find out Patterson Pass affected them as much it affected me. This was brutal. It wasn’t raining, it wasn’t hot, but the wind made it so tough. Now that we are off the road, we’re all smiles.

 

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