Yes, I Still Ride my Triple

You don’t find many LBS carrying triple chainrings, with the thought that a compact double has the gearing enough for any rides. Well, for the Bay Area, that may be fine for fit racers, but for us average weekend riders, who love to climb hills, the triple is a much needed weapon.

Take for example my last ride. Al and I decided to go on this epically hard ride on President’s Day holiday. The highlight of the ride was a ride up Bohlman, Norton, Kittridge, Quickert, then On Orbit. Now this was epic. However, to prepare for these climbs, a little warm up is really needed. So I kicked it off with a little climb up Montebello Road, which in itself, is no slouch either. It’s 5.1 miles, with about 2000 feet of climbing.

It started out frigidly cold, so we started fairly late, 9:30 am … it was still about 45 F at the start. It was windy, cold, and the temperature didn’t really warm up. The sun was out, but don’t let that fool you. We definitely needed to bundle up.

It’s a bad sign when you start the ride, and you ride into a headwind. Usually, the winds around Sunnyvale are fairly calm, but not this day. After doing a few local short hills around Rancho San Antonio Park, the wind calmed down considerably. It also gave us a chance to warm up a little bit. However, the wind and the cold was concerning, and I was even thinking about bailing on some of the climbs, but look at this … blue skies all around. We were thinking if it gets too windy, and too cold, we could shorten the climb to the Montebello school, which is halfway up, but the wind and cold actually calmed down on the mountain. I’ll say that again … it’s windy and cold in the valley, but calm, and a little warmer in the mountains, with higher elevation. That’s backwards!

We got to the top, with no issues. I for one was not pushing too hard on this climb, knowing what we have to come later. I’ve been averaging between 51 to 55 minutes on this climb, and today, we came in at 53 minutes. I guess I’m still in shape. The view was spectacular today, and it was very clear. And there was no wind evident up at the top.

Descending Montebello was cold … frigidly cold. So there were two trains of thought for the descent … get off the mountain as fast as you can, but then the faster you go, the colder you’d get. For me, I decided to go slowly, because once you get into the shady sections of the descent, the temps drop. The low on my Garmin showed 34 F, and I think that was during our descent. We just needed to get to any place where there was sun, so we saw a sunny spot, and just sat there, soaking in the rays, while our body temperature warmed up.

We were originally going to climb up Redwood Gulch, but that would mean we would have to go into Stevens Canyon, and the temperature would drop going there … uh … no! Up Mt. Eden we go, and adding in a few short, steep hills, like Teerlink, Saratoga Summit … nice 16% grades, to warm the body up.

Ok, now for the big climb. I always get a kick out of this climb, as it passes by a cemetery at the base of the climb. Is that a little omen? Well, we’ve done this all before … Norton is fine, Kittridge is tough, but then when we got onto Quickert … oh boy. I think it was sustained 15-18% there (maybe even more in some spots). Al even had thoughts of stopping and walking, but he knew I was behind him. When we finally got to On Orbit, we had to take a breather.

I had to give Al the bad news that what we did, wasn’t even On Orbit, that this left turn we are making is On Orbit, and this is where the real climb starts. WTF ??? Yes, onwards to more 18-25% climbs. Thank god for my granny gear, 30-28 … and using every gear inch of that thing. There is something soothing about you on the climb, with no cars, just hearing your derailleur in the back, climbing to the rhythm of your breathing, and not worrying about what is ahead. I did take a quick peak near the summit, just to know where I am, but I just kept at my same rhythm … it’s kind of a mental, psychological thing.

We made it!!! It’s not the highest peak, but it definitely is one of the toughest. Looking back, we started to wonder if this is the toughest climb in the Bay Area … it definitely is one of the toughest. Another one that comes to mind is Welch Creek, off of Calaveras, east of Fremont. Al thinks On Orbit is tougher, but I think Welch Creek … both of them are hard, but picking which is tougher is a tough call.

Anyhow, this is why I still have a triple chainring. If you are doing something this epic, you need those extra gear inches, especially since we are not getting any younger. I’m definitely tagging this one as a climbfest.

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Skyline is Finally Open

Yes, Skyline (aka Hwy 35) thru Los Gatos is once again open. Last year, we had heavy rains that was enough to cause a big section of the road to disappear. They had to have a drone take aerial shots to give you the magnitude of the damage.

This has now been repaired. Oh I had forgotten what ride I was missing. It was glorious, especially riding thru the Christmas tree farm.

This meant I’m finally able to do my Big Basin Loop, via Bear Creek.

It was a nice 66 mile, 7300 foot climbfest. This is why I live in California.

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Those Annoying Video Auto-Play

Ever go to a web site, which has multiple video feeds, and you are trying to read an article, then suddenly, this video automatically plays … arghhh!!!!  It is damned annoying.  Well, I finally found a way to have it stop doing that!  However, this may be a local only setting, so I have no idea how to modify this on a cell phone.

If using Firefox, here’s what you do:

  1. Open a new tab, and enter the address about:config.  It will give you a big warning, that you might void your warranty.  Every time I’ve done this, nothing really happens to my PC (warn you about performance, security).  Actually, having it autoplay is a security issue in itself, but that’s a different topic.  If you are fine with this, go ahead and “accept the risk”.
  2. Search for media.autoplay.enabled.  You will see that the default is enabled.  Double-click this, and it will change to false.  Video should not autoplay after modifying this.

If using Google Chrome:

  1. Open a new tab, and enter the address chrome://flags
  2. Search for autoplay.  In the pulldown, select “Document user activation is required”

This is assuming the site you are accessing is using HTML5 (which most of them are).

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Another Year, and More Time to Reflect

Another year has gone by, and it is one frankly, I would like to just move on.  However, it does make me think about everything I do, what I enjoy, etc … As we get older, me, and my family does get older.  That is always the number 1 priority .. family, and family health.

Oh, BTW, in case you are wondering, Dad is fine, in good health.  However, that does in part, dictate what I can do in my other passion, cycling.  Double Centuries are a bit on the backburner, and frankly, I don’t know if I have the mindset to do another one.  It does take a lot of devotion to training for it, and then there is the actual day itself.  We’ll see.  In the meantime, I’ll continue to do my epic climbfest, filled with gnarly hill climbs (you know, the 15-20% climbs).

As far as goals, I don’t think I will have any.  I didn’t make any last year, and I don’t think I will this year.  If I happen to build up my weekend riding and stamina, maybe I’ll consider training for a double, but all the planning is going to be tough.  Between my visits to LA monthly, and my on call responsibilities, that already takes up two weekends out of the month.  That leaves not much time to train … Oh, and plus it’s that age thing too!  But then again, most of my double century friends are older than me, so I really can’t use that as an excuse.

For now, I’ll just enjoy my climbs up Mt. Diablo, Mt. Hamilton, Mt. Umunhum, Crystal Lake, Baldy, and do the other famous climbs in LA that I still haven’t done … like Onyx Summit, Dawson Saddle, to name a few.

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Happy New Year 2018

I must be getting old, or my priorities are more clear. Yeah, I know, a lot of people want to socialize, party, to celebrate this past year, and ring in the new, but I haven’t felt that need. Instead, I’d rather wake up, get ready for the fresh new year, and kick it off with a ride.

Luckily there weren’t many idiots, firing off firecrackers, so I could get some sleep.

I decided to just do Mt. Hamilton, which seemed to be a tradition with many people … Kick off the new year with a good climb. I decided to drive to a park close to the base of the climb. I didn’t feel like fighting cars on freeway overpasses. That kept my sanity intact, even though I would lose some base miles … But hey, it’s safer.

There weren’t as many people out there as I was anticipating. Maybe more if them were out on San Bruno Mountain climb, or maybe they’re out on Mt. Umunhum (I did that on Xmas day), but it was still nice, not a lot of traffic out there.

There was a lot of haze out there, so it would be much better once I climb over that. I eventually meet up with a ride, Ty, who had his new year bell, ringing it along with any rider we encountered … It was great. That kept the ride enjoyable (as if I needed something to make this ride enjoyable).

I could tell I hadn’t climbed much during the week, as my legs started to fatigue near the top. Oh but wait, it always does, after doing 20 miles of climbing …

Happy New Year from Mt. Hamilton. Here’s to a great 2018.

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Farewell 2017 and Looking forward to 2018

Wow, it’s already end of 2017. I didn’t have any real goals for the year. No major events, no double centuries, not even a single century. All that mattered was that I enjoyed the ride. I guess that’s all that counted,

My longest ride was only 89 miles (actually, I did do a century, but because of my Garmin, I had to split it up into two separate rides.

I was not happy with some of the political decisions by our leaders, but I don’t like to get into politics, so I won’t go there.

As a sports fan, there was the success of the Dodgers to the World Series, only to lose in 7 games. That’s a heartbreaker. I was pleasantly surprised how well the Rams did this year … the LA Rams. Looking forward to see how far they can go.

For New Years Day, I haven’t decided on if I’ll do Mt. Hamilton or do a century to SF and back. Regardless, I’m wishing everyone a Happy New Year.

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First Time up Cloud Burst Summit

Ever since I left Southern California, about 19 years ago, I would keep visiting LA and actually doing more climbing than when I used to live in LA. Yes, I’ve done all the epic climbs

  • Mt. Baldy
  • Mt. Wilson
  • Deer Creek Challenge
  • PV Loop
  • Potrero
  • Grimes

But one that I have not done is Cloud Burst Summit. Ken Mathis posts a ride, going up Hwy 39 to Cloud Burst .. Hey I’m in, and more importantly, a chance to hang out with my So Cal friends, and hanging out with some new friends too.

We started at the first parking lot above East Fork Road. I’ve never started a ride from here, but it’s actually nice, not having to fight the traffic from Azusa up to this point. However, next time I’ll have to remember to get an Adventure Pass (thanks Ken for the spare pass).

The temps were mild, but was unsure how cold it would be in the shade, so I brought my windbreaker just to be on the safe side.

There’s something about Ken’s group rides … he always attracts hoards of riders to come along. I guess that’s why I love coming back all the time.

It felt odd climbing this part of Hwy 39, with less than 2 miles into the ride.

Part way up the climb, there seemed to be a search and rescue chopper hovering over the canyon. That chopper was loud, and of course, we had to stop and check out what’s going on. We didn’t see anything, but it was cool to see that big chopper hovering overhead.

One concern was availability of water on this ride. Other than Crystal Lake, there is no water, with the exception of the spring off the mountain. About 2/3 the way up the hill, there is one such spring. It’s fresh, and cool, and most likely more clean than any water we’d get from a drinking fountain.

When we get past Crystal Lake, someone drove up with refreshments just before we continue past the road closed gate. That was a welcome sign, with cold water, soda, and potato chips. Aww, that was really refreshing, before continuing up the climb.

Now onto the climb. First getting around this road closure. It didn’t say anything about no bikes, so off we go.

The road conditions up here are not that great. You had rocks falling down from the hillside, to the point where it is not driveable. It’s a technical ascent on road bikes, but at least it wasn’t a steep grade. I’ve heard some of the rocks can be so sharp that it would gash a tire.

The last time I attempted this section of Hwy 39, it was cold, I had hot feet, and I was aching everywhere. I was so exhausted I bailed about a mile from the top. As Ken mentioned, I fumbled at the 99 yard line. Not this time … I was determined to make it at least to the other side.

Onto Cloud Burst … I didn’t know I was going to go through a tunnel. Damn, I didn’t have my blinkers with me. Luckily there weren’t any cars out here. There’s always something about riding through a tunnel though.

Even though the grades to Cloud Burst is not too bad, it’s still the amount of climbing in the legs, up to 7000 foot elevation. Of course, being one of three newbies to this climb, we had to take a few pictures.

Of course, this deserves a group photo.

Whew now for the return back, however it is not just a simple downhill … On the way back are a bunch of rollies.

Oh and there is the 2 mile climb up to Crystal Lake Cafe. After this epic climb fest, Crystal Lake is a must. Mmmm … Food!!!

Oh one more group picture …

And the rest of the ride??? Well give into your tight tuck, as we are bombing down this mountain. Strava says I got 47.5 mph …. Well that was fun.

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