Cranking up Those Miles in July

Wow, I guess I had a pretty good month in July. Stuck in the middle was Santa Cruz Mountain Challenge, a good 95 mile ass kicker, but I did keep up with good solid rides. It feels good, and I feel stronger, and to some extent, more fit. I’m able to hang in with the Meetup group, without getting caught up in the back.

782 miles is for to be one of my best months. Felt so good, I signed up for Carmel Valley Double Century at end of August. Now why did I go and do something like that? I guess I need to keep it up

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Santa Cruz Mountain Challenge 2018

The 2018 edition of the Santa Cruz Mountain Challenge was this past Saturday.  It’s one of my favorite organized ride … this is the 4th time I’ve done it.  In years past, it used to start from Scotts Valley, and was set so that you do a base route, then if you wanted to, you can do optional “spurs”, or extra hill climbs.  A few years ago, they moved the start location to UCSC campus, and hence, different featured climbs, and a more traditional ride, with 4 lengths (with no “spurs”).  The latest design is kinda nice, as the later portions of the ride runs parallel to Hwy 1, and you ride along the Pacific Ocean coastline.

What I like about this, is that you can check-in the day prior, in Campbell (for those of us who live in Silicon Valley area, who intend to do the ride).  That’s smart of the organizers, knowing that a bunch of the participants are from the San Jose area.

I treated this a little bit like a double century, where I would wake up really early, and I basically left the house by 5 am, to get to the start by 6 am.  I made sure I spent a minimum amount of time at the rest stops.

Because I started so early, I rode along with the 135 mile riders.  That meant, after going to the first rest stop, as I climb Zayante, I was basically the only one on the road.  Eventually, I would get passed by some of the stronger, faster riders.  It’s different riding Zayante first, which is nice.  At least I didn’t have to do the long slog up the hill with tired legs.

The one obvious benefit of starting so early is that the sun would stay down until at least the first big climb was finished. Actually, last year, it stayed overcast most of the day, but on this day, it did peep out right before we got to Alba, the marquee climb of the day. They made Alba a time trial.

It was interesting, because there were quite a few people that did not treat this like a time trial. Most were taking breaks here and there, taking pictures, stopping at scenic points … I just continued on, even though I know my time would be twice as slow as the top finishers.

During the climb, my Garmin would keep beeping me, because it would lose a GPS signal.  Later, I found out my Garmin tracking was so off course, it didn’t even know I was riding the Alba segment … so my Strava didn’t have an Alba segment.  It’s not a big deal … not like I would be competing against anyone.

When I finally got to the top, I saw my friend Lorri there.  She had been there for a little bit, and I was just trying to catch my breath.  At least lunch was just a couple miles up the road, so there’s that to look forward to.


They had a pretty nice spread for lunch. I made pretty good time, as it was just after 11 am by the time I got there.


The ride then went down to the coast, and it was a screaming descent, with 30+ mph speeds going down Bonny Doon. We then hit Hwy 1 north to Swanton Road, where we had a nice little climb (nothing like Alba or Zayante) … then back south on Hwy 1. The next part of the 101 mile route would be to go back up Bonny Doon … the same stretch where we were descending 30+ mph. No way! That’s a little silly, so instead of doing that, I just followed the 76 mile route, where we go straight into Santa Cruz, and then cruise along the Santa Cruz shoreline.


From here, we made to final grinding hill climb back up to the UCSC campus, and onto the finish.  It’s always that last 5 mile grind to the finish that gets annoying, but glad I made it through.  It wasn’t a full century .. it turned into a 95 mile, 8500 foot climb ride.  It was a fun ride, and I’ll probably do it again next year.


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Survived the Excessive Heat Advisory

There was a massive heat wave that hit the southwest, which included all of Southern California.  And guess who decided to visit Southern California during this heat wave … yeah, yours truly.  I figured that since we have the 4th of July off, I might as well extend my time off with a couple extra days to extend to the weekend.  I knew it would be bad when I saw the forecast to be 108 F in Rosemead, which is where I would stay.


Well that forecast was a little generous … actually, it got even hotter.  It got to 112 F at the hottest point, and that wasn’t even the hottest in the Southern California area.  The hottest was in Woodland Hills, where it got to 117 F.  Yeesh!


Needless to say, I didn’t ride on this day.  I actually got into town the day before, and rode around the Rose Bowl for about an hour … but even then, the temp was around 100 F.

Saturday, I did a ride with a bunch of friends, and we started in Tustin, then headed to the coast, then went south to Carlsbad (just south of Oceanside).  It was a cool 82 F on that ride … much better than the triple digit temps forecasted in the valley.  And that was about 10 degrees cooler than the previous day.

We took the train back from Oceanside, back to Tustin.  The Metrolink route goes parallel to the beach, so as you can probably imagine, a number of people were taking the train from the beach back inland.  And yes, Metrolink was crowded.  I guess it’s kinda lucky we boarded with all our bikes in Oceanside, where we did have room to get all our bikes on.  Passengers who boarded a few stops later weren’t so lucky


It was actually pretty funny … the train conductor was begging people to get onto the train.  In my 10 years of riding Caltrain, I never heard them begging for people to get onto the train.

When we finally got back into Tustin, opening the door, it was an oven … Oooh … we wanted to get back into the train.  Oh well.

I was to drive back the next day … I decided I would leave before 7 am, just so I can beat the heat.  Luckily, the temp never got above 100 while on the drive … at least according to my thermometer.  By the time I got into San Jose, it was in the low 90s.  At least it wasn’t 111 F.

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Happy 4th of July

It’s the 4th of July, aka Independence Day … independence of America from the British Empire.  Anyhow, that means a day off, and I figured a climb up to Mt. Umunhum.

The sun was out, but it was by no means warm.  In fact, it was windy, blustery, and I even had to go back and get my jacket.  It’s kinda funny … when I stopped at an intersection, the wind died down … but once I started moving again, the wind started picking up.

The wind kept blustering until I got over the hill near Los Gatos.  Climb up Kennedy, and the wind was non-existent.

I didn’t feel particularly strong, so by the time I got to the steep climb on Hicks, I knew I was in for trouble.  However, I persevered, and got through it.  I took a good long rest at the base of the Mt. Umunhum climb, then forged on.  I decided to stop at Bald Mountain, before continuing on.  I guess that rest did help, as I ended up getting a Personal Record from Bald Mountain to the summit of Mt. Umunhum.  Hmm … go figure.

On the climb up, people were passing me left and right.  Apparently, there was a group of riders, who left from Los Altos, and had a myriad of former olympic riders for USA, Canada, and even a California State Champion.

Arrived at the summit, and it was pretty calm.  The cloud stayed away from Mt. Umunhum, so we could still get a scenic view of sorts.

Ooh, that took a bit out of my legs, as I was just limping along back home.  Not sure what it was about this, but I guess that’s why it’s a training ride.  Happy Independence Day!

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It was the Disc Rotor After All

I’ve had a problem with my front disc squealing like crazy. I only noticed it after I replaced my front and rear disc rotor recently. It was squealing on the front discs only … the rear was fine.

When I noticed this, I discounted it being the disc. I only had it for a few months when I first noticed it. I mean, it couldn’t be the disc, because it was too old. After inquiring through various channels, the suggestions were:

  1. Disc rotors are dirty. Resolution is to spray the disc with cleaning substance, or rubbing alcohol. It got to a point where I would carry portable medical wipes (pre-dipped with rubbing alcohol).
  2. Clean the brake pads. It was suggested to take the disc pads out, put a drop of dishwasher detergent, then rub the pads together, and rinse it off.
  3. Sand down the disc rotor with sandpaper

The sand paper idea helped for a little bit, but it eventually came back. I went through 3 sets of replacement disc brake pads (including going from organic, to sintered, then back to organic), but that didn’t help.

Finally, I broke down, and decided to buy a disc rotor. I decided to buy a different one .. my old one was a Tektro … I decided to get a Shimano this time.

After struggling with the alignment, I finally took it out for a few spins, and so far so good. Going through several hill climbs, and hill descents, it seems to be as quiet as I would expect it to be. It still doesn’t seem that the disc is bad, but the proof is in the ride. I guess I can now ride in the early morning, and not be worried that I will be waking up the neighborhood.

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Summer is Here and I’m Not Heat Trained

So far, it hasn’t been even a hint of June.  It’s been overcast a lot lately … to the point where I had to wear arm warmers and knee warmers for my morning commute.  I even had to wear arm warmers on my afternoon commute.

Well, finally, we got a dose of summer … to the point where even in Sunnyvale, we got triple digits:


Just by coincidence, I decided to ride with Western Wheelers … the ride was going to Half Moon Bay, but it was so friggin’ hot (climbing up Kings Mountain), that I had no desire to go down the hill (even though it would be much cooler).  I would have to climb up the hill, and it would probably have been in the 90s while I was climbing.  No thanks.  My body was not conditioned for this heat.

What a big change from last week … I had to alter my ride at Lexington Dam, because it was cold, foggy, and windy.  And this weekend, temps were in the 100s … I just wonder how hot it was inland.

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Mendocino Monster Century

The Death Ride advertises Mendocino Monster as a good tune up for the Death Ride, saying if you can do this, you are ready for the Death Ride.  I’m still not sure if I will do the Death Ride, but my co-worker convinced me to do this ride with him.

He insisted on driving the course before hand, with the thought that he wanted to know what he was up against.  I’ve done many rides, just signing up, and doing it, based on the description of the ride in the web site.  Ok, I’ll go along for the ride.

So we arrived on Saturday, checked in the hotel, then went off and drove the course.  We saw the climbs, and its funny … we can clearly see when the climbing starts, and we thought, this is where the pain starts.  In reality, it wasn’t as bad as we thought from driving … I guess judging that takes a little more experience.

We stopped by one of the rest stops, and oh, boy … it’s a microbrewery … Anderson Valley.  mmm …. beer

When we got to “the monster”, we saw what we were up against.  The road was really choppy, and it turned out it was much rougher on the car than it was on the bike.  But at least we knew the road conditions were full of bumps (but luckily not a whole lot of pot holes).  We did see some patches of road that were just gravel sections of approximately 100 feet, so not too bad.

We got on the road a little before 6 am.  We didn’t see anyone set up there, so we just decided to go.  It turned out we were the first ones to arrive at the 1st rest stop, but that was fine.  I know people would be passing us up along the route.

First climb up was Mountain Home.  The climb wasn’t too bad … was about 5-7% for the most part, but not too bad.  It was a bit like stair step climb, but it was a nice intro for the legs.

We descend down to Hwy 128, and we basically build up the miles along this stretch, with the ultimate goal of reaching Flynn Creek.  In the meantime, we enjoy nice smooth paved road.  The next rest stop is Anderson Valley Brew, which we visited yesterday.  It was a good thing the brew was closed, so we weren’t tempted to go inside and have another one.  I like the icon though … a bear with antlers sticking out of his head.  Cool.


Ok, back onto Hwy 128.  There were some really pretty stretches here, covered with Redwoods, and you just had to sit up and just take it in.  Not all of this ride was suffering … a lot of it was nice scenery.

The next turn is Flynn Creek Road, and this takes you right into the forest.  Flynn Creek is a nice gentle climb, nothing more than 5%, so it’s the calm before the storm.  We stopped at Comptche School, before heading back to Ukiah along Comptche, which eventually turned into Orr Springs Road.  The route slip actually tells you to continue on Orr Springs Road, but I never did see any street signs referring to that street, and even Google didn’t mention that, until the very end of the descent.

Anyhow, there was a series of rollies along this road, full of rough pavement.  It was actually a bit rougher driving through this, then it was riding here on bike.  On the bike, we were able to pick and choose our lines … however, there were some stretch that were full of patched holes, and it made for a bumpy spin.

At the next rest stop, they had a much better food layout.  This was definitely the best, and there were hard boiled eggs, sweet potatoes, ham sandwiches … Oh I went to town on this!

I needed this, because the steep climb out of the forest is coming up.  Yes, it was tough, but nothing I haven’t done before.  The fact that this comes at mile 92, is kind of a sick joke, but it is what it is.

It’s interesting they had a water stop, half way up the final climb, on a day that was in the 70s.  I think they just have that stop, because it can get into the 100s in past years, where water stop was a necessity, but not today.

At the summit, they have a popsicle stop, which felt good, even on a day in the 70s.  However, the descent down wasn’t all downhill … there were a few more bumps, before heading back into town, and then back to the finish.

All in all, I loved this ride.  It was fun, and scenic, and I highly recommend this for a nice weekend getaway.  Gorgeous scenery, great cameraderie, and everyone was so nice and friendly.


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