Category Archives: 30 Days of cycling

Knoxville Double … Double #6 #30daysofbiking

I didn’t get much sleep the night before this ride.  Everything seemed to be in check … checked in before 6 pm, and finished dinner before 7 pm … so everything should be okay, right?  Well, for whatever reason, I just couldn’t sleep.  Perhaps it was due to all my excitement for doing this ride.

Curtis and Dan carbo-loading

I rode with Curtis and Daniel.  Here we are the night before, with a pre-ride carbo load.  We found a nice little mexican take-out place.  Note the happy faces are before the ride!

Ron and Curtis ... riding in patch black

We left Adobe Pena park at 3:45 am.  There were a few others that started before us, and I think we passed one of the groups … but most started around 4:30 am.  We wouldn’t see many riders till about 3-4 hours later, when they overtake us.

First climb was Mt. George.  We still didn’t get passed by anyone, so that was a good sign.  We started so early that they just barely had the first rest stop set up, so we just decided to bypass it.  Only one problem with that strategy … porter potties.  We’d have to go 62 miles before making a pit stop.  Well, as it turned out, we did an emergency road-side pit stop anyways, just before the rest stop.  Oh well.

The 2nd big climb is Howell Mountain.  We saw a bunch of locals out climbing this (many of them faster climbers … although they didn’t have to ride 200 miles!).  I went on ahead, feeling pretty strong (hmm … maybe I was going out too strong?).  What’s nice is they had a porter potty in the middle of the climb.  Sweet!  I definitely took advantage of this opportunity.  This is the point where we started to see the later starters pass us up (oh, sorry, pass me up).

The ride organizers were giving us a stern admonishment regarding the descent on Howell Mountain.  So I figure I should be taking it easy here, but I found the descent to be smooth, and switchbacks were fairly gentle.  I mean, if they really want to see a scary descent, try Page Mill in Palo Alto.  Anyhow, from there, we drop into Pope Valley, which is where we started our pre-ride on Labor Day Weekend.  Suddenly, we are in familiar territory.

Next up, is the long climb starting at Lake Berryessa, on up Knoxville Road.  What also made this difficult was the hottest time of the day.  It starts off with some rollies, then it kicks up to 10-12%, but when you add mid-90 degree heat, that really depletes you.  What’s also freaky is you will see some hunters up and down this road.  I saw a few of them, with rifle straddling their shoulder.  Hopefully they won’t be shooting at cyclists.

Around the 88 mile mark is when the climbing on Knoxville Road starts.  Even though I know the hill, and when to prepare, there’s nothing that will prepare you for heat.  In fact, there was a SAG wagon offering ice socks … oh how can I resist that!  That felt good, but I was still struggling.

I finally made it to the tunnel, but I needed the water stop now.  Two hill climbs later, then came the water stop.  My legs were really spent at this point, and just wanted to soak my head into the ice chest.  Ramon was here manning the stop, and had a nice refreshing mist … this is one tough hill.  Later, I found out everyone suffers badly on this climb.  At least I’m not the only one.

There were still a couple more hills to climb, so I just had to grin and bear it.  Curtis and Daniel had much fresher legs than me (they took a slower pace on the bottom, so maybe that’s what I should have done).

We made a very quick lunch stop (I had a really quick burrito), but maybe I should have just let Curtis and Dan go ahead.  My legs were still shot.

We continued on to Siegler Canyon, then Loch Lomond.  We grinded it up Siegler Canyon, and by the time we made the turn onto Loch Lomond, I had to rest.  Curtis and Dan came by, but they wanted to continue .. I still needed to rest.  Even after the rest, I was still suffering up Loch Lomond.  I was not alone either … many riders were hopping from one shady spot to the next.  I got to the point where I could not turn the pedal anymore.  I flagged a SAG wagon, and got then to fill my bottle with ice … but even that didn’t help me.  I had to walk the last 500 feet or so.  Even though I was at the summit, the road continued flat for about a mile until it descended to a general store, where Curtis and Dan were there … Curtis had a flat.

I let Curtis and Dan go on ahead … I had to take in some cool fluids.  I proceeded to climb up Cobb Mountain, and was really glad to see the road sign, warning trucks to use low gear on descent.  I ended up catching up with Curtis and Dan near the bottom of the hill.  However, my legs still didn’t have life in them.  Luckily, after going through Middletown, it was fairly flat.

The bad news is, after leaving rest stop 4, I started to get leg cramps.  Ugh, everything was aching here.  Saddle sores, toes numb (and they still are), and now leg cramps.  I had to put this in my granny gear, in fear of my leg completely locking up due to cramps.  I eventually got rid of my cramps by the time we got to rest stop 5, at Lake Hennessey.

Lake Hennessey at Sunset

Ok, now 40 miles to go.  But is this all flat coming back?  Of course not … first, we have Sage Canyon, which wasn’t too bad.  We go through some flat stretches … and at that point, it got pitch black, which makes climbing and descending interesting.  The next climb we face is Cardiac Hill.  Now we have done Cardiac Hill from the other side on Davis, but this time, we are climbing it in reverse.  This is definitely much tougher.  This was just sheer cruelty, throwing in this climb at mile 180.  This is the point where you are breathing hard, stating all sorts of expletives, and in general, just wishing this ride was over.

We finally got back to Adobe Pena Park at 10 pm.  Dang, this was a really tough ride … yeah, I know, it’s a double century, but this is still a very epic ride.

I’d like to say a few things about the support.  It was just great!  All rest stops were fully stocked with just about everything an endurance rider could ask for … Heed, Perpetuem, Hammergel, e-pills, Ibuprofen.  Then, they had SAG wagons, driving up and down with ice and water.  In fact, I saw them coming into a general store, just to stock up on ice.  The food layout was second to none … I love those potatoes.

The highest temp of the day was 106 F (most likely when I was finishing on Knoxville Rd).  I don’t think it was nearly this hot when we did our re-con ride 3 weeks ago.

Ok, 2 down … do I go for my third?  If so which one?  Bass Lake is in a couple of weeks … then there’s Solvang Autumn, and later, Death Valley Double.

Montebello Road Busier Today Than Usual #30daysofbiking

Couldn’t decide where to ride today, so I decided to do the local hill, Montebello.  Depending on who you talk to, it’s 5.2 miles, and roughly 2000 feet climbing.

It was busy out there today.  Maybe because it was Sunday, but saw plenty of cyclists up and down the hill.  Good thing … but there were also quite a number of cars out there.  If fact, one time, a car was passing me, then there was another car coming down the hill.  The road itself was about 1.5 lanes wide, and I was fearing there would be a head on collision 100 feet in front of me.  Luckily, both sides braked.  Close call … no words exchanged, just a feeling of “whew”.  But that’s what you get when you travel a road up in the boonies.

I was feeling too energetic, so I felt I’ll just go through the motion of the hill climb.  Much to my surprise, I got in a fairly good time (for me at least) … 48:37.  My 3rd best.  I guess it also helped that I had some cyclists ahead of me, and I was using them as targets.  Luckily they were not as fast as me, so that gave me some confidence building.

Great day to do the ride too.  Not too windy, not too cold, and not too hot.  Perfect conditions … yay!

Diablo from Dublin #30daysofbiking

I was originally going to do Hop Lite then Diablo.  However, I was suffering from am upset stomach so this ride would have been interesting if I proceeded with the original plan.

On my way over, Michael texted me saying he wasn’t going to do HopLite, due to chest cold, and suggested riding Diablo from his in-law’s place.  That sounded more attractive considering my upset stomach…  So Diablo it is.

It wasn’t like my stomach was empty aa I had a good breakfast, plus I stopped by Starbucks for some additional food.  But I still felt a little queasy.  It’s kind of strange to describe.  It’s a feeling of being bloated, without actually being bloated … not sure if that makes sense.

Anyhow, I didn’t get passed by anyone, which really surprised me, up until we got near the junction.  I didn’t know till later, but one of those that passed me up was Ramon.  I guess I was so focused to get to the top, I didn’t realize it … neither did he.

I was passed again by a few others near the summit.  I do remember one rider, yelling at a car that was trying to pass him on the hairpin … something like “don’t ever pass on a blind curve”.  Nothing more developed from that, but that was some excitement.

At the top, Michael is there, and Ramon’s bike is there.  Later on, I see Chris come by.  Funny how we all met there, and aside from Michael and I, we never coordinated with each other that we would ride Diablo.

Chris was doing Diablo repeats (going South Gate to North Gate, and vice versa).  Ramon had the same plan, but I was so weak from my upset stomach, I really didn’t feel like going North gate, so I decided to head straight back.

On the way down, I saw Donald climbing up.  I stopped by to say hi, and just as he was about to stop, he lost balance and the bike tipped over.  Such a shame, because he had brand new Sram Red components, and he ended up scratching the brake lever.  A little touch up paint, and good as new, right?

We got back to the cars, and I was pleasantly invited to a little barbecue at Michael’s in-laws.  Thanks Michael, for letting me hang out with you and your family.  What’s more important, free food (recovery fuel).

One oddity about today’s ride.  Since my Garmin 500 mount broke, I had to send that in.  I was using my Garmin 305 in the meantime.  It kept turning itself off.  That’s weird.  I would turn it back on, then start it again.  When I went home to download on Strava, it would only capture the last 9 miles … and not the real climb.  I was able to download on Ascent, so I decided to export to a gpx file, then import into Strava.  That was successful, but it didn’t carry over the heart rate data.  Now that is just strange.

Totals:  47.5 miles, 4705 feet climbing.

http://www.strava.com/rides/181328

Ok, so I missed a couple days of riding #30daysofbiking

Well, my streak of consecutive days of biking ended a lot earlier than anticipated.  I only made it to 7 days.  My excuse?  It’s a lame one, but they had to re-tar the parking lot in my complex, and that meant parking my car out on the streets.  What better excuse to drive into work than ride in?  Yeah, lame.

So I finally rode today.  I couldn’t find my old Garmin (I had to send in my Edge 500, because the plastic mount broke off).  So I went ahead and used MyTracks, an application for my DroidX, that uses GPS and tracks my mileage.  Not bad, but I don’t have any cadence or any heartrate data.  It’s better than nothing, I guess.  Anyways, total for the day … 15 miles, 564 feet climbing.  Yeah, it’s pretty flat.

Knoxville Reconaissance Ride – #30daysofbiking

With Knoxville coming up at the end of the month, I thought it would be a good idea to ride part of the course, so that when we do the ride, we will know when to expect the hardest part of the climb.  I met at Dan’s place, along with Curtis and Tricia.  The four of us were about to embark on this epic ride.

We started out at Pope Valley, which is a very small town.  We were trying to find the post office, and it was very hard to find.  Funny, we could see the ice machine from street view on Google maps, and that was the only way we were able to find this.

Sleepy Little Town of Pope Valley

How small is it?  Well, the same shop, is the post office, store, and probably a few other things, but was only open from 10 am – 4 pm.  I guess just being open on a Sunday is considered lucky.

Team NorCal Bikeforums

Rare Shot of Me in the Picture

It was a gorgeous start to the day, and it wasn’t that hot … YET.  We started out on a very easy pace.  Some of it was due in part to Dan having already done 100 miles, and 70 miles the previous two days, so it took a little time for his legs to get loose.

Group Shot with Lake Berryessa in the background

Not too many turns on this ride.  First turn was a left turn onto to Knoxville-Berryessa Road.  Off to the right, we saw a great view of the lake, over a bridge, and we just had to stop for a few pics.

Ok, we are now on this road for 38 miles, and with no establishment anywhere along this stretch.  That meant our two bottles of water had to survive that entire stretch.  Who knows how much climbing this has too, and the sun will most likely be beating down on us.  Should have brought my platypus bladder.

The gradual rollies kinda reminds me of Morgan Territory.  Nothing back false flats that seem to go on forever.  Plus some of the rough road starts getting you fatigued.  Big strong guy like Thor would love those .. come to think of it, Dan was saying the samething.

About 19 miles into this, the climbs start ratcheting up … up to 11% for a while.  I get to the top thinking we have summited.  I see this tunnel, but not sure what to think.  What do I see on the other side???

What? More hills?

This is where the hills start playing mind tricks with us.  We would climb for a while, and then turn the corner, getting ready for a descent, until they throw us more hills.  I keep telling myself this is good training … heat and hills … gotta keep dreaming.  Just to add to this, there is no shade at all, so gotta htfu.  About 28 miles past the lake, and about 2000 feet climbing later, we finally summit, and head into the town of Lower Lake, for much needed water and other refreshments.

I’ve been psyching myself out all day, knowing that we have to climb Loch Lomond.  I remember climbing that several years ago on Davis, and I had to stop in the middle of the climb.  This time, I didn’t have to, and felt really good climbing this.  I felt much better than the previous climb on Knoxville – Berryessa.  To me, the Knoxville-Berryessa climb was tougher than Loch Lomond, which topped out at 16%.

After descending Loch Lomond, we have a few slight bumps up Cobb Mountain, then a long 7% descent, then a steeper 11% descent.  I didn’t realize how high up we were until I saw the scenic overlook … wow, it’s a lot higher than I thought it was.

Now Dan’s route slip had us going on Hwy 175 all the way to the end.  One problem … Hwy 175 ended at Hwy 29 in Middltetown.  Uh oh … time to bring out my Droid X, and look it up on the map.  Wow, an actual emergency being solved my the map program on my Droid X.  Chalk one up to technology.

It turns out we had to make a left on Hwy 29, then a right onto Butts Canyon Road … yup, you got it … the road is called Butts Canyon Road.  Ok, I have a juvenile sense of humor.

This was a really nice road, with very little traffic on the last 13 miles of the ride.  I think there were 5 cars passing, and the road was pretty smooth.  It was mostly flat, or slight descent, and that’s when Dan started time trialing ahead of me.  I then started getting into a nice rhythm, keeping my cadence high, and eventually caught up to Dan.  I seriously thought he soft pedaled to wait for me.  It was a nice chase.  I felt really good at that point, and when we got to the final 11% climb, I just shifted down to my lowest gear, powered up, burying all the pain I was suffering through the day, and just let it out on the road.  That was a nice stretch … not sure if I’ll have the same energy on the double.

Finally got back to the cars a little before 6 pm.  Now that was a good tough ride.  Major kudos go to Tricia … hanging out with the boys.  She’s not even doing Knoxville Double, and doing this training ride with us.  Tough ride in mid-90 heat … she definitely htfu.  Congradulations Tricia … you did a great job.

Not sure if I’m ready, but it felt good being able to complete that loop with still some energy left over.

Strava upload of this ride can be found at http://www.strava.com/rides/176280

I was going to do Mt. Diablo the following day, but my old friend is meeting me for lunch in Palo Alto … oh darn, looks like I’ll have to miss that climb.  Some recovery ride, eh?  Still, even though it’s  a flat 30 miles, it was still 30 miles and with heat … was 95 F.

HOP (House of Pain) Lite without winds – #30daysofbiking

It’s all the rage .. well, at least in my small bikeforums community it is.  It is the House of Pain … the lite version.  A pack ride starting in Danville, which goes out to Livermore then loops back.  It’s a nice 50 miler, with close to 1500 feet climbing, so it’s pretty flat.  Good terrain to do a fast pack ride.  It’s about the same climbing as Montrose, but the pack is half the size, and from what I’ve observed, the pace is not as intense.

As expected, once we got into open areas, without traffic lights, the pack turned the screws up.  The house of pain opened its doors when we got to Highland.  I was able to keep up for most of the way, but fell off the back half way through the ascent on Highland, then recovered enough for another final burst before being passed up again until the regroup.

Other than this, I felt really good overall.  There was a slight confusion, when we got to Collier Canyon, and was unsure if we were supposed to regroup at the top or not.  I saw a few regroup there, so I stopped by.  But as soon as I stopped, a few others went on down the hill, so off we went … not knowing that was supposed to be the regroup spot.  Oh well.

At this point, it was Donald and me riding back, and there weren’t very many ahead of us, and couldn’t find any on back of us.  Well, hopefully there aren’t many turns we need to negotiate .. both of us didn’t know the area too well.  Just as we were going to make a wrong turn, we hear the roar of the pelaton, then we swung onto the back, and blended our way into the pelaton.

Fun ride.  Of course, after a pack ride like that, we gotta take over Peet’s Coffee.  It was great to see a bunch of BF’ers there.

And here’s the biggest surprise … I went ahead and uploaded this to Strava, and I actually got 4th on the list for this ride.  Won’t be long before this is gone.

Stats:  49.1 miles, 1455 feet climbing, average speed 19.2 mph.  Wow, I can’t remember the last time my average speed was that high.  It’s usually down around 10-12 mph.

More Garmin 500 Woes … #30daysofbiking

So Garmin release a new firmware for the Edge 500, to fix some problems with data being lost once you hook up your USB cable in.  Well, even after the firmware update, I found that once you power off, then sync, it loses the data.  That’s odd … fix one problem, start another.  Where do they get these QA Engineers from?

Well, that’s nothing.  Wait till you hear what later happened to me.  I’m riding into work, then hit a bump, and my Garmin goes flying off.  After going back and retrieving it, I try to remount it but I couldn’t.  Well, it turns out the plastic mount on the bottom unit chipped away.  After doing some google searches, I found this is a problem with the unit.  Well that sucks.  Luckily, my unit is still under warranty, so I’ll be sending it in.

It’s actually still functional, so I figured I would just put it in my pocket, and it will still record data.  Get ready to go for a ride this evening, then try to turn the unit on, and guess what … it won’t turn on!  I try plugging it in to my PC, and the Garmin software doesn’t recognize it.  WTF … not only is the mount defective, now I can’t turn on the unit, and can’t get anything to recognize the Garmin unit via USB.  This just sucks, royally.

Update: I later found out how to reset the Garmin.  Hit Power/Light, Page/Menuy, and Lap/Reset buttons all at the same time.

Well, I do have an RMA number, so I can send this in … but this just sucks.  Luckily, I still have my old Garmin 305, so I can still record data.  But tonight’s ride … no data.  Oh well.

2nd Day of #30daysofbiking

I had a late night on Wednesday, and even though I woke up on time, my body just wasn’t ready to ride in today.  I didn’t go back to bed, but I just didn’t have the energy to ride, so I drove in, and pledged to do a ride in the evening.

The evening … well, that made a lot of sense for today.  The high was 95F, and I just didn’t want to ride in that heat.  So, I left at 6 pm, with plans to ride home by around 8 pm, with the sun down.

I did a loop out to Moody, which is a short but steep climb.  Heartbeat was hovering between 165 to 185 bpm.  Now that’s a workout!

http://www.strava.com/rides/173957

1st of 30 on the #30daysofbiking

Listening to the www.bicycleradio.com show last night, they mentioned the website www.30daysofbiking.com. It’s a neat project, where cycling enthusiasts ride every day of the month, and chronicle each day’s ride with either a tweet or a blog posting … so here is mine.

I was all excited about beginning this, and I even woke up extra early (I didn’t intend to do that, but my body had other ideas).  I woke up at 4:15 am.  You see, I start work at 6 am.  So here I go, get everything ready, and I’m on the road.  Two miles into the commute, I just realized, I didn’t pack a shirt in my commuter bag.  Doh!  Had to high tail it back home, grab a shirt, then take a shorter route than I wanted to getting into work.  Oh well.

This is how early I get in … this is the parking lot at work.  It is pitch black, with an empty parking lot.

Only a scant 9.7 miles, and 150 ft climbing, but hey, there’s always the commute home.