Category Archives: cycling

Pretty Productive August, 864 Miles

Aug2019Wow, August has come and gone, and with that, a very productive month from the numbers.  I haven’t checked what my largest mileage totals for one month is, but this ranks pretty high, 864 miles.  What’s interesting is I didn’t have an organized ride that I went on, and I didn’t even crack a century on one ride.

One thing that helped was this contest that my company had for its employees.  It’s actually geared for running or walking, to see what the highest number of steps you can achieve in a two week period.  They had a formula for bikes, where for each 3 miles, you get 2000 steps.  So that encouraged me to ride more than the usual 10 mile per direction on a commute.  It also encouraged me to ride every day for this two week stretch.

Other than that, I was able to crank out 40+ miles on weekends where I was still on call.  So with my usual weekend rides, plus the on call rides, I was able to achieve a healthy number.  A lot of this was in preparation for a double, which I later found out I wouldn’t be able to do, due to PTO’s taken by other members in my team.  Oh well.

Either Heat or Fitness or Umunhum Did Me In

I’ve done Mt. Umunhum a number of times since the road had been been opened up to the top. However, this summer for some reason, I’ve had issues making it all the way to the top. The last few times was because I waited too long and by the time I started Umunhum, it was 12 noon, and it was already in the mid-90s. Since all these times, I was riding solo, I had the easy option of turning around.

This time, my friend Amanda, from ACTC, was co-leading the ride up Umunhum. So this would give me more motivation to finish it, knowing there is a group, and I didn’t want to let them down, but it was hard.

We first started with some warm up hills, Harwood (as if we didn’t have enough climbing to do). These were steep short pitches … Steep meaning 20+ %. While climbing, my immediate thought was, “I need to upgrade to a 12-30 or 12-32”.

It was cool, we stopped for 3 group pictures. Awesome way to keep everyone together.

This was in the middle of a residential street, so we had to make several attempts, and that was hilarious.

Earlier in the day Amanda made a comment that I looked slimmer. At that point, that seemed like a surprise, and maybe a curse?

I maybe it up Hicks fine (I wasn’t the last one), and yes, another group shot (but hopefully we won’t be baking too much making this shot).

On our climb up, I didn’t realize what little I had in the tank, as I quickly took my place in the back.

I didn’t bother to check what the temperature was, but I know I was suffering. I get past Bald Mountain, and after that, it just felt like the heat just ramped it up. I felt so weak, I couldn’t turn the crank. Since this so wide open, the shade was very few and far between. I ended up stopping 3 times, and each time was not just stopping … I ended up walking for a number of paces. I was so tempted to turn around, but I had to continue, with 10+ people waiting for me, and to take that group shot at the top.

Finally made it to the top, and was grateful for all the times this group re-grouped. It was awesome.

I’ve been in heat many times on other tough climbs, but never suffered like this. Maybe I need to upgrade my gearing? I did notice some others had lower gearing. Maybe I should have brought my triple and my Seven? Oh well, at least I made it once this summer.

How Did I Get That Many Miles In?

It’s end of July, and I decided to look at my Strava stats … Whoa. 782 miles in the month of July? I didn’t ride a really long day … I think the longest was 55 miles, but I guess if you do enough 50+ mile days, they will add up. I didn’t ride every day, but I did keep it consistent, so I think that may have had more of a factory.

I will say that having Tour de France coverage in the morning did prevent me from doing longer morning rides, but I guess as long as you keep doing them, it does count for a lot

Heat Advisory and Like a Doofus, I forget To Fill my Water Bottle

The news broadcast a heat advisory warning for the Bay Area.  So I decided to buy a 1.5l bottle of water from 7-11.  I was going to fill it up, when I got to the ride start (I was driving to the ride start).

I arrived around 15 minutes early, so that gave me time to get everything ready, use the bathroom, apply sunscreen everywhere, so I’m all ready.  We’re all ready and eager to start the ride, as we are heading over Old La Honda, then Haskin Hills, to the coast to Pescadero, where the temps should be about 20 degrees cooler.

Oh, what about that 1.5l bottle of water I got from 7-11?  Oh, I kinda forgot all about that. Luckily, my water bottle was a little under half filled up, left over from yesterday’s ride.  I was careful not to drink all of it, so I sipped a little here, a little there … and this was all on the OLH climb.

I guess the one thing that helped me was that most of the way out to Pescadero was descending, and there would be shaded roads, with just a few sections where it would be sunny.  Luckily I made it to Pescadero, without issue.  I made sure I filled up completely while at Pescadero.  But of all the days to forget to fill your water bottle … one of the hottest days of the year.  Definitely a day to escape to the coast, and not inland.

In Between Two Social Bike Clubs

I have to admit, I’m a little spoiled here in the Bay Area.  I live geographically in the middle, between two social bike clubs.  Western Wheelers, usually starts rides in the Palo Alto/Los Altos area, while Almaden Cycle Touring Club (ACTC), usually starts rides in the San Jose/Milpitas area.  However, there are times where rides are cross-listed.

Last week, I did a ride on Saturday with Western Wheelers, a ride we do almost every week .. Old La Honda, to West Alpine.  It’s a nice ride, with good amount of climbing.  However, there is one thing I notice about this particular group .. no picture taking.  It’s not like it’s a rule, but I noticed no one took the initiative to try to take any pictures at all.

On Sunday, I did a ride with ACTC, and it was a good ride, with some climbing, that led from Lexington School (South of Los Gatos), then down to Corallitos, then up Eureka Canyon.  Immediately, at the start, the picture taking begins.  Every stop we made, there was some pictures to be taken.  So immediately, I felt I had more fun on the ACTC ride.

This is not to say that Western Wheelers is anti-social … they are very social.  But doing the whole picture taking thing, kicks up the fun meter to another level.  It could be just the group of people I’m with, but it does make a bit of difference.

Climbing the Queen’s Stage … That’s Painful!

 

Ok, the big day has come, the stage that everyone has been waiting for.  So obviously, us amateurs must do the same climb that the pro’s are doing.

Now I’ve done GMR to Baldy Ski Lifts before, just like what the men’s and women’s are doing, but this is different.  This time, there is the environment, adrenaline in the air.  You’ve got fans lining up along the route, some with cowbells, some with horns, some with tents, and a lot of loud classic rock songs blasting out.

We did Glendora Mountain Road, then Glendora Ridge Road (some call it little GMR … to me, it’s bigger, tougher, and has more pain points).  By the time I got to the end of little GMR, crowds were waiting at the Cow Saddle.  Got to see a lot of my old friends (that I typically ride with when I come to visit LA).  It was just one big party atmosphere.  I even saw the devil there, and took a picture with him.

The women’s route was going in the same direction that I was, and so we waited for them to come.  Coryn Rivera, a local girl, was leading the pack as they head down the hill, before climbing Baldy.  However, she couldn’t keep it up … instead, another California girl, Katie Hall took it (Bay Area hero).

Unfortunately, timing made it so that I couldn’t make it to the top in time to see the women finish.  It would have been cool to see Katie cross the finish line first.

We had to wait for the men to come by, before we can head up the ski lift.  When we finally go to the village, it was mayhem, a madhouse, a circus, as you would expect.

Climbing this today was different, most likely because you had hundreds of other riders doing the same climb.  There is just something about having a target of others, who are struggling the same amount as I am, and you get some adrenaline from that.

I was originally only going to go up to  Phil’s Cookie Corner, who hilariously entices riders with chocolate chip cookies.  Who am I to refuse … I grabbed a handful (about 5 cookies), and was munching them on my way up to the Ski Lift.  I think that gave me an extra boost to make it to the top.

 

After passing this switchback, I hear more classic rock, like the Stones, Allman Brothers Band … it helped me get through it.  Seeing others get off an walk for a little bit also gave me self confidence, and guided me up the hill.

Finally made it to the top.  A friend of ours had some VIP passes, so we were able to get into the tent, with some nice warm pastries, mash potatoes, coffee … at least it’s something to fill the stomach with.  We also got to see the broadcast on big screen tv, so we can get a sense of what was going on.

After finishing the ride, I did check my stats to compare with some of the pros … it’s laughable, really.

baldy-ski-lift

That is just insane!

ATOC means another 1 week PTO for Me

It’s that time of year again … Amgen Tour of California is coming to our backyards.  This always gets me excited … there are several things I look at on the calendar … Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and the week of Amgen Tour of California.

This year, it will come up and over Mt. Hamilton, before making its way to Morgan Hill.  This gives me a great excuse to climb Mt. Hamilton.  I had to look up the time on the ATOC web site, to see what approximate time they are expected to reach the KOM on Mt. Hamilton … it stated 1:45 PM.  Hmm … well I was originally going to start off around 9 am, so that I can get to the top by noon.  Things didn’t go so smoothly .. I always forget to bring something.  Even after all that, I managed to forget to bring my gloves.  D’oh.

I drove over to Cataldi Park, which is about a mile away from the base of Mt. Hamilton Road.  I didn’t want to park right at the intersection, as some residents there don’t like when us roudy cyclists take over their neighborhood.  I didn’t get going from there till 9:40 am.  By the time I got up over the top, it was around 12:40 pm.  Dang, 3 hours … I’m getting old and slow.

They didn’t have the KOM banner set up yet … I was trying to get near the KOM, but I couldn’t find it.  Well, I decided to go beyond the 1 mile marker (they have mile markers painted on the road, such that you can see it from a chopper hovering overhead).  I figure this would be a good spot, where we could still see some suffrage on some of the riders.


The pack didn’t arrive until around 2:15 pm (original estimate was 1:45 pm).  I guess the previous day, with 14,000 feet of climbing, spent a bunch of the racer’s legs.  This stage was still 9,000-10,000 feet of climbing, so it’s no slouch either.

We lucked out on weather, as by the time the riders came by, it was comfortable, short sleeve and shorts weather.  However, by the time we headed down the mountain, it started getting cold and breezy.

It’s April and that means #30daysofbiking

It’s spring time, and arguably one of the best times of the year for bicycling.  April is here, and that means 30daysofbiking once again.  This is a pledge, to be on the bike every day for the month of April.  It doesn’t have to be long … it can be just a corner jaunt to the grocery store, and it can even be getting on Zwift for a few minutes.  The point is, to be on the bike.

Hopefully I can spend more time on the bike than I have so far this year.  It hasn’t been great.  With a combination of family issues, work on call duties, and  weather (it has been raining a lot in California, and we have even claimed the drought is over), I haven’t been doing my normal amount of riding.  I was lucky to get a double metric century out a week ago … so the longest this year was 1 50 mile ride, 1 129 mile ride.  To this point, I’ve gotten 941 miles for the year.  I’m hoping to ramp that up these next 3 months.

To learn more about this pledge, go to http://www.30daysofbiking.com.  Pledge, share pictures and/or video .. it’s all about the bike!

Finally a Weekend Off, and Doing the John Clare Memorial Solvang Double

For the first time in about 2 months, I finally was able to get a weekend off (not being on call, or attending to family related issues). This was the weekend to celebrate John Clare’s life (a highly popular double century rider among long distance cycling enthusiasts), with the Solvang Double renamed as his memorial ride. I just had to do it, so I begged and pleaded to get this weekend to do it (as I had been doing on call for just about every weekend). Because I was on call these weekends, I did not have the opportunity to do any real long distance rides. The last one I did was Devil’s Slide, back in mid-January (about 8 weeks ago). So I didn’t have any really good training in my legs, so if I was to do any of this ride, it would have to be the double metric century (200 km, not 200 miles).

The start time for the double metric century was 7 am, which was actually the same start time that the fast double riders (who could finish in less than 12 hours). I saw my friend TJ there, so I had to take this opportunity to take a selfie with him.

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We let the fast double riders start first. It was forecast to be about 10% rain, so that was the only reason for bringing my Showers Pass jacket. Good thing I brought it, because it started to drizzle around the 35 mile mark (around the 1st checkpoint). The drizzle was constant, and then it became harder, and turned into rain. You know you are drenched, when you tilt your helmet down, and you see a stream of water fall. I’m a little used to this, as I have been on some short loops, where I did get caught out in the rain. However, my Showers Pass jacket didn’t keep my route slip dry though. I forgot to bring a ziplock bag to keep the route slip in … Wasn’t expecting the rain to be that hard.

The rain hit hardest when I had to make a right turn, and then saw a road closed sign. I was barely able to locate the ride organizer’s phone number on my route sheet, who then suggested I just ride right on through the road closed signs. I remember riding through this part of the route from previous double century rides, so at least this was confirmation that I am on the right path.

Of course, with all this rain, I was always second guessing if I was on the right path, since I was basically riding out solo. As it turned out, I read the route slip wrong, as I made a wrong turn at the next step of the route slip. I went left, instead of right. I had to double check on Google Map on my smart phone, before realizing I made the wrong turn.

The rain did eventually stop (after about 1.5 hours), so I was drenched. My Showers Pass jacket did hold up, so this investment already paid off. I eventually got to the part of the route slip, where the turn direction was unreadable … arghh! Luckily, I saw one of the metric double riders, who unfortunately got a flat, and was there fixing it. Unfortunate for him, his spare tube was bad, so he was repairing his original tube with a patch. This gave me opportunity to catch up with him, as he knew the next few turns for the ride. Whew!

The second rest stop was at Guadalupe, and we were the last of the double metric riders. None of the double century riders had gotten there yet (much to my surprise, as I thought we were so far behind).

After leaving Guadalupe, I think my fitness started to falter. I could feel the back of my knee start to be in pain, but I persevered through it. However, by the time I started the last climb, up Alisos Canyon, my legs were feeling it, but was still able to crank it up the hill.

I started getting passed by some of the fast double riders (that I had mentioned early on, that started at 7 am). At least I had some company, even though they were ahead of me.

I was able to hang out with my double century friends from So Cal, even though I didn’t ride with them. We had a blast, and although the conditions of this ride were not ideal, I had a lot of fun.

Photo courtesy of Victor Cooper

I Knew I Should Have Packed a Second Spare

Lately, I have gotten into the habit of carrying a second spare tube. Who knows what could happen out there, especially if I’m climbing Angeles Crest Highway.

I was actually going at a pretty good clip, considering I hadn’t been on my bike in a week. Then, suddenly I hear a leak coming directly from my front wheel. This is odd, because this may have been the first time I’ve got a flat, while doing a climb. Maybe it’s due to the amount of glass and rocks on ACH? So off goes the wheel, and the typical search for any thorns or glass. After finding no glass or thorns, or sharp objects, I then proceed to replace it with my spare. After many strokes, I’m not getting any air into the tube. I blow into the tube, and I get something through.

Luckily I was about 15 minutes of walking back to the Ranger’s station (keeping in mind, there are some sections of ACH with no shoulder room, to even walk). Luckily, by the time I got to the Ranger’s station, there was a guy who had an extra tube, and he graciously gave it to me. I was then able to safely descent down, and eventually back to my car.

Then I decided to do a pre-christmas dinner ride. I did local hills west of the Rose Bowl. As I descent, I feel something squishy. My rear tire is soft (aka has a slow leak). Damn, I’m not having much luck.

I guess it’s time to change my tire.