Massive Rain Storm and On Call means Zwift time

Massive rain storm hitting California is the biggest news story here.  It is pretty bad, as the Santa Cruz mountains getting 5-6 inches of rain in a day.  I’m on call, so at least the rain didn’t impede on my free time.  This just means it’s time to break out the trainer, and do a bit of workout on Zwift.

I didn’t realize that the previous time I used Zwift, it was a trial coordinated by Strava.  I also forgot my password, so I tried to get them to reset it, but was waiting and waiting for the reset email, but it never came through.  Screw it … get a new one, using an email address I never use.

Now I remember why I didn’t use Zwift for awhile … it’s hard to stay motivated to stay on the trainer that long.  First, I have riders passing me all the time.  I mean, it’s at a rate 3 times what would normally happen if I’m on the road.  Then, after some time, I start sweating so much … sweat gets in my eyes.  It got to a point where I couldn’t take it any more … only stayed on the trainer for 20 minutes, and only 5.3 miles.  I later saw some others, who was taking the same Zwift course, who lasted an hour.  How the heck do they do it?  I guess I’m not disciplined enough, eh?


At least I was able to say I did some riding … the Raiders game was a lost hope anyways.

Climbing is Back, Endurance, That’s a Different Story

I’m happy to report that my climbing is back, and yes, to some extent, sprinting is there (able to pass some folks).  But endurance is still not there.  Guess it’s just going to take a bunch of long distance weekend to get it back up.

I decided to do a surely flat distance ride, which was originally going to the Cliff House.  I wanted to limit it to a sub 100 ride, so I cut it off a little bit after Pacifica, which turned into an 82 miler. I think the fog may have sapped my enthusiasm too. It’s a good thing I did, because my legs didn’t have much jump after mile 70.


So with myself exhausted and legs tired, what did I do for Sunday?  Did I take it easy?  Come on, remember who you are talking about.  I wound up doing a kick ass hill climb, Mt. Umunhum.


This was a fairly routine ride with me before the accident, and this is the first time I felt confident enough with my hill climbing to even attempt this.


I won’t say it was easy, but it wasn’t impossibly hard.  My climbing legs are there.  This is very encouraging.  So why couldn’t I do an easier 80 miler?  Well, on my way back home, I was starting to feel the fatigue.  I guess it’s just going to take time, consecutive 150 mile weekends to get that fitness back.  But the effort today on Hicks then Mt. Umunhum did feel good.

Am I Really Ready For DMD


Well, I’m not sure if I know the answer to that question.  With one week left, any massive epic training ride probably won’t make too much difference, so I probably should just re-acquaint my legs with one of the major climbs, and cutoff points, the backside of Hamilton.

I was originally going to do both sides of Hamilton plus Sierra, but I don’t think that extra suffrage would benefit me … Besides this would already have 7000+ feet climbing already.


I’m not sure we was with me today, but I was hanging in there with Ramon almost to the full climb on the front side of Hamilton.  In fact, I was able to get  PR of 2:05.  My previous best was 2:07.  I wasn’t even trying to get
a good time.  I was trying to get a smooth cadence, a good rhythm with my pedal strokes going up Hamilton.


After a brief stop at the top of the observatory it’s down the hill on the backside to the bridge, then a 5.5 mile grind back up the hill. I forgot to bring my heart rate monitor, so I couldn’t tell hard hard I was working, so I had to rely on rate of climbing, in ft/min climbed. I figured if I maintain between 1000-2000 ft/hr, that would still be a good pace, but it wouldn’t be killing me.


Toughest part is probably between the 3-4 mile marker point. One thing I like about this climb is you see the mile marker clearly marked. You could even see it from a helicopter up above.



With 1 and 2 miles left to go, I figured the hard part was done, but no. It was still up around 9-11% grade. Yeesh, glad I did a final reconnaissance climb here one more time. This was hard.

But getting to the top, we get the reward … Fantastic view

By the time we got up here, we figured we knew Sierra well enough, we didn’t has to do that after this … I mean we already had 7000 feet of climbing in our legs. Recover time. Keep in mind, we still have a little annoying climb on the way back on the descent. Our legs were heavy.

So I guess I’m either ready or I’m not. There’s nothing more I can do at this point. I’ll just have to pace myself and not over extend myself. Just make the checkpoint and then let it all hang out at that point. My goal is just to finish it. And if I don’t make the cut off, it’s not a big deal … Just as long as I enjoy the ride, that’s the important part of it.

Stats for this ride, 50.7 miles, 7355 feet climbing. Now to find a cool down ride.

Time to Visit So Cal – must Mean Crystal Lake Again #30daysofbiking


Time for my monthly visit to see dad but I couldn’t get Friday off, so I had to fly down instead. That means riding my heavy, ~25 lb Pink Diamond Back, 53-39, 12-26. Karen is leading another Crystal Lake ride, so I gotta do that, but on this heavy bike? Well, I am training for DMD, so I figure it would be good training … Weight training.


As with my previous hard rides, I came with a little nap sack on my back. Karen couldn’t find a way to carry her jacket (needed for the cold descent), so I offered to carry it in my bag. That just means that she’ll have to wait for me to grind it up the hill, and most likely have to wait for me.

The lead group was fast.  There was no way I can keep up with them, even if I did have my Volagi with me.  I was able to hang in with Karen up to the first re-group, which was a little past East Fork Road.  We re-grouped, with just enough time to take my dork shot:


… and a photo bomb!


After a short rest, we’re back to continue the climb. However, as in past rides, this is usually where I get dropped. It was even more amplified with the fact that I’m on a heavier bike, and without mountain gearing. And yes, I do get dropped here. I continue grinding it up along, and catch up to Rick, who started out about 5 minutes before we did. We rode up together for the rest of the climb to Crystal Lake.


Chatting with Rick while slogging up this long climb definitely helped pass the time away.  Since I’ve done this climb a couple times before, just remembering all the points of interest also helped me gauge how far up along the climb I am.  I do remember the Crystal Lake turnoff was a little past the 5000 foot elevation level, and that helped too.  However, I noticed the 4000 foot elevation level sign was missing.  What happened there?


Descending back down Hwy 39, we turned off on East Fork Road, on the way to Camp Williams, and onto climb Little GMR.  I was Rick all the way to Camp Williams, but after we left there, I was dropped again.  I think I just had a little too much climbing, and too much distance in my legs, on this heavy bike, so I just went ahead and limped along back down front side of GMR, then back to the park.  Meanwhile, the rest of the group continued onto Baldy Village, and back.  My legs were just not into it.

Great day, great ride, great group.  I had a lot of fun, and great to re-unite with old friends.

Total Stats, 65 miles, 7871 feet climbing.  It was a hard day, but excellent day.

Cold Crystal Lake Ride

It’s funny how word spreads on some rides in So Cal.  This ride, for example, had traction through another Facebook post from Steve Meichtry, who want even on the ride.  I made a comment asking what the ride planned for this weekend, then Victor Copper posts that a group is doing a ride up to Dawson Saddle, and from this thread, more people latched on.  I never get that on any posts I make on Bay Area rides.  Maybe I don’t have the right friends?


This ride had a big turnout, despite the fact that it would be really cold up there.  Actually, it was determined that Dawson Saddle would be too cold, and instead the ride would go to Crystal Lake.

Starting out, the pace was a little slower than what I normally do on a climb, but I figured I should stay at a low pace, considering how long the climb is.  I paced myself behind Ken, who had a comfortable pace for a hill climb.  Thanks Ken, for keeping me within myself, and not blowing my legs out too soon.

With such a large group, it did split up into about 3 or 4 groups.  I pretty much stayed around with Victor, Debbie, and Sharona.  Hanging out with a group made the long climb a little more bearable.

It started getting a bit cold and windy, as soon as we made it above the 3000 foot level.  We made a much deserved stop about a couple miles below the Crystal Lake turnoff, to marvel and the road that we had just climbed.  It also gave us a chance to regroup with a few people.

When we got to the Crystal Lake Cafe, we needed to bundle up for the descent … the long fast descent. With the temps in the 40s, the wind chill would make things a bit nippy. It shocked me Sharona ride up with no gloves, and luckily the cafe had gloves to sell. However, we did meet a couple of riders who had no jacket, no leg warmers, no arm warmers. I saw them trying to wrap a newspaper around his leg. We jokingly mention they should wait until summer before the decent down. I wonder if they made it down okay.


Made it down the hill with less than 50 miles. Well, we can’t let this go, we need to get over the 50 mile hump, so up and down the road a few times, and get our 50 miler in. Ah, now that’s a ride.

Stats: 52.5 miles, 6375 feet climbing.

I’m Not Quite Ready for DMD Yet

I finally was able to get in a good training ride for DMD.  This was an 80 miler, starting from Fremont, then climbing Mt. Diablo, then back.  It’s actually a pretty flat ride, with one bump in the middle … that’s a huge bump. meetup-01262014-2We went out along Niles Canyon (Hwy 84).  This is a two lane road that can be pretty busy at times.  Since there is not a whole lot of shoulder room, we had to paceline it through Niles Canyon.  We kept up a pretty nice 18 mph average, and we kept that up for a good part of the flat stretch before getting to Danville.  A couple guys got flats along the way, but they had us go on ahead, thinking they would catch us on the climb.  Later on, I flatted as well close to the base of the climb.  I guess the good thing is I didn’t get the flat on the descent.  The bad thing is the hole in the tire was pretty sizable, and I had to “boot” the tire.  The one time I don’t bring a boot, is when I need it the most.  The only thing I had was a $5 bill … this is one expensive boot. After getting this flat, it deflated me … ok, I’ll stop with the bad puns.  But ever since then, my motivation and energy was not the same.  I think the off season affected me a bit more than I thought, because I just wasn’t climbing like I was before.  My back could feel it, that my core was not that strong, so I need a bit more work on climbing, as well as endurance riding. With the combination of the flat, and my general lack of climbing fitness, most of the group was there waiting at the top.  There were a few guys from the first flat that were still climbing (ones that I that would surely pass me, but they had valve problems with their flat). We all re-grouped after descending the mountain back at the base of the climb.  After that point though, my legs felt like jello, and it had no energy, so I rode the second half of the ride solo.  No paceline, just timetrial it back.  At least there were no stiff headwinds, so that’s good. It’s a good thing that DMD is still 3 months away.  I still have time to train, but at least I got a good long hill ride in.  You gotta start somewhere, right?

Jamison on the 4th of July

Happy 4th of July, and welcome to Jamison Creek

Happy 4th of July everyone. We were still recovering from the massive week-long heatwave here in the Bay Area, and Saturday was the first real day where it wasn’t sweltering heat. This was my first opportunity to do Jamison, in preparation for Santa Cruz Mountain Challenge.

It’s too bad, because here we have a long 4 day weekend, and the heat limited what I was going to do for the 4th.  All I did was do an out and back to King’s Mountain.  It would have been longer, but the heat and humidity really sapped my energy, and I had no urge to climb any additional hills that day.

This day, Saturday, was much better.  In fact, the fog back reached all the way to Boulder Creek, so it was a little overcast, perfect conditions for climbing the beast (aka Jamison Creek).  The corner house always has some decoration to give you a landmark (whether it be Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, or 4th of July).

There was only a couple women on the road besides me, but they took a break, and I didn’t have any target, so look like it’s a time trial for me.  I guess this was good for me, so that I didn’t burn myself out.  The steep switchbacks didn’t catch me by surprise this time, and I felt as long as my pedals kept moving, I’d be in good shape.  I don’t think my speed went below 5 mph, so that was a good thing.

Just my luck, the sun peeps out while on the climb, but at least it was still in the 70’s.  However, sweat kept dripping down my face, so off with the glasses.

My original plan was to climb Jamison, then descent Empire Grade, and do Zayante.  Well, after that effort, I didn’t feel in the mood for doing the long slog up Zayante, so back down the hill I go.

The only way to go back home is up, so China Grade awaits me.  As expected, I didn’t have too much in my legs for China Grade, so I was in mere survival mode up this hill.  Sure, I could have gone through the park entrance to Big Basin, but China Grade is a short cut … a vertical short cut, but still, a short cut.  🙂

Great day for a ride … temps in the 70’s, and a good training ride.  75 miles and 8100 feet of climbing … I’d say that’s a good training day.  Plus, going through Big Basin is always a scenic ride.  Guess I should get ready for my recovery ride today.

Stupid Steep Holy Sh*t Climbing Day

My first double of the year is coming up in a couple of weeks, and I figure another century is in store to prepare for it.  I did a 50 miler yesterday on my fixie, so that gave me some base mileage, but I wanted something to kick my butt today.  I originally called this climb climb climb to ring in Daylight Savings Time … nice rhyme, eh?  Climb mentioned 3 times for each of the climbs we were to do.

I posted this on Meetup, and much to my surprise, I got some takers.  The first climb of the day was Sierra.  I warned everyone that the when you look up, the road just goes into the heavens.  Even with that, the first reaction was “Holy Sh*t”.  Yet, those same riders were the first to the summit.

The weather was perfect for this ride … a little chill in the morning, but as soon as we started climbing, it warmed up really nicely.  Arm warmers were all that was needed (vest would come out on the descent).

We all survived that ok.  We then descended Felton with a quick water stop at the park on Calaveras (there is no water between here and Welch Creek, the 2nd climb).  After that, it’s on to climb the Calaveras wall, followed by some rolling hills before getting to Welch Creek.  I was describing how Welch Creek is harder than Sierra, and how the steep grades continue on, relentless, without too much relief.  As we approached, we see where we go, and the thought was, that’s not too bad.  At the base, it still didn’t look that bad.

As we start climbing, we see the first steep stretch, and the same guys let out a “Holy Sh*t”.  Time to grunt it out, and if it’s even possible, relax … uh, yeah, right, relax, on this hill?

The strava segment says it’s 3.9 miles, and 1871 feet climbing.  Those numbers don’t even begin to describe the difficulty of this climb.  As Ramon would say, it’s stupid steep.  A lot of this road is narrow, where only one car can really pass on this road.  Good thing this is an isolated road, and there weren’t too many cars we had to contend with.

The last 1/2 mile or so got even tougher, pitches were steep.  We already had a lot of climbing in our legs, and it all accumulated to fatigued legs.  This one 16% stretch was just a bit much for a lot of us.  I had to walk a stretch of this till the pitch leveled out to about 5% … level …. hehe.

Finally at the top and a much deserved rest, and getting our heart rate down.  This is one of the toughest (if not the toughest) climbs in the Bay Area.  The only one that may trump it is Mix Canyon, but I haven’t had the pleasure of trying that yet.

After this, everyone just wanted this thing to end, so down to downtown Sunol, and we’re only doing 2 climbs … Welch Creek took its toll on the group.  We then took to quickest, most direct way back home … and I mean quick.  It’s like two different rides … morning climbs, afternoon all out sprint.  In the end, it was a great ride, great weather, and great company.

Have I Found my Climbing Legs?

After focusing so much on double centuries, clearly my focus has been on endurance.  You’ve got to admit, being able to sustain 200 miles, no matter how hilly it is, is quite an accomplishment.  So recently, I have been noticing my climbing has not been what it used to be.  For example, on OLH, I just barely eeked out 30 minutes (and I was really going for it), and on Montebello, I was only able to muster 56 minutes (personal best was 44 minutes).  Granted, I was doing a bunch of DMD training rides, and some really hard rides.

This weekend, I decided to go back to my normal rides (not a DMD trainer ride).  Suddenly, I found myself getting PR (Personal Records) on Strava.  Saturday, I did Kings Mountain (36 minutes) and West Alpine (54 minutes).

Sunday, I did Redwood Gulch (16 minutes) and Hwy 9 to Saratoga Gap (54 minutes).

Granted, those times suck compared to the KOM’s on the climb, but still, the fact that I registered PB’s … are my climbing legs back?  I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Hmm … Should I do DMD … NO!

There was another DMD trainer ride, and this would be a good opportunity to get in a good 100+ miler 2 weeks before my Solvang Double.  The route would be in excess of 100 miles, but damn … what a difficult way to get in those 100 miles.

Dan, our fearless leader, showing his stretching prowess

My friend Dan, aka lanceoldstrong, was the mastermind of this route.  He was originally going to do this with his buddy, and it was going to be just a two man ride.  Well, he had to bail, and so the ride plan goes on twitter … well, a two man ride turned into a 9 man ride.  Woohoo … the power of twitter.  Most of the usual suspects showed up .. myself, Bassem, Chris, Marco, Donald, Ben, and a couple new faces I haven’t seen before … Keith and Yu Hua.

We were originally going to start at Mines Rd, to pick up along the DMD route, but a bunch of us derailed that idea.  Longer drive than we wanted to, so we started from Bart in Fremont instead.  This was a nicer option, as it does give us a nice 25 mile warmup before hitting Mines Rd, and second, if we started from Mines Rd, we’d hit climbing immediately.

The pace out of Fremont Bart was brisque.  Of course, anytime you head out on Niles Canyon, and get into a paceline, you can’t help but have a fast pace.  At least this gives our legs a nice warmup.

First flat of the day

After a quick jaunt on I-680, then onto Vallecitos (Hwy 84), we suffered our first flat.  Keith was the unfortunate victim.

We forge on ahead to Livermore

Chris signaled us to move on.  Chris and Ben stuck along side with Keith.  They are guaranteed to catch us (and they eventually did on Mines Road).  So we forged on ahead.  I assumed my normal position .. in the back of the pack.

We made one last pit stop before heading out to Mines Road.  However, Donald got a flat there … two, and counting.  Bassem took some time to take a few pics.  For once, I’m in the picture.  This is a rarity.

Starting the steep climb on Mines Road

Onwards to Mines Road.  A left turn to continue on Mines Road, and suddenly, I lost visible contact with the rest of the group.  Oh well, I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up with everyone, but this is ridiculous.  Anyhow, time to get into a groove, and just try to limit the pain.  I did eventually catch up with Dan, but only because he was disrobing …. uh, taking off base layer that is.  But a funny thing happened from this … when he redressed himself, one strap from the bib was just hanging out.  I should have taken a pic, but I refrained from that.  Had to give our leader some respect.  :p

Eventually Dan did pass me up, partially because the tourist in me is stopping to take in the views, as well as more pictures.

Re-group due to Marco's flat

I could feel the steep portion was over, as I’m able to pick up some speed and actually descend!  Then, I see a group off to the side … uh oh, not a good sign.  Whaddayaknow … another flat.  Flat #3.  This time, it’s Marco.

Onwards for more rollies, then, Yu Hua gets a flat.  That’s #4.  Everyone was getting a little antsy, so I stuck in with Yu Hua, and decided to meet everyone at The Junction.  We didn’t catch anybody, as we were struggling with the rest of the rollies on Mines Road.  These rollies kept going on and on … I kept looking at the mile markers on the road, and couldn’t remember exactly what mile the Junction was at … it’s mile 19.  The last few climbs before the Junction were kickers, and we just wanted it to end.

Lunch at The Junction

We finally get to the Junction, and Dan had already left at that point.  We did get to chat with a few of the group, but they went on ahead.  Sandwiches at the Junction take a while, and that meant we’ll most likely not see anyone the rest of the day.  I saw Britpower, who was leading the Cinderella training ride today.  No wonder we saw so many riders on Mines Road today.  I wasn’t sure if this was the norm, but it was good to see so many riders out today.

Britpower was waving a number of times at me today, but I was so out of it and tired, I didn’t recognize her, until she came up to me face to face.  Duh.  All I knew was I needed food in my stomach.  I could feel I was hungry about 3 miles before the Junction.

Beginning of the grind on the backside of Hamilton

Finally got our lunch, and we headed out towards Hamilton around 1 pm.  I knew at this point I would not be able to catch up with anyone else.  Yu Hua and I traded leads for the first several miles or so, until Yu Hua’s legs got into gear, and then it was a slow grind up the backside.

All along I knew this was just the beginning.  Yes, I do see the mileage markers on the road, but what I was really looking for was the bridge, because that’s when I know the real climbing starts.  Cross through about 3 or 4 cattle grates, and then finally, the bridge.

12% Climb

From this point on, it’s 12-14% climbs up until about 1.5 miles from the summit.  This is really where you have to dig down deep into the pit of your soul, and muster more energy to just turn the crank.

2 Miles to the Summit. What a welcome sight to see.

And of course, I was so happy to see the 2 mile marking on the road.  Although there is still a bit of climbing left to do, I knew the end was near.

Summit is right around the corner

A little further up the climb, then I see the big 120-inch telescope Observatory … ah the worst is over.

Once at the summit, I get a text message from Ramon.  Chris is not feeling well, and a bunch of folks decide to skip Sierra.  It’s 3:09 pm, and I need to get going if I want to finish the ride in daylight.  So I made the decision to skip Sierra too.  By the time I get to the base of Sierra, it’s already 4:31 pm … uh no, definitely not doing Sierra.  Plus, my legs just don’t have the energy to even make it up the first bump.

I finally made it back to Fremont Bart at 5:54 pm, and without needing lights.  I later saw a tweet from Dan at 6:18 pm, indicating he just finished.  This was one tough ride, and simulated actually doing DMD.  So should I even consider doing DMD?  Well, after this ride experience, I would say an emphatic NO!!!!  I think I’ll just stick to volunteering this ride.  I’m glad I did it, and even more glad that I made it all the way through.  I think this training ride is overkill for preparation for Solvang, but it should all be good.

For more pics, go to

Here is the strava stats: