Oh no, It can’t Be Over

… No, I’m not referring to the end of Game of Thrones … although it is kinda sad that it is over.  No, I’m referring to the fun of seeing the Amgen Tour of California, live, and in person, along the route.  I really had a lot of fun this year.  Yes, I did take a week off of work to see this … My reasoning?  I am a cycling racing fan, and when it comes to your backyard, you don’t want to miss out.

I thought this year, I wouldn’t be able to make up the mountain tops, where I could see suffrage of the racers climbing the highest mountains.  However, I amazed myself, and I was able to climb climb and climb.  I made it seeing the pack reach the KOM at Mt. Hamilton on Stage 3, and seeing the big gaps being created because of this.  I think a lot of riders were still recovering from the previous day, where the climbed all the way up to South Lake Tahoe, with 10,000+ feet of climbing … and this day was no slouch either .. I think it had 9,000 feet.

I then drove down to Ventura on Thursday, seeing Stage 1 of the womens race at the finish line, and Stage 5 of the Men’s race.  It was really windy, and it was a fun, carnival-like atmosphere.

Then, the big day, queen’s stage on Glendora Mountain Road (GMR) to Mt. Baldy Ski Lifts.  That was a blast, especially climbing to the Ski Lifts.  The highlight was passing by Phil’s Cookie Corner, and the craziness there.  Then, by good fortune, when we made it to the top, a friend of ours had VIP passes for us, to see at the finish line, under the tents, with food, wine, coffee.  That was a blast.

I didn’t have enough, so I climbed up Hwy 2, and climbed Mt. Wilson, then dropped down to see the racers, as they made the descent down Hwy 2, before they reached Pasadena.

Not only did I have a great time watching the race, I got in 5 good days of riding … Let’s see … Monday, 31 mi/3675 ft, Tuesday, 47 mi/4700 ft, Friday, 54 mi/7900 ft, Saturday, 35 mi/4500 ft.  That’s a lot of climbing.

Oh, and if you want to see the pics I took, here is my flickr link … https://flic.kr/s/aHsmyd4BKf

I guess all good things must come to an end … today was tough, first day back at work … and all the emails … ugh … and I still have a bunch I have to go through.

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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!

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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.

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ATOC and Giro Starting on the Same Week

This year, the ATOC and Giro d’Italia are starting one day apart.  Woohoo!  That means as soon as I wake up (at the insane hour of 5 am), I can log on, and watch the remains of the day’s Giro d’Italia stage.  Then, in the afternoon (approximately 2 pm), the ATOC coverage begins.  This is the best time of the year for road cycling fans.

So don’t bother me with the silly stories of the NBA Finals, or the Stanley Cup, or even the boring MLB … it’s time for cycling!

And yes, I am taking a week off from work for this … I’ll be seeing two stages of the ATOC in person, as is my annual tradition.

Posted in fan, Tour of California | 2 Comments

Rant: Bike Safety at a School

I find it ironic that on my commute into work, the most dangerous part is not going with traffic on Central Expressway, or Lawrence Expressway … but when I have to pass by a school. So many parents drop off their kid in a big stupid ugly vehicle, aka SUV. They don’t mind running me, over another school kid over with their car.

How can we encourage kids to ride their bikes if parents don’t care about their safety since they ride a bike?

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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!

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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

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Good Tips on Before/After Losing Wallet

I just happen to stumble upon this tip, from Santa Clara Police Blotter:

Steps to Take to Prepare Before You Lose Your Wallet
Make life easier! Now that you know all of the hoops you will need to jump through to replace the items in your wallet / purse and protect your identity, take these simple precautions:

• Strip your wallet / purse of anything you don’t really need (e.g. SSN card, checkbook, health insurance card, gift card, passwords, personal identifying information, etc.)
• Never keep your SSN card or PIN numbers in your wallet / purse
• Photocopy everything that is in your wallet / purse
• Contact your bank to see if they offer text notification for charges to your credit card
• Turn on any two-step verification features your financial institution may offer
• Be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye on your belongings (e.g. never leave a purse or wallet in a shopping basket, in-sight in a parked car or anywhere else criminals may have easy access)

What to do Immediately After Losing Your Wallet / Purse
As soon as you realize your wallet or purse is missing – whether it is lost or stolen – immediately take steps to reduce the chance of being a victim of identity theft or having unauthorized charges to your accounts.

• Retrace your steps from the last time you saw the item (e.g. restaurant, work, store, school, home, etc.)
• Notify the bank that issued your credit, debit or ATM card and cell phone carrier
• If your checkbook disappears, close the account and reconfigure any direct deposits and auto-payments
• Report the loss or theft to the Police Department via an online report, or by calling the non-emergency phone line at (408)615-5580
When doing so, you will need:
– Where and when yo u believe you lost, or had your wallet stolen
– Description of the wallet / purse
– List of everything in the wallet / purse(e.g. amount of cash, credit cards, etc.)
– Suspect description, if any
– Card number of any cards used as well as location, date, time and amount of transaction
• If key(s) are missing, change the locks to your home and vehicle
• If your social security card is missing, initiate a fraud alert or credit freeze and monitor your credit report at https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action
To place a fraud alert / credit freeze go to https://www.identitytheft.gov or call the three major credit-reporting agencies:
– Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (1-888-397-3742)
– Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
– Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289
• Contact the Internal Revenue Service Identity Protection Unit at (800)908-4490 or check online at https://www.irs.gov/identity-theft-fraud-scams
• Replace your driver’s license

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Upgraded to Pixel 3 … I Just Had to Do It

I’ve had a Pixel Android phone for a couple of years.  However, I started noticing that my battery was not lasting that long on a charge.  It wouldn’t last a whole day at the office, on a full charge.  I would have to do a charge at around 3 pm.  Now I probably could have taken it into a cell phone repair place, buy a new battery, and have them install it, but I heard a lot of good things about the camera.  Then, Black Friday came around, along with all the discounts, so I decided to buy myself an early Christmas present.

I was contemplating, when I had to replace my phone, I might go with an iPhone.  One of my requirements, was I didn’t want a huge phone. The current iPhones were a bit large, and oddly enough, the one that would fit more comfortably in my hand, and not too bulky, would be the Pixel 3.

I have to hand it to Google and GoogleFi … they make the transition so easy.  The Pixel 3 also features an eSIM, which meant I didn’t have to transfer my SIM card over.  All I had to do was log in to GoogleFi, do some USB to USB transfer, and voila.

Probably the most difficult part of this transition was for work related apps.  In order to access email, and other resources on my phone, I had to import some certificates, which took more of an ordeal than it really had to.  It basically meant a couple of visits to IT, with them pushing down a certificate to me.

Now on with the phone .. It’s clean, very responsive, and thankfully, wireless charging is back.  The Pixel stand, the wireless charging stand, is so cool.  The only gripe I have, is that you can’t say “OK Google”, and have Google Assistant work.  I have to actually unlock the phone, touch the Google Assistant icon, and then bark my orders.

I’m sure you have seen the annoying commercials on TV, for the camera on Pixel 3.  The “flash” commercial, or the night vision camera, which allows you to take pictures in low light, without the flash.  I’ve gotta say, it does take excellent pictures.  Here are some samples I took at night, or at dusk.

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Not a bad camera, eh?

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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.

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