Tag Archives: Berkeley

Day 3 – Nifty 1050 #30daysofbiking

Day 3 of the 30 days of biking … and there is a ride in El Cerrito, that aims to complete 10,000 feet of climbing in 50 miles.  Holy crap … sounds like just the stupid thing I would do.

On my way over, I somehow made the wrong exit, and wound up on the Bay Bridge.  No,no,no … oh hell, looks like I gotta go to Treasure Island then head back.  In retrospect, this is not a bad way to get lost.  Had a great view across the bay of the Bay Bridge.  Nice way to start the day, eh?

Ok, finally got on track.  There was a pretty group gathered for the ride .. approximately 20 riders.  I looked at the physique of the other riders, and I already knew I was in trouble.

They provided a Garmin gpx file where we could upload as a course.  With this, you can import a gpx file into your Garmin, and you could follow the course.  This is the first time I’ve used the course feature on my Garmin, so this should be interesting.

Onto the course, and we immediately are greeted with a 20+% climb.  Not even a warm up!  I was barely hanging on to the back of the main group, but that wouldn’t last very long.  Pretty soon, me, and this other rider from Palm Desert, Bob, wound up in the back, and we pretty much rode the rest of the ride together.  This meant I couldn’t follow the rider in front, and had to rely on my route sheet.

I read the route sheet wrong when we got to the traffic circle.  It mention to go through the traffic circle, then hang a right on Marin.  Well, I saw Marin, and hung a right.  Well, that took us towards the bay and into Albany.  We are way off course here … u-turn back, and getting back to the traffic circle, we were suppose to circle the traffic circle, and hang a right up …. emphasize UP Marin Ave.  This is the 0.75 mile, 28% grade.  Ouch.

I didn’t make it all the way up on the bike.  I had to walk the last several hundred feet.  My legs were fine, but my arms just was tired from all the pulling.

The picture doesn’t tell the whole story.  When you look at it, it doesn’t look all that steep.

Ok, back to the course.  There were so many turns on this route, I had to stop many times, just to make sure I was on course.  I still made a few wrong turns, and actually backtracking what we would do later in the ride twice.  We basically were looping around the same neighborhood in many different ways.

We had gone about 40 miles before our legs just had it for the day.  Even if I did continue on the route, we probably wouldn’t finish till about 7 pm or so.  Bob wasn’t feeling that great either, and he called his buddies to pick him up.  We stopped in Montclair Village for much needed lunch.  At that point, I decided to take the quickest route to Bart, in Rockridge, and rode back from El Cerrito Bart to the start.

I arrived there just about 10 minutes before the main pack finished the whole ride.

My Garmin didn’t record the data accurately, so unfortunately I cannot give an accurate account for miles and climbing done.


Fremont to Berkeley with annoying Rain

We recently had rain for 5 days straight, and the weather site and news, kept advertising it would be dry on Saturday, so this was our day to ride.  I have always wanted to do Fremont to Berkeley for a long time, so I decided to lead it, and go for it.

It started out really ominous.  Saturday morning, as I was waking up, I could hear the rain continuing, and it was a constant driving rain.  It was so hard, I even tweeted, and posted on bikeforums.net that I am cancelling the ride.  Being off the bike for an entire week didn’t go well with Chris, and Michael.  Looking at the various weather sites, they tell us the rain would stop by 7 am, and would be clear for the afternoon.  That was good enough for them to still ride, but my concern was more of descending wet roads at high speeds.  Since I was the ride leader, I felt I had to show up, even if we weren’t going to ride.

It did clear up, and seemed like it would be okay.  For Chris, he was so desperate to ride, that he decided to ride from home, across Dumbarton Bridge.  As I was driving to Fremont, it started to sprinkle some more.  I had my doubts on whether or not this ride would actually go on.  I could only think about how wet Chris is getting, and I even brought my bike rack, just in case it got so bad that he would need a lift back home.  The rain did stop around 8 am, but we decided to postpone it till about 8:30 am, just so that the rain would stop by then, and it eventually did.

With rain, this meant fenders on the bike.  Chris had brand new fenders, and it looked so streamlined, and looked like a better fit than even the race blades.  What was interesting is the you have to zip tie the fender onto the brake calipers.  I guess all you have to do is get extra zip ties and cut them off everytime you want to remove them, but I thought that was a little strange.

We finally took off a little before 9 am (about an hour later than we had first planned, but at least we would be a little dryer).  So here we go for another epic wrecking crew ride.

We all knew this would be an all day affair, as it is advertised as an 80 mile ride … so why is it that Donald and Ramon are going at such a blistering pace?  No matter, Michael, Chris and I just let them go off in the front.  They would re-group for us eventually anyhow.

First climb of the day is Palomares.  We have done this many times before, but we normally climb this from North to South.  This time, we are doing it from South to North, which is a little steeper and shorter.

First casualty of the day … Ramon got a flat, most likely due to running over a pothole.  I didn’t even notice a pothole … oh well, lucky me.  Good thing it was after we got down the hill, and not on the fast part of the descent.

Next, we continue on Redwood, and apparently, Donald only rode this once before, so I have ridden this the most out of the group.  I happen to remember the slight descent and attacked, aggressively positioning myself at the front … that is until everyone else caught up, and we started the up portion of the rollie hills.  This stretch is kind of similar to Calaveras going northbound … nothing really too bad, but enough to let you know you are doing a slight climb.

Next casualty, Donald gets a flat.  Dang, what is it about today?  Well, I guess part of it may be due to wet roads, and have rocks, gravel, and pebbles stick to the tires more.

The further we climbed, the further away from sunshine we started to get.  Eventually, we would get dumped on, but not too bad.  As we turned onto Pinehurst, this reminded me a lot of the wooded areas of the likes of Old La Honda Road, or maybe even Pescadero Road.  In other words, very green, and shaded by bunch of trees.

So what happened to that forecast of no rain today, and that it would not come until late in the evening?  I actually was not too optimistic that we would stay dry all day, so this actually didn’t surprise me.  Good thing I did put on my fenders.  Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but it seems like the higher in elevation we went, the higher likelihood of getting rained on.

The rest of the group was getting restless with all these rollie hills, so as soon as we started the sustained climbs on Pinehurst, off they went … in the meantime, I was grinding my way up the hill.  After reaching the top, we continued on Grizzly Peak, where we hovered the crest, where we normally would have a great view overlooking the bay … but visibility wasn’t that great today.

We next descended into Berkeley via Claremont.  That was a nice fun descent.  The switchbacks weren’t too bad, but I had this really annoying car, that was far enough behind me to see in the mirror, but was timid enough not to pass us up.  I figured if he’s not going to pass me, I’ll just tuck down and speed up until we get down to the bottom of the hill.

When everyone got to the bottom, no one seemed ready to go grab a bite to eat.  That would eventually catch up to us near the end of the ride … sometimes, you just gotta have solid food.  Powerbars and/or Clif bars sometimes just doesn’t cut it … but more about that later.

We proceeded to ride through the Cal Berkeley campus.  We pass by a Lacrosse field … women’s Lacrosse game going on … I say again … women’s Lacrosse … and we didn’t even stop?  What the hell is wrong with us?  I can’t say if they were cute, as I was busy trying to stay alive riding through a construction area, but damn … it’s women’s Lacrosse.

So instead of watching women’s Lacrosse, what do we do?  Climb Centennial, and climb a 17% hill, up to Lawrence Hall of Science (I affectionately call it Lawrence Hill of Science).  That was one hella tough hill, and it really took a lot out of me.  I was definitely using all of my 30-27 gearing.  I was glad to make it up to the Botanical Garden, but then I realized that wasn’t even the top … heck Lawrence Hall of Science wasn’t even the top.  We still had to proceed up and over Grizzly Peak.

So this turned out to be a lot harder ride than I thought … hmmm, didn’t I say that last week?  Anyhow, we proceeded to our next climb, South Park, in Tilden Park … that was another tough hill, peaking at about 18%.  I was going so slow on this climb … all I can do was concentrate to just turn the crank.

At this point, we headed on the way back, all the way on Redwood.  We eventually stopped off at Safeway in Castro Valley, for some much needed solid food.  Even though it was not much, I had a small cup of potato salad, and boy, that really felt good.  Ramon was having some stomach issues here, so we couldn’t quite take off yet.  By the time he came out, it was 3:30 PM, and we were concerned about climbing Palomares, and finishing the ride before dark.  So we did not do Palomares, and we didn’t do an extra 1,000+ feet climbing … but no one cared at this point.  We were all tired, and we took a flat way back to Fremont Bart.

Now it’s true, we did not maintain the Wrecking Crew standard, 1000 feet climbing for every 10 miles, but it still qualified as a Wrecking Crew ride.

Pics at http://spingineer.smugmug.com/Cycling/Fremont-Berkeley/11043975_SMiTR#772696810_H8XSr

Total stats: 80.66 miles, 6653 feet climbing

Ride on Christmas Eve???? Why not

For those of us who don’t have family obligations, we all got together for a ride on Christmas Eve.  I mean, why not.  It’s an extra day we have available to do a ride (thinking that Christmas Day will be completely out of the question).

The ride started at Orinda Bart Station, and Richard was leading this ride.  I was really excited about this, as I haven’t done a ride in the Grizzly Peak, Berkeley area in quite a long time.  I decided I needed to change this up a little bit, and ride somewhere different.  Parts of this ride are featured on the Grizzly Peak Century, which is an excellent ride, that takes place in early May.

The first climb was Wildcat Canyon.  We were still shivering cold, so the climb helped warm us up a little bit.  Richard was leading a blazing uphill pace, and up at the top, by Tilden parking lot, we were treated to an awesome view of the valley.  I was going to start take pictures, but realized that my battery was low, and I forgot to charge it up before leaving.  Damn … no pictures, sorry.

After a short descent, we hang a left on South Park, to climb a road that is closed from Fall to Spring (opening in March).  This gives us the perfect opportunity to ride on a closed road, car-free.  This also means it attracts walkers, hikers, and joggers, but there weren’t too many out there today.  There was this one cyclist who was bombing down the hill in the reverse direction.  These were 15% grades, so coming down is a little crazy.  In the meantime, having these climbs was my opportunity to warm up, and that meant pushing my heart rate up as high as I could.  I reached about 180 bpm near the top.  After letting my heartrate go back down to a respectable level, I felt really good.

Here’s a shot that Richard took of George and me as we get to the end of the climb.  At least his camera has some batteries :p

After reaching the top, we hang a left, and ride along Skyline, with a really nice view of the bay.  In fact, I was able to see the Golden Gate Bridge very clearly from the Berkeley side of Skyline.  I have no idea how many times I said “wow, what a view”.  By this time, we were pretty much warmed up, and not shivering as much.

We then take a really fast descent down Shepherd’s Canyon.  This was nice, because once we got past the hairpin, it was a pretty straight shot into town, and it was a fast shot down.  I didn’t break 40 mph, but that’s because I didn’t know the area that well.  We eventually wound up in Montclair, and had coffee there.  It’s amazing … there was a Peet’s, and a Starbuck’s there … both were jam packed, with a long line.  Down the street, we saw a local cafe, and ducked into there, with no waiting at all.  And it was gooood.  It’s great to have coffee for a local merchant … help out the little guys.  I came out of there with a great sense of satisfaction.

Ok, next agenda is to head back up to Skyline, by heading over towards the Caldecott tunnel area, but climbing the ridge above it.  Again, once climbing up to the ridge, there were great views awaiting us.  I kinda bummed that I forgot to charge the battery for my camera, but on the other hand, the view that we saw would not translate too well onto a jpg or digital image.

As I was chasing after Richard (I was about 100 yards behind him), suddenly I saw his bike slant at 45 degrees.  Rich took a fall … it looks like he hit a rock the wrong way, and he lost balance.  He was okay, but just a little frazzled … nothing to worry about.  Easy for me to say … I’m not the one who fell.  I think it was more embarrassment than anything else.

We circled back to Skyline, to the point where we were earlier this morning.  We headed down to Redwood and then Pinehurst.  Aw, Pinehurst … I haven’t ridden this since I first moved to the Bay Area, and when I was living in Fremont.  This was a nice gradual climb, and one of the local favorite hills.  It’s not the crazy steep climbs, but has a grade gentle enough, but still tough enough, to keep you honest, and get your heart rate up, without blowing out your knees.

We were almost home, but one more climb we had to do … Rheem.  Now this one was a bit steeper, but at least it was short.  Knowing this is the last major climb, near the top, I decided to push my heart rate, and I manage to get it up to 182 bpm.

By the time we got back to the cars, I had logged in 43.1 miles, and 4295 feet climbing, according to Ascent.  Great Christmas Eve ride.