Tag Archives: cycling

Eastern Sierra Double #24

This past weekend was Eastern Sierra Double Century, which starts in Bishop, Ca, just south of Mammoth Lakes. Before I go any further, this has got to be one of the most beautiful double centuries you could ride.

This is like unfinished business for me. I last attempted this 10 years ago, but the weather conditions were quite ominous then. Back then, we re-routed the course, so that we would avoid the rain … well we ran into rain, and then it hailed, then snowed, so I DNF’d that year. This time, I’m determined to finish this.

This year has been really tough for ride organizers, as the participation is still not up where it was before Covid-19 lockdown, so I want to first shout out to Planet Ultra, for making all these efforts to plan and prepare this wonderful event.

Getting to the start was a challenge, before actually doing the ride. First, I couldn’t find anyone to carpool with (most people participating were driving up from Southern California). Then, I got a good tip from my friend Mark, who said the most direct route is through Tioga Pass, Hwy 120, through Yosemite National Park. However, to drive through you need a reservation. Okay, fine, so I went onto reservation.gov, to try to make a reservation for Friday and Sunday, but no option to even make a reservation. It didn’t even say it was full. Bogus! So what are my alternatives? Either go all the way down to Bakersfield, then go east, and take Hwy 395 north … but that’s a long detour. Then there’s going through Sonora Pass, Hwy 108. Okay, that’s not as long, but it is steep, and the peak is ~ 9800’ … Dang! Oh well, I guess I have no choice. However, the view did not suck!

I’m staying with my friend Victor, in his condo in Mammoth Lakes. This will be his 50th Double Century. That’s quite an accomplishment … Hall of Famer indeed

Victor Cooper, on his 50th DC

Most of the riders were starting at 5 am, and that’s when we would start. I know a couple of friends are starting at 4 am, but the condo we are staying at, in Mammoth Lakes, is 45 min drive away from the start. We would have to leave by 3:15 am, and wake up even earlier.

5 am Riders

The temperature at the start was comfortable, not chilly at all (I probably could have started without the jacket, but I’m staying on the conservative side). As you could see, Stefan, has no jacket, and not even leggings, like it’s a summer ride.

We only needed lights for about 45 minutes, and then it started getting warm. After the adrenaline of the start of the ride wears off, we got into a good group, to pace ourselves before the climbing started.

In this group, we had the very unique situation of having two Ron’s in the group. Actually, there is a third, but we didn’t get a chance to take a picture with all 3 Ron’s, so you’ll have to settle for two instead

Photo courtesy Victor Cooper

The climb on Sherwin Grade on paper didn’t look that bad … but doing it .. that’s a different story. The first section of it, from Lower Rock Creek to Gorge Rd is 7.2 miles, and average 5%, but I faded towards the back of the group.

Not only were we climbing at altitude (beginning at 4500 ft), but we were also battling headwinds from time to time. The climb itself was deceiving, as when you look at it from the side, it doesn’t look that steep, but looking at my power and speed, I can definitely see I am climbing.

The climb continued as we turned onto Hwy 395. I then bumped into my friend Bob (who has a last name, that is pronounced the same way as mine, except he has a vowel in his name). At least I got some company before the next stop.

I finally caught up with the group at the next rest stop (surprised that they were still there). And I finally got to meet Nora in person (who I have been Facebook friends for awhile).

We continued on where our next destination is the climb up to the Mammoth Lakes area. Again, I find myself stuck at the back.

Pic courtesy Victor Cooper

One of our other friends, Molly, was going to ride with us from Mammoth Lakes. However, I was so far behind, I didn’t catch up with her until much later in the ride. I pretty much was riding solo, with some of the 6 am riders passing me (which I expected). Soon after getting to Mammoth Lakes area, we have a descent where we go back to Hwy 395 (we basically did a loop around Mammoth Lakes area).

I know the next destination is June Lake, which is a gorgeous area, and pretty much the highlight of the ride. With all this in mind, I somehow missed the turn to the next rest stop. I only figured that, when I see the same people that passed me earlier on, is passing me again. Wait, what happened? Then one of my friends Chris, comes up along side of me, and ask if I missed the rest stop. Well, I guess I did. Luckily, my friends Teresa (aka Tiger) and Nora, were doing leapfrog support, and I saw them parked along the side, and I topped off water, got a few snacks, then headed on. I already saw Vic and Molly pass by, but there’s no way I’ll catch back onto them, so I just continued at my own pace.

Pictures don’t do it justice, but this is the highlight of the entire ride. With Carson Peak hovering over June Lake, it is definitely a destination that should be on every California cyclist bucket list (no matter if it’s a double or not).

Next destination .. lunch … and thankfully, I got there to reunite with the rest of my group. I also found out I am not the last one on the route … one other guy came in after me, and then Andy, from New York, was about 45 min behind me, but he’s gone through the hardest part of the ride, so I know he’ll be able to make it through.

After lunch, there is still a climb up Sage Hen, which is another gradual grind, but with over 8000 feet of climbing, and 110 miles, each hill will drain you … and it did to me.

Sage Hen does have some downhills where you could really pick up some speed. I overheard Chris say on the tandem, they reached 65 mph. The best I could muster is 51.5 mph. Although that sounds fast, I didn’t feel like my bike was unstable going at that speed. However, I wouldn’t really want to go any faster than that. However, it was not all downhill. We had what Victor calls “whoop de doo” .. I guess that’s an appropriate description for it

Adobe Valley whoop de doo courtesy Victor Cooper

I hate these, especially at the 150-160 mile mark … every little bump takes it out of you, and that’s definitely what happened to me. I was really laboring at this point, and just waiting for the next descent to come, where I can tuck down, and just coast back.

I did have one concern about the trip back … and that is if we were going to have a headwind on the way back. Well, we kind of lucked out, as we had a tailwind for the last 30 miles back from Benton to Bishop. That definitely made the ride back oh so enjoyable.

We got back just after dusk, where we barely had to use our lights. Once again, Memo is there to greet us as we finished … of course, he started an hour earlier, and finished an hour quicker than us. But thanks for greeting us Memo. It was very well appreciated.

I’d have to say this was one of my most enjoyable double centuries, despite the suffering, and the rest stop mishaps I had earlier in the day. The views are just spectacular, and I want to take this opportunity to thank Planet Ultra, Deb and Brian Bowling, Teresa (aka Tiger), Nora, and Evan, for the fantastic leap frog support. I wasn’t sure what to expect coming into this, especially with the thread of not being able to get this ride approved .. but I’m glad you all made the effort, and it made for one of the most enjoyable DC’s I have ever done. I think this may be my new favorite, despite how difficult it was to get here … it was all well worth it. I can’t wait to do this next year, although it would be hard to beat the weather conditions on this day.

I also have to give a huge shout out to Deb and Brian Bolling for continuing to push this ride through to reality. Despite the low turnout, and skeleton crew for support, this had to be one of the most enjoyable, and well supported ride I’ve ever done. The weather really cooperated with us, with only a few drops here and there, it was dry. We really lucked out, as it rained half the time on my drive back home to San Jose area, so this was almost the perfect ride.

Ok now for the stats … 190 miles with 10,526 ft climbing, and 1.5 hour stoppage time.

https://strava.app.link/4zVmJlUEFqb

Oh and congrats to my friend Victor Cooper, for completing his 50th Double Century. That is quite an accomplishment. Well done! Thanks for letting me stay at your condo for this. And this is my 24th DC. Next up, Carmel Valley in the end of August.

Davis Double #23

This past weekend was Davis Double, one the best supported double centuries. It had been on a two year hiatus due to Covid-19, but it’s back! It is also one of the most popular double centuries too. It is also the 23rd DC for me.

This year, I got a room right in downtown Davis, and was just a mile from the start. My friend Victor, from LA drove up, and we rode out together, starting at the wee hour of 4 am. This was more to beat the heat, rather than beating a time cut off. I don’t even know if there is a cut off … maybe just to finish before midnight?

You would think that riding at 4 am would attract those of us who are steady and not a speed demon, but there were several pack of fast riders, and I was passed left and right. I guess they wanted to finish in daylight, but they still needed lights to start the ride!

I’m not sure at what mile it was, but very soon after we started, I couldn’t keep up at the pace Victor was going at. One thing I remember about Davis … it’s always a sprint fest in the first 25 miles, so I decided to just keep within my own pace. I was able to see Vic at lunch, but only briefly.

One thing I live about doing DC is riding in the dark, and seeing the sunrise… it’s just an awesome sight, and photos just won’t do it justice.

Soon I caught up with my friend Dan, aka Lanceoldstrong, and my future SS 508 teammate Nancy. It’s so cool suddenly catching up with friends on an event like this.

First rest stop, and the sun is out. My two favorite supporters, Memo and Peggy are there to greet us all. They are so awesome.

Even though the sun is out, it is not ready to take the jacket off. It’s still cool, especially descending through the cool canyons. I’m still getting passed by some stronger riders (probably ones who started an hour after us). I couldn’t keep up with Nancy, so I just had to let her go, and just settle into my pace.

A lot of the ride used the same roads, and in fact, same rest stop points as the Knoxville Double, so it kept thinking to myself, am I doing Davis, or am I doing Knoxville. We just did a bunch of them in reverse. Of course, that meant climbing over Pope Valley.

Pope Valley

I was able to ride with my buddies from One Cycling, out of Stockton. They are so much fun to ride with, as long as I can stay with them.

I still have to work on limiting my time at rest stops. At rest stop 3, I felt I spent too much time there (about 20 min), but there is that balance between having rest time, and not resting too much.

Leaving rest stop 3, we start the climb up Big Canyon, which BTW, includes a 4 mile stretch of gravel. The good thing is it wasn’t a steep grade on gravel, probably 4-5%, if that. However, I did notice my speed was not stellar .. ~ 7-8 mph. Even though it was fairly flat, it still felt like I was climbing. It had ridges, which went perpendicular to where my bike was going, which made the road all that much tougher. Once we got through with the gravel, the grade started to go up … it just gets better :).

Once we finish Big Canyon, it’s a screaming descent down Seigler Canyon, reverse direction of the same route on Knoxville (where we climbed after lunch). I get to lunch, and reunited with Vic, who rode with a strong fast group, but we was about to leave … so short reunion. Here, we get to enjoy the benefits of ice socks, and stick it in around my neck to cool myself off, as I prepare for the climb up Resurrection.

The climb up Resurrection is not bad. There is a short climb, then long descent, only to climb back up again. The rest stop is at the top of the hill, where traditionally, people are suffering up the climbs, as it is all exposed. Peggy was many rider’s savior, replenishing us with ice and water.

Photo courtesy Mark William Calaway
Rock stars of the Day
I got a sock on my neck 😀

The hard part was done, but by no means did the mean the end of climbing. However, the rest was a series of rolling hills, but there was still about 70 miles left to go.

Rest stop 6 was in Guinda, yet another shared rest stop with Knoxville. They had a much larger layout of food, including baked potatoes, and every DC’s favorite, Cup o Noodles. Something about that salt, but because there was all this food, I spent way too long here. Looking back at my stats, I probably spent 30 minutes here … that’s even longer than the lunch stop. I definitely need to improve in this area.

The rest of the ride was a matter of continuing through, ignoring the pain in your butt (from all the time in the saddle). I couldn’t quite make it back before dark … I think I had a good 30 min where it was completely dark, but was able to see the sun go down.

I finally finished a little before 9 pm, which seems to be my average. I really need to limit my time at rest stops. I say this every time I prepare for a double. I guess I just gotta keep practicing, and eventually, I’ll get it right. There’s always something to learn on these events.

Ok, total stats … 194.30 miles, 9098 ft climbing.

Camino Real Double Century … #21

The first California Double Century on the calendar is Camino Real, which was held February 19th. I’ve always liked this one, for a couple of reasons … First, of course it’s the first one of the year. Nice way to kick off a year. Second, it’s held on President’s Day weekend, so there’s an extra day to rest, recover, or damage my body even more.

I drove down Friday, and met up with my boys Robert (who brought along some of us Las Vegas buddies from Adobo Velo), along with Memo. I ended up riding with Memo and Monica for the whole DC.

Being in lowland, we got to start at 4 am (highland riders started at 5:30 am, and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to finish in a respectable time starting that late).

The temperature at the start was 50 F, so it wasn’t too bad. That’s not to say it didn’t get chilly … it got as low as 39 F, and that was when we headed inland from Laguna Beach into the canyons. We did get an awesome sunrise view.

I somehow lost Memo and Monica when we started climbing through Laguna Nigel (and I even stopped at the first water stop). Eventually we re-grouped at the first CP at San Onofre.

One of the “non so pleasant” parts of the ride is riding along I-5, but at least we have shoulder room to work with. Normally when I ride this, there is bumper to bumper traffic, but it was moving pretty good today. When we got near our exit, the bumper to bumper traffic returned. It was nice to pass the traffic on our bikes past the cars … weehee!

When we got to Oceanside, we would then head inland towards lunch. When we got close by, I can just feel food coming, and like an idiot, I pushed the pace to get to lunch. I will never learn, but it was fun. Met up with long distance extraordinaire Steve .. always good to catch up with him.

After lunch, we do a climb up Old Castle Road, which I’ve never done before, but it’s not too bad. It’s longer than the climbs we did in the morning, but nothing too steep (maybe 5-8%). The only problem is it was right after lunch, at high noon. Luckily it was not in the 90s or 100s, but the sun was still beating down on us (although my Wahoo measured 106 F … don’t believe that!).

We then started to do some rollies, but my leg started to tighten up a little bit … it wasn’t cramping, but was on the verge of doing so. Memo had to remind me to drink .. egad, bottle is 3/4 full .. time to hydrate.

On the way back, Memo knows of this one street called Triple Crown Road, so it was a small little detour for us. That was definitely a Kodak moment, that we had to take. I’m surprised Planet Ultra didn’t have us go on this, just to say that we went on Triple Crown Road.

Back on the route, but to I-5, but this time, cars were speeding by at 70-90 mph (estimating 90 mph, based on how fast they were wizzing by us). The good thing is there was not too much junk and debree on the side of the road, so it was doable, but definitely not a pleasant experience.

By the time we got back to San Onofre CP again, we finally met up with Robert and the Las Vegas boys. However, they are going on the highland route, so that’s the last we would see of them. I thought it was odd we didn’t see them on the whole route, and yet, they were here at San Onofre before we got there … maybe it was a change in the route after lunch stop?

Anyhow, we return along the coast the same way we got here, and this is where the sun sets. With all the water I was drinking, to re-hydrate myself, I had to take bio breaks a lot more than this morning. That’s one thing I have to work on .. hydration. When it’s cold, it’s hard, because you don’t feel like hydrating, but you really should. Lesson learned for my next DC.

On the way back from San Juan Capistrano, we encountered pretty heavy urban traffic .. and in the dark! We saw another group of Adobo Velo riders come up, and we rode along with them to the next checkpoint. However, it was observed they had some personal SAG, as we could see them meet up with the group several times, and there was no SAG sign on the car. It’s a good thing no one from Planet Ultra saw them, otherwise, they would get disqualified.

The last 20 miles were a bit odd. It was all flat, but I was struggling to maintain pace. I had water, and I was drinking, and I had food, but somehow I didn’t have the energy. Memo kept warning me about the hill climb at the end … but then, when we got to the hill, I had this extra energy, and I powered up the hill. Maybe the flat junk miles were making me board, making me sleepy (I remember yawning quite a few times), and then when hill came, it woke me up.

We finished a little before 10 pm, with a moving time of 15:23:24, but a total time of 17:58. Too much stopping time .. will need to improve upon that. However, the more important part of this, is this double century is complete. This make number 21.

Total stats … 198 miles, 8104 feet climbing

2021 Retrospective and Getting Back into Double Centuries

Well here it is … another year in the books, and yet another year under the environment with Covid-19. From a cycling perspective, at least some of the restrictions have been relaxed enough to allow us to do some of the things we used to do. For me, it was getting back into Double Century riding (although I had taken a 7 year hiatus, separate from all this Covid non-sense).

I think I got the bug to get back into Double Centuries due to all the Virtual Doubles that my friends have been doing. However, one thing that prevented me from doing doubles in years passed, was partly due to work. My group was down to 2 people (where it used to be 4). What that meant was every other weekend, I had to be on call, which really impacts how much training you can do for long distance riding. I was fortunate that this year, the schedule was laid out, such that I was on call once every 6 weeks or so, and I had more flexibility to change schedules.

The first virtual double I did was in April, and it was for the Mulholland Double. It wasn’t the actual double (I would never be able to make the time cutoff). Still, it was 200 miles, and 12,000 feet of climbing. It was basically doing a big loop up and over Mt. Hamilton, then down the other side and over to Livermore, then back to San Jose. Well, that was 130 miles of it … we then made up for it by doing a series of smaller 3-5 mile loops until we reached 200. I felt like a hamster, spinning my wheels.

One of the best things about these virtual doubles is being able to ride in your local neighborhood, and being able to have local support (whereas actual double events wouldn’t let you have your own local support). The other nice thing about this was having local friends hang out and serve you food on the course.

My favorite was Melissa’s rice porridge .. mmm, that hits the spot, after 150 miles, and especially if it was cold. It was so good, I went around a couple more laps, stopping each time for rice porridge, but I had to continue on.

With this being my first double coming back after 7 years, I did have some doubts in my mind. At mile 130, I was tired, I was exhausted, and I was ready to throw in the towel. But thanks to my friend Dzung, he convinced me to continue on. I needed that push, to get me over the edge, and I thank him greatly for that. The funny part was his comment, that the first double I do coming back, was one of the hardest. Yeah, I don’t like to do things easy.

After succeeding there, I decided I wanted to do a double solo. Oh, big mistake. Well, I did my own loop, of ~ 60 miles, and met up with a group ride. There was a bit of climbing on the group ride, but I figure I should be able to handle that. Unfortunately, the weather (in May) was a little more wet than expected. It was pretty foggy … it was almost like a misty rain, but it was enough to make us all wet. I was the only one who knew the route well, and being the local, the group begged me to lead them back to the start, as everyone was wet and cold. So I led them back, but I still needed to continue my double, as I had only 90 miles with 110 more to go. I continued on, and instead of doing multiple 5 mile loops, I had a great 20 mile loop, through bike paths, and I figured I would be able to keep doing this to get to 200. My care was parked along the route, so if I needed something, I would stop by the car. On one of the stops back to the car, I was really exhausted, and since it was solo, I didn’t have anyone to motivate me, and that’s what did me in. I stopped at mile 155, and since I was at my car, it was way too easy to just go on home. So that was a failed attempt.

To this point, I chalked this up as a training ride, but I kept thinking if only I had more mental toughness to continue on. Others were impressed I continued on, after the weather conditions. I can’t blame the weather on this, as by the time I got back to the car, it was all dry, and should have been able to continue on … but it is a learning opportunity.

I was able to complete one more virtual double, and that was Grand Tour, which I did in July. That was fun, but that hardest part had to be doing all those small 5 mile loops, but at least we did it, and that was the 2nd one of the year, and that would end up being the last. Again, my favorite part was stopping for rice porridge on those 5 mile laps. Eventually we shortened them to 3.5 mile loops, just so we wouldn’t get delayed by traffic lights.

In August, it was our club’s double century event, Carmel Valley Double. This was not virtual, and I think it was the first non-virtual double. This was a tough one, as it was 14,000 feet climbing. The most climbing I had ever done in one event was Devil Mountain Double, but I DNF’d that one. By the time I DNF’d, it was 159 miles, and 17,000 feet climbing. When I finished Carmel Valley Double, I was ecstatic. This was tough, and it was the first worker’s ride I had ever done (I volunteered, and supported the actual ride which was held on Saturday, two days later).

There were 4 of us doing the volunteer ride, but I was the slowest. I was able to ride with Stefan for most of the ride, but by the time we climbed Carmel Valley on the way back, I was far behind. The difficulty was when I descended, it was pitch black (about 8 pm). Since this was rural, it had many turns, and I needed to put higher beams on. I definitely was not going as fast as I normally would down this road, and it would go on forever. One mishap on this ride, was that somehow, the screw on the mount for one of my lights was no longer there. So I couldn’t really use this light, so had to rely on my other one. Since I had to use my brighter beam, that meant using more battery, and I was running low on battery. I was able to finish before it went out, but that was a close one.

The best part on this ride was to actually cross the finish line. While riding this, I was worried I wouldn’t make it to the cutoff, thinking it would be after midnight before I finished. I underestimated myself, and I actually finished around 10:30 pm, so not too bad. That was one of the happiest moments of all the doubles I did. It also helped having so many friends to support me on this one.

I really had the double bug now, so I proceeded to do Bass Lake and Solvang Autumn Double. On Bass Lake, we had quite a few people from XDV drive out to Clovis (near Fresno) to do the ride. I wanted to do this as a group ride, but right off the bat, we got separated, as I rode with the lead group, but most of our group had a flat, which delayed them for about 40 minutes. I eventually waited for the rest of the group at the 2nd rest stop (at Bass Lake). I probably should have just continued on, but something tells me they would have caught up to me anyways (as Dominique and Ellen are so so strong).

Solvang Autumn Double was the week after Bass Lake. This would be my fifth of the year. It was a bit colder than I was anticipating, especially when we got into the canyons. This was a bit tougher than I thought, as we did Drum Canyon twice (once in each direction), and that road was really rough. Descending on a road bike felt like I was in a boxing match, getting my upper body taking body blows, with all the bumps the bike was taking. I think a gravel bike would have been more appropriate for these descents.

One thing I did observe was I did slow down quite a bit in the second half, while others took longer in the first half and finished stronger in the second half. Even after all the doubles I have done, I still have some things I have to improve upon (aside from the fitness).

The last double I was able to do was the Dead of Winter, which was held first weekend of December. It was a nice flat double, with a climb up Lake Casitas pass, which is always a lot of fun. This is the same as what we do on the actual Grand Tour Highland Double. What was nice about this was seeing a lot of double century friends that I know from the many trips I made down to So Cal. It was a blast seeing them, and was fun to complete my 6th double century of the year. I’ve never done 6 in a year before, so this was a first for me.

For 2022, I have a goal of completing my 25th double, and that will be for Carmel Valley Double. Melissa has said they will create a big banner for me for that one, so how could I not strive for that as a goal. So that’s my plan … that’s my new year’s resolution … I am currently at 20, so I will need 5 more to get to 25. Wish me luck!

I would also like to thank Dzung Dang for maintaining a group that encourages cycling and more importantly, keeps me motivated to keep riding. I was burnt out, and that’s why I had a 7 year hiatus from double century riding. It’s his emphasis on doubles and endurance riding that kept the double century bug in me. It also helps to have a group that has the motivation to do these rides (as these events are not for the normal every day bike riders). Thanks Dzung!

Bonny Doon Plans Thwarted by Flats

My co-worker Al, and I, had this lofty plans of doing a killer loop, with about 105 miles, and over 10,000 feet of climbing.  This was definitely going to be an epic ride, something Al has wanted, in preparation for his Death Ride training.

Those were good plans, but plans are not set in stone.  It all started fine, getting a nice warm up by climbing Page Mill (including those 12-16% pitches).  I felt ok climbing Page Mill, despite having some lower back “irritations”.  Al was faster up the hill than me, but I wasn’t too far behind.

All good there .. then we descended West Alpine, along with another faster group, which was going in the same direction as us.  However, during the descent, I heard some other noise coming from my bike, other than the freewheel … I had to slow down, and just as I feared, it was a leak.  My front tire got a flat.  Luckily this was just a slow leak, and I was able to hear it on my descent.  This was just before the right turn to continue onto West Alpine.

So we stop to fix the flat, and as I inspect the tire, I notice a sidewall gash.  It’s one of those, where once you pump up the tire, part of the tube will bleed out through a hole in the tire, and pow, there goes your tube.  Al had those tire boots, so we installed that, and we’re ready to go.

I think Al is ready for Death Ride, as every climb, he was definitely much stronger, and he was just flying up Haskins Hill, and didn’t see  him until I got to the corner of Stage and Pescadero Creek.  Good for him, but lot more work for me.  I was lucky enough to catch a few guys in a mini-paceline going to the coast.  One guy even had a DSLR, and was even able to take a few shots, without stopping!  Wow!

VIRB Picture

Paceline to the coast!

I re-grouped with Al at Stage Road.  We had to make a decision here .. do we continue on to the original plan of doing Bonny Doon loop, or do we alter it and do the obligatory Tunitas Creek loop.  With the tire situation, I was leaning more towards Tunitas, but Al had his sights on Bonny Doon, so we are continuing on.

We continued down to Hwy 1, with a scenic stop at Pescadero State Beach.  I mean come on, you gotta take a few pictures here (although we would be riding parallel to this anyways).

 

Off we go and the winds were going in a southerly direction, and guess what .. we’re going south.  We have a tailwind, and that means kick it up to high gear, and just spin.  Al wanted to just charge on so he passed me, and he was flying.  However, there’s a lot of crap on Hwy 1, and one of those pieces of crap was a stray wire, that caught my front tire.  It was stuck to the tire, and it kept rolling it with.  I think I rolled with that in there for a good mile before it dislodged itself, and now it’s just a matter of time before it does go flat.  It finally went flat a little after Gazos Creek.

So this is where the day turned sour.  I have no more tubes available, and Al is at least a mile ahead of me.  Hmm … cell phone … no bars … damn, can’t even text him.  I was close enough to a gas station, but they had no tubes to sell .. damn.  A couple guys were fixing a flat by the station, but no extra tubes.  Damn.  Eventually, I flag another rider, who happens to have an extra tube.  A lifesaver!  I’m all excited, replace the tube, pump it up, and as I take the pump out, it strips the valve.

Arghhhh!!!!  It is just not my day.  Another good samaritan comes by, who happened to be a SAG support guy for years.  He doesn’t have any tubes, but he tries to help.  Took part of the tape on my handle bar, and I was wondering what he was trying to do.  He was trying to use the tape as a patch, but I’m thinking that’s not going to hold.  Surprisingly, we pump it up, and it seems to be holding.  He takes off, then I put everything together, then I feel the tire, and it is not holding … damn.  So I pump it up some more, ride as much as I can, and I go maybe 1/4 mile, before it’s deflated again.

I guess I’ll just walk south for a while, until I see Al come back.  I’m not sure how much time we lost, from both the tube change back up on West Alpine, and my adventures on Hwy 1, waiting for Al, but we had to find the quickest way back.  I decided we should just head back up Gazos Creek, then double back up Haskings, then West Alpine.  I figure that should still be an epic climb, but at least it will be more familiar territory.

The wind is still blowing in a southerly direction, and we are going northbound … headwinds!  Oh well, this is kind of expected, but we charged on through it.  I think when Al u-turned back on Hwy 1, it may have taken a bit out of him, because on our way back on Pescadero Creek, we was behind me.  I guess he’s conserving energy for the W. Alpine climb, so that makes sense.  Maybe part of it was I had rested awhile, so I was more refreshed?

There is a warmup climb before West Alpine in this direction, and that is Haskins Hill.  It has some 10-12% grades, so it is no slouch.  At this point, I got my second wind, and I felt good climbing up Haskins, and as it turned out, I got a PR on this segment.

At this point, climbing up W. Alpine was not too bad … my legs were still pretty fresh.  Al and I traded leads up this hill.  By the time we got to Skyline, we had a sense of relief … we are in the home stretch.  Legs are tired, and we just want to get back to the cars.  By the time we got back, I had logged in 82 miles, and 7877 feet climbing.  Al wasn’t sure how far on Hwy 1 he got before he turned back, but I think he was by Davenport … he got in 99.4 miles.  We was too tired to take an extra loop around the block to even it out to 100.

That was a tough ride, even though we skipped on Bonny Doon and Zayante … not sure which way would have been tougher.  We didn’t get the 10,000 feet climb we were shooting for, but it was still one hard ride, so we still had a great workout, and a great day.

Saddle Slip, How Does That Happen?

I was riding along, just getting in some miles before my first climb.  It’s a flat stretch along Foothill Expressway, then all of a sudden, I felt something sink.  It wasn’t a flat, and it felt like my saddle position dropped.  It wasn’t too dramatic, and I decided to keep riding on, until I reached the intersection.  I checked, and it looked a little low, and my knees were bent a little more than usual.  I better head back, then suddenly, the saddle height dropped quite a bit more … it got to a point where it sank about 1-2 inches.  I couldn’t even ride seated.

I proceeded to ride standing … it is difficult to ride without your saddle.  I knew it would be tough, but this was ridiculous.  I went back to Los Altos Community Center, where I saw Dillon there, getting ready for another Pescadero ride with Steve.

Luckily, Dillon had a torque wrench, specifically designed for the saddle.  We loosened it all the way, and even then we had a problem raising the saddle height.  If we had this problem changing the saddle vertical position, then how in the world did the saddle height sink?  I did a ride the previous day, climbing Saratoga Gap, with a good 40 miles, 4000 foot climb … good thing my saddle didn’t slip while on that ride.

I took the bike over to Bicycle Summit.  There was ample grease on the seat post, so it wasn’t a lubrication problem.  Perhaps it just wasn’t torque’d down enough.  I still find it strange that it suddenly sank on me, and then we had problems raising the saddle height.  Oh well … I guess that’s one mystery that will not be solved.

Oh, while I was there, I might as well ask for a torque wrench.  The guy goes back, grabs a torque wrench from their tool kit, and gives it to me.  Let me say again, he gives it to me – For free.  “Are you sure”, I ask … he says they have plenty of them.  Really .. Well, that’s customer service for ya!

Picked up the Crash Replacement

So I finally decided to go forward with the bike crash replacement.  I was thinking of letting it go, but thinking of how smooth the ride is, I had to get a replacement.

I would be getting the Liscio 2, which for the most part is the same as Liscio 1, with the exception of the frame bottom bracket was changed to make it more standard with other components.  I decided to also upgrade the disc brakes to TRP Hy-Rd hydraulic disc brakes.

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White fork vs. black, blck highlight on the down tube … ooh, I like this color scheme a lot. Cable routing is also inside the frame … much cleaner.

Take a quick look at the old Liscio

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I took it out for a quick test ride, and the first thing I noticed was the braking … ooh, hydraulic is nice.  Much more responsive.

Probably the Lowest Mileage I’ve Had in a Month In a While

So February is over, and it is the shortest month of the year, with smaller number of days.  But that hasn’t stopped me in the past from piling up the miles.  Well, it’s odd, this time, I only got 369 miles in the month.  Looking back on that month, I really didn’t do any big rides on the weekend.  In fact, I had one weekend where I was on call, and another weekend where I visited dad.  Plus, there was another weekend where it rained, so that’s 3 weekends where I didn’t ride at all.

Now I still commuted almost every day, but that still didn’t accumulate the mileage.  This makes it extremely difficult if you are trying to go for a double century.  I’m starting to re-think my goals, and whether or not I should be concentrating on mileage.  With this said, my goal of Solvang may not come to fruition.  I’m also way out of shape for a double.

Time to Work Off That Belly

I recently took a look in the mirror, in the bathroom, and look at my mid-section … Oh, the horror!  Damn, I have really been lolly-gagging.  Crap, it’s time to do something about this.

Well, Camino Real is this weekend, and I know I’m going to miss that.  The question is … will I actually be in shape for Solvang next month?  I just feel like a real slog now.

So it’s time to get out on the road, and do those before work rides up Mora.  Too bad the evening Meetup rides start at 5:15 pm … there is no way I’m going to be able to make it to Los Altos by 6:15 …. probably won’t even be able to leave the building till at least 5:20 pm.  I think that definitely is hurting me, because I don’t have that motivational group leaving every Tuesday evening.

It does help that it is not bone chillingly cold out there, so I can actually wear shorts and short fingered gloves.  That definitely helps, as I feel a little faster without the long fingers and the knee warmers.

Of course, this month didn’t help me much either.  One weekend, visit my dad … the next weekend, on call.  That is really going to hurt my training schedule.

Is It Due to New Year, or Cold Weather

With the 1st weekend of the year winding down, I am struggling to get my mojo together.  With all the rains last month, it limited weekend riding time, which also meant not being in climbing shape.  Couple that with cold temps (starting rides with temps in the low 40s).  So is the lack of riding shape due to cold weather, or the usual off-season incurred during the new year?  I guess I won’t really know, since next weekend I’m on call … Oh well.  Happy New Year everyone!