Tag Archives: cycling

Farewell 2014

Wow, what happened to the past year?  It’s already time to say goodbye to 2014?  It seemed like just yesterday, where I was getting ready for DMD.  I used Solvang Spring Double as a training ride … what?  Then, I did DMD, and they were really tough conditions, and it became too much for me, and I ended up DNF’ing it, only going 159 miles before SAG’ing it.

Then, on the way back from a ride, I didn’t realize how fast I was going, and I rear ended a tandem, taking both of us down, and took me out for 6 weeks, suffering a rib injury.

Ever since then, my fitness was not quite the same, so I then decided to just commute to work every day.  No centuries, no doubles for the rest of the year.  Instead, I just enjoyed weekend rides, without any training agenda.

Despite all of this, I ended up with quite a bit of mileage over the year.  I ended up with 7004 miles.  I guess all those commute miles do add up.

So will I do DMD this year?  I have no idea … but I guess I should just start training up for it again, just like I did last year.  I’m just hoping I have remnants of the fitness I had last year.  If I do, then I’ll go ahead and go for it.

Anyhow, Happy New Years everyone.

Got One Ride In During Christmas Holidays

Merry Christmas everyone. Hope everyone spent some quality time with family. This years routine was a little different, with Christmas being on a Thursday, which meant we had to work on Friday. I forgot to accommodate for this, and didn’t get that day off. Luckily, I was able to work from LA remotely.

What this meant was little time for cycling, but I was able to sneak in one ride, and boy what a day that was. However, it was a cold ride. I couldn’t really tell from my Garmin, as it was saying it was average temperature of 8 F. Uh, I don’t think so. If I was to guess, it was probably in the low 40s.
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I couldn’t make this an all day ride, so this was an out and back to Clear Creek Junction. On a cold day like this, all I knew is I needed to climb, just to keep me warm. This was a straight climb up Hwy 2, from the beginning in La Canada, straight up until the Rangers Station, so very hard to get lost.

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After climbing from the base (probably the hardest part of the climb) I turned off to the scenic overlooks, and boy what a view. I could see the LA skyline … Yes, you can see LA from here. Picture doesn’t show how clear you could see.

It was funny, while taking off layers there, a kid came up to me and asked me if they drove far enough, would they see snow? What’s funny is he asks me, the crazy dude on a bike, climbing Angeles Crest Highway, instead of asking dad, who is driving the family up. I mean, if we were heading for snow, would the guy on the bike be going up? Er, on second thought, don’t answer that. (I probably would)

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I love climbing, especially when you pass elevation signs. It gives me some motivation, as mere mortals are down below worrying about a single hill, and here I am passing the 2000 foot level.

One guy passed me, pretty easily, and was going at a pretty good clip. I just wasn’t able to keep up with him. Unfortunately, I saw him pull over, 2/3 the way up, who had a flat. Oh that sucks. That meant he had to alter his original trip of going up to Red Box.

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The roads were all clear … But I was only going to go as far as Clear Creek, as going any further would be a bit cold. I used the excuse of needing to be back home early, and not leaving dad alone by himself, as my excuse for not going to Red Box.

Its amazing how camaraderie of other climbers on the same route brings cyclists together. While at the junction, I had a nice chat with 3 other riders, who were riding solo, just like me, and just commenting on the climb, past rides, and experiences of riding the mountains in the cold.

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Ok, now time for the descent back down, and yup, it’s cold. I had three layers on, so that made it not so bad. I had nice warm long fingered gloves, as well as toe warmers, so at least I wasn’t unprepared. I mean, who would expect this coming down to Southern California?

I often like comparing rides in Southern California to rides in the Bay Area. I would say this is very comparable to the Hwy 9 climb from Saratoga to Saratoga Gap, except this is just a little longer. So if you are asking what this rides compares to, well there you have it.

Storm of the Decade Tomorrow … So Will I Be Riding?

They really have been hyping up this storm for a whole week.  Biggest storm in nearly 10 years in Northern California.

I just got my bike back from the shop, as I took it in to get all the gunk I collected from plowing through a flooded bike trail (2 feet deep of standing water) from last week’s rain storm.  That was a pretty good soaker, but tomorrow’s storm should be even more massive.

Water collected in the frame, to the point where my seatpost (Aluminum) seized up in the frame (Titanium).  Titanium has great anti-corrosive properties, but the combination of Aluminum, with Titanium, and water …. not a good combination.  It took 2 guys, and a bike stand to free up the seat post from the frame.  Replaced the seatpost with a carbon fiber one … hopefully that won’t corrode as much.

So, with that in mind, ride or drive?  If I do ride, I think I’ll avoid San Tomas Aquino MUT … Or do I wimp out and drive?  Supposed to also be hella windy.

Riding Through a MUT in a Rainstorm

It has been well documented how severe the drought has been in California, so when we hear weather reports of significant rain, everyone is welcoming it with open arms (yours truly included).  Being the commuter I am, I didn’t want rain to stop me from doing that.  I outfitted my panniers with weatherproof covering, put a rain jacket on, put rain pants on and I’m ready to go.

I decided to go on San Tomas Aquino Multi-Use (MUT) trail, to avoid car traffic.  However, the MUT is right alongside a creek, and when rain levels get high enough, it can get onto the MUT, and even get flooded.  And that’s what happened on this day.

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Here I was chancing and hoping it wouldn’t be too flooded but looking at thus was ominous.

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Rats!  Well, I guess I need to plow through this.

This was just the beginning.  The further I got along the MUT, the deeper the standing water would get.  I it to the point where I would go onto surface street just to get across the underpasses, but eventually I had to go on theunderpass to cross Hwy 237, so I had to plow through the last one, which has to be close to 2 feet.  The water went almost to my waist.  I plowed through, but there was so much water, I had to shift to my granny gear just to get across.  Now that was tough … Tougher than a hill climb.

On the ride home, I didn’t want to go through this again, so I decided to ride over to Stevens Creek MUT, which didn’t have a creek alongside it (ironic, isn’t it?), so my chances of getting flooded would be nil. However, this MUT has a lot of trees, and it was dark too. The trail was full of leaves, branches, some mud, so I has to be really careful, and really lower my speed. So it’s either floods of going through underpasses or dodging leaves and branches on the ground. I think I’ll choose the latter.

So the question I have … Is this typical for PNW? Do I get some badass points for this? One cycling friend says I’m crazy. Others just are sympathetic for my hubs. I think I’ll take it in for a cleaning and tune up at the shop.

Chimbfest on Grizzly Peak

I had to skip this week’s LKHC up Welch Creek (maybe it was on purpose), because I lost my glasses on Thursday night, and I had to make an emergency appointment with the optometrist on Saturday.

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So Sunday I went with my friends John and Ben riding around Grizzly Peak, 3 Bears, and Pinehurst.  I haven’t done this in a really long time.  I had forgotten how much good riding there is out here.

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Ben was out there with a new saddle bag … This is going to make me hungry on the whole ride …

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The route started out with a climb, right off the get go.  It basically starts by Tunnel Road, and we climb up to Skyline, which then gives a great view of the bay, overlooking the Bay Bridge.

We then went up Grizzly Peak Blvd, and headed over to Tilden Park, and then onto Wildcat Canyon. We descended South Park, which is the same road that killed one cyclist, trying to get a Strava descent segment KOM … something I wouldn’t even try to do.  That descent has some tricky sections on there, so I did not even try to get down into a tuck.  Better to be safe than sorry.

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They have one stop called Inspiration Point.  Looking at this, does it give you inspiration?  I just consider it a nice scenic view.

We continued on Wildcat Canyon, which has a nice descent, not too technical, but enough where you have to pay attention.  I didn’t have cars breathing down my neck, which is nice.  Wildcat Canyon becomes Bear Creek, once you get to the bottom.  This is where the famous 3 bears climbs are … but when papa bear and mama bear begins, I have no idea.  Maybe someone from that area could tell me, but all I know is that it is a climb, and a descent.  It’s nice, because it is fairly wide road, and fairly straight, with just a few switch backs here and there.  Very little car traffic coming through, which means you can just concentrate on enjoying the ride.

We continue on to Happy Valley Road, which gives us a whole bunch of rollies.  Some are punchy, short steep climbs (~10%), and after a while, it can wear on you.

One stop by Orinda for lunch, and then we are on our way again.  We head south to get onto Pinehurst Road, then climb our way back to Skyline.  Pinehurst is one beautiful road to ride on.  It is covered by all sorts of Eucalyptus trees, and they form a canopy over the road, and keeps it cool.  Sometimes, it’s hard to tell it’s the middle of the day, due to the tree coverage.  The total climb is ~ 4 miles, with the meat of it being the last mile.  Once you get to the second hairpin, you know you are just near the top, and time to kick it into high gear.  The last stretch is a half mile sprint up to the top at Skyline.

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From this point, it’s retracing our path from this morning, so it’s all downhill from here.  Once again, we have some nice views of the bay from here.
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The rest of the ride was pretty much downhill from here. Great ride with great friends. At least it breaks the monotony of doing the same rides along the Peninsula all the time.

Stats: 42.1 miles, 5240 feet climbing

http://app.strava.com/activities/209470591

LKHC #2 Sierra Road

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Second on the calendar is Sierra Road.  I ride to the start from home, and that gives me a nice 13 mile flat warm up.  When I left the house, it was actually a bit chilly, so I had to come with light vest and arm warmers.  Just as I thought, the sun would come out when the actual ride starts.  Oh well, off with the vest and arm warmers.

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Sierra starts off with a visually insane road.  It just has the illusion of the road going vertically to the heavens.  It actually is not that bad, but it is a tough way to start the climb.  Everyone was really eager to attack, and I know I’m not going to keep up with that, so I just let them all go on ahead of me.

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Once you get to a left turn bend, then road actually pitches up more (believe it or not).  That’s when even more people pass me up.  This is one of those climbs where you don’t care what’s around you, and you just concentrate on turning the crank and it’s just your own personal journey.

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I thought I was the last in the pack, but then I heard someone yell out “car back!”. I was eventually able to muster enough energy to pass a few people (how the heck did that happen?)

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I got the sense that I was feeling pretty good at this point.  Sometimes it’s just hard to tell, but you know when you feel good, you might be putting in a good time.  I didn’t want to think about it, but that adrenaline does feel good.  I also seem to put in better times when I know a inch of people are climbing the same hill as me.

Being a LKHC ride, it’s great to hear the support folks on the side of the road cheering you on and giving you words of encouragement.  I also get to do mug shots … I wonder how they turned out.

Photo Courtesy Christine Holmes

Montebello LKHC 2014

Thanks to Alexander Komlik

It’s that time of year again … start of the Low Key Hill Climb series.  It was a hot one for this ride … usually, you’ll want to carry a jacket for the descent, but not today.  At least I didn’t have to worry about stuffing extra clothes in my pocket.

This year, they’re using EventBrite, so we could sign up, pay donation, all from the comfort of our home and our PC and Internet.  Take care of all of that signing, payment stuff before hand, so that all we need to do is check our name on the sign up sheet.  Much nicer, and smoother.

I was realistic, I’m not going to be able to keep up with most of the climbers here, so I deliberately positioned myself in the back.  I also didn’t get too much climbing in before this weekend, so I wasn’t expecting too much.

Pretty quickly, the pack separated, and I was riding solo most of the way, which is fine by me.  However, I still had the edge in me, to avoid being the last person to finish the climb.  I think that kept motivating me to push forward.  What’s great about LKHC is that even though faster climbers will finish must sooner than me, I would see them come down the mountain, encouraging those still coming up the hill.  I heard a bunch of “you got it” and “good job, almost there”.  That did help.

The combination of the heat and the climb took a lot out of me, and by the time I got to the top, I just wanted to curl up.  I wasn’t expecting any water at the top, and there wasn’t.  Usually, on these climbs, when it’s hot, water is usually gone (mostly because some are filling up both water bottles).  But really, for this ride, it’s not really needed too much.  We’re completely descending from here anyways (no uphill climb, like on Hamilton).  However, it would have been nice to be able to top off my water bottle.  At least they had bananas, and peanut butter filled pretzels .. mmm

The shots from my Shimano Sports Camera came out pretty well.  I think it’s because I’m climbing, and not really going at any real pace, while if I was descending, I think these images would have been more blurry.

I looked at my Strava data, and found I did better than I thought I did.  My time was 49 minutes … although not my best, but at least I made it under that 50 minute mark.  I’m pretty happy with that.

 

Multi-Use Trails (MUT) Are Not Meant to be a Speedway

Multi-use Trails are very popular for bike commuters, to get from point A to point B, safely, without having to worry about being run over by cars.  But one thing I have noticed is some commuters, are using MUT’s as their own speedway.  I mean this is a Multi-use trail, with walkers, joggers, along with cyclists.

Tonight, I was commuting on the bridge overcrossing, above Central Expressway.  Then, this idiot passes me, at pretty high pace.  Slow down dude … what’s your hurry?  Make sure you avoid that jogger or baby stroller ahead of you!  Notice that even I was going 13 mph, and the suggested speed is 15 mph.

Alpine Dam and Seven Sisters

There’s a heatwave going on in California, so to beat the heat, I headed up to SF via Caltrain.

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I’ve taken Caltrain a number of times with my bike, but normally you take a seat after strapping down your bike, but this group, for some reason, didn’t want to sit.  Maybe it’s culture, but really, it’s OK to sit down.  It actually felt a little creepy.

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And then there was this guy who kept standing there in the caboose veering as we approached SF.  It was just weird.

SHIM0056My route is heading up to Golden Gate Bridge, then over to Fairfax, then onto Alpine Dam and onto Seven Sisters.  It’s basically a full day, but I’m going to just soak in the cooler temps, with no hurry to accomplish PRs, so I gladly let others pass me.  I mean, while on the bridge, what’s the hurry?  No need to speed around at breakneck speeds, because you’ll end up having to slow down anyways, for some slower riders along the bridge.

On the way to Fairfax, when I would ride with Pete, we would take “the Wiggle”, a series of zig zag routes to avoid the main highway, and mainly to avoid car traffic. However, there were so many twists and turns, I wound up getting lost. I eventually wound up at the park entrance to Lagunitas Park, and I know that’s not the way. So I had to back track … Google maps to the rescue.

Once I got to Fairfax, I knew the rest of the route. I didn’t check the temp before leaving Fairfax, but I imagine it was in the mid 80s. I wanted to top off my water bottle at the Fairfax police station, but their water fountain didn’t have any water. Luckily, I still had 3/4 bottle full.

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The first climb had a great view, plus a slight glimpse of Alpine Lake. I chatted with one guy, who was just at Interbike in Las Vegas, so he was used to this heat. Although not as hot, it was still a sweltering one.

OK onwards to Alpine Dam. I ended meeting 3 riders, who I would see thru the rest of the ride, even though I was not part of their group. Funny how things like that work out.

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I got to the dam, and it was hot, sunny, and the glistening water was so gorgeous. However, I was stupid enough to bask in the blazing sun, not realizing a shady spot in the corner. That’s where a couple of other people were hanging out and I could hear them talking, but couldn’t tell where they were coming from. Now that I realize it, it made sense. Get into the shade!

Climbing out of the dam, my friends I was telling you about were conversing with me as I’m climbing, but that didn’t last long, as they went on ahead. They thanked me for coming out to Marin County to ride in the beauty that is Marin County. It’s like, thanks for having me.

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Finally reach the intersection of Ridgecrest, and that was a perfect time to stop to eat. Nice shaded areas, covered by Redwoods. This is a great spot.  Check out the photosphere I took at this location, https://plus.google.com/photos/+RonNg1/albums/6058762507379885105/6058762506235739202?sqi=115970110085205516914&sqsi=abbc1e71-8239-4ab0-9de3-3f6429e7681f&pid=6058762506235739202&oid=107775104280723216283 (best viewed from Google Chrome)

Next up is Seven Sisters, out in the open, with no shade … And I mean no shade at all. The temps here got up to 92°F. It was so hot, but there was still some cloud coverage over Stinson Beach.

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From here, I headed back to GG Bridge, but I decided to go part way up Marin Headlands to get another awesome view of the GG Bridge. I think it was worth it.

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However, this spot was extremely popular, and parking spots for scenic overlook was at a premium. In fact, it was madness

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Stats:
63.8 miles, 6028 ft climbing
http://app.strava.com/activities/194083662

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.