Tag Archives: Redwood Gulch

Endurance is Back … I Hope

My back is holding up, my core is getting stronger, so with the three day weekend, this would be a great opportunity to get my endurance back, or to test it, really.

The focal point was Sunday, which was a meetup ride, which goes out to the Cliff House, in San Francisco.  So for Saturday, I figured I would do a short ride, up to Skyline, then south to Alma Bridge.  However, this was a little longer than I was originally anticipating.

There was a group ride going the same direction as me, and I thought they were going to Alma Bridge, so I followed them … uh, bad decision.  I followed them to Aldercroft Heights, which does intersect with Alba Bridge, but I later found out they weren’t going to the bridge.  D’oh … damn, I only found out after we reached the dead end.  I had to climb back out to get back to the bridge.  I guess it’ll add more climbing, so I guess this will improve the Strava stats.

By the time I got home, I was dead tired.  This didn’t bode well, with the proposed century I was going to do for Sunday.  However, it is supposed to be fairly flat, so I just kept telling myself that.

Sunday, woke up, and I wasn’t aching too much.  I was still able to do my normal crunches, so that meant I have enough to do this century.  I decided to leave a bit early, just so I can take an easy pace to the start.  However, this will only work if I follow it … well, as soon as the group started going, the pace started to go up, and the idiot in me said “game on”.

What I love about going through Canada Road on Sundays is they close the road to cyclists.    For some reason, this also amps me up to sprint through Canada Road.  We had a good brisk pace going on, so I decided to lead … I mean, come on, I have to take my share, right?  So much for taking an easy pace, right?


The group was big … about 30+, and we were all going to get onto Sawyer Camp trail.  The thought of 30+ riders on a multi-use trail, on a Sunday of a 3-day holiday weekend?  5 of us broke off early, not waiting for the re-group, just so we could break it up.  Plus, it’s not like you can go really fast through here, with all the pedestrian traffic.

The rest of the ride found me at the bottom half of the lead group, but I kept the pace sustained so I was going about 80%, so I didn’t kill myself.  By the time I completed, I was still going at a good clip.  I was still tired, but I still had some energy in reserve.

I still felt good at the end … I wasn’t so tired that I couldn’t walk.  Conclusion … my endurance is coming back.  Two days down, one more to go.  Maybe I’ll actually do a recovery tomorrow.  At least I seem to be in good shape to do Solvang at end of March.

Uphill Suffer Festival Videos

I’ve been playing around with my Contour helmet cam for several weeks now, and came to the conclusion that it’s more fun to show the pain and suffrage of climbing a hill, rather than the fast descents (although that is a lot of fun too).

Actually, the inspiration for filming suffer videos is bikeforums member freighttraininguphill. I saw a few of her suffer festival uphill videos, and that got me thinking of filming my uphill adventures.

I got a lot of great feedback on my Potrero climb, from the Grand Tour Double.

I decided to climb Redwood Gulch, which had similar grades to Potrero … In other words, double digit grades (from 12-20% grades). I took this video with the handlebar mount, which picked up a lot of road noise … Kind of annoying.

Another steep climb is Moody, and I decided to film this with the helmet mount instead. This is a short but steep climb, and perfectly suited for a suffer video … And you can hear that suffrage too.

I went searching for a mother steep climb, and then I hear people talking about China Grade, so I looked this up …. Hmmm 10% grades for a little over a mile … Ok, I’ll go for that. As you can tell, this was on the handlebar mount.

I’m still undecided on which is the best way to film these. On the one hand, helmet cam won’t pick up all the annoying road noise, but on the other hand, I would have to concentrate on keeping my head up. On steep climbs, you tend to look down on the ground, so that’s where the handlebar mount would be handy.

Sequoia Century … lucked out without a spot of rain

Western Wheelers put on the Sequoia Century Sunday, and it is one of the tougher centuries around.  But the one thing about doing a hard ride, like a century, or double metric century on a Sunday, is the recovery.  You end up limping and walking like a handicapped in the office on Monday.  I guess this is one day where I won’t be riding into work.

Over the weekend, they were anticipating 1-2 inches of rain, in California, in June!  I mean summer is supposed to officially start at the end of the month, and we are talking rain like it’s January.  It was pouring heavy Saturday morning, and hopefully it will just dump all morning and clear by the afternoon … and that’s exactly what it did.  Whew!  But just to give you an idea, San Jose, which normally doesn’t see a lot of rain, got 0.78 inches on Saturday alone.

Saturday, I went out to buy a small light rain jacket (had to shop 4 different places till I found it).  Then, I put on fenders on the bike.  I also planned to ride with my fleece long sleeve Cervelo jersey, so I went ahead and pinned the bib number on that, and planned to wear weatherproof boot covers on my shoe.

When Sunday came around, there was no threat of rain, so I ditched the long sleeve jersey, and went instead with short sleeve, and arm warmers … removed the bib number from the long sleeve, and re-attach to my short sleeve … that’s quite an ordeal at 4:30 am.  I didn’t go with boot covers, and went with just toe warmers, and I didn’t bring the rain jacket that I shopped around all day Saturday for … and just used my normal jacket that I have been using for couple of years.  I also ended up removing the fenders.  So much for preparation, huh?

I got to the start at 6 am, but couldn’t find my other riding buddies, so I decided to just go on the ride.  I did receive a tweet from Ramon saying he is running late, but I couldn’t find Richard.  Oh well, maybe I’ll see them on the route.

I rode out at moderate pace, keeping my heart rate at 130-140 bpm.  Get to Redwood Gulch, and I felt good … but little did I know that I completed this in my fastest time ever.  I posted a personal best of 14:39, about 1:16 faster than my previous best.  How did that happen?

A right up on Hwy 9 to Saratoga Gap, and the sun does make one of few appearances through the rest of the day.  We have a rest stop at the firestation on Skyline.  That’s only 18 miles into the ride.  Well, I guess considering we have done Redwood Gulch and have about 2700 feet of climbing in already, that’s a pretty good clip.  I waited some more for my friends, but to no avail.  Time to move on.

This is not the high point of the climb, as we go southbound on Skyline, we climb just a wee bit more to the highest peak, a little past Castle Rock, at 3100 feet.

We get a really nice descent before passing Black Road, and into the christmas tree farm area.  This is nice, because that’s where the two line highway ends, and you feel like you are in the rural forests.  The descent here can be tricky, with sharp turns … and oh, by the way, a few more short climbs.

A right on Bear Creek Road, and after a little climbing, we get a nice fast descent before coming into Boulder Creek.  Now this would be ideal to get into a paceline to charge onto Hwy 9 again, either everyone was too fast for me, or they were too slow.  Oh well, I guess I’m time trialing this.

The climb on Hwy 9 is slow and lonely, but the grade is not too bad.  It averaged about 5-6%, so not too bad, but just long.  Then, we get to the top of Skyline, then make a left turn, back on the same route we were on before the first rest stop.  The rest stops were in abundance, and I didn’t feel the need to stop at this one, so I went on ahead.

We have a fast descent down Alpine en route to La Honda, where lunch is.  Now I’m considered a slow descender … but today, others treated me like I was a bomber on the descent.  But maybe it’s because this is my backyard, and others may not be used to the terrain.

I caught up with Ramon at lunch.  I wasn’t feeling up to the full double metric, so I decided to just go on the 100 miler, and head up Tunitas.  Once we got to Hwy 1, I noticed a lot of cyclists heading the opposite direction … they were the Aids riders … Oh, I forgot .. they start the same day Sequoia is put on.  Very colorful, and very flamboyant outfits they have.  I wish them luck … some of them didn’t look too good, and this was only their first day.

I really did try to go as hard as I could up Tunitas (but how hard can you really, at mile 81, and 8000+ feet of climbing).  It does help having done this climb so many times, but it still took me 1:12:00 from Hwy 1 to Skyline via Tunitas Creek.  Tough 9.4 mile, 2047 foot climb.

Totals … 102 miles, and 9375 feet of climbing, with a total time of 8:53:02.

Have I Found my Climbing Legs?

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

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

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

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

Big Basin Loop

It was a great day for a ride … temps in the 60’s-low 70’s, blue skies, so you couldn’t ask for a more perfect day.  But weatherunderground forecasted Boulder Creek would be in the 40’s.  Fudgy (or ygduf, aka Chris) tweeted this, so I had to quickly put on my knee warmers,and bring my jacket.  It was a little nippy, but we’ll see how it goes.

However, when I got to the start, I didn’t see leg warmers, and no longer fingered gloves … once again I’m overdressed.  Oh well.

Right off the bat, the group felt really frisky.  I knew it was going to be a long day, with close to 80 miles, and 7000+ feet of climbing, so I hung in the back, trying to conserve myself.  I didn’t dare look at what pace we were taking our Stevens Canyon, but we were passing people left and right.  I think my HR went up to 170 bpm at that point.  There is no way I could keep this up for the whole ride.

We head up Redwood Gulch, and as always, we are the only ones climbing this hill.  This is only 2 miles, but there are really steep sections of this climb, anywhere from 16% up to 21%.  I have ridden this stretch enough times to get into a rhythm, so that’s ok … it’s just that I’m not that fast.  As I mentioned to Michael, I may be slim, but I am slow.

Fudgy had been complaining about some weird creaking coming from the back wheel.  It got so annoying that we and Ben decided to swap rear wheels, just to see what affect that is.  Little to my knowledge, they decided to do this, right in the middle of the climb up Hwy 9 to Saratoga Gap.  Then, suddenly I hear two voices from behind me, and it was Fudgy and Ben.  How the heck did they get behind me???  But I guess they swapped it out somewhere on the side of the road where I didn’t notice them.  They swapped wheels, and no noise coming out of the back.  They swap it back, and again no noise … silence.  I guess they don’t call him SilentBen for nothing???

Anyhow, back to the route.  We head south on Hwy 35 en route to Boulder Creek.  Most people don’t realize how high up in elevation that goes.  In fact, I think that is the highest point in the South Bay area.  It peaks up at 3,115 feet.  No wonder the Sequoia Century was so tough the last 20 miles or so.

I met up with everyone back at the intersection of Bear Creek and Hwy 35.  Ben had to split off from the group at this point, so he was not going to come with us to Big Basin Park.

When we got to the gas station at Boulder Creek, it donned on me that I didn’t drink too much water.  My water bottle didn’t have to be topped off.  This is not a good sign … I guess I am following Donald’s bad habits.

Once again, I’m in the back as we climb towards Big Basin Park.  This is a gorgeous state park, and just to think we had the redwoods in our back yard … tons of redwoods, and humongously tall trees.  What an awesome sight, but pictures don’t even begin to tell the beauty.

I am so far behind everyone at this point, it didn’t make sense to try to kill myself to bridge the gap (yeah, like I could do that on a whim).  So I just sat back, got into a rhythm, and just enjoyed the scenery.  Gee, what a concept … enjoying the scenery!  Sometimes, I think I’m so focused on trying to get so fit, that I don’t look around and marvel at where I am.

I do meet up with the gang back at the Big Basin State Park Visitor’s Center.  This is a water refill stop, and this time I was consuming water.  In fact, I think I almost finished all of it, so it’s a good thing we had this water stop.

We continued on Hwy 236 out of Big Basin State Park, with more fantastic views.  There weren’t many cars on this stretch of road, so for the most part, we could enjoy the riding and the scenery without being bothered too much.

Hwy 236 turns into Hwy 9, and that’s where I caught up with the rest of the group.  Ramon had to take off, as he had to get back earlier, so it was down to 5 of us.  It is now 6 miles to Skyline, and I am ready for this ride to be over.  Knowing the elevation profile of this ride, we still have a bit more climbing to do.  The only bad part about this stretch is that Hwy 9 is pretty heavily traveled, so we were constantly being buzzed by motorcyclists, trucks, speeding SUV’s … but as long as they leave me enough room, I’m fine.

It was originally thought that the gang was going to go up Montebello (another 2000′ climb), and I was going to bypass that.  But I guess the group was just as fatigued and tired as I was, and they didn’t want to do any more climbing.  So down we went, and much to my surprise, we descended Redwood Gulch.  I normally don’t like descending this, as it is really steep (16-21% in places).  Luckily I got down without incident.  It was fairly quiet on this road today.

On the way back, something odd got into me … since I was always in the back, I needed to change this up a bit.  So after riding 65 miles, and about 7000 feet of climbing, what do I do??? Attack!  Charge up the slight incline as we pass by the reservoir at Stevens Canyon, and then we trade off attacks from that point till we got to the start.  I had just enough in me to pull that off … I’m glad we were done with that at that point.

It was a great end to a great day.  Gorgeous weather, hanging out with my buds of the Wrecking Crew.


79.4 miles, 7073 feet climbing


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Timing Is Everything

Okay, so the last day of my PTO, and one last day to get a ride in.  So the original plan is to go up Redwood Gulch, then to Saratoga Gap, then north on Skyline to Skylonda, then down 84, then back home.  Great plan, right?

It had rained the night before, but by the time I started, I saw blue skies, and the sun was out.  However, as I look south, I see really dark dark clouds.  My route is heading straight for the ominous clouds.  By the time I got to the top of Hwy 9 and Hwy 35, it was pretty cold.  There was no sun, and I didn’t have my jacket with me … only my arm warmers.  I didn’t want to chance it, and headed for sun.  So this meant going back down Hwy 9 (where I had just climbed).  It was cold descending, then I decided to climb up Pierce, to warm up.  As soon as I reached the peak at Pierce, the sky opened up.  Oh well, I had gone down this far, I might as well, just head back home.  I should start looking at 1.5 weeks of emails.

Later in the day, I see it all clear, and actually pretty warm.  Damn … I guess I went out too early … but I waited till 10:30 am!  Oh well … I did feel pretty tired by the time I got up to Saratoga Gap.  I was climbing to the tune of Heart and Toto, so that helped pick up my pace, but that also meant spending lots of energy.  I guess this was my excuse to finish the ride.