Every Tuesday & Thursday morning, rain or shine, 7:45am at Olive Hill
& Canada Road in Woodside. 26 miles, back by 9:25-9:40pm (a bit later
when it rains). Hills, sprints & great roads. If you can make it up
Kings in 30 minutes or less, try it!
The Tuesday/Thursday ride is now on YouTube! Broken up into
about 10 minutes each. Filmed by Millo on 1/30/07 The regular cast of characters on the
Tuesday/Thursday rides includes Kevin the first regular on our ride, and the most regular
regular. Has too much time to ride! Karl (aka "Fast Karl"), super-nice-guy road racer who can
really charge on the flats Chris, one of the younger guys who thinks he can climb and
sprint. He can.
(Karl now with is own page here,
Karl's Korner)(but not updated in
ages...) Eric, who likes to torture me up Kings by riding just a
bit ahead or behind me, waiting for me to blow up. John, relative newcomer, another 50ish youngster who can climb
way too fast.
Millo, who complains that he's old & slow but somehow
always there in the sprints. George, always out on Tuesdays, nice guy, too fast on
CURRENT ALMOST-DAILY DIARY ENTRIES BELOW-
Don't have OLN, er, I mean VS, but want to
watch the Tour de France?
If you have a reasonably-fast internet connection, here's
how, with information found on
Steephill.TV, a great cycling website-
Eurosport audio for audio
in English and
Unrestricted video streaming in German
(the "unrestricted" part is important; there are many video streams
of the TdF, but the rest won't work outside of a specific country.
This one works anywhere). Just turn off the sound for the video and
listen to the Eurosport audio, and you're all set!
06/29/30- OK, MAYBE I DO TAKE A LOT OF
PHOTOS. Came across an odd problem with one of my
cameras (Fuji F30) today. Actually, it started a few days ago. Put in
a freshly-formatted card, starts taking photos just fine, but as the
card fills up, the number of photos it says are left doesn't change,
regardless of the resolution you're shooting. Normally, hi-res photos
take up more space on the card, so it will show you have fewer left
than when you're shooting lower-res. But now it was showing "x" number
of shots left, regardless. But wait, there's more. When it got down to
zero? Even a reformat didn't change anything. Put in an empty card,
and it still said you had zero shots left. Apparently, the camera has
issues when you get to picture #9999. Everything basically locks up,
until you go into an obscure setup menu and choose "renew." Since it
took one heck of a search to find that, it seems that not too many
people take more than 10,000 photos. I guess now I don't feel so bad that I generally get a new camera
every couple of years?
06/28/07- FULL WRECKING CREW TODAY,with Todd, Chris, Karl, Kevin, Eric... seems like there might have
been one more, but can't figure out who it might have been. I took it
just a little bit easier up the hill this morning, since my right
knee's giving me a bit of trouble off the bike, but it's just barely
perceptible while riding, primarily when sitting down and applying
power. Still frustrating that I was 27:02 up the hill. Where did those
3 seconds go???
06/26/07- IT FINALLY FELT GOOD TO HURT AGAIN!
This morning's ride up Kings Mtn was the first time in ages that
everything was working, and everything was hurting. My legs, my
lungs, they were both being taxed to the max. Of course, my "max"
isn't what it used to be. My times up Kings are the most-reliable
point of reference for that, and today's 26:51 (my first
26-something time since... well, sometime last year) was about a
minute faster than I've been doing lately. Like I said, hurting felt
good. My lungs, sure, they sounded, as usual, like a steam engine.
But they managed to deliver enough oxygen to keep the legs fed, and
that's what counts. I was a bit worried that the past couple days of
heavy allergies (warm weather and wind does that to me) would do
some damage, but fortunately not the case.
Of course, while I'm feeling so good about hurting, Todd, Karl &
George are just cruising along, yakking away, in a zero-effort sort
of way. There was a time that bothered me. Well, strike that. It
still bothers me. But I've gotten used to it, and it doesn't keep me
from wanting to ride with them. Very good guys, all. Well, mostly.
This morning was something of a take-no-prisoners descent on 84, and
with new tires on my bike (that gave a bit of a "pushing in the
corners" feeling), I dropped off the pace a bit, along with SteveL,
whom we met up with at Skyline. Did they slow up and regroup at the
bottom? Heck no. We didn't see them until we got back to Canada. The
last thing I wanted to do was go chasing after them; I felt like I'd
earned a wheel to draft. Evidently, they didn't feel similarly. That's OK though; gave me a chance to hurt some more.
37:20 UP OLD LaHONDA MIGHT NOT SEEM SO FAST,
but if you consider that it wasn't all that long ago it was taking
Kevin an hour (and requiring several stops), he's making good
progress. We didn't have a whole lot of time, as he was being dropped
off at Summer Camp (Mission Springs near Felton) later in the day, so
it was more-or-less an out & back to the town of LaHonda. Kevin's
getting much better at managing things (both his strength and
emotions) while climbing, and, to put it simply, no longer fears
hills. And, of course, he still really enjoys descending, much
more, in fact, than I do. And, of course, he still really gives
me a scare now & then with the goofy wide lines he takes in the
corners. I still ride behind him on all but the quietest descents,
thinking it best to keep the cars off his tail. Unfortunately, he
loses the benefit of watching the lines I take through the corners.
But, as I mentioned before, maybe I've just gotten too conservative,
and maybe he's much better than I at understanding what a bike can do
when going downhill fast. Or maybe ignorance is bliss, and his first
crash while descending will change all that.
For the next week he'll be in camp, taking the week off from cycling.
It will be interesting to see if he'll say he actually missed riding
when he gets back. The day after camp he'll be attending another
session at the bicycle racing track, so we'll see what a week off the
06/22/07- IF HE'D REALLY BEEN A GOOD DOG,
he would have gone into a corner and died during the night. But no,
that's not the way it usually works, and no, that's not the way it
worked this time. Only 12 years old (relatively young for a Corgi),
Spencer started having problems a week or so ago. Constant fast,
labored breathing, little strength to walk. Sounds like me climbing.
Took him to the 'vet, did a bunch of blood tests, but nothing showed
up. So today, after seeing him holed up in the kitchen, relatively
unresponsive to us, and literally moving himself into corners where
he would just stare at a wall... it was time to put him down.
The last dog we had to put to sleep, I stayed with at the 'vet,
to the very end. I was reassured that the dog would go quietly, and
feel no pain. It was one of the worst 10 minutes of my life, as the
dog didn't realize she wasn't supposed to feel any pain, she didn't
know that it was supposed to be peaceful. She fought it to her last
dying breath. I felt, at the time, that I had to be there for her.
This time I wasn't going to go through that again. But thinking
about what happened before, with Scooter, I'm pretty close to being
as bad off now as I was then. Dogs really should go quietly in their
Spencer's better off now. I think I'm saying that because it's
really the case, and not because it makes me feel better about
having to do something that I'd otherwise question. Spencer didn't
look at me with sad eyes that said "Please, put me out of this
pain." He didn't really look at me at all, but just stared straight
ahead, panting furiously. He never whimpered either. Wish that he
had, to tell you the truth. I know he was just a dog, but he trusted
us implicitly for everything about his life. He trusted that we
would be there to feed him, to open the door to the kids' bedrooms
so he could sleep next to them, to make sure there was always water.
It's not as if he could have survived in the wild, and it's not as
if he ever had any reason to doubt we'd be there for him. But in the
end we said our tearful goodbyes and handed him over to the 'vet,
who'd been through this sort of thing so many times before that, to
her (the 'vet), it must have been as routine as us making sure he
had water and food. And now, for the next few minutes, I'm going to
have to stay holed up in the office at the shop, because my
bloodshot, tearing eyes are probably not what the rest of the store
should be seeing. And I'm thinking that maybe I should have been
there, at the end, after all. It couldn't have been any worse than
what I'm going through now.
06/21/07- MAYBE IT MEANS THAT I'M ALIVE AND
THEY'RE...not that I'd ever be accused of
rationalizing something, but I'm thinking, as I'm trying desperately
to keep up with Todd & Karl on the west side of Old LaHonda...
and the quiet of the upper forest is rudely disturbed by my heavy
breathing... and I'm noting that I can't hear Todd or Karl breathe
whatsoever... I'm thinking that maybe it's a sign that I'm alive and
they're... what... ghosts? There's just got to be some positive side
to the steamtrain-like sound of my breathing!
Aside from that, another nice day to be out on the bike. Spotted the
re-emergence of tiny little rabbits (out on west-side Old LaHonda),
and, while climbing Kings earlier, scared off a large (aren't they
all?) Raven that was munching on road kill of some sort. I watched
as he carried it away in his talons (why don't they just call them
toes?), and wondered how he'd be able to land without dropping it.
Answer? He did drop it, right when he landed on the tree branch.
Given that Ravens are supposed to be one of, if the not smartest of
birds, seemed a bit strange that he couldn't figure out that was
going to happen and go for a landing on the ground somewhere.
Oops, almost forgot the roll call. Karl, Todd, Millo & Eric. I don't
think I've left anybody out, aside from the rabbits, one tiny lizard
and a very large Raven.
Trying out some new tires on my bike (finally time to take off my
larger "winter" tire on the rear, and my front tire was beginning to
get a bit chewed up). You know how sometimes you wonder if you ride
at a level where you can notice small, subtle differences? Well,
changing tires seems to transcend subtle. I found myself a little
bit sketchy on the descents and a bit less stable in crosswinds (an
odd thing, that). Probably something I'll get used to in a few days
though. But, in general, don't overlook the possibility that a new
pair of tires can make quite a difference in how your bike rides.
For what it's worth, I'm having a really difficult time finding a
tire I like as much as the Bontrager Race X-Lite. Just wish they
would fare better when it's wet; the slightest hint of moisture
seems to cause them to get severely sliced & diced. Whatever it is
that makes them handle so nicely, and feel so comfortable, seems at
odds with durability in the wet.
06/19/07- A COUPLE OF DAYS MAKES A HUGE
DIFFERENCEsometimes, and this was one of those times. While last Thursday I
put up a rather distressing entry about the effects of stress on my
riding, some of which may have been an excuse for my lack of fitness
relative to this time last year, and generally getting ground up on
the regular Tuesday/Thursday rides, this morning was entirely
different. Maybe it was because I finally got a full 6.75 hours of
sleep instead of the six and a half (and sometimes less) I'd been
getting lately, or maybe I've just come to terms with all the things
going on and am now actively doing something about them rather than
stressing out. Whatever it was, I felt like I was having some fun
climbing Kings this morning, doing intervals for the first time in a
good many months, and generally feeling like I could almost hang
with the big guys.
Karl, Kevin, Chris, Eric, Millo... George was the only Tuesday
regular who didn't show. The main excitement was in the run down
west 84 to Old LaHonda, when we had a truck pulling a horse trailer
pass us close to a blind corner, with a car coming in the opposite
direction to demonstrate why you don't pass in such a situation. To
say that those two came close to running into each other is an
understatement, while I'm watching the show, and
more-casually-than-I-ought-to thinking about the physics involved in
the event of their collision, in terms of where the bits & pieces
might fly and if I might be in a dangerous place. No fear, just kind
of a casual, detached feeling about the event which, fortunately,
didn't take place.
06/17/07- OH DEAR, IT'S A DEER! For Father's Day I went riding with my son (Kevin) and showed him a
few of our local "secret" roads. We started out by climbing Kings
(seems like I do a lot of that), but then, instead of heading south
on Skyline, we continued down the other side (Tunitas Creek) and
headed back up Starr Hill. Yes, up that nasty little section that's
steeper than steep, and he did just fine. But the most exciting part
of the ride was the descent into Sky L'Onda, as a tiny (and I mean
tiny!) little deer walked out into the road in front of Kevin. I
actually had my camera out at the time, but couldn't set up very
well due to my speed (I generally make it a rule not to be taking
pictures above 35mph and we were doing about 37 at the time).
Tiny little deer, by the way, aren't much different from squirrels.
They're quite unpredictable, and this little guy first started
heading out directly into Kevin's line before suddenly turning away.
Meanwhile I'm yelling at Kevin to "slow down" while at the same time
trying to take pictures. Yeah, Dad's real smart... someday he's
going to get a great shot of exactly what caused his own crash.
After heading down into Woodside, it was time for just a little more
fun. Summit Springs Road. I've mentioned it in passing, while
passing, several times before. Kevin never seemed too interested in
trying it, which I figured was evidence of having a small amount of
common sense. But this time was different. So we headed up as far as
the turn off to Patrol Road (I think that's it), all the while
explaining to Kevin how it's possible to climb impossibly-steep
grades with relatively-little effort (not too quickly, of course!).
Zero-effort hill climbing, I call it. And he actually seemed to
grasp the concept! And once you've tricked your mind into believing
that such a thing is possible, you can ride that wave of deception
pretty much anywhere.
06/15/07- IT'S NOT ALL THAT BAD.
Yesterday's diary entry sounds rather depressing, and that's not the
way it ought to read. Stress and depression are two very different
things, with stress being something that I can work through myself,
something that I can see a beginning, middle and an end to. I might
be rationalizing, but I don't think that's depression. If I didn't
have a great staff, if I didn't have the tools I need to deal with
the daily demands of being in business, if I didn't have a family
that I love unconditionally (but don't sometimes show it as well as
I should) and loves me unconditionally back (and doesn't always show
it as well as they should), then maybe I'd be depressed!
Tomorrow's Kevin's big day at the velodrome (bicycle racing track)-
the district championships! He's come a lot further than I thought
possible just a few months ago and, while he's going to be pretty
severely out-gunned due to his age, I think he's going to have a lot
of fun and people will know that he's "real" and going to turn some
heads a year or two down the road. (The way the age groups work,
your "racing" age is your age on December 31st of the prior year, so
if you turn 15 at the end of this-coming November, like Kevin does,
you're racing against 15 & 16 year olds... yikes!).
And my daughter Becky, who you might have had help you at the shop?
I'm trying to get her more into riding via social consciousness, by
trying to get her to attend the annual Washington DC bicycle
lobbying event. She knows her stuff; anyone who's come in for a bike
knows that. She just hasn't yet realized that bikes are the answer
to life, the universe, & everything. Or maybe she knows that, but is
in denial. Hopefully a couple more quarters at UC Santa Cruz and
she'll realize that all the cool guys ride bikes. Or maybe I just
want to rationalize that, since I went to UC Santa Cruz, and rode a
bike, I was a cool guy. Hmm. OK, I see the issue here. Darn.
06/14/07- STRESS. And lots of
it. And today, for the first time in quite a number of years, it
really affected my riding. Usually, riding is a great way for me to
feel better, to relieve the stress, to realize that whatever's
bothering me, riding is the cure. But not today. I started (and
ended) the ride feeling not just tired, but worn out. The cause of
the stress? Primarily TREKs introduction of the new '08 Madone line,
which has caused us to drastically re-price our existing inventory
(meaning that you can get some very good buys right now!). Lots and
lots and lots of $$$ lost. It could be worse; at least I'm getting
in hot new bikes that everybody's going to want. A dealer without
access to the new Madone design is simply going to find their
inventory less desirable to customers, with nothing to offer. So
yes, it could be worse. And I'm working (very hard) on ways to move
out lots of inventory that's no longer "current" but still great
product. That takes time to figure out, and is the source of
most of my stress. Daughter in college? 14-year-old boy that I'm
working on getting into shape? Wife going through chemotherapy? Most
would probably see those as more-significant sources of stress, but
they're works in progress. Plans already in place and things being
done to deal with them. Faith that, in every case, things are going
to work out fine... it just takes a bit of time. My family is, of course,
more important than the business... but it's all so closely tied
together that distinctions are often blurred. So yes, once in a
while, the business does get to me. There's nothing better I can
think of doing than getting people on bikes for a living though.
I rode Kings a bit differently today, deciding to try and stay in
the saddle (not stand up) as much as possible. And I made it as far
as the half-way hairpin before having to stand in the steep middle
section the preceded the wide-open area. Boy did I feel sore in
different places than normal! Wherever the muscles from your leg
connect up under your tail end? That was sore!
Kevin, Karl, Eric, Millo & Todd to keep me honest about things. A
really good bunch of guys who either know exactly how far they can
turn the screws before I come unglued, or, worse, have me thinking
they do! No wild sprints today as Millo discovered cracks in his
handlebar stem... er, no, I can't really use that as an excuse for
Todd nailing the sprint into Sky L'Onda. I was going for it, Todd
was going for it. Todd got it by quite a distance. Next time I'll
try using a lower gear; I crested the small hill we sprint for at
about 32mph and found myself almost pushing & shoving on the
handlebars. Sounds like too high a gear at 50x12. 50x13 might be
just the ticket.
06/13/07- HOW COULD I POSSIBLY BE LUSTING
AFTER ANOTHER BIKE?After all, my TREK Madone 5.9SSL
represents pretty much the pinnacle of bicycle technology and
function. Until today. Read all about
the new Madones on our website. I have the benefit of having
ridden one last week in Wisconsin (at the TREK 100 benefit ride), as
well as a couple months earlier during product testing &
verification trials near San Diego. Truth be told, my present bike
remains an incredible machine, but people are going to be drawn like
moths to a light to the new machines, which have turned inside-out
certain basic ideas about how a bike should interface with the
headset & cranks & seat.
The new bikes are going to trickle in slowly, but meantime there
are some screaming deals on what's left of our '05 & '06 inventory,
as well as some of the current '07s.
06/12/07- WHY BOTHER BRINGING THE CAMERA
if I'm not going to be able to use it? Not many opportunities this
morning as I was first being chased by Eric, then Eric passes me
about halfway up Kings and I'm... well, I'm definitely not chasing
him, just trying to keep him in sight! Meanwhile Karl, George, Millo
& Kevin are having a good old time a couple minutes behind. Best
thing about the ride was not having to wear leg warmers or tights.
No, that's not true. Best thing about the ride is simply being on a
bike. It takes me places, both physically and in the mind. It
challenges me to keep up as long as I can, with the knowledge that
I'll get a chance to recover whenever it flattens out and there's a
wheel I can draft behind. And the sprints... that's probably when I
feel most alive.
06/11/07- DIDN'T GET TO RIDE THIS PAST
WEEKEND, and I feel... like I didn't get to ride this
past weekend. Hate that feeling! But did get Kevin to the track on
Sunday, for the final tune-up session prior to the state championships
this-coming Saturday. Also put up a
piece on the new '08 Madone bicycles that everyone's been talking
about, and I was fortunate to ride a week ago in Wisconsin (at the
TREK 100 benefit event).
06/08/07-THINGS ANYONE CAN RELATE TO-An insidious plot to
embarrass us and make us seem clumsy and hopeless was discovered the
other day when, upon taking a drink from my cup of Starbucks coffee, I
dribbled some down my chin and shirt. So I'm thinking gee, what a
klutz, I'll be more careful. Drink again, SAME THING HAPPENS!!!
Double-klutz? Yeah, probably. Only this time I did a bit more research
into the issue and I discover, to my amazement, that it isn't me!
Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that I'm not a klutz. But
close inspection of the lid of the coffee cup reveals a split that
occurs just down from the drinking hole. A slit that allows the coffee
a secondary path out of the cup, right where your chin is.
Starbucks may be saving a penny or so a cap by using ultra-thin
el-cheapo versions that are prone to splitting, and, in doing so,
heavily damaging the American psyche!
KARL'S VERSION OF SLOW is just
a bit different than mine, which is defined as Kevin (the guy I ride
with in the mornings, not my son) on a bike day. That would be about
35 minutes up Kings, a slow-enough time that allows many more people
to be able to relate to what goes on on our Tuesday/Thursday-morning
rides. Karl insisted that he had to take it very easy because
the Pescadero Road Race was coming up this weekend, but it appears
Karl's version of very slow is my version of a fast ride when
I'm feeling not-quite-right, which would be just under 30 minutes. And
so it was this morning, as I'm struggling to keep ahead of Karl & Todd
who were quite amiably chatting away, while trying to chase down Millo,
who'd left a bit ahead of us.
Todd showing up for our rides is a good thing, as it reminds me that
there's a lot more to sprinting that pure power. Todd, aka THH (The
Human Hummingbird), spins his way past everyone, and just keeps going.
For me, it takes a bit of time to get the power going, but once I do,
I can generally run down most others. But not when Todd's around. It
throws off my game in general; for the Sky L'Onda sprint, Todd took
off a bit early, and I'm thinking great, he's gone. But he faded, a
strange and rare thing to see, so I'm pulling up ahead, paying
attention to Todd and not Millo, who's come up the other side and gets
to the line first. Yeah, I felt pretty dumb.
06/05/07- SOME DAYS THERE'S NOTHING BETTER
THAN THAT FEELING WHEN YOU GET ON THE BIKE AND SPIN THOSE CRANKS.
You're instantly transformed from the drudgeries of everyday life to
something magical. Today was not one of those days. Got on the bike
to head out to the start of the Tuesday/Thursday-morning ride, and
couldn't believe how slowly I turned the pedals. Heading up
Jefferson at 10mph instead of 13 and just never being able to get
the engine out of low gear. Actually, it felt more like an engine
that was having trouble pushing too high a gear... that kind of
lurching/near-stalling feeling. Eventually I got to the start, where
Karl & Eric & Chris were ready to slice & dice me. Funny thing
though; bad as I felt, a climb is a climb, and after the first part
you just start making your way up on memory, and somehow get to the
top a bit faster than you expect. For me, a day I'm feeling sick
(which is fortunately rare) I might take 30 minutes to get to the
top, and if I'm totally dead, maybe just a bit faster. Kevin, if
he's totally dead, might take 35 minutes (however, one must consider
that if he's "on" he'll be up there in 24!). The morning was around
27:45 or so, maybe a minute faster than expected. Milo was already
at the top, having left a bit earlier.
Of course, that didn't leave anything left for Skyline!
Fortunately, the coolness (46 degrees) and fog seemed to have a
moderating effect, so when Karl & Chris & Eric sprinted away from me
on the first & second climbs/sprints, I was still able to at least
keep them in sight.
Chris turned off to head back to work (down 84 into Woodside) while
the rest of us dutifully rode the west-side Old LaHonda loop, with
me bringing up the rear for the first part, finally managing to get
a small bit of steam going towards the end. Not the last we'd see of
Chris though; as we descended into Woodside, there he was, behind
the barrier on the final hairpin (near the bottom), finishing up a
tube replacement. He'd blown a tire but fortunately managed to
control the results without crashing. That'll teach him for not
doing the entire ride with us! Not that our ride has been entirely
without incident, of course, but truthfully flat tires are a very
rare thing for us. And now that I've jinxed things...
But if there was a story to today's ride, it was something
I'd forgotten about- that you can feel not-so-great at the start of
the ride, but given a bit of time & patience, things get better.
Almost every time. This was one of those times, although I
recognized it more in retrospect than I did while I was riding. I
began feeling pretty strong once at the top of Skyline, and when
Karl took off on Manuella, I actually lifted my front wheel off the
ground accelerating to catch him. And even though he had a pretty
big lead going into the final sprint, instead of giving up, I was
thinking great, lots of space here to get up to speed and try to
catch him. Not the way you think when you're totally wasted, and a
far cry from how I felt when I first got on the bike. Now, I can't
wait to ride again. The world is back in order.
06/03/07- ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER CENTURYwell, metric anyway. Flying back from Wisconsin last night
I got home around 11:30pm, just in time to get my bike ready for the
Sequoia Century this morning. The original plan was to ride it with my
son, but that didn't work out as he'd come down with quite a nasty
cold. Normally that would give me an excuse to ride the 100 miler, but
that would have required that I get up a bit earlier and sleep has
been running in very short supply the last 4 days. So instead I rode
to & from the Sequoia, adding another 17 miles or so to make it 78
miles total, and about 7200 ft of climbing.
Not exactly up to last-year's standards, when I rode the 100 mile
version of the TREK 100 the previous day, and 112 miles on the Sequoia
06/02/07- THIS DON'T LOOK LIKE KANSAS... OR
DOES IT? I've always thought clouds were cool to check
out; one of my great, unanswered questions (so far) is this- what
causes some clouds to have sharply-defined edges, while others just
kind of taper off? But the cloud I was looking at today was dark &
exceptionally-nasty-looking, and heading right towards me (or maybe I
was heading right towards it) about halfway through the 100k version
of the TREK 100 in Wisconsin. Within about 5 minutes you couldn't even
hear yourself think, the rain was coming down so hard. So hard that my
group sought shelter in a building housing a flea market. But most of
it was gone within maybe 10 minutes, and the rest of the ride (and
indeed everything up to that point) was very nice indeed. Last year I
rode the 100 mile version, and I had some intent to do so this year,
but was concerned about a pretty tight time schedule for my flight out
of town... and then, when I got stuck on the wrong side of a very
major accident (a bunch of bicyclists that didn't make the corner on a
descent and rode into a bunch of trees, requiring that the road be
shut down while they brought in ambulances), which lost me about half
an hour... that was the clincher. But at the end of the ride I felt pretty lame about not having
down the 100 mile, as a friend of mine, Steve Howard (who owns
Livermore Cyclery across the bay), was in the front group and finished
in 4 hrs 23 minutes, including rest stops. That's flying! And he
finished just about the same time I did.
My guess, though, is that I had a bit more time to spend with
various people along the way, including friends at Trek who I don't
get to see very often.
05/31/07- WOULD HAVE BEEN NICE TO HAVE RIDDEN
THIS MORNING,but instead I found myself on a plane flying to Wisconsin, where
this Saturday I ride the a benefit century for the Midwest
Children's Cancer fund. Well, that's not the only reason I'm out
here; it's also a dog & pony show for whatever new product's coming
down the line (basically what the team will be riding at the Tour de
France). I'll post a ride report when/if I get one from Karl or
Kevin; I'd already been told that Millo was going to miss it again
05/29/07- THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW.
Ouch. And then some. Just 10.5 hours after finishing last-night's
Felton-Redwood City speed run I'm back on the bike again, struggling
to turn the pedals en route to this morning's umpteeth-zillion
Tuesday-Thursday-morning ride. It didn't actually hurt, it just
didn't feel particularly good. Ancient memories of the Central Coast
Stage Race came back, and just how dreadful I felt for the first few
miles of the second-day's stage. This was just like that.
Kevin, Karl & George this morning, with George feeling pretty darned
good about having won the Mt. Hamilton Road Race on Sunday. Chris,
I'm told, took 2nd in his class. That's the type of animal I'm
riding with these days. Kevin, at least, was feeling somewhat
mortal, having just gotten back from a multi-day ride down the
05/28/07- I HAVE NEVER FELT MORE ALIVE
than I did riding back from Felton on Memorial Day. We did our
traditional Memorial Day gig, driving to Felton and taking the train
from there to the Boardwalk (Santa Cruz), spending 5 hours at the
beach and then returning to Felton. Which, because I hadn't ridden
Sunday (due to Kevin's track session, mentioned below), normally
would mean that I wouldn't get to ride at all over the weekend. So I
come up with a plan. Instead of driving back with the family, I pack
my bike in the car and ride the 45 miles back, literally racing the
And race it was, because the train pulled in almost an hour
late, so by the time I got on my bike it was 6:28pm. I had figured
about three hours to make it over the hill (up 9 through the San
Lorenzo Valley to Skyline, then north on Skyline to Sky L'Onda, down
84 into Woodside and then Redwood City (home).
I made two bottles of Cytomax, which I made a point of drinking at
regular intervals, and not once did I feel like I'd hit the wall and
my legs needed a rest. I could stand, I could sit, I could simply
ride. The longest stretch was from Felton to Saratoga Gap (Skyline),
where I arrived at 7:50pm. Most surprising was that I covered the 7+
miles from Saratoga Gap to Page Mill by 8:11pm, and the remaining 6+
miles to Sky L'Onda by 8:30. At that point I was thankful I had some
decent lights, strong enough that I was able to ride at a speed such
that a car pulled over for me as I sped downhill. By 9pm I was home,
just 2.5 hours after I'd started.
Back in the day (way back in the day), we used to do the
out-and-back Redwood City to Santa Cruz run at about 2.5 hours out,
and a bit over 3 hours back. Of course, that included another 6
miles (from Santa Cruz to Felton) and legs that had already put in
50 miles getting there. Still, I was pretty happy with how things
went. I just felt good. And finally got a half-way decent night's
sleep for a change.
05/27/07- DON'T KNOW IF HE'S THE DUMBEST KID
AT THE TRACK, OR THE SMARTEST.
It was quite a day for Kevin (my 14-year-old) at the track, open for
only the second weekend after having been closed for several months
while the infield is being reconstructed. Only about 10 kids out
there this time, probably because people got out of the habit while
the track was shut down (normally, they run the program for 10-15
year old kids on the 1st & 3rd Sundays of each month).
After grouping the kids according to their speed (determined by
running 500 meter time trials), Kevin found himself in a group of
5... 4 boys and one... girl. One of those 14 or 15-year-old girls
that Kevin complains there aren't enough of riding bikes. They ran a
12-lap (4 kilometer) scratch race, with a sprint halfway through,
and another at the end. So what does Kevin do? He rides at the
front, pushing the pace, and quickly gets rid of the other 3 boys.
That leaves... just the girl, sitting in Kevin's draft, enjoying the
ride. From the infield, it was almost laughable. There's Kevin,
pulling this other rider around the track (who happened to be a
girl), with everyone, including Dad, knowing exactly how this plays
out. How it should play out is for the two of them to work
together, making sure the other three riders don't have a chance to
catch up, and then going for it shortly before the sprint. But how it does play out is determined by a 14-year-old
boy publicly demonstrating a combination of pride, ignorance and a
desire to show off in front of a girl. I yell at Kevin, even other
people were yelling at Kevin to pull off the front and let her do a
bit of work. Didn't matter. Kevin just stayed at the front. And
then, with just three laps to go, she decides (for reasons
unfathomable) to take a turn at the front. And, just as surprisingly
(or maybe not by now), Kevin won't let her come around. And, of course, it plays out as expected at the end. with just
under half a lap to go, she pulls around Kevin for the win.
Technically, Kevin still won the race, because the officials claim
she "chopped" him in the sprint, coming down across him, but it
looked pretty clean to me, and Kevin didn't think she did anything
wrong. No surprise there.
05/24/07- WHERE DID THE TIME GO???I usually don't get this far behind on the almost-daily diary; right
now it looks like it's the almost-weekly version. Yikes. But I'll
start with this-morning's ride and work backward from there. Millo,
Karl, Kevin, Eric... I don't think I'm leaving anyone out. We worked
to get Millo up the hill as expeditiously as possible, but I'm
beginning to think he sand-bags on the climb a bit so he has
something in reserve for other parts of the ride. You'd think he'd
be dead up on Skyline, but sometimes the guy's an absolute motor.
Still nice weather; great to not have to search for leg warmers or
jackets as you get ready to ride. And as it gets warmer, I find
myself more-tolerant of the Wild Berry Cytomax, which tastes more
like an antacid medication than something you look forward to
drinking. Tangy Orange and Cranberry-Grapefruit are my flavors of
choice. As we were pulling a more-moderate pace up Kings I had a bit
left for the west-side of Old LaHonda... for the first couple miles.
As soon as we got to the steeper part past the open section with the
views of the ocean, I watched Karl & Kevin ride off into the trees
and limped the remaining distance up to Skyline. It would have been
fun to ride strong the whole way, but that's not in the cards quite
yet. I do want to get there though!
05/17/07- IF YOU'RE THINKING ABOUT SHOWING UP
FOR OUR FRIENDLY RIDE...
well, it really should be a no-brainer. Of course you're
welcome to come. But would you want to? That's the question
that I had to answer earlier today, when somebody at the shop was
asking about our ride and thinking about showing up. 10 years ago, it
wouldn't have been an issue. If you could get up the hill (Kings Mtn)
in under 40 minutes, we'd wait for you, and maybe provide
encouragement along the way. That was then. Now? Somewhere along the
way the Tuesday/Thursday ride has become something more akin to a
formal training ride, complete with sprints, timings on the climb, and
an ever-increasing pace. I used to make it back home around 9:50am or
so; this morning, it was 9:28.
The good news is that it's kept me in reasonable shape, and helped
to keep at bay the normal stuff that's supposed to come with getting
older- putting on weight, getting slower, more fatigue. I have to
admit I'm better off in those areas than I expected to be. But
off-setting that is the fact that it's rare that I can catch a breath
on our ride. Most of the other guys, no problem. Partly because they
have more opportunities to ride than I do, and partly because their
lungs are better at scavenging oxygen when the temp's below 60 than
mine are. And fewer opportunities to take photos when you're trying
desperately to keep up with a fast crowd!
This morning's ride? It was actually me setting the schedule, as I
had to be back
as early as possible... so no hanging out at the top of
Kings Mtn. Kevin, Karl, Millo, Eric & Chris, although Millo had left a
bit early so he could do a more-leisurely pace up the hill. Still a
bit on the cool side, and even slightly damp up on Skyline, with the
sun & fog creating patterns in the air, as you can see in the photo.
But while it was me setting the schedule, it was Kevin, Karl & Chris
pushing the pace (with Eric gamely hanging on).
If I was able to get in some killer Sunday rides, I could hang with
them more easily. But since I've been riding with my son when the
opportunity arises, I've instead gotten to experience an entirely
different type of riding- casual cruising? A type of riding where
you've got plenty of time for photos, and you're never out of breath
for conversation. Your heart rate might average 100 (vs 140 or so for
a killer ride), and the average speed around 11mph instead of 16. No
It's actually rather nice riding like that now & then. I'd probably
enjoy doing it even more, except that, with the limited time I have to
ride, I'd quickly lose the strength needed for the gnarly hills I like
to ride in the Sierras. That and the fact that you don't get that same
feeling that you're turning back the clock with you can outsprint
someone 15 years younger!
05/17/07- NO COMMENT, FOR NOW, ON THE GREG
LeMOND/FLOYD LANDIS ISSUE.
You can read all about it on
Cyclingnews.com if you wish, but you might want to keep a barf bag
handy. Great to know that the media now has something to replace Anna
Nicole Smith stories with.
05/15/07- LOST MY NERVE TODAY
descending 84 into Woodside. We'd had a nice ride up to that point;
no Millo, but we had Kevin, Karl, Chris, Eric, George and... John?
Darn, I forget his name; he showed up a few weeks ago, nice guy, but
can't do the entire ride with us due to having to get to work.
Moderate pace for most going up Kings today, but killer pace for
me. And yet the same speed. How does that work? A bit cooler today,
lots of fog, but none of the cool sunlight-through-the-trees effects
we saw last ride, although I did remember to bring the camera this
time, just in case. We're now seeing a number of other people regularly on "the
hill", and you can tell something about the nature of our group by
the fact that it doesn't seem to matter that many of them are women.
No change in routine; everyone simply rides past in the same
nonchalant manner that you pass other cars on the freeway. I have an
excuse for my own lack of social skills that goes beyond the fact
that I don't have social skills- my breathing is so ragged when I'm
trying to keep up with everyone that I couldn't exchange much in the
way of pleasantries even if I wanted to. That's one advantage when
I'm riding with the "other" Kevin (my son). Big difference in my
ability to converse when my heart rate is at 100 vs 164!
Also noteworthy this morning was the return of "3-dog Lady", who
used to be a regular on our ride; we'd always see her just after the
start of the ride. For a couple years she'd appear to scowl at us,
making us feel rather unwelcome on her roads. We took it upon
ourselves to change that, no matter how long it took. I believe it
was about 3 year before she would return our always-cheery
"Good mornings", and after awhile, you could see her smile as we
came by. We'd grown concerned that she'd been missing for several
months, but she was back this morning, with all 3 dogs in tow. Regarding losing my nerve on 84, that happened just past the
straight stretch with the retaining wall on the right-hand side of
the road, where you have the big view of everything from Stanford up
to Oakland. The length right-hand turn that follows can be taken at
a fair amount of speed and, as I was out in front, feeling a bit of
pressure from behind, I was pushing fairly hard. In the middle of
the corner things just didn't feel quite right though, as if I was
pushing a bit too hard on the front tire. I never slid, but got a
bit rattled, and from then on, took it very easy the rest of the way
down the hill. One of those times where you start imagining that
you've got a flat tire, but you don't. If I wasn't riding with a
group I would have stopped and collected my wits before continuing.
ONE MORE HILL CLIMBED as
Kevin (the 14 year old) rode up Page Mill for the first time. He
considered it a fair amount tougher than Tunitas Creek, mostly due to
that middle section that goes... up! We stopped a couple times, first
at the entrance to Foothill Park, and then again a couple miles up
after one of the steeper sections. Climbing time from Arastradero was
1hr 36 minutes, including stops, which isn't going to set any records
but heck, for me, it's kinda nice once in a while to do a ride where
I'm not the one pushed to the limit! Having said that, I should
point out that I go to quite a bit of trouble making sure Kevin's not
in too much distress, including making sure he's getting enough to
drink, stopping before he asks to stop, and not letting his
heart rate get too high.
The original plan was to continue down West Alpine on the other side
and then back up 84, but Mother's Day commitments conflicted with
that, so we rode north on Skyline and then back down 84.
Will he be ready for the 100k Sequoia in a couple weeks? Tough to say,
but I didn't want him to even try that until we saw if he could handle
Page Mill first (which the 100k Sequoia heads up right near the
CAT'S HILL RECAP- Somehow I neglected to tell the story
of my son's first criterium last Saturday. He's been participating in
the jr track series at the Velodrome (although that's been on hold for
a while due to construction) as well as a time trial on Canada Road.
But this was going to be his first real live USCF bicycle race. We'd
done a recon of the course the prior Sunday, and were pretty confident
he'd be able to manage the nastily-steep but mercifully-short hill.
Confident enough that I decided, just before the race, to set his
front derailleur so it couldn't go to the smallest chainring on
his triple crank, since making that shift sometimes causes the chain
to derail. His race was just 3 laps, and as we'd done 4 without incident in
our recon, I wasn't worried. At least I wasn't worried until lap 2,
when I watched him stall out about halfway up the hill and have to run
to the top! At that moment I was thinking I must be the worst Dad in
the world, having locked out his lower gears, but then, as he got
close to me, I looked at his bike and saw he still had two larger rear
gears to go. He'd forgotten to shift! Doh! No problem on the
final lap, but he got passed by quite a few others during his run up
the hill. Don't think he'll make that mistake again. Don't think he'd ever been pushed quite so hard for 15 minutes
either; at the end of the race, he was pretty wiped out. Not exactly a
walk in the park, and I think he was quite impressed with how strong
some of the other kids were.
05/10/07- A FEW DAYS BEHIND in
getting this entry in! Thursday's ride was quite different from
Tuesday. For one thing, it was back to leg warmers & base layers
again, with the temp getting as low as 43. Not winter temps to be
sure, but Tuesday's ride saw 62-66 degrees and the first time this
year I've been able to ride in the morning without leg warmers. We
were also a much smaller group... in fact, it was just Chris & Kevin,
and Kevin didn't even come along for the full ride, choosing instead
to head back down 84 when we got to Sky L'Onda (he was trying to save
something for the Central Coast Double Century on Saturday).
What was really unfortunate was that this was one of the rare
rides when I chose not to bring my camera, and the light shining
through the fog & trees on Skyline was spectacular! The sort of thing
that you'd see in famous photos, where the photographer figures out
exactly the right time for the light to come through at exactly the
right angle, and just hope to get just the right amount of fog for the
right effect. It was all there!!! Dang.
YOU NOTICE HOW VIBRANT SHE LOOKED?But we'll get to
that shortly. George, Eric, Karl, Chris, Kevin... and Joe! Joe who we
usually see riding with Ted about the time we get going, but never
heading up the hill. But today Joe was with us as well, taking the
place of Millo. Joe kicks up our average age only slightly, being on
the far side of 60, but he's proof that getting older doesn't mean
getting slower. Actually, I used to race with Joe back in the day; we
were both members of the local Pedali Alpini club. Of course, I use
was a young punk junior at the time, while Joe was technically an
adult. If I recall correctly, he pretended to be an adult fairly well.
With some encouragement, I got Joe up the hill in 29:25 which, he
said, was about three minutes faster than his best times lately.
Kevin had warned me that he was going to be dog slow, which, as
usual, was an absolute lie. I'm getting used to that, but still, after
all these years of riding with him, give him the benefit of the doubt.
But lately it's Chris that's been riding consistently strong, too
Noteworthy events included having to come to a screeching halt
from full speed on the descent towards Sky L'Onda as a huge truck was
blocking the road, and the young woman we saw who'd just arrived at
the top of east-side Old LaHonda just as we had come up from the west.
That's the person whom Karl remarked "Did you see how vibrant she
looked?" Meaning that she radiated a healthy glow or something like
that. Me, I was noticing mostly that she was riding a Trek 5000 that
our shop had sold. Being married, it's probably better that that's
what I notice.
MILE WARM-UP BEFORE 22 MILES OF PAIN, ER, I MEAN, FUN!
Since this was the first Sunday of the month, the original plan was to
do a morning ride and then take Kevin down to the Jr track session at
the Velodrom (bike racing track). But the
construction at the track still isn't finished, so we had an "off"
day with no special events planned. Had I known earlier, I might have
signed up for the Grizzly Peak century, one of my favorites. Instead,
we left pretty late on a fairly-ambitious (for Kevin) ride out to the
coast, via Pescadero, and back 84.
As it was pretty darned warm, and Kevin had ridden the Cat's Hill race
yesterday, it was predictable that we'd be cutting the ride a bit
short and bailing at San Gregorio. And that's pretty much how far
Kevin got; we called for the broom wagon from Pescadero, then headed
out over Stage Road to San Gregorio, and got about 2 miles up the road
before the broom wagon arrived. Up to that point it had been a pretty
easy ride for me, despite the heat I wasn't used to. Average heart
rate of about 100, and whatever calories I might have burned off
equalized by a stop at the Pescadero Bakery.
So Kevin off in the broom wagon (driven by his sister), and I rode the
rest of the way home by myself. But at a bit different pace. I tested
my legs on the 6 mile run to LaHonda, found that they held up, and put
down the hammer at Apple Jacks (the infamous biker bar in LaHonda).
The graph below, from my Garmin 305, shows what 28 minutes of pain
I'm sure I've climbed that stretch a
whole lot faster in the past, but this was my first really tough
workout in quite some time. I managed to keep my heart rate well up
there (peaked at 176, averaged 166 with quite a bit of time above
170). It was really nice to have legs, lungs & heart all working
together at last!
THE FLYING SCOTSMAN opens today at a theater near
you! Well, maybe not too near, but today's the day. What's it about?
Greame Obree, a guy who, in 1993, fashioned a bike for the hour
record that included parts from his wife's washing machine. To say
that he improvised is an understatement, as much
an understatement as it is to say the odds were heavily against his
success. Even the officials battled him every step of the way,
insisting that his unorthodox machine wasn't legal, requiring
creative modification just before the race.
I met Graeme at last year's Tour de France. My group of 5 were
heading towards the finish area after the final stage when I came
across a guy who, in casual conversation, was talking about the race
and name-dropping in a manner that implied he was something other
than the typical race fan. He then said he was Graeme Obree, which
at that point I wasn't quite so sure of (perhaps because he'd had a
bit too much to drink, although in retrospect, knowing that should
have been something of a confirmation)... so I asked more question
and, once convinced, introduced him to our group. Even they were
mildly skeptical, at which point he pulls out his passport to show
that he was, indeed, Graeme Obree. That's Graeme in the middle of
To find the nearest theater and showtimes, try
Fandango.Lots of good reviews, including 3-stars from
both the San Jose Mercury News and
Ebert & Roeper.
05/03/07- "IT DOESN'T GET EASIER, YOU JUST
GO FASTER."You know how you rationalize that
something someone says doesn't apply to you, because you're
different? Well, it's true. Greg LeMond is famous for the quote
given; the context was someone asking the question if he found that
bike racing got easier as he trained more.
I can vouch for the first part of the equation... the part about it
not getting easier. But the second part? I'm still looking for that
"go faster" bit! Actually that's not entirely true; I was there last
year, and the year before, when I was able to get 25-something times
up Kings. But that was then, this is now. I haven't even ridden a
mile-based century yet this year; normally I would have ridden three
by now. Different priorities, as I work to get my 14-year-old with
the program. And it's paying off, with him riding better all the
time, and beginning to look more like a cyclist and less like a
video-game player. An excellent trade-off, I'm thinking. Still, it's
a bit different than the norm. Typically, Dads spend their time
working with their kids, but there isn't such a direct connection
between Dad getting out of shape so the kid gets better. The pay-off
should come in a couple years though, as he gets increasingly
stronger and eventually discovers, to my combined dismay and joy,
that he can ride Dad into the ground. I live for that day!
Meanwhile, a smaller group than normal on Thursday's ride...
just myself, Karl & Millo at the start, picking up Kevin about
halfway up Kings. A bit cooler than expected too, hitting 43 degrees
up on Skyline. Hard to believe they're talking 90 for Sunday!
05/01/07- NO RIDE FOR MIKE TODAY as it was time to play the
lobbyist game again, in Sacramento. Things are a bit different in
Sacramento vs DC. A bit more laid-back, and a bit more likely to
have questions asked of you, as if they actually care. Not that the
folk in DC don't care, but in Sacramento, they'll sometimes see you
as helping them to get something done.
BUT WE DID GET A RIDE REPORT FROM MILLO-Some
days we get traffic, at exactly the wrong time and place - bad karma
- and some days seems like we are the only ones out there - good
karma. Today was a bad karma day. Gorgeous blue sky sunny day. Full
crowd - Karl, Kevin, George, Chris, Eric, and your humble narrator.
None of us knew/remembered that you were in Sacto achieving great
things for cyclists so we milled around aimlessly for 5 minutes
waiting for you, our fearless leader, before heading up the hill.
Chris breaking in his new bike - speeding up hills at ridiculous
speed. Even heard him say that maybe, just maybe he might challenge
Todd for a sprint!
Karl and Chris off quickly, George eventually drifted off after
them, I held Kevin and Eric in sight until the wide part of Kings.
Karl and Chris jumped off for the first sprint. Kevin riding his TT
bike and swooping past everybody to lead out the Skeggs sprint -
Karl and Chris over first. Kevin down on the aerobars and pulling us
along 84 and the descent to Sky Londa - going amazingly quickly thru
the corners in a full aero tuck. I jumped past Kevin to lead out the
Sky Londa sprint to watch Karl/Chris/George pull a 1/2/3 right in
front of me, all decked out in matching AV gear. Kevin continued to
pull us down 84 to the barn. Just as we were turning up West OLH we
scrambled to avoid an oncoming car.
Slogged back up to Skyline - Kevin and Eric fading, Karl/Chris/George
off the front, yours truly stuck in no man's land. Large and smelly
diesel dump truck headed down 84 just as we arrived; Kevin going
straight to get home, the rest of us sucking in poorly combusted
hydrocarbons. A pickup coming up tried to side-swipe George - per
Chris a perilous near mess. Often happens when following a big
vehicle as it completely blocks the oncoming cars view of the
trailing cyclists. Dump truck eventually pulled over to let us all
go by - big "Thank You" and off we go lead by Karl.
For the second time in two weeks the left onto Tripp was compromised
by oncoming traffic - already committed to the turn before seeing
the oncoming car and pretty much have to stick with it - not sure
how close on your tail the next rider is and if any sudden braking
of change of line is going to embed them into your rear tire so yell
out "car" and go for it. Karl and I made it, Chris and George did
not. Sprint to Olive Hill shut down by a car. We gotta offer some
old Campy parts to the Madonna del Ghisallo to improve carma for
Thursday's ride........ --M (Millo)
04/29/07- CATS HILL RECON MISSIONtoday, but not for me. This was for Kevin (the 14-year-old) who
plans to race it next Saturday. There's that one brief nasty hill, but
he's got it down pretty good. Had a nice ride back home afterward,
although Kevin wasn't much of a fan of Pierce or Mt Eden roads. Not
that many are! Just one potential glitch in the plans, and that's the
category he'll be allowed to race in. If they use the official USCF
definition of "racing age" then he'd be considered 15, since it's his
age as of Jan 1st 2007 that matters (his birthday is in late
November). Racing with 15 year olds wouldn't be so bad, but it's a
combined class going all the way up to 18, and there's a world of
difference between the two.
AWESOME, MUST-WATCH YOU-TUBE VIDEO for anyone who wants to get
a feel for what the racers go through. This is the sort of thing that,
if it doesn't hit you hard, well, there's just something wrong with
you. I came across it while working out my plans for July, and found
the link on the always-excellent
website. Follow this link
for the video. I just don't know how to explain it...
what it is about it that I can relate to so well. Why it's one of
those rare things that makes me think, if I could live part of my life
over again, if I could have taken racing more seriously, maybe if I'd
made the trip to Belgium with some of my peers... For the most part, I don't spend much time thinking about how
things might have been. Rather, I tend to think I dodged a bullet (or
two) and that things turned out a lot better than they might have.
That somehow I managed to channel my compulsion about cycling and
sometimes pushing myself to the limit... somehow I turned that into
something more productive than being one of those guys in the peloton
whose purpose you can't quite figure out, but might somehow get lucky
and take 3rd place in some obscure race in a part of France or Germany
nobody knows exists.
video. It's worth it just for the Johnny Cash song/narration (his
rendition of Nine Inch Nail's "Hurt").
RITUAL STARTS the night before, as I try to get to
bed by Midnight, typically an hour earlier than normal. Well, truth
be told, I no longer have the inclination to stay up as late as I
used to. But for Monday & Wednesday nights, the plan is to be in bed
by Midnight, since I'm getting up at 7:05am the next morning, not my
usual 8:15. Then it's out to the kitchen to make a bottle of Cytomax,
then pop a couple of Advils (don't even know why I still do that, as
I haven't had stiff joints for some time), then get dressed, check
email, put together my ride bag (a plastic baggie with my license, a
credit card, a bit of cash and my cell phone), inflate the tires
and, at 7:34am, head out on the road. 29 minutes to get going. I've
wondered if I can cut that down a bit and get more sleep, but I
should probably put off any big surge in adrenalin until close to
the base of Kings Mtn!
Between 8 minutes 15 seconds and 9 minutes 30 seconds I'm at the
starting point for the ride. Some mornings you step on the pedals
and the bike just goes... others, it feels like those extra 6 pounds
I'm carrying have at least doubled, maybe tripled, as I struggle to
see something much above 11mph heading up over Jefferson. This morning was one of those "struggling" times. I felt OK, but
only OK, as I joined up with Millo, Kevin, Chris, Karl, Eric and
new-guy old-guy Joe (whom I raced with way, way, way back in
the day!) at the start. George had planned to be there, but word has
it that he was on the early-morning ride and broke his frame in a
crash. Ouch! We rode up through the park this time, which, to me, is
a whole lot tougher than the regular route... so why did I direct us
that way? It's that "ugly ride" thing. If you're not feeling great,
sometimes you have to force yourself to do something you don't want
to, to shake yourself out of the mood. Bad-tasting medicine as it
Skyline was nice; a bit warmer than past weeks, and no fog or
dampness. Karl and somebody else... maybe Chris?... took off up
Swett Road, which, when I was in better shape, used to be an all-out
sprint. Now I just watch as the stronger riders power on past, while
I try to conserve enough energy to ride their coat tails into the
Skeggs no-designated-finishing-line sprint.
The high point of the ride was the scariest, as Kevin & Karl
tried to gap me on the descent into the final Skyline sprint.
Normally we'd be hitting 37, 38mph, but today it was 42.9, and it's
an interesting experience hitting botts dots in a corner at that
speed. Actually, it's not much of an experience physically at all...
your bike just keeps tracking where it's supposed to. But mentally,
you're thinking it's just not a good idea to be riding the edge of a
botts dot in a corner!
WATCH OUT FOR CHRIS!He's an entry-level Cat-5 racer
right now, but that won't last. 2nd place in a race last weekend, and
mad at me because I'd told somebody who'd come into the shop that, if
I were him, I'd watch for Chris and see if there was an opportunity to
go off the front with him. But as Chris tells it, the guy announced
to others in the pack that someone at Chain Reaction had said
Chris was the guy to watch out for, essentially making him a marked
man. Well, maybe, but I'll bet that helped intimidate a bunch of them
and might have actually made it easier for Chris. That's my story, and
I'm sticking to it!
Karl, Kevin, Eric, Millo, Chris, George... pretty much a full
house. Anytime it's 5 or more there's a bit of "book-keeping"
involved, as you need to make sure everyone's back together at various
points. "Are we all here?" is oft heard, just prior to a head count.
Millo headed out a few minutes ahead, while the heavy artillery
(actually, with the exception of me, it would be more accurate to say
"lightweight" artillery) toyed with his efforts. We (the chase group)
re-grouped at the park entrance, sort of. I didn't wait around but
kept going, thinking maybe it was possible to get under 28 minutes,
spurred on by knowing I had a rabbit to chase in front of me (Millo)
and a bunch of mad dogs behind (Karl, Kevin, Eric, Chris & George). I
caught up with Millo about halfway up the hill, and the rest of the
guys passed me up just past the wide-open section. I was dying. But I
did manage to do an honest 27:59. Sprints? The most interesting one was Skeggs, which was won first
by Chris, then Karl, then me. ??? It all depends upon where you draw
the line, literally. There's no clearly-defined spot for the finish on
that sprint, but I think Karl got past a fading Chris at just about
the right place. I was still moving up on the outside and past Karl
just after that, but not soon enough. Guess we'll have to go mark some
04/23/07- REMINDED OF FRANCE TODAYwhen a young woman came in
with a bike that needed to have the saddle lowered. She spoke
English a bit awkwardly, but communicated rather well. Only she
didn't see it that way; she was quite embarrassed and apologized for
her "very bad English" or something like that. Someone else had been
helping her, and I couldn't quite make out the accent, so before she
left I asked her where she was from and what her native language
was. Turns out she's visiting from Brazil, where she speaks
Portuguese. I explained to her that she spoke English very nicely
(far better than any attempts I'd have at speaking French!).
Funny thing how that goes. People actually learn a foreign language
quite well, but are often embarrassed when they don't speak it
near-perfectly. I encountered this in France fairly often; one time
in particular at the Gare du Nord (one of Paris' main train
stations) where I spoke a bit of very poor French to the station
agent, asked if he spoke English, to which he replied "A little, but
not very well." After a short conversation I told him he spoke
English very well indeed, and I would be very happy if I could ever
speak French as he spoke English. It never occurred to me before
then that people might have a very good grasp of a language, but
because they couldn't speak it as well as a native, felt badly about
it. The station agent truly seemed to appreciate that I complimented
him on his excellent English skills, as did the young woman at the
So next time you come across someone who's visiting the US and
having a bit of diffulty with English, but cleary has made some
effort to try and learn the language, try not to focus on the
difficulties they're having, but rather their successes. Let them
know how great it is that they've learned a different language,
especially if you're like me, and have a very difficult time with
anything but English.
DAD, THEY'RE CIRCLING.Fortunately not for us, as my
son (the 14-year-old Kevin) and I were riding along Calaveras Road on
the Primavera Century this morning. It was a ride that nearly wasn't,
as the weather forecast had been questionable, at best. Logging onto
several different sites, the most-hopeful of which had rain until 6am,
then showers until 9, followed by scattered showers until 1pm. Not the
best conditions for his first 100k bike ride.
Nor the best to encourage others as well, given that this very
popular ride probably had only 1/4 of the normal number of riders. Too
bad, as they missed out on a great event! Yes, the roads were a
bit wet for the first hour, but not a single drop came from the sky,
and temps ran from upper 50s to about 70. But I do confess that I
almost didn't bother setting the alarm to 6:15am (a dreadful hour for
a guy like me), and when I did wake up, to dark & threatening skies
(but no rain), the first thing I did, before waking up Kevin, was to
log on and look at the latest radar. Fortunately, that looked
promising, and I also had an email from Burt, one of our guys in
Redwood City (who just happened to be the person who talked Kevin into
doing the ride), saying that he was getting ready to leave. And if
Burt, who doesn't like to trash his bike in the rain, was going to do
the ride... how could we not?
The ride wasn't without a small amount of drama, as Kevin got two
flats (there were a lot of flats during that first hour) and
even crashed. Even blamed me for the crash! Why? Because, on
that dreadful climb up Crow's Canyon, always into a nasty headwind, he
asked me how long that section was. I jokingly told him 22 miles,
which broke his concentration, causing him to ride into my rear wheel
and go down (with Burt then falling on top of him).
After the two flat tires and crash, one might think Kevin might
have been in a foul mood (not to mention the vultures, very large
turkeys and a whole lot of chickens at the final rest stop... oh wait,
that's fowl), but that wasn't the case. In fact, he was telling me he
had to see Bobby Julich and tell him he was right, cycling is a
great way to see the world! This because he's got an autographed photo
of the American racer, with a note that says "Kevin- Bike riding's a
great way to see the world!"
Burt wasn't the only Chain Reaction employee (besides me) on the
ride; we also had Roger, our most-senior expert mechanic, along with a
number of his friends. Roger generally finds anything below 80 degrees
to be cold, so it was especially surprising (and welcome) to see him
make it to the ride as well. Thank goodness none of us seemed to place
much faith in the weather forecast!
NOT DEAD YET!In fact, this morning's ride was the
first time I've really felt alive in quite a few months. Chris,
Kevin & Millo today (no Karl or Eric), with overcast skies and a
chill in the air. But no rain, no fog. When I leave from my house,
I'm immediately heading up a hill, and some days, ok, most days,
you're just riding up the hill, one pedal at a time, and it feels
like... a hill. But today was different. From the very first step,
the bike almost felt as if it had an engine and I was twisting a throttle.
I found that interesting, but remember quite clearly thinking at the
time, "this too shall pass." But it didn't. I was able to ride intervals up Kings and feel
like I was really moving. I attacked the first part and didn't find
myself looking for a convenient place to shut down (you know, making
it look like that was the plan all along). Obviously I wasn't going
to shake Kevin & Chris from my tail, but at the same time, I don't
think I was holding them back too much either.
Kevin was on a tight schedule so he took off (as seen in the
photo) once we got to the top of Old LaHonda... it being close to
9am and having a 10:20am flight out of SFO that he was piloting. And
somehow he's got to fit a shower in. Or at least, for the sake of
his co-pilot, I hope so; the cockpit of an MD80 isn't terribly big.
Just for fun I looked up his likely flight; appears that he left
SFO 2 minutes late (10:17 instead of 10:15) but arrived 15 minutes
early. Looks like he was cruising at 33,000ft at a max speed of
523knts. No wonder I can't keep up with him!
For me, it
is more fun when I can ride hard and feel that
burn in my legs, rather than just being tired. Maybe it took that
moderately-hard ride out to the coast and back Tunitas on Sunday to
get my body going again. It didn't seem like that big a deal at the
time, as it wasn't an all-out effort, but it wasn't a casual cruise
at a near-resting heart rate either. OR MAYBE I'M JUST REACTING TO WHAT I FOUND ON THE KITCHEN TABLE
LAST NIGHT? It looked like junk mail, and the return address
had been obscured. But I opened it up and found this curious little
kit with a return mailer from Kaiser. And a letter telling me that
their records indicate I'm 51 and haven't been screened for colon
cancer yet and could I please follow the instructions included and
provide a sample (that's as detailed as I'm going to get here) so
they can figure that I'm OK or schedule me for a colonoscopy. Umm...
yeah, right. It was bad enough getting the stuff from the AARP, but
now this indignity! However, rest assured I'm taking it seriously
and will promptly provide Kaiser with what they want.
COLD, WET & WINDY (and spoiled).
Karl, Kevin, Eric &
George, the usual Tuesday-morning mix, minus Chris & Millo. George was
sporting his Sea Otter race-winner's jersey for his efforts in the
sport-class mountain bike race on Sunday. Rumor has it that he rode
his commute bike and didn't even bother to remove the rear rack before
the race. That's the way he rolls, as they say. Eric took up the rear position on Kings after having suffered a
bit on the Mulhullond Challenge (12k of climbing in 100 miles) a
couple days prior, but nobody else seems to show their human side on
these rides. Well, that's not quite true; when Kevin cracks, it's
pretty spectacular. Me? I've learned to live with the fact that I
cracked maybe 34 years ago. The top of Kings was shrouded in fog & low clouds, although by the
time we finished the west-side OLH loop the fog had been replaced by
strong winds, strong enough that my, er, "sturdy" frame was getting
blown around pretty nastily on the descent into Woodside. I should remember how bad the rains were last year before feeling
sorry for myself for what I'm riding in now. I know that. I know how
bad the weather is elsewhere. I know I should be more appreciative for
how good I've got it. But instead I'm annoyed that it's likely to be
wet this Sunday, when my son's planning to do his first metric century
(Primavera). I'm thinking of those nice warmer months where you don't
have to wear leg warmers & base layers & long-finger gloves. I'm
thinking how we only have from May-October when the weather's really
nice here, which means... what exactly? It means I'm a typical,
spoiled Californian, that's what. At least I can ride year-'round,
it's a rare ride that you have to worry about ice, and we've got
spectacular roads that, once you get into the hills, don't get all
that much traffic.
04/15/07- QUICK RIDE TO THE COAST THIS MORNING,
trying to get in
a few quality miles while my son was out on a fishing trip in the bay
(caught another leopard shark, but had a good time anyway). The idea
was to get back in time to take him to the afternoon junior track
session at the Velodrome, but that turned out to be cancelled again
due to continuing construction. No matter, still made a productive day
of things afterward, finally getting a much-needed haircut (did I really have shoulder-length hair in high school? And why?).
But the ride was the gem of the day. I skipped out on the Alto
Velo "A" ride, believing it might not get me back in time, and set out
on my own. Not until after watching the end of the Paris Roubaix
classic road race on cycling.tv though! The plan was a quick
out-and-back to the coast, via Old LaHonda and Tunitas. I wasn't
looking forward to fighting the headwinds on the way out to the coast,
but that turned out not to be a major issue as I hooked up with a nice
group of 4 toward the top of Old LaHonda, and rode the rest of the way
with them. Susan, Mitchell, Tommy and another guy whose name I don't
recall (4/16- Susan just emailed to let me know his name is Joe). That's one of the great things about cycling; you can set out
on your own and pretty much have whatever experience you want. If you
desire peace & solitude, no problem, just put your head down, don't
talk much and go (not normally my style, although I'll admit to not
being terribly talkative when
I'm gasping or air climbing!). But if you don't mind or would like a
bit of company and enjoy the shared experiences of cycling, the
opportunities are there nearly every time you ride. Not much to draft off when behind Susan, but the guys provided
much more substantial cover! I tried to do my share, but have to admit
that the champ was, I think, Mitchell (or it could have been the guy
whose name I forgot). Nice to have people who actually want to
fight the wind on the way to the coast! Aside from the wind, very nice
weather, mostly in the mid-60s. We made the mandatory stop at San Gregorio for fuel & water
(please note that while the San Gregorio General Store has a lot of
character, the quality of food & pricing is much better at the
Pescadero bakery), where we came across a whole lot of Ducatis & BMWs,
as well as other cyclists. Then it was up Stage Road and over the hill
to Tunitas Creek, where, right when we reached the Lobitos Creek
cut-off... maybe 50 yards ahead is the AltoVelo A ride (as seen in the
photo). Looks like I would have made it back in time either way, but
the train I caught was probably a bit more social.
Saw lots of bikes that we've sold out on the road today, which is
always a good thing. Nice that our bikes are finding time on the road
instead of just sitting in a garage.
MISSED A DIFFERENT RIDE BY NOT SHOWING UP TODAY as it
was just Karl riding with me, everyone else having obligations or
races (Sea Otter). In fact, since Karl was riding Sea Otter on Friday,
the deal was this- a very easy ride up the hill, or he was going to
ride the flats instead. So it was... and it was a full 35 minutes from
bottom to top. We did have company for the first part, as we met up
with a pair that cruise through Woodside about the same time we do
each morning, and this time we managed to coax them into riding as far
as the park entrance with us. And also Greg Drake, one of Webcor's
strongest racers, a very pleasant guy.
DID THEY CATCH BACK UP TO ME?Nice morning, with the
temp only getting as low as 46 degrees, but staying above 50 for the
most part. Kevin & George & Eric at the start, with Karl & Millo
having left a couple minutes earlier. Rather odd that Karl headed up
early, but he'd said ahead of time he was looking forward to a pretty
easy ride today. For the most part, I should trust Karl. If he says
something, he's typically neither bluffing nor sand-bagging.
I set off in chase of Karl & Millo, and had them within sight about
halfway up the climb. Eventually I caught up and slowly passed them,
getting maybe a one-corner lead until they started to catch up again.
Geez, I'm thinking, I must really be dying on the last part of the
hill! But somehow I manage to finish Kings just behind them, a good 28
minutes after I started. Did I really ride a 25-something last year?
MY "NICE" BIKE LOOKS LIKE THIS, WHAT DOES MY RAIN BIKE LOOK LIKE???
One can only wonder.
Truth be told, my rain bike actually looked better, since heavy rain
tends to clean things up a bit. But my Madone SSL? Yikes. It's almost
comical how bad the drivetrain had gotten. The amazing thing is that
it just kept on going. The secret is RockNRoll Gold lube. You just
keep dumping it on, wiping off the old crude, or I mean, crud. Pretty
bad when you can't even see the pins on the chain anymore though! If
you want to see it in detail, along with a few more equally-gross
they're up on our Picasa site. Even though Saturday was pretty busy at the shop, and I really
wanted go get home quickly, I did finally spend about an hour of
quality time with my "nice" bike and clean things up a bit. New chain
(the old one had gone too long; anything over 2k miles for someone who
rides in a hilly area is very questionable), remove & clean rear cogs,
and cleaned chainrings in-place. Also removed & cleaned jockey wheels,
which looked not much different than what you see in the photo. About
to take it out for a ride in a few minutes; I'll let you know how it
goes. Hopefully replaced the chain before the wear was bad enough to
cause drivetrain skipping with the new one! Hate it when that happens.
04/05/07- KEVIN'S RIDE REPORT FOR THURSDAY'S
RIDEis scintillating, concise, and guaranteed not to
bore. "We rode. Kevin won. Karl lost."Polar opposites, Kevin & I. I'll take one tiny aspect, maybe 15
seconds, out of one of our rides and turn it into a 3-paragraph epic
event. Kevin sums up a 2-hour ride in 6 words!
WON'T BE RIDING THURSDAY MORNING because I'll be on a
plane coming back from San Diego, where, of course, I was riding a
bike. I tried to do a google maps things to show where, but it won't
zoom in close enough. Basically rode in an area around "Valley
Center" west of Vista, which is west of Carlsbad, which is north of
San Diego. Quite a bit hillier than I'd expected, and got fairly
well thrashed! With no computer or GPS on the bike I was riding, I
can't even tell you how far or how much climbing. And if I can't
define it, how do I know I even rode? Guess that's what my tired
legs are for. Definitely looking forward to coming back and riding
with my home boys.
04/03/07- IT'S FOR THE BIRDS
we ride. It's pretty amazing to watch them up there, the different
birds, the large ones that soar high above, seeming to float without
any effort whatsoever. And then there are the smaller guys, closer
to the ground, who seem to have to actually work to get somewhere.
At home, you don't see the birds so much as hear them, typically in
the morning as you're trying to get those last few minutes of sleep
and they're making a racket outside. But it's different out on the
west side of Old LaHonda. This morning it was George, Kevin, Karl, Eric, Millo... and, of
course, the birds. It's beginning to get warmer, although George
still saw 39.7 degrees on his computer in Woodside. Maybe next week
we'll be above 45 for the low. Maybe. But for now, it's not raining,
so I shouldn't be complaining!
04/01/07- KEVIN'S READY FOR...not quite sure what, but he's getting there, whatever it is. Today was
his first round-trip to the coast, heading
through Woodside over Old LaHonda, down to San Gregorio and up Tunitas
Creek. Most would think Tunitas Creek would be the toughest part, but
the run out to the coast, complete with headwind, probably took the
honors. This was his first time up Old LaHonda without stopping, giving
him his best time yet at 39:47. Towards the top we came across Jun
(shown in the photo, giving Kevin a thumbs-up at the top), a friendly
guy I'd ridden with before, who helped encourage Kevin on the final
sections. If anything, Kevin was stronger as he climbed this time out.
If you haven't ridden out to the coast, it's not nearly as far as most
think. From Olive Hill & Canada Road (about a mile north of Woodside
Road/84), it's only 40 miles, not the 50+ people seem to believe. It
might feel a lot longer, mostly due to the lengthy run from
LaHonda to San Gregorio, followed by the longer-that-it-should-be
climb up Stage Road to Highway 1.
Obviously, there's no point to Kevin riding the 35-mile 100%-flat
option of the Delta Century! 100km might be a bit much in the way of
saddle time though.
03/30/07- GREAT STORY ON PEZ CYCLING about the wind-tunnel testing
done for Ivan Basso, and his thoughts on his new bikes vs old.
Definitely worth the read.
TODD CAN BE BEAT!The fine
print? Just not by me!Fairly large group on the ride this
morning, with Kevin, Karl, George, Millo, Eric, Todd... I think that's
everyone. While the really cold weather (for California) is behind us,
it still got down to 41 degrees this morning. Several of the guys are
racing this weekend so they rode a moderate pace up the hill, while I
did my best to try and stay just ahead of them. With Todd around,
taking a sprint was out of the question; I let him casually roll on
ahead on the long optional sprint past Swett Road, and then gave an
effort at Skeggs, but it wasn't even close. Sky L'Onda, though, that
was interesting. I went fairly early, trying to catch him off-guard,
and succeeded. There's absolutely no way you can beat him if you wait
for him to go, but if you go first instead, it can at least be
interesting. Still, he got me just at the line.
Very pretty morning, warming up to 60 or so by the end of the
ride. No fog on the coast, no dampness in the air or on the ground, so
the descents were fun & fast. Sunday might be interesting. My son's junior track program has
been cancelled due to construction at the Velodrome, but the reaction
when I told him wasn't what I expected. He's thinking it will be a
good day for his first ride to the coast & back. Maybe. Don't know if
he's quite ready for a run up Tunitas Creek though! Technically, it's
not worse than West Alpine (which he did a couple weeks ago), but that
middle 3 miles of Tunitas is pretty darned brutal. It would actually
be easier to do an out-and-back to San Gregorio, but that's actually a
longer ride than coming back via Tunitas. Read all about it in a few
WHAT'S MORE MEMORABLE? THE SNOW GENTLY FALLING ON SKYLINE THIS
MORNING, OR MILLO TELLING ME TO SIT UP HIGHER SO HE CAN DRAFT
BETTER?Probably Millo, but we'll get to that later.
Much nicer morning than the weatherfolk said it would be, with no
rain, relatively-dry roads (dry enough for the Madone SSL instead of
the rain bike), and, while it felt fairly cool, it wasn't deathly
cold. Not at first anyway. About 46 as I left the house, quickly
joined by Todd on the way to the start. People give me a bad time
for riding hard & fast straight from my front door to the start, but
just to prove things relative, I was having a tough time holding
Todd's wheel, and he wasn't even breathing hard. And that part of
Canada where I'm pushing 26mph? Todd was doing 29-30. And making it
Todd, Kevin, George, Eric (did I mention that Eric's getting
much faster lately?) & Millo on the hill. I tried to keep up with
the faster guys, but it was no use... and they weren't even going
all that fast. With Todd around, it was out of the question that I'd
be in contention for any of the sprints, but that didn't stop me
from trying, with both Todd & I discovering a distinct lack of
traction on the run up to Skeggs. A bit unsettling, but not no
disturbing as to disrupt Todd's near-perfect record. Very nice shadows & clouds this morning, but not much chance for
photos when wearing a windbreaker (can't get to my jersey pockets to
pull the camera out!). And, at 37 degrees up on top, it was
definitely windbreaker weather. The good news is that this is
probably the last reasonably-cold ride of the year; from here-on, we
should see things gradually warming up. The bad news is that I won't
have my winter-lungs (relatively non-functional) as an excuse
The return on Canada was into a pretty stiff headwind, with Todd
& I riding side-by-side (don't worry, still on or to the right of
the line), blocking the wind for those behind. That's when Millo
asked if I could sit up a bit more. Right. It was actually easier
riding up over Jefferson than into that wind!
03/25/07- SPEED RUN TO SKYLINE?
Not quite, but given that Kevin (my son, not the old geezer Kevin
that I ride with on Tuesday & Thursday mornings) had wrenched his
back (not riding) the day before, and didn't think he could ride a
bike, he did just fine. Up Old LaHonda (just under 44 minutes, with
one rest stop) and south on Skyline to someone's 50th birthday
party. Not a really long ride, as he only rode one way and got a
ride back with Mom & Sis, but some quality miles and a chance to
talk with him about the stuff Fathers & Sons are supposed to talk
about... that being which high school the various girls he knows at
his middle school will be going to next year. It's interesting
riding up hills while keeping the heart rate under 100. It seems
like I'm discovering some new form of riding. Maybe there's
something to it. Or maybe not. My legs want to push hard against
pedals, my arms want to pull against the handlebars, my eyes want to
search out the next opportunity to sprint. I want to feel my legs
fill with lactic acid, and my lungs laboring for air, if only
because it feels so good afterward. That feeling you get when your
body tells you it was built to move, not rest. I live for that
feeling. The return home was a race against darkness, although I severely
mid-judged the amount of daylight remaining and could have stayed at
the party much longer. It took about 40 minutes to cover the 15
miles home, much of it downhill, and even on the downhill parts,
usually at a higher pulse rate than what I had climbed with. I
remain a slave to my heart monitor, a slave to my scale, and,
unfortunately, a slave to eating more than I should. Two against
one... heart monitor & scale vs food... you'd think the food would
lose! I really need one hard, long ride. An Alto Velo A ride, or
maybe a century. But right now, Kevin (my 14 year old) needs me
more. If things work out right, he should be giving me a really
tough time on a bike in two years. And from then on, it should be
all downhill. For me, anyway. He's been giving me a bad time lately,
half-joking that I'm expecting him to live out my dreams. What I
really want to see is him setting a target, a goal, and reaching it.
He's got a good chance at that with cycling, and that might actually
be holding him back a bit. When things are hopeless, there's not
much pressure. But he knows this is something he can do. When things
are hopeless, you don't worry about the pressure to succeed. Dang,
if I'm not careful, I'm going to sound like a little league dad!
BOB ROLL WOULD SAY, I DIED LIKE A DOG! This
morning we had Eric, George, Karl, Kevin & Millo. Eric went charging
up the hill, I went charging after Eric, passed him, then died like
a dog a bit further up. A whole lot of drama for a ride that
just-barely qualified as 28-something. Meanwhile, the guys behind
were having a jolly good time, not just in cruise-mode but
slow-motion cruise-mode at that, showing up a good 4 minutes later.
Why didn't I ride with them? Probably because both Eric & I assumed
they were just toying with us, and would go flying past at any
moment. I remember thinking, at the half-way hairpin, where you can
look back and see other cyclists about 45 seconds behind... where
are those guys?
I think it was George who took off on the long
sometimes-first-sprint on Skyline (the one I haven't been able to
deal with for maybe 5 months or so), with
Karl & I in the middle. I ended up leading out the sprint for
Skegg's (not my preference), allowing Karl to come around, which he
thankfully did early enough that I could get back onto his wheel and
force myself past. Which was not the place to be, as a BIG
truck came up behind our group, putting us in single-file mode for
the long flattish stretch up on top. Which meant I was stuck at the
front the whole time, dying yet again. I watched as the speed on the
computer looked semi-respectable for the briefest amount of time,
and then started sadly drifting down. I was so thankful for
the beginning of the descent, although my legs were so shot I just
let Kevin go off the front a bit too much, and couldn't make up the
distance at the final Skyline sprint. I haven't felt so sore/tired/whatever in quite some time. My
best guess is that I'm in similar shape to maybe two years ago,
which is quite a drop from last year. Not too much change of that
changing much either, since the goal this year is to focus on my 14
year old son's riding, and it's going to be quite some time before
he's capable of an Alto Velo A ride. But hey, at least I didn't look
like Millo after the non-sprint on Albion!As you can see in
the photo, Kevin's actually showing some concern. Not that Kevin's a
dispassionate guy, but he's not known to go easy on any of us if
he's feeling good.
CHASING AFTER IMAGINARY RIDERS WHO WEREN'T IMAGINARY?Time to get out the rain bike again this morning, as I woke to
darkening skies and a bit of a drizzle. That adds a bit of time to my
morning routine, getting me out to the starting point for our
Tuesday/Thursday ride almost exactly one minute late. Just one minute.
But Millo had already telegraphed (ok, emailed) his intentions to
start up about 5 minutes ahead of "us", and Karl, arriving exactly on
time, and seeing nobody, thought he must have actually been late and
headed quickly up the hill, chasing after Millo. And me? I thought I
saw someone at the starting point from maybe half a mile off, but
nobody there when I arrived. I waited a couple minutes, still nobody,
then headed on up the hill, thinking maybe I'd find Millo at the top.
Yes, this group is punctual if nothing else!
By the time I got to the top it was really wet, and shortly the rain
was coming down pretty hard. I was prepared for "showers" as per the
weather report, but this was borderline ugly. At Sky L'Onda I even
stopped to wring the water out of my gloves, and then rode the final
loop (west-side Old LaHonda) in reverse, thinking I'd come across
whoever was out there riding. That didn't happen, because Karl & Millo
had decided to cut it a bit short and head directly down 84,
eliminating west-side Old LaHonda entirely.
Overall it was actually fun, chasing phantoms and dealing with weather
that made me feel a lot better about bringing out the rain bike
instead of my Madone!
EASY 40 MILE "SPIN" WITH MY SON down to our Los Altos
store & back. He wasn't really looking forward to it; he figured he'd
earned a day off from having done the time trial the prior morning,
with extra credit for crashing. And he didn't seem terribly convinced
of my logic that riding the day after a crash was going to help him
feel better either. But, I had a trump card. You see, a bit earlier in
the day, I had to take my shaggy-haired son out for a haircut. And on
the way there, he asked if he could have a Mohawk. A Mohawk? My first
reaction was, you've got to be kidding. But then I'm thinkin', y'know,
he's 14, there's plenty of time before his Jr. High graduation, and he
might as well learn one of life's more-important lessons- be careful
what you ask for, 'cuz you just might get it.
No way was he thinking I'd let him have a Mohawk, which made up my
mind. I'd let him. Not sure if either one of us was prepared for
seeing bald skull where hair used to be, or the amusing sight of a
face that's tan, or at least shows that it's seen some sun, adjacent
to bright-white skin that used to be hidden by hair. But overall it's
03/17/07- MADE IT HOME... JUST BARELY! After having my flight home cancelled (while on the
runway) Friday evening, got a $140 midnight cab ride from BWI
(Baltimore airport) to the IAD (airport closer to DC) area where I
checked into a hotel and flew from there to SEA the next day. Missed
my son's time trial on Canada Road. Almost missed more than that; my
IAD-SEA flight had a missing pilot. Finally showed up and we were
underway 90 minutes late. Too bad I had an 89 minute connection time
at SEA! I've been through this before... as you taxi towards your
gate, you can see your next plane getting ready to leave (easy to know
because you get the gate info on your phone as you land). But a
strange thing happened.
As we neared the gate, they made an announcement on the PA asking for
me (even pronounced my name correctly... that's a first!), saying that
they were holding my plane for me if I could get off the plane fast
and run for the gate. They asked the passengers to make way for me,
but that wasn't an issue since I was in row 6 (which is actually row 3
in the A319). I got off the plane and there were several gate agents
literally waving me through, and the gate agent at my waiting plane
ready for me, shutting the door immediately behind.
This is the first time anything like that's ever happened to me
before. Maybe it's not that unusual, maybe it was just a result of the
irregular ops going on and somebody looked at my severely-hacked itin
and felt sorry for me. Don't know, but I sure was happy to get home.
Would have been nice to get home Friday (as planned), since the extra
day caused me to miss my son's first non-track bike race, the time
trial on Canada Road. He did fine, although he managed to crash about
a mile from the finish. Crash, in a time trial? Yeah, he was having a
bit of trouble shifting, and looked down to see what was going on,
when he drifted off the road. Pretty good road rash, but all in one
piece, so he says the only thing on his mind was to get on the bike
quick because he had some time to make up. There's hope for this kid!
03/16/07- "BUT CAN'T YOU JUST STOP THE TRAIN
SO I CAN GET OFF???"More stress & drama, fortunately
for others today, than need be. The Northeast is pretty much shut
down due to a massive snowstorm (I'm sure JetBlue is making the
headlines again), so my should-have-been painless train trip from
Washington DC to the Baltimore airport was a closer call than I
would have liked. I arrived a couple hours earlier at Union Station
than I'd planned to, because I wasn't sure how things might be in
Baltimore (due to the weather). What I hadn't considered is that,
with no way to fly anywhere north from DC, everyone who had
plane reservations was trying to take the train instead. No more
than 15 minutes after I purchased my ticket, they announced that all
northbound trains were sold out (although they were still selling
some tickets to Baltimore Penn Station, from which you could take
another train back to the airport, adding quite a bit of time but
still doable if you weren't cutting it close).
So I'm on the train leaving DC, the sold-out train with many empty
seats (?), and all of a sudden this girl near me cries out to the
conductor, "You need to stop the train, I need to get off!" This
after we'd already left the station, most definitely a no-can-do
situation, but this seemed completely lost to this 16 or 17-ish
girl. "You don't understand. I was confused, and need to get off
here. My parents are waiting for me, and I'm already an hour late!"
Also please note she was the only teenager west of the Mississippi
without her own cell phone. As a bunch of us offered to let her use
our cell phones, a nice woman who just looked the type to have a kid
or two of her own, maybe just a bit older, came to her rescue. Or at
least tried. This poor girl just didn't seem capable of the normal
bumps & bruises of everyday life, and the communications between
parent & child (on the phone) only confirmed this. The woman who had
leant the phone took over and spoke to her parent, letting them know
of the conductor's plan to drop her off at the first stop and give
her a pass for the next train in that direction. The conductor, by
the way, knew nothing about dealing with a frantic kid;
indeed, he seemed to know nothing about dealing with anything even
slightly out of the ordinary. Eventually he became a bit less
abrupt, and at the stop, handed her over to someone at the station
to make sure she would get onto the right train.
IRREGULAR OPS, they call this. A day when the airports are
thoroughly messed up by weather, and the planes aren't where they're
supposed to be. Did what I could to help a couple trying to get back
to Germany (unfortunately, on Continental, which I'm not much help
with since I don't know the location of their hubs and the alternate
routings that might be available), and a young kid stranded by
SouthWest (needed to get to Manchester, but that's a non-starter, as
it's solidly in today's no-fly zone).
But my flights (Baltimore/Denver/San Francisco) are still running
on-schedule, and as long as this steady cold rain doesn't turn into
the steady cold snow just to our north, I should be fine.
ASIDE FROM THAT, A WONDERFUL FINISH to the DC Bike Summit.
Normally, the Friday-morning session (the tail-end of the
conference) is a non-starter; just a couple more seminars, typically
the most-boring, and you're anything but energetic at that point.
But this morning was totally different! It was a wrap-up &
discussion session dealing with what we might do to bring the
advocates & business ends of the cycling community together for the
most-effective message possible. I feel quite badly now that I'd
recommended to dealers that they might skip Friday entirely and head
back early if that was a possibility. And a very good dealer friend
of mine too my advice. Darn!
03/15/07- TODD'S REPORT ON THURSDAY'S RIDE-
Another great day to be on a bike. It started out a little
chilly(42°F) at the when Karl, George Kevin, Eric and I rolled from
Olive Hill, but by the time we reached the park entrance it was time
to remove armwarmers and vests as it was already up to 52°. As we
climbed the hill, the mercury continued to climb with us reaching a
high of 58° on our climb to Skyline. There were no surprises in
sprints along Skyline today as it seems no one has devised a
strategy to prevent me from taking the sprints. Once again we were
greeted by great views on West OLH courtesy of a warm sunny day.
Today, unlike Tuesday there wasn't a layer of fog sitting at the
coast, only blue ocean and blue sky as far as the eye could see. So
the question nowis: If we were to take our time and enjoy the view
rather than rushing by to get position for the sprint at the top of
the hill, could we actually observe the curvature of the earth?
SOMEONE'S FOLLOWING ME AROUND.
As you can see, Floyd make an appearance here in DC, and was quite
the hit, the only speaker to receive a standing ovation at the
keynote lunch. Actually, the Mayor of Louisville (apparently
pronounced "loo-ville" by those in the know) gave an enthusiastic
example of what a town can do for cycling in a relatively short
period of time. Right now I'm in a seminar learning about the
problems of getting good data on cycling (how many people ride, how
many miles, reliable accident statistics and more). It's supposedly
2:41pm here, but feels more like... actually, I don't know anymore.
Lost one hour due to Daylight Saving Time and then 3 more hours
heading back east. But it's been worth it, if for nothing more than
the info on Safe Routes to Schools funding. There's work to be done
in Redwood City! Unfortunately, the Redwood City bicycle/pedestrian
group meets Thursdays at 7pm, so it's been difficult for me to get
to them. May have to change that.
03/14/07- LIVE FROM THE DC BIKE SUMMIT-but just barely alive, as the combined 3 hour time change from
heading east, plus the hour last Sunday (Daylight Saving Time)
conspire against me. But it's a worthwhile endeavor, as there's a
feeling that we've got something of a perfect storm here in
Washington DC as gas prices are on the rise again, global warming is
gaining traction as something serious, and traffic congestion is
getting so bad in the west that people are willing to consider
bicycling as a means of reducing gridlock. Building more roads seems
to be a dead end; the example of Phoenix has been brought up, where
roadways per capita have increased 150% in recent history, yet
congestion/gridlock has become dramatically worse in the same period
of time. Contrast that to Portland, where per-capital roadways have
actually decreased by 16% in the same period of time...more to come later. And hopefully a ride report from yesterday,
from Kevin or Karl (which was just posted below)!
03/13/07- TODD'S REPORT ON THE TUESDAY
RIDE- It was quite the ride yesterday. We had a group
of seven, including five (Karl, Eric, Kevin, George and Chris) who
were all dressed in their matching A/V gear, so as one could imagine
Millo and I were feeling like the odd men out. Initially there was
some discussion of doing a flatter ride since Mike was absent, but
those who made that suggestion (and who shall remain nameless) were
quickly convinced by democratic process that riding up the hill was
a better idea. Once on the hill we took a fairly relaxed ride up to
the park and then stopped to regroup and remove layers as it was
quite warm. For the most part everyone was well behaved on the
climb. Once we were along Skyline, the sprints we business as usual
for me, but I should mention that Karl gave me quite the lead out
for the sprint coming into Sky Londa. We had warm weather and
beautiful views on the west side of OLH, but of course, not of us
had a camera to capture the moment. Upon regrouping at the top of
West OLH Millo pointed out his importance to the group dynamic, and
I believe we ought to create a special classification for this
complete with its own colored jersey. Rather than "most aggressive",
"King of the Mountains" or "Points Leader" Millo deserves the Social
Chair jersey for encouraging conversation among the group. Anyhow,
the run into Woodside was warm and fast. It felt almost like summer
yesterday, and yet it is still winter!
03/11/07- HE'LL REMEMBER THIS ONE FOR A
WHILE!Took Kevin (my 14-year-old son, not Kevin the
Pilot on our morning rides) on his first semi-classic Bay Area
climb- west-side Alpine. Why not? We'd already done the east side,
finishing up with "walking" Joaquim, a month or so ago. Time to
tackle something tougher, and longer, than anything he'd done
before. What a nice day to be out! Actually got readings in the low-80s
as we rode through Woodside on our way to Old LaHonda which,
thankfully, was just a few degrees cooler. Just one stop for Kevin
on Old LaHonda these days, and something like 43 minutes to get to
the top. Just a bit faster each time. Had a nice run down the other
side to LaHonda where, unfortunately, we weren't able to grab a
sandwich and had to settle a cliff bar, coke, and a bag of chips.
Yeah, I know, not the healthiest stuff in the world, but he was
really hoping for a sandwich. Next time we make something and bring
it with us. West Alpine didn't disappoint. Very pleasant temps (low 70s the
entire way up), with more water in the creek than I would have
thought, given our recent lack of rain. I'd by lying if I said that
Kevin really enjoyed the climb, but he passed the time by counting
banana slugs (plentiful near the bottom of the climb, but
increasingly rare as we gained altitude). We took quite a few breaks
on the way up, roughly 400 feet of vertical gain apart. Funny thing
about 14 year olds. A couple times he was thinking it was too nasty
and we should call somebody to pick us up, but at no time would he
allow me to push him up the hill. Too much pride for that.
Fortunately, I know Kevin well enough to wait for his 2nd, 3rd,
4th & 5th winds to kick in, which they dutifully did, and always
just in time. Ultimately, it was the descent on 84 into Woodside
that probably made the ride worthwhile for him, as another cyclist
came alongside him and was talking about how they ought to ban cars
from the road, because they were slowing us down. I'm still not
entirely comfortable with the speed Kevin descends; he seems to be
having just a bit too much fun. Scariest thing is that he's not
bothered by the sound tires make when they encounter a bit of sand
or gravel, as he has yet to learn what it means to exceed the limits
Overall we're just a bit ahead of where I figured we'd be at
this point. It was about 41 miles with 4,000ft or so of climbing, so
I'd say he's ready for his first half-century soon. He still doesn't
get that the sore feeling you have in your legs the next day is a
good thing, not bad. But we're getting there.
03/08/07- THE GOOD DOCTOR BREATHED LIFE INTO
ME TODAY. Although I must admit that, upon arriving at
the start of the ride this morning and recognizing, from the way I
felt riding over the hill from my house, that I was definitely not
having a good day, I wasn't terribly happy to see Dr. George, one of
the fast climbers, who only shows up on our Tuesday ride... showing up
this Thursday morning! And my fears were confirmed, as George & Kevin
& Karl pushed on up the hill, leaving myself & Millo gasping for
whatever oxygen might be left in their wake. I was 100% spent by the time I got to the top of Kings and, as has
been the case for the last couple months, didn't even attempt to
contest (or even keep up with) Karl on the first sprint, the
short-but-endless climb past Swett Road. Karl rode on ahead of us,
maybe 100 meters or so, appearing to take the next sprint (Skeggs) by
default, until Dr. George comes riding past me and commands that I get
on his wheel, he's going to take me to Karl. Hey, who am I to refuse?
I doubt Karl was too happy though, given that he & George are Webcor
team mates. My legs held up long enough, just barely. And that... was just about the end of me. I was riding on fumes
the rest of the way, from the descent on west 84 to the climb back up
west-side Old LaHonda. Especially the climb back up west-side
03/06/07- WARMER WEATHER, FASTER RIDERS,
CROWDED ROADS. Tuesday brings out the big guns; Chris
(too young, too fast), George (too fast on the hills), Karl (too fast
overall), Kevin (too fast unless he's too overtrained), Millo & Eric
(too sensible). And me, just too dumb to realize what I'm up against.
But sure was nice this morning, with 100% dry roads (first time in
several weeks) and got up to 59 degrees on west-side Old LaHonda! A
good 16 degrees warmer than recent rides... winter looks to be on the
way out! Which makes sense, given that winter officially ends in just
a couple weeks. I have no clue what went on in the first three sprints, 'cuz I
wasn't there. The Karl/Chris/Kevin/George juggernaut blew me off the
back pretty quickly up on Skyline. Actually I did hear that Karl got
the big sprint into Sky L'Onda. But I wasn't about to let things go;
after a pretty wicked descent on 84 (the dry pavement brings out the
worst in us sometimes!) things got a bit split up. We regrouped on
Tripp, only to see Karl take off, possibly with eyes on that final
sprint. Thankfully Chris pulled me back within range, and it was
looking like the three of us were going to be going for it on Manuela.
Until... until we round the corner and see (1) rider on horseback, (3)
women walking/jogging on their morning coffee run, and (1) big red
jogging stroller with adult attached. Yikes!
We pretty much shut down, threaded the gauntlet, and then did a
half-hearted sprint for the remainder but, under my own rules, there
could be no winner (due to the traffic). Karl, I think it was Karl,
suggested we post signs out there telling people to keep the road
clear between 9:20-9:35am on Tuesday & Thursday mornings. I asked if
we should also send a copy to the county sheriff.
03/04/07- THE JUNIOR TRACK PROGRAM AT HELLYER PARK
VELODROME (San Jose) IS FANTASTIC... open to anyone
10-15 years old, and the guys running it (Rob Jensen, Glenn Kubacki,
Steven Woo and Andrew Lanier) make sure everyone has a great time,
regardless of their skill levels.
I've been working on my son for a while, trying to get him away from
video games and into riding a bike, and was making pretty slow
progress... until I got him to the track. He loves it. And now he's
even got the racing bug. He's got a long way to go (TV, video games &
junk food aren't good for the body), but this past Sunday, I saw real
Because in the win & out, a somewhat longer event that starts with 6
laps before getting to the sprints, he worked himself hard enough that
he threw up about halfway through... and kept going. That, in my book,
is cool. He's no longer laughing at Dad's oft-repeated remark "That
which doesn't kill you, makes you stronger." Now he believes.
03/01/07- OH DEER, AND MARCH IS
ONE-FOR-ONE.Pretty much our regular group for a
Thursday morning, with Karl, Kevin & Millo showing up at the start,
along with Nicole, who's puttin' on the miles in preparation for
RAAM (Race Across America), an insane endeavor, but somebody's got
to do it. Wouldn't be me; my ultimate nightmare would be that I'm on
a bike, in Kansas, it's dead-flat, the road is straight as an arrow,
and I've been fighting a headwind for 200 miles with another 150 to
Thankfully, that's about as removed from our Tuesday/Thursday
ride as you can get! We've got hills, the wind comes at you from all
manner of directions (although generally there's not much wind at
all), and the longest straight stretch of road is probably less than
half a mile. To me, that's pretty much heaven on a bike. But decidedly unheavenly was the fast pace at the start of the
ride, as Kevin & Karl bolted up the hill towards the park entrance,
where we removed excess layers of clothing while Kevin performed his
usual watering-the-plants duty. He needn't bother, since the roads
were quite wet and there was still a drop or two now & then. Millo &
Nicole caught up shortly, and then it was back up, up, & up. A
couple intervals for me, as I let Kevin & Karl drift upward ("drift"
makes it sound like something they do so easily, but the
truth is mostly that it's me drifting back), and then
race to catch them. That worked. Once. The second time, I got to
within maybe 10 meters before blowing a gasket. But, such efforts
really help improve my strength.
Karl, as usual, was the strongest in the group and simply rode
away from everyone on the sprint past Swett Road. I got my act in
gear for the remaining sprints, but I think people were relatively
sensible (and not going crazy fast) because of the wet pavement.
Did I mention that it was wet? This is March 1, 2007. Remember last
March? 28 out of 31 days, it rained. Thankfully, while we're 100%
rainy so far this month, the long-term forecast doesn't look too
bad. And speaking of things that don't look too bad, we came across
Chris, another one of our regulars, catching up to us on west-side
84. Nicole had previously headed back down Kings, but we were once
again up to battalion strength and ready to take on the world! And
what a world it was, and is. Sometimes, when you're doing your best
just to try and keep up, you're not thinking about how nice the air
smells, how beautiful the hills are, how odd it is that California
Poppies are blooming again (seems they do so at least twice a year).
But the interesting thing about these rides is the way you can play
them back in your mind, and it not only seems real, it seems really
But almost not nice at all was the scene as I crested Jefferson
on my return home. Not one, not two, but five deer, very
confused, just ahead of me in my lane. And traffic coming from the
other direction. My only option was to stop; these deer didn't have
a clue. They were boxed in, with a fence on one side and the hill on
the other. Two of the younger deer even ran right into the fence,
trying to get away from things. A pretty sad sight, really. Then
they ran across the road to the other side, couldn't get up the
hill, then back to my side, where one of the deer found an opening
beneath the fence, while the others headed back down the road a bit
until there was a place they could get up the hill. Amazing how long
it took for things to sort themselves out. Deer are certainly not
the smartest of our local wildlife!
02/27/07- AND BEHOLD, A GREAT BEAM OF LIGHT
SHONE FROM THE HEAVENS, AND KEVIN K WAS TRANSFORMED
A SPRINTER!Well, I had to come up with something
dramatic for this photo. Riding with me this morning during the calm
between two storms were Kevin, Karl and Millo. Well, Millo ditched
at the Huddart Park entrance, saying that we were riding too quickly
for him to do the interval training he needs. Needs for what???!!!
Especially this morning, which we were all taking things at a very
mild pace, partly due to road conditions (a "wintry mix" as they
say, with water, an icy slush, and maybe just a little bit of iced
pavement here & there), partly due to it being pretty darned cold
(how cold, I don't know, since I was riding my rain bike which
doesn't have a computer with temp on it, but up on Skyline, it was
feeling a whole lot colder than down below!), and partly because we
just felt like being a bit slow this morning. It was a beautiful morning though, with great visibility out
past the coast, and lots of special-effects fog (like seen in the
picture). Meanwhile, the battle of the scale continues. The lack of a
really tough Sunday ride is not doing my body any favors, and this
past weekend the scale showed a number I hadn't seen in over two
years. I might have to start getting up really early on Sundays so I
can get in a gnarly ride before church and later riding with my son.
Two years from now, could be that the most-challenging rides I'll do
will be those with my son. At least I hope so! But for now, I need
to feel the burn three days a week, not two, if I'm going to stay in
reasonable shape. And yes, sometimes I do wonder what it might be like to just get
out and ride, always at a reasonable pace, never pushing the limits,
just riding along because riding is fun. But that's a different
person; I have a need to compete with myself, to push myself to do
better, or at least deteriorate as little as possible. I still have
dreams that there are opportunities down the road to race again,
which means both climbing and sprinting better than I do now. I
still enjoy that feeling after a really hard ride, not just the
burn, but when you walk down steps and your calf muscles wince at
Yet I also wonder what it would be like to eat as much as I'd like
of things like chocolate cake and ice cream and macaroons and, yes,
even doughnuts. But it's an evil dream, and an empty one, because
you can't just say, hey, it's OK if I add 20 pounds. The problem is
that, if you eat the stuff you want, in the quantity you want, you
don't stabilize at a certain weight... you just might keep on adding
those 20 pounds over and over. And once is more than enough!
KUDOS FOR KARL!2nd place
for Karl at last weekend's Snelling Road Race. We may, or may not,
get an in-depth report for Karl's Corner. Definitely something worth
02/25/07- THIS COULD HAVE TURNED OUT BADLY,
but, fortunately, didn't. Sunday had been rather dark &
dreary, although from about noon-3pm or so, it didn't rain.
Obviously, that would have been the time to ride. But obviously,
that didn't work out. Don't even know why; things just got in the
way. By the time I could get out with my son, it was
beginning to rain. But, since it wasn't too cold, I figured this
would be a good time to get him out into the elements a bit, and
work on riding when the roads are wet and things are a bit less than
optimal. Not too much of a ride; up through Huddart Park via Greer
Road, and back down Kings. But enough to get a handle on how things
work (and don't) when wet.
The first, and fortunately only surprise, was when he ended up
stopping almost in the middle of an intersection. Twice. The first
time, I'm thinking, OK, he's learned his lesson, that won't happen
again. But when it happened a second time, it was obvious that
something wasn't quite right, so we stopped and talked about it.
Turned out that he thought that's just what happens when it's wet,
and that there's not much he could do about it. It didn't occur to
him that more pressure on the brake levers, and drying the rims out
a bit ahead of time, would help him stop more quickly. To say I was
caught off-guard is an understatement but, of course, that was
exactly why we were out there. So he could learn, and hopefully
learn without making some of the mistakes I did so many years ago.
From that point on, he was able to stop just fine.
Some day, he will leave some skin on the pavement. It's inevitable.
At least, it was certainly a part of my own experience as I rode
more and especially after starting to race. Still, I really don't
look forward to having to explain to my wife why it's OK that he's
lost a bunch of skin on his thigh and might need to go to Kaiser to
have things looked at & cleaned up. I did get a bit of a look into
that future a few months ago, when my daughter crashed on the track
(velodrome) and messed up her arm, requiring a sling for a few
weeks. Very little blood though. If Kevin's like me, he'll do
something a bit more spectacular. Not that it will hurt any more
than what happened to his sister, but it will certainly look more
impressive. And that's what will get me into trouble!
02/22/07- INSPIRED BY THE RAIN!
Or not, but as I'd gotten my rain bike in order for yesterday's ride
up Sierra Road (to watch the Tour of California)(where it was pretty
darned cold but didn't rain), I approached it with confidence as I
faced this-morning's stormy weather. Only Kevin faced it with me,
and it was rather fun riding up Kings at a moderate pace, listening
to the creeks and feeling more comfortable than I would have thought
(in terms of neither over-heating or being too cold). Could do the
west-side Old LaHonda loop due to time constraints (had to be in our
Los Altos store this morning, as my brother Steve was in Big Sur
photographing the Tour of California as it crossed the Bixby
Bridge). But I've always found it interesting that we can go out in
the rain, have a good time and even descend not all that much slower
than when it's dry, and not worry about crashing. So many people
assume that riding on wet roads=danger. Yes, if it's something
you're not used to, it can be. But if you're confident and stay
loose on the bike, don't panic, it's not all that bad. Besides, it's
fun that other people think you're crazy!
Truth? If it's going to be wet out, I look forward to hearing a
good, driving rain when I wake up. This morning the rain was never
all that heavy, but since, after 15 minutes out there, it doesn't
matter wet-wise if it's really coming down or just sprinkling, it
might as well really be coming down.
But, always, given the choice, I'd rather it was dry and
02/20/07- A LITTLE DIFFERENT THIS MORNING,with a smaller-than-normal group (just Karl & Erick; Millo had
earlier sent his regrets, don't know where George was, and Kevin was
off flying), but an opportunity to try something a bit different.
I've been doing just about all my climbing while standing lately, so
today I forced myself to stay in the saddle the entire way up Kings.
That was hard! I can't tell you how often I wanted to pop up
and stand on the pedals for a bit. To be perfectly honest, I held up
at the park entrance a bit over a minute for the re-group, and,
while idling, did in fact stand. But once underway, it was back in
the saddle. I assumed, incorrectly, that staying seated would
negatively affect my time up the hill, but that wasn't the case. I'm
slow either way! Actually, it was still under 30, including the
regroup, so I'm not complaining. In fact, I had that feeling that
maybe my legs were beginning to work again, that maybe I could get
some steam up and start gradually getting faster as we move out of
winter. Hey, you can always dream!
Karl was the usual motor Karl is, pulling us along Skyline and down
towards Old LaHonda. Gotta love that engine! Karl reminds me of the
Dr. Seuss book where there's a "Mike" that sits on the back of a
tandem, doing all the work. I can hang out in the front for a bit,
but not nearly as long, nor nearly as fast, as Karl. He almost took
me in the Sky L'Onda sprint too, managing to pass me at the bottom
almost fast enough to convince me that there'd be no point trying to
catch back up. Almost. But it's a very long sprint, so there's lots
of time to get back in the game. Won't be too long before Erick's
causing me trouble again; as I recall, he gets pretty fast when
things warm up.
BUT DID WE HAVE A FLOYD LANDIS SIGHTING ON TRIPP ROAD? On our
return Karl mentioned, as we passed three riders in the opposite
direction, that one of them looked like Floyd. Really? But I didn't
have my camera so chasing them down didn't seem like the thing to
do, and besides, what it if wasn't? Uh... oh, I thought you were
somebody else! I plan to see Floyd tomorrow night in San Jose (at a
fundraising event for his legal fees), so I'll ask.
(2/22/07-Turns out it wasn't Floyd)
02/18/07- READY FOR THE TOUR OF CALIFORNIA?
Burt, one of our guys in the Redwood City store, sure is! We were
exchanging emails last night at 1:30am. That's not too unusual for me
(I'm a late-night, not morning guy), but Burt? Burt's one of those
guys who gets up at 5am, especially if there's euro bike racing
coverage on. Last night he was simply too excited to sleep. I just
gave him a call shortly ago (about 9:45am); he was already in San
Francisco, several hours before the race starts!
Of course, the other bike race today
is the Pine Flat road race, where our Tuesday/Thursday-morning ride
will have 4 regulars going for the finish line! Chris, George, Karl &
Kevin- hope you all do great! Wish I could be there, but for two
reasons. First, the Tour of California. Second, I'd lose contact with
the main group on the first significant climb. Yep, those overpasses
Who will do best? Tough to say. Karl's got the most race-savvy head
on his shoulders, and can keep his cool when others might be losing
their logic to adrenalin. But if Chris is there at the end... he's got
a pretty decent sprint. Kevin could always end up in the right place
at the right time and power up the final climb alone, and George?
George could possibly get away on one of the climbs almost invisibly.
He's really fast uphill, but in an almost unassuming way. He doesn't
call attention to himself, but somehow gets their first. Hopefully
we'll have a full report tomorrow!
02/15/07- SOARING WITH THE EAGLES
well OK, so it was probably a Turkey Vulture, but it was pretty
cool. I'm heading down 84 towards Woodside, with Millo behind, and I
notice a shadow comes over me and heads up the road. Looking up I
see a very large bird, black, just floating maybe 10 feet
above me, seeming to follow the road. We shortly left it behind, but
it was really quite cool to see.
see... Karl, Millo, Eric and Chris this morning, a nicer,
slightly-warmer morning than usual. That was a good thing, since it
allowed me to use short-fingered gloves most of the ride, which
makes it a lot easier to use my camera. Why did I think it a good
idea to bring the camera this morning? Because there have been many ProTour Team sightings in the hills lately! Just a day or two ago,
the world champion, Bettini, was seen with his team on Kings Mtn. No
such luck for us though; the best(?) use of the camera was to get a
photo of me fixing my flat.
But the bird really was quite cool. Oh, one more thing. As we were
heading up west-side Old LaHonda, I noticed, way up on Skyline, the
silhouette of a larger and smaller Oak Tree. Very pretty, all alone.
Been there for ages, but this morning was the first time I noticed.
54-50-47-46-32. Chris, at 32, is kinda wrecking the age
curve! We won't give everyone else's age, but Millo's our most
"experienced" rider, I'm in the 50+ category, and Eric is just a
year older than Karl. We're hoping Chris will be wrecking the pack
(not by crashing them) on Sunday's Pine Flat road race. We'll have
pretty good representation there, with Chris, Karl, Kevin & George
all out for glory. Normally I wouldn't be picking Kevin as a
potential winner, since he's as strong as anyone out there but
doesn't have a strong sprint, but something's gotten into him
lately. Let you know on Monday!
02/13/07- AN OLD GEEZER TAKES THE WIN!
(Which, given the average age of our group, could be any of us...) Taking advantage of wet roads and tight clearances, Kevin (the
airline pilot, not my son) may have taken two "sprints" on
this-mornings ride. That would be precisely two more than he'd
normally get in a month, and even if there might have been some,
well, circumstances that worked in his favor, he was still first
across the line.
It was the usual motley crew, with Millo, Karl (who thought he was
running late so he short-cutted to Kings from Woodside, arriving at
the top before us), Kevin, George and... dang, I'm thinking there
were six of us, but I can only come up with five. Eric and Chris
were no-shows. Millo & I left a bit before George & Kevin, as George
was having a bit of a problem with a loose cleat, and I figured it
might be fun to see how far we could get before they caught us. It
also gave me a chance to work on intervals again, which do a lot
more for my strength that simply climbing as fast(?) as I can go.
The group rolled up and neutralized the first sprint (past Swett
Road) but then got a bit serious for Skeggs. I managed to gasp my
way to the line first, but the slippery pavement made things a bit
nervous. Kevin seemed not to care about wet pavement though, and got
the idea that, if he gapped us on the way to Skyline, he could take
the sprint near Sky L'Onda. He was right; we let him get about 50
meters ahead, and I'm thinking everything's casual, let it go, I
don't need to find out how slippery things are. That was his first
win this morning, as he took advantage of the fact that nobody else
was going for it. His second (unconfirmed but probable) win was a
bit more... interesting. Heading down Albion towards Olive Hill,
there's a bit of traffic with three people walking dogs, and
something else, might have been a car. Karl's alongside me (I didn't
get blown off before the sprint this time, although if he'd tried,
I'm sure I would have) as I start, but then after pulling ahead a
bit I had to shut down due to the traffic. But Kevin, behind me,
didn't shut down, he was going for it, and got a bit of a lead
before I got moving again. Since I'm reluctant to take the sprints
all the way into Olive Hill (past the stop sign), Kevin got it.
Quite the opportunist at times! Maybe next time I'll just pull up
alongside him and we'll go man-to-man. Or geezer-to-geezer.
But more interesting than any of that stuff is another group out
there riding just in front of us. Seems we've inspired some
others to do the same route on Tuesdays & Thursdays. Today there
were three of them, whom we caught at the top of west-side Old
LaHonda. Could be the case in a while that we'll be the ones leaving
early and they'll be catching us!
02/11/07- ONE-WAY TICKET TO PARADISE.OK, so I probably oversold my son on the merits of a one-way
afternoon trip from Redwood City to Pescadero, over Old LaHonda and
the infamous Haskins Grade. Old LaHonda is getting a bit more
routine for him, although he still needs to stop once on the way up.
Seems like the slightly-less-steep Kings Mtn might be a bit easier
on him. At the top of Old LaHonda we met up with a number of people
who'd never ridden down the other side, but no takers today on my
offer to show them the sights and direct them back up 84. The roads
were still quite wet in places, but not dangerous, as we'd left late
enough (about 1:15pm) to let things dry off and settle down a bit.
At LaHonda we stopped for some "comfort food" at the Pioneer Market
(a bag of corn chips), and then proceeded up the longish Haskins
Grade. You know how sometimes you try and find something to take
your mind off the hard effort? Kevin started counting Banana Slugs.
13 of them on the way up, 14 total for the whole ride.
His descending skills continue to improve, but I'm torn between
riding in front of him (to moderate his pace a bit) or behind him
(to keep the cars off his back). For the time being I'm staying
behind, thinking it's probably safer keeping the cars at bay.
It's definitely a "long" 30 miles to Pescadero; when I told him
we'd gone 24 miles at one point, he was quite disappointed. Don't
know how many he thought we'd ridden, but it was a lot more than 24!
Got to point out the remnants of Flamingo House to him, although it
doesn't mean much when you tell somebody that instead of 5
flamingos, there's used to be several hundred. Unless they saw it
before, it's just hard to imagine. But once we got to the Pescadero bakery, he understood why I
chose that destination. Raspberry Crescent, part of a Cheese Pocket
and a Blueberry Scone were devoured in very short order! From there
we rode north on Stage Road to the infamous Machine Gun Man house,
which had been taken over by four male Peacocks, out strutting their
stuff in high fashion. Quite the sight to see! We continued on
riding north, making it exactly to the top of the first climb where
we met up with my daughter Becky, who'd driven the car out to pick
us up. Nice ride that we'll do again sometime, maybe getting a bit
02/08/07- RAMBLE IN THE RAIN
except that it really wasn't raining, but rather that annoying
messiness from overnight drizzle (it didn't really rain then
either), causing you to break out your rain bike for
not-enough-reason. If it's supposed to rain, then let it rain.
Really rain. It just doesn't make a whole lot of difference when
you're out riding whether it's seriously dumping on you or just
enough to mess up the roads, enough so that this morning, Millo
flatted on a piece of glass. Just Millo with me this morning; Karl
was probably hoping for (and got) better weather a bit later on.
Don't recall if Chris had an excuse ahead of time or not; Kevin was
off flying (working). Didn't see many others out there either, aside
from one guy heading down Kings while we were going up.
Only noteworthy observation was the complete lack of activity in the
creeks, until very near Skyline. Normally, you get more water lower
down, as the little creeks feed into each other and become bigger
creeks. Guess this rainfall is so wimpy the ground can soak it all
FRIENDS LIKE THESE... (Before reading this, keep in mind
that it's supposed to be humorous, not serious. When I "accuse"
someone of not playing fair, I'm joking. I wouldn't want things any
other way than how they are. It's a great group of guys, and if in
the process of riding with them I get run into the ground, all the
better. So when I mention that someone wasn't sprinting "fairly",
it's not to be taken literally, but in a self-deprecating manner. As
in, if I lose the sprint, they must be playing unfairly! As
if I'm that good!!! Guess I should have put a smiley at the end of
the final paragraph, and the context would have been more clear.)Tuesday morning's are usually
the larger, and more-aggressive, of our twice-weekly rides. Since
there's only one person who always shows up on Tuesday and never on
Thursdays, we'll say it his fault. That would be George. Besides
George, we had Chris (who arrived late and flew past me 2/3rds of
the way up the hill), Kevin, Karl, Millo and Eric. As soon as we hit
the base of the hill, all signs of civility disappeared, with Kevin,
Karl & George blasting ahead. I kept them in sight for maybe the
first 10 minutes or so; by the time I got to the hairpin halfway up
the climb, I was entirely alone. George & Millo having a pleasant
ride behind me, and the others somewhere way up ahead. Still, I was
having a better day than whoever had driven a car first into a tree
on one side of the road, and then 100 feet further down the hill,
into the dirt embankment. Reconstructing the incident as I was
riding took my mind, however briefly, away from the pain. Pain? Did
I say pain? How can I claim that cycling is fun if I'm going to use
a word like pain? Maybe because pain is a choice, not a requirement.
Except this morning.
Instead of formally regrouping at the top of Kings I did a very
short cool-down and, very unsociably, headed south on my own,
knowing that I needed the head start or I'd be blown off the back on
the gentle rise towards Swett Road. Plus I'm in no shape to contest
that particular sprint right now anyway. Karl catches up to me at
the top and, nice guy that I am, instead of sitting on his wheel for
the Skegg's sprint, I ride side-by-side, negating any tactical
advantage I'd otherwise have. This favor would not be returned later on. I held on for that one, and then
sucked wheels as the Kevin/Karl juggernaut blasted on towards Sky
L'Onda, blowing Erick & Millo off the back. For the final Skyline
sprint, Kevin was off the front for a bit, and it appeared that Karl
& George might actually be trying to block for him. No matter; it's
a moderately-long sprint with plenty of time to find your power. As
long as Todd's not around. When Todd rides, his initial surge is so
explosive it's difficult to catch his wheel. Darned near impossible
West-side Old LaHonda was anything but kind to me, as I watched
the rest of the group ride away from me. Guess my relatively-hard
ride on Sunday (West Alpine) was a bit tougher on me than I thought.
But that's OK; as they say, that which doesn't kill me makes me
stronger. But not so strong that I could hang on when Karl pushed
the pace ahead the final sprint in a way he knew I was likely to
come off the back, which I obligingly did. I have no idea who won
"my" sprint, because I wasn't there. Note to self- don't be too
concerned about trying to sprint "fairly" against Karl. With friends
like these... (this is where a "smiley" should have gone)
ADDENDUM- WHY WE RIDE, EPISODE #231Because you can soar like the birds.
Well, that's not exactly how it feels
when you're climbing up West
Alpine towards Skyline. On this particular day, I was pulling a
reasonably-hard pace, trying to
get back in time for the SuperBowl
commercials (isn't that what we watch it for?). But I'm noticing this
one very large bird,
probably a red-tailed hawk.
And what I'm noticing, as I'm forcing my way up the mountain, is that
this Hawk is just floating in the air. Not a single beat of the wings;
this guy's working the air currents. It was such an amazing thing that
I stopped in the middle of the climb and just watched him, for maybe
five minutes. Five minutes in which he'd float up, swoop down, catch
another updraft, circle around a bit and repeat. Without once flapping
Sometimes it's nice to be out there on your own, and if you see
something like that Hawk, just stop and watch. The cool thing about
riding a bike is that you'll notice things like that Hawk. Things
you'd never spot from a car, things you'd spend half the day hiking to
see, but on a bike, in an hour or two, you're there. You just get on
your bike and go for a ride. You might not soar like that Hawk, but I
can pretty much guarantee your spirits will be lifted.
02/04/07- 23 DEGREES OF
SEPARATION TODAY! By that I mean my afternoon cruise
out towards LaHonda and up West Alpine saw the temp get as high as 73
degrees, a good 23 higher than I've seen on one of our morning rides
in a very long time. I still wore leg warmers (it was a bit cool at
times), but sure was nice to dispense with the long-sleeve thermal
base layer, booties, & long-fingered gloves. Also nice to dispense
with the cold-weather lungs as well, although the legs gave me enough
of a limitation.
One of the more humbling experiences was trying to keep up with a
guy on a hybrid (yes, really!) going up Old LaHonda. I wasn't trying
to kill myself, but still, this guy (Doug) had a bike probably 10
pounds heavier than mine, maybe more, and certainly didn't have the
low rolling resistance of my setup. What he obviously did have, in
abundance, was great shape. And no, he wasn't a young guy either;
probably even had a few years on me. But I at least did teach him
something; he'd never been down the west side of Old LaHonda, so I
pretty much insisted on a guided personal tour. It still amazes me how
many cyclists have been up on Skyline but never ridden the "back" side
of Old LaHonda.
I did see a very large number of Chain Reaction bikes out on the
road today, although the total number of bikes was a bit lower than
expected, probably because the Super Bowl was getting people out a bit
earlier than normal, so they'd get back in time.
02/01/07- I'M MOVING TO
ARIZONA DURING THE WINTER. No, not really, but I'm just
not weathering the cooler weather like I used to. It's not as if it's
even that cold; the lowest temp we saw this morning was 39 degrees,
and for most of the climb it was 41. People in the midwest would kill
for a day like this right now!
Small group, just Karl & Eric, although we were joined for a short
time at the start by Ted & Joe, two guys from my old, old racing days.
They split off at Trip Road while we headed up the hill, a
tougher-than-it-should-have-been effort just under 30 minutes. As
usual lately, I've been a bit tapped out, and didn't take part in the
first sprint past Swett Road, but did manage to get by Karl at the
last moment at Skeggs as well as the final Skyline sprint. Normally
that wouldn't be such a big deal, but there's a small matter of pride
at stake after Karl's piece on 1/31!
CAN I POSSIBLY SAY BETTER THAN KARL'S ENTRY BELOW? Except
the obvious... they really are out to get me! --Mike--
01/30/07-LOCAL ALTO VELO RIDER TAKES
3rd CONSECUTIVE FINAL OLIVE HILL SPRINT ON MIKE'S CHAIN REACTION
Karl's Korner entry follows-
I (this is Karl speaking, not Mike) am compelled to dust off
Karl’s Korner and proclaim to the world my heroic exploits of the
unprecedented collection of wins of the final sprint of our ride.
Actually, each win was quite different and here are the details.
I have been stepping up my intensity level for upcoming road racing
that will start in just 2.5 weeks for me. This translates to more
frequent attacks, surges and contending for the various sprint
points in our ride.
The Olive Hill sprint is always the hardest for me to win for some
reason. Without a doubt Mike and Todd are faster sprinters that I
and nearly always beat me, but it is still worth trying for the
tactical practice and training. My first win last Tuesday was how I
have dreamed of doing it, from a ways out. Its my only chance
against Mike. I have not had the fitness to get and hold a gap on
flats or slightly uphill section leading into the sprint ...until
this day. I had done some other hard efforts along the ride and was
reeling from the new harder intensity level! I felt great
immediately afterwards and for hours later as well, calm and
satisfied and very much alive. I think that it also helped that I
had drilled it on the little rise at the base of Hwy 84 decent, with
only Mike shadowing me.
Win # 2 was a teamwork effort with Millo. Millo was riding the best
I have seen him on both hills and flats on this day. We two got off
the front on Skyline and then again at the base of 84 and traded
pulls all the way through the maze. I was not sure if we two
temporary teammates would contend for the sprint or just coast
across as a team, well ahead of the others. But I was wrong as Millo
proceeded to wind things up at 150 m out. I was fired up and think
that I edged him out at the end (a stop sign!). Wow that was fun and
really simulated the finishes of races of where things tend to ramp
Today’s final win was only at the sacrifice of Chris, who
volunteered to both pull me back up to Mike and Kevin, drive the
pace once we regrouped and then do a final leadout up the gradual
rise about 500m out from the line. Earlier Chris was quite torturing
me on the climbs with his own surges, so maybe he felt some pity for
this old guy. I should have eased up and let him have video recorded
victory for his hard efforts. All this was only possible for going
from far out to tire Mike, Todd was not there, George was getting
over a cold and Millo was filming instead of riding with his young
son Chris. But , a win is a win, especially on this ride!
That’s my story and I am sticking to it. Its not about me, but the
pain and fun that tends to bond us together and compel each of us to
wake up in the dark, two days a week and brave the freezing cold
temps, ice, sand, crazy drivers, water, fog, rocks, etc. mostly
because we know that the others will be there and maybe this will be
my day to win the final sprint on Olive Hill!
01/27/07- WHAT IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN
TIME?I'm doing a bit of research on some
components used in old bikes, and come across a reference to a website
dealing with vintage Gitane bicycles. There was a section devoted to
old catalogs, so I did a bit of looking and, sure enough, there it
The Catalog. The one that convinced me that I had to buy a
Tour de France. That's even the color of the bike I chose, in the
picture. Gitane Green. The catalog that expanded my horizons of
what you could do on a bike, by showing me that you couldn't just race
on a bike, but
them to go places as well.I even remember telling my dad that the bike I wanted to buy,
the bike that could get me started in racing was the less-expensive
Interclub model, which, at $135 (back in 1971 that was a fair
amount of money) was pushing things as far as I thought I could. Once
I had him convinced it was a reasonable thing to do, I then skillfully
moved the target bike to the Tour de France, a bike that I felt was
exactly right. And, at $199 plus an extra $37 delivery due to a dock
strike (so bikes had to be air-freighted in), it was all that I could
possibly afford at the time.
The typical teenage boy at that time was most-certainly spending his
time looking at car ads and dreaming of getting his license the day he
turned 16. I was not that boy. From my first Schwinn catalog to
the Gitane in the links above, I dreamed of bikes. So much so that I
didn't even get a driver's license until I was 18. The kid in the
movie "Breaking Away"- that was me. Except that I didn't shave my
legs. Everything else was pretty darned close.
I've thought about that catalog from time to time, and when
looking through old papers and magazines that I wrote for back in the
day, have often hoped that I'd come across one, buried somewhere. And
now I have.
01/25/07- NOT SO SURE I WAS GOING TO BE OUT
ON A BIKE THIS MORNING,after suffering through a fast-moving bout of the infamous "norovirus"
Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. At 50 you're a bit old for such
undignified things as spending hours studying how style & function
come together for the common toilet, but that's literally where I was
at. I was so bad off I took perhaps my 3rd sick day in 27 years at the
shop, although truth be told, by 8am Wednesday the only thing I was
suffering from was exhaustion. Which was pretty much cured by a good
night's sleep, allowing me to wake up quite ready to ride this
morning! Not only that, but about 4 pounds lighter as well. Oh yeah,
sure, tell me it's water weight. So? Maybe that extra 8 pounds or so
I've been carrying lately was water weight too! Fat chance.
A big group for a Thursday, with Kevin, Karl, Millo, Eric, John (I
think; he came out a couple weeks ago)... seems like I'm leaving
someone out. A bit warmer than most rides lately, with 43 degrees at
the start. Unfortunately, it was also a bit cooler than most rides
lately, or at least felt that way, due to a bit of dampness (and a
hint of fog) in the air. Nor did it warm up; it was still 43 when we
So what's it like riding just after having been nastily-sick shortly
before? Nice. Very nice. The legs still work, the lungs still don't
quite work, and at mile 20 I felt like I was on mile 50. I struggled
to make it up Kings in under 30 minutes, and then stayed either near
or off the back a bit for the rest of the ride. But I got back home
feeling infinitely better than the night before.
01/23/07- ON A GOOD DAY, EVERYTHING SEEMS
TO BE IN SLOW MOTION.So I guess this morning was a
good day, the first one in a very, very long time. It started out
with the scale showing just the slightest drop in weight (and yeah,
I stepped on it several times, just to make sure the needle wasn't
stuck higher than it should be. Fat chance. So to speak.) It's still
too darned cold, but, at 34, quite a bit nicer than 30. You'd think
4 degrees wouldn't make that much difference, but it does.
Fairly large group, and I'll try to remember everyone. Eric,
Karl, George, Chris & Millo. A bit of a ragged pace up Kings, but
that was fine with me, as I got a chance to alternately ride slow
and not-quite-as-slow (my heart rate would indicate I was riding
quite fast, but...). I rode a bit ahead of the group on Skyline,
setting up to get a photo of the wild sprint past Swett Road, but
Karl & Millo casually cruised over the top together, followed
shortly by the rest, with no sprint. I jumped back in and had the
first of my slow-motion experiences at Skeggs. A successful sprint,
for me, seems to take forever. And that's a good thing. Time is on
your side; people don't sprint well often because they give up too
soon. Sit back and watch what goes on, look for the opportunities
and make it happen. Don't give up, because you've got time to
recover. Sometimes it seems like hours and hours. Unless Todd's with
us; he just rides off into the sunset, due to an initial
acceleration that I just can't overcome.
Just after Tripp road we came across a couple other guys out for a
ride; as we rode by I distinctly heard one of them mentioning
something about us being the "Chain Reaction ride." I could not
determine if that was a good or bad thing to him. We're a friendly, civilized group, so on the return through
Woodside, Chris, Karl & George ride hard enough to gap me and
causing me to give up long before we even get to the sprint. Karl
took it after Chris's long leadout caused him to die. Karl said
something about getting revenge on the sprinters; I pretended not to
hear. I would so much rather be known as a climber. Hey, if I could
handle turning 50 last year, you'd think I could finally surrender
the idea that I can climb. Don't get me wrong; climbing is what I
enjoy doing more than anything else. I'm just not so good at it
anymore, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that when
I could climb well, I was 6' and 133lbs. My best racing was at
154lbs (more endurance and at least a hint of a sprint, and just a
little bit slower on the hills). Now, on a good posture day, I'm 6'
and weigh... let's just say I weigh about 7 pounds more than the 170
I should weigh.
01/21/07- FOR ABOUT 20 MINUTES OR SO, MY
SON HAD ME RIDING PRETTY DARNED HARD. Normally, Kevin
climbs at about half the speed I do. Normally. But this afternoon, as
we're riding over Jefferson towards Canada, I notice that Kevin
doesn't have his sunglasses on, and, when asked, turns out he'd left
them at home. So I give him my cell phone, tell him to ride on ahead,
and I'll catch up. Shouldn't take too long, right? I mean, once he
gets to Kings, I'm going to catch up very quickly. Maybe even before
Didn't turn out quite that way. You see, as soon as I turned
around, Kevin decides he's going to ride hard and force me to work to
catch him. And work I did; I kinda expected to find him on Manuella or
just starting up Kings, but no. I keep on riding, thinking, geez, did
he get confused about where we were riding? I finally catch up
to him just before the first hairpin, after climbing several hundred
feet. Evidence that he was trying to prove something came quickly, as
he'd spent just about everything he had up to that point. With a bit
of practice, he might do well at pursuit races on the track.
"WE'RE GETTING VERY GOOD RIDING ON ICE" Millo mentioned, as we encountered yet another patch,
this time on west-side Old LaHonda. Just Millo & Kevin this morning,
no sign of Karl. Not that we waited terribly long for him to show
up, given that he's riding strongly enough that he wouldn't have had
a problem catching up to us. Not quite as cold as the past few
rides, with the computer showing 32 for the low. Skyline was a
downright-pleasant 43 degrees at times, but even so there was enough
ice here & there that we called off any sprints. Most of the ice was
on the upper part of Kings, near the top hairpin and just beyond (as
seen in the photo). A bit of snow too, but nothing to write home
about. By far the largest concentration of ice was at the Sky L'Onda
intersection where, if we'd waited around a bit, I'm sure we would
have seen some cars doing really stupid things. Kevin only rode as far as the top of Kings, and was looking even
deader than I was. However, he'd ridden a training ride out to the
coast yesterday, and had already been swimming this morning. I have
no such excuses, just a tired feeling in legs that have had about
enough of this cold weather. Not only tired legs, but a body that
seems to think the continuing cold is an excuse to hibernate and
throw me a real scare when I got on the scale. Yikes. Haven't seen
the likes of that for maybe two years. But at least I have much less
fear of ice than I used to! Right now I'd trade such capabilities
for warmer weather in an instant. What I feel I could really use,
right now, would be a moderate-paced 70 mile ride in 55 degree+
temps. The idea of 90 mile rides in France on days when it's 95
degrees and 90+% humidity seem quite... foreign. At least for now.
I'm ready for spring. I just hope I'm not carrying more than a few
spare tires by the time it arrives!
YOU EVEN HAVE TO ASK? DARN RIGHT IT WAS COLD!Just
exactly how cold I'm not sure, since my computer has a bit of a lag on
its temp reading, causing it to average things out over a period of
time. I know that the thermometer outside my house said 26 degrees
when I left; I know that was cold enough that I could have cared less
that the balaclava I finally found hadn't been washed; I know that the
streets had a whitish coat of ice crystals that gave a mildly-pleasant
crunching as you rode, and yet traction didn't seem to be an issue.
Millo, Karl and George rode with me this morning, on what was
hopefully the end of our current cold snap. It's been at least three
years since we've seen temps like these, and longer than that since
we've seen them last more than a couple of days. Karl & George seem to
be in pretty good shape these days, which is good, since they can keep
each other company. Me? I've got Millo to keep me company, and if
that's not enough, there's always the sound of my cold-weather
Truthfully, it didn't seem quite as cold as it was, probably
because I'm beginning to get used to it, and have been learning as I
go along how to dress appropriately. This morning I added something
new to my cold-weather arsenel. Hopefully all of us who are silly
enough to ride when it's below (or even close to) freezing use
cold-weather booties over our shoes. But while booties make the ride
survivable, you'll still have that wonderful feeling in the shower as
you thaw out, where your toes half-itch and half-hurt, and look a
color of purple that you didn't find in your box of crayolas growing
up. So what's my no-longer-secret for keeping my toes comfy? Simple.
Put a pair of Kucharik toe warmers over the front of your shoes, and
then the booties over those. I didn't know it would actually work, it
just seemed like something to try. They worked great! No
itching, no pain, no numbness, not even that ugly color of purple. You
gotta try it!
BRRRRR. WIMPS ARE US. ME ANYWAY.And this is just the
beginning; it's supposedly going to be even colder tomorrow morning.
But that's OK, since I don't ride on Friday mornings. Today will
have to have been enough. And when you wake up, look at the outside
thermometer and it says 30 degrees... you can pretty much assume it
will be enough. By the time I got out the door it had warmed up to
maybe 33, but we hit 30 in Woodside. Climbing Kings is always good
for a temp boost, and that was the case today. At the "window"
(before the park entrance, where you look to the right and see
Canada College) it was a toasty 36 degrees, so we (that would be
Kevin, Karl, Millo and newcomer John) stopped at the park to remove
our jackets. John was initially apologizing for how long it was
going to take him getting up the hill, but his sincerity was in
question a short time later, as he seemed to have little trouble. He
wasn't able to do the entire ride with us due to having to get to
work by 9:30, but when he can, he won't be bringing up the rear. That didn't last. It was back down to 32 degrees on Skyline, and
stayed there all the way to Sky L'Onda. On average, this may have
been our coldest ride in a number of years. We never saw 40 until we
got back into Woodside on the return. Truth be told, it didn't seem that bad when we were out there
riding, but as my fingers and toes continue to thaw (and it's now
1pm, 4 hours later), with dry chapped skin that's not only annoying
but suffering from something like little paper cuts... it did take
Would I have rather not ridden? Stayed home in a warm bed,
thinking how smart it was that I was inside while other fools were
out riding? Absolutely not. As long as it's warm enough that
molecules still move, the only time I'll feel truly alive is when
I'm out on my bike.But not quite as alive as Karl, who looks
to be working back into racing shape. I had naively hoped that his
idea of an "off season" would be more than a few weeks long.
01/09/07-13- 29- 37. IT'S ALL IN THE NUMBERS.
13? That would be the number of feet climbed on
Skyline, at the end of the flat/slightly-downhill section before the
descent into Sky L'Onda (coming from King's Mtn). That dreadful
nasty little rise that causes you to suffer like a dog 'cuz you're
trying to hang onto someone's wheel. 13 lousy feet. That's it.
29? That would be about the time
it took to claw my way up King's Mtn this morning, a fair amount
longer than it took Kevin & George. I started up pretty strongly,
despite having some issues breathing in the cold (more on that
shortly), but on the steeper sections, I felt like I died a thousand
deaths. I finished about 28:52 (about?), but it felt like so much
more... or less. Unquestionably I could be doing better if I hit up
Alto Velo "A" rides on Sundays, but right now priority #1 is to
get my 14-year-old out on his bike, and it's going to be a couple
years before he's ready for something like that. But y'know, it
wasn't that long ago I might have thought he'd never be up to
that, but he's progressing nicely. It still takes him almost exactly
twice the amount of time it would take me to get up the hill
(whether that hill be Kings or Old LaHonda), but his confidence is
improving, his cornering is much better, and he doesn't actually
enjoy climbing, but accepts it as a requirement for the reward
(descending). In that way he's quite different from his Dad, who
always preferred the climb to the descent.
37? That would be the
temperature at the start of the climb. And that would also be about
8 degrees colder than my lungs find workable. 45 degrees & up and
there's no wheezing, none of that raspy sick steam-engine sound,
like someone needs to drain the gunk from the bottom of the tank.
Above 45 my breathing is just as loud, but it's more of a healthy
Karl, George, Chris, Millo... seems like I'm leaving somebody out,
but Kevin called on my cell phone, saying he couldn't make it
because he had to "work." Kevin's a pilot, and has to "work" on a
schedule the rest of us are quite envious of. In fact, he can pretty
much choose his schedule to accommodate any ride he wants to do, so
I guess the real question is, why didn't he want to ride with us
A REALLY TOUGH GUY OUT ON THE ROAD TODAY, and I'm not
talking about my son finally getting to the top of Kings Mtn in less
than an hour. I'm talking about the guy we passed (yes, we actually
passed someone heading up the hill). We saw him as we passed the
entrance to Huddart Park, and finally passed him at the wide clearing,
about 2/3rds of the way up. What made him so tough is that he'd broken
(or several?) of his ribs in a skiing accident just last week, so each
breath was quite painful. That's him in the photo on the right, on the
section of road just above the hairpin that precedes the "2 miles to
go" marker on the pavement. He was in for a pretty long day, but was
smiling all the way.
A bit later we came across a regular reader of our website, but
darned if I can remember if his name was Gary or Garrett. He did
mention he was a Western Wheeler. That's him in the photo to the left.(Got an email from him a couple days later- it's Gary)
And yes, it was a beautiful day to be out on a bike, with temps
starting around 63 and cooling off to 50 up on Skyline. Kevin felt a
bit overdressed in Woodside, and was thankful that it quickly cooled
once we began climbing Kings. Just one stop this time, below the
hairpin where I took the photo of the guy with the broken rib. Looking
at our time I knew we couldn't stop too long, maybe a minute and a
half or so and we were back at it. Having a rabbit (the guy with the
broken rib) in front probably helped, although when I told Kevin we
had a rabbit to chase, he kept looking around for... rabbits. Sigh. We ate outside at Alice's this time, under one of those heat
thingees that can make it quite comfortable even on a cooler day. Hot
chocolate isn't an option on such days, it's a requirement
(substituting for the canned lemonade we order on warmer days). I
ordered a Yamaha (teriyaki chicken, pineapple & jack cheese) while
Kevin had a Suzuki (same but with hamburger instead of chicken). Both
grilled to perfection, as they say.
Lots of others out there on bikes, which shouldn't be too
surprising. Green Webcor jerseys were everywhere! Makes sense, given
their ride was a collection of assaults and descents on Skyline,
including Kings. Since we got off to a late start (just after noon),
we were seeing what was left of their ride, in scattered bits & pieces
by that time.
What's next for Kevin (the 14-year-old version)? Good question.
Kings, 84 & Old LaHonda are all under his belt. Page Mill would seem a
bit on the cruel side, with those long steep pitches beyond what he'd
consider fun at the moment. Doing Skyline/35 heading south from 92
would be logical, were it not for the traffic on 92, which is best
dealt with by riders strong enough to get through the corners quickly.
My best guess is that he might be ready for a Tunitas loop by
sometime in the summer, but definitely not now. Maybe a
LaHonda/Pescadero/San Gregorio loop, starting in LaHonda. That might
be a good way to introduce him to some new territory without killing
him off. Yes, that might be just the ticket!
CONSTANT HEAVY DRIZZLE, OR WAS IT LIGHT RAIN?Never in
question that it would be a day for the rain bikes to come out, with
the messy and slightly-slick roads favoring a bit wider tires and, for
the sake of being kind to someone drafting, fenders to keep them from
eating the spray off your rear wheel. Just Millo & Kevin this morning,
as more-sensible people probably caught wind of the fact that the
latest killer storm was going to fizzle out completely by early
afternoon.I had to ditch the west-side Old LaHonda loop in
order to get back in time to see my daughter off to college (again...
seems like she's at home as much as she's at school!). Hopefully
Sunday I'll get a good ride in with my 14-year-old.
JUST ABOUT ALL THE REGULARS SHOWED UP THIS MORNING. just a day after many of us had climbed Mt. Hamilton (which has become
a New Year's Day ritual for many of us). Karl, Millo, George, Kevin,
Todd & Chris. Good thing I had my camera and got a group photo on
west-side Old LaHonda, or I wouldn't have remembered everyone. The
climb up Kings was very, very slow, and notably absent (at the time)
were Karl & George (Karl had flatted on the way to the start). They
caught up with us at the top though. Don't think anyone was feeling
especially fast this morning, with the possible exception of Chris
who, if his legs haven't failed him (which they rarely do), always
seems to appear strong. Maybe it's just one of those
not-nearly-50-like-the-rest-of-us things (aside from Todd who also
tends to have a bit more zip than the rest of us, and, coincidentally,
also happens to be about half our age).
A very nice morning, with it feeling a bit warmer than the temp
indicated... the opposite of how the top of Mt. Hamilton always feels
a whole lot colder than the computer says. And, according to the
weatherman, a whole lot nicer than it's supposed to be for our ride on
Thursday (wind & rain, yuck!). But we'll be there. Some of us, anyway.
Myself, Kevin & Millo are the likely suspects to be out there when
most sane people are putting their bikes onto a trainer in front of a
TV showing their favorite Tour de France stage. What fun is that?
GREAT DAY ON MT HAMILTON! Got to share the climb
with a whole lot of other people, probably more than I've ever seen on
New Year's Day before. I've put some
photos up on our Picasa site; I'll get around to labeling them
shortly. We did hear of one nasty accident, requiring that somebody be
flown out by helicopter, but don't have any details yet, other than
the person originally being knocked out but shortly afterwards was
alert and sitting up.
Mt Hamilton ride New
Year's Day!We've got
various links to rides we've done here,
here, and here.
We'll leave from the base (Alum Rock and Mt. Hamilton Road) at
8:45am; very fast riders will make it to the top around 10am
(not the people I can ride with!), moderately fast riders around
10:30. If your Old LaHonda times run over 30 minutes, you might want
to leave a half hour earlier or so if you want the "group
experience" at the top. It's a very long climb (about 20
miles), punctuated with two descents on the way up. Faster riders
will be back at the start around noon; for some, it could be as late
No food or water anywhere but the top, and the "food" is candy from
a vending machine. But the views can be spectacular, and you'll know
for the rest of the year that at least you accomplished something on
This isn't a group ride per se, so if you want to be sure you're
riding with others, bring them along! The more the merrier. And yes,
we'll get photos up either late that evening or the next day.
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