Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Not denied ! :)

Yay - I went to give blood today & this time my hematocrit was high enough.

And so, I earned my place in this world for at least one more day. :^)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Caught on YouTube!

My friend Daniel (aka Lanceoldstrong) emailed me today with a surprising discovery: a video of me hauling my lardbutt up Sierra Road before Stage 3 of the Tour of California a couple of years ago!

What style, what strength, what panache! uh, right.

I wonder if the caption in Japanese on the YouTube page reads "fat slow American lumbering up hill".
Smiley from millan.net

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Denied! :(

I received an email yesterday from the Blood Centers of the Pacific informing me that 8 weeks passed since my last donation and I was eligible to donate again.

After work I dutifully trooped over to the nearby Redwood City donation center. I had read about their new ALYX system which collects two units of red cells at once from donors, and I was keen to give it a try. Double karma points!

In order to donate a double supply of red cells, a donor has to weigh at least 150 lbs (not a problem for me at the moment!) and have a hematocrit of at least 40. For a standard blood donation, the hematocrit has to be at least 38.

Mine was 36. Crud!!
Smiley from millan.net
So I'll start popping the One-A-Days again, and try again in a couple of weeks.

Or in other words, "Ahhhl be bahhk"

Monday, December 15, 2008

Am I freakin' NUTZ?!? (or, my goal for 2009)

Yes, I suppose I am. :^)

Starting in early February, I'll be training for the Death Ride with Team in Training. Yes, you read it right, The Death Ride. That's what it's called. It's also known as the Tour of the California Alps, but somehow Death Ride seems more apropos. We're talking 15,000 feet of climbing on five passes over 129 miles. At altitude. Booyah.

The structured TnT training program is just what I need. My friend Sarah (aka maillotpois) will be one of the coaches of our group, and I'm really looking forward to working with her. She's wonderfully upbeat and a great motivator.

So, my goal for 2009 is to complete all five freakin' passes of the Death Ride on July 11. Everything else I accomplish, cycling-wise, will be incidental to that.

But of course I'll be sharing all my Adventures in Training here with you, my dear readers!

And just so you know, I'll be hitting up friends, family and other willing parties for donations towards my fundraising goal for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society - a very fine organization and an excellent cause. :^)

And what after mid-July?

Crater Lake would be nice ... but, first things first.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fat & Slow

... and doing something about it.

Gahhh. I rode with some friends up Mt. Hamliton on Saturday and I was simply awful. Slow, lethargic, so much so that I couldn't even reach the freakin' summit. Well, to be more precise, I didn't want to reach the freakin' summit. I was tired!

Then I got on the scale the next day. 160 pounds - double gahhhh.

I'm tired of being the last one up the climbs all the time. It's time to do something about it.

I dug out my long distance cycling book and my RBR book and did some web surfing, and it's becoming apparent that I need to build up my strength this winter, especially my leg strength.

So, I'm starting a resistance training program. I came across a nifty site called SparkPeople which has a good exercise database, and together with my books and web searches I set up a training plan that hopefully I can stick to & will show some results. I'm not using any weights at the moment, but maybe at some point I'll incorporate light dumbells.

SparkPeople also has a food tracking function similar to Weight Watchers online. I'm going to use this to keep track of what I eat. Maybe I can get under 150 lbs once and for all -- a girl can hope.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Boo hiss, California!

Keith Olberman said it much better than I - read (or better yet, listen) to what he had to say here

Here's an excerpt:
If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because, truly, I do not understand. Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don't want to deny you yours. They don't want to take anything away from you. They want what you want — a chance to be a little less alone in the world.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Back home

Lee & I are back home after a week in Massachusetts visiting with family and attending my niece's wedding.

Dang, it's beautiful out there. Too bad they have winter. :^)

My niece Nicole's wedding was lovely. It was held at Jiminy Peak in the Berkshires. The ceremony was a combination of Catholic and Jewish traditions - Nicole's husband Michael is Jewish. I gave a reading (since I'm Nikki's godmother). I'm happy to report I didn't trip on my high heels going up and back from the chuppa.

I was thrilled to finally meet Michael, he's a sweetheart. Best wishes and mazel tov to the couple!

And it was great to be re-acquainted with the family after a long separation. Stay in touch now guys, y'hear???

Sunday, October 5, 2008

SFR Winters 200K in the books

On Saturday I rode the SF Randonneurs 200K from Hercules to Winters & back, with V and Mel.

It rained overnight and more rain was predicted. I thought of bringing Pokey w fenders but I hadn't ridden him in ages & I had no time this week to check him out. So Dusty it was. Turns out we were sprinkled on only a little and the wet roads dried out by late morning. I was awfully grubby though, and Dusty is a mess. So it goes.

I had a great day. I was feeling very good and I (almost) never had those negative thoughts that plague me on long rides. Many of the roads we followed I'd ridden on at one time or another, so it was nice to go though sort of familiar territory. I did lots of rides with Sarah & Bill out this way, and they were in my thoughts a lot but luckily, SK's singing wasn't. We even went along much of the same route SK and I rode for the Jelly Belly ride, a training ride we volunteered to help lead many moons ago (which was memorable in an oh-my-gawd-can-you-believe-that sort of way ...).

It was one of those days when big ominous rain clouds would pass overhead but then be gone before they actually dumped on us. When the sun came out it was clear as glass, and the many vineyards we passed were starting to develop their fall colors. The repaved Wooden Valley Road was an absolute joy. Cruising along Wooden Valley with a big silly grin on my face, I couldn't help but marvel at how fortunate I am to be a cyclist living in the Bay Area.

The only big blah was after the penultimate checkpoint, when we were hit with the brunt of the afternoon post-storm wind as we were heading along the Carquinez Straight. Lake Herman Road was an absolute bear - generally uphill and full face into the wind. Gaaaaah. After the Lake Herman torture fest the four of us (me, Mel, V and Andrew) kindof-sortof stuck together and managed a paceline of sorts before the bridge thru Vallejo and after the bridge thru Rodeo.

But we finished, and all was well. I was DFL but so what, I felt great and it wasn't all that late - at least I didn't need the lights I brought :D

I'm really happy that I finally seem to be getting into the long distance groove. Three down!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

East Bay 200K

My other permanent route, the East Bay 200K, was approved back in May.

I made a couple of changes to the route over time, the most significant one between Martinez and Lafayette. After Martinez the route now goes back down Alhambra Valley Road then heads southeast on Reliez Valley Road back to Pleasant Hill Rd. RVR is a nice road, infinitely more pleasant than Taylor Blvd, although there is that stinker of a hill just before the end. So it goes. At least it's mostly flat or slightly downhill after that. Sort of.

The major climbs are Calaveras Rd, Palomares Rd, Redwood/Pinehurst/Canyon Rds, Alhambra Valley Rd (Pig Farm Hill) & Reliez Valley Rd, for a total elevation gain of about 7000 ft.

Here's the route on Bikely (click here for the more detailed map):

South Bay 215K

My South Bay 215K permanent was just approved by RUSA.

Update 10/13: Due to road construction and repaving on Silver Creek Valley Rd (SCVR) between miles 26-30, I strongly recommend that riders use the multiuse trail that runs alongside SCVR. This multiuse trail - some may call it a sidewalk :^) - is known as the Silver Creek Trail. By all indications bikes are perfectly legit on this trail; however, you will of course need to be aware and careful of pedestrians also using this trail.

Here's the route on Bikely (click here for the more detailed map):

Bikely's elevation chart shows about 3400 ft of climbing, but I'm listing it as 4000 ft in the RUSA database until someone actually rides the whole thing and proves otherwise. I'd rather overestimate than underestimate the amount of climbing.

At any rate, it should be considerably easier than my East Bay 200K. It might not be as scenic (although parts will still be very nice), but the roads will generally be good, with especially fun descents down Silver Creek Valley Rd in San Jose* and Woodside Rd in Woodside.

*Update 10/5: I drove out to Silver Creek Valley Road today and yes, the surface of the entire length of the road has been ground away for resurfacing. Signs say that the estimated completion is July 2009. RATS!!! I'd rather not take the route over this road, particularly over the long downhill section. I thought I might need to re-route up Hassler Parkway, which is a stinker of a climb, but I may be able to use the Silver Creek Trail instead. I'll do a test ride this coming weekend and submit the change to the RUSA permanents coordinator for approval.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ooops, I did it again

Or, amazing was a difference 30 degrees makes.

Since it looks like my new "flat" permanent route won't be approved for another week or so, I went & rode my EB200K again today.

Unlike two weeks ago, when V & I rode it during a record heat wave (smart, we were not), this weekend was lovely with nice cool temps.

Two weeks ago when I reached the mile 75 point I was thinking to myself "50 more miles? No way!!" and promptly made a beeline for the Orinda BART station. But today when I reached that same spot I was thinking "50 more miles? No problem!"

And I felt remarkably good at the end. Now if I could only climb a bit faster ....

More later. I need some shuteye.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Another permanent route in the works

(updated 9/9): I plotted out a new permanent route and submitted it to RUSA yesterday. The route will start out in Fremont near the BART station, head southward through San Jose and down to Gilroy, back up along the reservoirs and through Los Gatos, Saratoga, Portola Valley & Woodside, and then cross over the Dumbarton Bridge back to Fremont. It'll be about 134 miles (215K) and have less than 4000 ft of climbing. yay.

I plan to call it the South Bay 215K. Clever, huh?

Here's the route so far.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

"Am I really that slow?"

Someone posted a question to the Randon list recently asking about average speeds of randonneurs. There were some interesting replies, but this one by Dr Codfish was especially good.

(there was also this thread on speedwork which I thought was very useful)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I finally rode my own permanent route!

For the last few months I've been feeling like Such a Loser because I hadn't managed to ride my own East Bay 200K permanent route.

Granted, it's a fairly demanding route with 7000 ft of climbing over about 125 miles, but still, it's my own route so you'd think I could eeke it out once in a while. :p

Well, yesterday I finally rode it, and I'm pleased as punch!

After last weekend's reasonably successful Crater Lake Century, I realized I had nothing planned for this weekend so I thought it was a good a time as any to give my perm another try. I didn't tell anyone my plans (except Lee of course, who drove me out to the start in Dublin) in case I ended up bailing again.

My goal for this ride was simply to finish sometime within the allotted 13 & 1/2 hours. So I employed the time-honored "start slow & taper off" approach. I never really pushed on any of the climbs - except for the last climb on Reliez Valley Road, at which point forward momentum was a bit hard to come by (gahhh) - and I stopped a lot for photo ops, snacks, water, chatting with people, & nature breaks. All told it took me 12 hrs and 20 minutes to complete the ride, which is kind of lame (especially compared to others who have ridden this permanent) but hey, it's a start. With all the stops I took I'm pretty confident I will smash that elusive 12 hour barrier next time. :)

The day started out chilly, damp and foggy. The weather report said it would get to the low 90's inland so I wore a sleeveless jersey & bolero. Calaveras Road was very misty on the way up to and at the False Summit:

At the bottom of Calaveras I stopped at the first checkpoint, Christies Donuts, where I scarfed a couple of glazed donut holes - yum - and refilled my bottles. The overcast fog finally burned off by the time I reached Niles Canyon Road.

Heading up Palomares Road I passed a tarantua - my first Big Fuzzy Spider Sighting of the season! - toodling purposefully up the road. I took a couple of photos (in telephoto mode, natch) and thought of putting my foot near to him for a comparison pic, but I didn't want to run the risk of a heart attack so early into the ride if he chose to change course and climb on my foot. If you're like me you like to prepare yourself before viewing a photo of a Big Fuzzy Spider, so here it is.

Continuing up Palomares I was passed by a big group of vintage cars. Much nicer than the usual noisy obnoxious groups of corvettes and beemers and whatnot that like to bomb through that canyon.

Recently someone marked the road with mile markings indicating the distance to the summit. While the 4 and 3 mile markings weren't really thrilling, I definitely perked up when I say the 1 and the 1/2 mile markings. And this one was most certainly welcome:

I headed down the fun descent on the other side (40+ mph, whee!) and into Castro Valley. I stopped at the Willow Park golf course near the bottom of Redwood Road to use the restroom and have a snack, and I got chatting with a woman wearing an Oakland Yellowjackets jersey. Seems the Bike Against the Odds was being held that day (I totally forgot about it!) and she had just finished her volunteering stint and was out on her own ride. I spent entirely too long hanging out there, but it was nice.

I called Lee just as I was about to head out from the golf course to let him know how I was doing. He told me that after he dropped me off in Dublin he went over to Danville and rode up Mt. Diablo. While he was up there he saw Veronica and they chatted for a bit. He went and told her that I was out riding my permanent!! OK, I didn't tell him it was a secret or anything. But V told him "tell her she better finish!". Aw crud. No more riding under the radar. :p

Redwood Road was lovely, as always.

And hilly, as always.

At Pinehurst Road I starting seeing signs and route markings for the Bike Against the Odds ride, and for much of the next 40 miles or so I was following the BATO century route.

I reached the third checkpoint in Moraga only about 25 minutes before the closing time. While by then I had completed most of the climbing, I still had the long hot slog on Alhambra Valley Road and up Pig Farm Hill. I was starting to wonder if I'd make it to the fourth checkpoint in Martinez in time.

Although I was running a bit low on time, that didn't keep me from stopping again at the Starbucks in Orinda for the restroom, more water, and a slice of banana nut bread. That Starbucks was the last opportunity to top off my bottles for quite a while & I wasn't about to pass on it. The nut bread, well, I just felt like it.

Continuing down Camino Pablo I passed the intersection of Bear Creek Road and saw there were tents set up for the BATO ride. One of the tents had a LunaChix banner so I stopped to see if CindySue was there. Turns out I missed her by only a half hour, bummer. Probably for the best because I couldn't spare too much time chatting.

Luckily, there was a light cool breeze blowing on Castro Ranch and Alhambra Valley Roads so it wasn't as hot out there as it could have been.

But as I was slogging along AVR I started having my first major case of the Dreaded Self-Doubt (Why on earth am I doing this? Who am I kidding? and so on). I was seriously doubting I'd make the Martinez checkpoint in time. I decided I would check my time when I reached the intersection of AVR and Reliez Valley Road. I'd have about 8 miles to Martinez from there, and if it looked like I wouldn't make it to Martinez by the 5 pm checkpoint closing time, I would simply continue on Reliez Valley Road and head into Lafayette and take BART back home. I tried not to think of what V would have to say if I bailed yet again. :p

But in the meantime I still had to tackle that stinker, Pig Farm Hill:

Oddly enough, Pig Farm Hill wasn't too bad, I simply geared way down and chugged. I heard one guy come up rapidly behind me and I assumed he would pass by, but as the grade reached its 12-16% max I heard him emitting death throes. Meanwhile, my super-low gears & I just continued upward, slowly but surely. At the top I caught my breath and chatted with the guy in the photo (who was well ahead of me all the way up the hill) while he waited for his friend (the aforementioned Death Throe Guy). Guy in the photo really liked my Keen cycling sandals so we were discussing the merits of Keens and super-low gears, and Death Throe Guy soon appeared.

I bid my farewells and bombed down AVR. When I reached the intersection I checked the time. It was only 4 pm! I had a whole hour to ride 8 flat miles to the checkpoint! Yee-hah, I was actually going to do this!!!

I reached the checkpoint at 4:22, and headed out again at 4:30. I called Lee to let him know I thought would finish between 7 and 7:30. I was relieved that I'd likely finish before sunset.

A couple of weeks ago I changed the remaining route slightly. Instead of a long, shadeless slog up the very busy Taylor Blvd, the route now went back on AVR to the intersection with Reliez Valley Road and continued on RVR until it joined up with Pleasant Hill Road leading into Lafayette. It's a much more scenic, shady, less travelled route. Except I forgot about that last stinker of a climb before reaching Pleasant Hill Road. It occurs around mile 105 and it's nearly as difficult as Pig Farm Hill. But, at least it's in the shade. And once that's over with, that's it for the big climbs. Yay.

I can understand why V says she hates that last slog down Danville Bld. After Reliez Valley Road, I was more than ready to be DONE, dammit. Although it's flat & shady, Danville Blvd was hard - my legs were yelling "uncle!" and I had to stop to take a couple of ibuprophen. At least when I reached Railroad Ave I knew I only had 10 miles or so to go, and the last 5 miles on San Ramon Road was a slight downhill grade which was a definite plus. I rolled into the Safeway at about 7:05 pm, a very happy camper indeed.

After I cleaned up a bit in the lovely Safeway bathroom, Lee and I had a celebratory dinner at Bosco's in Sunol. They make a mean linguine with Dungeness crab! I probably shouldn't have eaten the whole thing, but geeze it was goood. I then slept for a good ten hours.

This morning I was pretty creaky but I did a quick easy spin along the AC Trail out to the bay & back, and I felt fine after that.

And still mighty pleased with myself! :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Crater Lake was wonderful!

This past Saturday, Lee & I rode the Crater Lake Century up in Oregon, along with Sarah, Bill, Kim & Mel.

More pics be here

We stayed at Jo's Motel (of course) in Ft. Klamath, which was located very close to the start which was tres convenient. We were there from Thurs through Monday; Sarah, Bill, and Kim were there Friday thru Sunday, and Mel stayed with us in our cabin on Friday night.

It was freakin' hot up there from Thursday onward. I did a short ride from the motel just to Mazama Village on Friday morning, and it was already very warm when I started out at 9 am. It worked out to about 32 miles and about 1800 ft of climbing. I started out at about 4000 ft elevation and I wasn't sure how the altitude would affect me, but turns out it wasn't particularly noticeable. The heat on the other hand, yeck! I knew the heat would be an issue so I took it easy.

Saturday we were all up at O'Dark Stupid and rode over to the museum where the ride began.

We started out with the first wave of riders at 6:30 - we were all very concerned about the heat (it was supposed to get even hotter than it was on Friday) so we wanted to get off to an early start and get up to the rim as soon as possible. We opted not to follow the full century route, which included about 20 miles or so of meandering around flat cow pastures to take the total distance up to 100 miles. Instead, we followed the metric route which took us directly up to the rim. That was an excellent plan because it indeed did get very hot up there and it would have been even worse for us if we arrived up there the hour or so later if we followed the full century route.

The grades on this ride were never particularly steep. The ride up to the rim averaged around 4% (some stretches of 2% and some brief 6-8% bits). On Rim Drive itself, many of the climbs were in the 6-8% range but I don't think there was much if any at 10%. The climbs were fairly long, and as the day wore on and the sun moved overhead there was very little shade. But the descents were a lot of fun! :^)

My one and only criticism about this ride was the lack of a water stop before the long hot climb leading up to the Mt Scott trailhead. There's apparently no water available at the various picnic areas along Rim Drive, and I went through nearly all of my water & Cytomax on that climb. At the very end of that climb there was an out & back section which took us out to the Cloud Cap overlook. After consulting the route sheet I realized that it was just an out & back, so I asked riders coming back if there was water available at the turnaround. When I found out there wasn't, I was too low on water to risk it (and I was whupped from the heat) so I skipped that portion and continued directly on to the rest stop at the Phantom Ship overlook. I think the organizers weren't prepared for the extreme heat but it sounds like they will add another water stop next year.

The roads for the most part were very good to excellent. Even the "bad" part, on the descent after Cloud Cap, wasn't bad at all compared to many California roads!

LeeBob was waiting for us in a bit of shade on the last long climb up from Vidae Falls. He had signed up for the Metric century, which would involve going counterclockwise on Rim Drive only as far as the Phantom Ship stop. He was feeling very good on the climb up to the rim so he decided to accompany us on the full route clockwise around the rim, but after a few miles he decided he'd be better off backtracking and head counterclockwise until he met up with us and/or went as far as he felt like going. When he saw how long the climb was from the bottom of Vidae Falls towards Phantom Ship, he decided he'd gone far enough, thenkew. :^)

When we all regrouped we continued on to the Visitor Center for more water, then for the fun descent back down to Ft. Klamath. It was very warm on the descent and especially along the last 8 miles or so of flatlands back to the start. We took the opportunity to stop at the Ft. Klamath General Store (which I call the Deliverance Store) to feast on ice cream bars before we rode the remaining 2 miles to the Klamath Museum for barbecue and our second desert of pie and ice cream.

It was still oppressively hot in the shade on the museum grounds so Lee took the cue from some others and practically submerged himself in the ice-cold stream running through the park. Happily, he has yet to show signs of hepatitis or bubonic plague or any other maladies that may have been lurking in that stream. :p Most of the rest of us were content with soaking our feet, which helped a lot.

Sarah on the other hand preferred to make good use of a buff soaked in ice-cold drinking water, embracing her inner Amish maiden.

The elevation gain fell way short of the advertised 7500 feet according to their Topo map. My CicloSport showed about 6100 feet, but I cut out a bit of climbing from bypassing the out & back to Cloud Cap. I'm very happy with how I did - I took it very easy on the climbs since I knew the heat would likely be a big problem for me if I didn't. So although I took it very slow, I survived, and enjoyed it immensely! :^)

This was a really great ride, and I'd love to do it again.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A lovely day out

Yesterday I went on a ride that was pretty much perfect.

I slept very late, and between that and lazing around watching the Olympics we had tivo'd the night before, I didn't get out until nearly noontime. It was pretty warm out by then but I figured a bit of heat acclimation would be Good For Me.

I took my usual route from home along the Alameda Creek Trail out to Niles Canyon Rd and up Palomares Rd. On account of the heat, I took it really easy on that climb, spending lots of quality time in my small chainring. Turns out I took 36 minutes, not great, but then again only a minute more than this past Thursday when I was pushing it some and ran out of gas at the steeper one-lane section. And this time I spun and felt fine all the way up. So there.

When I reached the other side of Palomares I was still feeling very good so I continued along the DMD route up Crow Canyon & Norris Canyon. I stopped at the mini-mart on Crow Cyn for some cold water & a Red Bull (say what you will about Red Bull, but I find nothing more refreshing on a hot hilly ride). The climb up Norris Cyn had little shade so again, no speed records were endangered. I doused my head & neck a bit with water at the top of Norris so the descent into San Ramon was delightfully almost cool.

I stopped for a bit at Livermore Cyclery on Dublin Blvd - OMG the air conditioning felt soooo good! - to buy some more cold water and a packet of Cytomax and use their rest room. I'm still not keen about the tropical fruit Cytomax flavor - I'll stay with orange. I then headed along Foothill into Sunol and along Niles Canyon back home. The AC Trail Wind Tunnel had kicked up by then but the wind off the bay felt very refreshing. All told about 64 miles and 2400 ft of climbing.

Throughout the ride I was downing lots Cytomax, Clif Shot Blocks (egad! fake food!!), a bit of Hammer Gel, and lots of water. That worked very well for me, I felt remarkably good despite the heat which normally bowls me over. That and the fact that I didn't push hard at all on the climbs. I'm really pleased with how this ride went - no aches, no pains, no energy lows, and I enjoyed every moment.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Where've I been?

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth, I've just been lazy. Riding stopped being fun so I kicked back for a couple of months but I'm gearing up again. High time since I'll be attempting the Crater Lake Century in Oregon in a couple of weeks.

Last weekend I rode up Mt. Hamilton (and set a new Personal Worst, bah) and this Saturday I'll be slogging up Mt. Diablo. That ought to get me ready. Bwah hah.

As for other fun goings-on this past summer, at the end of June Lee and I helped out at the Mazama overnight checkpoint for the Cascade 1200 Randonee up in WA state. We then headed down to Bend and spent the 4th of July weekend with Sarah & Bubba, and accompanied them on the Firecracker 100 metric century.

My East Bay 200K RUSA permanent is becoming fairly popular, and who knows, maybe someday I'll even manage to complete it myself.

Monday, May 19, 2008

My East Bay 200K RUSA permanent is up & running

... and the first DNF was me, naturally. :^)

This is a pretty challenging ride. I wanted to keep it for the most part on scenic roads, preferably shady, with little traffic. Alas, in the East Bay, that means climbing. I tried to keep it under 6000 ft of climbing, but between RUSA's constraints with respect to designing permanent routes, and my own self-imposed contstraint to avoid yukky urban sprawl as much as possible, the best I could do was about 7000 ft. Oh well, most of the studly randonneur types I know can do this easily.

Speaking of, congratulations to Veronica, aka Princess Zippy, the first finisher of the EB200 permanent !
Pending verification and rubber-stamping by RUSA, of course :^)

I started out strong & feeling fine. Veronica and I left the start point in Dublin at about 6 am, so it was very pleasantly cool out and the car traffic was about nil.

Calaveras Road was lovely. Along the way we passed a couple of deer, some quail darted across the road in front of us (quail are so doofy, they always make me laugh), and lots of turkeys - the bird kind, that is.

I had a flat after about 30 miles, and I discovered my Topeak road morph frame pump wasn't working properly - I could pump my tire up to only about 60 psi or so. Which was fine on the flatlands, but Palomares Road was a truly painful slog, I have never felt so awful going up that, I felt I was pushing a tank uphill. (yeah, yeah, some of you might think I already push a tank uphill, but trust me, this was worse).

At the top of Palomares, I asked a passing rider if I could use his frame pump. He galantly pumped up my tire, and then while disengaging the pump he broke off the valve. Ooops. Glad I carried 2 spare tubes. He galantly changed the tubes and inflated the new tube with a CO2 cartridge. I halfway expected it to explode, but yay, no more disasters.

I was only at about mile 50 and I was getting stressed out knowing that I was riding with a defecto pump and no good tubes left. And the way my luck was going I knew that was going to come back and bite me, so I managed to get a hold of Lee who met us out at the golf course and gave me his (working) frame pump and a couple of spare tubes for the rest of the ride.

We had been wasting a lot of time with all my pump/tube mishaps so I made V go on ahead to the next checkpoint.

Climbing up Redwood Road wasn't near as bad as Palomares, but by then I was really off my game and feeling stressed and lousy and it was getting hot. I was climbing so slowly that I was worried that I wouldn't make the next checkpoint in Moraga in time. Then eventually I decided this was BS, I just wasn't enjoying the ride any more. So I phoned ahead to V as soon as I got a cell signal at the top of Pinehurst Road and told her to just keep going, I was going to bail when I reached Moraga.

Once I reached Moraga I bought myself a Diet Coke at the Safeway - and wouldn't you know it, even with my glacial climbing and dawdling on the phone the receipt showed I made it 10 minutes before the checkpoint closing time.

I hung out in a shady spot waiting for Lee to pick me up. And I started feeling a lot better. I shouldn't have been so hasty to bail, I suppose, particularly since almost 3/4 of the climbing was done. I couldn't keep going since I had already called Lee to come & get me. Oh well, lesson learned.

Lee & I drove out towards Martinez to check on V. She was looking strong and going great. freak. We met up with her at the train station and chatted a bit and then we went on our ways.

I might give this a try again next weekend. With a working frame pump. :^)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Grizzly Peak

Kim, Cyndi & I rode the Grizzly Peak Century on Sunday. The GPC is in two parts, the northern part which is 73 miles and then the southern part which brings it up to 112 miles. When I signed up I had intentions delusions of doing the full route. But I've done so little riding in the past month, the 1st part sounded like good choice. Plus I like the idea of finishing before the final stop is all packed up and there's no food left. :p

The day started out freezing cold, windy and damp. We were in a damp mist riding up Pinehurst which turned into a fairly thick fog when we reached Grizzly Peak - so much for the great views, oh well. The mist was so thick we were rained on passing under the eucalyptus groves along GP. All in all, it was pretty neat. We dawdled at the first rest stop at Tilden park and decided to take it easy on this ride and make it a tour de bakery. I nearly froze to death on the descent down Wildcat, geeze it was cold!

It was much nicer cruising down San Pablo Dam Rd but the ever-present headwind made it a bit slower than I'm used to.

We stopped at a Starbucks in Hercules and lounged about for quite a while. It was sooo nice to get out of the chilly wind!

Back on the route we encountered a boy (maybe 18 if a day) on a loaded touring bike on the first day of his trip from El Cerrito to Chicago. Sweet kid, hope it goes well for him.

We dawdled again at the rest stop in Port Coasta, immediately after which we had the joy of climbing McKewan Rd. Jeeeezzz. For yucks I had the gradient indicator on, lots of 12%-plus. I saw 16% a few times. (Oh, and for the benefit of a certain person on TE, I climbed a great deal of it at under 3 mph, and I was oh-so-grateful for my 26/28 gear. :p """" )

We headed along Alhambra Valley Road, which I always like - it's one of the places I'd like to live if I won the lottery. I've never done it in the south-west direction. We climbed Pig Farm Hill the long way. Although it's significantly steeper in the other direction, I much prefer that other way since you get the climb over sooner and then you have the long fun descent. But this way wasn't bad, and it was actually over sooner than I expected.

My lack-of-training really caught up with me on the Bears. The wind really got to me and I got super tired near the end of the first climb (mama?) and couln't wait for the rest stop at Briones. That stop perked me up a bit but not a lot, and I still slogged up papa.

Heading down papa we passed by a very bad looking accident. I heard the sirens up ahead and then I turned a corner and came upon a bunch of stopped cars and a couple of police cars blocking the road on either end of the scene. I couldn't see over all the vehicles and the crowd of people forming, and my heart was in my throat when I asked a guy by the side of the road "was it a cyclist?" I'm a bit ashamed to admit I let out a silent prayer of thanks when they guy responded "yeah, a motorcycle". I rode by the scene and the crumpled-up motorcycle was in the middle of the road and the poor guy was laying in the road being tended to by a small group of people. (According to a short report in the Contra Costa Times, the motorcyclist had hit a stopped car. His injuries were quite serious and he had to be airlifted to the hospital.)

The rest of the ride was thankfully without incident. Cyndi and I were both wearing down, and Kim mentioned the last climb on Rheem was pretty steep, so we took a detour and continued down Moraga Way & took a left on Moraga Rd back to the start. Not only did we miss out on the last climb, we had a blissful few miles of tailwind to take us to the finish.

A nice ride with excellent company :)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Happy Birthday LeeBob!

To celebrate my sweetie's birthday, LeeBob (aka BottO) & I went up to Folsom for the weekend and had a lovely ride on Saturday along the American River Trail.

Here's Lee waving hi to all his fans on TE :^)


More pics be here

We really enjoyed it up in Folsom back when we accompanied Pansy, Raleighdon, et al. on the Mad March Hair ride, so we thought we'd pay it a return visit.

On Saturday we started out from the Larkspur Landing hotel (great place to stay, btw!) and got right on the trail from an entrance near the hotel and the outlet mall.

We first headed eastward to Beals Point which is the easternmost end of the trail, and where what little climbing there is on the trail is located. The last time I did this part of the trail, 3 or 4 years ago, I had just started riding and I was absolutely dying up that climb. This time around I hardly noticed it. :D

Once we reached Beals Point we turned around and headed west to the other end of the trail, in Sacramento's Old Town area. We wandered Old Town a little, had lunch, and headed back to Folsom. All told it was about 68 miles, and a whoppin' 900 feet of climbing (most of which was heading up to Beals Point).

It was really warm out, especially in the afternoon heading back to Folsom, when temps were in the upper 80's, much higher than I've been used to 'til now. Even though I drank what I thought was lots of water & Cytomax, I probably didn't drink enough, and I felt pretty droopy near the end. Lesson learned. I'll probably break out the camelback on rides this warm in the future, and use Elete electrolyte drops.

It was a beautiful day to celebrate my sweetie's birthday. To top it off we then had a very nice dinner at the Balcony, a little restaurant on Sutter Street in the Folsom historic district. An excellent weekend.

Monday, April 7, 2008

I did it!

I finally finished my 1st 200K this year!
Still not dead yet!

More pics be here

On Sunday, Veronica & I rode the Jittery Jaunt 200K permanent brevet. I was a little apprehensive about it since my track record with respect to brevets and permanents has not been what one might call stellar.

The route started from the Safeway at Marina Green in San Francisco. While V and I were making our final preparations, Thom (aka Can Opener, as in "husbands are handy but so are can openers") was demonstrating to Lee (aka Bottle Opener, for reasons which shall eventually be apparent) his cool new gadget - an adapter that runs off a Dyno hub to power small external speakers for an MP3 player. Kewl.

Can Opener

We needed to purchase something from the Safeway to get a receipt to verify our start time. V bought a Dr Seuss cookbook. Our husbands found it fascinating.

Can Opener & Bottle Opener

We started out a bit before 8 am, heading along Marina Green towards the Golden Gate Bridge. As we were approaching the Sports Basement we encountered a large crowd of runners milling about. Huh? We got off our bikes and started walking around the edge of the crowd and soon realized we were passing right by the start line of a foot race. The PA announcer was noting that the race route was going over the Golden Gate Bridge, and the race was going to start in 45 seconds. I looked at V and said "we better book it!" so we got back on our bikes and scooted, huffing and puffing up the hill leading to the bridge bike/ped path entrance.

And there we came to a screeching halt. Seems the bike/ped paths on *both* sides of the bridge were closed for the race. Already. We weren't allowed to ride over the bridge even though we were way ahead of the runners. We had to wait for a van with a bike trailer, load our bikes on and be driven across the bridge. Grrrr.

When the first van pulled up, we looked at the contraption we were expected to load our bikes on and said "no way!" - V had her beautiful Legolas and I had my Rivendell that I just got back from the painters only a couple of weeks ago.

Older trailer

Someone told us to wait for the next van since the trailer on that was much better. So we hung out and eventually the next van showed up and we decided we could entrust our bikes to it. If that trailer also looked dicey we were simply going to abandon the ride - neither of us wanted to damage our bikes that way!

Newer trailer

At any rate, we finally got our ride across the bridge, unloaded on the other side, and were on our way. (We wound up about 2 miles short of 200K by not riding over the bridge, but it couldn't be avoided.)

Ready to set off again

It was a really lovely route, from Sausalito through Faifax, up to Nicasio and Petaluma, then west to Valley Ford.

We rode into a headwind pretty much the entire way between Petaluma and Valley Ford, during which time I finally learned one of the Great Truths of Brevet Survival:

Don't Think.

I just hunkered down and zoned out. Riding to Valley Ford I was a mindless pedaling zombie, enjoying the scenery but without any conscious thought intruding into my little la-la land. But it got me through a tough stretch in which normally I would have been obsessing over how awful I felt and oh my gawd I'm only halfway done and there is no way I'm going to finish and I think I have a hangnail and who the heck am I kidding even attempting this?

Whatever works.

Speaking of scenery, did I mention it was gorgeous out?

Beautiful scenery

From Valley Ford we headed south on Highway 1 to Pt Reyes. Sarah (maillotpois) rode her incredibly cool Triumph motorcycle out along Highway 1 to say hi and to lend us moral support (and, I heard after the fact, to threaten us with bodily harm if we considered bailing out - but what are friends for?)

After a nice break at the Bovine Bakery where we met up again with Sarah and the DH's, we then headed a bit further down Highway 1 to Olema, then along SFD and thru Samuel Taylor Park back to Fairfax, at which point we retraced our outbound route thru Sausalito and over the GG Bridge - which this time we were able to cross under our own power.

In true jobob fashion, the receipt for the final checkpoint at the Marina Safeway was for the purchase a 6-pack of Fat Tire Ale. Alas, we did not have a bottle opener in our possession, but my intrepid husband made do with a spoke wrench. Hence, Lee is heretofore known as the Bottle Opener, or BottO for short.BO having a somewhat negative, if on occasion a not entirely inaccurate, connotation.

what fun!

I'm very glad I didn't know beforehand that the climbing would be on the order of 6000 ft (V's polar showed 6200) rather than the 4000 ft shown in the RUSA database. Altho I suspected it would be well more than 4000. At least now I know I have a chance of actually finishing my own permanent route, which has about 6600 ft of climbing.

We didn't have a stellar ride time (poor V was waiting up for me a lot!) but we finished, and I'm really happy to finally get my 1st RUSA 200K of the year in the books.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

East Bay 200K RUSA permanent

I submitted my revised route to RUSA on Weds 4/9. Stay tuned !

Solo Century & Permanent Scouting

On Saturday I rode the northern 3/4 of my 200K permanent route to check on control locations.

I saw Kim on Redwood Road - she was riding with some friends who were wearing Amici Veloci jerseys. I was really surprised to see all those AV jerseys. It was great to chat w Kim for a bit.

I was passed by Fred Rodriguez on Pinehurst Road - it was like I was standing still (er, more like I was moving backwards :p ) He was hard to miss in the Rock Racing kit. He evidently went as far as the summit & turned around, because I got to see him ride by again while I was along the side of the road changing a flat.

Pig Farm Hill was a stinker as usual. For yuks I had the % grade showing on my computer. It went up to 16%. Ugh.

But what I didn't expect was the long climb up Taylor Blvd & Pleasant Hill Blvd into Lafayette - I was definitely not up for a 6-10% grade at that point. Not sure if I can re-route the section from Martinez to Walnut Creek to anything much easier though. (Ed. to add: Thought I could route it thru the Iron Horse Trail but that'll be more trouble than it's worth. Back to Plan A)

I was kind of whupped at about the 85 mile point, so when I reached Danville I stopped at the Starbucks for a bit. Good thing I knew that the rest of the ride was relatively easy, still I didn't really perk up until maybe the last 5 miles or so.

Lee picked me up at Pleasanton Ridge Park, about 4 miles outside of Sunol. I felt pretty good when I finished.

The entire ride took me over 9 1/2 hours, gahh. But I took a bit of time wandering thru Martinez. That's my excuse. Yeah. :p

Sunday, March 9, 2008

My attempt at the Davis 200K

The short version:
I thought I was ready and I was really looking forward to this. But, my back & shoulders started hurting at about mile 30, and over time my neck and legs joined in, and then my head started pounding. By the time I reached Moskovite Corners at mile 45 I decided there was no way I could gut this one out, and I wanted off my bike NOW. So, I bailed. I'm beginning to think I don't have the kind of tenacity one needs to do these long rides.

The long version:
As expected, pretty much everyone flew out at at least 20 mph (and that was the back of the pack, LOL). I felt fine and stayed up with Veronica and we chatted for a few miles but then I gradually started to creep back. I told her not to wait for me, we'd do our own rides, so that was fine.

I was eventually on my own but tooling happily at a very good pace for me (~16) when I got to the long flat boring hinterlands. Turned a corner and was in a bit of a headwind - nothing awful, but enough. A tandem which must have left late passed by me and I could have kicked myself for not latching on - I very well could have, I just wasn't thinking about it until they were too far ahead to make it worth the effort. duh.

Not too long after that a man & two women passed me. They weren't going all that much faster than me so I asked if I could latch on and they said fine. I never fully appreciated the Joys of Drafting until just then. Heaven!!! The man, who was leading our paceline, never moved over so I just happily hung off the back, never having to take a pull. Whee.

They pulled over just before that freeway overpass (it's the one bump in the road for miles) to shed jackets and I wasn't inclined to stop so I continued on, thanking them profusely and assuming I'd see them again in a few miles. It was just me & the breeze again.

Eventually an older man caught up with me (our group had passed him a bit earlier) and since the wind was starting to wear on me some I asked if I could draft off him and he said fine. After we turned onto Putah Creek Rd I pulled up abreast of him and we chatted a bit - he had started biking again after a brief hiatus but he did lots of dcs some years back. In '91 he rode 9 doubles. Jeeze. Then he mentioned he just turned 70. Double jeeze.

I couldn't quite keep up with him so I let him go on ahead about when we were passing Winters. By then I was already starting to get tired & a bit achey (at mile 22, good grief!!) and I was wondering how on earth I was going to slog this out. I was feeling kind of down because even though I was going at a good pace for me, about 99% of the field was already way ahead and probably in the next freakin' county by then. Lots of negative thoughts were bouncing around in my head. At that point I was wishing I was with someone - it would have been great if my three new best friends materialized again, but no sign of them yet.

Then I saw Lee parked along the side of the road so I pulled over to chat with him. He said V's group was only about 10 minutes ahead which cheered me up some, and it was nice to just stop & stretch a little. I told him I wasn't feeling too great and he asked if I wanted him to drive ahead and wait for me up at Moskovite, and I hemmed & hawed and said no, go play (he brought his bike along and was waiting for it to warm up a little before going off on his own ride).

That little stop cheered me up and gave me a second wind so the rest of the way along Putah Creek went fine. It also helped a lot that there wasn't much breeze at that point, and even a small bit of tailwind. The way the wind was blowing made for hopes of a tailwind most of the way back, which was really encouraging.

But then when I reached Rt. 128 I started to get really achey, and Advil didn't really help. This was even before the climb up to the dam. I'm one of those lucky ones who almost never gets a sore back & shoulders while riding - I mean, my back can get a bit stiff after a long ride, but never particularly sore. And certainly not after only about 30 miles! But my lower back and especially between my shoulders was getting really sore, which had never happened to me before. And naturally it got worse as I climbed up the dam & then cardiac. I geared really low and spun easliy up those climbs hoping it would go away, but notsomuch.

Near the top of the dam I caught up with the older guy, who had mentioned to me earlier he wasn't looking forward to the hills. He was having a bit of a rough time and had to stop for lots of short rests. We took a breather together at the top of the dam and he started down a bit ahead of me and was off like a shot, gravity was indeed his friend. But I caught up with him again on the slog up cardiac. We might have been leapfrogging like that the whole rest of the ride.

But then my head started pounding and joined in the pain party with my back, shoulders, neck and legs, and by the time I got over cardiac I was thinking this just wasn't going to happen today. Even the rollers into Moscovite were no fun at all, so I pulled into Moscovite and called it a day.

I called Lee and he had already gone out on his own ride by then, but he said he'd head back to the car & pick me up eventually. I told him I was fine & to take his time. One of my New Best Friends showed up soon after, she was waiting for the other two. Seems they did a lot of stops which is why they were so far behind.

Turns out the store & restaurant at Moscovite were closed since Jan for renovations. The sign said they'd reopen in Feb. Ooops. No bathrooms. I was doing OK in that regard but my friend had stopped there specifically for one so she wasn't too thrilled. None at the gas station across the road either. I think maybe she found some bushes. Her other two companions finally showed up and they were on their way. I'm not sure if they were the last ones the route, I wasn't paying much attention.

Lee Mitchell soon pulled into the lot and I gave him my brevet card and asked him to make sure to tell the control folks at Pope Valley that I was out. I also called Thom to let him know that I was bailing - he was going to meet up with V and ride back with her. For some reason I thought he was meeting her at Pope Valley but in retrospect I realized that was wrong so I hope she didn't end up waiting for me there! Hopefully she saw I had dnf'd.

I found a nice sunny spot at the side of the building and laid back on some wood decking, which actually felt pretty good, and just sort of watched the world go by and dozed. Didn't suck, all in all. Lee showed up after a couple of hours and that was that. By then the speedy folks had already passed heading back - I wouldn't be surprised if some of them reached Pope Valley before the control opened. :p

I slept a good part of the drive back home, and for at least another 3 hours once we got back. I then slept for about 11 hours straight last night and I'm still awfully creaky today - I think I'm coming down with something.

I'm so bummed because I thought I was ready for this!!! But I was feeling so crummy I knew I couldn't slog it out - some people have that kind of tenacity but I sure don't. I hate bailing out on things and I had promised myself I wouldn't do that this year. Gahh.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dusty's new paint job !

Woo-hoo! I just got Dusty back from the painters today - the frame had developed a crack in one of the seatstay joints so it had to be re-brazed, good a time as any for a new paint job.

Rick at D&D did a fabulous job, the pic doesn't do it justice. I stayed with the original Dusty Rose color. The color seems a bit deeper than the original, but the could just be due to fading of the old paint or yellowing of the old top coat. Rick blinged it out a bit, with some of the lug cutouts filled in in ivory (which is more apparent on the fork). Rick couldn't find the original Waterford-era decals (with the arrow motif) so we went with the current Riv decals, which look lovely.

She's being built up by Robinson Wheelworks, so I should have my sweet bike back by the beginning of March.

I'm giddy as a little schoolgirl! :^)

SuperNana's got it right.

Check out SuperNana's Ode to Coach Troy.
So funny!
So true!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

2008 goal rides

OK, here are the big rides I have planned for 2008:

Mt. Hamilton Challenge on April 26 (125 miles, 8300 ft climbing) - I can wave hi to all the hardy souls riding the DMD route going in the opposite direction.

Grizzly Peak Century on May 4 (112 miles, 8550 ft climbing) - I've never done this ride though I've done parts of the route. Although I just realized it's only a week after the MHC, argh. Well, hopefully I'm up to it by then.

And my really big stretch goal ride:

Mt. Shasta Summit Super Century on August 3 (135 miles, 16500 ft of climbing) - allegedly tougher than the Death Ride - not that I'd know! - but the out-n-back route allows for bailouts if need be. Plus Lee & I will be staying at the Mt. Shasta Resort, only a few miles away from the start and the location of the lunch stop, which could be a tactical error for me. :D But it's a nice place to stay. Lee will be doing the metric century.

I also plan to do a 200K+ brevet or permanent each month starting in (uh... March?) for a RUSA R-12.

I think that's plenty - I'll put the double centuries on hold until next year. Unless I change my mind.

My new friend Troy

On a more positive note, I've made a new friend in Evil Coach Troy.

With all the crummy weather we'd been having, we got our Cyclops trainer back from Lee's sister-in-law and Lee graciously hooked up his Atlantis to it. I first bought Spinervals 25, aka Aero Base Builder V, which is a 2-hour compilation of selected workouts from ABB I-V. I really enjoyed it, so I sprung for the Intervals 5-pack which contains No Slackers, Uphill Grind, Suffer-O-ama and a couple of others I'm too lazy to check at the moment. Currently I'm doing two interval workouts per week, alternating between NS and UHG (I'll add the others into the mix eventually), separated by at least a day, with ABB V another couple of days. I generally only manage 1-1.5 hours of ABBV at a time, I haven't made it through the full 2 hours, yet.

I'm inherently a lazy person, and left to my own devices, I won't push myself very hard so these workouts are just what I need. And it's so convenient to be able to hop on the trainer without having to figure out what to wear for the weather conditions. And I really think it's helping.

The year so far

Yikes, almost 2 months into 2008 and I haven't posted my goals yet. I guess that's because I'm still figuring them out...

I was hoping to ride the SF Randonneurs 200K at the end of January. There were some heavy rain storms starting a few days prior, and I was up late the night before watching the news reports of flash flooding in the areas thru which the route went. So, I wimped out of the ride. I wasn't alone, out of about 85 registered only 32 actually rode. And naturally, it hardly rained a drop during the ride (despite forecasts of heavy rain that day as well) and the roads were quite good for the most part. Still, the very strong winds that day likely would have done me in so it's probably just as well I bailed ... I guess.

I started commuting into work some in January but a combination of yukky weather, committments which required a car, and just plain laziness, I got out of the habit just as quickly as I started. Maybe next month :p

I've done some fun rides with some friends from bikejournal, bikeforums, & TE.