2013 Death Ride : Reporting in

This is us at the end of the climbing at the beginning of an awesome descent!

This is us at the end of the climbing at the beginning of an awesome descent!

The short : I made it!

The medium : Saw a crazy scary crash on Ebbets! Dude was okay!

The long : So I’ve been training for the Death Ride since December when I signed up for it. It started as a smart ass remark/joke I made to my brother about how the Death Ride registration was opening the next day and we should do it. His reply? “It’s on!” Thus began over six months of training that saw me getting back on my bike WELL before I would have otherwise. The payoff was spending the week in Tahoe with my family and spending a day with my brother riding some extremely pretty roads.

I know, these are out of order, but this is a really pretty road!

I know, these are out of order, but this is a really pretty road!

The week before I went out for a flat ride just to feel how my lungs felt at 6000 feet, (the answer : Wheezy!) and did a short climb with my brother and got a flat tire. Another stem rip, it looks like. I’m rough on the stems, apparently. Anyway, these rides confirmed my suspicion that I would not be climbing as fast as I normally would at sea level. I knew I would need to stick to my ‘keep the heart rate under 153′ plan to have a chance to finish, but I was shocked at how much slower I was while keeping the HR down.

We got up around 3 A.M. and crammed our gullets with oatmeal and did our best to ‘offload some weight’ in the restroom, then drove over to Markleeville and unloaded the bikes, got into our kit, and got ready to go. It was 46 degrees according to the thermometer. Brrr! Arm and leg warmers plus our rain gear kept us from freezing, but it was definitely chilly as we started pedaling at 5:01.

Relaxing on the climb back up Monitor.  The sun is up and we stopped take off all legs and arms

Relaxing on the climb up Monitor. The sun is just up and we stopped take off all legs and arms


Fortunately, it wasn’t long until the sun was up, and it wasn’t long until we were climbing Monitor, and the combination of the two warmed us up quite nicely. We shed the rain gear and kept climbing. We were definitely getting passed by a lot of riders, but we weren’t the slowest ones on the hill. There was a group of riders we would wind up passing/getting passed by/repassing as the day wore on. Derek was sticking with me, but he sprinted off to ‘use the facilities’ at the mid-mountain rest stop and was just zipping up his jersey when I reached the rest station. I forged on and he quickly caught back up to me. Topping Monitor was not that difficult, and I felt good despite the altitude! We grabbed food and bombed down to the bottom. I was amazed at how fast I was going. There were a few corners you had tl slow down for, but you could mostly let gravity pull you down the hill as fast as you were willing to go. I topped/touched on 50 mph on several occasions! My cantilevers probably scared half the gopher population of Nevada to death when I had to decelerate at the bottom. That was the most brake-shrieking stop I have ever done.
The backside of Monitor doesn't seem too  bad!  My spirits are still high!

The backside of Monitor doesn’t seem too bad! My spirits are still high!


Since we had eaten and filled bottles at the top, upon reaching the bottom we immediately started back up the hill, wasting NO time at the bottom. Again, I was passing some people and getting passed by obviously fitter people. The climb back up is technically the longest, but again, it did’t feel too bad. I knew what to expect since I had just descended it, and the climb didn’t have anything too gnarly in gradient. I ground and ground and kept my heart rate around 149-150. My knees weren’t 100% pleased with this as I had to mash a little to keep the HR down. I could have used a lower gearing for this ride, that’s for sure. About halfway up, we stopped for water and stripped the arm and leg warmers. It was warm and headed for hot!
Made it to the top for the second time!  Hooray!

Made it to the top for the second time! Hooray!


Again, we stopped at the aid station and jammed bananas and bagels and assorted goodies in our gullets while loading up on cytomax and water. I have learned my lesson and NEVER carry just cytomax now. After about 4-5 bottles, I can’t stand drinking more, and will dehydrate if I don’t have some water. This rest station was my 3rd and last bottle of full strength cytomax.
Look ma, still alive!

Look ma, still alive!


Our next plan was to bomb down Monitor, skip the station at the bottom and the lunch station and skip right to the base of Ebbetts and fill up on water there. I opened a gap on Derek on the way down since my bike weighs 35 pounds, so I was more than happy to pass people instead of riding my brakes. Derek sat up and had a relaxed saunter down, but quickly caught up with me on the flats. We rode along and when we got to the rest stop at the bottom of Ebbetts, we ran into Steve, the guy I had pacelined with at the Sequoia Century and whom I had ridden almost the entirety of the Best of the Bay with. He was looking good and feeling better than on the BoB, and had found a chair and a ton of food. Derek and I gobbled up a little food, refilled our bottles, and the three of us set off up the hill. We passed the ‘genies’ which was the local belly dancing group. It was a fun surprise!

On one of the first corners, we got into a tight spot where I needed to pass a guy, people were descending, and a bunch of people were trying to pull around all of us, so I stood up to get around the guy and wound up sprinting up the hill a little ways to give my bum a rest. That was the last time I felt strong on this ride. Ebbetts turned UP. Grades that would have been nice tough grades at 2000 feet were MUCH harder at 7000 feet. Gah. The suffering had finally started!

Derek at the top of Ebbetts!

Derek at the top of Ebbetts!


Fortunately, my brother was very understanding of my slow speeds and I stopped at every water spot I could. Steve eventually left us behind when I stopped to whine like a baby and beg for water. I was pretty happy when we got to the lake, because I knew that meant we were MOSTLY done. What I didn’t know was that there was plenty more steep to come! What I ALSO didn’t know was I’d get to watch somebody hit a pothole at serious speed, watch their whole frame flex and wobble from the impact, then see them recover and not crash. If it had been me I would have been a road pizza for sure! There was a collective gasp of “Whoa!” from the climbers all around me as we saw the guy pull it off. We were all sure we were about to have him come sliding through us as he hit the pothole on the inside of a corner we were climbing. His amazing recovery saved us from impromptu biker bowling, and onward we slogged.
Proof I made it to the top of Ebbetts.  This was actually the second time over.

Proof I made it to the top of Ebbetts. This was actually the second time over.


It was at this point I started swearing after every new pitch came into view. You’d get over one particularly steep part, and then it would ease off and around a corner you’d see another wall of road. It was a little ridiculous. Derek gave me a hand, literally, by putting his hand on my back and pushing while he pedaled on one stretch. Many riders objected to him not giving THEM pushes as well.

The top had Cup O’ Noodles and a variety of other food, and our buddy Steve who had found a pair of chairs to sit on. Derek and I were not bashful in sharing the spare chair. One of us sat and chatted with Steve while the other gathered food and drink like a squirrel facing a particularly long winter. Then we’d trade places. The trip down the backside was short and slower than the other descents, and only steep in a few places. So it didn’t feel like it would be a horrible flip around and climb back up, but I definitely burned a few matches on the front side of Ebbetts on the steep parts. I had to go to zone 4 (over 153 HR) on the steeper sections. So even with a bit of recovery, I was still wiped on the climb.

Derek and his favorite pose again!  The backside of Ebbets was mercifully short.

Derek and his favorite pose again! The backside of Ebbets was mercifully short.


Fortunately it was a gorgeous climb, and we passed a guy who was doing it on a fixie. Yep. He was on the 4th climb of the day on a fixie. Good lord. And he was almost 60! I salute that man, and I hope he managed to finish the whole ride, although I kind of doubt it given that we were only at mile 60 at the time. The climbing is REALLY front loaded, but that totally wipes you out for the long wind filled rollers. Anyway, we got to pass him again as I insisted on stopping for a ‘photo break’ that had nothing to do with my spiking heart rate. I promise! I was having trouble keeping it under 150, but at least the grades weren’t as steep as the front side, so I didn’t have to stand to climb over areas too steep to grind without making my knees whine.
I'm trying out Derek's pose.  I think he pulls it off better.

I’m trying out Derek’s pose. I think he pulls it off better.


Back at the top, I stopped to take a ‘constitutional’ at the port-a-potties. All I can say is… why the heck didn’t my body dump that ballast at the START of the ride? I’m pretty sure I could have cut half an hour off of my time if I had. It was impressive. I’m sure the rider who went in after me wasn’t as impressed, though.

Derek led us down Ebbetts, which I was glad for since it is a very technical descent and watching him let me pre-brake the corners. We were not super fast, but we were not slouching it down the hill, that’s for sure. But we weren’t going fast enough for some people, which led to us witnessing a crash that made me wish I’d sprung for a Go Pro. A guy passed me and Derek, overcooked the corner, stuck his wheel in the dirt and catapulted over the handlebars and down the embankment into the rocks below. By the time I got stopped and back up the hill to him, he’d already started climbing back up. Then he climbed down to get his water bottle! I was POSITIVE Derek and I were going to be trying to help a severely injured rider and flag down a SAG wagon, but he escaped with bruises and some truly impressive scrapes and cuts.

However, he told us he was fine and waved us off, so we finished the descent and Derek FINALLY got to do some leg stretching as he got in front and proceeded to haul me for 15 miles across the valley floor into a stiff headwind. We were passing single riders like crazy. A couple tried to jump on but were blown off the back after working so hard to catch on. A two person train is tough to catch since it’s already passed before you can really start accelerating. We DID pass another train of 6 people who were going fast enough themselves that they were able to latch on, and Derek towed them, too. We did great until we got to the uphills around Markleeville, and then it was back to short climbs and shorter descents. We’d blown past the lunch stop and had food at Derek’s car so we could avoid the lines. Ice cold Gatorade and PB&J tasted pretty good!

Then we were off, with a short jaunt to Woodfords, which we skipped as we were full up on water, and then… the climb. It was super gradual. It was no big deal. But I was incapable of pushing harder than about 125 bpm on my heart rate for what seemed like eternity! I’d bonked. We were 9 hours in, which is a LONG ride, and I was not doing well. People I’d easily passed earlier were passing me like I was standing still. And I almost was. I was grinding up a 5% incline at a pace slower than what I had been doing the 8% inclines earlier. Eventually the PB&J started making it’s way through to my bloodstream and I was able to push past the 130’s into the low 140’s, which let us make it to Pickett’s Junction by 3:10ish. I did my best to fuel up with a packet of goo (that stuff is gross) some chips, water, soda, clif bar, and some gummi bears.

As you can see, I made it to the top.  I am much happier than I look in the photo to have made it.

As you can see, I made it to the top. I am much happier than I look in the photo to have made it.


Then we were off again. We had a long valley that Derek towed me through while I tried to digest, then the final climb. It was hard, and I was a little bonky, but not as bad as I had been on the bottom climb. I stopped twice when I started feeling really weak and my HR output started to drop off to try and let my stomach catch up a little bit. The last time we could literally see the top when we stopped. I think Derek was annoyed a bit by THAT stop, but he sucked it up and came and sat with me for a couple of minutes and we watched people struggle on by.
Look at how chipper the bastard is at mile 107ish of his 'Recovery Ride!'

Look at how chipper the bastard is at mile 107ish of his ‘Recovery Ride!’


Finally, I got back on and we made it up and over the top! It was time for ICE CREAM! I cannot stress how delicious an ice-cream sandwich is after such a long ride. We got our stickers and pins, our sandwiches, and I pounded some shot blox, bananas, and a ton of water. The hard part was over! We got back on, went for the picture of us at the pass marker, and began the most fun part of the ride. The trip back down Carson! It is a sweeping road, and I was able to really tuck and let it go, and Derek kept right behind me. The valley had a TAILWIND going down, and was slightly downhill to boot, so I towed Derek across the valley and past Pickett’s junction and we shot down the next steep section. Derek tucked into an impressively small ball and passed me towards the bottom, and we then relaxed and slow-pedaled back to the car. We got there JUST pas 6:00 pm, making it a 13 hour day. Strava says about ten and a half hours of saddle time and 2 and a half hours of lollygagging. Not bad. I’ll take it!

We loaded up and trucked on back to our families to find that the ladies had not just kept the kids entertained, but had dinner waiting for us and had already packed a good deal of the stuff up making it easy for us to relax and hug and play with the kids.

I feel very lucky to have had a chance to do such a challenging (for me) and beautiful ride with my brother. It’s not something I will ever forget.

Posted in Supported Ride | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

How not to start your taper…

So I’m in theory supposed to be tapering, with Friday’s assault on Mt. Diablo as my last real ride before the Death Ride. Well, today I told my neighbor I’d meet him at 7:25-7:30ish in front of my driveway and we’d ride up King’s and west OLH following the Chain Reaction ride plan. That is all swell, except that he is a much faster rider than me, and while he dropped his pace to a casual conversational pace with me, I was only able to talk while panting. I turned in a time that was 3 seconds off of my personal best on the hill, so I wasn’t really lollygagging along. The good news is we got to the top in time to JUST beat the last riders from Chain Reaction since we’d left a little earlier than I usually manage, so with a quick climb up the road, we got to Alice’s before them. We stopped and I told my neighbor that we should do OLH with the Chain Reaction group, and he should stick with them when I dropped so he could make up a few minutes of time before heading into work, and also get to know some of the other riders. He agreed, and we were quickly surrounded by a swarm of fast spandex. The trip down 84 was fast, and I let myself dangle off the back, barely sticking in the draft, and dropping off whenever things looked even slightly dicey in the group. These guys were very good at riding together, so I didn’t want to mess anything or anyone up.

Rollin' with mah homies!

Rollin’ with mah homies!

Then we hit OLH and started climbing! I opted to hang on as long as I could and drove my heart rate up to 164 trying to stay stuck on the back. As soon as I knew I was going to get shelled out the back, I whipped out my phone to try and get another decent shot as I got left in the dust.
My usual view, that of rapidly dwindling spandex clad butts.

My usual view, that of rapidly dwindling spandex clad butts.

Trying to not let my early heroics be in vain, I kept the pace up as best as I could and hit the summit with a new PR shaving over a minute off my previous best time of 16 and change. Then it was off to work. So… 33 mile ride with two hills that I kinda lightly hammered? (Maybe with a ball peen hammer) Yah, not the best start to a taper week. Ah well.

Posted in Commute | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Blazing heat? Solution : Ride the coast with my wife!

Climbing her first ranked climb!  (Cat 4 Stage road from San Gregorio to Highway 1)

Climbing her first ranked climb! (Cat 4 Stage road from San Grigorio to Highway 1)

Sunday was one of the nicest days I’ve had on the bike in a long while. It was incredibly relaxing riding at a recovery pace, and I really enjoyed riding with my wife. I don’t want this post to come off sounding jerky (ooooh, I did a recovery ride… ooooh) because for her, it was a HARD ride. It was her longest distance, longest moving time, most climbing, highest single elevation gain, and steepest sustained grades she has ever ridden. For her, it was an EPIC ride, and I was extremely proud of how well she did, and how well she coped with the suffering at the end. She didn’t quit and send me for the truck at all.
Cresting a lower key climb on the coast!  Highway 1 is gorgeous!

Cresting a lower key climb on the coast! Highway 1 is gorgeous!

She DID get swept off the road about a mile and a half early, but only because we were running out of time to get home before the babysitter needed to leave. More on that later.

To start the ride, we drove over the hill to La Honda and parked by their post office. A. discovered that I had misinformed her about the availability of rest rooms there, but was gracious enough not to kick me in the groin. After the short downhill past La Honda, she practiced drafting down to San Gregorio. Let me say, as an aside, that a person’s first time really drafting is awesome. She started laughing the first time she really got ‘tucked in’ and was suddenly coasting behind me. If you EVER get the chance to help somebody learn to draft, take it, just for that first “Holy COW!” moment.

Once there, we had a small snack break and were surprised to find the Chain Reaction gang pulling into the parking lot. They were doing their classic coastal loop and were heading back to Tunitas. They admired her awesome socks, and then we headed up Stage first and A got to live through getting passed by their entire ride like you’re standing still. Welcome to my pain, honey! WELCOME!

She's about halfway up here, and the Chain Reaction guys are hot on our heels!

She’s about halfway up here, and the Chain Reaction guys are hot on our heels!

We crested not too long after the Chain Reaction guys and chatted with them while they finished their regroup. Then we headed south on Highway 1 and enjoyed the cool temps and nice views. It was kind of strange to be riding the coast with no vest/arm/leg warmers at all. Usually it’s cold out there no matter HOW hot Redwood City is. So that was very nice.

We tooled past Pescadro

My wife makes any picture look great, even a boring old seascape photo!

My wife makes any picture look great, even a boring old seascape photo!

and the beach down to Bean Hollow road and cruised up that. A. was looking a little more tired, but still going strong here. This is also where I turned around and coasted back down the hill, then fell over trying to turn back around to head up the hill. I hit a sandy patch and washed the front wheel out. Smooooooooth. Two falls in one weekend! I also practiced my upstroke power by pedaling a few hundred feet without pushing down on the pedals, only pulling up. That was a weird feeling, but I was surprised at how much power you can deliver to the pedals by pulling!
Pescadero Beach... plus a biker butt!

Pescadero Beach… plus a biker butt!

After a quick bite to eat in Pescadero, some doggy canoodling and bike chat with a pair of ladies we were sitting next to, we were off for the ‘set piece’ of today’s ride, Stage Road between Pescadero and San Grigorio. This is a lovely road that is host to MANY professional races in the area, and while it doesn’t have any really LONG climbs, one of the climbs is a rated cat 4, and the other one is pretty close to comparable. Aside from some very fast motorcyclists honking at us, and an overly chatty husband, A. made it to the top of both climbs.

More camera mugging!  Either that or she's swearing at my under her breath!

More camera mugging! Either that or she’s swearing at my under her breath!

After that, we had a short descent that was made MUCH more entertaining by a huge semi truck trying to haul stuff on Stage Road. He could barely make it around the corners! A. stopped like a smart cyclist, but I thought she wasn’t going to, and by the time I realized she wasn’t going to squeeze around the truck, I was out of space, so I scrubbed of speed, rode through the leaves and debris on the side of the road to get around the truck, then hopped back on the pavement and slowed down to let my wife catch up. How I managed THAT without falling when I couldn’t even turn around on the road earlier is beyond me. But there it is!

One final 'non mugging' shot.

One final ‘non mugging’ shot.

Finally, the last slog up to La Honda. We ate up most of the miles, and even passed a couple out on their touring bikes, but we were getting SERIOUSLY close to our ‘no more babysitting available’ timeline, so A. sent me up the road to get my bike loaded and the truck ready to go. I proceeded to have my own mini 3 mile time trial, and flew up 84 as fast as I could. I loaded the bike, pulled off my helmet, and scooted down the road and picked her up right where Pescadero/Alpine roads dump into 84. She’d made it almost the rest of the way up while I was locking my bike into the bike carrier.

It was an epic ride, and a lot of fun, and I hope we get to have many, many more rides like this in the future. Plus some with the kids! But the no-kids ride means no-screaming-no-slappy-fights as well.

Posted in Weekend Ride | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Mount Diablo with an average temp of 102? WTF, man, WTF?

Looking up at Diablo from the bottom of South Gate, it really doesn't look that bad.

Looking up at Diablo from the bottom of South Gate, it really doesn’t look that bad.

Today I planned on doing a triple repeat on Mount Diablo, the closest thing the Bay Area has to the climbs in the Death Ride. Sadly, I failed at that. Before I beat myself up TOO badly, there were a few things conspiring against me. First, my daughter K was sick, and my wife stayed home with her so I could still get my ride in, but that necessitated me taking M to school which put me WAY behind schedule.

Second, I punched it yesterday when I was feeling good. That awesome ‘ready to roll’ feeling of yesterday was a long forgotten dream today.

Third, it was hot. SERIOUSLY hot. My strava record shows it as an AVERAGE temperature of 102. I started riding before 10:00 am, and finished at just after 3. So to AVERAGE 102 on my Garmin, good portions were above that. It was the hottest weather I have ever ridden through.

Now to showcase my failings and shenanigans! To begin, I forgot my heart rate monitor. Not a good move. But not the worst thing I could have done. It made me try and track effort by perceived effort instead, so I tried to keep a ‘mental eye’ open about how hard I was working.

South Gate.  The more genteel gate.

South Gate. The more genteel gate.

First I started on the South Gate side, and with two bottles of cytomax, made good time up to the ranger station gate and on to the junction. Of course, I decided to stop to have a pee first, and the ranger told me the nearest bathroom was up the road on the right. What he DIDN’T tell me was that it was at the bottom of a pretty sketchy dirt track that doesn’t look as sketchy from the top. Long story short, I wound up falling on my kiester trying to avoid smacking into the side of the bathroom when I locked up my rear tire on the trail. Anyway, I dusted myself off, visited the restroom, and finished climbing to the junction. There I refilled my polished off bottle (bottle one) and refilled it, and moved my second cytomax to the the front.
Not much climbing left, right?  Just another 2000 feet, right?  RIGHT?

Not much climbing left, right? Just another 2000 feet, right? RIGHT?

As I was getting ready to go, I banged my leg against my front chain rings. I didn’t realize it until I started up, but I had actually cut myself up a bit. I only realized it when I looked down at my gearing and saw blood on my sock. Hard core, huh? On the way up there, I may have dried out a bit as it was really starting to heat up. I climbed and drank and drank and climbed and climbed and drank. It was about here that I think it really started to sink in how hot it was. I sucked down both bottles on the way to the peak. Aside from the heat, the ride up wasn’t too bad. Lots of pretty views and mostly mild pitches made for a decent ride. I passed a couple of riders who had taken advantage of one of the few trees offering shade on the climb. I can’t say I blame them. Once I got closer to the top, my spirits really started to pick up as I could see the towers and everything so I KNEW I was almost there. Then I hit the final climb to the summit and it felt like I had been punched in the head. It’s something like 15%+ on that stretch, and I’d already been climbing for 10 miles!
That's my bike, sittin at the top of the hill!

That’s my bike, sittin at the top of the hill!


Reaching the top, I found and wildly inconvenient bottle fill in a water fountain with fluctuating pressure that you could turn on and try and catch the water in your bottle as it arced majestically through the air. I also found a couple of locals who assured me that the temperature was indeed ridiculously hot. They were on a ride that included Diablo as a bit of a leg stretch to keep their legs from getting too complacent on their planned 80 mile ride through the furnace of doom. They are better men than I.
These dudes were hard core.

These dudes were hard core.


After a few minutes to take a picture or two, scarf down a cliff bar and a few endurolites, and then headed back down. I bombed past the junction and headed down towards North Gate. This turned out to be a mistake as I was already getting thirsty just from how hot an dry the air was. The ride down seemed to take forever, and I started taking swigs assuming that I would find some place with more water at the bottom. At the gate, I had another cliff bar and sipped at the water as there was no water that I could find down there.
Here I am at the bottom again.  Sadly, my truck and sandwiches are on the other side of the park.

Here I am at the bottom again. Sadly, my truck and sandwiches are on the other side of the park.

Climbing back up, I knew I had about 5 and a half miles to reach the junction, and I only had a bottle and a half of water, so I tried to carefully sip the whole way up. It was rough. Sweat was pouring off me at the start, and I had to keep taking smaller and smaller sips stretching out the water. I was getting SERIOUSLY concerned at about 4 miles in, and I started debating if I should stop riding, or turn around and coast back down the hill and keep going until I found water. Then I ran out of water and I started getting REALLY concerned. I kept plugging away and plugging away and feeling worse and worse. Finally, I came across the best thing in the world.
This... was the most beautiful sight in the world.  Water... beautiful water.

This… was the most beautiful sight in the world. Water… beautiful water.


A water fountain. And a bench. And a shade tree. This was only half a mile or so from the junction, but it was soooo needed. I soaked my head in the spout, drank water, soaked my head AGAIN, drank more water, wept with joy, soaked my head yet again, drank some more, then soaked my head one last time for luck. I felt so much better! I rode the maybe half a mile up to the junction, found some shade and some other cyclists to chat with. The couple who had been resting in the shade on my way up were there on their way down and were impressed I was going back up. There were also a couple of older guys who had already been up and down twice. Those guys were monsters! They were telling me about how when the weather isn’t crazy hot, they occasionally do quad-peats up and down. Amazing.
Prior to the repeated head dousing, I had assumed that I would be heading back down and failing completely at getting a double, let alone a triple. After the dousing and a rest at the junction, I decided to head up and see how I felt. And I felt fine. My two bottles lasted me to the top of the mountain. I even managed to finish the final kick up to the top faster than on the first time. At the top were a couple of other riders who were training for the Death Ride. There was also… ICE CREAM! Yep, I found out that inside the station at the top they had a freezer full of ice cream bars and sandwiches. OH MY GOD! SO GOOD!
To celebrate my second summit, I took a picture of the gash my chainring left in my leg.

To celebrate my second summit, I took a picture of the gash my chainring left in my leg.

After that it was all downhill. No really! In a good way!
I was proud of myself for recovering from my near collapse from the heat. I learned that I really need to hydrate more proactively when it’s that hot. And I learned that there are a lot of slow cars going down those hills! I had to pass a few people to avoid having to ride the brakes all the way down. And a crappy, crappy Safeway sandwich tastes AMAZING. OH YAH! If only I had REALLY delicious food, imagine how amazing it would be? WAIT A SECOND, I DID! The wife and I went out to John Bently’s in Redwood City for dinner and it was friggin’ amazing. And finally, the link for the ‘strava or it didn’t happen’ crowd.

Posted in Weekend Ride | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Crushing it!

Today I had to wait for a repairman, so I didn’t get out the door until 10:00 A.M. and instead of climbing Kings, I did my flat commute in. Right from the beginning I had a good feeling. Do you know that great feeling you get when you first start pedaling and your brain switches from walking speed to cycling speed and your legs suddenly spring alive and really start pushing the pedals effortlessly? It’s not EVERY time I go for a ride, but when it happens, it REALLY feels good. I was climbing strong up Jefferson, several gears higher in the back than I usually climb, and I set quite a few Strava PRs on the way into the office. I felt pretty good at the office, and when I headed home, I was expecting to feel a little tired and possibly that ‘post ride’ ache, but getting back on my legs felt fantastic and my brain switched over to cycle mode and off I flew! I felt great and strong and set MORE PRs on the way home, climbing like a champ!

Days like this rock out. I kinda wish I’d had a longer ride to go on, but you take what you get!

Posted in Commute | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Kid Free Sunday Bike Ride? Yes please!

We have acquired a baby sitter for Sunday morning, and Alison and I will be taking what may be our first ever bike-ride together that doesn’t involve towing kids around in a trailer/trail-a-bike! WOO HOO! I’m going to see if she can get comfy drafting me and then see if we can’t fly down the ‘gentle down slopes’ a bit. Also, we can go do some fun new roads she hasn’t been on yet. Or maybe some roads I haven’t been on yet!

Anyway, I’m pretty excited, and to try and make sure I don’t annoy her by riding too fast, on Friday I’m taking the day off work to go do hill repeats on Mt. Diablo as my last big ‘training for the Death Ride’ ride. 3 times up and down Mt. Diablo will be 10,000 feet of climbing in 60ish miles, and ought to take the starch out of me.

Almost time for the Death Ride. Cripes, it’s close. Less than three weeks, and I’m planning my last training ride. And I have a 5 week long chest cold going on. Good lord.

Posted in General Musings | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Riding with the kiddo!

Today I took K out on her Burly Piccolo for another ride. This was her second ride on it, and she friggin LOVES that thing. We had a quick turn around back to the garage to tighten the bolts as the bottom bolt wasn’t quite as tight as it should be. Racks always need to have the bolts checked after their first ride, so I’m kinda annoyed with myself for not checking it before we started the ride. Anyway, after the quick return, we started up and over Jefferson to cruise down to Canada Road. Unfortunately, it was windier on the other side of the hill, which made K get cold pretty quickly. Every time she’d get chilly we’d slow down to cut down on wind chill, and then pick it back up a little bit after she’d warmed up. Every time she’d be cold or say it was too windy, I’d ask her if she wanted to go back home and she’d immediately say “NO NO! It’s not to windy! I’m not cold! Keep going!” She is a maniac! When she finally got too cold, she agreed to go home, especially when I told her we’d have to climb up a hill and there would be no wind. Of course, once we got to the top of the hill and started back down, she said “Hey! You said no more wind! Not fair!” We got home (it was about 8 miles in again) and jumped into the hot tub! That warmed her right up. But in addition to talking about how fast she was on the Piccolo, she declared repeatedly that she wanted a real biking shirt so she could put her toys in the back pocket instead of making daddy carry them in his pockets. So… soon K will be getting her first jersey. She’s BARELY big enough that the tiniest kid’s jersey will be a tent on her.

In addition to dragging K around, I tried my new Cannondale Nitro L.E. Bib Shorts out on this ride. I was a little apprehensive at first as when I pulled the shorts on, the cuffs were a little snugger than I’m used to. They are a little more ‘rubberized’ than I’m used to, but after I got them on, it felt fine. The chamois was definitely bigger and thicker than I expected, but on the bike it felt pretty good. I’d like to take it out for a longer ride. I think it might do really well on longer rides with a harder saddle. The squishy soft saddle on the mountain bike I have the burley attached to needs to go! The compression on the shorts was pretty nice, too. I’m just beginning to learn to like the extra compression on nicer biking clothing. I’m going to give them a go on a longer ride. It’s nice to have a set of bibs that fit. My large’s just don’t fit right anymore, and I think the ‘moving around’ it causing too much irritation on my long rides. These shorts showed none of that today. Plus they are bibs! Time to start tossing the large non-bibs in the bin.

Posted in Bonus Ride!, Weekend Ride | Tagged , , | Leave a comment