What more need be said? Just look at that photo! No wonder we had a pretty large group this morning. Karl, Chris (2nd-timer; he’d been on the ride last week when I was in Minneapolis), Marcus, Kevin, Kevin, Andrew, Jan & Eric. Brisk ride up through the park (which has pretty much become mandatory on Thursdays), and I was pretty happy to reach the top in under 30 minutes. A bit over 40 degrees at the start and 60 at the finish. I could get used to this. I will get used to this in a month or so, when this is the norm and not a bit nicer than the season typically provides. –Mike–
We’re getting some comments here and on Facebook about Kevin’s sprint in the video, the one where he doesn’t hold his line and tries to run me off the road. I told Kevin he had a lot of “fans” out there, to which he replied “Yeah, and I’m sure they’re all middle-aged men.” That’s when I explained Life to Kevin.
The Keys to the Kingdom are held by middle-aged men
Surprisingly, a quick google search doesn’t show this phrase being used in 30 Rock by Jack Donaghy. In fact, that exact phrase doesn’t show up in google at all. Feb 27, 2013, and I’ve coined something that’s both obvious and unique? Wow. No matter how the rest of the day goes, I know I’ve accomplished something!
If you were any other man, I’d kill you where you stand!
(Worf, Star Trek First Contact)
And “First Contact” could have been very appropriate this morning, when, during the first sprint on the Tuesday/Thursday-morning ride, Kevin, that would be Kevin my son, not the pilot, claimed he didn’t know I was there when he made a move to try and get onto George’s wheel… problem being, I was already on George’s wheel. And how could Kevin not have known I was there when he had to first pass me? Watch the video. You be the judge!
Had this been an actual race, my wife might not have been too happy if instincts had taken over and I had strong-armed Kevin across the road. It’s not as if I don’t know how to “protect” myself in a sprint. Thankfully, I redeemed myself a bit later.
Very nice morning; started out not so cold maybe 40 degrees, and warmed up to 55 by the end. The end of winter is in sight! Karl, Kevin, Kevin, Eric, Todd, George, Karen and, for a little while, Les, the guy who used to own a bike shop or two, but apparently had a better exit strategy than me. Which doesn’t take much, since I have no exit strategy at all! Thankfully this is a business I really enjoy. Not much bad about putting people on bikes. –Mike–
I seem to have a fondness for the Midwest in the winter. Usually Trek (near Madison, Wisconsin) but today I find myself in Minneapolis for Frostbike, a conference/show of extraordinary quality put on by another of our major suppliers, Quality Bicycle Products (QBP). Yesterday was a productive combination of workshops and seminars.
Today it was more workshops and more time looking at cool product, but the real gem came at the end when I attended a talk by Allen Lim, inventor of “Skratch” sports drink. I thought he was going to talk about the sports drink, figuring it would be good to learn about the latest research and whether Cytomax should forever remain my drink of choice (the short answer is yes). But that’s not what was on his mind. He talked about mid-life (40, which seems so young to me now!), and in 2005 trading in a life of continuous change and lack of “balance” for a white picket fence with the love of his life. And you’re thinking this is a happily-ever-after story. Uh… not quite. His wife was raped and left for dead during a trip to Europe, and upon physically recovering, turned to heroin and cocaine. The marriage didn’t survive. OK, why are we hearing this? Because Allen doesn’t believe in white picket fences.
From that story of tragedy he went into sports, specifically cycling. Now keep in mind I’m not so good with names so I really didn’t remember all the connections between Allen Lim and Floyd Landis and Lance Armstrong. But this wasn’t about them either. He did make light of the ridiculous notion that Lance’s downfall was so shocking that it was destroy cycling, mentioning that it wasn’t likely the doping scandal in the Olympics race-walking competition wast going to cause people to stop walking. But then he came to his real message.
“Be uncomfortable and never stop trying to figure it out. But you never will. If anybody tell you you’re supposed to be comfortable they’re just trying to sell you a load of s__t.”
He told a story about Michael Creed, a very talented racer who almost but never did quite make it to the top of the game, going to someone about to quit during a stage race and telling him “I know it hurts. I know you want to stop. But this is the only way.”
His message was that life isn’t supposed to be easy; the human body is designed to suffer, the mind is designed to be challenged. Some will embrace that and accomplish great things; others will choose an easier way and define happiness as finding “balance” in their life. Allen Lim makes one thing clear. He doesn’t believe in “balance.” He believes in pushing the limits for what you choose to do, regardless of the effect on other parts of your life. Or, to paraphrase Nietzsche, That which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.
As much as I can relate to Michael Creed and Allen Lim’s view of struggle and challenge being a good thing, his extremism on the subject helped me to recognize that it’s not a message that can, or even should, be embraced by all. I can’t let everyone off the hook though; I doubt that game-changing accomplishments will ever come from seeking out the white picket fence lifestyle. –Mike–
I should be out riding this morning. Instead I’m on a plane, heading to Chicago then Minneapolis. Business meetings, trying to change the world, make things better for cycling. The usual stuff. Only I feel like I’m on bonus time, since today, at not even 57, I outlive my father.
That’s a strange concept. I can’t imagine missing out on what lies ahead. I can’t fathom not watching my kids as they grow up and have to shortly start pretending to be responsible (they’re 20 & 25). I can’t imagine the vacations I wouldn’t be taking with my wife.
And I can’t imagine not riding a bike.
The whole mortality thing started hitting a few years ago, when I started to realize my legs will never be as strong as they were before, my eyes not as good, my hearing on the decline. That stuff would truly bother me at times, but getting past today seems to erase most of those fears. I know how strange that must sound, but it’s been a tangible presence for a while.
Until today. Because now I’m on bonus time. More thankful and appreciative of each new day and wanting to make sure, in everything I do, that I make the choice, because it is a choice, to make the world a little bit better place. -Mike-
I woke up briefly at 4am this morning, looked out the window and saw clearing skies. Ah, maybe the weather was going to hold off! Back to sleep until 6:55am when I woke up to… rain. No quite right; at most a light drizzle, but really wet streets. Thankfully, I’d already made sure our rain bikes were ready, so Kevin and I dutifully hit the road at 7:31am, a few minutes earlier than normal ‘cuz the rain bikes are a bit slower and you’re somehow just a bit less inspired when all bundled up and staring into gray skies that are literally descending upon you.
Just one other silly person at the start, the other Kevin. It’s a bit confusing on a ride in which the only other people are both named Kevin; I decided to call the older guy (the pilot who’s done this ride with me for 20+ years) “Captain” and the other Kevin, the 20 year old whippersnapper who shares my last name and address… well, still trying to figure that one out. It wasn’t a pretty ride by any standard; 33 minutes up Kings tells that story! Not so bad across the top (Skyline) although we did notice the temperature steadily dropping, which isn’t normal. It’s supposed to start out cold and get warmer, not start out cold and get colder.
But nothing too exciting, no drama, until just prior to heading back down 84 “Captain” Kevin notices his rear tire is low and stops to inflate it. We make it about 3/4 of the way down the hill before it’s nearly flat again, so we stop to replace it. In a very cold (about 37 degrees according to my Garmin) and steadily-increasing rain. Cold and wet enough that, after “Captain” Kevin used a CO2 cartridge and placed it on top of his gloves and the old tube on the ground, everything literally froze together. Seriously. And I didn’t get a photo! Darn.
We then proceeded down the rest of 84 and got less than half a mile down the road before his tire went flat. Again. This time with a bit of a bang, because during the inflation he’d apparently pushed the valve up into the tire a bit, causing the tube to wrap down underneath and rip. Sigh. At least it was now 41 degrees. 10 minutes later we were off again, no more drama the last few miles, and finally, clearing skies. We were left wondering if it was going to be a beautiful day for riding just as soon as we finished, but fortunately, that didn’t turn out to be the case as the blustery weather continued for most of the day.
It was a very, very good feeling finally getting up over Jefferson, half an hour behind schedule, knowing a hot shower was in my immediate future. One of those hot showers where your gradually-thawing hands become incredibly painful as they finally warm up, and one of those mornings where a Caramel Latte at Peet’s wasn’t optional, it was required.
Could we have skipped this morning and ridden tomorrow, when it will be much nicer, instead? That’s what most people would do, but we’re not most people. When it’s time to ride, it’s time to ride, and you can’t let the world tell you otherwise. That’s just how we roll. We’re stupid that way. Curiously, looking at Strava, very few others were out riding this morning. Wonder why?
This has to be the most-common moderate-distance ride I do- the Old LaHonda/Pescadero/Tunitas Creek loop. It’s the go-to ride because it’s safe, it’s reliable (you know where to find food & water), it’s challenging if you want to make it challenging, or just a bit on the “tough” side it you want to take it easy. But there’s no way to really take it easy, ‘cuz you’ve got a few hills along the way-
Old LaHonda (1300ft)
Haskins Grade (800ft)
Stage Road climbs 1, 2 & 3 (about 400ft each)
Tunitas Creek (2000ft)
Total time on the road runs from 3.75 to 4.5 hours, depending of course on how much time you spend at the Pescadero Bakery! But even though it doesn’t take very long, and it’s not even very far (from my place in Redwood City it’s just 58 miles), it still feels like you’re quite a distance from home as you head out past Loma Mar on your way to the coast.
Today Kevin and I had an earlier start than usual (on the road by 8:30am) because he had to be back in time for a 1pm on-line video game contest of some sort, one of those things where you form teams and go after military objectives, which sounds better than saying you’re trying to kill as many people on the other team as possible. Kevin was a bit concerned that we weren’t going to make it back in time, but y’know, after doing this route so many times, it’s not like I don’t have a handle on it. But there may have been a reason for some of his uncertainty, as this was only his 3rd time back on the back after 17 days off due to a kidney issue and tonsillectomy.
He needn’t have worried. While he wasn’t particularly fast going up Old LaHonda, finishing less than a minute ahead of me (22-something), he held up fine everywhere else. We even skipped the near-mandatory stop at the Pescadero Bakery after checking to make sure we had a few energy bars, just in case. And Tunitas Creek provided the opportunity to chase down some rabbits, including Jerry, a very good customer of ours (seen in the photo). We arrived back home at 12:30, plenty of time for his game.
Is it just me, or is the GoPro Hero2 the most-finicky camera/tech gadget ever? I’ve had more lock-ups and outright failures than anything else I’ve ever used, and that includes Windows 2.0! Today’s fun was from using the wrong memory card; a 32 gig micro SD in an adapter. I’ve used 8 & 16 gig micro SD cards in adapters fine, I’ve used 32 gig standard SD cards. But a 32 gig micro shows a “no SD” (as in, no SD card) error. On other cards, it will work for a while but then decide it doesn’t want to keep recording after the first 10 minute segment. And sometimes it doesn’t charge the battery, even though it says it is, and indicates it’s done. Of course I don’t discover any of this until 10 minutes after I’ve left the house, when it’s time to turn on the camera.
So instead, I’m thinking I’ll try to use Instagram to record the ride. Yeah, right. Trying to operate an iPhone with a winter glove, holding and pushing the shutter button with just one hand… oh yeah, good luck with that! It works nicely if you’re stopped though, and should work OK with regular gloves. Soon as it gets warmer, maybe on Sunday’s ride, I’ll report back on this.
But what about the ride? A bit warmer, maybe 44 degrees at the start (and you’d be surprised how different 44 feels from, say, 38). Roll call found in the photo on the left. Since it was Thursday it was a run through the park, with Kevin (my son, not the pilot) feeling a whole lot better than Tuesday and pushing the pace for the first third of the ride. I was feeling a bit better too, but instead of trying to keep up with Kevin I chose to make sure there were no issues at the back. Jan is normally stronger than me on the climbs, but he’s spent the last few weeks skiing instead of cycling. No problem, not much of a sacrifice on my part to drop my speed a bit and keep someone company. –Mike–
Today was Kevin’s first day back on a bike since…January 24th (just checked it out on Strava). Two and a half weeks! First it was a kidney thing, then a throat thing (tonsillitis leading to a tonsillectomy) and then the plague (sore-throat version, nice thing to add on top of a throat already raw from tonsil removal). But today he was back with us, and yes, he did suffer. He had been hoping that a few pounds of weight he’d dropped while sick was going to help him on the climbs, but that wasn’t the case; he made it up just barely over 30 minutes (30:08 I think) and really wasn’t in any frame of mind to try and get those all-important 9 seconds back. But for Kevin, 29:59 probably has zero credibility anyway; he’s routinely doing mid-26s this time of year.
Me? I was finally feeling alive, as in legs worked, lungs sorta worked. I waited a couple times for Kevin on the way up, and then again, surprisingly, on Skyline when Todd mentioned to me that Kevin had been blown off the back. He (Kevin) claimed that he doesn’t mind riding alone, but that Dad thing still prefers to keep him in sight and, besides, I try to monitor the back of the ride and keep things together.
I also experimented with Instagram today, trying to take photos while riding. Not so easily done! The combination of winter gloves and trying to use a phone as a camera with one hand doesn’t work too well (especially tough to trip the shutter button in the middle of the phone, while trying to hold it steady). You can see the results on the Strava page.Roll call? Quite a few today. Karen, Karl, Eric, George, Kevin, Kevin, Todd, Marcus, definitely missing someone here.
Best news of the day was the scale; it’s very rare that I see a sub-170 weight during the winter. Sunday’s ride took off a couple pounds and hopefully they’ll stay off!
On the face of it, it seems so stupid, yet so addictive. High-end carbon road bike with high-zoot carbon wheels and skinny road tires. What could possibly make a dirt road attractive?
Maybe it’s the fun of the “Undiscovered Country.” Having lived in this area since birth (almost 57 years), and having ridden extensively since 11 years old, it’s not so easy finding new roads, new challenges. The obvious answer? Off-road. Trouble is, I have so little time to ride that I can’t rationalize putting a mountain bike into a car and driving somewhere to ride it. But y’know, there was a time when we didn’t have things called mountain bikes, but this crazy local cyclist, Jobst Brandt, thought the bicycle, the bicycle you had at hand, was limited in capabilities only by the user… so it wasn’t unusual that we’d have a 10 mile stretch of dirt trail (not even fire road) in the middle of an epic Sunday 115 miler. We’d do this on fragile sew-ups (usually called “tubulars” these days), threading our way through rocks and sand patches and somehow rarely had flat tires. That experience was a huge thrill for a 16 or 17-year-old kid… it was probably what convinced me that cycling really was the solution for everything.
But for years, decades even, my road bike has pretty much stayed off the dirt, at least if it could be avoided. That is, until last week, my first run over Old Haul Road, from the Loma Mar (Pescadero) side and heading into Portola State Park and the infamous hellish climb back up to Skyline. Today, I figured I’d reverse it, dropping down into the park off a different road, one that Keith (one of our semi-regular Tuesday/Thursday-am riders) took a couple weeks ago. Riding with me was Jeff K, one of our reps who’s come with me on a number of rides, although most have covered familiar territory.
The ride started out like many, ascending Old LaHonda, but instead of heading down the other side, we went south on Skyline before descending West Alpine and admiring the spectacular views of the coast. And then, shortly after the normal turn-off for Portola State Park, it started to get silly. I’ve put together a video of the 10 minute descent into hell, on a twisty single-lane “paved” road that actually leaves you wanting more.
Once at the bottom, we over-shot the normal choice for getting across to Old Haul Road, riding down into a deserted correctional facility, looking, essentially, for a way out. It was there; I even started down the “jeep trail” a bit before deciding it wasn’t it and back-tracking to a gated dirt road that was signed as leading to Portola State Park.
A very long .8 mile later and I was back in familiar territory- Old Haul Road. It wasn’t much different heading north than it had been the preceding week heading south, and once again my high-
performance “road” bike proved its worth in dirt & mud. We had one more opportunity to back track when we came to Towne Fire Road, which signage indicated would end up on the eastern slope of Haskins Grade (Old Haul dumps you off on the west end). That sounded interesting! Unfortunately, after a few hundred meters you plunge down to the creek, which, at that point, is very wide and very cold with no way to cross other than walking through it. So back up we go, soon exiting Old Haul Road at Loma Mar where we rejoined civilization.
The rest of the ride was the basic “coastal classic” heading out to Pescadero (lunch at the bakery, of course!), Stage Road north, then return on Tunitas. At San Gregorio we were flagged by Perry, a
cyclist who’d had a flat but no way to inflate the spare tube he carries (he had his CO2 cartridge but forgot the head). We got him going and he sped on up ahead… but we caught back up with him again at the Bike Hut on Tunitas, where he’d gotten another flat. This time I assisted him, finding the tiny piece of glass in his tire that would have caused yet another flat, and the three of us rode together up Tunitas, over the top and home.
This was not an easy ride, but it was a lot of fun exploring new territory… and exploring is certainly the appropriate word!