Kevin doesn’t seem to suffer from being off the bike quite as much as I do. Nor does he seem to suffer on the bike quite as much as I do! But seriously, I thought I’d have a window, maybe a very small window, where I’d have the upper hand on him after his recent surgery and 10 forced days off the bike.
Kevin himself thought he’d be needing to take it easy, and resisted any routing that would take us “over the top” of Skyline (requiring a ride back over the hill to get home, meaning no easy way to bail out), so I came up with the idea of an “easy” ride up Old LaHonda, then south on Skyline to Page Mill, down Page Mill & Moody and then ride through the foothills to our Los Altos store and then return home.
Of course, Kevin’s “easy” ride up Old LaHonda was 23 minutes, just a minute or two faster than the best I can manage these days! And up on Skyline, he wanted to take off after the guy who passed up, only to turn his head a minute later and see that I was drifting rapidly back. Sigh.
I did have the upper hand on the return though; Kevin began to wear down pretty quickly on the flats and rollers, and by the time we got home, he was figuring our 47 mile “easy” ride was maybe 10 miles too long.
280 Overpass on Canada Road
No surprise here; lots of cyclists out on Summer’s last weekend!
Late-summer “colors” on Mtn Home Road
Kevin doing what he enjoys most- passing people on climbs
The Vortex about Skyline… interesting clouds today!
Descending Page Mill
Just to prove to Burt that I do wear the Flanders socks he gave me!
It was like the old days, when the 49ers were the best in the league. You wait until the game starts, and the roads are deserted! And that’s how it was during today’s 49er-Green Bay Packers game. Few people on the road (cars or even bikes, for that matter), nice weather (mid-70s to 82 degrees, although it seemed like it was a headwind no matter which direction I rode) and a fairly-intense ride for such a short distance.
I could have done the usual; head over Old LaHonda out to Pescadero and back via Tunitas. But I decided to do something different, something a big “uglier”. South to Cupertino, Stevens Creek to Redwood Gulch, then up 9, north on Skyline then down into Woodside. Using Olive Hill & Canada Road as the starting point (which, of course, is the center of the universe, since the Tuesday/Thursday-morning ride begins there), it’s almost exactly 50 miles and almost exactly 5000 feet of climbing. But, it’s a lot tougher than the numbers indicate, because starting the main climb via Redwood Gulch is a killer!
I was alone today (Kevin’s off the bike for about a week following his surgery) so the pacing was up to me. Unfortunately, in the post-Strava era, that means the pacing is actually up to no darned good! My legs felt like rubber for the first hour or so, and actually didn’t feel much better starting up Redwood Gulch either, but the legs were turning, the bike was moving, and I was playing mind games, trying to convince myself that I could actually relax on a 20% grade.
There was no rest for the wicked at the top of 9; I could have stopped for a cold drink at Mr. Mustard, but instead pushed on, thinking maybe I could get home before the game ended. That would be pretty cool; get in a significant ride entirely within the time the 49er game was played. Further incentive to push hard came at the bottom of 84 as I headed towards Woodside; my average speed was exactly 17mph at that point, and I really didn’t want to finish the ride at 16-something. 17 sounds so much more respectable! Those last 5 miles home weren’t easy, but I ended up at 17.3mph average speed, no stops (except for that darned light at Summerhill) and pretty darned tires. Oh, and in time to see the final three minutes of the game!
August wasn’t a great month for me and my bikes; aside a short demo ride on a mountain bike in Wisconsin (Trek dealer show) and a single commute ride to & from work (2.9 miles each way, but at least a hill in one direction!) I went 19 days without riding. That first day back (last Tuesday) wasn’t easy, but not nearly as tough as I expected… but of course that was just 30 miles. Another 30 miles on Thursday, and then yesterday, another 30 miles (a bit of a pattern here?) riding from Morgan Hill to San Jose. Those rides weren’t going to make up for what I missed in August.
That’s where today comes in. I had to come up with something that was ambitious, yet possible. Kevin had the same idea. The Santa Cruz loop. 112 miles, familiar territory. Impossible would have meant going up Bonny Doon; we’ll leave that for another time.
It felt good doing something so familiar; Kevin and I know this loop like most know “The Loop” in Portola Valley. Up Old LaHonda, over Haskins Grade, then the rollers of Cloverdale. The only real surprise came when we exited to the coast and found that the Gazos Creek Grill is no longer in business. Not an issue for us, since our planned lunch stop was in Davenport (14 miles down the coast) but something to keep in mind for other rides.
Mild crosswinds for the run to Davenport, with moderate tailwinds from there to Santa Cruz. Normally we’d make a full lunch stop at Davenport, but the Whaler Cafe had run completely out of their awesome ham & cheese (or turkey and cheese) croissants, and everything else for that matter other than cookies. So we shared a quick Mtn Dew and cookie and continued on to Santa Cruz, eating lunch at Emily’s, which is highly recommended. Not terribly fast, but very friendly and very good.
As always, the worst part of this ride is the run up Highway 9 from Santa Cruz to Boulder Creek, and this being Labor Day, the traffic was even heavier than normal. We made our usual water & Mtn Dew stop at the Boulder Creek gas station and then headed up 9 to Skyline, leaving behind the heavy traffic and narrow roads, and finally feeling like we were on home turf, especially once on Skyline with Mr. Mustard waiting. No hot dog for us this time, just some drunks and then a fast run across Skyline, down into Woodside and home.
We weren’t the only ones out today; this looked like a Western Wheelers ride
25 miles to Santa Cruz. Seems like a long way… and feels like it too.
Approaching Davenport (and leaving the fog behind)
Emily’s Cafe in Santa Cruz. Cook bike wind thingee out front.
We’re not sure what this guy is protesting or fundraising for…
Boulder Creek gas stations/refueling stop. 93 degrees so we went through a lot of water.
Mile 0, the start of the Coyote Creek Bike Trail in Morgan Hill.
Had to meet with our Pearl Izumi & Shimano rep in Morgan Hill today, and decided that, obviously, there was no way I was going to do that if it got in the way of a bike ride. Too far to ride from Redwood City to Morgan Hill & back, and besides, the plan is for a tough ride tomorrow with Kevin. And since Becky (my daughter, who does the apparel ordering in Redwood City) needed to be there too, I decided a reasonable idea would be to go down with her in a car, then ride back from Morgan HIll to San Jose and take the train back to Redwood City. For the route, I used GoogleMaps and ridewithgps.com to chart a downloadable course for my Garmin.
First, let me tell you that heading north, in the afternoon, on a warm (93 degree) day, is probably the wrong direction. It’s a long, kinda lonely drag, along a trail that zig-zags from one side of the freeway (101) to the other. Once in a while you come across someone else on a bike, but for the most part, there’s not much to keep your mind occupied beyond the effort at hand. Sure, there are markers every half mile that you can use to gauge your progress, but in a hot headwind they seem more discouraging than encouraging. Doesn’t matter; you just pedal forward into it and try to keep your speed up. Which, apparently, I did because Strava thinks I’ve got the 6th-fastest time on the segment from the beginning in Morgan Hill to Heyller Park (location of the Velodrome) in southern San Jose.
But that Google Maps bike directions thing? Works fine if you’ve got a fairly long stretch of recommended bike route, but the convoluted route once I got into San Jose was impossible to follow. The routes shown below-
Wished I’d worn my heart monitor so I could have known my “suffer score” but had left it at home. Besides, the “suffer score” on Strava doesn’t take into account heat or headwinds!
Mile 0, the start of the Coyote Creek Bike Trail in Morgan Hill.
You have never seen so many goats in your life, guaranteed!
An “older” couple on a 3-wheel recumbent
Not all of the trail is terribly exciting
You get a bit more activity as you get closer to San Jose
The Garmin map closely mirrors reality
Stopped by to see the Hellyer Velodrome in action (it’s right at the end of the trail)
Once in San Jose, you quickly realize streets are better than trails, which are often paved with glass
The embedded glass that caused my flat tire (discovered as I boarded CalTrain)
Sometimes you patch just because you can. It held… long enough to get home. Next morning, flat again.
Where else can you get “Deer Approved Lettuce”? A burma-shave-style sign that appears after “Do vegetables creep you out?”
Sometimes it frustrates me that it takes so long to get things going for a ride on Sundays; the original idea is to get out fairly early (which, for us, would be 9am! Hardly early!) but then you get roped into heading down to Noahs and Starbucks for bagels & coffee, then Kevin starts playing whatever the latest video game is and can’t leave until he finishes some battle (Skyrim?). But it worked out well since the gloomy overcast burned off, allowing us to ride without leg warmers or jackets by the time we finally got out the door sometime after 12 noon.
A rare photo showing Kevin actually trailing me on a climb. Unlikely to happen again!
The route chosen wasn’t “fun” but it was the right ride for the day. The usual up Old LaHonda, but instead of heading out to Pescadero and then north to Tunitas and back, we went all the way out to the coast, south on Stage to Pescadero, then over Haskins Grade (in the “wrong”/harder direction) and up West Alpine to Skyline.
The run up Old LaHonda was Kevin’s fastest-ever, thanks to some good-natured taunting by Jeff Z, one of our customers, who had just recorded a time better than Kevin’s previous best. No longer! Kevin’s now in the mid-18-minute club for the climb up Old LaHonda, leaving me to believe he’s capable of something faster than he’s shown so far on Kings. Me? About 4 minutes behind. Thankfully, I did better later in the ride, holding my own on Stage Road, and even getting the best of him on Haskins Grade.
Kevin eventually got the best of me on West Alpine, but not by any great margin. So, I’m not dead. Not yet! Even Strava thinks I had some “accomplishments.”
First Sunday ride after returning from France, so what better to do than ride again the last Sunday ride we did before leaving? And, actually, the Wednesday prior to that.
Today’s ride, with Kevin-
Last ride prior to leaving for France (Bike Friday “test” ride), also with Kevin. The Bike Fridays seem to run about 10% slower on the climbs, but it’s not entirely a fair test we also loaded them down a bit with racks & bags (on my bike anyway).
Exact-same ride a few days earlier, on my Madone (like today). Just me that day; July 4th and Kevin was off paint-balling.
Obviously, I have a whole lot of comparative data! Weeks, months, years, even decades of the regular Tuesday/Thursday-morning ride, and then quite a few like this, often called the “Coastal Classic”. And, over the years, I’ve watched myself get steadily slower, at least past 50. I’d actually done pretty well in the run-up to 50, working hard to be in as good, if not better shape at 50 than I was at 35, and pretty much succeeded at it. But since then it’s been downhill, and not in a good way. My breathing issues have caught up to me, but soon that will be a thing of the past (once all testing is finished and they figure out the best therapy, as in drug, to open up my airways).
I’ve got enough benchmarks of the “old” me. Soon it will be time to start posting identical rides with a new trend. Faster times up the hills. Can’t wait!
That’s my ride. The last big ride in the mountains for us; Riding from Lourdes over the Col du Aspin, then nearly all of the Peyresourde before detouring up to Peyregudes, where today’s Tour de France stage finished. The afterward a mad dash down the mountain because we quite literally had a train to catch. More details soon, including how Kevin had quite the run-in with the Gendarmes, or at least one of them.
Tomorrow morning (Friday) we catch a train to Paris; this will be as close to a “rest” day as we’ve had. Then Saturday we take a train from Paris to the final time trial in Chartres, back to Paris that night, Sunday the final stage, and Monday we fly home. As goes the title of a Calvin & Hobbes collection, the days are just packed!
TeeJay looking good
You can never have too many shots of Chris Horner
Not the year for Cadel Evans
Valverde, winner of today’s stage
Froome literally burying himself to bring Wiggins home
Nibali finishing 19 seconds behind Wiggins & Froome, meaning he’ll likely finish 3rd in Paris
TeeJay, Best Young Rider, looking towards the finish line 475 meters away.
Thankfully, most of the ride went fine, just the climb up the Campan side of the Tourmalet. An “easy” 100k ride to see today’s Tour de France stage, only it appears I have some issues when it gets really hot. Dang, I used to do pretty well when it’s hot, and I still do fine (better than fine, actually) on the flats and even into headwinds when it’s hot. But today on the Tourmalet, that was not my finest two hours.
Kevin had no such issues; he could ride at whatever speed he wanted up the hill. But starting at about 8k from the top, I was sweating more than normal, I was losing power, and finally had to do the unthinkable. Yes, I actually walked about a kilometer up hill.
At least I didn’t lose anything permanent, like Cadel Evans did today. Another 4 minutes off the pace, so there’s no way Cadel can even hope to make the podium in Paris this year. Me? I just lost face to my son, although there was some measure of redemption on the return when we hit quite a headwind on the gentle lower slopes of the Tourmalet, and I had quite a train of riders drafting behind me for quite a few miles. That, I’ll admit, was fun.
Eating at a small park on the way to the Tourmalet
One of many cokes along the way. On a hard ride, worth every penny, or rather euro. Typically 2.50 euros.
Arriving at the top of the Tourmalet. Quite a scene.
Proof that our Bike Fridays made it!
Yet another coke… this at the base of the Tourmalet, on our return
Check out Voeckler’s eyewear. One clear, the other reflective?
I’ve always wanted to see my reflection in a guy’s glasses. Never have. But my bike made it. Jens Voight no less!
Most-painful expression of the day
Look ma, no hands
The art of drinking from a water bottle
A lot of green
10 minutes later, the main field rolls through, including an ailing Cadel Evans
There’s no mystery to this spot; it’s as steep as it looks. Maybe steeper. Col d’Andorre it’s called.
Ouch. It was going to be an “easy” day between two pretty tough ones, a loop from Lourdes up the valley to Argeles Gazost, with a little kicker up D102 for fun. Looked like about 800 feet of climbing on that loop. Which would have been fine, except, at the top, there’s a tiny little orange sign next to a water faucet (and it’s 94 degrees so you’ve definitely stopped for the water!). Col d’Andorre, 6km. Hmm. How bad can it be?
We went just far enough to ensure that it was, in fact, gravel forever.
Pretty darned bad, and without even the satisfaction of completing it, thanks to it turning to gravel after about 4km or so. Steep? Yes, it’s Sonora Pass steep. Great views, little traffic, but wow. Did get us KOMs for that piece though, primarily because only one other Strava person has ever dared to try it before.
From some place high above Gavernie. Would be scenic if not for the clouds.
(And would be more wordy if I hadn’t uploaded that from my iPhone while on the ride, and I wasn’t carrying my regular glasses so to say I’m blind when it comes to using the tiny screen and keyboard is an understatement!)
Today was our first day out on the Bike Fridays in France; a supposed-to-be-easy ride that turned into 72 miles and quite a bit of climbing. See, I’d read about this national park at the end of a road that was supposed to have awe-inspiring views of waterfalls and glaciers and all sorts of stuff we might have been able to see where it not for the clouds that had moved in on us. But it was a good ride, we both rode pretty strongly (and for once, I think I was the better climber overall, or at least towards the end) and Strava says we did really well despite riding pretty heavy bikes and, in my case, loaded down with all sorts of gear.
Tomorrow is our first day to intercept the ‘Tour, in the mountains above Foix. Film at 11. But for now you can see the Strava details and another French encounter with sheep.