People asked for years, “Do you ride to work?” It was an assumption; obviously, as much as I ride, I must be riding to work as well. I must be living on a bike. Until recently, that wasn’t the case; having two locations required frequent transfers of inventory, requiring that I have a shop van each day that I would load up with items needed by the other store, and Steve had one for product needed in Redwood City that was coming from Los Altos. We’d exchange vans several times per week, so basically I was stuck driving, whether I wanted to or not. Continue reading
Kevin (my son, not the pilot) is off school this week, so naturally he was going to show up on one of the Tuesday/Thursday-morning rides, right? Preferably both? Yeah, right, the last thing a kid wants to do when they don’t have school is get up early; Kevin begged out of Tuesday’s ride with that excuse, but made an agreement that he’d be there today. So, I got up 15 minutes earlier than normal (not fun; I don’t like getting up when the first digit on the clock shows a “6″) and was happy to see that the forecast rain hadn’t materialized so I could ride my nice bike and we didn’t have to throw fenders on Kevin’s.
We rode up to the start a few minutes early, planning to tell whomever might be there that we’d be getting a bit of a head start. Whomever, in this case, was just Karl, but since most show up for this ride with maybe a minute or two to spare, no more, that wasn’t very surprising. I did expect to see Eric, who is most definitely not scared by even a “5″ showing up as the first digit on the clock, but it was likely pretty wet where he lives, in the mountains about Los Gatos.
Kevin and I weren’t riding very fast up the hill, but apparently fast enough to hold off Karl and pilot Kevin, whom we finally saw on Skyline just before descending towards Sky Londa (we’d stopped to put on windbreakers, since it had dropped to 41 up on top). The video tells the story… we were, quite literally, riding in the clouds. Don’t worry, this one’s short (under two minutes). The moving black bars are a result of using image stabilization functions in Adobe Premiere Elements to try and get rid of the shakiness from the camera mount.
Things cleared up just past Skeggs Point, and it was quite beautiful out on west-side Old LaHonda. Unfortunately, we learned a bit more about what’s going on with the road, as we met up with a road crew laying down some patches. They told us there were no plans to do anything about the area where the road is sliding down into the canyon, and in fact they have cancelled heavy maintenance (chip-sealing) because the road doesn’t seem to have a future. Very unfortunate that they are still allowing vehicular traffic without restriction through the failing patch of roadway; I’m sure that the road would last much longer if they posted it as being impassable for trucks. Enjoy it while you can!
As the weather turns nicer, it would seem normal that more people would show up for the every-Tuesday/Thursday-morning ride, but sometimes the opposite happens, as people find ways to do longer rides later in the day, and don’t want to be softened-up too much by a hard ride up the hill beforehand. But today, I think people just wanted to get out and ride!
Roll call? New-guy Jim from Foster City (mid-40s so he’s not wrecking the age curve too badly), Marcus, Kevin (pilot Kevin), Karen, George, Karl (back on the bike after taking some time off to play chess) and Robert, whom we haven’t seen in quite some time on our morning ride but I see often on my trips to the coast. Eight of us total, a good-sized group for the morning ride.
A bit cooler than I’d hoped for; very comfortable, no issue there, but at 48 degrees on the initial part of the climb, and never warming up past 50 on Skyline and the far side of the hill, my breathing was labored. I really look forward to mid-60s weather, since that’s when my lungs start to open up and I don’t sound like a leaky steam engine. I hung with the faster riders, who weren’t riding particularly fast, until we got to the steeper sections on the last quarter of the climb. George had already decided he was going to take the sprints today by going off the front ahead of me, and I was in no shape to bridge the gaps… that will come later.
Unfortunately Marcus didn’t head for home up on Skyline, so I found myself trying to stay glued to his rear wheel on the upper reaches of west-side Old LaHonda, well in front of the rest of the group, who had decided to ride at a more-sensible pace and enjoy the surrounding instead of being fixated on the distance between your front wheel and the rear wheel ahead.
The only thing to spoil a near-perfect ride was a red sedan that thought we were going too slowly down 84 so he decided to tailgate the guys at the back, which is never a comfortable situation. The car finally did pass us, in an extremely-dangerous location and nearly sent a car coming up the hill into a ditch… all to save maybe 4 seconds at the bottom, at most, since we were able to catch back up to him pretty quickly. He was probably running 10 minutes late for work and undoubtedly will blame us for the additional 9 minutes, 56 seconds.
It’s funny the rituals you get into. When it was raining for months on end (or seemed to be), you get into the habit of waking up, opening the shades a bit and checking to see how wet the streets are. This morning, I knew it was going to be nice outside, but I still did exactly the same thing. Woke up, opened the shades a bit and expected to find wet streets. Thank goodness that’s over!
Just a few of us this morning, under bright skies with strong shadows, just the way I like it. Eric, George, Karen and, just for the run up to Skeggs, Marcus (that’s his usual gig; I don’t recall how long it’s been since he’s done the whole ride with us). A pretty easy pace up the hill, although I did try one hard interval, dropping back for a couple hundred meters and then sprinting back up to the lead group. I made it, but with nothing in the tank to spare (thanks partly to the beginning of a cold that I noticed coming on last night and can now confirm its quite real tonight).
Road conditions were surprisingly good; most have held up well despite three solid weeks of rain. Most, not all. That crumbling section of west-side Old LaHonda is becoming narrower by the day, with a very soft, energy-sucking feel as you ride across it. There’s simply nothing supporting the asphalt they’ve dumped onto it, in a cheap attempt to keep the road intact. It’s not going to work; I got the feeling that a single truck driving over that section would be enough to do it in. There are many other areas where the surface is crumbling, but not in danger of falling away, as adjacent hillsides have slipped and basically changed the land the road sits on.
I doubt that the county has the funds to do much road reconstruction these days, and for the few homes along the road, it probably wouldn’t be too much of a hardship for them to have to either head up to Skyline or down to 84 if the road were split in two. The ideal situation for cyclists would be if there remained enough of a cow-path that we could still get through, but not cars.
I’ll tackle the high-water issue in a moment. First, the planned ride (because there’s always a plan, and the plan is generally adhered to). Kevin (my son, not the pilot) was supposed to ride with me today, and wanted to do something “different.” He was bored of doing the same loop/loops over and over again, so I devised something a bit different. Below is what I came up with-
Actually, that’s the ride I actually rode, and is slightly-different from the original plan. Up Old LaHonda, down the other side to LaHonda, over Haskins Grade to Pescadero (no surprises yet!) and then, instead of heading north towards Tunitas, I added a loop out to Gazos Creek & back to San Gregorio, then 84 over the hill back to Woodside, instead of the usual Tunitas Creek.
Kevin ended up not being able to ride, due to a nasty head cold, so I was out there on my own. I don’t mind riding along sometimes, but it’s unfortunate when I miss an opportunity to ride with Kevin, because after he’s been out on a bike for an hour or so, his mind clears of the fog that his epilepsy drugs create and you he becomes a lot sharper and more perceptive. That plus his riding helps keep him in shape for LaCrosse.While the weather was fairly nice, Old LaHonda was still wet in places and the top was very slippery, none of that being a surprise after so much rain this past month, and provided a convenient excuse for the frustrating 22 minutes, 12 seconds it took. One of those times when you keep thinking about where those 13 seconds went, because 21 minutes, 59 seconds sounds so much faster! The descent on the east side is becoming increasingly touchy as the road continues to deteriorate, plus you have to watch out for cyclists heading up, of which there were quite a few today! Then it was up over Haskins Grade to Pescadero, another source of minor frustration as I timed myself at 10 minutes, 10 seconds to the top. A lot more than the 8 minutes I used to easily climb that stretch of road, but faster than I’ve been up it recently. The run into Pescadero wouldn’t be the same if you didn’t have that small dog that runs across a huge yard to chase down cyclists. Fortunately there’s a fence between you and the dog, but I paid attention to where he comes from and it’s way, way, way at the back of a huge lot. Very impressive speed from that little guy! The next stop would normally be in Pescadero for food, but I’d decided I’d do that after returning from the southern loop down to Gazos Creek. This is when plans changed a bit; originally, I was going to ride out to the coast at Pescadero and then head south on 1, but a flooded section of the road between the town of Pescadero and the coast essentially closed the road to cyclists (not a good idea to try and ride through water that’s up to your crankset and too deep to see what you’re riding through). The easiest thing to do would have been to simply head north and do the usual Tunitas loop (again), but the plan had been to head down to Gazos Creek, and some way or other, I was going to stick to some variant of the plan. The solution was simple; ride south on Cloverdale Road instead of the impossible-to-get-to Highway 1, and then return on the coast all the way to San Gregorio, bypassing Pescadero. This worked out quite nicely, since there’s a good place to eat right where you hit Highway 1 (as seen here). It’s called the Gazos Creek Grill, and it may become our new stop on trips to Santa Cruz. Much faster service than the over-crowded Whaler Cafe in Davenport. Then it was a fast run north on Highway 1 to San Gregorio. Yes, fast, heading north. This was an unusual day with reversed wind direction, for which I was quite thankful. Yes, that means I did have a strong headwind at times on Cloverdale Road, but much better there, with its twists & small hills, than on the coast, where you can see the road stretch out in front of you for miles, and a headwind feels like something meant to punish you forever. I was in San Gregorio and heading up 84 in no time, and made it back a fair amount earlier than I expected.
Overall stats, from my house, came to 76 miles, 5900ft of climbing, and 17mph average riding speed. There’s a story to the average speed. I hadn’t paid attention to it most of the ride, finally checking it at the bottom of 84 as I approached Woodside. 16.9 miles per hour. Panic quickly set in; I’d much rather it had said 16.7 than 16.9, because there would be no possible way of bumping 16.7 up to 17 by the time I got home. But 16.9? Ouch. I just might be able to pull it off. So, instead of taking it easy the final few miles to home, I was pushing the pedals as hard as I could, trying to keep my current speed as much above 17 mph as possible, knowing that I was going to be going a fair amount slower than that on my way over Jefferson. Somehow, I did it. I managed to bump it up to 17mph, almost making up for the missed opportunities on Old LaHonda and Haskins Grade. Redemption is where you find it.
If you do this ride starting from Woodside, it’s going to be about 67 miles and 5500ft of climbing. Food & water will be available at LaHonda, Pescadero, Gazos Creek, San Gregorio and again at LaHonda. There’s also food & water at Sky Londa, but that’s only 10 mostly-downhill miles from the finish in Woodside. This ranks as a challenging ride, not something to attempt as your first 100k! –Mike–
By sheer will I am going to make it stop raining. Last night, I told myself this is it. This morning’s ride was going to be the last rainfall on one of my ride days until early November. That big yellow blob, supposedly representing high winds & heavy rain in the forecast? Bring it on. One last time. After the ride, I told myself, my rain bike goes back downstairs, into the garage, where it will sit, lonely, for the next six months.
Well, that was the plan, and yes, I did ride this morning, but in the absence of photographic proof (cameras don’t do well in the rain) and nobody else showing up, how can you really be sure that I didn’t decide to stay home? I actually thought that one through ahead of time, and turns out, there’s an app for that! LocUpdater works on iPhones running IOS4 (the latest version of its operating system) and can be set to send emails to addresses of your choosing, at either 5, 15, 30 or 60 minute intervals. Here’s the string of emails from this-morning’s ride (emails at 8:35 & 8:50 are missing; those two were up on Skyline and possibly not in range of a cell tower at the time the message tried ot transmit).
Speed 7.93 Mi/h
Altitude 839.12 ft
3/24/11 8:04 AM
Speed 7.90 Mi/h
Altitude 1469.29 ft
3/24/11 8:19 AM
Speed 15.86 Mi/h
Altitude 405.53 ft
3/24/11 9:04 AM
Speed 34.69 Mi/h
Altitude 569.94 ft
3/24/11 9:19 AM
That’s my proof that I was out there. That and my lone witness, the woman we see out there jogging, as consistent about being there and schedule as we are (the woman sometimes referred to as “articulated lady” because of the interesting way her body moves, as if she’s put together with hinges).
So is my bike in the garage now? Not yet. It has to do some serious draining first. It would be interesting to weigh my bike and clothing before the ride, and after. But I feel like I did my part to stop the rain. My next ride is Sunday, then Tuesday, then Thursday. So, did it work? Check this morning’s forecast.
Of course, if the rain does stop, I’ll have to wait another year to come up with a “waterproof” glove that actually works. The Gore gloves I used this morning? Near total failure. Cuffs way too short to fit under rain jacket, so water came down into the fingers and stayed there. Thank goodness I brought along an extra pair of gloves to change into up on Skyline!
The first Tuesday/Thursday-morning ride under daylight saving time meant you wake up and it’s… dark! Hate that. At 7:05am, the world should be bright and the sun should be out and the roads should be dry and a tailwind in every direction!
Yeah, well, whatever. Thankfully the roads were just dry enough to rationalize taking my nice bike (after all, what could be worse than the soaking it got at the end of Sunday’s ride?), and the bike and I responded nicely heading over the hill to the start of the ride. Karen, John, Kevin, George, and a bit later, we were joined by Marcus. We started out at a pretty leisurely pace up the hill, with me being content to sit behind wheels. Funny how that changes the ride; if I go to the front at the start, things get moving too fast, too soon. If I stay behind, the pace remains pretty mellow. For a while. Just past the park, Marcus picked up the speed a bit, and, since I was on his wheel, I wasn’t going to let it go. Follow the wheel. That’s what I do. Just keep that rear wheel 6 inches ahead of your front wheel and stay there. Yeah, sounds so easy, but after a couple hundred meters I noticed everyone else had fallen back, and a hundred meters more and I blew a gasket and dropped back myself. Remember, this is what I do for fun.
Fortunately, I didn’t completely fall apart (a concern I had since I’d missed last-week’s rides while in DC), and I managed to keep my heart rate up pretty high (as high as 177 at one point), an indication that my overall health is fairly good. I was also able to pull fairly strongly across Skyline instead of just sitting on wheels, so maybe I won’t lose as much fitness (or gain as much weight) this winter as I normally do. Let’s hope!
Welcome to Daylight Saving Time, when we should be able to sleep in a bit because we’ll be able to ride later in the day, except that the weather forecast said there would be “showers” by 4pm… so sleeping in wasn’t in the cards.
Of course, the best-laid plans, which included getting all the gear out the night before so we could get out on the road quickly, go to pieces when you make sure your son’s checked his tires, which he hadn’t. The first photo tells the story; that tire wasn’t going much further!
Fortunately, I’d brought a tire home last week, knowing that his rear tire was getting pretty thin, and had him install it. Yes, we could have saved some time if I’d done it myself, but then I wouldn’t have heard such silliness as “Dad, how am I going to do this without a tire lever?” Yikes. This is really my kid? Lightweight road tires don’t need tire levers to remove or install, if you have the needed confidence and don’t show the tire any sign of weakness!
We did the usual; up Old LaHonda, over Haskins to Pescadero, Stage Road to Tunitas and back. It’s tough to come up with a convenient & challenging local ride that doesn’t include a run to the coast, with the return is going to be either Tunitas or West Alpine. West Alpine takes a bit longer so we did the always-dependable Tunitas version. Remember, it was going to start getting wet at 4pm or so.
The run up Old LaHonda was relatively uneventful. No seizures for Kevin this time (first time up Old LaHonda in maybe 4 trips that he hasn’t had a seizure there), but his new meds did mess with his vision for a while, causing us to stop about halfway up the hill until his head cleared up. Surprisingly few cyclists on the road, despite pretty nice weather given that it’s still winter.
At Pescadero we changed the routine a bit, opting to split a sandwich for lunch instead of the usual pastries, and I think proper fueling did help Kevin the rest of the ride. Either that or it was the unusual tail-wind heading north on Stage Road (although Kevin’s will never admit to riding with a tail wind; he’s been taught well!). We finally came across a few cyclists climbing the last section of Stage Road; as I’d mentioned, not many out there today!
The descent finishing at the Tunitas Creek bridge was a lot faster than normal, due to that tail wind we won’t admit to, but instead of making the turn
and immediately starting the timed climb up Tunitas, we stopped to take pictures of the two horses & goat that inhabit that first field on the left. Those three have been a fixture for quite a few years, always staying close to each other. When finished, we dutifully road back to the intersection, started our timers and rode west. Kevin had initially wanted to remove his base layer, as it had gotten pretty warm (up to 71 degrees) on the coast, but I suggested removing only our full-fingered gloves since it was likely to get cooler and we climbed, and indeed it did, dropping quickly into the mid-50s. Still very comfortable weather for a stiff climb though. The weather held up nicely for us until… the very top. We felt a few drops as we neared the end of the climb, but it was as if we had gone through a curtain separating the dry coast from the wet bay-side.
The descent on Kings was simply not much fun, having to keep the brakes on hard the entire time, and having the rain wash salty sweat into my eyes. I was really hoping we’d get in before the rain hit; I’ve probably got an hour’s worth of work, maybe more, getting my bike cleaned up and lubed again. But still, a good ride, at a fairly-strong pace, despite my having been off the bike for a week (while I was in Washington DC for the Bike Lobby). And nice to do a ride without Kevin have a seizure too! –Mike–
We knew it was going to be raining today; one of those few times where the weather forecast is for 100% rain. Still don’t understand what 100% rain means, since anything 40% or above basically means it will rain, and 100% rain clearly doesn’t mean it’s going to rain any harder than a 40% rain day. It was fairly obvious though that it made since to plan for rain, so that’s what we did, a non-epic 45 mile ride out to the coast via Old LaHonda, 84 & Tunitas on the return. I’ve ridden up Tunitas when it was really coming down hard, and it was a lot of fun!
So today Kevin and I were prepared for having fun in the rain, but of course, the first thing that breaks up fun is that it didn’t really rain per so, just a persistant drizzle. What’s with that? Your bike is more messed up by drizzle than heavy rain; drizzle doesn’t clear anything off the road, nor does it wash your bike. It just creates muck, and without it seeming like the elements are against you, your motivation wanes. It’s also a bit less motivating when there’s nobody else out there riding, no rabbits to catch in front of you, no dogs trying to catch you from behind. Still, you’re on a bike, and at least you have the motivation of knowing that you’re out there while others are staying home, sitting out the storm. Or, as some might think, stupid people are out riding and smart people are waiting a few hours for it to clear up a bit!
The ride was not without its excitement though, when 3/4 of the way up Old LaHonda Kevin had one of his all-too-often-lately (and all-too-often-on-Old LaHonda) seizures. As is the case with most, he had enough warning that he was able to stop and get off the bike, but this one was strong enough that it gave him quite a headache afterward so we had to alter our plans and just loop over the backside of Old LaHonda and head home, turning our planned 45 mile ride into about 25.
We did make a stop at the Sky Londa market for a Coke, since the caffeine would help with his headache (not as well as the meds he’s supposed to bring with him but didn’t, but the only thing more unexplainable than random seizures would be the general workings of the 18-year-old brain).
Aside from the Coke, Kevin always feels progressively better (after one of his seizures) as he keeps riding, and for some reason wanted to do a tour of the back roads around the Easter Cross above Redwood City. So, add in another two miles of riding in circles (probably looks pretty strange on the Garmin readout!).
Not fun to think about my last ride for a week being a washout; late Monday night I fly to Washington, DC for the annual League of American Bicyclists Bicycle Summit, where we meet with every legislator on the ‘hill, trying to convince them that it makes sense to not cut bike projects out of the budget. I don’t get back until late late Thursday night/Friday morning, so my next ride will be a week from today.
Mike – just in case you think we all stay home when you are away. Quite the social day:
A balmy 46 degrees at the start. A light rain had passed thru around 6 so the roads were wet. By 7:45 we had a few “blue clouds” winking at us through the cloud layer. Kevin, John, picked up Chris on Skyline, two others whose names escape me. In honor of your absence we went up through the Park and found both bottom and top gates wide open for us. A brief stop at the entrance to disrobe. I was way off the pace and told them to go ahead and I’d catch them at the top of WOLH. While climbing up Skyline to WOLH I met Larry, one of the 9:00 ride guys, who had headed up Kings early and was clearing the road for your ride. He’s doing a TNT ride Saturday and looking forward to the projected 31 degree temperatures. After a word with him I headed off and met a runner who just happens to be the daughter of my parents’ college housemate. A quick word with her and then the guys were coming along Skyline so I bid a hasty adieu and hot footed after them – only to have my left shift lever snap off and go flying into the roadside bushes. So my 20 speed is now a 10 speed and I’m stuck in my 39 front chain ring. At least I still have 10 working gears! Fortunately the wet roads kept everybody tame so I could hang on down 84 and then peeled off and limped home on Mt Home where I met up with Steve Lubin and six of the 9:00 ride guys who were heading over to Alpine Rd. Quite the social morning as that’s a total of 14 people I chatted with. Try doing that in an automobile!
Be safe, Millo