Tuesday, April 29, 2008

60 miles….through sheer force of will…

Have you ever met one of those people that, through sheer dogged determination, has risen above their situation and succeeded despite the fact that every card is stacked against them?
My buddy Jerry and I met my sister Maureen, her friend Carolyn and my brother Bob up in Chico this past Saturday to ride the Chico Flatflower 60. It’s one of the routes on the annual Chico Wildflower that, as you can imagine, is flat and goes for 60 miles.
Now, Jerry and I are pretty avid riders, my sister Maureen hasn’t really had a chance to ride much since it’s been snowing in Tahoe, but she plays tennis and goes to spinning class so the 60 was nice and easy for her.
Bob, on the other hand, has not really ridden a bike any distance since he was a teenager. So for him, this was a huge undertaking.

The original plan was for Jerry to ride with us, which I talked him in to with the promise that it was all flat and the pace would be relaxed. Afterall, we had done 44 miles and 5200 feet of climbing the day before.
Little did I know, Carolyn wanted to do something a little longer and tougher, and, being the gentleman that he is, Jerry didn’t want her to have to ride alone so off they went looking for about 70 miles and some hills to climb.

Our ride started out gorgeous. Clear and cool. We headed out of the fairgrounds and into the orchards in the surrounding area.
The roads were flat, the wind was light and we saw few cars. The first miles went really easily and before we knew it, we were at the first rest stop. The other nice thing about this ride (in addition to being flat) was that we had nice long straight stretches with no turns. Between the first rest stop and lunch I think we made a total of two turns. With traffic being so light we were able to ride 3 abreast and chat almost the entire time. It was great catching up after not seeing each other in a while.

Lunch was delicious and when we found out we were at mile 30 instead of 22 as Maureen’s odometer said, we were very pleasantly surprised.
Of course from there, things get a little tougher. The wind picked up a bit, it was getting warmer and Bob was starting to feel the effects of his 40 years of bicycle-avoidance.

First, he was just tired, then, he started to cramp. We gave him some e-gels, Gatorade and a salt tablet. (better cycling through modern pharmacology)
He felt better for a bit but you could tell he was getting tired. Still, every time we asked if he wanted me to get the truck he’d grit his teeth and say, “no, I’m going to finish” and on we’d go.

Of course Maureen, whose optimism and cheerful attitude were wonderful, had lost all credibility by proclaiming “we’re almost there” continuously for the last 4 miles.
I think it really hit bottom when we looked back and Bob was nowhere to be seen.
Maureen and I pedaled back to find him on his back in the shade of an orchard with his bike propped up nicely against a tree.
With less than a couple miles to go, Maureen started to “encourage” Bob a little more forcefully that he needed to get back on the bike.
So, with a couple thousand pedal strokes to go, Bob re-mounted and we made it through town and back to the fairgrounds, 6+ hours and 63 miles after starting.
We stowed the bikes in the cars and went to celebrate our accomplishments. They fed us tri-tip and salad and sweets and we washed it all down with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Except Maureen, she had a ginger ale.

We finished before the worst of the heat, but Jerry and Carolyn must have been dying at the end as it was 96 when I rode past the bank around 1:00 pm.

All in all a great day and can’t wait till next year.(hopefully Bob will get on the bike at least once between now and then)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Mt Hamilton….on a tricycle!!!!

Several of us planned on riding up Mt Hamilton on Saturday. We do this ride every year and wanted to do it before it got too late in the season and too warm to be enjoyable. We met up at Penitencia Creek park and saw that Peter had a new bike. Well, technically that’s not correct, Peter had a new Tricycle.

It was low and sleek and red and pretty cool looking. And, as we found out during the ride, it’s pretty comfortable and actually quite fast.

Of course these facts did nothing to slow the flow of jokes and teasing. Terms like barcalounger and questions like, “where are the TV and ice chest” flowed pretty much all day.

The ride went well and it was a gorgeous day!

We saw a lot of riders since the Mt Hamilton challenge was going on, and as usual, the coming down was way more fun than the going up.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The festivities this weekend…

This is going to be a great weekend for a couple of reasons.
First Saturday a bunch of us are riding up Mt Hamilton. This is probably one of my favorite climbs. It’s a good long climb at 4700ft over 22 miles which is a little more enjoyable than Diablo and provides some amazing views. (and a good workout) The total loop will be 44miles with 5400 ft of climbing but the best part is the 4700 ft of downhill.
Then Saturday afternoon a friend and I are shooting up to Chico to do the 60 mile wildflower (actually they call it the Flatflower) which will be a lot of fun. My sister is coming down from Tahoe for it, my brother will be heading up from Fairfield to do it and my neice is in Chico going to school, so it will be a reunion of sorts.
For Jerry and me, the 60 flat miles should be a piece of cake and I’ll be doing it on the single speed. Although, I’ve never actually done long rides back to back so it may be tougher than I think after doing Mt Hamilton the day before. Jerry, well he’s like the energizer bunny so once he starts pedaling he just keeps pedaling….pretty sure he could power a small mid-west city if needed.
For my sister, she hasn’t been riding much since there’s been so much snow, but then again, she’s a total stud and could probably do the ride then go play 3 sets of tennis before she’d even start to be tired.
My brother…well, this will be interesting. I know he hasn’t been riding much and doesn’t even own a bike for that matter. This is bound to be a long day in the saddle for him, but he’s just got this crazy mental thing where if he sets his mind to something….it gets done.

I remember the first year I hiked half dome with him. May have been his 50th birthday, he shows up in work jeans, engineer’s boots and a sweatshirt and he just went and did it. Never said he was tired, never complained, just started hiking and didn’t quit till he got to the top. I on the other hand whined pretty much the entire way up and most of the way down.

Of course, since we’re going to be in Chico, we’ve decided to have dinner at the Sierra Nevada Brewery.
Afterall, there’s nothing like doing a nice long ride with a screaming hangover! Stay tuned….pics and recap to follow

Thursday, April 24, 2008

With only 2 weeks left…..

It’s the final stretch and TheOverTheHillGang is scrambling, both for miles and for sponsorships.
The sponsorships, I’m not so worried about…
As long as we each hit the minimum $200.00 we’ll be fine. If we don’t get close to our fund raising goal of $15,000.00 it will be disappointing but I know times are tough and I was reading that charitable donations are way down in every sector. Evidently, it’s easier to be charitable when you’re able to make your house payments and put food on the table.

The miles though are another story….
The Tour de Cure is a fun ride at a relaxed pace. There are rest stops every 12-15 miles and we plan on taking all day. Still…..for some of our riders, this will be their longest ride ever. For others, this will be the longest ride since….well, since last year.
I was talking to someone last night that has put in less miles than they should have up to this point. His comment was “I’m not sure if it’s worth suffering now on a few rides trying to get ready or just plan on suffering for one long day on the day of the event”

That’s actually a good question. If you’re not ready for an event, do you try to cram in some rides for the week and half prior, knowing you’re going to suffer on the training rides only in the hopes that you’ll suffer a little less the day of the event? Or, do you relax and enjoy the last few weeks and just expect to suffer once while doing the event itself?

It seems logical to me that if you’re going to suffer anyway there’s no sense in suffering before hand as well. It’s kind of like if you decide to blow your brains out…do you shoot yourself in the leg first just to see how bad it hurts???

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bike riding is supposed to be fun.....

These words, spoken by my wife as I grumbled and groaned getting ready to ride on Saturday, really hit home. They’re true and riding should be fun.
Afterall, it’s not like I make my living riding the bike. I don’t race or even ride competitively. I don’t even ride with the Saturday morning bike shop group where I need to be at the top of my game or suffer the humiliation of getting destroyed like some people do.
I ride because it’s a good workout, I get to be outside and I enjoy it. Usually……

Lately though, it’s not fun and it hasn’t been fun for a month or so now. It’s been work.
It all started when I committed to doing the Death Ride. At that point, my “riding” changed to “training” and with that subtle shift, the whole dynamic changed.
It was no longer about wanting to get out on my bike, it was about needing to get out and get miles and feet of elevation. It became “work”

Now, I’m a fairly busy guy and I actually prefer it that way. I never have been good at just sitting still. Biking for me has always been fun. I enjoy exercise and setting goals and it’s a great way to blow off steam after a crappy day at work. But when it becomes more than that, when it becomes one more source of stress…..then something needs to change.

So, Saturday, after deciding I wasn’t going to do the Death Ride, I worked in my yard all day and had a great day. Last night I took the single speed around lake Chabot and enjoyed it without worrying that it wasn’t a long enough ride and today I’m doing a nice, flat, 20 miles with my Tour de Cure team and again….I won’t worry about how many miles or how much climbing. It will be FUN

Friday, April 11, 2008

I hate politics....

Ok, so this is a rant and I apologize up front, but it’s my blog and I’ll vent if I want to!

I went to a meeting last night of volunteers that are working to get a school bond passed in Hayward. The first one in almost 50 years!
Yes, my kids are out of the school district now, but if you’ve seen the Hayward schools, you know just how desperately they need help.

The bond would add $59.00 per 100K valuation which, in most of Hayward, is probably less than 300.00 per year. Yep, 300.00 per year – that’s about half of what I spend on Starbucks every year and I drink plain coffee. For those of you that drink the mocalatteespressochai drinks it’s even less.

Anyway, the bond is really needed and while almost everyone is on board and in support of the issue there are a few groups that won’t support it. One group is the Hayward Education Association (teachers union) – and why won’t they? Simple politics.
Evidently, the District and the Teachers union are at odds over some issue or issues and because of that the teachers union won’t support the bond. This is just ridiculous!!!

Granted the bond won’t help the teachers make any more money (which they deserve) but it will directly impact their work environment by making it safer and better. It will give them better resources to teach with in the way of wireless and updated classrooms, computer labs and libraries and it will raise awareness in our community of the situations they face trying to teach in substandard classrooms with sub-par equipment and resources.

Now, the teachers won’t be the deciding factor to whether the bond passes or not, that responsibility lies with the community, but fer cryin out loud, we try to pass the first bond dedicated to our schools in almost 50 years and the teachers are going to let politics get in the way????? You gotta be kiddin me!!!!

Anyway, I’m done ranting now…..but I still hate politics.
If you're curious as to what I'm talking about..... www.yesforkids.org

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The business card as a weapon…..

So, yesterday a few of us were manning the booth at a local trade show. It was actually pretty slow so, in an effort to make the day pass a little quicker, I thought I’d have a little fun.

Anytime someone walked by I’d strike up a conversation tell them about what a great company we were, give them a business card and tell them to call or email me anytime they had questions….about anything.
What’s fun about that? Well, nothing really except I was telling them I was the one of the other guys at the booth, and giving them his name and his card.

This was really a kick since I especially looked for three different kids of people. The first group was anyone that was a little….um, odd. Usually, these people had never thought of landscaping and had no desire for any but hey, they now have a card and a name in case they do.
The second group was older people. I’d talk to them about their flowers and trees and offer to come out and look at their rose that just wouldn’t bloom or their tree that never had any birds in it or even just to visit if they’d like. And boy did they love to talk.
The third group, and I almost feel guilty about this one, were the sales people. Anyone selling anything was given my (or his actually) complete and rapt attention, made to feel like they were selling the formula for turning lead into gold and encouraged to follow up right away with any and all promotional material…..I was having a great time.

Of course, as we all know, any weapon can be dangerous if it gets into the wrong hands and when I went to visit another booth for a while, that’s what happened.
I wasn’t thinking, dropped my guard and left my cards on the table while I was gone.
Sure enough, I came back and almost the entire stack of cards was gone and he and the other sales guy were both smiling like they knew something I didn’t. They especially thought it was funny every time the guy in the Jedi Academy shirt walked by…..did he just smile at me?
Needless to say, I’ll probably need to change the extension on my phone, update my email blocker and move the recycling bin next to my mail box for all the junk mail I’ll be getting.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Art of Procrastination...

So, I registered to do the Death Ride this year and wasn’t chosen. I still fully intend to do it and hope to buy a ticket off Craigslist prior to the ride.
Now, since its 130 miles and 15,000 ft of climbing it should be pretty tough. You would imagine that knowing just how hard this ride is, and how determined I am to finish, that I’d be spending every available minute training for this. Well, you’re wrong.

I’ve been riding regularly and already have done the Solvang Century, but my rides have been short, not very intense (other than the Tues evening Mt bike ride) and in no way preparing me for the level of fitness needed to do the Death Ride.

The funny part is that last year I was obsessed with riding this and used every opportunity to try to make sure I was in shape and ready. This year, well the motivation just hasn’t been there and I’m not sure why. I used to be completely willing (eager even) to shirk my responsibilities using the “training” as an excuse. Now, it’s the other way around.

It’s not like I don’t want to ride, my problem is I’ve just got too many other things going on right now, all of which turn into perfectly acceptable excuses for not riding.
Last Saturday I was going to go do a nice long ride up through the hills. Instead I spent the entire day building a trellis for my backyard. Granted the trellis needs to be built since the area where it’s going has been unplanted and bare for several months so it’s a legitimate excuse, but still, I never used to have to force myself to ride.

Oh well, this weekend I’ll ride…..or maybe I’ll finish installing the lights in the kitchen…

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I've decided to give up cycling....

Well, it’s time. It’s been almost 3 years now and it’s been fun, but I’m moving on.
In case you don’t know me, I tend to be a bit compulsive. (ok, maybe more than just a bit) I jump into and out of things regularly. And when I’m in to something I’m ALL the way in. I have to buy all the goodies that go with it, all the gear that you need, all the clothes that you wear and all the magazines that support it.
I’ve actually been given an award by the logging industry just for the amount of paper used in my magazine subscriptions. Evidently, I’m solely responsible for keeping an entire small northwestern town alive.
Well, that’s what happened a few years ago with biking. I bought a mt. bike and started riding once a week, then got a road bike and joined some friends, then I was riding at least twice a week. From there it only continued downhill to the point that I own 4 bikes, all the gear, several magazine subscriptions, have ridden several centuries, and actually evangelized almost my entire office about the benefits of cycling…….Well, enough already!

I want my life back! I want to be able to sit and read the paper on Saturday morning instead of getting up early to get ready for a ride, I want to be able to watch dancing with the stars instead of out doing the weekly night ride, I want to be able to walk through my garage without tripping over my or someone else's bike stuff.

Today, I listed all my bikes on craigslist, and am divesting myself of all jerseys, shorts, tights, arm warmers, leg warmers, little beanie caps for under the helmet, 16 pair of gloves and an entire garage full of parts, tools, and miscellaneous garbage.

I’ve decided exercise and the healthy lifestyle are really a bunch of baloney and I’m going to give it up.
I will no longer spend Monday’s sore from long weekend rides, my back won’t hurt, my knees won’t hurt, I won’t have various scrapes, cuts and bruises from mt bike accidents, I won't have a funny tan line from my jerseys, shorts and gloves, I won’t buy e-gel by the case and I won’t need enduralytes, because I never want to sweat or get my heart rate up again.
My goal now is going to be to relax and take things easy for a while until I come up with a new hobby.

Oh yeah…..April Fools……