Friday, November 21, 2008

Riding and dying….

Well, maybe not quite dying…but totally sucking wind. Last night we had our weekly night ride around Lake Chabot and since I’m tearing apart the SS I rode the geared bike.
It SUCKED! The whole sit and spin thing just killed me and I don’t think I ever really got into my groove.
Now, part of the issue I’m sure is that my bike, while it was pretty state of the art when I bought it 5 or so years ago, is not the lightest thing around. And the front fork has no lockout feature which makes the standing and pedaling that I’m used to on the SS ridiculously bouncy and ineffective.

Actually, it’s not fair to say the whole ride sucked because having full suspension instead of the rigid frame and fork sure made the downhill fast and fun. Where I normally pick my line and try to avoid the most rocky and bumpy sections of the trail, last night I pretty much just pointed the bike downhill and hung on. There’s one really bumpy section that when on the SS I have to ride the very edge of the trail for fear of losing my fillings. Well last night I just ripped right down the middle using a couple of the bigger rocks as launch pads. It was a totally different experience.
The flats too were kinda nice since I was able to shift gears and keep up instead of spinning like crazy and falling behind.

Ok, so the only part that really sucked was the climbing. I started off on the first hill downshifting and spinning my way up and it just totally blew me out. I’m sure it’s a combination of different muscles and different pace, but I just couldn’t hang on the climbs like I do on the SS. The standing and climbing is so much better now that I’m used to it on the SS, yet when I did it last night the bike would get all bouncy and I’d end up red-lining my heart rate really quickly. Then I’d be forced to sit down and spin and my legs would start screaming.

I used to think riding SS made me a stronger rider and when I started I was convinced that it did. Now though, I think it just made me a stronger SS rider. I do think the SS makes me a better rider though. I’m better about picking my lines, I’m better at controlling the bike and I’m better at climbing when standing up.
I don’t know about stronger though….. I think that the best idea is probably to mix it up a bit and keep the body guessing. That way I get a better all around workout.

Friday, November 14, 2008

What a night!

A week ago my post was titled “time to dig out the winter gear” because it was starting to get cold on our rides. Well, last night we not only didn’t need winter gear, I was wishing I hadn’t worn my jacket…. It was so warm that by the time we were done I had totally sweat through my gloves and my jacket. (btw – there’s nothing quite as gross as taking off your helmet at the top of a climb, only to have the sweat run down your neck as you squish it back onto your head when you start again)

It was a great night, with a full moon to boot. Evidently we weren’t the only ones out taking advantage of the weather. We must have seen at least a dozen other riders out there. More than I think I’ve seen on any other night ride.
Afterwards, we were joined by Jerry (aka broken-wing) and Sandy for the bbq. It was good to see them as we’ve missed him on our rides while he heals up.

Jim and Lynn brought brats and Jim grilled them to perfection with some onions boiled in beer on top…’s no wonder I’m gaining weight even though I ride 2-3 times per week.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


I’m guessing you can tell what this means, but just in case…..someone went down on our ride last night and two others went down on last Thursday’s mountain bike ride.
It’s interesting the thoughts that go through your head when someone crashes.
The title of this blog pretty much sums up the thoughts going through my head when I crash and I can only imagine they’re similar to the thoughts of others as well.

Last week, on our Thursday night mt. bike ride, at the top of the golf course climb we split into two groups. Our group continued on the regular route and the other group took a different route back to the truck to get the bbq started.
The ride was going pretty well and we were making pretty good time. As we finished the climbing and started on the mostly downhill portion back to the marina I went out front, followed by Dan and Paul. They always seem to let me lead which I’ve assumed is because although I’m slow uphill, I’m actually pretty dang fast on the downhill. I’m sure it has to do with having more mass (fat) but I tell myself it’s the hand-built wheels and my amazing skillz.

Anyway, after heading down one steep section and the next couple of corners, I noticed there weren’t any lights behind me. I turned around and headed back to find Paul standing on the side of the trail and Dan picking blackberry vines out of his helmet.
My first thought was oh man, I hope it’s not serious, getting him outta here is gonna suck. Luckily he and his bike were alright. A little banged up but able to finish the ride.

Then, last night, Roy, Greg, JoAnn and I headed out to the Alameda Creek trail on the road bikes which is a nice flat 20 mile out and back. Technically it’s not a challenging ride, and there is absolutely no climbing….ok, maybe a total of 20 ft of climbing if you figure in the underpasses. But it’s a good workout for speed and intervals. Towards the end, Greg and I cranked it up a notch and Roy and Joanne kept their steady pace. Well Greg and I got back to the truck and waited…..and waited….finally Roy and JoAnn rode up slowly. JoAnn had gone down and had some pretty good road rash on her knee and elbow….
Luckily nothing was broken and we were able to get her bandaged up. We then prescribed two doses of 12oz liquid medicine in the way of Alaskan Winter Ale and things seemed to be ok.

I was thinking about this last night after the ride and it struck me that crashing really sucks. I mean I’ve always known crashing sucked, but it dawned on me that a major crash could really be scary. For instance, what if Dan had been jacked up to the point that he couldn’t get back to the truck? Someone would have had to ride up to where they had cell service and get help, while he would have had to sit there in the dark and wait.
And, although JoAnn crashed about 20 yards from the truck, what if she had broken something or was hurt worse than she was? Would I have been able to assess the situation and deal with it properly?
Sure I have a pretty decent first aid kit in the truck and a smaller one in my camelbak, but do I know what to do with it?

As a result, I’ve signed up for a wilderness first aid course. Afterall, I spend enough time in the mountains fishing and hiking and mt biking that I think I should at least know the basics…..who knows what could happen and believe it or not, the liberal application of beer won't cure everything.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The power of the interwebs…

I was talking to someone the other day about the impact of technology on our lives. Especially as regards the youth who have grown up with it.

The discussion rambled about how the youth of today spend more time inside and less time outside running and jumping and playing. How kids are less active, have a higher propensity to be overweight, expect too much to be given to them, don’t have to learn good penmanship or spelling since they type everything and have never had to go to a library for a research paper.
We pretty much came to the conclusion that technology is to blame for all the woes of the world.

Then the discussion shifted to the power of technology to change lives. A friend of ours recently had knee replacement surgery. They pretty much cut out the old defective knee and replace it with a high tech titanium and plastic one. We also talked about how they use lasers to improve vision, voice recognition software to help disabled people speak, computer controlled wheelchairs to help people get around, etc, etc.

As we were talking about this, it struck me how the internet can and is used to create community. One of the things I do just about every day is to log on to It’s a blog started by a guy I worked with once upon a time (goes by the nickname Fatty) with the goal of allowing his friends to keep track of his weight loss and cycling goals.
As time has gone on though, it’s become a community of people that have never even met Fatty and has recently been focused on the struggles he and his family are facing as his wife deals with cancer.

One of the things that really amazes me is that the number of people that log on and comment. Even more is how the community he has created responds when there’s a need. He had a couple of fund raiser contests this year and they always generate huge responses and donations.
My wife, who has never met this guy or even logged on to his blog, and I talk about how Susan (Fatty’s wife) is doing and what the latest developments are.
How is it that so many people can be affected and touched by someone they don’t know, have never met and will probably never see in person?

The other thing that I find incredible is that at a time when the world seems to be filled with greedy, selfish people that are only concerned with getting over or getting ahead, I’ve seen such care and concern for a total stranger. Who knows, maybe there is hope for this world yet……

Friday, November 7, 2008

Time to dig out the winter gear…

Last night was the first post-end of daylight savings ride. (Does that even make sense?) With the end of daylight savings time, or the beginning of pacific standard time, or whatever, we had our first Lake Chabot ride that actually started in the dark.

It’s been cooler here in the morning and in the evenings, but the days have been just about perfect. So, I started out last night with tights, a long sleeve base layer and my gore jacket along with my half finger gloves.
The first downhill leads to an area that is always the coldest on the ride. This is followed by a nice little climb to get the heart pumping and some rollers to warm up the rest of the body.

After this, we cut through to the golf course and the big climb begins. Needless to say, after the first couple of yards up this hill, I was plenty warm. So warm actually, that I was struck by bizarre anomaly of being able to see my breath in the cold air, while at the same time wiping the sweat from my eyes. At the top of the climb, I was so warm I had completely unzipped my jacket and was pretty well soaked through. Which felt great for about 2 minutes….after which I was shivering and ready to get started again.

This cycle pretty much continued the rest of the ride. Hammer, hammer, hammer, sweat like crazy. Stop and start shivering.

It really was a pretty night though. The stars were gorgeous, the views of the bay from the top of the hills were beautiful and the weather was cool, but not freezing.
Although, the few times we did stop, reminded me I need to find my long fingered gloves, my thicker jerseys and my under helmet beanie thing. I’m pretty sure I have some toe warmers somewhere too and I remember being thankful for them on more than a couple of rides last year.

Afterwards, Nick had brought a pot of tortilla soup and we all brought other munchables (along with a nice assortment of beer) so as always it was an awesome night!
Of course when the alarm went off at 4 this am I felt like I had just lay down.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fall sucks, but not really….

Ok, so I hate the fact that it’s now dark by 5:30 in the afternoon. Usually we start our Wednesday rides at 4:30 and have at least 2 hours to get in a nice long after work ride.
Last night, we started at 4:30 and by the time we got back to the cars at 5:30 it was already dark.
The upside to this time of year is that the weather is perfect! It’s not really cold yet, but it’s cool enough for arm warmers and cool enough that a nice long climb at a brisk pace doesn’t leave you feeling like a well used salt lick.

Last night we started at PW market in Castro Valley, rode up and over the Dublin grade at a pretty good pace then back. On the way back we did the first section of Sunny Slope which is a pretty decent climb, especially if you take it pretty fast.
Afterwards, there’s a nice downhill followed by the last climb up ECV Bl and back to the cars.
We hammered it out pretty good so although it’s not a long ride at 13 miles with about 1000ft of climbing it left me feeling like I had done something at least. All in all a nice Fall ride…..except that it was too dark to go longer….

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Gamble Paid Off…

Yesterday was the Giro d’Vino ride in Lodi. A bunch of us had registered for this a while back since it’s a great ride and one of the last organized rides of the year….
The only issue was that the weather guy was predicting rain this weekend and we weren’t sure if he was going to be right or wrong…..flipping a coin will usually be just as accurate as listening to those guys. We were betting he was wrong.

Saturday it poured all day. They said we received an inch and a half in a lot of areas and I was concerned Sunday would be more of the same. Still, after emailing and calling around it seemed that most of us were still game. We had a backup plan though, so if it poured we were heading for the Indian casino….

Well, Sunday turned out to be a perfect day! The weather was cool but not cold and the sun even made an appearance a few times throughout the day. The Giro d’Vino is a great ride through the wineries of Lodi, Clements, Acampo and the surrounding areas. It’s a really pretty area that I don’t think many people know about. There are a ton of nice little wineries tucked between Hwy 5 and the foothills.

Everyone that showed up met up at the registration (evidently some in our group decided not to chance it and were "at home having coffee" as we registered) and immediately split into two groups. One group was planning on doing the 50K ride with a goal of making sure they took advantage of the wine tasting on the route. The other group was doing the 100K with a goal of …well…finishing the 100K.

The route is a completely flat 100K so I took the single speed. The single speed was built up with a goal of being a nice riding, fairly lightweight, speed demon. This is probably my favorite bike and the one I prefer when we’re doing rides that don’t have ridiculous amounts of climbing.
Yesterday though, because of the weather, it was anything but lightweight. After mounting fenders, a rack and the music player,(gotta have music on these rides) it was quite a bit heavier than usual. Add to that the fact that since I was organizing our group and had a few new riders, my trunk bag was filled with rain gear, arm/leg warmers, first aid kit, 4 spare tubes, a bunch of gels and tools I’m pretty sure this thing was closer to 40 lbs that 20.

Well, the ride went really well and although the 50K and 100K routes split pretty early on, we still managed to hook up with the other group at two of the rest stops. Not sure if they were slow or we were fast, but it sure worked out nicely.

Things actually went smoothly for both groups except for the one incident where Greg, feeling like he didn’t want to pedal anymore tried to attach his bike to mine for a tow….he quickly learned the error of his way as he went into the dirt like he’d been thrown from a bull. He claims I did it on purpose ….I of course deny that… no one can prove I pointed out the Goldwing to distract him, then immediately grabbed my brakes….

All in all it was a great ride. We had several personal bests in both groups and a for a couple of the riders this was almost 4X their longest ever ride.... Afterwards the organizers fed us well and we relaxed and listened to the Vine Dawgs ( while we enjoyed a pretty good bottle of wine.