Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cold Toes….

I usually dress for a ride so that I’m a little cool at the beginning but comfortable once I get going. Saturday, in an effort to burn off at least a couple of the Christmas treats I had been stuffing in my face for the past couple of days, I decided to head out for a ride.

I met up with Trace at his house and we took off. The goal being a 43 mile loop out Alameda creek, through Niles to Palomares, over Palomares to Dublin, then back around through Sunol and back the way we came.

By the time I got to Trace’s place my toes were cold. By the time we got through Alameda Creek to Niles, they quit being cold and were just numb. The rest of me was plenty warm from trying to keep up with Trace though so all things considered I guess it could have been worse.

Niles canyon is probably one of my least favorite rides as it’s fairly busy and narrow. Unfortunately, it’s also the only way to get to the valley side of the hill from Fremont. So, pretending I wasn’t afraid of the cars whizzing by at 300mph, I sucked it up and headed out on Trace’s wheel for Palomares. (at first I was thinking it was nice that he was willing to pull all the way through the canyon until it dawned on me that since I was in the back, I was more likely to be run over than he was)

Palomares is usually one of my favorite rides. It’s got a pretty good climb, it’s scenic, it’s winding and there’s very little traffic. Today though, and I’m not sure if it’s because I was cold or because with all the Christmas cookies I’ve eaten I now weigh almost 345lbs (ok, maybe exaggerating a little bit) I was not having fun climbing up Palomares.

This is a ride I did this last summer on my single speed and here I was huffing and puffing to get this climb over with.

Eventually though, we got to the top and the fun began. There’s a wide open, fast downhill for the next few miles and even though I could no longer feel my toes, I thoroughly enjoyed this part of the ride.

As the old proverb states, all good things must come to an end, and keeping in this theme, Palomares empties out onto Dublin canyon which of course is uphill. That too though has a downhill side and soon enough we had finished that and were on our way down Foothill Rd headed for Sunol. Just past Pleasanton Ridge park, we caught up to and were passing another rider when we realized it was JoAnn. She jumped on our wheel and we headed through Sunol, down Niles Canyon and then she split off at Palomares where we had been not too long before.

The rest of the ride is mainly about surviving Niles Canyon and then Alvarado Bl….having done that, I split off and headed for home. Feeling pretty good about getting back on track with my eating/exercise balancing act, I walked in the house to find the girls had made a fresh batch of haystack cookies...not sure if you’ve ever had haystacks, but they are the greatest cooking invention ever to come out of anyone’s kitchen...ever!!!!

All in all I had 44 miles and under 3K of climbing. Now, if I’m able to do this twice a day every day for the rest of my life, it might make up for the 37 little haystack delicacies I jammed down my throat...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Riding the new bike….

Yesterday was the third ride on the new bike. I met Chris down at his house in San Jose and we headed south towards New Almaden. I’ve never been down that way before and the area is really pretty cool. Evidently they used to have a mercury mine and the entire area is now on the historic register.

We took a little detour on Beltram Rd and went back through the neighborhood to look at all the homes. Many from the late 1800s. It was here I realized I left the camera in the truck...

Once the scenic portion of the ride was over we continued up past Quicksilver Park where we turned right onto Hicks Rd. Chris had warned me that this was a “pretty good climb” but I had no idea what I was in for...the next mile and a half was spent in my small ring and standing up almost the whole way. Wow, that was a tough climb.

So far the bike is amazing. I wasn’t sure if, at my level of riding, I would even notice a difference between my old bike and the new one, but I definitely can. On rough roads, the carbon frame is much smoother. When seated on the flats, I feel like it’s a lot more efficient, and when standing and climbing, I feel like every pedal stroke is directly related to moving forward. There’s no flex or wasted energy at all.

The other thing I noticed is that on the downhill the bike appears to be a little twitchier. I’m not sure what the wheelbase on my old bike was, and it’s not that the new bike is un-stable, it’s just different and I need to get used to it. (yesterday’s descents were on shaded, damp roads which also added to my tentativeness)

At one point we were on a slightly downhill winding road with no traffic and I really tried to put the hammer down. I grabbed the drops, shifted into the highest gear and really started pedaling and the bike just responded amazingly well. It seemed like I could have gone on like that forever. I was comfortable, I was making great time, the curves were being shredded and...well...I started to run out of gas…..but the bike was incredible.

We did another climb and looped up through the hills above Los Gatos, before eventually coming back down to the flatlands and working our way back to Chris’ house.

All in all we ended up with 36 miles and who knows how much climbing. A great day on the new bike and perfect weather to boot.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A NiteDawg Christmas…

Twas the week before Christmas and all ‘round the lake,
The Dawggies were pedaling and avoiding their brake

The bikes were all set up with lights ever so bright,
As they pedaled into the darkness of the cold winter night

The riders had settled into a nice easy pace,
No-one was passing, everyone had their place

When out of the darkness there arose such a cry,
It seemed that our Tracy, thought a monster nearby

Jerry and Rich, at the very back did they hang,
While the others took off like a shot with a bang

After the trails were poached, and some singletrack swiped
We drank beer and partied and mud from our faces we wiped

At the end of the loop, a feast and party was to be
The gifts were exchanged and we ended with glee....

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mental Floss…..

The holidays are a really busy time of year. What with shopping, decorations, family visits, getting the house ready for the big family gathering, etc. Add to this the fact that the recent storms have increased my yard chores by ten fold and the to-do list can be a bit overwhelming. This combined with work, which right now is pretty crazy and stressful and you have the makings for a perfect storm in the mental meltdown department...

I recently read an article about the importance of flossing. As I understand it, bacteria get caught up in your teeth. This creates acid which then causes the enamel on your teeth to break and down and you end up with cavities and tartar buildup. This tartar in turn, allows the production of toxins that irritate your gums and can destroy your teeth.

Not a pretty picture right?? Well sometimes, I think we need to floss in other areas of our lives as well and for me a good hard bike ride is just the thing. Stress, anxiety, cranky bosses and the holiday rush can build up and produce toxins that flow into other areas of my life.

The symptoms of these toxins in my life manifest themselves in lots of different ways. I don’t sleep well, I’m irritable with people that don’t deserve it, I feel crummy and listless and I tend to eat...pretty much anything and everything in sight. Of course these symptoms in turn have results that in turn lead to more stress...

So, yesterday since the storm that was supposed to show up decided not to, I left work early to perform some routine maintenance on myself. I call it mental floss and I was way overdue.

There’s a great road not far from home that I really enjoy riding. Redwood Rd starts in Castro Valley and heads north up into the easy bay hills. I got to the parking lot at 3:20 and by 3:30 had the iPod on shuffle, was all geared up and leaving the parking lot. I’m not sure if it was the new bike, the music or me blowing off steam, but I felt great heading up the hill.

I haven’t been riding that much lately so I was obviously working hard and at times, I redlined, but it felt good. The harder I worked, the more I could feel the stress falling away. Every time I’d start to think about work, I’d just upshift stand up and hammer until I couldn’t breath. (flossing can be painful if you haven’t done it in a while)

Originally my goal was just a quick ride to the top of Redwood and back since I had chores at home that needed to get done. Once I got there though, the stuff at home didn’t seem as pressing. The bike felt great and was calling for more so I decided to go to the bottom of Pinehurst before turning around.

The backside of Redwood Rd is a fun, fast, swoopy downhill and although I’m old, fat and slow, I felt as if I was literally flying down the hills and carving the corners like one of those skinny little racer guys. The new bike disappeared beneath me as the music played in my ears and the curves came and went one after another. I could feel the plaque and toxins of life falling off me as if they couldn’t keep up.

Before long, I was reaching the bottom of the hill and although my original plan was to turn around, I decided at the last minute to just add the climb to the top of Pinehurst before getting home to those chores that suddenly seemed pretty insignificant.

I like the climb up Pinehurst. Mainly because it’s short and not too steep, but also because it’s really curvy and I can break it down into small sections and attack it one section at a time. Just as I made the turn, Stevie Ray Vaughn came on the iPod and it was perfect for this climb….before I knew it, the song had ended and I was at the turn around point.

At this point, any thoughts of chores or getting home were pretty much gone. I decided to try to get to the bottom of Pinehurst then turn around and head home. Of course once I got into the trees, it dawned on me that it was quickly getting dark and cold and I had better turn around. And, for once in my life I actually did the smart thing and did just that.

As I got back to the top of Pinehurst and began the descent back to Redwood Rd I realized if I didn’t hurry, I was going to be finishing the ride in the dark. Definitely a prospect I didn’t like.

With the music playing in my ears I kept the pace as high as I could all the way up Redwood Rd. I was definitely working harder than I intended today but it still felt good. The plaque was gone. The stress of work, the irritable boss, the chaos of the season all melted into the background as I concentrated on turning the cranks and beating the sunset.
Much more quickly than I expected, I was at the top of Redwood with just the downhill and one more little climb between me and the warmth of my truck.

As I started down the hill an old UFO song came on the iPod, Lights out in London, which I found very fitting since I was facing the same prospect. It was definitely
going to be close….

Going downhill is definitely an area where being a bigger guy has an advantage. So, shifting into the big ring, with the music helping me keep my cadence up I flew down Redwood Rd. past the golf course, up the last little climb and down to the truck...pulling in to the parking lot at 5:00 pm.

Total for the ride 22 miles and 1600ft of climbing...Flossing is good

Monday, December 14, 2009

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…..

Christmas at our house is an event that starts the day after Thanksgiving and continues until after the first of the year.

My wife, before she worked full time, used to decorate for every possible season and holiday. There were bins of decorations for Summer, Spring (with sub categories for Easter), Fall, again subcategories for Halloween and Thanksgiving, and Winter with the largest group being for Christmas...(16 bins if I counted right and didn’t miss any)

This year, the weekend before Thanksgiving, Chris and I cleaned the garage. Part of my motivation was to just get the garage clean. The other part was to make room for the bins that would soon be coming down out of the rafters. These bins, and there are a LOT of them, contain years and years of decorations, garlands, lights, trees, wreaths, statues, figures, and miscellaneous doo-dads that will soon be spread upon and throughout the house.

So, with the prep work done, the day after Thanksgiving is the official beginning of Christmas season at the Sims house. Now, seeing as I have my own day after Thanksgiving tradition, my only job on this, the first day of the season, is to get all the bins down from the rafters.

Since that weekend, our house has been in pretty much constant transformation. It’s gone from a fairly neat and clean, but definitely full house to a partially decorated, full house with decorations strewn from one end to the other. Every room was in a partially decorated state of confusion. (as I think my wife put it, it looked like Christmas threw up in our house) Up until this past weekend...

The rain and stormy weather this past weekend created a perfect excuse for staying inside, building a fire and getting the house under control. And that’s exactly what we did. We did get out to run some errands, but for the most part, we concentrated on getting the last of the Christmas decorations up, the house cleaned and all the bins back out into the garage. (I still have to get them back up into the rafters, but that will be done tomorrow) Michelle even went so far as to wrap some of her gifts so there are even presents under the tree...

So, although we all totally agree that Christmas is not about the decorations, the tree or the presents, it’s a fun time of year and our house and our family are ready to celebrate...(the only downside is knowing that in less than 3 weeks, I get to do the entire process in reverse)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Patience is a virtue……

And, while I personally have many virtues, ok, a couple...ok, well I make a mean peanut butter and jelly sandwich... anyway, my point is that patience is definitely not one of MY virtues.

I regularly save money by buying stuff online only to waste that savings by paying for overnight delivery. I’m constantly annoyed when it takes the microwave more than 1 minute to heat up my frozen burrito and instant rice is obviously a marketing ploy intended to torture people like me since you still have to wait for the water to boil...

The reason I bring this up is that last night I got an email from Chris at Eden Bikes. His email included a picture showing my new bike in its most basic form...a frame and fork. Now, as you can imagine, this is very exciting news and I immediately called my wife and daughters over to see the picture. (strangely they didn’t seem nearly as excited as I thought they would)

The downside, as I’m sure anyone in this situation will understand, is that a frame and fork do not a bicycle make. So, now it’s been at least 12 hours since I’ve seen that picture and I still don’t have a bike to ride. I know, I know. I have to cut them some slack since well, the bike shop was closed for most of those 12 hours and technically I am at work and couldn’t ride anyway, but still, this is killing me...

The really crazy part, and most of my friends will tell you I have an sickness in this area, is that I haven’t even gotten the bike yet and I’m already thinking about upgrades. Is it crazy to think of upgrading something that isn’t even built yet? I don’t think so..

Monday, November 30, 2009

DATMBA 2009 – Mt Tamalpais

This years DATMBA was different than in years past in that it was chosen more for its social aspects and its beauty than for its crazy ride venue. It was also very similar to years past in that it was to provide us with many, many stories that we could share and expand upon in the future.

I woke on Friday to the sound of cars driving by on wet pavement...never a good sign when there’s a ride planned. It didn’t look too bad though and after touching base with Jerry and Tracy, it was decided that although it was probably too cold and wet for Caleb to go, it wasn’t cold enough or wet enough to keep his grandpa home. Besides, with Deb working and the girls out battling the crowds at the mall, where else would I be but riding my bike?

And since I wasn’t going to be pulling a trailer, I was able to bring the SS mt bike which, with no shocks and big wheels is absolutely perfect for ripping up the fire roads we were going to be riding today.

Tracy and his neighbor picked me up in Tracy’s new truck (sorry about the scratch) and we headed for the base of Mt Tamalpais in Marin County, the birthplace of Mountain Biking and where keeping up with joneses means you have more anti-Bush stickers on your BMW than they do...(ok, just kidding about the scratch Tracy. Although I'm sure you already stopped reading to run out to the parking lot and check)

No-one ever said mt bikers weren’t a crazy group. Where else, on the day after Thanksgiving, when rain is predicted and the high is supposed to be below 60 degrees, are you going to find 13 people willing to crawl out of bed and go for a ride?

But here we were...

Originally, this was planned as a picnic. Tracy and I were going to be hauling trailers with everyone bringing food and drinks to share. As soon as it was decided though that Caleb wasn’t coming and I wasn’t bringing a trailer, it all fell apart and most of us brought only the sandwiches and snacks we could shove in our camelbacks.

I did put the rack on my bike in which I had 3 beers, plus the two I had in my camelback and the two I was able to convince Tracy to carry, so there was beer at least. Here’s a little lesson I learned - put the beer in first so it doesn’t smash your turkey sandwich.

Chris though, decided to stick to the original plan (or maybe I forgot to tell him the plan changed) and loaded up his single speed road bike with full panniers and brought a stove, coffee pot, plate, silverware, tablecloth and the makings of an open faced hot turkey sandwich – complete with stuffing and pie!

The ride up Mt Tam is a pretty sedate ride and although it’s a constant climb, none of the pitches are too steep. (unless of course you happen to be riding an SS road bike with 42-17 gearing and full panniers)

The fun in a ride like this is really getting to hang out with everyone and in keeping with the Thanksgiving theme, I’d like to say I really am thankful to be able to count all these people as friends and to be able to spend time with them doing something we all enjoy.

I was especially blown away by the fact that Cheryl and Mike, Jerry’s daughter and son in law, brought their son Alex with them on the ride. As I learned, he had just the day before turned 9 and, as I also learned, that kid is a stud! He kept up a really good pace the entire way to West Point. Never once did I hear him complain and every time I’d see him, he was just spinning away up the hills with a smile on his face.

Several times on the way to the top we stopped to regroup and take pictures. It was still cold, but the weather system that was supposed to be coming seemed to be holding off.

At the top we found the picic area is actually pretty sheltered from the weather so we took some time and ate our respective lunches.
For some it was a clif bar, for others a smashed turkey sandwich and for Chris, it was a veritable feast followed by hot coffee and pie. I have to admit, I was really regretting not having put more effort into preparing my lunchtime meal that morning.

Well, as you can imagine, one of the best parts of climbing a mountain is in the going back down. And Mt Tam did not disappoint. Although the first part of the descent was cold and damp, we eventually came out below the clouds and enjoyed ripping our way down the wide, fast fire roads.

It was probably because of this that none of us noticed we had lost John until we stopped at an intersection to regroup.

Some thought he had continued, other thought he had turned down the wrong path. After talking about it for a bit, we decided that Troy and I would go down the wrong path to see if he had gone that way and the others would continue on the regular trail.

So, using the excuse that we were only trying to catch up to John, we released the brakes and proceeded as fast as we could down the trail...way down the trail...and even part way back up the trail as it turned back towards the summit. Eventually though, we decided he couldn’t have gotten that far ahead of us and turned back.

Here’s another little lesson for those of you that haven’t been paying attention. If you go a long ways down a steep fast fire road and then turn around...yep, you get to go a long ways back up a steep, fast fire road.

And, seeing as I'm tossing out all these little life lessons today, I’ll throw in another. If you and another guy have no idea where you are and haven’t ridden in an area ever before, you might want to let someone else volunteer to go searching for a lost rider. You guessed it, Troy and I rode for quite a ways (again all downhill) before finding a parking lot and realizing it wasn’t the one we wanted. So, once again we turned back uphill until we found the turn we had missed.

Eventually though, we made it back to the truck only to find John hadn’t turned up. And, just as we were trying to figure out how to tell his parents we had lost their son, they pulled up asking where he was.

After much discussion and no small amount of worry on their part I’m sure, we reached him on his cell. By talking to him we were able to figure out where on the trail he was and Troy and I again headed back up the hill on bikes while Tracy drove up the road just in case he came that way.

Just as we got to the top of the hill where we thought he might be (and just as my legs were beginning to cramp) my cell phone rang and Tracy let me know that John was back at the parking lot safe and sound.

So, I have no idea what my mileage was or how many feet of climbing we did. Originally it was supposed to be something like 16-18 miles and about 3K of climbing, but I know for a fact that Troy and I had at least double the miles, double the climbing and double the stories that we would have had, had everything gone as planned.
Another fantastic DATMBA in the bag!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The new girl in my life…..

I recently sold my geared road bike and have been spending pretty much every waking minute since then trying to figure out what I was going to replace her with. I’ve literally spent hours talking to bike shop people, surfing the web, reading reviews, riding bikes and generally obsessing over this upcoming purchase.

After all of this research and shopping, I’ve come to the conclusion that just about any of the new carbon fiber rocket ships available today will be an improvement over my previous bike and likewise, any limitations that will come about on my rides will be more about my ability than any bike that I happen to be riding.

In the end, I had narrowed it down to 3 or 4 different bikes all of which were similar in that they were all from the performance/comfort category. Specialized has the Roubaix, Cannondale has the Synapse and Giant has the Defy Advanced. They’re all very similar as far as comfort and spec and each manufacturer has an offering at various budget levels.
With this being the case, and with margins being so tight that most all the dealers had pretty much the same offers, it really came down to which dealer I was most comfortable working with.

It turns out that Chris at Eden Bicycles in Castro Valley was by far the most helpful and most tolerant of my constant questions and emails. It was pretty obvious he understood what I was looking for and wanted to help me make the right purchase decision.

Of course, by the time I finally analyzed the decision to death and was ready to pull the trigger, the bike I wanted wasn’t available any longer and wouldn’t be for another month. It was here that working with a local bike shop, and a generally good guy, really paid off.

I had decided on the Defy Advanced 3 which is the lower spec’d bike. But since they all share the same frame, it was a good base to start from and upgrade later. It turns out that the Advanced 3 wasn’t available. So, I looked into the Advanced 2. A little more than my budget, but by now I was emotionally invested in this bike and wasn’t giving up.

Nope, that one’s not available either. So, what Chris is going to do for me is to order the Defy Advanced 0 (the top of the line model) remove some of the components and re-build the bike with components that will allow me to get the bike I want at a price that fits my budget. (which has only gone up slightly since I started this search)

The other cool thing I found out was that the Advanced 0 is the only frame in the Advanced line that has a full carbon steerer and not the aluminum one on all the other Advanced models. (another bonus!!)

I’m totally stoked about the new bike and can’t wait till he gets it in and starts building it up. Pretty sure with the short week, it won’t be this week, but that’s ok. I’m a very patient person – ok, that’s a total lie. I’m not at all patient and this waiting is driving me insane!!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The de-Funkification of it all……

No, I don’t mean the day I quit wearing my angel flight polyester slacks and platform shoes (although that would qualify) I mean the day Chris and I got the stank outta the garage...

Last weekend he and I spent the day cleaning and organizing the garage. No small feat when you consider we have 2 families worth of junk...I mean there. It was only after we cleaned the garage, and realized the stink was still there, that I began to worry.

All week long, I’ve been stressing about this smell thing. Wondering if I was going to end up pulling down the sheetrock and everything to try and find something that was obviously dead, and obviously in the advanced stages of decomposition. I spent hours awake at night (ok, maybe not hours) trying to think about how something may have gotten in the garage and just what that something might be.

At one point, I even debated whether or not to just procrastinate it away. Afterall, assuming it was a little ole mouse, once it was done decomposing, it would dry up and quit stinking right??? Right??? See, that’s the problem, I wasn’t totally sure it would dry up and stop stinking and I wasn’t totally sure it was a little ole mouse.

So, Saturday morning, after a nice big breakfast (Chris’ logic was that after seeing dead stuff we probably wouldn’t want to eat so we’d better do our eating early – either that or he really wanted to see me hurl) we headed out in search of the source of the funk.

I had pretty much figured, through my ultra keen sense of smell, that it was somewhere at the front of the garage and most likely under my workbench. The problem is, the workbench was left by the previous owner. And not out of generosity either, it was left because he built it in the garage sometime around 50 years ago and it weighs a ton!

Well, we huffed and we puffed and we pushed and we shoved and eventually we got the thing pulled away from the wall only to find that there was nothing behind was nice and clean actually.

So, that done, we moved over to the little bench on the corner that my toolbox sits on and had just begun moving stuff off of it when Chris looked down and there it was...the source of the funk...a dead possum...and yes, I know that possums play possum and are sometimes not as dead as they seem, but with the smell coming out of this guy, he was beyond playing possum and actually dead.

Once we had disposed of the little guy, soaked the entire area with about a quart of pine-sol disinfectant, and put everything back where it belonged, we had to figure out how he got in there in the first place.

Usually when I’m in the garage, the door is up. Chances are though, he didn’t saunter in when I was out there. Also, there aren’t any holes large enough for him to have crawled through, so the only thing I could think of was that since the side door doesn’t always close all the way when you pull it (just try to find a square door/doorframe in this place) he must have gone in one night when I thought I had closed the door well but obviously hadn’t.

You can see where this is leading...just like every project I’ve ever started it was going to take twice as long and be twice as expensive as I originally planned. Especially since I had now decided to hang a new door.

I’m pretty sure that putting in a new door correctly is one of those things people are genetically predisposed to be able to do. Kind of like being artistic, having a gift for languages or being able to dance and not look like an idiot. I’m also pretty sure that like the aforementioned skills, it’s NOT something I personally am predisposed to be able to do.

So it was, that as the sun set, Chris and I hung the door for the 50th and final time, closed, latched it and went in search of beer...Finally, a garage that is clean, doesn’t stink and that I can hang out in when the house is going insane. (now, where did I put the keys to the new doorlock?)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ain't no sunshine when she's gone.
It's not warm when she's away.
Ain't no sunshine when she's gone
And she's always gone too long anytime she goes away.

Last night I dropped off the Jamis at Tracy’s house to deliver to the new owner. I know it’s strange to be emotionally attached to a physical object, but I can’t help it.

I’ve always been a mountain biker. I was pretty well convinced that all roadies were spandex wearing, no waving, self important jerks. (Who knew I’d fit right in?)

About 4 years ago though, at the urging of Jerry, a friend from church, I decided to buy a road bike and give it a try. I shopped and researched and spent a lot of time online trying to figure out the whole roadie lingo thing so I could make an informed decision. I then went out and bought the Jamis because it was really cool looking.

At the time, I couldn’t believe I was going to spend 800 bucks on a bicycle. But I did and I never looked back. She wasn’t really anything fancy, just a solid, reliable, entry-level aluminum road bike with a triple crank and enough gears to help a beginner climb anything in their path.

From that point on, I was hooked. I still loved mountain biking, but road riding added a whole new dimension. With the increased speed and comfort on the road, the distances I could go were much longer.

The bike and I began, along with my friends, to explore all the roads in and around the bay area. We were shown roads in my area where you can ride and not worry about being run over. We saw vistas and views we never would have seen had I not ridden there on the bike. We attempted (and failed) the Death Ride (my fault not hers) and just last month we completed a 540 mile ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

Over the years, I’ve tried to be good to her. I’ve treated her to new jewelry and trinkets. She got a new set of wheels, new drive train components, a new seat (more for my benefit than hers) new tires whenever needed and regular cleanings and tune-ups.

We’ve had a great run and although I’ve gone through a couple of bike computers so have no actual idea of the distances we’ve gone, I think it’s safe to say we’ve seen many thousands of miles together.

Lately though, I’ve been wanting more. Something that would be a little more gentle on my old bones, a little less jarring on the downhill and a little peppier on the climbs, something a little racier even.

So, it was when earlier this month Tracy called and asked me if I was interested in selling her. It turns out he had a friend that was right about where I was 4 years ago. Someone just starting out and needing a good, reliable bike to help him on his journey.
At first I thought, no way. I can’t sell her. We’ve been through too much together. I’ll still ride her even after I get a new bike. But deep down in my heart I knew this was a lie.
Besides, what better place for her to go than to someone that needed her? Needed her stable ride and her low, low gearing and her ultra reliable history.

So, the deal was made and she has been passed off to her new owner…..and here I sit bike-less – ok, that’s not completely accurate since I still have the SS road bike, the SS mt bike and the geared mt bike, but there’s now a hole in my arsenal that I need to fill...

And, so the shopping begins...what bike will live where my baby used to lay...

Come see me Early in the mornin',
baby 'bout the break of day
Then you all saw me huggin' a pillow,
where my baby used to lay

Monday, November 16, 2009

The funk of it all...

Living in our house, we now have 6 adults and a 3 year old whirlwind. (Seriously, I have never met a kid with as much energy as my grandson) As a result, when it’s time to relax, I usually find myself looking for a nice quiet place to hide.

The problem is that with Deb sick in bed, the kids in the family room and Christina and Erin in the living room, it’s usually the garage to which I flee. Lately though, there’s been this weird funk emanating from there that I haven’t been able to track down and eliminate. I was convinced that I had either a) an unwashed ice chest with year old potato salad or b) a dead mouse inside of one of the camping blankets we keep out there.

Saturday, since the house is full of sick people, I decided to spend as much time outside as possible. One of the projects on my to-do list was to try to get the garage clean. Or, at least as clean as it can be seeing as we have all of my stuff, some of Chris and Michelle’s stuff and a lot of Christina’s stuff in there.

Chris, in an effort to stay out of the quarantine zone, offered to help. We worked from the front to the back of the garage, cleaning, organizing, sorting stuff for storage, goodwill or trash and generally getting stuff put up and away.
After a couple of hours, we had pretty much everything finished. Everything was put where it belonged, the camping blankets had been washed and folded, all the trash had been bagged up and tossed and all of the remaining stuff had been gone through...and yet the funk remaineth...

So, the upside is the garage is clean, the bikes are all accessible, the workbench is clean and useable and we even have room to play darts...the downside is, we couldn’t find the source of the funk, the garage still smells and now it looks like I’m going to have to move the workbench and the cabinets away from the walls and hope I can find whatever it is that died in there and is now making my clean garage, un-inhabitable...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rotational therapy...

As a result of a combination of factors; tense bosses, no jobs on the board and a bad economy, things at work have been a little rough lately so I decided I needed to get out on the bike today.

I’ve found that being outside and riding my bike is one of the best ways for me to deal with bad days. No matter how rough the day or how stressed I’m feeling, a bike ride can usually fix my mood and improve my attitude. (I think it’s a combination of the endorphins that are released with exercise as well as the feeling that I’m actually doing something and not sitting around being a slug)

As I click in to the pedals and make the first rotations, it’s almost a physical sensation as I feel the stress falling away. Not unlike dropping a heavy backpack after a full days hiking.
Today was no different except that I was riding with a friend of mine that hadn’t ridden in a while. He too was having a rough week and so we decided to meet out at Cull Canyon after work to bury ourselves in a session of “rotational therapy” (yep, another new phrase I made up – feel free to borrow it)

Cull Canyon is a great little 13 mile out and back with very little traffic. It’s a dead end so there’s no reason to go out there unless you live there. The first time I rode this about 4 years back, you’d be lucky to see a single car. This time though it felt like rush hour and we saw 5 cars...I know, crazy crowded.

The nice parts about this route are that, with daylight savings time in effect now you can do an out and back and still be done before dark, there’s a good chance you’ll see deer or pigs or some sort of wildlife and lastly, since there’s very little traffic you can ride 2 across and talk almost the entire way out and back.

Since my buddy hasn’t been riding much, we started out nice and easy getting in a groove with a moderate pace and just concentrating on making circles and letting the day fall away. It was really relaxing to just cruise and it felt like the further into the canyon we got, the more distance I put between me and the real world.

Eventually we got to the end and turned around for the trip back. One other little note about Cull Canyon is that it’s ever so slightly uphill on the way out and ever so slightly downhill on the way back. This being the case, the pace on the return flight was just a tad more aggressive as we headed back to the real world.

Normally when I’ve had a rough day, my session of rotational therapy consists of riding as hard as I can, trying to tear the legs off anyone near me and basically killing myself to the point that I’m too exhausted to be cranky. Today though, even our “fast” pace was not so fast that we couldn’t talk and ride at the same time.
As a result, during our ride, I’m pretty sure we solved all the problems of the world, the economy and the places we work. The result being that even without beating myslef into exhaustion, I wound up in a better place and with a better attitude. Oh yeah...and we saw a bunch of deer which was very cool...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Giro D' Vino...

This ride is one of the funner (yeah, I know it’s not a real word) organized rides we do every year. This was our third year for this ride and we had our largest group yet.

Bob and Leticia and Bill and Gail were representing the tandem contingent, I of the single speed variety and Jerry, JoAnn, JoAnn’s friend, Lynn, Jim, Greg, Al, Maria and Dwight with their 3 friends and Eldred and his wife were all on road bikes with gears...harrumph

HARRUMPH - intransitive verb clear one's throat, esp. in a studied, pompous way protest or complain in a pompous or self-righteous way

Last year, we saw rain in the distance all day long, but never actually had it hit in our area while we were riding. This year we had exceptional weather. With sunny skies and cool but not cold weather, shirtsleeves would be the rule of the day.

There’s nothing spectacular about this ride. With less than 500ft of climbing it’s not particularly challenging, the scenery in Lodi is all vineyards and rural farm/ranch country, and the rest stops are all at small wineries which are nice, but not amazing...the allure of this ride is the fun we have when we get a great group of friends out riding together on a nice day.

It’s a 60 mile ride out through the flatlands of the central valley. This area is becoming fairly well known for its vineyards and if you’re a wine person, which Jim and Lynn are, this is a great way to explore the area.

The pace was relaxed and I’m pretty sure everyone had a great time. (although Jerry and I almost got dropped by this racer guy....)

JoAnn and her friend had to split off at the 30 mile mark since she had to get home to sick kids so Jeff could go to work. The rest of us had a fantastic 60 mile ride that we finished at about 3:00. Since we started about 9ish, this made for roughly a 6 hour ride for an average of about 10mph including stops...not too bad for a nice easy day on the bike.

The day ended with a delicious lunch afterwards and we got to sit and enjoy the live band....there's just something incredibly relaxing about sitting in a park-like setting, eating good food and listening to music after a good's downright therapeutic...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Day 8 - Ventura to Santa Monica 59.8 miles 1713ft of climbing

I woke today with very mixed’s the last day of this amazing adventure and while my butt is sore and I’m really excited about seeing Deb and the girls again, I don’t want this to end. For the past 7 days, my only concern has been to ride my bike. I’ve completely checked out of the world and really have no desire to re-establish my bond with reality...

So, like a kid getting ready for school when he doesn’t really want to go, I shuffled to the coffee pot, I took longer to eat my breakfast, I dilly-dallied getting ready and packing up my gear and I finally mounted the bike excited about the ride, but bummed that this was to be the last day.

The day started off with a nice flat run along Hwy 1 through Ventura, Pt Hueneme, Pt Mugu and out to the Pacific Coast Hwy. We had a couple of issues right off the bat. Tracy flatted and required the assistance of a nurse….Not sure how Jay ended up needing a shot, although he mumbled something about the crowd he had begun running with since the week started…..should we be insulted?

The other issue was mainly mine, although I later heard Matt would have helped me lead a rebellion had I started one, but when we stopped to fix the flat, someone mentioned we’d be hitting a Starbucks for real coffee...unfortunately, every opportunity I called out was met with absolutely no response from the group. And, since we were riding as a group in a pretty good line, I didn’t want to mess everyone else up just to fuel my addiction. (again, had I known Matt was on my side, I may have attempted a coup d’etat )

Eventually though, we came to the first rest area which was at Point Mugu. We were met by a fireman standing at the top of the ladder truck ringing a bell and pulled in to grab some snacks and check out the really cool selection of missiles and rockets on display. Unfortunately they didn’t have any that were portable enough to mount on a bicycle so we would be forced to deal with the LA traffic unarmed. (evidently you can’t just show up and buy a rocket either….go figure)

Once on the Pacific Coast Hwy, we picked up a few more riders and the pace increased accordingly. (note to self, do not slow down to look at the dolphins or you’ll NEVER catch up again) Eventually we came to the next rest area where we regrouped and then immediately stopped at the next Starbucks (FINALLY)

From here the road roller coasted up and down and since this was John’s training ground, he set a good pace that kept me hanging on. (and falling off occasionally) Just when I was pretty sure it was going to kill me John would pick it up again. Towards the end, we were riding down the highway, alongside parked cars and through residential areas at a pace that I thought was craziness. I sat on the wheel in front of me, pedaling like crazy, watching for opening doors, people walking, traffic merging, etc, etc and realized I was having the time of my life...(there are no pictures of this section since everyone was totally focused on the pace and staying alive)

Too soon we had to stop and dismount to walk down some stairs, through a tunnel and up the other side across the highway. And, in keeping with the nice little surprise endings we’d experienced on previous days, faced yet another hill top finish.

The organizers had us gathering at a park overlooking Santa Monica Beach so that we could ride through town en masse – and what an experience it was. 200+ riders taking both lanes riding through quiet residential areas and headed for the final meeting place.

Motorcycle Larry was amazing riding ahead, stopping traffic at intersections and keeping us all safe and grouped up like some sort of motorized cattle dog.
As we rolled down the street to the ending point, I immediately saw my grandson sitting on my son in laws shoulders (he’s 6’6” so add in a 3 year old he’s literally head and shoulders above the crowd) right after that I saw my wife and my daughters waving and yelling and holding up signs of encouragement.

After chatting with everyone, introducing my new riding friends to my entourage and finally saying my goodbyes, the family and I headed for the hotel, a LONG hot shower and some dinner.
The next day we wandered around the downtown shopping area in Santa Monica before making our way home and finalizing my re-entry into society……WHAT A RIDE!!!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Day 7 Beullton to Ventura – 86.1 miles 4085ft of Climbing

It’s cold and grey this morning as I climb out of my tent and go in search of coffee. Once again, I’m up at 5am and when the sky finally lightens up, I’m pretty well caffeinated and very well fed.

As we start out, I keep hoping its going to warm up. Once we start up the hill into the town of Solvang – this hill was more fun yesterday when we were going down – my legs finally wake up and I’m almost ready to start the ride when we pull in for a coffee and Danish at the Bulldog Cafe.

This place was recommended by someone last night as a place that likes and supports cyclists and once we get inside we see that to be true. There are pictures of just about every famous racer on the walls.
As we begin to enjoy our coffee (again, not complaining about the caterer’s coffee, this is just SO much better) the owner comes over and starts talking to us. After chatting for a bit she asks us how far we’re going. When we reply Ventura, she says “that’s it?” IS 86 miles away you know...
Turns out she hosts several of the racers during the Tour of California and from the team’s spring training camps so she’s used to real racer type cyclists that probably log hundreds of miles in the surrounding countryside. Ok, so we’re not as bad-assed as we thought...imagine that...

Too soon we need to leave the comfort of the coffee shop and get the day started for real. We pedal out of town on Alisal Rd and alongside the golf course before the climbing begins. I feel pretty good and as we get to the top we catch up to Gail and Bill on the tandem and the rest of the gang. I’ve never ridden a tandem, and I can’t imagine pedaling one of those things up any type of major hill, yet they do it and make it look fairly easy.

The roads outside of town are what seem to be old farm roads. They’re in pretty good shape and have hardly any traffic at all. This continues for a while until we come to Hwy 101. It’s here that the ride goes from laid back to very intense as we jump onto Hwy 101 and begin racing cars and trucks downhill at freeway speeds. At one point I get blown a little off course and get to experience the stay-awake bumps CalTrans has carved into the edge of the highway. In a car, they’re annoying, on a bike…well, I’m pretty sure my fillings came loose.

We follow Hwy 101 for a good part of the day and once again, the guys are keeping a pace that is above my comfort level (I really need to find slower friends) and I spend the day hanging on. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I’m not sure which option I’m hoping for...

As we come down into Santa Barbara we stop and eat at a little place right on the beach. The most amazing tacos I’ve had in a long time. (again, could be a result of having been on the bike all day)

From here we ride along the beach for a ways, then cross the freeway and turn south down through Santa Barbara and into Carpinteria where we stop for an ice cream at a Fosters Freeze. I haven’t had Foster’s Freeze since I was a kid and it’s every bit as good as I remember.

From Carpinteria it’s back over to the coast where we ride along the beach for quite a ways, eventually ending up on a multi-use path that takes us to our camp for the evening.

After dinner, we head across the street to the Marriott where several in the group are staying - evidently the lure of a hot shower and a real bed was too much to bear – at the Marriott we relax in the bar, drink beer and recount the adventures of the week...tomorrow is the last day and the final push into Santa Monica.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day 6 Oceano to Buellton – 73.1 miles 2472ft of climbing

I’m sitting here warm and comfy, fully caffeinated and all covered with sticky cinnamon roll goodness...and I’ve gone a negative 3 miles so far on the route...

Yesterday as we rolled through Pismo Beach on our way to the campground, we passed Old West Cinnamon Rolls and of course being the junk food junkie that I am, I really wanted to stop. We didn’t though because we agreed we’d be back in the morning.
(In my defense, I wasn't the only one covered in cinnamon roll stickyness)

So, here I am, 3 miles off route with a full belly, a sticky face and no desire to get back on the bike. But, knowing we have a long day ahead of us, getting back on the bike is what we do and after another 3 miles we’re right back to where we started.

Jay, John, Tracy and I have a pretty good pace going and I’m not sure if it’s the cinnamon rolls or the cumulative effect of the previous 5 days on the bike, but my legs are just not turning as fast as theirs and pretty soon, I’m just hanging on trying not to get dropped.

The route has taken us inland so we don’t see the coast. We’re mainly in agricultural areas with flat, wide open farms on either side. This only adds to the challenge as the wind is working against us. I really should move to the front and help with the pulling, but I know my legs won’t handle it and pretty sure the guys want to keep a better pace than I’d be able to manage. (at least that’s what I tell myself as I sit back and wheel suck for the first part of the day)

Eventually we come to the first rest stop and I drink an FRS in the hopes that it will put some gas in the tank. Speaking of gas, the whole area smells like oil.

We’re not sure why until someone mentions that one of the wells has sprung a bit of a leak...I’m paying 4 bucks a gallon for gas and these guys are letting it spill????

Another of the towns we go through is Guadalupe. It’s a tiny little town with a very big map.

From here we continue through the farmlands, it’s flat and windy but at least I’m feeling a little better. Soon enough we get to Foxen Canyon where the road begins its uphill journey. We’ve joined up with Matt, Norm and Gary and the pace picks up yet again. Now I’m really just hanging on and trying not to get dropped when all of a sudden I look down and swerve to miss a freakin tarantula!
That thing was huge and I hear a pretty good crunch as Tracy fails to swerve around it. We see several more but unfortunately I don’t get any photos. Bill and Gail did take the time to stop and get this one though.

the area surrounding Solvang that we're riding through has a couple of wineries. Ok, maybe more than a couple

Pretty soon, I’m falling off the back and the group continues to pull away. The most frustrating part is that I can still see them but I just don’t have the juice to gain any ground on them. Soon enough we come to the next rest stop where we regroup again.

Soon after the rest, we come to the real climbing portion of Foxen Canyon and I’m starting to think there might actually be something to the FRS drinks as I actually feel good. Tracy and I, having been dropped by the others keep a pretty good pace as we climb to the top and find everyone else stopped to catch their breath. (they may have actually been waiting on us, but it sounds better if I say they were catching their breath)
From here there’s a long, fast, really bumpy downhill and our group is making good time. Hammering along like a freight train, my teeth rattling in my head, I wonder if maybe I should have invested in a carbon frame.

The next turn brings us to the bottom of “the wall”. This last section and the one we’re in now are all part of the Solvang Century which I’ve done for the past few years. The best part about today though is that the Foxen Canyon climb and the “wall” come at the middle of the ride and not at mile 80 like they do on the Solvang Century.

The wall is actually a pretty short climb and again, I’m feeling surprisingly good. I’m not fast enough to keep up with the hammers but that’s not surprising. What is surprising is that I get to the top without feeling like I’m blowing up. I actually, for a brief moment am disappointed I feel so good, like I should have/could have gone harder and been faster. I quickly realize that’s crazy talk as I still have a decent amount of riding ahead of me and I don’t want to run out of gas.

The downhill portion from here to the highway is again, fast and BUMPY. Norm takes off and I shift to a higher gear and quickly catch and pass him, only to be passed again almost immediately. Pretty soon we’re ahead of the group and my legs are going like crazy and I’m sure that things are rattling loose on my bike and my body as the road is so bumpy. Soon enough though we come to the intersection with the highway and regroup.

As we enter Solvang from the back side of town, I’m amazed that we’re already here. Amazed that the day has gone by so quickly. We ride through town and head out the other side pointed directly into the wind as we pedal out Hwy 246 towards our destination in Buellton.

Eventually we roll into camp and start the regular evening ritual - but first a picture of the group that spent all day trying to kill me

We grab our bags, set up our tents, hit the showers and go find beer. With beer in hand, several of us take the opportunity to clean up our bikes, lube the chains and generally give them a once over. I’m surprised nothing rattled loose on the bumpy downhill sections.
Tracy spent an inordinate amount of time on his bike...I think he was just too tired to get up off the grass and sat there till he felt better.

Dinner this evening is bbq spare ribs which are delicious. Tonight is the end of the ride for those that opted for the 6 day adventure so the organizers set up a podium, speeches are made, people are congratulated and afterwards an inflatable movie screen is set up for a viewing of Breaking Away. This is a classic 70’s cycling film that unfortunately just looses out when it comes to my decision of sleeping bag vs cycling film...and thus ends another great day on the bike.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Day 5 San Simeon to Oceano – 63.4 miles 2157ft of climbing

I’m lying in my tent and wondering just how early it is...although the surroundings are different, this is pretty much my normal morning ritual.
I rarely use an alarm as one of the downsides to getting up so early every day for work is that even on my days off, my body wakes up early and then I’m up for the day.

I’m guessing it’s about 5am and even with my head buried in my sleeping bag, I can hear the waves crashing on the beach below. Eventually I muster up the energy to crawl out of my bag and head out in search of coffee.

I’m surprised when I crawl out of the tent by how calm the ocean looks. From the sound I was expecting the waves to be large and continuous. Instead, there’s a small shore break that wouldn’t even interest a beginner surfer.

I find the coffee and my fellow early risers and I spend the time before breakfast recapping yesterday's adventures. Soon enough though, the caterers are telling us breakfast is ready and continuing the trend I started on the first morning, I eat enough to fuel a small army.

Once the sun is up and the gear is packed we’re heading out on the road. Today will be a great day. From here our goal is Oceano and I’ll be riding with Jerry and the gang which is always a lot of fun.

Not that riding with the other group isn’t fun, because it is, it’s just that riding with Jerry has a completely different flavor. Instead of spending my day hanging on to the wheel ahead of me and trying not to embarrass myself when it’s time for me to take a pull at the front, today will be about seeing the sites, enjoying the scenery and catching up on our friendship. (and it’s also usually about making sure we take in way more calories than we’ll burn)

The route today is mostly flat and it seems like we just started when we pull in to Lily’s Coffee House in Cambria. Finally! A good cup of coffee! I’m not complaining about the caterer’s since any coffee is better than no coffee, but when I take that first sip from the hot cup of goodness that we get at Lily’s, I’m in coffee heaven...And of course you can’t just enjoy a good cup of coffee on it’s own. I had to have a piece of cinnamon walnut coffee cake to go with it. Afterall, it’s been almost an hour since we last ate.

Here's Dwight practicing his Vanna White impression as he points to the sign.

The owner (I assume it's Lily although I never actually confirmed that) remembered him from last year as well as the reason they were riding.

Back on the bikes again and the ride down Hwy 1 is scenic and empty. We do pass by the town of Harmony which due to a recent population explosion has increased to a total of 24 residents.

As Jay and I were riding yesterday, we passed a couple of trucks set up on the side of the road as a rest stop. It was the USO support vehicle. The strange thing was we didn’t see any other groups on the road so we weren’t sure what it was all about.
Today though, we found out as we came upon a group of riders and their support vehicles. The Ride2Recovery group is a group of veterans and supporters that were riding from SF to LA to benefit wounded veterans. Their ride pretty much leapfrogged our ride for the length of the coast so from today on, we would be seeing them regularly.

It was actually pretty humbling to see them ride. One of their riders on a hand-bike and whenever they came to a hill, you’d see a healthy rider pull up, grab the handle on the back of the hand-bike and begin pushing. Behind him, another rider would pull up, place a hand on the other riders back and begin pushing him and so on and so on...eventually there were 4 riders pushing the guy on the hand bike up the hill...a pretty inspiring sight for sure.

Before we got to the next scheduled rest stop at Morro Bay we rolled though the town of Cayucos which is a nice little coastal town. We stopped at the downtown pier/bathroom and met this guy and his friend. They had started in San Simeon and were just out for a day ride.

I also posed for the typical “what a cool roadie guy I am” photo...

Pretty soon we got to Morro Bay, hit up the rest stop and went down to the beach for the requisite photo of the big rock.

Back on the road again the route turned inland a bit and we came to what would be the only climb of the day. Eventually we rolled into San Luis Obispo for lunch. We ate at a great little sandwich place before rolling down the road to the scheduled stop at a local bike shop that had prepared homemade tamales for anyone that stopped in...very cool

From there we headed back towards the coast and down through Avila Beach, Shell Beach, Pismo Beach and eventually to our final stop for the day at Oceano. Somewhere along the way we passed the natural hot springs where several of the group decided to stop and indulge in a good hot soaking....Jerry and decided to motor on.

Once again, we rolled into camp, the tents were set up, showers were taken, chargers were plugged in and thoughts turned towards dinner and beverages....

Tonight though instead of joining the regular routine of sitting down to a beer and waiting for the caterers to get dinner ready, Tracy, Jay, John, Jerry and I decided to head down the street to a little Mexican restaurant for dinner and a pitcher (or several) of margaritas.

After a delicious dinner, we walked back to camp and as I have done every night this week, I crawled into my sleeping bag as soon as the weather got chilly and was asleep before 9pm once again.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Day 4 Big Sur to San Simeon - 64.6 miles 5080ft of climbing

Last night, I’m pretty sure I spent the whole night with my tent in front of a lumber mill… least that’s how it sounded with the guy directly behind me snoring like a chainsaw. As a result, this morning, I’m moving a little slower than normal. Adding to the misery is the fact that breakfast is off-site at the restaurant up the road.
That’s ok though, soon enough I have the gear packed up and over by the truck and am ready to go when the pump Tracy is using decides to rip the entire stem off his tube...this just gets better and better...and all before I even get any coffee. I’m pretty sure I didn’t see this in the brochure.

Soon enough though, we’ve finished breakfast and are headed out on a nice cool morning. I’m a little concerned about not having my arm warmers on, until I realize the first few miles of this morning’s ride are all uphill.

I get a slow start and soon end up behind Tracy and ahead of Jerry and the gang. That’s ok though, sometimes it’s better to suffer in solitude and this morning’s climb while not really suffering, is definitely keeping my heart rate up and keeping my ability to chit-chat to a minimum.

Soon enough though, the climb is done. I stop at the top to take some photos and begin a nice fast descent. I spend the majority of the morning riding by myself which is actually pretty nice. All week long I’ve been hearing how today is the toughest day of the week, so setting my own pace and not killing myself trying to keep up with others is actually working out in my favor.

Occasionally I run into Jay at various turnouts and the rest stops, but when we start out again, he quickly pulls away as his pace is just a bit faster than I’m willing to go. Soon enough we get to the bottom of the first of two big climbs.

Having heard from people all week, how today is going to kill me, I’m surprised when I get to the top and actually feel pretty good. Of course, as we all know, the best part of any hill is the downhill portion and this one doesn’t disappoint.

The road is in good shape, traffic is light and I practically fly down, taking the entire lane and smiling from ear to ear and the joy of letting go and hanging on...

Too soon though, the fun ends and as I prepare to climb again, I pull over to take off my jacket and take a couple of pictures. It’s here that I realize my camera is gone. Totally bummed, I frantically check my jersey, look in the bento box, take everything out of my rear rack bag...yep, definitely gone.

If you know me, you can imagine, just what a drag this is. I take pictures of everything. I am never without my camera on a ride and to think I’m going to have to finish this ride without it, completely bums me out.

Well, without my camera as an excuse to stretch out my respite before the climb, I get on the bike and begin what I assume what will be the reason everyone has been psyching me out about the days adventure...the climb up to Ragged Point.

I start off and amazingly enough, feel great. Yes, it’s warm, yes my heart rate is up in the stratosphere, but it feels good. I’ve always enjoyed climbing. There’s something good about the suffering involved in climbing. Something very therapeutic about focusing on nothing but keeping your rhythm steady, feeling the burn in your legs and your lungs and pushing right to the edge of blowing up and holding it there even as you hope the end is near. Sooner than I would have expected, the climb is over and as I pull in to the rest stop at Ragged Point, Dr Mel mentions Jay just headed over for a cheeseburger...
Did someone really say cheeseburger??? Gee, let me think about this I could have ANOTHER peanut butter and jelly sandwich or I could head across the parking lot, sit down and enjoy and cheeseburger...yeah, that’s a tough decision.

Pretty sure that was the best burger I’ve ever had. I’m also pretty sure it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I just finished the two toughest climbs of the entire week.

After a nice relaxing break, Jay and I headed out for last leg of the day. Not sure if it was the burger or knowing the worst of the day was behind me, but I really felt great.

Evidently, so did Jay as we pretty much hammered through the rollers on the way into San Simeon.

We did stop to see the Elephant Seals which was very cool, those guys are huge!!!!

The camp at San Simeon is very nice, situated right above the beach and with an awesome view of the Hearst Castle.

After setting up my tent, I head down to the beach and swim in the ocean. How cool is that? I spend all day riding my bike and end a perfect day with a swim in the ocean.

After hitting the showers, it’s time to turn to the business of finding beer. The campsite is beautiful, the ocean is gorgeous, the weather is perfect but town is several miles away...luckily, Robin comes to the rescue and runs Tracy to the store to solve our dilemma.

After an amazing dinner of fresh baked pizza washed down with a couple of cervezas I crawl into my tent with the sound of the ocean lulling me to sleep...

sidenote - not sure when these pictures were taken but here are a couple of really cool shots the first one, Jerry took of a California Condor the second is a picture of the power cords. This is typical of what the outlets looked like in every bathroom, every night of the trip.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Day 3 – Monterey to Big Sur 47.8 miles 2585ft of climbing

It’s day 3 and as I get my gear together I’m struck by the fact that today is a “short” day.
It doesn’t seem like that long ago when I started riding and thought 20 miles was a huge ride. Now, 3 days into the longest ride of my life, I’m looking forward to a nice easy 48 miles...

Today is to be a really fun day. Rich Rosendale is once again leading us since we’re in his neighborhood. (it dawns on me I should be jealous since, while I was sleeping on the cold hard ground in my tent, he was home down the road in a nice warm bed)

We meet up with Rich and begin riding through the quiet streets of a sleepy downtown Monterey. I’ve only been here on the weekends before so seeing the town still in this quiet and peaceful state and without the thousands of tourists and all the traffic is a real treat.

Once through the town proper, we work our way down the coast and onto 17 mile drive. I’ve never actually been on this road and was amazed at not only the views, but the houses there as well....

Here’s a picture of a nice little place I’m thinking of putting an offer on.

Of course 17 mile drive leads to Pebble Beach so we had to make a stop there.
Technically we were trespassing but I’m not very good at following the rules anyway so it just added to the adventure.

The day continued to provide amazing views and very cool sights. We saw the Frank Lloyd Wright house in Carmel
It actually looks like a boat sticking out of the side of the hill.

We saw the famous Cypress Tree on the coast This is probably one of the most photographed Cypresses ever.

We then, in keeping with the tradition of eating way more than we were burning, stopped and had a coffee and danish at a great little bakery in Carmel. (sorry no photo - too busy shoving a bear claw down my throat)

We also saw the Carmel Mission which, although started in 1770, is actually still an active parish. (and one of the most beautiful I’ve visited)

Once the sightseeing portion was over, Rich had to split off from the group and head home. We continued on down the road...
It was at the first checkpoint that we realized we were getting a reputation as “problem riders”. We were told (in not so happy voices) that if we were going to stray from the route, we would need to let the volunteers and the support people know. They assumed everyone had already gone through the checkpoint and only through luck did they find out we were still en route.

Our response to this was, “ok, we’re going off route” When? They asked, “probably quite often” we replied. Evidently, that wasn’t the correct response...

The coastline of California is an amazingly scenic place. The waves of the Pacific Ocean and the creeks and rivers of the coastal range have carved and battered the coastline into a rugged and yet beautiful shoreline. So, while Southern California is known and popular for its smooth beaches and amazing surf spots, northern and central California are infinitely more beautiful and provide vistas punctuated by sharp cliffs, rocky outcroppings, creeks and bays, all of which combine to leave you speechless at every corner.

Eventually though, our route turned inland and followed the road into the area surrounding Big Sur. Gone were the sunshine and sweeping ocean vistas, replaced by the cool shade of giant redwoods.
Pretty soon we came to camp and the daily ritual began again... Pick up the bags from the truck drop off point, set up the tent, sleeping pad and sleeping bag, grab a shower and go in search of beer.

This evening we would spend the hours before dinner unwinding with a beer or glass of wine next to a beautiful creek, talking about the day's adventures and daring each other to try out the rope swing. All the time knowing full well that despite our bluff ad bluster, it was safe from any attempt...