Friday, August 28, 2009

Two Bikes, Two Rides, 1 Hot Afternoon

In an effort to continue trying to get ready for the upcoming Coast Classic, I’ve been trying to ramp up my mileage. So, yesterday before the weekly Lake Chabot Mt. bike ride, I decided to do a quick road bike ride with Roy.

Having been stuck in the office the entire day, I had no idea that summer had decided to pay us a visit until I went home to grab my stuff. As far as I knew, it was 68 degrees

I still didn’t realize just how warm it was as I ran around the house trying to gather my stuff. It was only when I got to the starting point and we started pedaling out Cull Cyn that I looked at my bike computer and realized it was 100 freakin degrees!!!!
What are we doing out here? This is the kind of day when you’re supposed to be home, sitting in the lawn chair in your cutoff levis with a beer and the garden hose bubbling over your head. (yeah, I’m a high class guy)

Actually though, even though it was hot, the canyon is fairly shaded and we had a nice breeze the entire ride so it didn’t seem all that miserable. We took it easy, had a nice pace and made it out and back in an hour flat.

From there, I put the road bike back in the truck and headed over to Chabot for the weekly loop. We had a couple of mechanicals right off the bat...Evan’s brakes were acting up and Xing broke a spoke in the first 50 yards. So they dealt with that as the rest of us mosied on...As we got to the bottom of Brandon trail it started to dawn on me just how hot it was. Even at 7pm it had to be almost 90 degrees and, since Brandon is pretty much full sun, the suffering (and the whining) began in earnest.

At the top, it was decided that we were doing the regular loop. No extra climbing, no singletrack, just the regular loop in an effort to finish this ride and be done. I was really glad we made that decision as I really had nothing in the tank. Every hill sent me redlining from which recovery seemed to take forever and the dust was just miserable. (thank you EBRPD for your “maintenance” efforts that continue to ruin our trails)

I guess it was the nice weather, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many people out on the trail in the evening. There were families with kids, people with dogs, joggers, hikers and even an old guy with a walker as we got back towards the marina…

Speaking of people with dogs, why do people let their dogs run along the trail, dragging their leash behind them and then act all indignant when you almost run them over? The leash laws are there for a reason lady so don’t yell at me because your little taco bell dog almost ended up in my spokes when he ran at me like I was his favorite chew toy...(little dog syndrome is alive and well)

Anyway, we eventually made it back. I actually wussed out and took the road back up to the truck instead of the steep little shortcut that everyone else took. Yep, there I said it. I’m a wuss and last night, I was totally ok with that.

Dan had gotten back early, had the grill fired up and was starting on the brats by the time I rolled up filthy, sweating like a pig and totally spent...what a great ride!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Camping in Lassen...

The kids left Thursday and eventually made it to the camp at Lassen. Turns out my son-in-law was not technically “lost” he just got off Hwy 5 thinking Chico was right there and it turned out to be about 40 minutes I guess I owe him an apology since he wasn’t technically “lost” he just didn’t know where the town was….

Ok, I guess that’s not fair, he knew where it was, he just didn’t realize it was so far off the track. (there Chris, that’s as good a retraction as you’re getting)

Anyway, they got up there early so when Deb and I arrived late Saturday night, they had our tent all set up with our cots and everything. (the boys even had a cold one waiting for me – if they weren't involved with my daughters, I could almost like those boys)

Saturday we pretty much hung out, took a little walk, read a bit and napped. The kids were much more energetic and went kayaking. That afternoon we played cards and then just before sunset, Michelle, Chris, Caleb and I went to Mirror Lake to take some pictures while Deb and the kids relaxed and started the bbq.

Afterwards, we celebrated Chris’ birthday with an angel food cake...luckily for us, his favorite cake was available at Safeway and didn't even need refrigeration.

Sunday, Michelle woke me at the crack of freakin dawn to get sunrise pictures. Granted I agreed to it the night before but in my defense I had had a couple of beers and to be honest, I never thought she’d actually get up that early…..

After packing up camp, we decided to head out through the opposite side of the park, stopping along the way to take pictures and check out some of the sites.
Lassen is an amazing park with few crowds and a really diverse ecosystem. We drove past lush forest, barren rock gardens, high mountain lakes and bubbling pots of sulfurous gas...

I’d love to get back here for a week so I could do some of the hikes and see more of the park…..

Friday, August 21, 2009

Life Skill Genes....

Have you ever noticed that there are certain skills in life that some people are born with and some just aren’t? I call these the life skills genes....and there are tons of different ones...

Take my grandfather for example. He had the "fixit" gene. That guy could fix or build just about anything.
I can remember staying with them for a time one summer and everybody in the neighborhood would bring stuff to Pop to be fixed. From toasters to bicycles.
When my aunt and uncle bought their big house up on the hill Pop spent many a weekend helping install sprinklers, building fences, building a shed for the horses, running an electric fence, etc, etc.

I tend to be just like him in that aspect…except I usually tear stuff apart then take it somewhere to be fixed...mine's more of the "break it then keep other people employed" gene....

Then there's the "sense of direction" know, this is the one where no matter how lost you seem to be this person can tell you exactly which direction North is and how to get back to where you need to be...
I’m kind of like that. I usually have a pretty good sense of direction and can normally find my way around. My kids, unfortunately, are NOT those people. My son in law especially seems to be lacking this gene...

Now I’m not trying to bash him because he has many other very good traits. He has the whole music/rythym gene, the video game gene, the BBQ gene and many others. And, to be honest, I think if you ask him, he’ll freely admit he gets lost easily. It’s just not in his genetic makeup.

I remember the time he and my daughter were on their way to Yosemite. He had done the Mapquest thing, we had talked about the route and yet, about 2 hours after they left, I got a call asking if Ripon was on the way to Yosemite because they had just passed Ripon headed south on 99., that’s not the way...turn around.

Or then there’s yesterday, when all the kids were headed for Lassen camping for the weekend. They left about 8 yesterday morning for what should be a 5 hour drive to Lassen. The kids were going up early and Deb and I are supposed to meet them there this evening since we both had to work. Supposedly they’ll set up camp and have everything ready so all we have to do is show up.

Well, when I called him about 4:30 to see how the camp site was, I found out they hadn’t quite made it yet...
ME – um Chris, it’s been 8 ½ hours and you’re still not there?
HIM – Yeah, we had a slight detour to Chico
ME – But you don't go through Chico to get to Lassen
HIM – Yes, we realize that now
ME – So are you almost to camp at least
HIM – No, we’re going to that waterfall place first
ME – you mean Burney Falls
HIM – Yeah, I think that’s where we’re headed

Now, granted. It’s definitely not all on him since there are 3 other people in the truck and I know I have at least one map of California in there.

Unfortunately, although neither of my daughters has the "sense of direction" gene they both have an extra "here's my opinion" gene.

So, now you can imagine the poor guy driving is probably getting lots of conflicting and very strongly supported suggestions on the right way to go. (in addition to having strong doses of the "here's my opinion" gene, both my daughters are very smart and probably should have majored in debate since, even if they’re wrong, they can make you think they know exactly what they’re talking about)

Anyway, last night about 7:30 both Deb and Chris’s mom received collect calls from somewhere in Burney. Unfortunately, both calls were missed so we’re still not sure if they ever made it to Lassen or whether they’re up there driving around trying to find the camp site.

I guess if Deb and I get there this evening and they aren’t there, we’ll just have to find a hotel....luckily both Deb and I have and know how to use the "we want room s service" gene...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

45 days and counting....

Saturday, I met Tracy at his house and we started out on what was to be my longest ride since the Solvang Century back in March. We were to meet up with Mike along the route then loop together a couple of my favorite rides for an estimated 75 miles. This was to be the official start of my actual "Training" for the California Coast Classic.

Sidenote – don’t ya love how people write in their blogs about other people as if you’re supposed to know them when it’s obvious that you don’t

Anyway, Tracy and I started out on Union City Blvd to the Alameda Creek trail which is a nice, flat, multi-use trail where we got a good warm up just spinning along. (Ok he was just spinning, I was actually working pretty hard and trying not to show it.)
Part way down the trail we met up with Mike and continued on out to Niles Canyon.

Niles Canyon is one of my least favorite rides since it’s narrow, can be busy and is usually one of those roads where people feel the need to go really fast. The problem is, Niles is also the main way to get to two of my favorite roads, Palomares and Calaveras roads.

Well, we headed up Niles to Palomares for the first climb of the day. It’s a nice road, with hardly any traffic and has a decent climb for the first half of the route. The back half is a fast downhill followed by some rollers that allow you to really make good time. I felt good and we hammered it out pretty quickly.

This road dumps you out onto Dublin Canyon which is also a decent road. It’s a little busy, but has a nice wide shoulder and is another long slow climb followed by a nice long, fast downhill that takes you to Foothill road and after a while in to Sunol. Mike just wasn't "feeling it" so he and I just took our time and cruised up this. Tracy decided to work a little harder and was soon a speck in the distance.

It was here that we parted ways with Mike as he had stuff that actually needed to get done on Saturday and was getting ready to spend Sunday down south looking at colleges with his kid.

After a Gatorade and some Nutter Butters….(a peanut butter cookie that looks like a peanut...some marketing guy definitely hit a home run with these things) Tracy and I headed out for the rest of the ride.

In my opinion, Calaveras Rd is one of the bay areas nicest bike rides. Winding through the canyons east of Fremont, Warm Springs and Milpitas, it has very little traffic, provides some good climbing, and goes through some pretty country. There’s a bald eagle’s nest out there near the half way point. Unfortunately they weren’t home when we went by.

Towards the end of Calaveras Rd, before you get to Ed Levin Park, there’s a nice, steep little downhill. It's not very long, but it's pretty dang steep. Tracy, feeling all full of spit and vinegar I guess, suggested that we get to the bottom, turn around and climb up the “wall”.

The funny thing is, when we got to the bottom he must have forgotten because he just made the right turn and kept going. I had to yell to get his attention and remind him that he wanted to climb back up. Luckily he heard me, because I know he would have been disappointed had we forgotten to climb that little gem. It was here that it dawned on me that I was getting tired. I tried to stand during the climb and immediately started to cramp so I sat, downshifted and spun my way up the hill.
(I actually spent the rest of the ride right at the edge of cramping and needing to back off regularly when I'd feel them flaring)

The last part of Calaveras before we head back north is a nice long, fast downhill back to civilization, traffic and people…..I’ve found I really enjoy downhill more than uphill.
From there it’s all city roads, Warren Bl provides a nice little climb then it’s Mission Bl all the way back to Union City. the section of Mission that goes up to Ohlone really sucks because it's long and straight and you can see the hills coming)

We came back through the town of Niles which was closed down for a hot rod show and where we actually saw some guy walking his pony on a leash.

All in all, we ended up with 74 miles and 4300ft of climbing. The question now is can I do this 8 days in a row????

Friday, August 14, 2009

What’s really important

The other evening I woke up at 2:00 am to let the dog out…..yeah, she’s getting old and like most old people can no longer make it through the night without having to get up to go to the bathroom….(at least that’s what I’ve been told happens. If I ever actually get old I’ll report back on whether or not this is true)

Anyway, after letting her out I went back to bed, but it was too late, my brain had woken up and didn’t want to go back to sleep. So, I got up and went in to the family room to see what was on TV. There was actually a pretty good movie on but I was having trouble focusing because my brain wouldn’t stop thinking..(I guess it needed the exercise since I usually turn it off during the day) and the one thing I kept thinking about was, what is really important in life???

I’ve been having this discussion quite a bit lately with several different friends and it turns out I’m not the only one wondering this.

So often we get so caught up in our daily “stuff” that we never slow down to think about these types of things. We’re so busy getting to work on time, doing our jobs all day, going to the store on the way home, finishing chores around the house, paying bills, etc., that we never stop and think about what life is really supposed to be like or what we want out of it.

Someone famous once said, “No man on his deathbed ever wished he had spent more time at the office” and I agree with that whole-heartedly. It’s one of the reasons I gave up sales and traveling and came to work here. I’m not on the road, I’m 5 minutes from work and although I get in really early, I’m rarely at the office past 4pm which puts me at home in time to ride my bike, cook dinner or putter in the yard depending on the day of the week.

I’m a huge believer in the fact that we should work hard and take pride in doing our jobs well and we should try our best to be good employees or bosses or managers. I also understand that in order to keep a roof over our heads and food on our tables we need to work...but we should also keep things in perspective. Our life and our work are two different things and we can’t let our work become our life.

I know that everyone can easily come up with a list of things that are important and things that are necessary so I don’t intend to do that here, but, there are some things that should be on everyone’s list of what's, family, friends and health top my list...what’s on yours?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

One battle has ended....but the war continues

Last night Susan Nelson, the wife of FatCyclist Elden Nelson passed away after a long battle with cancer.
Elden is is an amazing blogger and even more importantly has used their family's battle with cancer to become a very outspoken champion in the battle against this disease.

His wit, openness and honesty in dealing with this issue on a very personal level has enabled him to raise awareness among his readers to an unprecedented level.
This year, they formed Team FatCyclist for the Livestrong Challenges across the country with the goal of raising $500,000.00 and, rallying behind the cry of Fighting for Susan, they've acheived and surpassed that goal.

It's amazing to me how involved people can get with someone they've never even met. But that is Elden's gift. Through his blogging, he has been able to allow readers to share in Susan's battle, see her strength and courage and share in their families victories and now their loss.

If you've ever wanted to do something to help in fighting this disease, this is your chance. Take a few minutes, click HERE to log on to the Team Fat Cyclist page of the Livestrong Challenge and donate in her honor....her battle is over, but the war against cancer rages on....

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Yesterday I took my road bike into Witt’s, my local bike shop. I’ve talked before about this place. It’s a tiny, cool, little bike shop run by Clarence, a guy that knows just about everything there is to know about bikes and Barbara, a lady that seems to have more energy than I do even though she retired from racing back in the 70s…

I haven’t been there in a while and was surprised to find out that Clarence has been undergoing radiation treatment for cancer. It turns out they found it under his tongue but evidently finding it is just the beginning because it turns out it’s not just there. It’s in several different areas including his lymph nodes.

I guess the fact that he’s working and still riding his motorcycle to the shop every day is a good sign but still, to see the damage its done is really tough…

As I was thinking last night about Clarence and cancer, it dawned on me just how much cancer sucks! It seems like when you really look at the statistics, it’s only a matter of luck as to whether or not you get it. It knows no difference between gender, race, or even age... its kind of like winning the lottery...only a really bad way...

I mean, it doesn’t seem fair that if someone stays reasonably fit and eats well they should be just as likely as someone that doesn’t take care of themselves to be diagnosed with cancer. And then you see stories like Lance Armstrong or Dave Dravecky, athletes, obviously in very good health….

On the one hand, hearing about their victories in overcoming what used to be a death sentence is extremely motivating, on the other hand, if guys like that can get cancer, then anyone can...

On Saturday’s ride, as I was pissing and moaning about how much riding up Tunitas Creek sucked, Tracy made a comment about how blessed we are to be able to be out there riding when most guys our age are sitting on a couch clicking the remote control for exercise and he's right...

So, where exactly was I headed with this post? Not sure really….only that cancer sucks and many of us are blessed... maybe that’s the point.

Just acknowledging the fact that there are people out there suffering from real issues and if whining about having to pedal my bike up a hill is as bad as it gets, then I really should be thankful….

The beat down…..

This past Saturday my buddy Tracy and I had planned on riding from San Mateo up and over Hwy 84 to Pescadero to meet up with another group of riders starting in Half Moon Bay. The plan was mainly to just get in some miles at a moderate pace. (at least I thought that was the plan)

Turns out we were joined by two other friends who had a different idea of just what determines a “moderate” pace…..

We started off fine, taking it easy as we spun down Canada Rd and into Woodside. It was only when the road started pointing up that I realized I might be in trouble. The pace wasn’t brutal or anything. I was able to keep up and wasn’t redlining, but I was definitely working harder than I planned. And, when we finally reached the top at Alice’s I was starting to wonder if I was going to have enough gas to do the whole 60+ miles.
(the fact that one of the guys was on a hybrid in tennis shoes wasn’t helping my ego any either)

Well, I may not be the fastest or strongest climber, but when the road points downward I really shine…If you remember your high school physics, you’ll know that,
p = m x v
where p=Momentum, m= mass and v=velocity
The equation illustrates that momentum is directly proportional to an object's mass and directly proportional to the object's velocity.

Basically what this says, is that since I tend to weigh more than your typical bicycle enthusiast, I will go faster downhill than they will. (and, if my teachers had explained it that way, I may have actually stayed awake in class)

We had a great run down the backside of 84 to Pescadero Creek Rd where, unfortunately, it started heading uphill and I was again relegated to the back of the pack. That’s ok, I may be slow but I can go all day.

Eventually we made it to the Town of Pescadero where we had an amazing sandwich from a little market/deli that bakes their own bread every morning. Just as I was starting to enjoy the after effects of a full belly, a comfortable bench, the sun on my face, everyone decided we should get back on the bikes and start heading back...(I ride with guys that always have these types of dumb ideas)

After leaving the deli, you head up Stage Rd which is a long, not too steep grind uphill. There are a couple of nice downhill sections where I redeemed myself, but for the most part it’s uphill and then you get to Hwy 1 where we turned north for Tunitas Creek Rd.

Tunitas Creek Rd was repaved this year since one of the legs of the Tour of California went up this way so it’s in really good condition. There is very little traffic since it’s a narrow winding road and it goes through some beautiful redwoods. It’s actually a very pretty road….except for the fact that it’s 6 miles UPHILL!

- sidenote: If you’re ever on Tunitas Creek Rd, make sure you stop at the bikehut – it’s a cool little rest area where they have water, snacks, a picnic area and it’s all run by the local farmer on an honor sytem.

Once again, I was dropped like a bad habit and spent most of the time on Tunitas Creek by myself just wanting the climb to end. Again, I felt ok, I’m just a slow climber.
Eventually, I made it to Skyline where we “re-grouped” (code for “everyone waited for Rich”) and headed north towards 92.

The ride down Hwy 92 was a blast! We had a gap in the traffic and took off where once again, my ummm...mass... assisted in my downhill prowess and I quickly distanced myself from the cars and the other riders.

Getting back to the truck, we had a beer, I lied about how great I felt and we loaded up and headed for home. We never did hook up with the other group that started in Half Moon Bay. Evidently they better understood the phrase “moderate pace”...