Monday, January 25, 2010

Whoever this Mr Doppler guy is, he needs an azzwhuppin…

This past Saturday, we were supposed to do a road ride across the bay in Marin. Last week, as you know, it rained as if the great flood was on its way, so we were tentative about whether or not we were going to be riding.

For most of the week, Jerry and I had been talking and he kept referring to his friend Doppler. I assume this guy is some sort of weather expert since he would say, “Doppler's radar says heavy rain, or Doppler says it should clear up or Doppler says…..”

So, Saturday morning, as I stood in the kitchen watching the rain blow sideways down the street, Jerry called and said, “Doppler says it’s going to be clear in Marin, so we’re on”.

Now, as I stood there in the warmth and comfort of my kitchen, a nice cup of coffee in my hand, it was hard to fathom how we could possibly be riding when I could clearly see everything outside was soaked and getting wetter by the minute. But hey, who am I to question Jerry’s friend Doppler who obviously knows more than I do about the I gathered my things and got ready to go.

Sure enough, as Jerry came by to pick me up it had dried a bit. And, as we headed across the bay, it actually looked like it might clear up. Even as we pulled in to Chrissy Field it appeared Jerry’s friend Doppler and his magic radar might have been right.

Even when, as we started getting our gear together and a little shower hit us, I felt comfortable knowing Doppler said it was going to be clear. Although, I guess since he didn’t show up for the ride I probably should have gotten a clue that he had duped us.

Sure enough, as we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge the rain began. It wasn’t really a hard rain and since there was very little wind, it wasn’t too bad. It was only after doing a portion of the Marin Headlands that I realized I was starting to get soaked. And later as we rolled through Sausalito it dawned on me that my feet, even with booties over my shoes, were starting to squish inside my socks.

Finally, as we got further into Sausalito, the rain started in earnest and I started looking for an excuse to stop. Eventually, as the others realized my whining probably wasn’t going to end any time soon, we agreed to stop for breakfast.

After a nice breakfast of custard stuffed French toast, we headed back out into the cold. Luckily it wasn’t really raining much any more, but the damage was already done. My feet were squishy and with the chamois in my tights soaked through, I felt like I was walking around in a wet diaper. (no wonder my grandson was always cranky, this isn’t fun at all)

Stopping for breakfast was one of those good/bad ideas. Good in that I was hungry and wet and breakfast solved the hunger and let me dry a bit. But bad in that once I had eaten and warmed up, I was freezing when we got back on the bikes. Chris and I spun like crazy trying to warm up but it wasn’t until we got to the climb out of Sausalito that I finally started to warm back up.

As we got back across the bridge and down to Fort Point the rain had stopped and we took a moment to watch the surfers. The joke then was that with their drysuits and being in the water, they were probably both warmer and drier than we were.

Back at the car we changed into dry clothes, loaded up and headed home. According to the garmin I had burned almost 1000 calories in the 20 something miles we rode. According to my belly, this means I burned almost 1/10th of the calories contained in the custard stuffed French toast……

If I ever meet Jerry’s friend Doppler, I’m going kick his azz…..

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Fun day on the Pepto-Bike….

Yes, that’s what we’ve taken to calling the tandem. The Pepto Bike. I think you’ll agree based on this picture that the name fits…right?

Anyway, Saturday Deb and I decided to take the bike out for a ride. I’ve found that if I refer to it as “riding the bike” instead of a “training ride on the bike” that my wife feels more comfortable with the idea and is more inclined to go along.

It was actually a pretty decent day, partly cloudy, not too windy and not too cold. And since she wanted to go check out the flea market at the college, we decided to ride the bike over there. (I later realized the genius in this idea since not only did we get some exercise, she really couldn’t buy anything because we wouldn’t be able to get it home)

So, this was to be our third ride on the pepto-bike and our first foray out of our neighborhood and into the world. It’s funny, I was pretty concerned that this was going to be tough and we would have trouble getting used to the tandem thing, but it’s really gone quite smoothly.

Once I figured out that this should be fun, and that I could have my “training rides” on my own time, it was all good. So, with that thought in mind, we set out and headed over to the college. It’s only a few miles to the college and we made really good time. It’s amazing that with two people pedaling, averaging 15-16mph on the flats isn’t that difficult. We even had a couple of bursts up to about 21mph.

We got to the flea market, wandered around for a while. Had a couple of fun conversations with strangers about the bright pink bike for two and then having bought nothing but a couple pair of socks (and some bungees to attach them to the rack) we decided to go for coffee. So, over to Eon café we went where we enjoyed a coffee and relaxed for a while.

After hanging out for a bit and talking to the owner about the pretty bike, we decided to swing through the neighborhood and stop to visit Deb’s dad. He too was very impressed with us. So, having impressed everyone we know and with the afternoon cooling off, we worked our way back home.

All in all we did 8 miles which with the coffee and the visits, is probably the longest 8 mile ride I’ve ever done. Of course with having Deb there it also made it one of the most enjoyable 8 mile rides I’ve ever done...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mid Week Ski Days Are The Best…..

When I was younger I used to ski every chance I got. And, because I was in school I could only ski weekends and holidays and then only when I’d scraped together enough money to get up there.

With only those options available, there were days when I’d ski that were less than ideal. I found myself skiing on bad snow, in the middle of snow storms, on days when the top of the mountain was closed due to wind, on days it was so crowded you spent more time in line than on the runs and even on an occasion or two when it rained.

As I got older though, I skied less and less. Whether the result of having a family, or work or lack of finances. Even though I ski less days than I used to, the days I do ski tend to be better. This is a direct result of being able to pick and choose what days I ski.

The week before last is a perfect example. I had planned a mid-week ski day with my daughter and several friends. I looked at the weather and picked a day and began setting it all up. Christina and I were going up since she’s out of school now. My friends Lynn and Jack were going to take the day off and I was hoping to talk my sister into meeting us for lunch.

Well, as they say the best laid plans of mice and men…..when the day came, Christina wasn’t feeling well, Jack was too busy to take a day off and it turns out my sister was still down in LA. So, just Lynn and I headed up to Kirkwood.

As it turns out it was a spectacular day. The snow was great (although they still need more) the sun was shining and there was no-one around. As a matter of fact when we went down the backside of the mountain to Chair 4, I was actually concerned that we had missed a closed sign and there wouldn’t be anyone manning the lift.

We made run after run, exploring the various trails and lifts and finally about 11:00 with my legs burning, we decided to stop for lunch. It’s nice to get so many runs in that you’re stopping because your legs are tired and not because you’re sick of waiting in lines.

At one point it was so empty Lynn and I were wondering how the resorts made any money. Well, after ordering lunch we realized how they make their money. 23 dollars for a burrito, a baked potato and two drinks…

After filling our bellies we headed back out to try to burn off some of the lunch. Again, it was more of the same. No lines, good snow, great weather and run after run, till our legs were wobbly.

I’m pretty sure we skied every open run at the resort, most of them several times. And, we never once had to wait in line. Ski down, jump on the lift, ride up, ski down, jump on the lift, ride up...a perfect day!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

China Camp - New Year's Day Goodness...

Every year a group of us do a New Year's day mt bike ride. The goal of the ride is to, 1 - start the new year, rain or shine, with a ride and, 2 - ride somewhere we've never ridden before.

This year, with the weather guy saying 80% chance of rain, we decided to go to Marin County and ride China Camp but had Grant Ranch in reserve as a backup.

Waking up at 6 on New Year's Day (yeah, I'm an old fart and was in bed by 10) I checked my email to find Jerry's note saying China Camp was down to 10% rain and we were a go....

As we all pulled up in to the parking lot the weather looked as if it was going to cooperate and we began getting our stuff together.

Having never ridden China Camp we weren't sure what to expect. I had heard that it was the only legal singletrack in the area and was known as a great riding place, but like many places, I was afraid it might not live up to the this case it totally lived up to the hype. The day was to be filled with lush greenery, great trails, good friends and decent weather.

The ride started out easy enough. Almost perfectly tailored to the SS with narrow, winding trails that although they climbed, weren't brutal to the point that it was miserable.....boy was that about to change.

Soon enough, we turned a corner and the trail turn upward.....seriously upward...upward to the point that had I been on a geared bike I would still have thought of walking. On the SS it just got to the point that I couldn't stand and grind without losing traction, or coughing up a lung. At about the 3/4 point there's a switchback and I had to stop - or die.

Eventually with a bit of walking I made it to the top where re-grouped and started down the other side. Down and down we went, around corners, through switchbacks until eventually we came to a fork in the trail.
It was here that the maps came out, the GPSes were consulted and the discussion began. Soon it became apparent no-one had any idea where we were or which way we were supposed to go. The discussion continued until some guy rode up and confirmed our fears. Yep, back up the hill.

After regaining what we had thought was the peak we realized we still had quite a bit more uphill before we got to the real top. So uphill we went.
Thankfully, most of it was switchbacks and the climb was gentle. Again, perfect for me and the Jabber. At least until we came out to some pavement.

Thinking that as long as it was paved I could climb it, we started off.....soon enough though I realized that paved or not, I didn't have the horsepower to get up this hill....again I was forced to dismount and walk the rest of the way. The only consolation was that a couple others on geared bikes also walked.

Eventually we got to the real top of the hill.

It was there that the fun began in earnest....the trail curved and wound down the hill. There was one section that was really steep, rutted and almost made me wish for suspension...again, we made a wrong turn and went down a trail for a ways before someone realized we were headed the wrong direction....backtracking only adds to the adventure.

The downhill only got better and better. The trail snaked it's way down the mountain we had spent all morning climbing and eventually, our faces plastered with smiles we made it back to where we had begun....

I've never understood how weather people can be so wrong so often and still make a living. In this case I was thankful they held up the tradition of inaccuracy, the weather today had been perfect!

Cool aqnd cloudy with one or two drizzles and eventually even a little sunshine during our after-ride bbq.

what a fantastic day!!!! Another New Year's Day ride in the bag!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Catching Up….

It seems like the past year just flew by….then Christmas and New Year’s were here and gone and now that we’re half way through the first month of the new year, I’m still trying to get caught up...

I have yet to write up our annual New Year’s Day ride, my first ski trip of the year (last week) or this past weekend’s road ride. This is getting out of control.

The problem, I’ve decided is work. It’s beginning to get in the way of the rest of my life. Last week, I tried very hard to leave early on a couple of different days to get a ride in, but that didn’t happen. (the boss actually expects me to work at least 8 hours EVERY SINGLE DAY!) I was barely able to sneak out for a day to go skiing and even then I had to work late the day before and the day after to stay caught up. If I keep up this pace, I’m on track to actually work 40 full hours in a week...

So, here I sit here at the table writing this blog when I should be lying on the couch having a beer.

I’ll try to get caught up on the events of the past couple of weeks tomorrow – I have several cool pictures from the rides and the ski trip...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Bicycle Built for Two….

A few months ago, Deb and I were talking about how much I enjoy riding. She’s seen how I enjoy the camaraderie, the places you get to see, the exercise benefits and the fact that it’s just plain fun. (she’s also seen how it can restore my sanity after a rough day)

I was telling her how it would be really cool if she could share that with me. The problem is, that she’s just not really comfortable on the bike around cars and traffic and stuff.

Compounding that is the fact that the few times we’ve gone out in the past, I've had a tendency to turn it into a training ride or an exercise session and not an event where we can just go out and have a fun ride.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as I’ve tried to come up with ways to share my experiences with her. I usually come home from a ride and try my best to convey everything I saw or everything we did on a ride. Eventually though, her eyes would glaze over and she’d fall back on the “that’s nice dear” phrases which indicate that I’d lost her.

Well a couple of months ago, my friend Jerry loaned me a tandem bike that he’s had since...well...since hot pink tandem bikes were all the rage. (I’m not saying that hot pink isn’t all the rage now, but I think it’s safe to say it’s decidedly less trendy than it was back in the early 80’s)

We both agreed this “sounded” like a fun idea. We both also agreed that this could end very badly – like with us killing each other...

Last night as Deb and I were talking about going for a walk, she suggested we give the tandem a try. So, with no small amount of trepidation, I pulled it out of the garage, added some air to the tires, and off we went with the goal to be surviving one lap around the block. (1 mile)

After finishing that one lap with no issues, we decided to expand our loop to the surrounding neighborhood. It’s amazing the amount of people that wave and smile when you’re on a tandem. I’m pretty sure that almost every single person we passed either said hi or smiled at us as we went by. (I'm pretty sure they were laughing because we were so cute together and not because there was a big old bald guy on a pink tandem)

Well, since it was getting cold and would soon be dark, we decided to head back to the house and call it a good. I think we did a couple of miles total and although my legs didn’t get much of a workout, my face was sore from smiling and laughing.

Afterwards, it dawned on me that I really had a LOT of fun. I guess sometimes, if you’ve been riding for a while you can get locked in to the training aspect of riding. The goal being a certain number of miles, keeping a certain pace or getting in a certain number of feet of climbing. It’s easy to lose sight of the simple joy of riding a bike with your friends and the pleasure that comes from sharing something you enjoy with someone you love...