Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sea Otter pre-ride…

Saturday several of us got together to pre-ride the Sea Otter course. Weatherman said showers but we had decided to go rain or shine. I’ve registered to race the course in April in the Cat 3 Single-Speed division and wanted to see what I had gotten myself in for.

This stupid idea all started last year. Nick did the Sea Otter and raved about how much fun it was and what an experience it was. So, hyped up after one of our Thursday night rides and fueled by adrenaline and a couple beers several of us said, sure we’d do it with him this year and I even went as far as to say I’d do it on the SS...

So, now here we are in late February and with only a couple months until the race, I’m really regretting the fact that once again, my ego has written checks, my body will be forced to cash.

Well, Saturday, as always, the internal alarm went off about 5am. I lay there listening for the sound of rain, conflicted as to whether I wanted to hear it or not. Eventually though, I rolled out of bed and checked weather.com to see what the outlook was to be...partly cloudy in the high 50’s ...perfect riding weather.

I loaded up the Jabberwocky and headed out to pick up Tracy. After a quick detour through the Starbucks drive-through, we headed south where we met up with the rest of the gang in San Jose and caravanned down to Monterey.

As we unloaded the bikes, and everyone saddled up on their geared, full suspension rides, I again wondered what I was thinking when I so gallantly blurted out that “yeah, I’ll sign up and I’ll even do it on the single speed”

Pretty much right off the bat we missed a turn and had to take a different loop to get back on course which at the time was no big deal. It was later in the day as my legs started to cramp that I’d really start to regret letting Nick play the role of ride leader.

For now though, we were having fun and enjoying the ride. The first section was fire road and paved road leading up the hill. From there it was a ripping singletrack descent that wound along side the hill and offered narrow, twisty goodness with some sketchy corners that continued to try to trip us up.

I was riding in the second slot and when Nick went down in one of the corners I was able to pass and let the big wheels of the 29er lead me along. (I want to say AGAIN, I had nothing to do with Nick going down in that corner)

As the day wound on, we continued the now normal routine of climbing and descending and I actually felt pretty good. (although every time I asked Nick where to go, he said the same thing....we'll take a left up here and start climbing)
There were some areas where I had to get off and walk, but to be honest the geared bikes were just as slow spinning in their granny gears as I was walking.

One of the questions that came up several times during the day and actually comes up pretty regularly is “why” Why single speed and why no suspension. As I labored up the hills standing and suffering, the same question continued to go through my head. And, I’m not sure I have an answer.

I have a geared bike and its fun to ride. It’s just not as fun. I don’t know if I can articulate what it is, but I really do enjoy the SS more than the geared bike for most of my riding.

Towards the end of the day though, the SS was taking its toll. I was starting to cramp, and it was apparent I was running out of gas. I had a cliff bar and a gel and continued to drink, but there was really nothing left in the tank. (I’m pretty sure most of the guys on the geared bikes were feeling the same way I was though, so I’m blaming my level of fitness and not the bike.)

The last section back to the truck is a long fireroad climb and of course now we had a headwind. Since you really have no choice in the matter, I just increased my whining all the more and kept pedaling.

Eventually, we made it back to the truck and although it was now actually cold and windy we celebrated with a beer as we loaded up our gear and went in search of food.

Garmin showed 22 miles and 3550 ft of climbing…I wonder if it’s too late to bail on the Sea Otter and get my money.

(Thanks Troy for being the photographer - I brought my camera but it never made it out of the camelbak)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Eagles in the Bay Area….how cool is that?

This past Sunday the kids and I took a drive out Calaveras Rd to check out the eagle’s nest. I first saw this nest a couple years ago on a bicycle ride out there.

You can’t miss it as it’s HUGE! It covers the entire top of a high power tower.
We took our first drive out there to check it out this past summer only to learn the inhabitants don’t live there in the summer and usually only live there from about Jan – April.

So, feeling like the paparazzi hanging out near a famous nightclub, we went in search of the eagles...and found them...or it in this case. As we pulled up we could clearly see the nest with nothing in it. And, as we piled out of the truck, we could see it circling in the area of its nest and heading in for a landing. Unfortunately I’m not so quick with the camera so I didn’t get it in flight, but here’s a shot of it sitting in the nest.

It’s my understanding that this is a nest for a mating pair and that they should be here now. So, I’m not sure if this was the male making sure the house was cleaned up before the wife got home or if this was the wife, waiting impatiently for the male to roll into town...

Still, it’s very cool that we have nesting eagles so close to home. I’ll be trying to get back out there over the next couple of months to see the pair and maybe even the offspring.

On the way out of the canyon we came across this guy, who, while much more common in the area, is still a fairly impressive (but very ugly) bird.

Sorry about the lack of detail on the eagle pictures…I was clear across the canyon with my 300mm zoom set to the max.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The hut trip…..planning has begun…sorta

Last night we did our weekly ride around lake Chabot. It was actually a fairly warm night (and I was overdressed) and slightly, but not too muddy.

As we began the long climb up Brandon, my mind, as it usually does, began to wander. And it wandered towards our upcoming Telluride to Utah mountain bike trip in August. My first thought, as I struggled to breathe on the climb was, “WTH was I thinking???”

Eventually though, as I found my rhythm, I started to really think about the trip. Can I really pull this off? What gear should I bring? Should I put a shock on the Jabberwocky? Should I bring the geared bike instead? Should I stop payment on the deposit and invest that money in a good psychiatrist instead?

Granted, none of the individual days is going to be very long, at least not distance-wise. The real issue will be 7 consecutive days and the fact that we’ll be starting at an elevation of 8700ft and going UP from there. Oh yeah, and we’ll be out of cell range and on our own for about 7 days...

Thankfully, one of my friends has done this trip before so I have a resource regarding just what to bring, what to expect, etc. The only problem is, my friend is a very strong rider and his idea of a rough day is probably much different than my idea of a rough day. He’s also offered to let me use his rack and panniers which is cool. Although, I’m not sure if they’ll fit on the Jabber or not since it’s a 29er. I assume they mount to the frame, but I’ll have to look into that to confirm.

As my mind continued to wander during the climb.. yes, it’s a long climb and I’m slow so there was a LOT of time for mind wandering... it dawned on me that I should probably learn to work on my bike sometime between now and August.

Actually, my bike, being a rigid single speed is pretty simple and I built it from the ground up so that’s not an issue, but my son in law’s bike, and Jerry and Chris N’s bikes have gears and shocks and all those types of things that can break and or go out of adjustment.
Maybe I’ll talk to the guys over at the Eden bike shop about taking one of their Saturday classes on bike maintenance and repair.

Eventually, the climb ended and since everyone was up there waiting, I didn’t want them to see me talking to myself so I focused back on the ride and put thoughts of the hut trip off till later...like maybe Friday at work when I’m supposed to be working.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Many years ago, I read one of those success books targeted at helping you and your company succeed. In it, the authors discussed the term BHAG (pronounced bee-hag) which stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goals.

The premise is really about setting outrageous goals which in turn force you to rise to the occasion. There was some other stuff about the goals needing to be strategic and compelling and helping to build team spirit and yada yada yada...

None of that really sunk in but I do remember the idea that if you set large goals and can stay focused on them then you have a good chance of succeeding. It also stated that the goals had to have a finish line since without a finish line, people won’t be able to measure their success (or failure)

Well, this year, I’ve done this exact thing with my riding. I’ve gone out my comfort zone and have set a major BHAG. In August of this year, I and several of my friends are going to ride our mt bikes from Telluride CO to Moab UT on a hut to hut trip through the San Juan Mountains. (www.sanjuanhuts.com)

Now, since I tend to have an extremely short attention span, I have real trouble focusing on long term goals. Add to this my usual tendency to procrastinate and anything past lunch today is really a long way off.

So, to help with this one major BHAG, I’ve set up several intermediate BHAGs. As a matter of fact, I have one pretty much every month between now and August just to help me stay on track.

So, although it’s now February, and I’m fat and lazy and really enjoying the quality time I spend on the couch, I’ve registered for the Solvang century in about 4 weeks. Yes, I know I haven’t ridden 100 miles in almost a year, but that’s what BHAGs are for right?

About 5 weeks after that, I’m entered in the Single Speed XC race at Sea Otter Classic. A week after that Deb and I are doing a 30 mile ride on the tandem, followed 2 weeks later by another 25 mile ride on the tandem, followed in June by the Mendocino Monster century which is 107 miles with 9,000ft of climbing.

This all leads up to my July BHAG which is the Death Ride. Completing the Death Ride should have me pretty well prepared for the Major BHAG of the hut trip.

So, as you can see, I’ve pretty well got it all figured out. Starting with the Solvang Century and continuing on through the summer. There's no need to focus on long term training goals as I'll just be going from one event to the next and using the actual events as training.

The only real problem I see in my whole plan is getting out on the bike and getting ready for the Solvang Century. But, I have over 4 weeks to prepare for that so in the meantime I think I’ll head over to In-n-Out for lunch...

Monday, February 8, 2010

11 miles…54 minutes….

Nope, not quite a land speed record, but for Deb and I on the pepto-bike, it is some sort of record.

We left Hayward yesterday with the skies bright blue and sunshine everywhere. Unfortunately, as we started over the hill towards Danville and the Iron Horse trail we saw that clouds were packed in the valley and it actually looked like it might rain.

Once we got to the starting point, we unloaded the bike (which thankfully fits in my truck) and started pedaling as soon as possible in an effort to get warm.

The problem with the Iron Horse trail is that it crosses at least eight thousand different streets on its way north. Every street forcing us to slow, look both ways and then ramp back up to our pace.

The slowing and then pushing to get back up to speed actually turned out to be a pretty good workout and when added to the various roving obstacles, rollerblading families, little kids on bikes, people walking dogs, ipod-wearing oblivious joggers, etc., really helped us work on our communication.

At the turn around point, the sun finally started peeking through the clouds and we were pedaling enough that we had warmed up. The ride back was more of the same. Dodging kids, dogs and people, slowing and then speeding up again...all in all we had a good ride. Next week, we might try to add some small hills to the mix and see how that works out.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Mid-week ski days….part Deux!

It’s been storming for pretty much the past two weeks. I’m pretty sure it rained every day the week before last and off an on for the early part of last week as well.
When I looked at the weather for Thursday and they showed a break in the weather, I knew what I had to do...I emailed my friends and tried to con them all into calling in sick to go skiing.

Well, as it turns out Jim and Lynn loved the idea and so did Chris. So, early Thursday morning, we met up and after a quick stop at Peet’s for some rocket fuel, got on the road to Sugar Bowl.

Sugar Bowl is nice because it’s a straight shot up Hwy 80 and because you don’t have to actually go over the summit into the Tahoe Basin. (this makes getting in and out much easier)

As the sun came up and the fog burned off, it became apparent what geniuses we were for picking this day to play hooky and go skiing...it was absolutely GORGEOUS with blue skies, very little wind, cold temps and lots and lots of fluffy white goodness...

And, seeing as it was the middle of the week, there weren’t very many people at the resort. Granted a lot more than we had at Kirkwood the week prior, but still by weekend standards, it was pretty empty.

Sugar Bowl has a great mid week deal right now. If you buy a full priced lift ticket, you get the rental gear and a lesson for no additional cost. If you own your own equipment and don’t want a lesson, this isn’t that great a deal, but for Jim and Chris, who wanted a lesson, this is a bargain.

The day continued to warm up and I'm pretty sure that by the time we broke for lunch we had skied pretty much everything open at least once.
Lunch was just a continuation of the great day. We had fresh pizza from the lodge and a nice bottle of wine that Chris had brought with him.

All in all we had a great day and took so many runs that when we finally called it quits, my legs felt like jello...