Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Joaquin Miller….How Do I Not Know You?

This past Sunday, in preparation for our upcoming DATMBA, Tracy, Jerry and I decided to pre-ride a portion of this year’s route. Now, normally, this isn’t really in keeping with the spirit of the ride since the goal is to go somewhere new and explore….
This year though, we decided it would be better to have an actual route planned and having previously ridden one part of the route, the portion in Redwood Regional Park, we decided to map out the Joaquin Miller portion of the route. This would allow us to 1 – make sure it fit with everyone’s comfort level and 2 – ensure we could come up with enough miles that everyone went home exhausted.

After having ridden the section in Joaquin Miller I was amazed that I had never been here before. We rode only the tiniest sliver of the park and it was awesome. The scenery is gorgeous as you ride in the shade of giant redwoods often popping out onto an overlook with the entire bay and San Francisco spread before you. The trails, a mix of fireroad and swoopy singletrack were in great condition and although it was fairly busy on the trail, every interaction we had was really pleasant. Both hikers and cyclists….

Seeing as we hadn’t started our ride until almost 3:00 we were running up against the threat of darkness and didn’t really have time to explore much, but I can’t wait to get back with a full camelback, some snacks and most of a day and see what this place has to offer….

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Yoga is hard…..

For the past year my back, which has been giving me issues off and on for years, has been bad. It has been so bad, that I’ve actually been to the doctor a couple of times, been unable to stand up for an hour or two at a time and been hobbled like an old fart for a couple week long intervals.

Through all of this, the only thing the doctors have been to offer is drugs and sympathy. My medical doctor told me it was osteoarthritis or wear and tear arthritis and was a result of old age. He offered drugs, his advice to slow down a bit and after I refused both, a referral to a physical therapist.

The physical therapist watched me do some basic stretches, had me bend and twist and generally put me in all sorts of positions guaranteed to cause me pain. After which she declared the root of all my issues, at least the physical ones, the mental issues require a different type of doctor, was a weak core.

Her prescription was core exercises, quality time with an exercise ball and she strongly recommended regular doses of yoga. Now, I used to be kind of a gym rat. I went to the gym practically every day and did the lifting, grunting, sweating type exercises for several years. For the past few years, I’ve given up the gym life and taken up cycling. Through all of this the one thing I’ve never done is yoga.

Yoga is something famous actresses do right? Middle aged bald guys don’t do yoga. Besides, yoga requires flexibility and if there’s one thing I’m not, it’s flexible. I can barely put my shoes on in the morning without dislocating a hip.

Well, I’ve been doing the core exercises, I’ve spent some quality time with the exercise ball and still my back is bothering me. Not as bad as before, but still not good. And, with ski season coming up, I can’t risk not being at full strength…..so, yoga it is…..

My youngest has been doing yoga for a while now. She has all the channels on the on-demand cable stations mapped out and tonight picked one out that was targeted at beginners….so, with the mantra of nothing ventured nothing gained ringing in my ears, I dove in and gave it a try….

We did downward facing dog, we did child pose, we did stretches, we did twists, we did strength poses….we did everything and it all HURT. And, not just my back….My core hurt, my sides hurt, my arms quivered, even my legs were twitching and I got a mad cramp in the arch of my foot.

Afterwards though, as I sit here and type, the one thing that doesn’t really hurt is my back. Sure it’s only been a little while and I am sitting in my big comfy chair, but my back actually feels pretty good…..we’ll see how I feel tomorrow morning when I try to get out of bed which is always the worst part of my day….

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Giro D Vino…..

So, I awoke at 5:00 am… which actually turned out to be 4:00 am once I remembered to set the clock back….to the sound of rain drops hitting the eaves. As I crawled back in bed for another hour or two of blissful sleep, it dawned on me that this could be the last time I was warm and dry for the rest of the day…..

At 6:00, when I got up for real, it was still raining and as I gathered my arm warmers, leg warmers, waterproof (supposedly) jacket and long fingered gloves, I still held out hope that this would blow through.

For the past 4 years we’ve done this ride and for 3 of those years, the weatherman threatened rain. So far we had avoided it although last year, or was it the year before, we rode all the way around the storm. For most of the day, off in the distance we could see the grey skies, low clouds and vertical lines that indicated rain. Luckily though, it never hit us….

I had heard all week that we were supposed to get rain today, but since the weatherman is wrong more often than he is right and, since it had been such a gorgeous day on Saturday, I felt confident we would face either no rain, or at the very worst a couple small showers. I guess that’s why I didn’t bring my waterproof shoe covers, long sleeve wool jersey and neoprene gloves….

Arriving in the parking lot of Woodbridge winery in Lodi, amid rain showers, a soaking wet parking lot and other riders in full gore-tex regalia, I was still confident in my (misplaced) optimism….

Bill and Gail showed up on their tandem, Chris, for his first long road ride since the broken knee, and Jerry and I rounded out the group. The others, either through good sense or a lack of adventure, had decided to skip it. Bob and Leticia, Greg, Jim and Lynn all were home and probably warm and dry as we saddled up.

For the next 3 or so hours we rode in the rain…..sometimes hard and blowing in our faces, sometimes just a gentle shower…..but still rain….falling, constantly falling….

The Giro D’Vino is a really fun metric century. The route is almost completely flat so it’s perfect for the single speed. The rest stops are all at valley wineries, the scenery is pretty and the roads it takes you on are all rural and lightly trafficked so you don’t worry too much about getting run over….

This year, due to the fact that it was still raining as we began, we decided to try the 50K ride instead of the normal 100K. The first winery you arrive at is the St Jorge winery which is absolutely beautiful.

As we rolled though the large iron and wood gates into the rain soaked courtyard, it felt like we had somehow been transported to a different time and continent. The tasting room though, instead of being full of wine connoisseurs and aficionados was full of dripping wet cyclists standing around the blazing fire to warm up before heading up to the tasting bar….Leaving that fireplace was one of the more challenging aspects of the entire day’s ride…(BTW – if you go, the Tempranillo was delicious, I actually bought a bottle)

Eventually though we had to get back on the bikes and so we did…..the next winery actually had food which was a good thing since between the early breakfast and the amount of calories I was burning just staying warm, I was now starving.

Jesse’s Grove winery is down at the end of a mostly paved road which is rough even in the best of conditions….on a rainy Sunday morning it was yet one more adventure added to our list…

One of the things that always strikes me on these organized rides is the number of volunteers it takes to pull it off. Now, on a normal sunny day I can see where it might be fun to hang out and help at a rest station or registration or whatever, but on a cold, windy, raining Sunday morning, I can’t believe how pleasant and friendly these people were….and the PB&J sandwiches tasted AMAZING! (their Cabernet was really good too)

We decided to skip the next couple of rest stops since we were getting cold, the rain wasn’t letting up and now the wind had come up. Our goal now was to be done with the ride….

We did stop at about mile 28 at another of the wineries…Vino Con Brio I think it was….where we used the facilities, Jerry washed the mud out of his eye (downside to drafting a tandem on a rainy day) and we stocked up on more PB&J along with some redvines…..Man! I do love me some redvines….

The rain finally did stop for the last couple of miles and by the time we finished my jacket was only mostly soaked instead of completely soaked….after changing into dry sweats, we headed over to enjoy a delicious lunch, a bottle of good wine and the camaraderie that only comes when a group of friends has endured a similar experience and sits and shares in the accomplishment of something others think is nuts…