Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer Solstice Ride....

Sweat was pouring in to my eyes and I was pedaling like crazy. The only problem was I wasn’t making any headway….I mean, I guess I was moving fast enough to stay upright, but for all the effort I was putting in, I should have been flying up the hill instead of wobbling and bouncing along at a pace barely faster than walking….actually, maybe not even as fast as walking….

It was Tuesday the 21st….our second Annual Summer Solstice Ride in which we celebrate the longest day of the year with a mt bike ride and a bbq. It was also the hottest day of the year so far with temps in the 90s in the east bay.

We met up at Jerry’s house in the Hayward Hills and, after everyone agreeing that we were nuts to ride on a day like this, we headed out. The trail starts out with a nice steep downhill followed by a solid mile of climbing. Some areas of the climb are so steep that even after multiple attempts by the strongest climbers in our group, everyone walked them.

It appears that the parks dept has been out there doing trail “maintenance” recently. Yes, evidently if you work for the parks department then you consider dragging the trails with a D9 Cat to be “maintenance”. This left the trails ragged, loose and full of large sections of soft fluff and clods the size of basketballs…..

The last section of the climbing is a short, rutted, steeper than Jerry’s driveway section of maybe 100 yards that left me feeling like I might lose my lunch. It’s in full sun as well as full view of the riders ahead of you at the top, so there’s no chance that I was getting off to walk no matter how loudly I could hear my heart pounding in my ears.
Once we reached the top and regrouped for the requisite “aren’t we having fun now” photo, the fun began as the next section is a rolling, ripping 2 mile downhill through the trees that almost justified the climbing we had just finished. Even the parks dept “maintenance” couldn’t prevent the whooping and smiling that this section generated.

From here, the decision to continue or head back was upon us and Bob and Jerry, needing to get the BBQ started headed back while the rest of us continued “down” the hill. I put down in quotation marks because although we were working our way down the canyon, there were still several short steep sections that caused me to question my decision not to go back with Jerry and Bob.

Evidently, this section is even more well loved by the parks department since they took the “maintenance” here to a whole new level. Not only had they done the trick with the Caterpillar, it appeared almost as if they had roto-tilled sections they were so loose and full of chunks. There was also tree and shrub debris strewn throughout the trail to add to our fun.

There were a few creek crossings which are always entertaining.

As we reached the mid-point of the second section of the trail it, was already 7:30 and, not wanting to miss out on the BBQ we made the decision to turn around. As we began the climb out of the canyon, I realized that concentrating so hard on trying to find a decent line and stay upright while coming down the canyon, I hadn’t really been paying attention to just how much downhill we had done or just how steep a couple of the sections were.
As we climbed those sections, I was forced to sit and spin in my granny gear, legs working furiously, the rear suspension bouncing all over the trail, sweating my butt off, and again, thinking I should have volunteered to head back with the others to start the BBQ.

Eventually though we made it back to the top of the trail, jumped on the road and headed back to Jerry’s house. With only his unbelievably steep driveway standing between me and something cold to drink, there was no stopping me.

Afterwards, we enjoyed a nice BBQ, a beautiful evening and good fellowship. Toughest 6 miles and 1200ft of climbing I think I’ve ever done….

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Great Father’s Day Weekend!

Obviously, the title of the post could be construed a couple of different ways….Was it a great day? or am I a great father? both? or neither? (obviously it’s not or neither or this would have just been a silly title for today’s post)

Well, being a father, I can safely say Father’s Day is one of the few things I am totally qualified to celebrate. Thankfully the only criteria required to celebrate this event is the ability to produce offspring and not in any way measured or quantified…, if it was “Good Fathers Day” or even “Nice Father’s Day” I’m not sure I’d be able to get in on it. Of course it would all depend on what day the qualifications were taken and who the judges were….

The best part about Father’s Day is that it’s is all about ME and, as anyone who knows me, knows, I like it all about ME. I want to do what I want to do, when I want to do it. Honestly, I don’t care about YOU. I only care about ME and this specific holiday, along with my birthday, are days in which it’s ok for me to be  completely and totally selfish and not be forced to pretend that I care about anyone else.

And, to make matters even worse for those poor people that are forced to live with me, I not only spent Sunday doing exactly what I wanted, I expanded the concept to become Father’s Day weekend and took a nice long ride on Saturday too…..yep, I’m totally selfish that way. Granted, I used the Death Ride as an excuse and believe it or not, my wife thinks it’s better if I don’t actually die on that ride so she agreed to my training ride.

Saturday morning Jerry picked me up at the house and we headed out to ride Mt Tamalpais. The plan was to have two groups. One group would be led by Jerry and include Sausalito and some other stuff but be geared towards beginner, intermediate riders. The other group, I was supposed to lead was going to climb Mt Tam and should be a “tougher” ride but should also be the smaller group.

As you can see, my leading the smaller group ties right back in to the selfish thing. I don’t want to have to be responsible for anyone else. I don’t want to have to pretend I care when they’re tired or out of water or crash or anything like that. The fewer people I have to be responsible for the better. I can only pretend to be concerned about others for so long before my true nature comes out.

Turns out Jerry had 3 riders and I had 15….wait…huh? How did this happen. I can’t even keep track of my second set of keys and now I’m supposed to keep tabs on 15 different people on bikes?
The ride turned out pretty well though. I lost two riders right off the bat which it turns out was ok since that was their plan to begin with. I forced myself to be caring and supportive for the riders that fell behind (most of the time) and other than my phone jumping out of my bento box and trying to commit suicide by sliding across the road at 20 mph, there were no crashes or injuries.

The best part is I pulled off such a convincing act of concern and compassion for my fellow riders, none of them even know how selfish I really am.

Sunday, being the official Father’s Day, my Rich-centered world fully blossomed into a full day of ME-ness. After church, the girls and I loaded up the bikes, drove down to Monterey and in a supreme act of “it’s all about ME” I forced them to ride their bikes with me along the coast on a beautiful, sunny day….I know RIGHT???? Pure selfishness at it’s finest.

We rode through the Fisherman’s wharf area, Cannery Row and along the coast. Obviously not everyone knew that Sunday was supposed to be about just me as there were thousands of people out there taking up space on the bike path… all laughing and having a good time like it was their father’s day too….

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wow, its really hot!

As I pulled in to the parking lot at the bottom of Diablo, my truck showed the outside temperature to be 92 degrees… 4:45pm…..I guess summer is here.

Lynn and Xing pulled up not long after I did and since Jim had bailed, Lynn offered Xing the use of Jim’s road bike which was already in the truck. I knew this was going to be a bad idea... Xing rides an older mountain bike. And he rides the heck out of it.  As a matter of fact, even on the mountain bike up Diablo, with knobbies, it’s tough to drop him.

So, once he was on the road bike, had figured out the shifting and braking and gotten comfortable, well…..we pretty much never saw him again until we got to the junction where he was waiting for us.

The entire ride up Diablo is tough. There really are no easy parts, but the first section up to the junction usually isn’t as tough as the second section. Usually…. This week though, I was dying. The combination of the sun baking my head and the heat radiating off the asphalt together provided a convection oven aspect to the ride that allowed me to cook my brain more efficiently than if I had stuck it into a microwave.

Needless to say, when I finally arrived at the junction I was cooked to the point that I wanted to call it a day and head down the hill where I had beer sitting in an ice chest in my truck. I didn’t though. After refilling my bottle, drinking most of it and refilling it again I was starting to feel better and we decided to continue.

Xing stayed with Lynn and I in the beginning, but as soon as we were passed by a couple of the local guys in their team kits, he motored away. Lynn and I decided to take our time and cruised our way up the hill. Thankfully it had cooled a bit and a nice breeze now either pushed us or greeted us as we turned each corner.

With my head no longer set on “broil”, I was able to actually enjoy the beautiful evening and the views that greeted us at each turnout.

Eventually, we reached the top and then the fun began. I love riding down Mt Diablo. It’s probably one of my all time favorite downhills in the area. The road is in good condition, there’s usually very little traffic and as I mentioned the views are incredible.

It almost made climbing it worthwhile…..

Oh yeah, and we ran into a friend of ours on the road, I guess he was enjoying the heat as well.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Finally nice weather…

After what I’m sure is the longest and wettest winter since Noah was buying up lumber and counting out animals two by two, we’ve finally gotten a stretch of nice weather. And, with the Death Ride less than a month away and me at least 3 months away from an appropriate level of fitness, I’ll spend this evening with the Devil in the east bay…
Tonight should be one of those fun, yet painful events. On the plus side, I’m looking forward to getting out on the bike without a jacket or arm warmers. On the down side, my lungs may actually explode and I’ll be found tomorrow on the side of the road looking like a piece of road kill.

This year, as in year’s past, I have not trained for the Death Ride as I should have. Although, in my defense, it has rained pretty much every day since November so it’s not really my fault….at least that’s going to be my excuse as people keeping asking if I’m alright as I lay on the road half way up Monitor Pass (yes, that’s the first pass)

I’m expecting this evening’s ride to be pretty nice actually, it’s warm here in the east bay, but there’s a breeze. Usually this means that it will be slightly windy up on the mountain, which is good.  It always helps when you’re overheating and gasping for breath to have a nice cool breeze to help you out…..or at least to keep the flies from congregating on your dead body…..

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I can’t believe it was only 4 miles….

I only had a little time after church today to get a ride in. Jerry suggested we pre-ride a portion of the upcoming solstice route up and down the greenbelt trails near his house which sounded perfect.

The route starts on a steep downhill into the canyon, followed by two miles of uphill….most of it was rideable, but there were a couple sections where, as I pushed my bike uphill I noticed the Garmin was showing 22%.....can that be right?

Anyway, the best part of the climb is always the downhill that follows and I’ll go out on a limb and say that the greenbelt trail is one of the best kept secrets in the east bay. Yes, it’s short, and yes you do come across the occasional hiker with a dog, but the trail really flows and I’m sure that younger people can really fly down this thing.

Unfortunately, since I still needed to get to the store and home in time for Sunday dinner, we didn’t get to do the entire route and turned back uphill at the half way point. Again, the trail was mostly rideable but there were two spots where I needed to get off and walk due to the fact that it was too steep to get any traction…again, I saw elevations over 24% if my garmin is to be believed.

Soon enough, we were back at the start and the only thing left to do was Jerry’s driveway… of the steepest paved section of road in Hayward

All in all I ended up with 4.3 miles and 963 feet of climbing….the toughest 4.3 miles I think I’ve ever done….