Monday, November 21, 2011

Solo Rides....Cleaning out the Cobwebs....

Saturday morning I got up early to go for a ride.  It was my first attempt at doing the Chabot loop on the SS since I crashed back in August.  I've actually been riding, but only on the full suspension geared bike.  I just wasn't sure my collar bone was ready for the rigid SS. 

My regular riding buddies had either come up with good excuses or ignored my calls and emails (one even went so far as to move out of state) so I was going to hook up with a group of guys that I don't really know, but that ride out there every Saturday morning.

They had been calling for rain, thankfully though I woke to partly cloudy skies and really cold temps but at least it was dry.  As I bundled up and pulled on my long fingered gloves, the group showed no signs of actually getting ready so I decided to head off on my own figuring they'd catch and pass me on Brandon.  It turns out I never did see them and ended up doing the entire ride by myself. There were a couple other riders I did see and one that I chatted with as he would pass me, then I him as we each stopped to either admire the views or take pictures. (or in my case, get my heart rate back down to sustainable levels)

The ride on Saturday morning, even though I did the regular loop, was a different experience than our normal Thursday ride. Saturday morning was foggy heading up the trail which lent a completely foreign look and feel to what is a very familiar trail. In addition to the fog, the pace on our Thursday rides is more about keeping up with the group and trying not to hold anyone up or make them wait. So, although I'm not the slowest rider, there's an underlying pressure to make sure I keep up.

Saturday, by myself, there was no pressure at all. I could stop and take pictures, I could pull over and admire the view or I could hammer along and not worry about stopping at the regrouping points.  I could make the ride and the pace as difficult or as easy as I chose.  Of course, with it being my first ride back on the SS, no matter how easy I tried to take it, it was still fairly difficult....

Lately, it seems like life has been pretty complicated and really chaotic so although I enjoy and look forward to the Thursday night group rides, I also think I'm going to be adding more solo rides to my schedule.

There's something very cathartic about being alone in the hills with nothing but the sound of your breathing as you climb and the sound of your tires rolling along the trail as you's good for me to get out and clean out the cobwebs in my head once in a while and a good, long, hard ride is always one of the best ways for me to do that....

Friday, November 11, 2011

Giro D’Vino 2011

This past weekend was the Giro D’Vino out in Lodi. This was our 5th annual I believe, and it’s always surprising to me just how pretty this area is.

It’s funny, but if you listen to the words written by John Fogerty, you get the impression being stuck in Lodi is punishment….

Just about a year ago
I set out on the road
Seekin' my fame and fortune
And lookin' for a pot of gold
Things got bad, and things got worse
I guess you know the tune
Oh, Lord, stuck in Lodi again

The reality though, after riding through the area, is completely different. Lodi, and the surrounding area, is really pretty. Lodi has a cool little downtown section and the surrounding area is all vineyards and orchards.

Last year was the first year we actually had rain to deal with although I think almost every year the possibility of rain has been a concern. This Sunday I hit a couple of light showers on the way there, but there was no actual rain at all during the event.  It was cold and cloudy in the morning, then as the day went on we had periods of sunshine, more cloudiness and towards the afternoon, the temps started to drop.  But overall, it turned out to be a nice day.

We had a pretty large group there, 14 I think, although we were pretty spread out.  At the beginning I saw just about everyone with the exception of Keith, others in our group had reported seeing him though.

The route this year had changed and there were a couple new wineries on the loop.  Two that really stood out were Cycles Gladiator which in addition to being a nice winery, supports cycling and racing and has a Merlot that I really liked.

The other was Harmony Wynelands which has a beautiful property and grounds along with a gigantic pipe organ…..very nice.
It’s been a few months since I’ve ridden any distance further than about 20 miles and doing 65 miles this weekend was definitely a push.  Thankfully this route is almost completely flat.  I say almost because one of the new wineries this year has a road with a short STEEP climb.  Like steep as in even with a bit of a running start I couldn’t make it on the single speed.  Granted, that’s probably also due to my lack of fitness, but I’m not sure I could have made it last year either….

All in all, this is a really well supported ride, through some really pretty countryside and empty backroads and if you like wine….well how could you go wrong with a ride called the Giro D’ Vino?
Can't wait till next year!