Monday, January 20, 2014


That pretty much sums up my riding lately. It's not that I don't enjoy the rides I've been on, it's just that I'm really having trouble getting motivated or excited to ride like I used to. And it's not just riding. I'm finding it hard to be motivated to do much of anything productive. Maybe its the season? Maybe its just life? Who knows...

This past weekend I had a free pass from the wife to ride if and when I wanted. I had a few chores/responsibilities that I had to get done, but other than that, there wasn't anything on the calendar that absolutely had to be done. In the past this would have led to not only riding, but possibly trying to fit a ride in on both Saturday and Sunday.

This weekend though, I struggled mightily to find the motivation to get out on the bike. My fitness is at an all time low and my weight, although not at an all time high, is definitely at a seasonal high....I really NEED to ride. Both for my physical well being as well as for my emotional balance.

I knew this and yet wasted the day Saturday puttering around, not doing much and accomplishing even less. And to be honest, when the sun went down on Saturday in addition to the feeling of discontent that comes from being so out of shape and lazy, there was the added guilt of an opportunity missed....Sunday I HAD to ride. Even if I didn't feel like it.

After church on Sunday, the feeling of general apathy towards riding continued. I wanted to lay on the couch and watch the football game, to do nothing productive, to generally just be a slug.  But I knew that was a self fulfilling cycle. I knew that to give in to the overwhelming desire to do nothing would lead to more days of doing nothing. That it would lead to guilt at having done nothing and that it would lead, as it always does to a general dissatisfaction in other areas of my life.

Knowing this, and not wanting to head down that road, as soon as I got home from church I put on my riding clothes, got on the bike and headed out before my laziness over-ruled the one remaining thread of motivation inside me.
The amazing part about riding is that often times I don't really want to ride, but there has never been a time when I wasn't really glad I had ridden.

As I headed out of my neighborhood and down the road, I could feel the apathy and the laziness being replaced by something else....something that resembled motivation and at being out on my bike on a sunny day, joy at feeling the muscles in my legs working hard, joy at leaving the weight of doing nothing behind as I moved towards something else....something healthy, something positive. I began to look at the abnormally low speeds on my GPS as less of a conviction of my choices and more as motivation.

As the day continued so did the joy. I found myself smiling and although I continued to be pushed by the numbers on my GPS,  I found myself stopping to watch a family of ducks in the creek, or to watch a group of deer in a field by the road, or just to stand for a moment in the sun amazed at how blessed I was to be out on my bike on such a beautiful day.

As the route turned finally onto my street and I neared the house, I knew without a doubt that I had made the right choice.  My body, although tired was renewed and my mind was once again clear and free of all the junk that had piled up and weighed it down making it heavy and unmotivated....

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A nice easy 11 mile loop followed by a BBQ

Last week we had our annual New Year's Day Hangover ride. Actually, the name of the ride should probably change to reflect our aging group. We no longer party all night then spend the first portion of this ride hating ourselves for our actions....instead, most of us are happy to be able to stay awake until Midnight on New Year's eve. (rumor has it that there were even some in our group that watched the east coast celebration so they could go to bed earlier)

Every year for this ride we try to pick someplace we either haven't ridden at all or haven't ridden in a long time. This year, it's someplace that most of the group has never ridden before. Almaden Quicksilver Park in San Jose.  I had ridden this park once before with my buddy Chris and had done it on my SS. To be completely honest, I didn't remember it being very hard so I posted it to the group with above mentioned title. Turns out I may have undersold this ride just a bit.

Quicksilver park is the site of an old mercury mine and sits adjacent to the old mining town of New Almaden.  The loop wasn't technical as it's all fire roads, but there was some decent climbing and some very cool historic sites and some amazing views of Silicon Valley and surrounding areas.

The group that we had assembled for this ride was pretty diverse. We had friends from our road riding group that had never been mountain biking, friends from our Thursday night mountain bike group, friends from church,  children of friends and friends of friends.....19 in total with varying levels of fitness and skill. This was sure to be an interesting day.

The entrance that we had met at and would later be bbq-ing at offered a brutal climb at the beginning so we opted to start the ride at another entrance further down the road. This provided us with a nice mile or so section that gave us time to get our legs and lungs to warmed up without pushing everyone into the red zone right off the bat. (Turns out this was also helpful in that Nick, one of our riders was MIA and found us as we pedaled down the road)
Soon enough we gathered at the entrance, counted off to make sure everyone was there and started up the trail. Turns out the road section was the last semi flat section we would see for a while. The next 6 miles was pretty much all climbing and by the time we finally began the descent several of our newer riders were wondering what they had gotten themselves in to.

The sights on the way though were pretty cool. The park sits at the south end of Silicon Valley above Almaden, probably one of the higher income areas in San Jose, and next to several other open space areas. This provides a view that leads you to believe you're nowhere near anything at all.

As we continued to climb, we rode past an old mine building of some sort and further up the road came to what used to be an actual mine. It's closed off now, but you can go in about 30 ft and take pictures down into the gaping hole that people used to descend into daily for work. It was interesting that as you went further in, the temperatures went up pretty significantly. The outside temp was probably in the low 60's and I bet it was mid-70's inside.

 I used to work in an office that we referred to as the cube farm and it amazes me that we complained when there were people that headed into places like this every day to do their jobs.

After ooh'ing and ahh'ing and taking the obligatory group photo, we continued our climb. At this point there were a couple of our riders that were beginning to wonder if they probably should have either 1) ridden more last year or 2) ignored the email that promised a nice easy 11 mile loop to start the new year....oh well, too late're in up to your eyeballs at this point.
The next two miles should have helped them feel better about their decision as we lost about 700 ft on a nice fast fire road descent. Unfortunately for them, we still had almost 7 miles and some climbs still to go before we were done.

The remainder of the ride pretty much followed the contour of the hills but in a slightly uphill direction. This isn't usually a problem and is actually a decent way to end a ride. Unless of course the first half has already drained your tank and you just want the ride to be over.

There were now a couple of our riders that were not enjoying themselves and one who was stopping at every climb due to leg cramps. We had broken into two groups with the faster/stronger guys up front and the slower group bringing up the rear. As ride hosts, Chris and I had stayed back to make sure everyone made it home.  Of course, by this point, I'm pretty sure the lead group had gotten back and were beginning the bbq, I was just hoping there would be a beer or two left for the rest of us.

As we rounded the last corner, I actually heard one of our riders swear out loud....there in front of us was a short, pretty steep climb.....this after I had been telling him we were done with the climbing for the last half hour.  It's only a tenth of a mile, but according to my garmin there were parts of it over 14%.
When you've been cramping up for the last hour, have no gas left in the tank and just want to be done, any climb sucks, even a short one. But a short one that looks like it's straight up is evidently enough to get a grown man to swear out loud and not care who is around to hear it.

With someone else pushing his bike up the hill, he eventually made it up and around the corner where we were greeted with cheers by the rest of the group who were already beginning to eat and had thankfully saved us some beer
All in all a great way to kick off the New Year! Final stats ended up at 14.7 miles - 2207ft of climbing.

Yep, definitely undersold this one....