Archive for category rides

in the saddle…

I’ve set out in the rain and come home dry, or mostly dry.

I’ve sat comfortably behind big men, the ones that are as wide as Volkswagen Beetle.

I’ve dropped those same men.

I’ve been dropped by women.

And old men.

I’ve set out in the sunshine and come home wet.

I’ve stopped, not because I needed to rest but because I wanted a moment to take it in.

I’ve sat up when the gap was too big.

I’ve had road rash.

I’ve run red lights.

I’ve been defeated by headwinds.

And Coleman Valley Road.

I’ve stopped for wildlife.

I’ve been honked at.

And yelled at.

And waved at.

And smiled at.

I’ve slowed down to chat with strangers.

I’ve taken turns at the front.

I’ve been stopped by the police.

I’ve underdressed.

And overdressed.

I’ve suffered.

But mostly, I’ve had fun.

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US Bicycling Hall of Fame launches gran fondo in Davis

Sacramento-area cyclists seeking long group rides should note that the city of Davis will host a new event on May 6th, the Legends Gran Fondo, which is organized by the US Bicycling Hall of Fame. The charity ride, which is open to the public, will raise money to support the USBHoF, a non-profit which recognizes the achievements of American cyclists.

The Legends Gran Fondo will start and finish in downtown Davis, at Central Park on 3rd and C Street. Participants will be given the option of riding the full gran fondo, a 90-mile round trip, or the Medio, a 65-mile route equivalent to a metric century.

Riders on the two routes will have access to high-quality rest-stop nourishment, SAG support and the opportunity to ride alongside some notable names in American cycling, says Blair Robertson in the Sacramento Bee. The most recognizable name, perhaps, is that of Greg LeMond, who won the Tour de France three times before creating his own line of road bikes.

‘Gran fondo’-style events have grown in popularity over the past decade, perhaps because they offer amateur riders the illusion of a pro-tour atmosphere, a contrast to the low-key club rides usually available to them. The bigger gran fondos – most notably Levi’s King Ridge Gran Fondo in Sonoma are spectacular events, featuring very large entry pools, lavish rest-stops, celebrity-participation and a festival atmosphere. In comparison, many charity century rides are dour, poorly organized and exclude riders who are unable to raise sufficient funds.

The Legends Gran Fondo features attractions like starting line call-ups, escorted rolling-enclosure starts, police and medical support, technical assistance, and an official timing-system which gives participants the chance to log their overall speed and progress. The routes are limited to 1,000 riders for this inaugural year, and they take riders out towards Winters, then south for a wide loop. Gran-route riders will do a second loop to make up the additional miles.

Registration fees are $95 for either route, which entitles participants to all the benefits of a fully-supported ride, plus a commemorative t-shirt, or $135, which includes a limited-edition USBHoF jersey. For more information, visit the USBHoF website.

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On the rain

First, let me apologize for how quiet it’s been around here recently. Kurt and I happened to go on family vacations at the same time this year (not together) and that, a week or so off of work, always comes with a week of frantic preparation and a week of frantic catching up. Or, at least, that’s my excuse, I think Kurt’s probably still lost on some beach in Hawaii.

I spent about 8 days on the California Central Coast and, between beaches, drives down to Big Sur, trips to the aquarium and shuttling around my wife’s 15 year-old half-sister, I managed to get out for a couple of bike rides in pretty fantastic weather.

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I returned home only to find that the rain we’d been missing all winter was due to arrive just in time for my (now dark) morning commutes,

Thirty minutes (or just under) is about perfect when you’re talking about riding in the rain. At 50° it’s not cold enough to get the chills and just as the water starts to slosh around in your shoes and breach the “water resistant” barrier jacket you’re wearing, you’re pulling into the parking lot at work and (careful not slip due to the wet tile, cycling shoe combo) heading into the locker room to change into some dry clothes.

Then, after you’ve hung up socks and jackets and laid out your shorts and jersey to dry in the back of your cubicle, people walk by your desk and say, “you didn’t ride today, did you?” And suddenly you become a hero, at least temporarily, for braving the elements and showing dedication to the cause. Or, maybe they add it to the list of things that make you weird, right after “wears Lycra in public.”

At least, that’s my experience.

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Willow Creek Road

The dirt option. The gravel section. Stairway to heaven. Relentless.

If it had been paved the Willow Creek Road climb would be nothing spectacular. It would have been just another tree lined climb up yet another hill through yet another series of switchbacks. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have noticed it. But, it wasn’t paved and for those of us who quit mountain biking because we fell too often, riding an 11 mile dirt road on a road bike doesn’t seem very logical. Some of us did it anyway.

It took me a bit to get used to picking my lines up the climb. I couldn’t always just aim for the least steep path and head up-most of the time the outside of the switchbacks were littered with loose gravel…anyway, you guys are probably tired of me talking about Levi’s Gran Fondo, so here it is:

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Levi’s King Ridge Gran Fondo, 2011

If you follow me on Twitter you might already know that trip didn’t go exactly as planned. Sam and I got to Santa Rosa on Friday night as planned check in and headed downtown to have some dinner and a couple of drinks. Everything was great and both of us were feeling quite keen for the ride. But shortly after we’d gone to bed Sam got ill and in the morning he was barely able to get out of bed. Riding the bike was out of the question.

So I ditched him. I did offer to drive him home and just skip the ride, but in the end his wife drove on down to get him and I went out to ride by myself. Or with 7500 strangers.

The conditions were a lot different than the previous two years. Most of King Ridge and the approach to the coast were socked in with fog. It was cold, the roads were wet and the wind was blowing, but it was a good day. Amazingly, when we got to the coast, the sun came out and it started to warm a bit.

I felt pretty good and just ground out a good rhythm most of the day. After crossing the Russian River near Jenner I opted to turn left on Willow Creek Road for the dirt option and, while it was hard work, I was glad I did. Willow Creek was probably about 10 miles of dirt and gravel roads, all of it gradual climbing with about 3 miles of proper climbing.

I’ll put together another video in the next few days with the footage of Willow Creek Road I have, but for now, this pretty much captures how the day went:

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Countdown to #LeviGF, 0 Days

Rolling out now…see y’all in about 7 hours.

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Countdown to #LeviGF, 1 day

It’s a long video, but I can’t think of a better way to close out the countdown. I particularly like the part where, I start picking my way through the other riders on King Ridge. Of course, that’s probably not going to happen this year.

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Countdown to #LeviGF, 2 days

I actually got to ride my bike today. She’s quiet again and shifts like a dream. Glad I took her in.

The shoes. They fit well. A pair of Shimanos, because they were on sale and had my size (admittedly not the best way to choose cycling shoes, but it was the best way I had time and money for). In a perfect world I’d have at least a few days to get used to the fit and dial in the cleat placement but I don’t so, you know…

I don’t have much else to say right now. I’m ready for the workday to end and for the weekend to begin. Here’s a little pre-Fondo walk down memory lane:

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Countdown to #LeviGF, 3 days

At lunch yesterday I ran across town to pick-up Eva. When I got there the guy working the shop said something like, “you sure sounded keen on the phone.” And yeah, I did, I was anxious to get in a couple more rides before we leave on Friday. Back at work I rode the bike from my car about 30 feet to the bike locker – that counts as a ride, right? Later I rode the 30 feet the other way.

At MadCat I also picked up a new pair of cleats to replace my well worn pair – the old pair were worn to the point that the felt loose on the pedal. It wasn’t supposed to be a big deal. So, early this morning I tried swapping out the cleats and found one of the bolt holes on my left shoe was stripped out. After an hour or so of fiddling and troubleshooting I realized I was never going to get the bolt threaded into the shoe.

Three days until Levi’s Gran Fondo and now I need to buy a new pair of cycling shoes.

Preparation for this ride has been a comedy of errors. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll actually get to ride my bike.

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Countdown to #LeviGF, 4 days

I dropped Eva off at the local bike shop yesterday. They promised to overhaul or replace the bottom bracket and have her ready for me sometime today. Taking your bike to the shop 5 days before a big ride isn’t ideal, but I’m pretty sure a creaky bottom bracket all the way up King Ridge would drive me and the other 7500 riders crazy (or, at the very least, drive Sam crazy since I plan to sit on his wheel pretty much all day…shhh…don’t tell him).

My plan had been to continue to bike commute through Thursday, just to keep my legs primed and ready, maybe even go for a short spin on Friday when Sam and I arrived in Santa Rosa. The trip to the shop doesn’t ruin everything but it has me a little anxious.

I’ve decided to distract myself by obsessively checking the Saturday forecast in both Santa Rosa and Jenner to get an idea of what conditions are going to be like. Right now, it looks like it’s going to be nice, but I’m not convinced.

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