2011 Summary

Well, I strained my back on Dec 31, 2011. I haven’t done much exercise since, and have had trouble sitting comfortably at work. So Sherie is off now on a GPC bike ride, and I am home.

I did total my riding stats for the year. I rode nearly 4000 miles, with plenty of hills for a GPC hill rating of 4 for the year. Also my speed is down a bit steadily over the last few years, but is that because I have ridden more vertical per mile?

Year Miles Vertical Feet Ave mph Vertical Feet/mile Hill Rating Time Hours
Total 2007 1145.26 76,544 13.07 66.84 3.34 87.65
Total 2008 2941.36 196,883 12.92 66.94 3.35 227.62
Total 2009 1989.31 123,206 12.52 61.93 3.10 158.92
Total 2010 3127.57 213,365 12.55 68.22 3.41 249.18
Total 2011 3920.55 345,221 12.30 88.05 4.40 318.80
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Sherie Writes Up Campovida Harvest Ride

Well, thanks to Ivan (and the Marks) for leading the TM & M rides to Davis on Saturday.  Sounds like all had a grand time…

Meanwhile, Ben & I were up in Sonoma and Mendocino counties, mapping out a shortish warmup ride on the quiet roads around Healdsburg (Lytton Springs, Dry Creek, West Dry Creek) and wine-tasting on Saturday, followed by the Campovida Harvest Ride on Sunday (http://www.harvestride.com/). Pleasant surprise to see Chris Bailey, also up for that event, at rest stops 1 – 3 and at the finish (finished well ahead of us), as well as Tom Darcy (Dancy?  oops? i don’t think i have email address, or would have cc’d), at the top of Hwy 253 (between Booneville and Ukiah) and at the end.
For those not familiar with this ride (or perhaps more importantly, for those who may have ridden it in the past), I encourage you to try this century in future.  This is a small-scale century ride that benefits the Boys & Girls Club of Ukiah, also offering shorter loops (11, 26 and metric-century) for less-addicted family members.

Last year Ben & I did the ride for our first time and enjoyed the low-key element.  At that time, the start/finish was at Fetzer Winery in Hopland, which has since been purchased by a Chilean wine company, Magnanimous, but continues its tradition of organic gardening and land stewardship.  The new “caretakers” of the land, Gary and Anna, have renamed the property “Campovida” and done some remodeling since they moved there, and also seem to understand cycling better so were more involved in the planning:  for instance, the ride (now in its 13th year) has finally been re-routed to include less pointless meandering around the flats/neighborhoods of Ukiah, and more climbing into interesting areas of the  countryside between Ukiah and Hopland in the second 1/2 of the course, including a nice traverse with beautiful views across the top of Lake Mendocino Dam.

Another nice addition this year was a “time-trial” ascent from Rest Stop #2 at Anderson Valley Brewing Company (http://www.avbc.com/main/) in Booneville to the summit of Hwy 253, which for me really removed some of the pain and mental focus on the rising heat out of the climb, providing a tangible goal and a lot of motivation to continue grinding out the meters to the top, and a reason to try to pass those folks up ahead who had started in front of me! I think many will agree I put in perhaps the most exuberant finish to that time-trial portion, as it comes immediately after the hardest, steepest portion and right before you get to it you are rounding a corner and can hear folks talking …. so a chance to put on full power for a sprint to the end.  FUN!!

A minor drawback (but characteristic of multiple-course events with a “family” ride component, as opposed to an event which offers only “century” or maybe “full and metric” versions of same), is that about 1/2 of the full-century participants return after beating against the wind for the last 20 miles to find the party almost over, musicians packing up, BBQ chicken and pulled pork all but depleted (while those who did the 11, 26 and 60-mile courses — or many who signed up for the full-century but bailed out to shortcuts, rounding out their ride to a metric length — had enjoyed a full meal w/ live entertainment.  And that’s not necessarily because we were so slow (Ben’s saddle time was 6:57, mine was 7:20 and we finished about 3:15pm), but because the event planners forget to plan to accommodate those who have actually done the whole ride and earned the meal…. harrrummmph!!

That said, there was certainly an abundance of food and support throughout the ride, with 6 or 7 rest stops (including sandwiches at mile 65), so one is almost too full to eat at the finish anyway…. one thing the planners also did which I thought was special was that the sponsors of each rest stop were acknowledged on the route sheet, as each stop literally was provided by/sponsored by a different organization:  Redwood Health Club, Anderson Brewing Co., Barra Winery, Boy Scout Troup #xx,  Schat’s Bakery, etc..

  • Mendocino County Visitors’ Guide
  • woven shopping bag from Raley’s
  • pocket sized sun screen and lip balm (provided by Skunk Train)
  • tire boot (provided by Dr. Sprocket)
  • water bottle (provided by Dave’s Bike Shop in Ukiah)
  • Good time had by one and all.

See you next year on the ride, maybe?p.s. – driving distance to / from the event in Hopland from the Bay Area (we’re in Albany, for instance) is approx. 2-1/2 hours, so quite manageable even after a long bike ride.  I would have opted to make it a 3-day weekend, but am actually happy today to have returned early evening (6:15pm) last night and to have today for chores, etc.

Comment from Chris Bailey
That’s a mouthful, Sherie!Great to see you and Ben!

Despite the details, who’s to complain! (No accidents/illnesses)

Shout out to the Ukiah Girls and Boys Club which benefited from the rider’s support and area sponsors. We also supported the local economy as a result – and enjoyed it!

I should shut up, but will add that the “family 11-mile ride” touch was nice. I dragged my whole clan up for their first supported ride.

I should shut up again, but will add that the family lesson is that we need to look out for each other. I had tuned up all the kids’ bikes, but no one had checked their tire pressure. The adult bikes were fine, but one bike was low so one child had to struggle for no reason.

Blissful Chris was grinding away (and blown away by Ben L. on the TT ) while one of my young budding cyclists was riding at 60% tire pressure.

Parenthood…it will drive you to ride…because it…makes you insane, so why not ride?

Ben’s notes:

  • I was thankful for the early light fog. It was cool enough for armwarmers/vest until Boonville, and not yet hot for the climbing time trial.
  • We still don’t know the results of the time trial. Finishing “late” (as Sherie explained) meant the timing sheet had gone home before we went looking for it at the end. Ben figures the seven miles and about 1700 vert feet took him 42 minutes, passing two riders (thanks Chris for being in sight for a while to pull me up!)
  • Many photos were taken of the riders during the first loop. Don’t know where to look online for them.
  • Had one pickup truck slow down to talk to cyclists. Turns out they old guys were lost, looking for River Rock Casino. Isn’t that one in Capay?
  • Had one Toyota stop at the TT finishing turnout to complain to the clipboard holding woman that she was stupid to have an event on the highway. I guess the driver had to slow once or twice for a few seconds to pass someone. Meanwhile, the volunteer smiled and thank her for her interest in the event!
  • Actually, drive time for us is about one and one half hours from Albany.
Posted in Campovida Harvest Ride, Cycling, Grizzly Peak Cyclists | 2 Comments

Picturing Italy

Over the weekend I have spent lots of time rebuilding the environment on my PC. Windows 7 had issues taking updates, so three weeks ago I re-installed the OS. Because I traveled and spent days in the office, it took until yesterday to get most of the environment set up to my liking, with the programs installed, virtual machines running as needed, and scripts and tasks automated.

So then I spent time sorting photos from Italy. Lots of memories came flooding back in the process, and Sherie and I enjoyed the slide shows. I hope you have a chance to enjoy these too, without all the stories from this blog.

See four sets in one Flickr collection here: Cycling and More in Italy 2011

Posted in Cycling, Grizzly Peak Cyclists, Maratona dles Dolomites | 2 Comments

Another Day in the Park

This blog entry was going to be about the pictures from Italy that I uploaded to flickr, but that will need to wait while I vent.

Sherie today was a bit under the weather, although we started out on a short afternoon ride together. But it became clear she was going slow and short, so Ben decided to go faster and a bit longer by himself. I did the Bears loop, after the climb up Spruce and through Tilden. Fast pace for me, but with the strong winds it was hard to stay over 20 MPH down SPDR. The climbs felt slow, although the speedometer seemed to say I was keeping it over 7 MPH up Mama and Papa Bear. About 1hr 8 minutes for the loop, well over my best times.

Anyway, going up Wildcat back toward home, I was riding steady but not hard. Even after El Toyonal where it flattens a bit, I shifted up but did not really push. It is still uphill, maybe a few percent, and I am going just over 10 MPH. Then suddenly, in a corner, a larger American pickup truck (I think a silver/gray Ford F150) is beside me as a small car is coming down. The truck swerves toward me, and I stay just off its rear panel as I ride into the dirt beside the road. There is maybe a foot of dirt that is flat before the hillside drops away here, no shoulder and no curb. Of course my adrenaline is pumping, and I yell loudly “what the hell are you doing?” Realize we are both going 10-12 MPH here, and with the windows open the driver hears me. He is now about five feet in front of me, still no shoulder on the road. I am a foot or so back onto the pavement, which I had just regained. The driver slams on the brakes, and the truck is stopped just in front of me. I am moving my hands onto the brake levers, and just as I begin to squeeze I hit the rear of the truck.

My left hand, on the hood and reaching for the brakes, strikes the pickup as my front wheel passes just to the right of the truck. My right leg comes up and my right thigh hits the bottom of the handlebars, on the flats, as my right foot comes out of the pedal. I am standing upright, astride the bike, stopped, amazed. So I walk, still astride my bike, on the dirt shoulder around the pickup and stop in front of his right headlight. I told the driver, an older (than me) gray haired white man sitting beside a graying woman, that he ran me off the road. And that when he slammed on the brakes just a few feet in front of me, I hit his truck.

I am reaching into my jersey pocket, feeling around for my phone so I can take a picture of the truck, the plates, and the driver. Then I notice that he has the car in gear, is driving forward, and swerving around me to drive away. As I shout to him that he hit me, and that he is leaving the scene of an accident, he just drives away. I never got the phone into my hand quickly enough to get the pictures.

Just then a young strong cyclist stops to help. I am trying to repeat the number from the car plates so I can type it into my phone. The best I can remember, which I know is not correct as there was at least one alpha character, is 652988.

I tell him I am only hurt in minor ways, and we see that my left brifter is bent inward. I am still excited and pumped with adrenaline, but we inspect the bike. With some brake adjustment I can spin the front wheel, it is close to true. And a bit more adjustment and I find I can use the front brake (the rear brifter was not affected, and works fine). My left knuckles are bleeding into my glove; there are three good gashes that are sore as I type this, still oozing after the shower and antibiotic cream. We get on our bikes and ride together a bit; he is going slowly to check me out, and I stand to try to stand with him a moment. When it is apparent that my body is fine to ride, and my bike functions well enough to get home, I drop behind and tell him to go ahead as I want to relax a bit before I get home.

I look for the pickup at Inspiration Point; not in the lot. I look at the lots at the picnic spots between there and South Park Drive; don’t see it, although I did not leave the road to look. When I get just beyond South Park, there is a park cop SUV parked in the botanical gardens lot. He is giving directions to a woman, but I butt in when I pull up and tell him that a truck hit me and left; that it is a hit and run. I relate the story as described above; he asked if I want medical attention at the fire station just up the hill. I thank him, say no, that I will clean the wounds at home after my shower. He radios in the vehicle description, but doesn’t take a formal report as it happened outside the park on county land. The CHP has jurisdiction; he tells me there is no CHP car close by to take the report so I would need to wait a long while. I thank him, but am already chilling as the evening fog is closing in, and ride home.

So the bike needs some work, perhaps just labor and bar tape. We will see if the shifters still work OK. And I am coming down a bit, needing to eat the dinner that is now in the oven.

Posted in Cycling, Grizzly Peak Cyclists | 1 Comment

BART to Calaveras

Well, Sherie and I have signed up for two 100 mile centuries. So we need to keep the training miles up.

This week Sherie rode up the hill a couple times while Ben did running (will this cross training help?) for some base. But we need a longer ride on the weekend. So…

We had a really fun time at the “Company Picnic” in Tilden on Friday evening. A good time was had by all; you know, a wine, women, and song kind of time. With lots potluck food, chocolate desserts, and wine and distilled spirits too. It made us slow to rise on Saturday morning, but we eventually dragged our bodies to the El Cerrito Plaza BART station. Destination: Fremont.

A favorite ride for us is Calaveras Road, from Milpitas to Sunol. (Basically the reverse of this route, with some variations on each end.) In fact, this has become our preferred direction, although it forces the rider to have a boring hour through the south-east bay suburbs to begin the ride. And the cyclist then needs to climb the steep Calaveras Wall, famous for its few hundred meters at what must be about 15%. But then one is suddenly in a watershed without houses, just the loops and traverses snaking along the hillside above the reservoir. And the cyclist has the cooler temperatures of morning in the warmer micro-climates of the hills in the south bay, and avoids the Oakland hills early in the day which so often drip with fog. (Some pictures from our earlier trip on this route, in the other direction, are in the blog here.)

Above the Calaveras wall, we felt great, powering past several Teams in Training, with their captains waiting, cars with aid stations, and panting cyclists. Glad to see them out there, but so happy we both now have the fitness to climb past them and enjoy miles beyond their range.

After a quick turkey sandwich lunch in Sunol, we took the busy Niles Canyon and then the beautiful climb up Palomares to Castro Valley. Another stop, this time with pocket food, and our tiring legs took us up Redwood, to Pinehurst and its climaxing steep half mile. Suddenly we were back in the fog, cooling quickly. After traversing Skyline and Grizzly Peak, and nice descent down Spruce led us home. Ben had cooked legs for the evening, but feels like he is getting stronger.

Ben stats:

  • 82.97 miles
  • 380 mins
  • 6420 vert feet
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Upcoming Century?

In the last two weeks Ben has resumed jogging three mornings a week. I am still going fairly slowly, only on the flat terrain, using the dirt next to the Ohlone Greenway bikepath as a soft surface. So far so good, as it is getting easier on my legs (they recover now without the bit of thigh soreness of the first few sessions) and I have avoided pain in the feet and knees. I feel I needed to revisit high impact work for bone strength, and cross train my legs for something besides spinning pedals.

Last October Sherie and I rode a 100 mile ride in Mendocino county, the Harvest Century. This year the ride is scheduled earlier, over Labor Day weekend in early September. Sherie would like to do it, and I think it would be a fun challenge as well. Our recent weekend rides show us both with a jump in power/weight so we can climb faster than we had previously; we have just cut back the weekly total distance as Ben felt both of our bodies needed some recovery time.

So after a couple weeks of less cycling during the week, it might be time to get back into it for cycling. I guess we should up the weekend mileage again, and I should start joining Sherie on the “long way” to work up the hill before descending to downtown Berkeley. And after watching a couple pounds go back on my body after our return from Europe, I guess it is time to again be really careful with the diet.

By the way, my recent blood test shows a very low cholesterol level (120 mg/dl, ratios and other numbers great as well), well under the numbers of the past few years. My meds haven’t changed; I guess it is the increased exercise getting ready for the Maratona, and all the riding in Europe that improved our fitness levels. However, the past two years my fasting glucose number has been 104 mg/dl, which Kaiser interprets as pre-diabetic. They want me to adjust my lifestyle, exercise more (hah!) and eat more veggies and less carbs. This is a challenge if I try to maintain weight while riding lots, and not wake in the middle of the night sleepless with hunger pangs. I wonder if other cyclists have insight into this test result…

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Home 7/15-7/17

Sherie and I are home safely. We had some long days after the Maratona, although we used Monday as a rest and organization day to recover from the efforts of the race. I will say that by Monday evening Sherie seemed pretty well recovered, but Ben still just wanted sleep.

Tuesday we took the public bus from Corvara to Belluno. It is an absolutely beautiful ride, over Passo Campolongo to Arraba, then downriver all the way to the plains. The spires rise precipitously on each side of the road, becoming really spectacularly tall in the lower canyon. Then we waited in the cafe over panini and beer for the direct train to Mestre. It was worth the wait, as it allowed us to haul the bike boxes to only one platform and up one train, instead of two transfers. A short cab ride to our hotel, where the old folks were very helpful. It is really just a short walk from the train station, but with the bike boxes the cab fare of 14 Euro was worth it.

Wednesday we spent in Venice. A pretty long day of walking and sightseeing. The heat and humidity were extreme; the only time Ben stopped sweating was inside the one air conditioned museum we entered (a tapestry through the ages exhibit) and the one air conditioned restaurant for lunch. I did ask Sherie that we see the Scuela at San Rocco and happily she agreed to go. It is truly an unbelievable interior of the upstairs room. Not to be missed for fans of Venetian oppulence.

We did not let the heat spoil our appetites. The food in Venice is great, and we enjoyed meals of local seafood and decadent snacks and drinks. However, maybe I am a bit more jaded, but Venice seems more filled with graffiti, trash, and tourist clutter than on our previous visit. Especially near San Marco it was sometimes hard for me to see the historical beauty through the clutter.

It was a long day in Venice, but an easy train ride from Mestre and the hotel. But not as long as the next day: 25 hours from taxi pickup in Mestre to the Marco Polo Airport, plane to Philly, next plane to SFO, then shuttle home. Just say that the little delays all added up to a really long day and some tired travelers.

After a couple days getting sorted out at home, Ben is still not settled in his sleeping times (is he ever?). But on Sunday, we rode our bikes again with Grizzly Peak Cyclists in Marin (two bakeries loop from Miller Creek), enjoying our time outside with friends. Neither Ben nor Sherie were particularly energetic, but we did survive a flattish 75 miles or so.

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