Please click on the text above to move to our new WordPress blog which is easier to read, easier to maintain, and overall a whole lot better looking than what I've been doing the past 10 years. It's about time! And now, you can even leave comments. Like I said, it's about time. --Mike--
Dear Diary... (current entries) and past Diary entries from

11/09/00-11/31/01 Endless Tues/Thur morning ride ramblings, visit to TREK & LeMond factory, first ride up Diablo, Sonora Pass, French laundry lesson
Endless Tues/Thur morning ride ramblings, riding in the snow, Gary Klein visit, Millennium Crows, Spooky Old Tree
Incredible trip to the 2002 Tour de France
Endless Tues/Thur morning ride ramblings, 2nd 2002 trip to France, winning Lance-signed frameset, 5th-Annual TurkeyTrot ride, riding in the rain
01/01/03-03/31/03 Yet more ramblings about the regular Tues/Thur ride, Mr. J visits Washington DC
You take the guy with the gun, I'll handle the guy with the Gatorade!
My dinner with Zap, 75000 mile TREK OCLV, meeting Graham Watson

                            TOUR DE FRANCE 2003 TRIP, 2004
04/01/03-08/28/03 Endless Tues/Thur morning ride ramblings, Fast older guys, Sequoia Double-Metric, Grizzly Peak Century
09/03/03-12/31/03 Endless Tues/Thur morning ride ramblings
01/01/04-07/31/04 Endless Tues/Thur morning ride ramblings

07/31/04-12/31/04 Endless Tues/Thur morning ride ramblings
01/01/05-07/01/05 Endless Tues/Thur morning ride ramblings
07/01/05-12/31/05 Endless Tues/Thur morning ride ramblings plus Tour de France ride-a-long in Team Car
07/28/06-12/28/06 Endless Tues/Thur morning ride ramblings, Sonora Pass, caught in a snowstorm
01/01/07-06/30/07 Endless Tues/Thur morning ride ramblings
07/02/07-12/31/07 Endless Tues/Thur morning ride ramblings
01/01/08-05/30/08 Endless Tues/Thur morning ride ramblings
06/01/06-12/31/08 Endless Tues/Thur morning ride ramblings
01/01/09-12/31/09 Endless Tues/Thur morning ride ramblings


Every Tuesday & Thursday morning, rain or shine, 7:45am at Olive Hill & Canada Road in Woodside. 26 miles, back by 9:25-9:40pm (a bit later when it rains). Hills, sprints & great roads. If you can make it up Kings in 30 minutes or less, try it!

The Tuesday/Thursday ride is now on YouTube! Broken up into three separate segments, about 10 minutes each. Filmed by Millo on 1/30/07
The regular cast of characters on the Tuesday/Thursday rides includes
Kevin the first regular on our ride, and the most regular regular. Has too much time to ride!
Karl (aka "Fast Karl"), super-nice-guy road racer who can really charge on the flats
Chris, one of the younger guys who thinks he can climb and sprint. He can.
(Karl now with is own page here, Karl's Korner)(but not updated in ages...)
Eric, who likes to torture me up Kings by riding just a bit ahead or behind me, waiting for me to blow up.
John, relative newcomer, another 50ish youngster who can climb way too fast.
, who complains that he's old & slow but somehow always there in the sprints.
George, always out on Tuesdays, nice guy, too fast on the climbs


Check out our photo album on Picasa! Lots of high-res photos from various rides and the Tour de France.
MORE FROM THE TOUR! Check out our Youtube video of Kevin right after the finish of his first ride up Alpe d'Huez (photos here) and a video of the infamous "Dutch Corner" on Mont Ventoux (usually on Alpe d'Huez, but Alpe d'Huez wasn't part of the race this year).
I've set up a couple of Picasa Google albums. So far we've got- Observations at the Mont Ventoux Tom Simpson Memorial, including a visit from Greg LeMond and a set of photos showing Mark Cavendish removing his helmet out of respect. Mont Ventoux racing photos - Riding up Alpe d'Huez on the TdF rest day

Please click on the text above to move to our new WordPress blog which is easier to read, easier to maintain, and overall a whole lot better looking than what I've been doing the past 10 years. It's about time! And now, you can even leave comments. Like I said, it's about time. --Mike--

08/31/10- THIS IS KEVIN'S IDEA OF TAKING IT EASY? I know better than to take Kevin's (the pilot) word when he says he's going to take it easy up the hill. You'd think his bike ride up Mt. Evans a few days ago might have actually slowed him down, but that clearly wasn't the case. That's OK, I'll do what I can, and there were plenty of other people out this morning whom I could actually trust to run me into the ground climbing Kings! None of them disappointed. Thank goodness for Karl, who will sometimes hang back with me and give me a wheel for the climb.

The weather? Pretty darned foggy at first, although not cold (still required leg warmers though). We climbed out of the fog about halfway up Kings though, and had nice dry roads for the descents. This was supposed to be our first "alternate" routing, since roadwork on Kings was going to start today, but seeing no sign of it we took our chances (and won, this time).

Y'know, I'm pretty sure this ride keeps me alive. When I think about all the various issues I face each day, the usual work & family and life in general, it's probably a good thing that there's this one complete constant in my life. I leave the house at 7:33am, arrive in time for the 7:45am start (usually with about 90 seconds to spare), and get back almost exactly two hours after I left. Every Tuesday & Thursday morning, no matter what.

08/29/10- WHAT'S THE ATTRACTION TO 90 DEGREE WEATHER? I don't get it. Kevin and I had a great ride to Santa Cruz (and back) today, enjoying temps ranging from 64 to 75 degrees, and I don't know how it could get a whole lot nicer for a long ride.

112 miles (again; this ride holds few surprises as Kevin's done it 3 times now this summer, and I've done it 4), heading up Old LaHonda, down the other side, over Haskins to Pescadero, than various inland roads that eventually put you out on the coast about 10 miles south of Pescadero, 14 miles north of Davenport. If the ride had a low point, it was Kevin mentioning that his computer showed we had covered 20 miles and had 92 to go (this was a few miles out of Pescadero).

Unlike previous weeks, we saw quite a few people on the "other" side of the hill, including a number of our customers. For example, Dana (riding a Trek Madone we sold her a year ago), in the photo here, who was riding with two others from Half Moon Bay to Davenport for lunch. We'd passed them a bit earlier and they caught up to us at the Davenport's Whale City Bakery, a great place to eat be be aware they take only cash, no credit cards.

It was a bit breezy on the coast but at least slightly tailwind, some crosswind on the run into Santa Cruz. Fueled by peanut butter cookies, chocolate muffins and a coke, we were in no danger of bonking like I did on my own two weeks ago. The formal lunch stop was at the same Mexican food place I tried on that earlier ride, but this time determined not to eat quite so much. At least I was. Kevin decided that a "taco" was probably not enough, so he ordered two. Preceding "taco" was the word "super" and in the end, "a" taco was all he ate, and that provided plenty of fuel for the long ride up 9 and across Skyline.

Good thing it wasn't hot, because by the time we got to 9 & Skyline, the Hot Dog guy with the cokes was gone! No problem, we had plenty of Cytomax, and as mentioned earlier, we weren't going hungry either. In the end we averaged 15.7mph, 2 mph faster than the same ride the week before we left for France (of course, that was on our Bike Friday folding bikes). I'll have to look up our average speed for the ride we did a month or so earlier on our regular bikes, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't quite this fast.

08/26/10- THEY CAN OUTRIDE ME UP THE STEEP HILLS, BUT AT LEAST I CAN... ok, gotta figure out exactly what it is I can do!Quite a few out this morning, including Mike, Kevin, Karl, Eric, Syl, oh darn, long-time customer on one of the early Madones.... right, Shane!, oh, and Billy showed up for the first time in a couple months. Lots of big guns for climbing, and the ride through the park was predictably tough for me. Thankfully that first stretch on Kings after the park run is pretty easy so I can get a chance to catch my breath and figure out if it's going to be possible to keep everyone in sight (it wasn't). I made it to the top in 28-something, not fast, not deathly slow for a run through the park. On Skyline the guys kept a pretty mellow pace, thank goodness, and I just followed wheels, letting the first sprint go by without much thought. The big sprint into Sky Londa was another matter, but the way Karl and not-sure-who-else (maybe Billy?) pulled to the left effectively shut me out, causing me to sit up and stop pedaling entirely. My own dumb fault; I should have positioned myself better.

The final sprint went much better. Karl played nice, not trying to blow anybody off the back (that would be me) on the final half mile leading into it, and when he finally did take off, I was able to grab his wheel. Of course, everyone else is behind me, grabbing my wheel, but you can't think too much about that. You just have to figure out how long you can delay the start of the sprint; if you wait too long, someone behind you is going to go flying past and not give you enough time to catch up. If you start too early, you'll likely fade & die, and even if you don't, everyone behind has a big advantage because they're drafting you. There's no time to look back; the only way you know that someone's close is the sound of their bike, or if they pass you. I heard the sound, but had no idea who it was. I just knew that whoever it was, he was coming up fast, and my only chance was to kick up the rpms, there was no time to shift to a higher gear. It was close, but it worked, as Mike R couldn't quite close the gap.

08/25/10- HUGE RELIEF ON YESTERDAY'S RIDE, as a knee pain that had been steadily getting worse the past two weeks suddenly vanished. I'd noticed a week and a half ago, on a solo run to Santa Cruz, that I was getting a light pain in my left knee maybe once every 20 pedal strokes or so, and it was beginning to become more common on the Tuesday & Thursday rides the following week. Then this past Sunday, on my relatively-easy ride out to the coast with my son, it became almost constant. Nothing that I couldn't pedal through, but knee issues are the sort of thing that have sidelined many a cyclist for a while, and I was even thinking that, for this morning's ride, I ought to head out a bit early so I could take it easy.

But- why would someone like me, who believes that knees are about the most sacred thing on your body and to be protected at all costs (how do you "protect" a knee? I was taught the #1 thing is to keep them warm when it's below 62 degrees), suddenly have a knee issue? Something I hadn't had since maybe 14 or 15 when I had to deal with Osgood Schlatter's "disease" (which isn't really a disease at all)? It didn't take too long to come up with a possibility. Since my return from France, I hadn't removed my custom footbeds from my SPD shoes (the ones that you can walk around in, which is much more practical when touring) and put them into my "Racing" shoes I normally use. So Monday I finally pulled the shoes out of the suitcase they were stuffed into (the one holding my folding Bike Friday) and put them into the shoes I normally use. And?

And no more knee pain. <Poof!> all gone! Just like that. Amazing. And such a tremendous relief. Still, I took it relatively easy for the first half of the ride. Who rode? Let's see... Karen, George, Karl, Jan, Kevin, Syl, Millo & Dick R (one of our customers) were up ahead of us on the hill (both wearing Chain Reaction jerseys, and wondering why I didn't take photos of them... I'm wondering the same!). Also saw another one of our customers on the way up, Ayelet, whom we often see out there. I didn't contest the first two sprints, still not wanting to push the knee too hard, but everything seemed to be working right. By the end of the ride I was able to effectively cover Karl's jumps, believe it or not drawing some inspiration from my son (who's in school now) who had, a few weeks ago, impressed the heck out of me by closing a significant gap up to George.

Who knew those footbeds (custom insoles I'd had made a couple years ago) could be so important? The shoes are actually more comfortable without them, but I'll take a bit of discomfort on the bottom of my foot over knee pain any day. It's possible that I'd be fine if I'd never gotten used to the footbeds, but I'm pretty sure they do improve my pedaling and keep things in line. I'm certainly not going to go without them again!

08/22/10- WHY DON'T MORE CYCLISTS DISCOVER THE OTHER SIDE? It never ceases to amaze me how many more cyclists I see on "this" side of the hill (the bay side) compared to the "other" side (ocean side). Today was no exception; a picture-postcard sort of day with perfect temperatures (mid-70s), light breeze (yeah, ok, would have been nicer if we didn't have the typical headwind on the way out to the coast) and... once we got to the top of Old LaHonda... almost no more cyclists.

The original plan was to do the Pescadero/Tunitas loop, but Kevin, on his first ride back after his gnarly knee injury three weeks ago, hit a big pothole descending the west side of Old LaHonda, breaking a spoke and calling into question the wisdom of high-speed twisty descents like the one down Haskins Grade towards Pescadero. So we shortened it up to a simple San Gregorio/Tunitas loop, just over 40 miles and probably not unreasonable for his first ride. We did actually come across quite a few cyclists at the San Gregorio General Store, including a number riding bikes we'd sold. That always makes me feel good, knowing that our bikes
have made it to the other side. We even saw a few more on Tunitas, including the guy shown here in the photo.

I'm planning to produce a sort of "how to" guide for cyclists who don't think they're ready for the other side. Start them out easy, at first just by continuing down the other side of Old LaHonda and back via 84. Next step would be an out & back to LaHonda, and then all the way to San Gregorio. After that would be the San Gregorio/Tunitas loop, and then finally the classic Pescadero/San Gregorio/Tunitas ride. From Woodside, the most-challenging of these is still under 60 miles.

08/19/10- THEY COME, THEY GO, but I'd by lying to say some don't affect me more than others. And no, I'm not talking about the guys (and occaisonal woman) who show up for the regular Tuesday/Thursday ride. I'm talking about employees at the shop, and it's going to be very sad seeing Burt, who's been with us the past six years I think, leaving us for full-time retirement. Burt's one of those guys who just seems to be amazingly reasonable no matter what the circumstance, the ultimate low-maintenance and reliable employee, the sort of person you'd never worry about leaving in charge of the shop (but also the type of person who never wanted that particular job at the shop). Usually, when a guy like Burt leaves us, I wonder what I should have done differently, how I could have kept them on. But if there's a reason Burt's leaving now instead of one or two or three years from now, a reason that's my fault, it's probably from him observing me and getting the feeling that I may never retire... a reminder of a more-reasonable (remember how I said he was reasonable?) alternative that he can indulge in sooner, rather than later. So perhaps it's more jealousy than sadness I feel tonight, knowing that he'll only be with us through the end of the month. But I haven't given up entirely on the idea of talking him into coming back for a week or two sometime. :-)

Meanwhile, back at the ride, we had Jan, Eric, Kevin and Todd out there. Actually Todd's last ride for a while, as he headed up to Reno tonight to begin a 4-month internship, the final step in his Doctorate/Physical Therapist program. We rode through the park at a moderate pace, riding above the fog well before we got to the top of Kings. Jan tells me he saw a rabbit out on west-side Old LaHonda, but I missed it. What I did notice was the relative quiet of the group, and wonder if perhaps the racket being made with each pedal stroke of Todd's bike might have been a factor (when it was brought into the shop later on, the problem was found to be some loose and possibly-failing chainring bolts).

08/17/10- GLAD I RODE HARD SUNDAY... I THINK. My first Tuesday/Thursday ride in almost two weeks, and any fears that might cause me trouble were well-founded. A strong turnout saw more people than I can remember, including Jan, Kevin, Karl, Karen, Eric, Millo, a different Todd, new-guy Bob I think, George, and a friend of Kevin's whose name I forget (he rides a black LeMond). There were riders in front of me, riders in back, which puts me all alone in the middle. Well, not all alone; at 51 degrees, this was one of those mornings where I was literally wheezing, but as long as I can put some power to the pedal while wheezing, how is it much different from the leaky exhaust in one of the shop vans? Sure, it makes noise, but it still goes. And so do I. 27:09 up the hill, so not one of those "respectable" 26 minute times, but after being off the bike last week, and still a bit sore from Sunday's ride, I can live with that.

Don't know why but I didn't even contest the first sprint on Skyline, being content to just sit on George's wheel. My mind was doing the calculations anyway; I knew where I'd have to take off, what I'd have to do to try and be first over the rise. I just didn't do it. And because that made me feel a bit guilty, I decided that there really wasn't any option but to go all-out for the sprint into Sky L'Onda, taking off hard on the descent and going full-speed across the bottom, which is normally a suicidal move unless... unless someone comes around you at just the right time so you can get a sling-shot effect off their draft. Karl didn't disappoint, and that's a really good thing, because otherwise I would have died. As it was, George was coming up on me pretty quickly, just not quite quickly enough.

No rabbits on west-side Old LaHonda this morning, just fast cyclists. And once again I was in the middle. The report from Jan confirmed what I expected- Karl was driving the pace. He loves that piece of road. That's the nice thing about this ride. Everybody can have their own favorite section. Still trying to figure out mine.

For the final sprint, George went very early, and I tried to get onto his wheel fast, but I didn't try hard enough and got gapped and just couldn't get going. Karl came through and took it at the end; George and I had simply run out of gas. Maybe Thursday.

08/15/10- "DON'T LET ME HOLD YOU BACK" she said as we started climbing Haskins Grade from the east side this morning. That would be Rachel, one of our customers and friends, who I came across this morning while on my 112 mile loop to Santa Cruz. I wish (that she was holding me back); I could ride at her speed up the hill, but I could hardly carry on a conversation like she could. I caught up with her on the descent towards LaHonda, and when I found out we were both headed towards Pescadero, I asked if she'd ever taken the "shortcut"- the secret route through one-lane backroads between LaHonda and Pescadero Road, and since she hadn't, I escorted her through. It's amazing how many people have lived here most of their lives and never discovered some of the cool little secrets that some take for granted.

My plan had originally been to have a long ride at an easy pace, but it seems I don't really know how to do "easy" when I'm by myself, and when "rabbits" presented themselves ahead of me on Old LaHonda, I couldn't help myself, I had to chase them down. A foolhardy thing to do when you've been off the bike for a week and you've got 100 miles to go! But it felt good, and it didn't drain me so badly that I couldn't keep up with Rachel on Haskins. I was challenged though!

Rachel continued on to Pescadero while I made the turn onto Cloverdale Road and meandered towards the coast and hopefully tailwinds. And today, the tailwinds did not disappoint. Or maybe I'm always capable of averaging 23mph for an hour on an undulating road? Whatever, I felt good enough that I didn't bother to stop at Davenport (50 miles into the ride, where I'd normally stop if I was riding with my son), and rode straight through to Santa Cruz and then up to Boulder Creek... 74 miles before stopping for food. That was probably not a great idea; I was running on fumes by the time I got there, and probably got carried away ordering a burrito. With chips. And it tasted so good! I would have been better off eating just half or maybe 2/3rds or 3/4ths.. oh heck, I'm riding 112 miles, can't I have a stinkin' whole burrito? But yes, it did take a while to get my rhythm back on the long climb up to Skyline. OK, that's a lie, I never really did get moving the way I'd like. It was a matter of tackling the hill one pedal down at a time. 74 miles down, 38 miles to go. How bad can 38 miles be? It was at that point that I really missed not having Kevin to talk to. That would have made things go a lot more quickly.

But in looking at my times afterward, I didn't do all that badly. 17.2mph average speed for a ride with a fair amount of climbing (over 8000ft), and it's not such a bad thing to have a bit of solitude once in a while. Today, I had lots of solitude!

08/12/10- BACK IN ACTION? Not quite! Late Sunday night we (my brother Steve and daughter Becky were with me) took the red-eye back to Trek to attend seminars and see the latest product. Unfortunately, it became the red-eye from hell, with a diversion to pick up more fuel (we did so much circling to avoid a big storm that we were running out of gas and had to pick up some more in Minneapolis, on our way to Chicago), then misconnects, unhelpful airline employees (who'd think?), got removed from a plane (they thought there were two seats for us, but there was only one) and finally got to Wisconsin about 8 hours later than planned. And then, on the return, another bout of circling around the skies as SFO was clogged up with traffic due to weather (fog), causing us to divert to... now get this... Oakland! Yes, we landed in Oakland for fuel, because SFO couldn't provide a landing window for us in time. Frightening to think how much that must have cost United. In the end, I got home last night (Thursday morning) at 2:30am instead of 11pm, so no, I didn't get out and ride today.

I'm going to be feeling really fat & slow on Sunday!

08/08/10- JUST A QUICK RUN OUT TO WEST ALPINE, just me this morning, last ride before I head to Wisconsin to see TREK's latest offerings. Had to dress up pretty warmly, with heavy fog along Skyline. Again, this is summer, right? First time in a long while I've been on my own, but until Kevin can ride again, Sundays are going to be a bit different. It did give me a chance to see what I could do on the West Alpine climb though, since the only thing holding me back would be my legs & lungs. Nothing too impressive, about 42-something, but I did feel like I found my rhythm on the climb.

08/05/10- THIS IS SUMMER, RIGHT? WAS MARK TWAIN A CYCLIST? Thinking about the famous line of Mark Twain's, about how the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. This morning, it was 50 degrees at the top of Skyline, and it stayed 50 degrees the entire time we were "up" before descending into Woodside. This somehow doesn't warrant leg warmers for Karl or Jan, which amazes me. Eric also showed up this morning, but with leg warmers. I suspect the fact that he lives up in the hills above Saratoga may influence his decisions on apparel (since he lives in the same sort of environment we're riding up into).

Still, a very pleasant morning as we rode up through the park, with everyone agreeing to "take it easy" on the way up the hill, and they almost did. Just under 30 minutes to the top, a respectable time given the extra couple of minutes the run through the park adds. No rabbits this morning; guess they don't like fog?

Regarding the photos I take, I'm always shooting "blind", having no idea what I've actually got a photo of until I check them out later. Especially when I'm taking a picture behind me, as was the case in the picture shown, as we were climbing up through the park. As you can see, every aspect of our ride is deadly serious!

08/03/10- GOOD TIMES, BAD TIMES, YOU KNOW I'VE HAD MY SHARE... but you wish better for your kid. Today was definitely one of those times. A Tuesday-morning ride, one that Kevin was actually looking forward to, the beginning of the end of summer for him with school starting up just a couple weeks down the road. Last year having Kevin doing the Tuesday/Thursday-morning rides seemed like something too far off to give much thought to, but his progress this year has been phenomenal. Not without a few hiccups of course; we left a few minutes early, hoping the head start would hold off the Calvary on the main climb, but just as we hit the formal start of the ride I hear the too-familiar words from Kevin- "Dad, I'm having a seizure." This was the type that gives a lot of warning (a good thing!) but takes a while to pass (not so good). So we wait it out before heading up the hill, Kevin a bit sluggish, and the rest of the group passed us before we were even halfway to the top. But about then Kevin found his legs and got moving, such that he had no problem hanging onto wheels on Skyline but, most surprisingly, was riding at the front on west-side Old LaHonda. Kevin wasn't even marking my wheel, he was marking Karl's. Not what I expected!

Eventually he tired a bit, but still finished towards the front as we got back up on top of the world. And then, once more, he surprised us (or at least me) when he bridged the gaps to get back up to Karl as we approached the final sprint, leaving me behind until I could collect my bearings and get moving myself. He ended up dying during the final sprint; he'd used up everything to get there and simply had nothing left in the tank.

So all in all, a remarkable ride for Kevin after recovering from the earlier seizure, and a ride that gave him a lot of confidence going into the last few Tuesday/Thursday-morning rides before schools starts up. And that's how it should have ended, but life isn't always so perfectly-packaged and nice. On the descent over Jefferson, maybe half a mile from home, Kevin hears a noise from his bike and looks down to check it out. And promptly rides off the road and down an embankment, his bike coming to a stop against a tree and Kevin coming to a stop against the ground. The bike is OK, but somewhere on the way down Kevin gets his left knee sliced open, sliced so cleanly and bloodless that it looks like an illustration from an anatomy book. I get him back on the back and down to the house (probably a good thing it's all downhill and taking advantage of the fact that it's all happened so fast he really doesn't quite comprehend the extent of his injury), get a shower to clean things up a bit and then it's down to Kaiser for x-rays (negative, thankfully) and 9 stitches on the knee. And we're told it's going to be two weeks before he can ride again. Two weeks. The last two weeks of summer; the last two weeks of planned Tuesday/Thursday-morning rides, and at least one weekend that would have been a ride in the Sierras, perhaps Sonora Pass.

It had to happen sometime. You don't put in a lot of miles on a bike without risking a crash once in a while, and Kevin had, so far, avoided that. By the time I was his age, I'd had quite a few, including one that split up my left arm in a not-very-good way (that, thankfully, did heal up very well). But at least I wasn't going to get blamed for doing something that caused it, nor was it in any way related to his epilepsy. This was just Kevin doing something dumb, and riding too closely to the edge of the road. Not quite sure if that should feel comforting or not. :-)

08/01/10- NOT QUITE THE RIDE THAT HAD BEEN PLANNED as Kevin woke up not feeling that great; stuffy head kind of thing, and thinking he wasn't going to ride at all. Uh... no. The original plan was to do a Santa Cruz loop, and that was out of the question, but there was no reason to scrap riding completely, so we just did a short ride up Old LaHonda, down the other side and then returned up West Alpine. If nothing else, the point was to show to Kevin that you will almost always feel better after riding, even if you're a bit under the weather, and today was no exception.  A whopping 42 miles, but I did add another 19 or so heading out afterward with my wife for a brief tour of Woodside and Portola Valley. No tired legs today, but at least got a few miles in.

07/29/10- NOW IT'S KEVIN WITH THE MONKEY ON HIS BACK! I figured that Kevin (my son, no the pilot) might ride a bit faster than normal on the Tuesday/Thursday morning ride today, but not quite as fast as he did. He should have been in pretty decent shape from the riding we did in France, and he was. Plus he was riding his lighter-weight Trek, not the Bike Friday travel bike. Still, we started out five minutes early and headed out. Just getting to the start of the ride it was obvious he was faster, and we hit the first timing point on the climb, at the Huddart Park entrance, at just under 10 minutes. In theory, that would mean something around 30 minutes total, if he held up. Previously, his best was about 31 and a half. And he did keep up, at least until that final sign near the top, and ended up with a time of 30 minutes, 5 seconds. A mere 6 seconds away from a ride that sounds so much more impressive than 30-something!

We waited for five minutes at the top of Kings, saw nobody coming up the hill and moved on. I was determined to try and get a decent overall average speed so I kept up a pretty decent pace heading down Skyline towards west-side Old LaHonda, and once on the return climb, we saw a record (I think) 10 rabbits. It wasn't until we were way up on the ridge that we looked down and finally saw our chase group, Karl, Jan & John, way down below. With that much of a lead we had no problem holding them off until the end, where we waited a few minutes to allow them to catch up to us. Next time, we'll start up with a bit smaller lead and join up with the guys at the top of Kings. For now, we're quite happy with the 30:05 time and a 15.7mph average speed.

07/27/10- YOU'RE NOT PLANNING ON RIDING TOMORROW MORNING ARE YOU? Why, after all these years, does she keep asking that question? So I'd just gotten back from France the night before, and my body couldn't figure out if it wanted Pain Chocolat (chocolate breakfast pastry) or roast duck (dinner). Sleep? Umm... why? You gotta re-cycle yourself, so to speak, and the best way to do that is obvious. Ride. So I got up, walked past the suitcases that contained the Bike Fridays we used in France and took my "real" bike, my Trek Madone 6.9, outside to inflate the tires. And from the moment I picked it up I realized this wasn't going to be like my rides in France, where I road a bike that mimics a full-sized regular bike surprisingly-well but nevetheless isn't quite the same, especially when loaded down with a rear rack and lots of gear stuffed into a bag sitting on top of it. Nope, this morning was pure, minimalist bike, maybe 19 pounds of it including water bottle. Could be 18. Whatever, from that first pedal stroke the differences were obvious. Maybe 15 pounds lighter overall, and you push down hard on the crank, pull back as hard as you want on the handlebars, and it just goes.

In very short order I was up over the hill to the start of the ride, and a bit surprised to see not too many people there. In fact, at first it was just Eric & Jan, but a couple minutes later Karl & Karen & George roll up and off we go. I wasn't sure exactly how I'd feel, but decided to push hard at the start, even though I knew I wouldn't be able to keep it up. Of course, while I'm pushing, Karl is cruising, settling into a nice, easy (for him) pace that's quickly leaving me behind. And by a third of the way up the hill, the rest of them had caught up and passed me as well. Everyone except... George. In fact, we never saw George past the park entrance. We assumed he was just taking it easy, maybe having a bad day, but that he'd be there at the end. But when I finished the climb, everyone was there... except George. We waited for a few minutes, but we've got a schedule to keep... but what if George had a flat and his pump wasn't working? I tell everyone to ride on ahead and I'll go back down the hill to make sure George is OK, with Eric joining me. All the way down, no George. We briefly discussed heading out Canada Road to make it a more-worthy ride but then I thought hey, why not retrace the Tour of California and, after descending Kings, head back up 84, joining up with the rest of the group right after they finished the west-side Old LaHonda loop? And it worked out just about perfectly, Eric & I rejoining the rest shortly after turning up Skyline towards LaHonda.

In the end, it seemed the flight back and time displacement didn't hurt me much, and my time of 26:46 up the hill wasn't much slower than my fastest time so far this year, a couple days before my son and I left for France.


e were so concerned about the weather on the Tourmalet (and rightfully so!) that we bought some latex dishwashing gloves to keep our hands warm (the shops 'round these parts have their winter selection, and their summer selection of apparel, and this being summer, they simply don't have any long-fingered gloves for sale... more on lessons in retail I've learned at a later time), and plenty of food to keep fueled in the event we were stranded for some time in the cold. What we didn't count on were the Gendarmes insisting, hours before the caravan came through, that you had to walk your bike up the hill. The first such encounter came at 1pm, with the race scheduled to come through after 4. And shortly thereafter, we came across Gendarmes turning back all cyclists!!! "Sorry, the road is closed to cyclists." Oh really? It's OK to walk up a 25 kilometer climb (as if) but you can't ride? So we detour around on side roads through town and re-emerge above the nastiest of the Gendarmes... and do this yet again at a town a bit further up.

Then we come up against Rambo. I don't know what goes on in this guy's brain, but he not only stops all cyclists, he corrals them. As in, we're told to take our bikes up this side road (a short dead end) and we're not allowed to go either up or down. This is 10k from the top of the climb, and that's as far as we were able to get. There was no talking sense into Rambo; he had maybe 35 of us basically barricaded in place until well after the race was over. Yes, we could leave our bikes there and walk on the course, no problem with that, but this was not where any of us wanted to watch the race from.

More on this later. It's 1:09am, I'm not finished packing for our transfer from Lourdes to Bordeaux tomorrow, and I'm hoping I can get some serious work done on the 2.5 hour train ride. I will point out that the Bike Fridays worked great, both uphill and downhill; we've really gotten used to these little guys. For anyone who travels much on business, and wishes they had a bike with them, these are the answer. You can do serious riding with them! And they fit in an airline-legal suitcase, so no extra fees for bringing them.

Oh, yes, before I go I'll say that I'll have a bit of relief when this TdF is over and I no longer have to watch and read about the love-fest between Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador. Watching the two ride past us, together as always, looking more like friends than competitors... it just seems a bit wrong. I'm thinking Contador is playing the same sort of mind games with Schleck that Lance used to do with his buddy Jan back in the day. Still, I'm really looking forward to the big time trial on Saturday. And who knows, Chris Horner, now in 10th place, best GC guy on Radio Shack right now, might move up a few more places!

07/21/10- TOUR TAKES A REST DAY, WE PRAY FOR RAIN. Yes, that does sound a bit odd doesn't it? But the weather folk are saying there's a 100% chance of rain tomorrow (for the epic Tour stage that ends at the top of the Tourmalet) and I'm hoping that maybe, we could get so much rain tonight that it clears out earlier than it's supposed to. The schedule for rain ending pretty much coincides with the 'Tour finish. Go figure. But for now, we're working on waterproofing our gear (cameras don't like rain) and figuring out how to make the best of the warmer-weather apparel we brought. I did go into the local bike shop and pick up a supposedly-waterproof lightweight jacket, and it will certainly be put to the test shortly.

My prediction is that, at the end of the day, Kevin will be thinking less-bad things about the intelligence of the folk who drive up the mountain in campers to watch the stage. :-)

Today's adventure in France took us up the Col du Soulor/Aubisque, first stopping at the top of the Soulor for food & drink, and then moving on to a quieter area on contador in focus, andy fuzzythe relatively-gradual climb up to the Aubisque, where there are a couple of tunnels famous for being inhabited by cows. Thankfully, no cows in the tunnels today, but neither are there lights, which is why, in the picture, you see Jakob Fuglsang and Andy Schleck without sunglasses. We took a lot of photos of cyclists exiting from this tunnel, and an interesting thing struck home. Most of the really gunning for something kept their glasses on. For example, in the breakway group ahead of these guys, all but one guy (Barredos) kept their glasses on. Including Lance. Barredos ended up losing a few seconds because of this and had to chase to get back on.

The other thing you'll notice is that the camera chose to focus on Alberto Contador. Smart camera. Unless Andy does something really spectacular (like Lance made us think could happen today), he could end up not even being in the top-3 when the race gets to Paris.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) is an official Tour de France "rest" day. The riders recuperate from the savage hills they faced today and think about the even-worse nightmare that awaits them on Thursday- a hilltop finish atop the Tourmalet. Andy Schleck's last opportunity to retake the Yellow Jersey and put enough time into Contador, Sanchez and Menchov that he has a chance at not losing everything in the final time trial on Saturday.

Today's ride trivia- Leaving the hotel at 11am was pretty much perfect timing for the climb up the Soulor/Aubisque. The beginning of that climb is abrupt & brutal; you take a right-hand turn up a ramp that seems steeper than the beginning pitch of Alpe d'Huez, and it just keeps on going for quite some time. After a few miles you reach a beautiful valley that is enjoyed just as much for being able to ease the effort for a bit, and then the climb begins again, as bad as the first part, at Arrens. The very upper reaches of the climb are much easier, although that final 2K of any climb always seems a lot longer than 3 laps around the 333 meter bicycle track in San Jose! For me this was old news; I've been up this climb a couple of times, but for Kevin, it was tougher than he expected it to be.

In some places, the Gendarmes were telling people to get off & walk hours before even the Caravan would be coming through, which made no sense. And there was no consistency either; you'd get back on you bike and ride as soon as you were out of sight, and the next Gendarme had no issues with you riding.

Unlike yesterday's ride up the Port de Bales, where there were very few food & drink stands on the route, this one had plenty, many featuring local cheeses and pate. Our lunch was a sandwich of a pate that tasted slightly like liverwurst but in the best-possible way. It also smelled pretty good, but vaguely familiar; wished I hadn't realized it reminded me of cat food. Weather was warm but fantastic at the top of the hill. Still a lot more sun than either of us are used to, but the secret is clearly to be drinking a lot of water, which we certainly did.

On the return we headed down the Soulor via Arbeost, going down the same route the 'Tour will be heading up on Thursday. Yikes! I have never descended something that steep and that long in my life. It was a real test for the Bike Fridays, with Kevin outrunning me pretty quickly. Unfortunately, the route back to Lourdes from the bottom of the hill wouldn't download into my Garmin, nor were there signs showing the way. Thankfully we came across a Trek Travel group that was also heading back to Lourdes. Score one for the Trek folk! No wrong turns and a very pleasant diversion off the main roads and through the rural farmlands.

Our game plan for the next 5 days? The 'Tour rest day will feature a ride (nothing too nasty) and laundry. The weather forecast is for showers all day, and that might be enough to keep us off our bikes, we'll see. Thursday, we'll ride up the Tourmalet as far as we can to get a good spot for watching the carnage. Kevin would like to be at the actual top, but so would 500,000 other people! Friday we take a train to Bordeaux and may have time to quickly reassemble our bikes and see the stage finish, but the main point to being in Bordeaux will be for the final time trial the next day! Then we pack up our BikeFriday travel bikes for the last time and take the train into Paris Sunday morning and head out to see the finale.

Can you see the Tour de France without a bike? Yes, but as my son (Kevin) would say, it wouldn't be the same. You wouldn't feel the heat of the sun as it finds that spot your sunscreen didn't cover. You wouldn't get to calculate whether you've got enough food & water for the trip. You wouldn't get to hike a half-mile detour across a rocky field because the Gendarme said the road was closed and that answer was simply unacceptable. You wouldn't experience the agony of seeing those kilometer signs go by ever-more-slowly as the pitch gets steeper and you're 10 miles into a 16 mile climb. In short, according to Kevin, you wouldn't have earned it. --Mike, in Lourdes, France.

07/19/10 (pm) LIVE FROM THE TOUR DE FRANCE- SO DO WE GET IT TESTED OR WHAT? Kevin's (my son Kevin, not "Pilot" Kevin) all about stuff that riders toss, and this time he scored a water bottle. But not just andybody's water bottle, this one belonged to Andy Schleck!

But there's more to the story. You see, I'd run out of water, and had very little to drink on the long hot climb up the Port de Bales. Just one bottle in fact, because I let Kevin have the other (so yes he had THREE bottles on the climb to my one). No biggie I'm thinking, I can pick up some water on the way back.

That didn't seem to work out. There were no convenient places to get water in Luchon (at the base of the main descent), and we were facing a long ride (40k/25 miles) into a HOT headwind. So I asked Kevin if maybe we should drink the water in Andy's bottle (which was at least 3/4 full).

No. That would be wrong. We're unworthy. It just doesn't seem right.


"Bike shop owner inexplicably dies of dehydration while riding with a nearly-full water bottle."

Of course that's not what happened; I can go quite a while without drinking much, and I just put my head into the wind and churned away the miles until we finally came to a park with hopefully-potable water in its bathroom. I was going to call it a restroom but that seems inappropriate for one of those French things where you have a hole in the floor and a place to put your feet while you squat.

So I didn't die, I fought yet another unexpected headwind (which I now accept as simply something I do and have gotten pretty good at driving into them, instead of viewing then as the most-evil abomination on the planet), and got us to the train station in Montrejeaus an hour and a half ahead of the train.

At least no drama boarding the train with bikes this time!

Oh, right, back to that bottle. Do I send it to a lab for testing, or are andy's failures in the TdF evidence that he doesn't dope? Presently I have it sealed (tight rubber band) and in the cooler in our hotel room, with a hand-written chain-of-custody document in case there are any questions. :-) Oh, and we have further documentation it's Andy's because we have pictures that we took ourselves, showing him fumble the attempt to get it into the cage and actually caught it in the bounce off the ground, and we can demonstrate scrapes on the bottle that could have only happened that way. I think we have it nailed. Question is, how much should we demand from Saxo-Bank for the return of this... evidence?

I was careful to book us on trains that allowed bicycles for our trip up the port de bales; it would have been impossible to cover the distance entirely by bike. Last night, we even went to the station to study the configuration of the cars, so we'd know what to do.

So the train arrives and sure enough, there's a car that says "access velos." and in front of that car is a conductor who tells us you can't take bikes on this train unless they're folded!?!? Fortunately we have folding bikes (although not the kind that folds instantly and small) so we hastily fold them in half and throw them into the vestibule.

Thankfully I didn't get so rattled as to forget we get off at the first stop and transfer to another train, this one with a formal bike car with racks that put caltrain to shame. That's where we are right now, waiting to begin the expected part of today's adventure!

And in retrospect even Kevin agrees that we should have ridden the 13 miles to tarbes (for this train) instead of transferring. Fortunately, the rest of our rides all start and end from our hotel!

07/18/10- LIVE FROM THE TOUR DE FRANCE-TRAVELING FROM TOULOUSE TO LOURDES- So we get up a bit late but in time to finish packing and eat (did you know Kevin likes to sleep?) and get to the train station at 11:21 for our 11:46 train to Lourdes. This one we have to buy tickets from the counter because their automated machines don't take US-type credit cards (non-chipped).

Of course the lines are long and seem notoriously slow and there is only one English-speaking window and it's in use by the same people the entire time I'm there. So I go to the first-available French window, ask "vous parlais englais?" to which she replies "NON!" and waves me off. Right. Like you can get rid of me that easily? I stand my ground and tell her "Duex billets por Lourdes sil vous plait" and voilà within a minute I've got my tickets.

The train is now leaving in 4 minutes and it's not entirely clear which direction to the tracks and the trains on the board don't list a train number nor our destination so I make an assumption that the only train leaving at 11:46, which is the time for our train, must in fact be our train. Voie (track) 4.

Down the stairs with four pieces of heavy luggage we go (how did we do this with full-size bikes???) and eventually find where they put the track numbers (did you know that, when you've only got three minutes, "eventually" seems to take longer than an SAT test?). Up another set of stairs we go to what MUST be our train. Right? But here there's a display with a train number on it which does NOT match the number on our ticket!!! After snapping out of the blind panic (I now understand that expression!) I note that, right above the train number, it lists its stops, one of which is Lourdes.

So yes, we made it, on the right train, and had at least 90 seconds to spare. We are now rolling through the farmlands between Toulouse and Tarbes, before it takes us into Lourdes, in the very heart of the Pyrenees. I am excited and kevin?

Kevin's asleep. :-)

07/15/10- LIVE FROM THE TOUR DE FRANCE-I SUSPECT MOST PEOPLE TRAVEL BETTER THAN I DO. There's something about those 40+ hour travel days that get to me, especially when they're "enhanced" by not getting much sleep the night before because you're concerned you forgot something (which I didn't, not as near as I can tell, but my son did somehow manage to forget his briefs). That 11 hour flight on a plane, even in a nice seat (and it was a nice seat this time) still leaves me feeling sticky all over within 5 hours or so into the flight, and that air that's so dry your thoat starts getting sore, and the restlessness from not moving around much... maybe if I had my own private Airbus 380, you know, that double-deckered thing that would let me have a shower, a lot of space to move around (maybe even enough to ride a bike?), and a flight schedule that panders to when I want to fly.

But we did get here, in Toulouse, France, after a second flight from Frankfort. I'd wondered about Frankfort airport, a place my kids said is the worst they've ever been to... what could make an airport so bad? Um... where do I start? It's huge and random and hot and stinky and the Lufthansa equivalent of United's Red Carpet Club was packed with no seats available and cramped feeling even if it wasn't full of people thinking they could get away from the rest of the airport for a few minutes. It really makes you appreciate how good we have it out here.

OK, but we're here to ride, not complain about getting here, and tomorrow (Saturday) we'll be riding from Toulouse out to a little spot on the map named "Coins" and then perhaps south a bit to "Caraman" where we'll get to see the interim stage sprint, if the timing works out right. And then Sunday we're off to Lourdes, spending 5 days in the center of the Pyrenees! That's what we're really looking forward to.

In the meantime, we've found a good Kabob place right around the corner (perhaps the best inexpensive food you can buy, pretty much without fail?), and there's a Paul (killer deli/bakery chain) at the train station across the street. So we're set, and by this time tomorrow we'll hopefully have some cool pictures to show!

07/13/10- CAN A JERSEY REALLY MAKE YOU FASTER? No, this isn't some weird variant of an Enzyte commercial (and where is "Bob" during the TdF this year anyway?), but wearing the new Chain Reaction jersey with "Never Give Up, Never Surrender" does do something for you, especially at those times where you're doubting yourself. And this morning, climbing Kings, and looking at my time at various points up the hill and thinking yes, maybe, maybe I can get that 26-minute monkey off my back.

The 26-minute-monkey refers to being able to get my butt up the hill in 26-something, not my more-typical 28-something. This is usually the time of year I can finally accomplish that, because I've usually gotten my weight back down a bit and it's usually a bit warmer. Well, my weight has gotten down to where I'd like it (actually, probably the least I've weighed in 25 years), and I had the added bonus of riding my light & fast Trek Madone, not the Bike Friday I've been getting used to in preparation for our trip to France in a couple of days. Working against me was that it was still a bit on the cool side, so I was out there with leg warmers and a base layer, and of course the lungs which work a whole lot better when it's 70 than 50-something. But the legs worked, the heart responded well (average heart rate 167, max 177, so I was able to hold it very close to the max for almost half an hour), and I refused to be disillusioned by the rest of the group that was able to pass me on the way up without making it look hard. 26:28 will do just fine. For now. Of course, I'm wondering, would it be possible to shave another 29 seconds off (and survive)?

Karl, Karen, Shane, Mike, George & Kevin were out with me this morning. Rumor has it that Eric was out there as well, riding ahead of us. Wonder if he thought I'd be leaving a bit early with my son again? That would have been the case, except that it was impossible to get him out of bed this morning. An act he's not going to be able to pull in the days ahead in France.

07/11/10- A REALLY BAD DAY FOR LANCE, A REALLY GOOD DAY FOR US. It wasn't a great send-off for our ride, watching Lance on TV as his tour hopes didn't just evaporate, they exploded, right there in front of us on the TV. Ouch. Three crashes? And on that last one, he was in no hurry to get back on the bike; he just holds it up and looks at it as if wondering, do I really want to get back on it? I have two more weeks of... what? But he did finish, and has said he has every intention of finishing the race and maybe picking up a stage win.

Kevin and I, on the other hand, had a much better day. This was our last "full length" ride before heading to France on Thursday, so we were determined to make it a good one, and chose the Woodside/Pescadero/Santa Cruz loop to put the final proof-of-concept seal on the Bike Friday folding bikes we'll be using. So why not the 112-mile ride that was Kevin's first Century last year, and repeated a couple months ago on his "regular" bike? Seemed like a great idea.

Of course, just because a ride went well twice before doesn't mean it will be perfect the third time, and the near-perfect weather for a long ride (mid-60s to maybe 80) had one little glitch. For some reason, the normal wind patterns along the coast were reversed, so at best we had cross winds, but mostly head winds, all the way from Pescadero to Santa Cruz. At the Davenport lunch stop, I was wondering if I was going to have the required horsepower to keep fighting the wind and make it back over the hill (looking at the Garmin readout, my heart rate was nearly pegged for half an hour while fighting the wind). And then it hit me. Kevin was wearing a prototype shop jersey which, on the back, has written "Never Give Up, Never Surrender." So much for the idea of modifying the ride and calling in the broom wagon!

So I continued to fight the wind, shielding Kevin from the wind, and once we started to climb again, all was right with the world. We did have one more small challenge; there were detour & road closed signs in Santa Cruz for Highway 9, and I really wasn't in the mood to take a lengthy detour that might turn our 112 mile ride into a double-metric. So we continued on, riding on a pleasantly-deserted highway 9 until finally coming to the gated closure. Gated, but easily circumvented. Kevin at this point is wondering why it is that his dad is so much a stickler for rules and laws and yet easily disregards something like this, and suggests that maybe this is a bad idea. I'm not giving that thought any time to take hold though, and soon we've got our bikes on the other side and continue up the road, shortly coming to a section they're rebuilding with only about half a lane remaining. But a bike takes a lot less than half a lane, so we ride on through and in another mile or so we're back on "open" road, saving ourselves a whole lot of grief.

The grind up Highway 9 was, as it always is, a bit of a grind, but waiting for us at the top was Mr. Mustard's cart with cold drinks, just a dollar each. And in the photo you can see the front of the jersey (but not the "Never Give Up, Never Surrender" which is on the back). From there it was a quick run north on Skyline and back home via 84.

So how does a Bike Friday, with its 20-inch (little) wheels and no top-tube, perform on an extended ride carrying a lot of gear? Surprisingly well! I think we're ready. Still have a lot of details to finish before we leave, including figuring out how to best package them, but what would life be without challenge?

07/08/10- JUST ANOTHER GORGEOUS MORNING ON A BIKE! And like so many gorgeous mornings, it didn't start out that way. No gorgeous morning should start out with the alarm clock going off at 6:55am. 7:05am is so much better than 6-something! But since I've been bringing my son along on the ride, I need to get up a little bit earlier so we can get a slight head start up the hill. Which means getting up at 6:55am instead of 7:05. No big deal? When I see that "6" on the clock, it seems like a big deal!

My morning routine isn't altered too much; it's more the night before that has to be a bit more organized, making sure the Cytomax has been made for both of us, computers charged up (Garmin GPS units, which record not only all your time splits on the climbs, but also your calorie burn and heart rate) and all clothes out & ready to jump into, Fireman style. And a powerbar set out for Kevin (unlike me, he needs to eat something before the ride), along with his anti-seizure meds. So getting all that out allows us to leave 8 minutes earlier than normal, giving us enough of a head start that "they" shouldn't catch us at least until we're well along Skyline.

Everything was going great until we got to Manuella, the short-cut to Kings, when Kevin had a seizure that cost us about four minutes. That sounds pretty harsh, blaming him for holding us back instead of offering an empathetic response to the unfortunate situation he has been dealt. Especially when you consider that, as he was coming out of it, he was telling me "Dad, I don't feel very good, I want to go home." But instead I'm telling him that he's going to feel better shortly, like he always does, so we're continuing on. For a few minutes he wasn't a very happy camper, but by the time we got to the park entrance he'd found himself and established a steady climbing rhythm. "They" caught us about 2/3rds of the way up the hill, "they" being just Karl and Shane (we would meet up with Millo and Eric further up on Skyline), which was about what I figured.

Once we got to Skyline Kevin was riding pretty strongly, and Karl's slight moderation of his usual pace allowed Kevin to hang with the big boys the rest of the way. In fact, Kevin holds his own pretty well in a fast pace line, something that shouldn't have been too surprising given his experience at the track. Along the way, he counted eleven rabbits on west-side Old LaHonda, a new record! And I got one of my nicest-shots ever on the same road, in the tree section just before Skyline (you can see that at the top of this page; I finally got around to replacing a shot from many years ago that featured a couple riders we haven't seen in a very long time).

Is Kevin ready for France? Definitely. He's lost a ton of weight, he can climb anything in his path, no matter how steep, and he's come to realize that his epilepsy doesn't define what he can do. I will not be surprised if, for the first time, I have a bit of trouble keeping up with him. We'll find out in just over a week; we leave next Thursday afternoon!

07/06/10- DAD, NO, I CAN'T RIDE, I DIDN'T GET TO SLEEP UNTIL 1AM/TOUGH LOVE. I'd been waiting for something like this, and surprised it took a week or two. 6:55am and I go to wake Kevin up and he's giving me that "no way" look as if getting up and riding was going to kill him. And I'm thinking, welcome to the real world kid, this is what you might have to face in France, might as well get used to it. He grumbled but realized I wasn't going away, got dressed, ate a power bar (which seems better for pre-ride food than cereal) and got out on the road. Slowly at first, to be sure, and I had some concern the rest of the guys were going to catch us before we made the top of the hill (we left with a 6 minute head start). But they didn't catch us, and we time-trialed along Skyline and down to west-side Old LaHonda, and I'm constantly looking back, wondering if they're just around that last corner. Just a bit up west-side Old LaHonda there's a section where it parallels 84 (the section you ride to get to it) and I heard that unmistakable sound that only a group of bicycles can make. Kevin thought it was a car, but I knew differently. As we climbed the upper side of the valley, I continued to look back; don't ask me how, but I knew they were close, and at exactly the same time Kevin's telling me they're not... there they are, right behind us!

The lead group of riders passed us but we kept ahead of the second wave. Kevin (my Kevin, not the ancient pilot Kevin) (ancient because he's a few months older than I am) had no trouble keeping up on the remaining rollers, descents and flat stretches to the end, evidence that the Bike Fridays should work out well for France. I was hoping Kevin could do something in the final sprint, but those with fresher legs prevailed. Maybe next Tuesday!

Oh, and in the end, Kevin was glad he rode instead of slept in. Yes, he did take a nap later on, actually falling asleep while watching a replay of the day's Tour de France stage (the cobbles weren't enough to keep his interest???).

Kevin on West Alpine with Bike Friday07/04/10- FIRST "PROOF OF CONCEPT" RIDE FOR KEVIN AND HIS BIKE FRIDAY GOES GREAT! And not just because the weatherman was wrong and it wasn't nearly as hot as predicted. We took the two Bike Fridays out to the coast via Old LaHonda, San Gregorio and then to lunch in Pescadero, where we met up with quite a few old friends (also out enjoying a great day to ride). Kevin climbed Old LaHonda about 30 seconds slower than last weekend on his "real" bike, and he found, as I have over the past month or two, that a bike with little wheels can actually climb and descend very well, and be comfortable too.

There was good & bad about the mistaken weather report, as we traded off hot weather for the typical headwind coming up from the coast (headwinds which bring cooler air inland, which is nice, but force you to fight your way west!). But that's not an issue for Kevin, who's content to sit behind my wheel and enjoy the ride. I later suggested to him that he could, at any time, suggest that maybe he could take a turn at the front... and he gave me some lame excuse about how when he tries to do that I move out in front of him. Maybe we'll experiment next weekend.

The photo on the right shows Kevin climbing up West Alpine. I should have put in a side shot which would have shown how a Bike Friday is so different from a "normal" bike, with its 20" wheels and no top tube, so it can fold up into a suitcase.  The one thing you have to remember about them is that, when you come to a stop, you have to hold them up by the handlebar... because there's no top tube resting against your leg! Otherwise, down to the ground it goes. Yeah, been there, done that.

Ride specs? 67 miles, 6400ft of climbing, temps between 72 & 90 degrees. More traffic than usual on the way out to the coast due to the July 4th weekend but still not too bad. We live in an awesome area to ride a bike, especially if you're willing to get away from the cities and head up into the hills.

07/01/10- JULY STARTS OFF ON A GREAT NOTE as this morning's ride was in marked contrast to Tuesday's. No seizures for Kevin this morning, and perhaps we started just a bit too early because the main group never caught us! In fact, the only person we picked up along the way was Andrew, one of our Redwood City employees, who'd headed out a bit early and was waiting for whomever at the top of Kings. Beautiful morning, a bit cool, with the fog burning off just ahead of us. No complaints.

This was probably the last ride for our "real" bikes (My Trek Madone and Kevin's Trek 5000, both carbon road bikes) as it's now time to put the Bike Fridays, the folding travel bikes we're taking to France, to the test. I've been testing one off & on, proving the concept, for the last couple months, and Kevin's bike arrived just a couple days ago. He's taken it out for a couple short spins and so far really enjoys it, so it looks like they should work out in France. Hope so!

But back to the ride. We averaged 15.6mph, which isn't much off the pace for the normal Thursday edition of the Tuesday/Thursday ride. Kevin was able to hold onto my wheel at pretty decent speeds across Skyline and down the west side of 84, so we should do fine catching one of the "trains" (large fast groups of cyclists) in France. Just two weeks before we leave!

Oh, there may be one more ride on the "real" bikes... July 15th, the day of our flight to France. The plane doesn't leave until 1:58pm, so as long as we're at the airport around 10am we're fine. That means we should be able to at least get in an abbreviated version of the ride, maybe cutting out the section on the west side of Skyline. Timing will be everything; we'll need to leave for the airport around 9:35am... hmm... pretty tight... hey, who needs a shower before an 11 hour plane flight?

06/29/10- NO PROBLEM, DON'T WORRY, THIS IS NORMAL. Which makes you start wondering about the world you live in, when your 17-year-old son is lying on the ground on Greer Road, and the joggers passing by ask if you're OK and you're telling them no problem, this is normal for him. We'd gotten up for the Tuesday/Thursday-morning ride, something Kevin is now actually looking forward to, and headed out about 10 minutes early, hoping to get to the top of Kings before the rest of the group. And maybe even catch Millo on the way up. Which might have happened, if Kevin hadn't had a seizure just as we were about to start the climb, and had to lie down on Greer Road until the event was over with. About 5 minutes for this one, one of the more-significant seizures he's had for a while, but fortunately of the type where he has quite a bit of warning (at least half a minute) before it really sets in.

The gang caught up with us less than halfway up the hill, and waited for us at the top for what must have been quite a while. We would have gotten up sooner except that Kevin had tweaked his back pretty badly during the seizure, and while Karl's best efforts (Karl's a Chiropractor) made it better, it still wasn't enough for him to feel comfortable doing the full ride, so we dropped the west-side Old LaHonda section and headed home a bit early. Kind of disappointing, because he'd done so well on Sunday's ride in the heat, but on the other hand, encouraging that he's getting enough warning that he can safely pull over and let the event pass. It will be nice to get a handle on this epilepsy stuff though; he's become quite the fit & capable cyclist over the past few years!

06/27/10- WHAT IF YOU DID EVERYTHING BACKWARD? Kevin (my son, not the pilot) was complaining that we ride the same routes, over and over, and it would be nice to do something different. What he had in mind was getting out of the area, maybe up into the Sierras again, but right now time and a failing car (or two) don't quite permit that. So I'm thinking, what if we do things backward, descending roads we usually climb, generally riding things in the opposite direction of normal? And thus one strange ride was born.

Let's get the little details out of the way first. Yes, it was pretty warm, some would say hot. Enough so that I saw more weight loss at the end of the ride than I should have (about 4 pounds). A lot of that is because I try to conserve as much water (actually Cytomax) for Kevin as possible, especially since, with his kidney stone, he's supposed to be drinking lots. But finally seeing some higher temps is a very good thing prior to heading to France in a couple weeks, where it's likely to be both hot & muggy.

We started by heading up Kings (not unusual, except that I climb Kings so often that I prefer to head up Old LaHonda given the option), and then down Tunitas. Yes, down Tunitas. So much hoopla has surrounded the recent paving that I figured we ought to try it. Well, we did, and it was, at best, a borderline thrill, mostly because the "pavement" is pretty sticky during warmer weather. This wasn't a top-quality paving job!

We turned off at Lobitos Creek to head north towards Half Moon Bay, climbing over the hill and followed that with a run over Higgins/Purissima and then main street into Half Moon Bay for lunch. Next we rode south on Highway 1 all the way to Pescadero, then north (backtracking!) on Stage to San Gregorio, east on 84 and west-side Old LaHonda and then dropped back down into Woodside on 84. 73.5 miles if you start at Olive Hill & Canada Road in Woodside (78 by the time we got home), and about 6800ft of climbing.

Considering that Kevin hadn't been on his bike in a week (due to the days he spent getting his brain mapped, and then the kidney stone), he did really well. Not a fast ride, but definitely challenging.

06/25/10- YES, THERE WAS A RIDE THURSDAY MORNING, YES, I WAS THERE, and yes, I'm really late getting to report on it. Things got a bit hectic with Kevin going into and out of and then back into Kaiser (hospital); obviously, he wasn't on the ride. It started out a bit on the gray side, cool but not cold, with a pretty good turnout of people whose names I won't remember. I do know that Karl wasn't there, but Kevin (the pilot) was, Eric, Robert, Mike, John, Jan, Millo and Chris. Oh, and Bruno was there! Bruno is our former service manager from Redwood City, who's now teaching school in Palo Alto and about to head to France as a tour guide with TrekTravel.

We rode up through the park and found the gate at the bottom actually open! Of course, I wasn't thinking about that when we got to the top, where you reconnect with Kings, and were about a minute faster than normal. Just figured I must have been feeling better. Right. I wasn't feeling bad though, and pretty much held my own on the way up. Lots of rabbits hanging out again on west-side Old LaHonda, which we rode at a pace that pretty much kept everyone together. The most-interesting thing was that this was the "slower" Thursday ride, but we still got back about 9:22am, just 4 minutes or so slower than the "faster" Tuesday ride typically is.

06/23/10- LONG, LONG, LONG PAST COUPLE OF DAY, with a lot of things all seeming to run together at the same time, most notably trying to keep things going on our 30th Anniversary Sale (30 years???), and then having Kevin (my son) at Kaiser for a few days while they map out his brain during seizures. Interesting process... basically you're scheduled for five days of lying in a bed, electrodes attached to your head, as they withdraw your epilepsy meds, hoping you'll have a seizure or two that they can record. Kevin didn't disappoint; it wasn't too long after they cut his meds by half that he had not one, not two, but ultimately I think five seizures, a couple of "good" ones that gave them everything they needed. It was a good-news/bad-news sort of thing, good in that he got out of there quickly by having the seizures, bad in that we know that, without his meds, those episodes are sitting there, waiting to jump out. Hate that! But the goal is ultimately for a cure, and for that, we need to understand everything we can about how his brain works. A teenage brain. As if!

So he leaves Kaiser this morning at 11am, way ahead of schedule, and we're thinking, great! Only by 3pm he's back down there again, this time with terrible pains through his side, nausea, just plain ugly stuff. A reaction to a slight change in his meds? Nope. The kid's got a 6mm kidney stone! Fortunately he was able to leave after a few hours, with some new meds that will hopefully keep the pain away and help pass the darned thing. Yuck!

06/22/10- WHERE DID I LOSE THOSE TWO SECONDS? I'm going to be playing this one over in my head a few times; got up the hill in 27:01, and 27-anything is just way less credible than 26:59 would have been. But I don't feel like trying to do it again anytime soon, at least not today.

Normally I'd be riding with Kevin (my son), working on getting him in shape for France, and figuring not that long before he's getting me in shape. And with Kevin, we'd be focusing on a time of around 30 minutes flat. But today is day-2 of Kevin's possible 5-day stay in the hospital, lying in a bed with a bunch of electrodes attached to his head, trying to map out exactly what is going on in his brain when he has one of his seizures. Our biggest fear is that he'd be in the hospital and not have any, but those fears were not realized as he's already up to three so far... it appears that his medication, which doesn't completely prevent his seizures, nevertheless is working well enough to limit their frequency and severity. A mixed blessing! Let's just hope he's back on his feet soon, because if I'm figuring things correctly, he's been losing about 5 pounds a month the past three months and getting fit in rapdily-accelerating manner. Bedrest and boredom don't get one in shape!

Meantime, back at the ride, it was Karl, Eric, John, Robert... later joined by other-other Kevin (who'd ridden up east-side Old LaHonda and met up with us on the backside) and my reserve engine, Millo, who was waiting for me around Skeggs. When I hit the top of Kings I just kept going, as I'm trying to "recover" while riding, and it's fun to see how long I can keep the dogs off my back. Not that long, as it turns out; they caught up to Millo and I as we made the turn onto west-side Old LaHonda, but at least from there I was able to hang on.

The final sprint was a mess on a road littered with cars, joggers and walkers. Karl had taken off a bit early and made it through fine; by the time an organized chase was in progress, it was both too late to catch him and too dangerous to try. With things being just a bit out of sync, someone suggested heading up Godetia for part of our cool-down after the ride, proof that drugs must still be in use in cycling (if you haven't ridden up Godetia, it's a "shortcut" from Canada Road to Jefferson that has one of those cruel, ever-increasing pitches from bottom to top). Interesting, deviating from the norm after all these years. There was even a discussion of doing a somewhat-different route overall. Who knows?

06/20/10- $2.70. That's the answer. The question? What's a kid worth. At least on Father's Day, at a burger place in Grass Valley, where all Fathers got a free small root beer float. So I guess it was a good thing I brought my son with me to see the Nevada City Bike Race today!

Not quite the huge event it was last year, when Lance and Chris Horner and Levi showed up, as well as some very strong domestic pro teams, but a really nice day, and something I didn't expect to see out there- Floyd Landis. Floyd looked to me like he was a notch above the rest of the field, and yet he finished 4th, and I've got to wonder if he wasn't intentional in not making the podium and becoming the center of an uncomfortable situation.

Before the race we did a 45 mile ride, starting in Grass Valley and heading towards Auburn and back via some interesting back roads that I found on a ride list. Kevin wasn't a huge fan of the ride, categorizing it as having too many "junk" climbs, the sort that you can't really sink your teeth into or get a rhythm going, but it was nice riding outside the normal area. Watch out for wildlife though; yikes, I've never seen so many deer! And at one point Kevin just about got nailed, badly, as a large deer (doe, I believe) comes flying off the hillside and onto the road, moving faster than I've ever seen a deer move (and they can be pretty quick). Kevin's reaction was "whew, that was close" and resumed normal routine, only to suddenly find that the deer was being chased by a dog that had now run into the road right in front of him. Kevin skidded but stayed upright, while I had no issues because I've been through this too many times, where there's one deer running there's often more behind it, and the way this one was running, something just seemed wrong.

You don't consciously think of all the little things you pick up over the years, things that help keep you alive and safe out on the roads. But there's a lot of them, and it's one of the reasons why it's good to ride with less experienced folk and try to pass this stuff on. Let them know that it's not a fluke, that it's often the case that animals travel in packs, or that you don't pass a car on the right at an intersection if their wheels are already turned, even when they're stopped, because in their mind they've already begun the process of making that turn and likely aren't looking out for cyclists or anything else in their way.

06/17/10- THIS ONE'S ALL YOURS. Today was my son's third time on the regular Tuesday/Thursday-morning ride, second time this year. We're still "cheating" a bit, leaving about 6 minutes early this time, and taking advantage of the rest of the guys heading up through the park, giving us an extra minute or two to play with. But it's not going to be too long before that won't be needed, as this morning he got up the hill in 30:50, almost two minutes faster than Tuesday, and quite a bit faster than he's done before. It doesn't hurt that he's now down to about 185 pounds, probably 20 pounds lighter than last year, and a bit taller besides. It also didn't hurt that we had a rabbit to chase, in this case Millo, who we'd seen leave the starting point while we were still some distance up Canada Road. It took maybe a mile or so to catch up once we hit the hill, and it ensured that, unlike Tuesday, Kevin hit the first part of the hill fairly hard.

We regrouped with Millo at the Skegg's parking lot, quickly discussed whether it made sense to wait for the rest of the guys or see how far we could get before they caught us, and figured heck, let's have some fun and just how strong the other guys were today. And, as was the case on Tuesday, we spotted them at about the same point on west-side Old LaHonda, only this time they caught up with us on that final stretch through the trees... darn. But they brought in some extra firepower today, with two former regulars, the other-other Kevin & Billy, riding the route backward, passing us and hooking up with them.

I should also point out that this was my first Tuesday/Thursday-morning ride on the Bike Friday! It's not as fast or lively as my Madone, but it's not half-bad either. As soon as I get rid of that ugly temporary stem, the adjustable one with a big piece hanging back from it that hits my legs when I'm standing on a climb, it's going to be pretty darned decent. I was able to hold my place today in pace lines, descend at speed on Skyline (hitting 41mph, about 6mph faster than I'd previously ridden with it) and began getting used to it on the s-curves coming down 84 (although I still couldn't keep up with the rest of them, including my son, who was nicely tucked in at the end of his group of 4).

Unlike Tuesday though, Kevin hung tough on the bottom, making sure not to lose the wheel in front of him on Tripp or as we turned onto Kings, and hanging in nicely on Manuella (the spot where Karl will sometimes put the hammer down, knowing he can blow off the sprinters there... but today he chose not to, possibly due to the presence of the other-other Kevin, a strong sprinter who would also not be blown off by his Manuella tactics). And it was on Manuella where I rode up alongside Kevin (my son Kevin, not the pilot Kevin, nor other-other Kevin), put my hand on his shoulder and told him "This one's all yours." I wasn't going to get mixed up in the sprint, not on my Bike Friday, but I wanted him to know that he could do this, he could hang with them to the end. My only job was to try and stay close enough to see it play out, and I managed to do exactly that, watching as Kevin went from the back of the group (maybe 6?) and passed all but one, the other-other Kevin. And, unlike two days ago, Kevin was able to finish with the group, on the cool-down ride up Canada Road. All in all a very good ride.

06/15/10- NO TORCH PASSED... YET. This morning (actually yesterday morning since I'm writing this at 1:45am) was Kevin's (my son) first Tuesday/Thursday ride since a trial last year, and it went generally well. We left about 8 minutes ahead of the normal start time, hoping to stay ahead of the guys behind us on the climb, which we did. Kevin's no speed-demon on Kings yet, coming in at 32-something, mostly because he started out pretty darned slow and gradually sped up (and, unlike me, he really gets going when it gets steep). We didn't hang around at the top, knowing that we needed all the help we could get to stay out in front and try to finish the ride at the same time as the rest of them, so we quickly headed across Skyline, pausing briefly for a minor issue (he had a very mild seizure, as is fairly common for him), then down the back side of 84 and yes, it was a whole lot cooler than Sunday's ride! 44 degrees at one point in fact.

Climbing up west-side Old LaHonda we spotted the "pack" racing up towards us, and managed to hang on until being caught right at Skyline. From there it was a quick run back into Woodside, but once the group turned onto Kings from Tripp, things went into take-no-prisoners mode and that was the end of Kevin. So no, I have no idea who won the sprint, and didn't even get a chance to find out as they took off ahead of us on Canada and, despite my best efforts, I couldn't quite bridge Kevin across to catch them. Guess that will be the next goal!

As far as who showed up, I'm not really sure, but know that Karl, the other Kevin, Jan, John, Mike and at least two others were in attendance. I felt bad not being there at the start, but it's more important right now that I get the next generation adequately prepared.

06/13/10- YOU THOUGHT IT WAS HOT TODAY? Very warm, maybe, but I think the lack of "spring" this year has caused us to get a bit excited and consider 90 degrees to be "hot." Good training anyway for France next month, where it's often quite warm/hot and sometimes with a fair amount of humidity to go with it. We took it "easy" today due to the "warmth", starting out late (common theme when riding with a 17 year old) and just heading up & over the hill to Pescadero, north on Stage through San Gregorio and then back via Tunitas. Lots of cyclists on the "bay" side of the hill, but darned few over on the coast... too bad, because it was in the mid-70s!

A warning about Tunitas Creek- they just paved the top two miles (why they waited until after the Tour of California, I don't know) and it's pretty sticky. Not so bad you can't ride it, but I'd hold off until the weekend so most of the loose stuff and perhaps a lot of the glue-like feel will be gone.

06/10/10- YEP, A DAY LATE AGAIN, no good excuse. Eric, Mike, Jay & John. A smaller group, but it made up in quality what it lacked in size! Jan was a bit surprised that I was off the front on the climb up Kings, having seen me off the back the prior two rides; this isn't unusual, as the other guys pace is determined by whether they have a race Saturday or not (if they do, they'll be tapering off a bit). In fact, I was far enough off the front that I waited for about a minute at the park entrance for the rest of them to catch up, and then took off again. It was good to climb at a varied pace for a change, instead of having to try and be as steady as possible to lose as little time as possible.

Most notable thing were the rabbits on west-side Old LaHonda. Must have been eight of them! They kept popping up all over the place, enjoying the overcast skies that seemed to keep the big hawks from spotting them.

06/08/10- IT'S GOOD TO BE BACK ON FAMILIAR TERRITORY, where you know the roads like the back of your hand, cars act in a predictable manner, and you're surrounded by friendly folk whose wheels you trust. Mostly, you trust those wheels to ride off ahead of you on the climbs, and you trust that you'll be gasping for air while you hear the rest of the guys yakking away. But it's comforting to know that, every single Tuesday & Thursday morning, there will be a group of cyclists leaving at precisely 7:45am to head out with me. Today it was George, Millo (who'd actually left a bit earlier but met us up on top), Robert, Jan, Mike & John. No sign of Karl, nor Kevin (Kevin had already mentioned he'd be working this week).

It was a bit of a struggle to get up the hill in barely 27-something, and I couldn't hold on to the group as they rode across Skyline, but we regrouped as usual at Alice's before heading down the back side. At least I came close to staying with the front runners on west-side Old LaHonda! Just prior to the 84 descent George got a flat... better there than while flying down the hill. But even with that interruption, it was a pretty fast ride overall, with riding speed averaging 17.0 by the time I got home. I can live with that.

Thursday will be a bit different, as the other Kevin (my son) comes out with us. We'll probably head up about five minutes early, as I figure Kevin can probably make it up in about 32 minutes or so right now. Film at 11!

06/06/10- THE SEQUOIA CENTURY- ALWAYS A GREAT RIDE, BUT SOMETHING'S GOT TO BE DONE ABOUT BOULDER CREEK'S OUTLAW ATTITUDE TOWARDS CYCLISTS!!! 100 mile rides aren't what most would consider to be routine, but after you've done a few (Kevin's now up to 4), there's no longer any feeling that you're not going to make it, even for a more-challenging even like the Sequoia. Today's version started in Palo Alto and rode up Redwood Gulch (steep!) and then Highway 9 to Skyline, then south a few miles to Bear Creek, which drops down into Boulder Creek, a town that you'd imagine to be progressive based on proximity to Santa Cruz but you really couldn't be much more wrong on that score! There's some sort of strange hippie/redneck cross-breed living out there that has it in for cyclists, and today, on the Bear Creek descent, we had one obnoxious guy driving too close and too fast, and another, in a big light-brown pickup that I was unable to get the license plate of, who was seriously looking to rattle cyclists enough to cause them to crash. And then, as we're getting to leave the Boulder Creek rest stop, some lady in a silver SUV drives in and starts harassing me about why cyclists are so rude???!!!

But that was just a small part of an otherwise wonderful ride, with great support from the Western Wheelers. Of course, the best thing about the ride is our not-so-secret soda stop, manned by Sal, long-time friend of the shop, at the top of Tunitas. We gave out about 600 ice-cold (as only 400 pounds of ice can do!) cans of Coke, Diet Coke (why does somebody want a diet drink on a century?), Pepsi, Mtn Dew, Root Beer, Squirt, and a whole lot more. And after climbing Tunitas, at 80+ miles if you're on the century, 100 miles if you're on the double-metric, a Coke is exactly what you want. Nothing healthy, no watered-down lemonade or warm Gatorade. You want ice-cold Coke (or Pepsi or Mtn Dew or whatever).

Total stats for the ride- 101.84 miles (would have been a half mile longer but we skipped the first rest stop), 9650ft of climbing, and the toughest part not being the nasty climb up Redwood Gulch but instead the long run out to the coast from LaHonda, into a very strong headwind. I just went to the front and drove the pace, acquiring a string of riders behind. Not sure what we'll do for an encore next week, but I do know that it will not likely include a ride through the hills behind Boulder Creek!

06/03/10- I AM THE WEAKEST LINK. GOOD-BYE! Yikes, what was that this morning? I show up for the ride, the slightly-mellower Thursday version of the ride, expecting to see the usual Thursday crew, maybe 6 or 7 at this time of the year, and instead find 12 people waiting to hammer up the hill! I didn't even contest the idea of riding up through the Park; this was going to be a rough day any way you sliced it. And it was. One newcomer to the ride, Jan (one of our customers), remarked to me that he was the "fattest" person on the ride. Well, Jan is about my height and weighs less. Maybe he was just being kind, but he was certainly strong enough to hang with the guys! As was everyone else except... me. The only other person on the ride looking mildly human (by my standards) was Marcus's friend or brother, don't recall which (not many blood cells were available for anything but leg power this morning). I was really looking forward to having some company up on Skyline, but he didn't continue past Kings.

The guys (and girl, Karen was with us) were relatively kind up on Skyline, allowing me to stay on wheels and get dragged across the top, and the dry pavement allowed me to hang in there on the descent, well enough to find an ideal position for the final sprint, made even-more ideal by Karl and John forming a blockade across the right side of the lane (riding side-by-side at the same speed), forcing me to come around on the left, and leaving no room for anyone to come around me. I don't think that was their strategy, but hey, it worked for me, my one moment of glory. West-side OLH things hung together fairly well until just past the place with the killer view, where I began to fall off the pace, but never so far off the pace that I couldn't see the guys in front, just out of reach. Hate that!

Average speed was 16.7, which is significantly higher than normal for a Thursday ride. Tuesdays we typically do 16-4-16.6 at this time of year, and Thursdays 16.1-16.3. Can you really feel the difference just a few tenths of a mile per hour make in average speed? Ohmygosh yes! Does my wife have any sympathy for me when I come home and tell her about it? Ohmygosh no! She thinks it's "my" ride and it should be at "my" speed. You're right, she just doesn't get it. I need these challenges. I need to be pushed. And I love that feeling at the end, when your body takes 20 minutes after the ride to really begin to feel semi-normal. A bit under two hours out on the bike, you're drained, and yet there's that odd feeling of "why did you stop?"

06/01/10- IT'S WHAT I WAS TRAINED TO DO, but I'm sure I did it a lot better 35 years ago! Close those gaps, shut down the break. Somebody gets ahead, chase them down. You've got limited time to get there, so you can't do it slowly, you have to commit. Put everything into it, and when you get there, hold that wheel!

Yes, strange things go through my mind sometimes. Nice morning, a bit cool but not cold. No sign of George, Kevin was in Colorado, which left us with Eric, Karl, Robert, Millo (???!!! Haven't seen him in ages but he's threatening to be a regular again, this time meeting up with us on Skyline) and Chris. Glad that we didn't have George & Kevin since Chris is feeling pretty strong these days, having won the KOM (King of the Mountain) competition in the Mt. Hamilton road race a few days ago, and finishing fourth overall. But today he was content to hang back a bit on the main climb, chatting with Karl and Eric while I rode up slightly ahead. It was the Skyline section where I found myself in the all-too-familiar gap-closing mode, as Chris and... Robert(?) had gotten ahead. It's fun pretending to be something you aren't.

It was on Old LaHonda where it really hurt though. Robert had "drifted" off the front, so I eventually go after him, with Chris sitting on my wheel. More like casually riding in my draft, I'd say. I finally get up to Robert, then Chris has ideas and plays with me the same way Karl does sometimes, upping the pace a bit to see if I can still hang on. Yes, this is what I do for fun on Tuesday & Thursday mornings. Or perhaps it's more correct to say it's what they do for fun.

05/30/10- CLASSIC SANTA CRUZ LOOP TODAY, enjoying the finally-sunny skies, pretty much a day exactly the way a May 30th in Northern California should be! Kevin and I did a repeat of his first 100+ mile ride from last August, heading up Old LaHonda, down the other side to Pescadero, Cloverdale/Gazos Creek out to the coast, lunch at Davenport then continue to Santa Cruz, up highway 9 to Boulder Creek to take on water & fuel, up to Skyline (Coke at the hot dog stand), north on Skyline to 84 and back down into Woodside.

Temps varied from 65 at the beginning to as high as near-90 in Felton, light breeze, and generally very light traffic except for (predictably) Highway 9 from Santa Cruz to Boulder Creek. Funniest moment was in Davenport at lunch, when I texted Jeff K, one of our reps that I sometimes ride with, and told him how nice it was out here and too bad he wasn't with us. Within about a minute of sending that text, up rolls Jeff! He was doing a similar ride, only heading up Bonny Doon to get back, instead of Highway 9.

Overall stats: 112.5 miles, 8100ft of climbing, 15.9mph average riding speed (12.8 including stops, which included a way-too-long stop at the Whaler Cafe in Davenport... don't order lunch if you're in a hurry, stick with the pastries, and keep in mind they only take cash, no credit cards!). Looking up the diary entry from the earlier ride, this was definitely faster; the 8/9/09 ride was at an average speed of 14.7mph.

Kevin's come a long way over the past four years, getting taller, losing weight, riding faster. I think he's ready to start pulling his weight (so to speak) on our trip this July to the Tour de France. No more setting me up with racks and backpacks to carry all the gear while his bike is kept light. This year, I think I'm going to bring a rope and let him tow me up the hills!

05/27/10- WE RIDE IN THE RAIN SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO. That must be it, the reason that some of us go out there no-matter-what, making a mess of our bikes and having to wear double the amount of clothing as you would on a nice day, making whomever does the laundry not-so-happy. Today didn't start out raining though, just wet roads, wet enough to require the rain bike yet again, with its wider tires and fenders and older equipment and a chain that I just pour more oil on without cleaning, such that you really can't tell where one link ends and the next begins. Guess that's what I should have taken a photo of!

No Karl today, at least not initially (he made a cameo at the end), but we had Eric, Robert and Kevin. Found out that the reason the engines on Sunday-nights plane trip from SoCal to SFO were changing dramatically in pitch at a fast rate was because the pilot had most-likely engaged some sort of auto-mechanism for maintaining speed, and in really windy conditions (which is was that night), the computer is spinning them up & down quickly to try and maintain constant speed. Fun fact of the day.

We rode up through the park at a pretty easy pace and really didn't go into the red zone except for the final climb up west-side Old LaHonda, where Robert and Eric stepped things up just a bit, although my excuse would be that I dropped off because I was trying to take photos.

Thankfully, the latest long-range forecast finally shows no rain for the next 10 days!!! Still cooler temps than normal, highs in the upper-60s, but no rain is no rain. Tonight I put the rain bike back in the garage, and hopefully don't take it back out for quite some time.

05/25/10- WILL I EVER GET TO PUT MY RAIN BIKE AWAY? The other guys (and girl) had more, and incorrectly placed, faith in the weather than I did this morning. Looking out the kitchen window into the hills, well, it didn't look good up there. So I headed down into the garage and brought up the rain bike... again... packed the rain jacket, the plastic type that you only use when you have to, but when you have to, it's the only type worth using... and headed out.

John, Karl, Karen, Robert... darn, sure there was one more person. Not Eric, nor Kevin. Oh, right, George! Just had to think for a moment about the differences between who shows up on Tuesdays vs Thursdays, and George is a Tuesday-only kind of guy.

The only other person with any rain gear on their bike was Karen, who'd outfitted her machine with fenders. Other than that, the rest of 'em were on considerably-nicer equipment than my old & heavy 5900, with its heavier wheels, wider tires and generally only moderately superior to what made for the finest racing bike of the mid-70s. Thus can I really blame the bike for managing to get up in just under 30 minutes, with only rear views of the rest of the group as I climbed the hill? And why bother having fenders on my bike, since they're primarily of benefit to those behind, keeping your wheels from spraying in their faces? I guess it was just one of those personal "high gravity" days that happen now & then. Another one is scheduled for Thursday, as the next storm rolls in, just in time for my ride.

05/22-23/10- A LATE MULTI-DAY ENTRY just to help rationalize that I haven't totally abandoned my duties here as I spent the weekend at the Tour of California down south. After Friday's big day at Big Bear Lake, we had a non-riding day watching the time trial in downtown Los Angeles. Strange thing, that time trial... they had played it up as one of the biggest spectator sporting events ever, with up to a million people watching. I'm not convinced there were nearly that many, at least it didn't seem like it from where I watched, about 3km from the finish, on the final climb. My guess is that a lot more people would have come out had Lance still been in the race.

But Sunday was another thing entirely! The final stage, a road race near Westlake Village, was incredible. We got to ride the circuit (about 25 miles) ahead of time, and it was just plain fun. A great climb, maybe 5k in length and 1500ft of elevation gain, followed by a rolling section along the top with views of the coast (yes, it was clear enough you could see the coast!) and a descent that scared the whatever out of you. As we headed towards the start/finish line, we were accompanied by a pair of Rabobank racers, #33 & 34, getting in an easy warm-up lap ahead of the race. OK, just looked them up, it was Van Winden and Langeveld, two riders whose names don't bring up any recollections of write-ups in Cyclingnews, but I just looked up the results of that stage and Langeveld was 6th place in that stage, while Van Winden apparently didn't make the time cut on the Big Bear stage.

My brother (Steve) and I hung out near the top of the big climb, finding a pretty good spot to see them as they just came around a corner eerily similar to the one in Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind, where all the hicks and Richard Dreyfus waited for the alien spaceships to pass through. Click here or on the photo for an album showing a few of the shots I took up there, including one where someone wearing a Pope outfit is "blessing" the racers as they come through. Pretty funny!

05/21/10- IF I TOOK THIS PHOTO, I MUST HAVE BEEN IN... Big Bear Lake, watching the finish of the toughest stage of the Tour of California! Both Steve (my brother, who runs the Los Altos store) and I were doing a TrekTravel gig, heading south Thursday to watch the final three stages of the race. Today, we had a 100k ride (total, both directions) from Lake Arrowhead to the finish of the race in Big Bear Lake. It's interesting up here, a place I didn't know existed until now. Very similar to Lake Tahoe, except that it's darned close to Los Angeles... much closer than Lake Tahoe is to the SF Bay Area.

The racers dealt with maybe 14,000 feet of climbing while we managed a paltry 5300 or so. The start, at about 5300ft, is a bit rude, as your lungs aren't quite used to the somewhat-thin air, but after an hour or so you're feeling a lot better and the hills don't seem so bad. But you end up in awe of what the racers are capable of, particularly when you read Jani Brajkovic saying that the "Last 50km were too easy tho." The last 50km were the only part we rode, and they didn't seem all that easy!

Tomorrow we visit the time trial, which will likely be the event that decides the overall winner on Sunday. There should be lots of opportunities for photos there, so I'll probably be putting up a web page separately for them. No riding tomorrow (I could have done a 6:15am ride up here in Lake Arrowhead, where it might be about 38 degress, but passed...), but I'm back on the bike for a loop around the final circuit on Sunday! --Mike--

05/18/10- ONCE UP KINGS IS TOUGH, TWICE IS NUTS. EVEN FOR THE TOUR OF CALIFORNIA. I tried to organize a longer ride this morning, one that could link up directly with viewing the Tour of California, but no takers. That meant two separate rides; my usual Tuesday/Thursday ride, then leave from home again an hour or so later to head back up to Skyline.

Riding Kings the first time was pretty tough, partly because I was on my rain bike (only two of us had fenders this morning, myself and Karen), and partly because it was icky out (hence the rain bike). Karen, Eric, Chris, and Joelle Numainville, a new Webcor member who happens to also be the 2009 Canadian U23 Woman's Road Champion. She's rumored to have a killer sprint, but all I know for sure is that she can climb really well, keeping Chris company up at the front. No sprints, due to the rain. But a nice ride nevertheless, even if it was on my rain bike.

And then, about 50 minutes after I get home, it's back out again to head up with Todd to see the Tour of California. Once up Kings to Skyline is hard enough, but doing it a second time, a couple hours later, carrying camera gear on your back... that's just nuts!!! But it was fun seeing such large numbers of cyclists climbing the hill, and the huge crowd at the top. We ended up getting there much too early, about 11:30 or so, an hour and a half before the race would come through. Dumb, but who could pass up the chance to stand around in cold rain? We rode down to our viewing area, at Star Hill & Tunitas, with the silly idea that, after seeing the race pass through, we'd jet over (on our bikes) to Sky Londa and see them come over the hill again. Would it work? Yep, with time to spare!

Not so easy taking photos in the fog though, nor, for that matter, dealing with the crowds. But worth it to see a young woman yelling and jumping around saying "I saw Lance! I saw Lance!" Pretty crazy.

In the end, my morning had two rides, 58 miles and 6100ft of climbing. Thank goodness it passed the test for a "hard" ride (more than 100ft of climbing/mile), because it sure felt like it.

05/16/10- YOU GOTTA RIDE, YOU GOTTA SEE THE TOUR OF CALIFORNIA... WHAT TO DO? Both, of course! The original plan (there's always a plan) was to see Tuesday's local stage on Tunitas, and just do a local ride today instead of heading to Sacramento to see the Tour of California. But my son really wanted to see the race, and couldn't skip school on Tuesday (Algebra is a subject he shows a need for more, not less time spent with). So we headed up to Sacramento, parked in Old Town and did an out & back on the 32-mile American River Parkway Bike Trail. I've heard so much about it; supposedly one of the world's longest paved bike paths, spoken and referenced frequently by our customers and on the 'net, and cited as one of the reasons why Sacramento is seen as a "livable community."

The fact that it's almost completely flat (aside from the final 300ft or so climb at the end, as you ascend to the top of the Folsom Dam) takes a bit away from it, but it's a pleasant ride, passing through areas with quite a bit of wildlife, including all manner of birds (haven never seen so many Canadian Geese in one place!), rabbits, turkeys (did you know they can sort of fly when startled?) and squirrels, lots of squirrels. What's not so great is the signage. More than once we took a wrong turn, and signs were few & far between. This is a beef I've had with bike routes in general; rarely do we see the sort of signage you expect when driving on roads... specifically signs telling you where a certain route is taking you (its endpoints) and how far you have to go.

We made it to the end (Folsom Dam) in about the time I'd figured it would take (we were on a schedule because we wanted to be back in Sacramento in time to see the finish of the race), stopped in at a Quiznos for a sandwich and then quickly headed back. A bit too quickly, as a Tri-guy overtook us and Kevin took that as some sort of challenge and suddenly became glued to the guy's wheel. I mean seriously glued, no matter how the guy accelerated, no matter how sharp the corners on the bike path. The problem? That line from Blade Runner, about a candle that burns twice as bright lasting only half as long. As soon as they Tri-guy turned off, Kevin pretty much died. From 24mph into the wind it was a struggle to keep his speed above 16mph, and it was a bit demoralizing when we got off-course yet again. But towards the end of the 34-mile run back, he started feeling better and we did get back in time to see the finishing circuits of the race.

Regarding the American River bike trail, it's worth riding if you've got enough time to figure out which way to turn at the various junctions, and I'd highly recommend printing out the map I linked to three paragraphs above. But as a quick way to get from one place to another, the lack of decent signage is a significant issue, which is a real shame. For local residents I'm sure it's not a problem, and for experienced cyclists it's no big deal to figure your way around the first couple times you ride it. But to an out-of-towner, it's frustrating and could be so much better with very little effort.

05/13/10- WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON'T SPRINT? Good question, answered at the end of today's ride, when I passed on the final sprint, wondering what would happen. Well, what happens is this- Karl comes up to me wondering what happened, I asked if I always have to sprint, and he said yes. Guess that's how it is, got to keep the world in order, keep things steady & predictable.

Actually, today's ride wasn't entirely predictable. Yes, we rode up through the Park, with no protest at all from me; I figured I'd get shelled off the back either way, so why not do it in style and really get dropped? And dropped I did, although we did a quick regroup at the top of the Park (meaning they waited for me) before continuing on up. Too many to name, but the usual suspects were mostly there, Kevin, Karl, Karen, Eric, Marcos, a brief visit from Darrio (not one of "ours" but regularly seen), Robert & Mike. Even though I wasn't feeling great I still managed under 30 to the top, a reasonable time when going through the Park. Nice morning, climbing up through the fog to find the sun shining up on top.

AND NOW FOR THE TOUR OF CALIFORNIA RECON REPORT. WILL IT BE POSSIBLE TO SEE THEM AT TWO DIFFERENT PLACES, USING A BICYCLE? Instead of heading south on Skyline, we rode down Tunitas Creek a mile or so and then looped back up to Skyline via Star Hill/Swett Road. Why? Because we needed to figure out if it will be possible, next Tuesday, to see the Tour of California on Tunitas Creek and then catch them again at Sky Londa. The result? Tough call! It took us almost 19 minutes from Tunitas to Sky Londa, and that's using a shortcut that eliminates a number of miles and a fair amount of climbing compared to the racers. My rough calculation is that they might take 22 minutes to finish Tunitas, head down the other side to 84, and then back up. Googlemaps says 6.2 vs 11.4 miles. I think it's possible. If we say that the racers are going to chew up 4 miles of Kings in 6 minutes, that leaves 4 miles at 20mph (climbing 84)... 12 minutes there... and 3 miles at 25mph... 7 minutes or so. 25 minutes! I think that can be done!!! Of course, that doesn't give much time to see the leaders go by and then pack up your gear and motor out of Dodge. If you assume two minutes for them to go by, and you're only taking photos of the leaders, maybe you can pack your gear in that second minute? That leaves 23 minutes. Still cutting things really close!

BACK TO OUR REGULARLY-SCHEDULED RIDE- With the Tour of California "detour" out of our way it was a dry run to the Sky Londa sprint, gamely contested by Karen, followed by a fairly-easy trip down 84 to West-side Old LaHonda. I felt terrible on Old LaHonda and assumed I was going to get shelled, but somehow did a yo-yo thing and stayed close to the fast guys.

05/11/10- NO PHOTOS TODAY- TOO FAST! Well, maybe not for the other guys, but for me, too cold (about 46 degrees, and I'm "comfortable" at that temperature, just can't breathe well), too fast (it's the Tuesday version of the ride, after all, with the faster pace) and anything more than a couple guys and it's too many for me to remember. But I'll try. Kevin, Karl, Mark P, Robert, Eric. I held up with the faster guys as far as the park entrance before blowing up, after which I became pretty inconsistent; strong pace for a bit followed by increasing periods of imitating a car running on two cylinders (both in noise and speed!). It must seem a bit weird for Eric, who's amazingly consistent and rides at his own set pace, no-matter-what.

At the top of Kings I did my usual thing of heading south without stopping, hoping I could hold them off for a while, who knows, maybe even getting to Sky Londa ahead of them. Nothing doing today; it was all I could do to hang onto wheels as they came flying through. And with wet pavement placed strategically in corners on the descent, I wasn't going to be contesting the sprint either. But it was yet another beautiful morning on a bike, with great views of the coast from west-side Old LaHonda (as always).

05/09/10- THE PAYOFF CAME AT THE END OF THE RIDE TODAY! It wasn't much fun early on; waking up to rain (haven't we had enough of that?) and delaying the start of the ride from 9:30am to 11:30. Still a bit of drizzle, but not too bad as Kevin and I headed out through Woodside & Portola Valley before climbing up Page Mill. The last couple miles of Page Mill had me questioning the wisdom of continuing on to the coast as we rode up into a pretty nasty fog and the temperature quickly dropped from the upper-50s to 46. Kevin apparently didn't hear me tell him to bring some long-fingered gloves (and apparently didn't have the sense to bring them on his own), so one of us developed some pretty cold fingers... that would be the one labeled "Dad" who gave up his gloves for the one labeled "son." Funny how that works.

The descent down West Alpine would have been a lot more fun if not for the wet pavement and cold, and then came that long run to San Gregorio into a headwind. OK, so I'll admit that, up to this point, the ride hadn't been that much fun, and Kevin, while eating a sandwich from the San Gregorio General Store, was asking where the button was that you pushed to be instantly transported home. But once we got back on the bikes, the skies cleared, it warmed up, and somehow, both of us felt really, really good. By that I mean that nasty climb up Stage Road to the coast flew by, and Tunitas? We were on record pace until...

... until about a mile from the top, where we came across a bunch of sawhorses across the road with a "road closed" sign attached. ???  And no "detour" sign previously, which might have directed us up Swett Road. So we figure, this ought to be good, and squeeze through the barriers and head on up the road. Just around the corner, there it is, a huge tree across the road, plus branches and crud. It literally took about 5 minutes to get through. Sp much for our potentially-record time getting up the hill! But it was worth it; you don't see something like this very often, and it wasn't lost on us that, by car or motorcycle, there'd be no way to get through. But by bike? No problem, just practice a bit of Cyclo-cross technique and you're good.

The world really does go by at just the right speed on a bike!

05/06/10- YEAH, MAYBE, BUT I'VE GOT SAMUEL L. JACKSON ON MY SIDE, SO DON'T MESS WITH ME! No, I'm not talking about the mano-a-mano sprint at the end of the ride this morning with Chris. I'm talking about the very odd dream I had just before the ride.

It's like this. Somehow (in my dream) I stumbled upon a new bike shop in a shopping center maybe half a mile from where I live (no such place really exists). Grand opening, hundreds of people there, so I go inside and I'm blown away to find that Trek is selling bikes to them. As if I haven't done enough for Trek the past 25 years in this area (again, this is my dream speaking). To say I'm not too happy about this is an understatement! I go through the shop, amazed at its size and all the cool stuff they've got, kind of depressed that they figured out how to do a lot of things better than I have, but mostly angry. Then, for some reason, I wake up at about 6:45am. No way, can't end like this! So I go back to sleep, the dream resumes (yes, really) and I go in search of the one and only Samuel L. Jackson. The version of Samuel L. Jackson as seen in Pulp Fiction. I even remember him smelling of cigarette smoke. I explain to him that my life is in my shop, and this is threatening everything. You can imagine what I had in mind. You wonder if even writing about it could put you on a TSA no-fly list. And then the alarm goes off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No finale, no earth-shatting Ka-Boom! That is an honest, exact retelling of that dream. I hardly believe it myself.

OK, time for the ride report. I didn't feel exactly peppy leaving the house, which might have been the letdown from the dream not getting a chance to finish. You just can't leave a guy hanging like that!!! But duty calls, and even though no mere bike ride could possibly touch that dream, it had to try. Karl, Kevin, Karen, Chris, Eric and Marcus heading up the hill this morning, up through the park (which, again, Kevin believes to be easier than straight up Kings... he's nuts, but then again, he's the King right now, having won his race a week ago). At the top I headed straight to Sky Londa while they regrouped a bit, and I managed to keep up enough speed to hold them off. I think Chris was surprised when I explained that I do rough calculations to figure out if I can stay away; basically, estimating the lead I've got and figure if a 2mph differential (reasonable) will allow me to stay away. That means looking back and thinking, how long would it take someone, walking, to cover that distance?

Things were pretty civilized (it is the slightly-slower Thursday ride, after all), and we made sure that nobody got "lost" on the descent... no wondering where Karl, or anybody else was today. The final sprint was a repeat of Tuesday, with Chris and I going at it like two stupid dogs racing after a deer, not caring that there's a fence at the end that the deer can jump over while you plow into it. In other words, we both carried it all the way to the end, and trouble is, there is no real "end" to the sprint at Albion/Olive Hill. There's no line, just that stop sign that bekons you to go from full-on to a stop in a nanosecond. As if. But it is getting fun again, sprinting with Chris. I refuse to "go tactical" and draft at first, waiting for him to tire a bit and go around, because that's not going to get me any faster. Plus that side-by-side thing is fun, watching each wheel take turns in front of the other with each pedal stroke. We're pretty evenly matched... for now. I supsect it won't be long before Chris just waves good-bye to me and takes off.

05/04/10- NICER WEATHER BRINGS HOPE OF BETTER TIMES AHEAD! In this case, quite literally better times! It wasn't exactly warm this morning; still needed leg warmers and a light base layer, but no long-fingered gloves or booties. And far enough from wet weather that you really didn't have to worry about running into water unexpectedly while descending. About time!

Karl, Robert, Chris, George and I'm forgetting who else came along but didn't ride the distance. Since it was a Tuesday it was expected to be a bit faster paced, and it lived up to its expectations. I did what I could on the climb, which was about 40 seconds better than I've done lately, finishing Kings in 27:34, giving me the slightest amount of hope that it's possible to get back under 27 in a month or so. 26:50 would sound so much faster, you know? But that effort was enough to kill my legs for the run on Skyline, where I was dropped and rode solo about 2/3rds of the way. Not quite so bad on the run up west-side Old LaHonda, although I got that feeling (again) that Karl was toying with me, a human yo-yo only this one on the most-fragile of strings.

But the really nice thing was being able to drive it through some of the corners descending 84. That was a new feeling, and very welcome. Not quite so good was not noticing that Karl had dropped off the back a bit and we just kept on driving the pace, led by Chris, who had gone into his infamous moto-pace daring us to hang on. How does he do that? At least he did pay for his effort, as the final sprint on Albion was a dead heat, and I got the feeling he was definitely trying.

05/02/10- EVER BEEN SURPRISED BY YOUR KIDS? I mean, when they excel at something you don't expect? Yesterday it was my daughter selling Project One bikes, which of course comes as no surprise to her, being an ultra-confident 22 year old (Remember what that was like? Before that reality show called "life" knocked you down a few notches and made you a bit more humble?). And today it was my son, who, 45 miles into what was supposed to be a pretty challenging 71 mile ride, tells me that that's not enough, he wants more.

The original plan was to ride the foothills (looping through Woodside, Portola Valley, Los Altos) before heading up 9 via Redwood Gulch, then north on Skyline, take West Alpine out to the coast and up Tunitas. I wasn't thinking that was a wimp ride, y'know? But maybe he was inspired by the big relay running event/race today that took pretty much the same route, including Redwood Gulch and 9. Whatever it was, we're sitting up at 9 & 35 eating a hot dog (yes, you read that right, a hot dog on a bike ride, but there wasn't much choice given our route, which didn't take us past any other places to eat) and Kevin says he doesn't want to do Tunitas again, he wants something different and more challenging.

So I do some quick mental calculations, and figure that we could head down to Boulder Creek, get some food & water there and then head up Bear Creek to Summit (which is what Skyline Blvd/35 is called in the area around Highway 17) and then head north all the way to Sky Londa and back down into Woodside. It would add about 20 miles and a bit more climbing, and would probably put him on the ropes climbing Bear Creek, basically being on the "wrong" side of a hill that's a long way from home. I laid all that out for him, and it just didn't matter, that's what he wanted to do. And it played out pretty much as I expected, with him on the ropes on the upper stretches of Bear Creek and the climbing part of Summit. But once we got past that climb on Skyline just north of Page Mill, his 3rd or 4th wind kicked in and he was flying again.

91 miles, 8090ft of climbing, mid-70 temps, pretty strong but not oppressive winds. All in all, a great day on a bike.

04/29/10- A BEAUTIFUL MORNING, THERE SHOULD BE PHOTOS, BUT NO WAY TO TAKE THEM WHEN YOU'RE "ON THE RIVET" as I was this morning. Big group, 9 of us, I'll try to list as many as I can... Marcus, Dario, Kevin, Karl, Eric, Robert, James... that's 8 including myself, missing one. Maybe someone will read this and help me out? Not wet, but pretty cool at 41 degrees. Let's stress that "not wet" part again. I like "not wet." It's nice to be able to ride through corners and not worry about water causing your wheels to slip. I'm still not entirely trusting of consistent traction, but I'm getting there. Ah, the 9th rider. Mike! I just re-lived the final sprint and remembered who it was that I had to chase down.

I'm hoping we see more of James, a Chain Reaction employee from the way-back days, who's now a Cat-1 rider for Webcor. Nice guy and really fast. I wasn't quite able to chase him down on the Skyline sprint, and for the finale on Albion/Olive Hill, he took off hard, well ahead of the sprint point, as Karl so often likes to do. No chance that I could get to him; I have about 30 seconds of gas in the tank so the best way to neutralize me for a sprint is to burn me up just prior.

And yes, I'm really looking forward to warmer mornings too. Somewhere above 58 degrees or so I start to breath normally again, and the limiting factor in climbing can be my legs and not my lungs. This weekend should be one of those times!

04/27/10- THANK GOODNESS FOR ERIC! Yes, another morning of rain, and, while I had no trouble getting up in time and out the door (got all the wet-weather gear ready ahead of time), once I put my feet to the pedals, it was clear that my body just wasn't into it this morning. That's where Eric (the only person who showed up this morning, and that's probably only because it wasn't raining yet when he had left his house) comes in. Accountability. I have to show up and ride because there might be others silly enough to be out there as well, and it wouldn't be right to have them waiting for me and not show up.

I found out something else about Eric this morning too. Turns out that he gets to the start early and heads part way up Kings and back before heading out with the group. I am feeling so inadequate... Eric does that, Kevin goes swimming for an hour before the start, and on Tuesdays we usually get some guys who had already done the grueling "morning" ride out of Palo Alto. And I'm just trying to hang on.

Fortunately, while it was raining, it wasn't nearly as cold as the weather forecasters predicted. Low-to-mid-50s just isn't that bad, and if you do start to feel a bit cool (like when your gloves have soaked through), you just pick up the pace for a bit. Still, I'm going to be really happy to not have any more rain rides for a while, and I even put my rain bike down in the garage tonight after seeing that the long-range forecast looks clean. So obviously, if it now rains, I caused it by putting away my bike.

04/25/10- ON A BEAUTIFUL DAY LIKE THIS, SUNNY & NEAR-80 DEGREES, HOW YOU CAN BELIEVE IT'S GOING TO RAIN IN LESS THAN 48 HOURS? It just doesn't get a whole lot nicer than it was today, nice everywhere... in Woodside, on Skyline, La Honda, Stage Road along the coast, climbing West Alpine... everywhere. It's hard to break the habit of stuffing a wind breaker into your seat bag and wearing leg warmers, almost seeming like you're thumbing your nose at nature. But the weather folk say that "nature" is seeking revenge in just a couple days... notably a significant storm scheduled to hit just hours before the regular Tuesday/Thursday-morning ride. Just as I was about to put my rain bike back in storage. My bikes are getting a bit confused, especially with the new bike that's been added to the stable, my Bike Friday Pocket Rocket Pro, a folding bike that's going to be my machine in France (and the bike that I used again today, trying to get settled into it and making sure this is really going to work).

Today's ride with my son was the "reverse" coastal loop with West Alpine as a kicker. Up Old LaHonda, where we saw quite a few other cyclists out, many on bikes we've sold (which always makes me feel good, because it's great to see that we not only sell bikes, but that they're ridden too!). Not as fast up the hill as last week, but I think Kevin was holding back a bit, remembering how he flamed out late in that ride. Then down the other side all the way to San Gregorio, running into the usual headwind (which did surprise me a bit, as I was thinking that such warm weather implied an offshore flow). Kevin pulled for the first third of the way into the headwind, before I took over and picked up the pace the rest of the way. Kevin seemed to have no ethical issues about sucking my wheel until just before the San Gregorio sprint sign... I had nothing left in the tank to contest it.

Doing this loop reverse (counter-clockwise) makes Stage Road seem easier, but you pay dearly for that on the run from Pescadero to West Alpine. That part is just not a whole lot of fun, with the "junk" climbs after the first couple of miles before hitting the real hill at the YMCA camp. Haskins Grade it's called, and it seems to be calling at you for-ever! But the truth is that a cyclist in reasonable shape climbs that final section in just over ten minutes, so how bad can it really be? Inevitably, it always seems worse than the numbers would indicate!

By the time we got to West Alpine Kevin was pretty tired, and even wondered briefly if I'd entertain the idea of heading back via 84 instead, but this was a day to stick to the plan (as, for me, most days are). The first section was pretty tough on him, but he started coming back on the last half. Once up on Skyline you get that feeling that tough part is over, but not until first marveling at the "Vista Point" overlooking the Bay, with a "Vista" almost entirely obscured by a zillion parked cars. Something just didn't seem too attractive about the "Vista" today... partly because it seemed like people who drove to see it didn't earn it like we did.

Nothing really fast; that will come later. For now, it was a solid 67 mile ride with about 6300 ft of climbing. That was Part A. Part B started half an hour after our return, when I went out with my wife on an 18 mile ride out to Portola Valley & back. About 85 miles total for me today, including a whole lot of sun (which I'm feeling a bit) and legs that definitely have that "yes you've been climbing" feeling when you walk down steps. I live for that feeling!

04/22/10- JUST TWO DAYS AGO IT WAS COLD & RAINING with just one other crazy person showing up for the ride, and then today? Beautiful clear skies, still a bit cool but nicely warming up as the ride went on, and almost no water on the road!

Eric, Karl, Marcos, Kevin (not pilot Kevin) and new-guy really-old-guy Robert W, who I used to race with back in the 70s. Pretty sure there was one more person enjoying the morning with us, but whatever oxygen I can get through my lungs is pretty much entirely diverted to my legs, leaving not much left for the brain. We rode up through the park which, amazingly enough, had an open gate at the bottom... first time in a couple years for that! Not sure how long it took since I'd forgotten to recharge my Garmin computer, but my secondary computer, which keeps track of overall time and average speeds, showed 16.2mph at the end, so it must not have been too slow.

Right now we've got a spectacular weather forecast for this weekend, highs possibly reaching 80 degrees! But for the regular Tuesday/Thursday ride, hard to believe but presently, the forecast is for rain. Ever get the idea that nature is toying with you?

04/20/10- WHAT WAS GEORGE HINCAPIE DOING IN MY BATHROOM? The weather people were right; it was wet. Not drenching, soaking wet, just wet. Wet roads (thankfully wet enough that traction was consistent) and a fairly-steady drizzle coming down. Just Kevin showed up, and had to wait a couple minutes for me as I ran late, having to struggle getting a bottie on that had a broken zipper (note to self: Don't buy booties with zippers! Velcro only). Just two minutes late, but for me, that's simply wrong. We leave when my Garmin GPS says it's 7:45am!

I was able to take the rain jacket off at the start of the ride, which surprised Kevin, but as I explained to him, getting my weight up the hill takes a lot of effort, which generates a lot of heat, so the light rain is likely to evaporate before it even hits my jersey! Besides, it didn't seem as cold as they said it would be. But life is all about circumstances and, if you believe in such things, fate. Kevin had started talking about a health & fitness email he'd gotten from his employer (insert the name of the only domestic legacy carrier that hasn't yet gone bankrupt here) that said 2/3rds of americans were overweight. And I'm thinking yeah, I've got a few pounds to shed... and shortly thereafter I flatted. Classic snake bite, the type of puncture you get when your tire bottoms out on something because either there's not enough air in the tire (there was plenty), or simply too much load (me). And in those few minutes up on Skyline, in the drizzle, having removed our gloves to change the tire, it got cold. You don't notice it until you start riding again, and your gloves, where were simply wet before, are now cold & wet.

The solution is to get your body working again, and for once I was thankful for that couple miles of flat to slightly-uphill on Skyline. That, combined with the into-the-headwind run down the backside of 84 was good enough to get me comfortable again, such that when we finally hit a cloudburst coming down the other side of 84 into Woodside, it wasn't so bad.

Oh, that "George" thing in the bathroom? That was my reflection on the mirror, after having picked up a fair amount of mud, dirt & debris on the ride. It reminded me of the classic picture of George during Paris Roubaix one wet & messy year. Well OK, I didn't look quite that bad...

04/20/10 Part 2- MISFORTUNE MIXED WITH RELIEF this afternoon. Last night I was mentioning to my wife that we hadn't seen a particular customer, Kathy F, in some time. I was concerned that something might have happened to her, or perhaps she had a very unfortunate experience with us and was going elsewhere. She's been a long-time customer of ours, extraordinarily-nice person (as all of our customers are!)(the vast majority truly are)(really), someone who had been expanding her adventures on her bike, actually starting to race triathlons. So this morning I'm looking through my laptop to see if I had an email address for her (What, call her up on the phone???) but no, nothing in the system. And then, this afternoon, she walks in the door, and with quite the story to tell. Back in September she'd gone to Australia for a triathlon, and during a no-drafting event, was overtaken by a pack of guys, one of whom ran into her and caused her to crash. Hard. Broken helmet, and a leg injury that put her in an Aussie hospital for 40 days!!! It's going to be a long recovery and even walking doesn't seem to be without some pain, but at least it is a recovery, and I'm just so thankful that we dropped in to let me know she was still around.

And it was such an amazing coincidence too. One of those things where it just wouldn't sound real, except that I've got several "witnesses" whom I had talked with about her in the past day.

04/19/10- RAIN TOMORROW MORNING? HOW? Sure, it sounds like denial, but c'mon, walk outside, it's still fairly warm, you can still see the stars, and if you check the forecast, it shows "cloudy" at 3:30am and "rain" at 4am. No showers in-between, not even "light" rain. I've done my part to prevent it though, bringing up my rain bike from the garage, getting out my wet-weather gear, and generally resigning myself to a ride in the rain. It that can't stop it, nothing can.

04/18/10- FIRST PROOF-OF-CONCEPT RIDE FOR MY BIKE FRIDAY... AND IT PASSED! But on a day as nice as this was, how could anything (on a bike) be a failure? This was Kevin's first "real" ride since before he left for a school trip to France, about... wow, 4 weeks! Just had to scroll down and check the diary entries. We also had Burt from our Redwood City store riding with us, a good thing because Burt is an incredibly-steady rider which, I figured, would help smooth out the pace and allow Kevin to survive a pretty tough ride- the coastal loop via Old LaHonda, Haskins Grade to Pescadero, Stage Road and Tunitas Creek.

Unfortunately, Kevin had other ideas about moderation, and when he saw that I was in a bit of difficulty on Old LaHonda, he took off. This was a new experience for me; I could keep him close but simply could not catch him. He was in the zone, heavily motivated by the number of other rider out on Old LaHonda and trying to pass as many as he could. Me? I was getting used to the new bike, and it definitely climbs differently than my trusty Trek Madone. In fact, for a while, I was wondering if the Bike Friday was going to work out. Kevin finished in about 24:30, a minute or so off his best time, but considerably faster than I expected to see him do today.

By the time we got to Haskins Grade, on our way to Pescadero, I was getting the hang of the new bike, and Kevin was showing signs of being mortal. In other words, I could hold him off on the climb if I wished, and he was riding at a similar speed to Burt.

Did I tell you how beautiful the weather was? By the time we got to the coast, it was in the low-70s! But of course, as we approached the coast, we were met by a headwind, to which the Bike Friday responded admirably. By that I mean it felt good powering into the wind on the relatively-flat terrain. You pushed hard on the pedals and it went. None of that squishy vague feeling you'd expect from a folding bike.

The Pescadero Bakery had something new this time- chocolate muffins! I asked if they were low-fat low-calorie and the clerk said something like "You're a cyclist; you can eat anything!" I wish.

It was on Stage Road where I really started to feel comfortable on the Bike Friday, climbing the two hills pretty easily. Kevin was still feeling pretty good, and Burt was, as expected, consistent. I think he could go forever at a decent pace! But by the time we got to the steeper section of Tunitas, Kevin was cooked. Big surprise! Burt rode on up ahead for a bit while Kevin struggled, but once we got to the upper section where it levels out quite a bit, Kevin started to get back in the groove.

The real surprise (for me) came on the Kings Mtn descent back into Woodside. For the first time, I really felt comfortable descending on the new bike. For the first time, I felt like everything was coming together, and this bike really will work on my trip to France in July.

57 miles, 6083ft of climbing. That was part#1 of my day. Upon my return home, it was time to go out on another ride, this time with my wife, who's got a Trek e-bike (power-assist). That was another 18.25 miles, 1100ft of climbing, so in the end I had a fairly decent day, racking up 75 miles on the Bike Friday and getting in quite a bit of sun. Let's hope the sun lasts!

04/15/10- TAX DAY SHOULD BE... TAXING? It's still colder than I'd like, and there's still wet spots on the descents, but at least it's sunny out! Karl, Mike, Kevin and Chris out this morning, with Kevin supposedly taking it easy ahead of his race Saturday morning at Sea Otter. We climbed up through the park, then Kevin & Chris took off up the hill while Karl & Mike took it easy behind, leaving me alone in the middle. All of these guys can out-climb me pretty dramatically, which makes it almost cruel when they put me in the middle and I know that, at any time, the guys behind could have me for lunch. Remember, this is what I do for fun. (?)

Very nice having Chris out there with us this morning, ripping along the top of Skyline at speeds we don't normally see. Fortunately, he was fairly mellow on the climb up West-side Old LaHonda, giving me a chance to get the obligatory photo of the mass of green Webcor jerseys obscuring the view of the coast.

I'm still a bit dodgy on the descents, worried about water, but I'm starting to get faster at being dodgy. That's a good thing; eventually there needs to be balance in the world such that I can catch them on the descents after they drop me on the climbs. Meanwhile, there's still sprinting... or is there? I was having a bit of fun with Chris on the final sprint, almost casually talking to him while at nearly full power, and didn't notice Mike coming up on the other side until it was too late. Dumb! Next time, I won't be so chatty.

04/13/10- NO TIME FOR PHOTOS, IT'S TIME TO FLY! While the weather still isn't cooperating, the speeds on the Tuesday/Thursday-morning ride are definitely picking up. We're still not seeing guys fly off the front on Kings, posting sub-25-minute times, but that will come soon enough. But the days of 30 minutes up the hill are long behind us, and the run on Skyline and west-side Old LaHonda has gotten hotter. To put things in perspective, a middle-of-winter average speed for the ride might be in the mid-14s, but we're running mid-16s now, with the threat of faster times ahead.

Pretty large group this morning, including Kevin, Karl, Eric, Karen, Mike, Marcus, John and I'm sure there was at least one more but I'm blanking on who it was. I managed to get up the hill in exactly 28 minutes which, of course, is extremely frustrating. 27-something is so much better, even if it's 27:58, y'know? 42 degrees up on top so it's still pretty cool, but you don't notice when you're trying to stay on that wheel in front of you. What remains annoying is the water though. This wet stuff... I'd really like it to be a thing of the past. Soon. Besides making a mess of the bike, it makes descending really tense. I'm ready for summer.

If all goes well, Sunday will be the first real test of my BikeFriday "Pocket Rocket", a folding bike meant to get around the outrageous airline bike fees and yet still capable of climbing the Pyrenees in France. Should be interesting!

04/11/10- YEAH, COULD HAVE RIDDEN PRIMAVERA, but it was easy to figure it would be really messy in the rain, plus I wouldn't be able to see the end of the Paris Roubaix classic bicycle race. So instead I waste an opportunity to ride before the rain hit, eat breakfast with the family, and watch the skies steadily darken and the wind gradually increase. At some point I decided there was no point going out until it did rain, since it was coming in fast. And the skies soon obliged; a steady light rain began shortly, so it was time to get out there. (Just me; my son is finally getting over a sinus infection, nothing that would have kept me from riding but...)

I wasn't even considering riding up to Skyline and destroying another set of brake shoes coming back down. Instead I did a creative loop down towards Los Altos and back, just 35 miles, but some of it pretty hard. Most notable was the return up Sand Hill; on the second part, the climb from 280 to the top, where I'm thinking, I can punch this, I can hold to a fast pace from bottom-to-top. It's not that long, it can't be that bad. It really doesn't look like it's that big a hill, but about a third of the way up and I'm passed by a car and notice that it's taking that car quite a bit of time to get to the top! Uh-oh. But I did manage to keep the pace high all the way, my lungs desperately gasping for air. What I didn't consider was how much sweat was going to get washed into my eyes from the rain!

So I get home from my ride feeling pretty good about 2 hours 15 minutes in the rain at a pretty hard pace, leaving my bike in the backyard so it will drain, wringing my socks out in the sink and tossing everything straight into the washer, and then later on get an email from a good customer (Joel K) who did ride the Primavera 100K. Well, it's a good thing when my customers put me in my place once in a while!

04/08/10- 16.1, 16.2, 16.3... WHAT'S IN A NUMBER? Everything! But we'll get to that in a minute. Kevin, Karl, Eric, Marcus on a bit-warmer morning than Tuesday. Warm enough that I never even glanced at the temperature, but I'm guessing it was in the high-40s to low-50s. Kevin suggested heading up though the park and after feeling pretty good on Tuesday's ride, I figured, why not? I survived the steeper sections better than expected but no way could I keep up with the pace of Kevin & Marcus, at least not past the half-way point. Karl and Eric were hanging out behind a bit and when I couldn't hang onto the rear wheels of the fastest dogs, it didn't take long before they came across my shattered remains. Karl has this sadistic thing going though, and decided to play with me, seeing if he could get my speed up a bit and then drop me. It worked. But I did manage to get up in under 30 minutes which, when heading up through the park, is respectable (for me).

On top I just kept on going, managing somehow to stay ahead, and set up to take video of the three of them (just three now; Marcus had headed home once up on Skyline) at the Sky Londa sprint. But with only three of them, it's not terribly impressive, and fairly predictable... Karl's the man.

West-side Old LaHonda was its usual beautiful self, our own little paradise visited only by us and an occasional rabbit. Of course, most wouldn't consider "paradise" to be a place where people make you suffer as you claw your way back up to Skyline! But it works for me. And even better is when the roads are dry enough that you start to feel comfortable descending again.

Oh, about those numbers. Normally, on the Tuesday version of the ride, I'll average about 16.4mph door-to-door. The Thursday version is generally a bit slower, around 15.8-16.0mph. This morning, as I was heading back home, I noticed my average speed was 16.1, then 16.2, then 16.3... and finished up at 16.4mph. A good, solid ride, one which I felt in my legs throughout the day. What more can you ask for?

04/06/10- I CAN'T EXPLAIN WHY I FELT PRETTY GOOD THIS MORNING, but that's a whole lot better than the other way around! It was pretty cool (41-42 degrees climbing the hill and up on top) and it had been five days since I'd been on the bike, so I expected to feel not-so-good. But the climb up Kings wasn't terrible (wasn't too fast either, but speed isn't everything)(???), and at the top, I regrouped with the rest instead of continuing on. We had George, Eric, Karl, Karen, Chris and Kevin's friend whose name I forget yet again (Marcus). No Kevin; rumor has it that he was working.

The really exciting thing was that we're almost getting into predictable dry pavement again. Today there was still some seepage from the hillsides, but not so much that I couldn't put the relatively-new bike through its paces and really appreciate the way you can stand on the pedals or push it through the corners and it just does what you want it to do. The cornering is still going to take some time to get back up to full speed, as I got pretty spooked by the slick pavement over the past few months, but today, the bike just had that magical feeling from time to time, that feeling that you've got a throttle you can twist and it will leap forward. Not when climbing; that's way too much for me to wish for at this point!

04/05/10- NO, DIDN'T RIDE SUNDAY although there was an opportunity to get in something before the rain hit. But with a big sale that starts tomorrow night and a lot of prep that comes ahead of that, things just didn't work out. Yes, I'll pay for that tomorrow morning! And the very cold temps aren't going to help either. Tomorrow could actually end up being the coldest ride of the year... and it's April! What's with that?

Meantime, if you haven't signed up yet for our e-list, you might think about doing so quickly. The sale that starts tomorrow night and runs until 9pm (two hours later than we normally close) is invitation-only, and the only way to get an invitation is via the e-list. If you sign up, you should be getting a return email within an hour or two with the details. If you can't get to a computer in time (which would be strange, since you're reading this on one), we can sign you up in the store. It will be worth your while!

04/01/10- NO RAIN! This time of year, when the alarm goes off at 7:05am on Tuesday & Thursday mornings, the first thing I do is open up the shade a bit and check to see if the street is damp. I had set up both bikes last night, the rain bike and my new Madone, and was really hoping I could ride the Madone. Hmm. Kind of marginal. Streets slightly wet but looked like they were drying fast as the sun came up. Went out to the kitchen to see what Skyline looked like... and once again, marginal is the word that comes to mind. And I was thinking about how nice it was on Sunday, after having cleaned the drivetrain on the Madone, how smoothly it rode and shifted. Did I want to muck everything up by taking out the nice bike?

So I started to pull the rain bike (my older Trek 5900) away from the wall, and then put it back again. I'd take my chances, hoping the roads weren't too wet, on the Madone. And the roads weren't too wet, and heading up over the hill to the start of the ride, I felt much better than I'd felt in many weeks, maybe months. Of course, feeling good tends to be relative, at least when you're riding with others, and today it was Eric, Karl, Karen and Mike. Eric was deliberately taking it easy, since it's just a few days before the Coperoopolis Road Race, but the others had no such plans and headed up the hill pretty quickly. I hung on for a while and then decided it made sense to hang back with Eric, which should have been fine except that I decided first to let the others get quite a lead on me and then bridged the gap back up to them... a mid-climb interval that left me so wiped out it was all I could do to hang on Eric's wheel when he came by. When we got to the top I just kept on going, as usual, hoping they'd catch me before it became a game of me trying to stay off the front all the way to Sky Londa. I think they have fun letting me dangle off the front like that, like a fish attached to them with an invisible string that they could reel in anytime they choose to, while I have a temporary illusion that, if I ride hard enough, I can keep away. Just like the fish probably thinks when given some line.

Overall a very nice morning to be out on a bike. Sure, I wish it were a bit warmer (41 degrees up on top), and sure, I wish there was no water on the roads at all. And while I'm at it, sure, I wish I were faster and my lungs worked better. But the bit about being faster and lungs working better... it really woudln't make much difference at all in terms of how much I enjoy being out on a bike. Because that's just it. I enjoy being out on a bike. As much now, at 54, as I did when I was young & stupid & had no future (but could climb like a rocket) at 16. And that's what matters.

03/30/10- WHERE WAS EVERYBODY? Actually, they could have been there, and left before me; I arrived four minutes late, due to a couple things I forgot to do the night before, like put the correct pedals back on my rain bike (my son had been using it, so it had his Look pedals instead of either the SPD or Speedplays I use) and attach a pump to it. It wasn't that bad out there; wet, yes, but not getting wetter, just a light drizzle, a little mist on Skyline, and, thankfully, fairly good traction (it had rained hard enough previously to wash the oil off the pavement). I did check the road for signs that others had been out before me, but no tire tracks to be found. It was actually nice enough out that I'd wished I'd brought the camera. Maybe next time.

03/28/10- HOW OLD DID SHE THINK I WAS/THAT WAS NOT MY SON RIDING WITH ME TODAY! My son, Kevin (not the Kevin who's the pilot, nor the Kevin who owns the tatoo parlor) is in France on a school trip, so I did something I should have done earlier in the year and asked if Brian, a Chain Reaction alumnus who I used to ride with from time to time, might like to head out to the coast. And even though Brian's not a morning person, he had no problem leaving at 9am (I'm lucky to get my son on the road by 11). Beautiful morning to ride to the coast, and hard to believe it's supposed to be raining in just a couple of days!

Along the way I pointed out some of the things that might have changed since the last time Brian rode that way, including the removal of the machine-gun-man (and woman) from the house on Stage Road, the the newly-righted Mastadon in the field just a couple miles before Pescadero.

As could be predicted, there were quite a few others out on the road today, even on the far side of the hill. Many were still looking for the tunnel as they climbed Tunitas Creek. I'll never tell. About 60 miles and just over 6,000ft of climbing, so technically considered a "tough" ride, but on a day as nice as this, it was exceptionally pleasant.

After getting home from ride#1, it was time to head back out the door for ride#2 with my wife. This was also my first chance to put a few miles on the new BikeFriday I'm probably going to take to France this July, in an attempt to avoid the ridiculous $200 each way charge that United is levying on bikes. Everything was going fine until the end, heading over Jefferson, when she kicked the electric-assist into high gear and it was all I could do to try and stay on her tail, doing about 16mph instead of the usual 13 that I'd max out at. Oh sure, I could have dropped off, but not when she kept asking if I was OK or if she should slow down! So the total for the day came to 77 miles and 7600ft of climbing. I can live with that.

03/25/10- I THOUGHT THE RAIN WAS GONE. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE GONE. BUT IT WASN'T GONE. Maybe I cause the rain? It certainly has a way of finding me. This morning started out nicely; a bit cool, roads a bit damp from the drizzle during the night, but the sun was trying to come out. John, Eric & Kevin this morning; Karl not being present a potentially ominous sign, because he pretends to be more reasonable than the rest of us, and may have known what was coming.

Nice, easy pace through the park for a change (but if I even mention I'd rather not go through the park, Eric accuses me of whining), but once up on Skyline, it got a bit cooler, down to 42, and a bit darker. Descending into Sky Londa found wet pavement, and the ride down the west side of 84 saw me heading to the front (not my usual place) so I could work a bit harder and stay warm. Still just light drizzle, if even that. It was the climb up west-side Old LaHonda that things took a change for the worse, starting with John's flat tire. A couple minutes into changing it, the drizzle changed to honest rain. Sigh.

03/25/10- FINALLY GOT MY LIFE INSURANCE TEST RESULTS BACK and looks like I'm still breathing. Well actually, breathing is the one thing I don't do well, but that's simply a case of exercise-induced asthma that kicks in at lower temps. LDL is 115, HDL 39, PSA .33, a full battery of Kidney tests all at the very good side of normal, Glucose 84, Triglycerides (which supposedly predict coronary artery disease) at 76 (a problem if over 150), negative screens for Leukocyte & Hemoglobin. So maybe I'll live a bit longer. Now what I need to do is find the results for my last blood panel (10 years ago) and see how they compare.

So maybe I'll keep on riding. Seems to be working, so far. :-)

03/24/10- BAD DAD? My kids are on their way to France today (school trip)(tough life being a student), so I looked up the same flight from yesterday on to get an idea of how long it would take etc. Well, yesterday's UA #914 spent a fair amount of time crossing the Atlantic at Mach 1.02. For those unaware, Mach 1 is the speed of sound, and passenger jets (with the exception of the now-defunct SST) aren't designed for that sort of speed. So as they're getting on the plane, I texted them about yesterday's flight across the pond, and mentioned in passing that passenger jets start to break up at about Mach .97. Ended the message with a :(  .

Then paused a bit, and sent a follow-up saying, "Unless there's a killer tailwind." And included a :-) smiley.

The flight from IAD (DC) to CDG (Paris) is only 6 hours in that direction right now. The return takes 8. So yes, I'd say there's a killer tailwind, no need to worry about the plane breaking up. In fact, they were listening to Channel 9 (on United, Channel 9 let's you hear the pilots talking to the traffic controllers), and it was being talked about right then. Darn. But I did almost have them convinced years back, when reading Calvin & Hobbes to them at night, that the world really was black & white in the early 30s.

03/23/10- WOULD HAVE GOTTEN TO THIS EARLIER, but had to get the kids ready for their school trip to France, and there were a bunch of loose ends to tie up (mainly relating to making sure they wouldn't run up $11,000 phone bills with their iPhones while there, and discovering at the last minute that my prior solution, Boingo, has changed their $10/month roam-anywhere WiFi plan... it's still $10/month but when overseas, there's an extra charge of $.12 to $.18 per minute which could add up really fast). But they're off (flight left Wednesday morning 9:20am) and yes, that means I've cheated and posted yesterday's date but I'm typing it today.

So the ride? The regular Tuesday version of the Tuesday/Thursday event, always just a bit faster than Thursdays, probably because George is there and that brings out a bit more testosterone in Kevin and the other fast guys. Karl, Kevin, George, Eric, Mike (who didn't ride all the way with us, or at least I think he disappeared somewhere) and one of Kevin's friends whose name I forget were out on a very nice, slightly-warmer morning. Still saw it go below 50F, but it's obvious warmer times are ahead, and by the end of the ride, it's very pleasant, leaving you thinking it would be nice to just keep on going. But there's that work thing that gets in the way.

At the top of Kings I just kept on going, like I've been doing most days lately, partly because I want to work on recovering from the effort of climbing Kings while still riding, not stopping, and partly because I don't want to get dropped if they pick up the pace! Plus there's the fun of trying to stay ahead of them all the way to Sky Londa, which also gives me the opportunity to pull off to the side of the road and record the sprint, as you can see here on youtube.

I've said it before, I'll say it again. Life goes by at exactly the right speed on a bike. This is just one more example, the view from Skyline Blvd (Highway 35), about a mile south of Sky Londa.

The cars have special scenic overlooks where they can pull over, turn off the engine, turn off (hopefully) the loud music, get out of their cars and enjoy the view, thankful that they can get in their car and drive to a place like this.

But on a bike, it's one continuous sweeping vista passing by at just the right speed. And it's not just the view that's spectacular, but also the experience of breathing air that hasn't been processed by a car's climate control system, and the sounds and feel of the gentle breezes through the grass and trees.

Today's ride got off to a later-than-planned start, as is often the case when riding with my son. It was about 11:30 by the time we got out on the road, and it wasn't long (less than a mile from home) before we had stopped to get rid of the leg warmers and were wishing we weren't wearing light base layers. As we headed towards Old LaHonda we were passed by maybe 15 Teslas of various colors, and Kevin remarked that we were looking at well over $1 million of machinery on the road. Next time someone complains about how much a nice bike costs...

Old LaHonda was as reliably nice & tough as ever, but on such a nice day I was surprised to not see more people on the climb! Once at the top we did the reverse coastal loop, going first through San Gregorio, then Stage Road to Pescadero and back via Haskins Grade... but added a kicker to it, heading up West Alpine to make it a bit tougher. But not apparently tough enough! When we got back Kevin quickly downloaded the ride from his Garmin computer to verify that it qualified as a "tough" ride (the definition being 1,000ft of climbing/10 miles). On a 66.7 mile ride, we missed the "required" amount of climbing by... 14 feet!!! Guess we should have gotten back out there and climbed some more.

03/18/10- I WAS REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS-MORNING'S RIDE and I can't quite explain why. Maybe because it's Thursday, and the Thursday edition is just a bit slower than Tuesday. Maybe it's because it's been getting warmer, although at 44 degrees in Woodside as we rode up Greer before the climb through the park (we took the longer, steeper detour this morning), the warmth of the day hadn't quite caught up to us yet. Whatever the reason, I wasn't disappointed. Especially as we had a couple of new riders this morning, Jan (as in Jan Ullrich, in other words, a guy) whose a friend of Kevin's, and Carlos, a sophomore from Stanford. The usual suspects were mostly there too; Kevin, Eric & Karl.

Most noteworthy on the ride this morning was passing some women from the Tibco racing team, who'd stopped for some reason on Tripp Road. I mentioned to Karl that there are various women's teams in the area, yet none show up for our regular ride. Putting things in perfect perspective, he said "That's because we're hacks." And of course, he's right.

I'm willing to say that Winter is behind us, two days early. We might have a few more days of rain here & there, but soon, I won't be concerned about finding water in the road around the next corner, or having to deal with my rain bike, or my wife complaining about the extra volume of cylcling clothes in the laundry (all the stuff needed to keep you warm when it's both raining and cold). Those days are past. Finally!

03/16/10- I MAY BE SLOW UP THE HILLS, BUT I CAN SURE SUCK A WHEEL WHEN I NEED TO! First really nice morning in quit some time, with almost no water on the pavement. Predictable traction, what a concept! And a big group to share that concept with. I'm going to miss calling some of them out, but I think we had Kevin, Kevin, Chris, Karl, John, Eric, George... there might have been someone else who didn't ride all the way with us. They took it "easy" up the hill, while I was doing my usual thing of grabbing for spare atoms of Oxygen to feed my noisy lungs. They were waiting for me at the top of Kings, but I turned the corner and just kept on going, at one point looking at the "9" mph showing on my computer and doing a rough calculation in my mind for how long it would be before they overtook me if they were riding at "11." I did make it all the way to the Skegg's parking lot, where I really hoped to find some reinforcements, perhaps Steve and Millo, to latch onto. No such luck, so I just grabbed a wheel as the group came past.

Chris went to the front and really picked the pace up on the final rise, and I remember thinking, almost out loud, that it's easier to stay on that wheel in front of you, no matter how fast it's going, than it is to try and keep up with it when you've been dropped. And I was just not in a mood to get dropped today, not on the flats or rollers or even the descents. I'm still a bit sketchy on the descents, nervous about water that might be running across the road just beyond that next corner, but I'm getting better.

Too bad wheel sucking doesn't work on steep climbs.

03/14/10- A WEEK OFF THE BIKE left me wondering how that first ride out to the coast would feel, how much the extra weight from too much not-great food and not-enough exercise while back in DC for the Bike Summit would affect me. Tough to say, because I think my son was affected even more; he hadn't done anything other than riding to school for two weeks! So it was somewhat surprising that he managed to get up Old LaHonda a bit faster than the last couple times (26-something, about 3 minutes off his best efforts, but better than the 28-somethings he's been riding lately), and continued to ride pretty strongly all the way out to Pescadero.

The original plan, a ride he'd devised himself, wasn't going to happen. I told him we needed to do a tough ride, and he thought he could pull off Old LaHonda, Pescadero, Tunitas, and then head back down 84 again and up West Alpine. But even I figured that was going to be too ambitious, so it was modified to skip Tunitas and, after doing Stage Road, we'd head up 84 to Alpine and go up from there. But even that was going to prove a bit much so instead we ended up ditching the West Alpine section and just went straight over 84 and home. Still 62 miles and a pretty good amount of climbing. Add another 12 miles with my wife at the end, and 74 miles doesn't seem like a bad accomplishment.

Sadly, just east of Pescadero we spotted one of the two prehistoric behemoths fallen in its field. You can see the two of them in the photo, with the fallen Mastadon (I think that's what they're called) in the background. First, the Flamingo House on Pescadero Road gets sold and most of the Flamingos removed. Then the machine-gun-man sculptures disappear from Stage Road (one of them later turning up at a house on 84), and now this. What's the world coming to? I guess it's all part of that thing where you get to tell your grandkids about the interesting things that used to be. And they'll probably be as bored or unappreciative as we were when our grandparents told us about such things. 

03/11/10- LATE-NIGHT REPORT FROM DC- It feels like it's been a long time since being home, but that's because we've been on our feet all day yesterday and today... but we accomplished what we came for. At the post-even reception tonight, Ray LaHood, the Ray LaHood, Secretary of the Department of Transportation, a very powerful person in DC... well, he stood on top of a table to address the standing-room-only crowd and announce that this was going to be the beginning of the age of the bicycle. Not in those exact words, but loudly, enthusiastically, and a recognition that the biggest-assault-ever on DC by bicyclists... hundreds and hundreds of them... people who had paid $500 apiece and often flown great distances for the opportunity to sell the issues to every single member of congress... he said we made a difference. A big difference! And I believe he was right.

This was the first time an administration official had surpassed the ranting superlatives of our own supporters in congress, primarily representatives Oberstar and Blumenauer. Sure, we've had various mid-level folk from government agencies tell us we had their support before, or suggest how we should go about achieving our goals. But this was different. Maybe it was his standing on the table. Maybe it was the packed hall. Maybe it was so many aspects of the cycling community all coming together for a common cause at just the right place and just the right time. But I think I'll stick with Ray LaHood standing on the table, addressing this huge room, without a microphone, telling us that, for the cyclists, and the role of the bicycle in helping with traffic congestion, health issues and practical transportation, tomorrow was going to be a better day than today. And it was only going to keep getting better.

My brother Steve, who you see in our Los Altos store, and his wife Teri were fearlessly (not really; it was their first time and there's some measure of doubt as you approach your first couple of congressional visits) hitting up their share of Senators and Representatives, while my daughter Becky and I were dealing with ours. It's an interesting experience, becoming a "mole person" as you go through the tunnels connecting the various parts of our capital. Now we know why so many here look like they haven't seen the sun in months. They haven't! And the endless treks from one office to another that would normally wear you down to the bone after a while? Not here, not now, as you're energized by the now-visible army of unpaid advocates for cycling all around you, people who, as they say, have no dog in this race (financially) but are there because they believe in the bicycle. Not to mention the progressive dealers, about 150 of them, who leave their busy shops and pay a lot of $$$ to work on something whose payback isn't always tangible, at least not for several years. Great dealers, and I'll mention a few of the locals here, Jeff Selzer of Palo Alto Bicycles & James Lucas at Calmar. Also, a bit to the north, we had Ray Posey from Ray's in Vacaville and Beth & Tom from B & L in Davis, and Jake Scheideman from St. Helena Cyclery. There should have been many, many more from the SF Peninsula. We'll work on that next year.

And now it's time to fly back home, to our shops in Redwood City and Los Altos, capably taken care of in our absence by Karen and her staff in Redwood City, and Amy and her staff in Los Altos, and get to work on all the little & big things that will make cycling better for those of us on the SF Peninsula.

--Mike & Steve Jacoubowsky

03/11/10- REPORT FROM MILLO ON THURSDAY'S RIDE (MIKE'S STILL IN DC) Does the T/Th ride happen when Mike’s in DC making the US safer for cyclists?  Does a tree falling in the forest make noise if no one hears it?  Absolutely!!  Only when Mike’s gone everybody takes it easy. I headed up the hill 12 minutes early as I have not been riding in forever and didn’t want to get chewed up and spat out the back on the first hill.  Was joined up at Skeggs look-out much later by Karen, Karl, Eric and Kevin (pilot, not one of the other 3 Kevin’s).  Beautiful brilliant blue day, slightly crisp at the start (39 deg) but warmed up nicely. Very leisurely pace along Skyline, no sprint for the Sky Londa line and all in all a very peaceful ride.  Stunning views of the coast coming up West Old. Descending 84 back into Woodside a truck even pulled over and let us all pass. O frabjous dayjoy! Callooh! Callay!   Millo Fenzi

03/09/10- REPORT FROM KARL ON TUESDAY'S RIDE (WHILE MIKE IS IN DC FOR THE BIKE LOBBY)- Mike, You missed a cool ride, make that cold ride.  In attendance were mostly old guys that were still tired from Sunday's "A" Ride, Kevin Keenan, George Smith (finally!), Karen and Mark Petrofessa.  With Captain Kevin in charge, of course, we went through the park.

George had remarked that he saw 35'F on the thermometer outside his window when he awoke.  I felt cold, but it was not until I saw all of the white snow/hail all along Skyline and West 84, that I knew it was pretty cold.  Nice dry, crisp air, but still a few wet spots on the road and of course East 84 required caution, especially with the slick patches. 

We yakked and road pretty slowly up Kings with Karen off the front. Once on Skyline, the pace picked up somewhat, but the decent was a bit damp and kept the speed down.  I handily outsprinted Kevin at Skylonda.  Held off George at the top of West Old. His clicky bottom bracket let me know when he was out of the saddle without having to see him...
I was able to hold off Keenan for the final sprint as well as George was not participating.

Glad I chose to were the full tights this morning.  Gorgeous clear day that was just getting nice as we finished up.

Thursday should be even drier and warmer. Ciao, kbe

03/07/10- I THINK HE'S SAFER ON HIS BIKE! Today should have been a ride with Kevin (my son), something significant in distance and terrain, since the weather has kept him away from really challenging rides lately. But yesterday morning he had a Lacrosse scrimmage with another school and got hit hard enough that a trip to the doctor revealed a likely concussion, so no bike ride for him today. Of course, this wasn't figured out until after getting ready to go... sigh. So with a change in plans I went out for a short ride with my wife on her e-bike, about 15 miles, heading out to Woodside, down Sand Hill, and back via Alameda but not before a stop at the Canyon Inn to pick up some burgers for lunch. Healthy burgers, I'm sure. Especially with the added bacon.

But an hour later it was time to pay the piper and get out on a serious ride. It was looking messy up on Skyline, so I stayed down low, looping through the foothills to Los Altos and then up Moody Road for something a bit more fun to deal with than the fairly-strong winds blowing. Just 37 miles, but all of it ridden pretty hard, in fact, a higher average heart rate than I'd see on the Tuesday/Thursday-morning rides. Sure, I would have rather had a ride over to the coast

03/05/10- YES, IT DIDN'T RAIN, YES, IT WAS A NICE RIDE, AND YES, I'M LATE REPORTING IT! Go figure, nice day, lots of people, and somehow life just gets so crazy that I don't get around to writing about the ride. I don't even recall everyone who showed up, but I now John, Kevin, Eric, Karl, Karen, Marcus were there for starters. And no rain!

We rode up through the park, partly just to prove myself that I would be feeling better and faster than Tuesday (I was). Somewhere heading up the hill Karl or Eric got a flat, which the rest of us didn't know but figured out at the top when they didn't soon arrive. Fortunately some of the group had to head back down the hill and passed the message to the others to ride the west-side Old LaHonda section in reverse, so we'd meet up (which we did).

A bit on the cool side at 41 degrees, but no biggie there, you can dress for that. What you can't do much about is the damp descent on 84, which seems to bug me more than the others. I'm really looking forward to dry roads!

03/02/10- IT WASN'T THAT BAD, WHERE WAS EVERYBODY? I'm being 100% truthfull in saying that I was a bit disappointed it wasn't quite a bet "wetter" this morning. You've got to dress the same whether heavy rain is just a possibility vs certainty, and you feel like you're accomplishing something more worthy when you go outside and battle the raging rain & wind! But all I got was light rain and light wind... and no company. In fact, this was that rarest of mornings where I didn't see a single other cyclist on the road, not even the one or two die-hard commuters I usually see on Canada.

Eric had told me last night that he might have a date with his trainer, and since he travels quite a distance for our ride (he lives in the hills above Los Gatos), I'll cut him some slack. And Karl pretends to be sensible, and probably has enough flexibility in his schedule that he can wait out the rain. But Kevin? Maybe he had to work today (he's a pilot and every once in a while his schedule conflicts with the important things in life, like riding), or maybe he decided to spend more time swimming instead. But why not go swimming on a bike? Except that, as I said, it really wasn't all that bad this morning. But I'm really looking forward to Thursday, when, supposedly, it will be dry!!!

03/01/10- AT LEAST THEY'VE REMOVED ALL POSSIBILITY OF FEAR, UNCERTAINTY & DOUBT. Looks like I know exactly what to expect tomorrow morning. Wet. Yet another wet ride. I'm really looking forward to that time, somewhere around the beginning to middle of May, when we essentially experience a 5-month drought. No rain whatsoever, outside of a possible rogue thunderstorm in August maybe.

Meanwhile, we continue to see a steady parade of people bringing in bikes that are really too nice to subject to nasty weather. Sure, you can ride your really nice bike when it's wet, but the wear & tear on the chain, tires & wheels is extreme. Probably conservative to suggest that one mile in the rain is equal to at least 100 miles in dry conditions. So when it's time for a new bike, consider keeping the old bike around and re-purpose it. Add fenders, a bit wider tires, and go for it. Don't expect everything to ride perfectly smoothly after the first nasty day, but at least your nice bike will stay nice, and when it's pouring rain, you're just not going to be that critical of the fact that not everything is perfect on your "rain" bike. Just so long as it works.

02/28/10- UGLY RIDE, NICE RIDE, SUN & FOG all in one day. Nice to finally have a nice, typical late-winter day for once, with temps in the low 60s. It should have been a day for a long hard ride, but it was difficult to convince Kevin to even get on a bike at all, as he's still getting over a nasty cold. He wasn't too happy he wasn't getting any sympathy from Dad but I did finally get him out there... although about a third of the way up Old LaHonda he pretty much ground to a halt, demanding assurance that we were just riding to the top and then back home. Ah... no. I agreed we weren't going to do anything epic, but gave him a choice of either an "ugly" ride, heading north on Skyline to 92 and back down, or going up West Alpine. He chose ugly, so ugly it was. And funny thing, the worst part of the ride, that long uphill run from Sky Londa to Kings... it just didn't seem all that bad. And as has been the case on so many (perhaps all?) of his rides, he got stronger and his mood improved as the ride went on.

As I said, it wasn't in any way a tough ride, just 35 miles and maybe 3000 feet of climbing, probably less. But it got him (and me) out there, enjoying a beautiful day, with the exception of the descent from Kings to 92, where we hit a bit of fog (as seen in the photo).

But that wasn't all the riding for the day. After getting home in time to watch the last half of the US-Canada hockey game, it was time to head out with the wife on a quick tour of Woodside & Portola Valley. Normally it wouldn't be too challenging, but she cheats- she's got one of the new Trek e-bikes with an electric assist. It doesn't allow you to ride without effort, but it does empower a mere mortal to be able to ride at a good clip up moderate hills. A couple weeks ago we went out for a shorter ride, but today we decided to find out how long the battery would last and did 19 miles, heading out over Jefferson, through Woodside into Portola Valley, and then looping back via Alpine Road and Willowbrook.

The photo shows the newly-fenced-in field on Mountain Home Road, a huge expanse of grass & oak trees without houses or roads or anything at all that would make you think it's 2010 and not 1850.

02/25/10- HARD TO BELIEVE MORE RAIN IS MOVING IN as we rode this morning. The main group went up through the park while I took the easier route up Kings. I'd hoped to have a bit of rest at the park entrance before they arrived, but without me slowing them down, they're a good minute faster than normal, so not much rest for the wicked this morning!

It was quite pleasant, about 46 degrees on Skyline, which at any other time in my day might seem a bit on the cold side. But as long as you're moving, maintaining a fairly steady output, it's not a problem. And it wasn't a problem, until Karen punctured, delaying us about five minutes and giving the body just enough time to notice the fact that it is, indeed, a bit on the cool side. But it doesn't take too long to warm back up.

But it was the clouds that stole the show. Check them out in the photo- very interesting texture this morning, very different from normal. To a weather forecaster, they probably mean something.

02/23/10- YOU GO TO BED HOPING THE FORECAST IS OFF A BIT, that maybe the rain scheduled for delivery at 8am might be put off for an hour or two, allowing you to leave the rain bike at home and enjoy the descents instead of worry about wet tar stripes. Well, it's good to have dreams! But when I woke up and looked at the hills, it didn't look promising, so it's the rain bike that gets pumped up, more lube dumped onto a chain still filthy from Sunday's ride (plus a few others mucky rides before that), and off I go. Of course, I get to the start, and everyone's on their nice bikes, no fenders. Karl, Eric, Kevin, James (friend of Kevin's), Billy & Syl. Billy & Syl were hanging back taking it easy; I suspect one or both of them had been on the infamous "morning" ride and didn't have legs left. I eventually made it to the top of Kings and continued directly on, while the other guys waited a bit for Billy & Syl, but not long enough... I was hoping to make it to Sky Londa ahead of them, but they caught up just before the descent.

And the rain? It began to make an appearance on the west-side Old LaHonda section, and by the time we were descending 84, the road, and our bikes, were beginning to get a bit mucky. And since I'd recently cleaned the nice bike (my new Madone 6.9), I figure I made the right choice.  Hard to believe there are all-weather riders out there who don't even have a rain bike, and just let their nice bike get trashed. This has definitely been a winter out to trash bikes!

02/21/10- MOTIVATION TO RIDE DOESN'T ALWAYS COME EASY, even for me. You'd think that wouldn't be the case, after reading all the stories about riding in semi-epic conditions, but the honest truth is that I found a lot of little things to do this morning before finally getting out on the bike at about 12:30. The icky conditions outside, basically a light rain/heavy drizzle that just wouldn't go away, just didn't seem very enticing. I certainly wasn't going to head up to Skyline, knowing that conditions like these destroy brake shoes and grind down rims. But I did eventually get out there, figuring that it made sense to ride south to our Los Altos store and deal with a computer issue they'd been having. Normally, I would have been riding with my son, but today was his last day in a "moon boot" that he's been wearing to protect some damaged tendons (a Lacrosse injury, not cycling).

It wasn't that bad out there though. By the time I got to Arastradero I was able to take off my rain jacket, and started to get into the ride. I expected to see others out on the road, but not today, maybe 10-15 other cyclists, a tiny fraction of normal. I guess I wasn't the only one having trouble getting motivated! After spending some time working on the computer issue in Los Altos I rode back a circuitous loop designed to add a bit more climbing and miles, and even thought, as I approached Magdalena, about turning left instead of right and heading up Moody and back down the bottom part of Page Mill, a further detour that would have added a really nasty climb. I wondered which way I would turn in an almost out-of-body sort of way. But, as it was getting late, I did the rational thing and turned right. Guess I wasn't motivated enough!

02/18/10- FOG AS A METAPHOR? Tough call this morning. We started out in the fog, exiting about the time we cleared Huddart Park (yes, we went up through the park this morning). And maybe I got my legs back after seeing the sun, but it wasn't until we got towards Sky Londa that I actually felt less-than-dreadful. "We" this morning was Eric, Marcus (a friend of pilot Kevin), Billy, Karl... I think that was it. Marcus climbs way too easily but fortunately turned off towards home (he lives off of Skyline) before doing too much damage. By the time we got to West-side Old LaHonda I started feeling quite a bit better and for a very brief period of time headed off the front with Karl. Brief because eventually Karl reminded me who was boss, but in a nice way.

I'm still not sure why I felt so good at the start of Tuesday's ride and so not-so-good this morning, but the most-important thing is that I felt a whole lot better at the end. Not quite good enough to catch Karl on the final sprint, but good enough to remember how wonderful riding a bike is. It's hard for me to understand people who make excuses for why they can't ride.

The "I'm on a horse" Old Spice commercial is incredible. And the behind-the-scenes look at how it was made will surprise you! Warning, it's almost 20 minutes long, but you'll be amazed at how it was done. Let's just say that it's a lot more "real" than you would think.

You know it's a good ride when you feel it in your legs the rest of the day, although I suspect it was only one brief part, the final sprint, that accounted for most of that feeling.

Large group this morning, no way to get all the names, but many of the regulars, including Billy, two Kevins, Karen, Karl, Eric, Andrea(?) from Austria, who curiously speaks better English than our Governor, Josh(?)... yeah, lots of people and I'm easily confused! Things started out at a moderate pace heading up Kings, and for everyone else, it stayed that way! Me, I was just happy to get up in about 28:30 or so, and then manage to hang onto wheels as we rolled across Skyline. Because there was still wet pavement in places, the only sprint I contested was Skeggs, which nobody else seemed to be contesting.

There was general chatter in the group about the weather seeming to turn the corner, and I hope that's true, despite the 10-day forecast that promises rain for the weekend. But we'll take the nicer weather while we can, and if you're not finding a way to enjoy it, you've got some mixed up priorities! Still, at 50 degrees, it surprises me that Kevin (not pilot Kevin) can be out there without gloves... of any kind.

To answer the not-yet-asked question of how many times I can take photos of west-side Old LaHonda and post them here, well, I don't yet know! But I'm sure there will be many, many more. You can't ride that stretch of road without thinking what a great place we live for cycling this is. And if you're not thinking that, you must not be out riding the west side of Old LaHonda!

The descent on 84 into Woodside was taken pretty slowly, especially by me. We had two customers come in for crash inspections yesterday, both after going down on 84, and I wasn't in a mood to add my own bike (or collarbone) to the list. Besides, there was a lot more pain to be had shortly, during the final sprint on Albion. Billy took off pretty early, too early I was thinking, so I waited a bit to see who might take the bait and go after him. It took a while but finally I heard something to my left and there goes non-Pilot Kevin, flying, really flying past. There was a time when the difference in speed would have caused me to raise the white flag, but not today. As he passed, it was as if there was this giant suction pulled me forward. I knew I couldn't overtake him, and yet I had to try, especially since he must have assumed he caught me off-guard and wouldn't think I was there. I did catch up to Billy but couldn't quite make it to Kevin. Maybe if it was another 20 meters longer! It was a great effort, the sort where you knew you put everything you had into it, and yet your body felt like it couldn't understand why you stopped at the end. 

, starting with the fog that I didn't expect; the weather people had forecast a perfect day, and I wasn't thinking that meant a perfect half day, you know? And then the planned-for 70 mile ride had to be dramatically cut short because Kevin (my son Kevin) has been nursing some sort of ankle injury for the past week and it's become painful for him to walk or stand on the pedals (normal riding isn't so bad, but who wants "normal?"). So we left pretty late and did an easy 38 mile relatively-flat loop, heading down towards Los Altos and back.

But that wasn't the end of my riding; when I got home I went out for a short ride with my wife, who got out on her e-bike, those cool machines that make you feel like superman (or superwoman in this case), magnifying your power by adding up to 350 watts to each pedal stroke. She's been pretty much off a bike for 22 years or so (coincidentally the same age as our oldest kid?), so her e-bike looks like it's going to let her get out and ride with me a bit. It's got a 20mph top speed (after which all power assist goes away, turning it into a suddenly-heavy-and-sluggish "normal" bike), but heading over Jefferson it was all I could do to keep from getting dropped by her. I wasn't expecting it to be that dramatic! You'd think after being married for 30 years I wouldn't be underestimating her by now.

02/11/10- DID WE TURN THE CORNER TODAY? I'm not sure exactly what it was, but it was something, something about the way the day felt that gave me the feeling that the worst of winter is finally behind us, that we won't be seeing so much rain in the future, and that days in the mid-60s will soon become the norm rather than the exception.

It didn't start out that way this morning, or maybe it did? 41 degrees at the start of the ride, and 41 degrees still up on top (on Skyline). But, as Billy, one of the riders joining me this morning mentioned, it felt more like 50. Maybe even the mid-50s. Something has changed. For the better.

Pretty big group this morning; Billy, Kevin, Karl, other Kevin, Chris & Eric. Pretty well-behaved other than wanting to go up through the park on the way up the hill. Not sure why everyone else likes to do that so much!

We didn't see the woman who gave us a bad time last Tuesday, but we did have a near run-in with one of the County Sheriffs, the same guy who was hiding out at Sky L'onda a few months ago, hiding out in the same place again, looking for people running the right-hand turn from 35 to 84. Billy saw him first and put on the brakes... hard. I was right behind him and just about went over the bars stopping before running into him. I'm sure our whole group put on a bit of a show for the officer, as we noted him laughing as we rode past. OK by me; if we can make him laugh, that's better than him getting angry at us! Plus, we noticed that he wasn't just there looking for cyclists (as if there would be any other than us at that time of day)... at the first corner heading down the hill, his partner had pulled over someone in an SUV.

02/09/10- LETTER TO MR. ROADSHOW (Mr. Roadshow is a daily column about road issues in the San Jose Mercury News) 
This morning, heading down 84 from Skyline into Woodside, my friend and I were given a bad time by a motorist, who felt we should have pulled over to let her go by. She claimed to be a "cyclist" and said it was people like us giving cyclists a bad name. Here are the facts-

It had been raining this morning, making 84 very slippery (have you ridden a bike over tar stripes when wet?). We're pretty skilled cyclists though, so despite the conditions we were doing 25mph+. When a car came up behind us about after a mile or so, we pulled over to let it go by at the first wide spot in the road. No biggie, this is what we do. No further cars until we were literally within 1/4 mile of the bottom of the grade, again, on a very wet road. In dry conditions, two things would be different. First, we'd be going 38+mph (I know, it's a 35mph limit there). Second, we could be at the far right of the road without a problem, because with good traction we can ride pretty much any line through a corner we need to.
But it was a *wet* road, and a cyclist going through a corner, on a descent, on a wet road, needs to use whatever part of that road is free from tar stripes and fog lines (fog lines are as slippery when wet as tar stripes). In short, we need full use of the lane, in this case, for a very short period of time. Do the math. At 25mph, you're covering 1/4 mile in 36 seconds. A car, at 35mph, covers that same distance in 25. So in order to be safe, we inconvenienced the motorist 11 seconds. And that's seriously about the most we'd hold someone back; we actively look for safe opportunities to let people pass us. But when the roads are wet, everyone, cyclists and motorists, need to proceed with a bit more caution.

02/07/10- FINDING NEW PLACES TO RIDE ISN'T SO EASY after all these years! But I was determined to take my son someplace new & different. The original plan had been to do a long, hard ride, getting out a bit earlier than normal so we could get back in time to watch the Superbowl commercials. But Kevin gets up all stuffy and sneezing, lying on the couch wrapped up in blankets and a hooded something and looking like the last thing in the world I'm going to get him to do is to get out on a bike. OK fine, we won't do anything too gnarly, but he is going to ride because I know he's not really quite that bad off, plus, as I told him, if he's going to skip riding due to a cold, then he's going to skip LaCross practice tomorrow as well.

And, as usual, after about 20 minutes on the bike he's doing pretty well, the cold doesn't seem to be an issue, the sun is out, and we head out over 92 all the way to the coast, including that nasty stuff towards Half Moon Bay where it gets pretty narrow and scary. Good to teach him how to ride in such conditions, and he generally does pretty well. From Half Moon Bay we do the Higgins/Purissima loop, first time for him, then loop over to Tunitas an on home. Only 46 miles, but pretty good miles, and not so much that he gets run into the ground. Still, if he wakes up worse tomorrow morning, I'm not going to hear the end of it!

02/04/10- CHRIS IS AWESOME/HAVE I FIGURED OUT LOST? What better environment to figure out the strangeness of the TV show "Lost" than when you're climbing Kings, out of breath almost to the point of hallucinating? Yes, that's when it hit me. The Sayid character, who died, and then later came to life inside the temple... that was Jacob inhabiting his body. So now we have John Locke, dead, but the duplicate John Locke who is actually the Man in Black, vs Jacob, who'd been killed by the Man in Black while inhabiting John Locke's duplicate body... it all makes sense. Yeah, right.

Getting back to the ride, it was one of those mornings where you wake up and it looks way, way, way too dark. The days are getting longer, but not fast enough, and the omnipresent overcast got me thinking I was up too early. But a quick check at the kitchen window verified that the sun was rising in the east, as it should. And it was dry outside. I like dry.

Karen, Karl, Eric & John at the start, with Chris joining us a bit later up the hill (he lives on the other side). We rode through the park; they were taking it easy. I was surviving. An easy run across the top of Skyline until Chris and Karen tried to get away on the descent into the Sky Londa sprint. No problem; I didn't mind them getting maybe 100 meters ahead, knowing that those last few turns you can close on someone really fast. Karen tried to move out from behind Chris, which worked perfectly for me, as it creates a whole lot more advantage for the wheel-sucking leech that I've become.

If there was a surprise on the ride, it was coming across a car on west-side Old LaHonda. Don't they know it's a bike-only road??? No problem getting past though. Later on, Karl and Chris got away on the 84 descent, which is fine by me, I'm just not feeling comfortable on that section later. In the old days, I would have pushed it hard anyway. That was then, this is now. The part about Chris being awesome came during the final sprint on Albion. I let Chris get ahead a bit, but I really didn't expect him to be hitting it quite as hard as he did. And then he arranged for that car I had to move out of the way for. Eventually it became an all-out drag race to the stop sign, which I'm willing to call a draw. The way I saw it, the lead changed with each of our downward pedal strokes. Hopefully there will be more of that in the future!

02/02/10- WELL DARN, NICE WEATHER AFTER ALL! Normally if the weather looks cooperative at all I take the "nice" bike (2010 Madone 6.9) but I just wasn't trusting things this morning. It didn't look too bad... but it was still completely overcast and hard to know what might happen in the next hour or two, so the Madone stayed home and I rode the rain bike (my 5900 with fenders). Quite a wreck after it's last mucky ride, but you just pour a bunch of rock n roll lube on the chain and it's ready to go.

Kevin, Shane (once-in-a-while rider, very strong), Eric, a friend of Kevin's whose name I don't recall and Fred started out up the hill with me. I felt better than I expected, but not good enough to stay on Kevin's wheel and, in fact, started coming apart halfway up the climb, allowing Eric to ride past without breaking a sweat. Didn't matter, it seemed really nice out today!

01/31/10- AT 100 YEARS OLD she's still going. Maybe not quite right to say going "strong" but there are a whole lot of people younger than my grandmother who have a lot less going for them. Sure, she's had the selective hearing thing going on for quite some time (as in, she says she can't hear well, but she sure hears things that you didn't think she could hear, if you know what I mean), and sometimes isn't sure who it is that's paying a visit, but surprisingly, and I mean I was really surprised, somehow she recognized me instantly. My wife didn't fare so well, but she doesn't go back quite so far, y'know?

As for me, you see a lot of interesting people that you wonder why you can only see at weddings, funerals and 100-year birthdays. So I've got more issues recognizing people than my grandmother, which doesn't quite seem fair! I suggested to someone at the party (party? I think "family gathering" is probably the better term) that we need cameras that don't just recognize faces, but tell you, when you're taking the photo, who they are.

Was it worth having to get up at 7am and argue with my son that he needs to get going, so we can ride and get back in time for my grandmother's gig? He sure didn't think so at the time! But after being out on the road for an hour or so, he was getting into bike mode and had a much better attitude. He could never be a fireman though. There's just no way to get him up and out of the house in much less than an hour. No big hills, just looping through Woodside and Portola Valley down to our store in Los Altos, and then back. We did start out the first 8 miles or so with the PenVelo Sunday Morning ride, but Kevin got blown off the back after a bit. Not quite enough warm-up for him. Maybe next week? Ah... no. Kevin getting up for a ride that starts at 8am, that he'd have to leave the house 25 minutes earlier than that for? Don't think so!

01/30/10- RIP TED JOHNSTON. I didn't know he'd passed away two weeks ago until a good customer came in and mentioned it today. Ted and I... well, we go back far enough that I don't remember how far we go back. I'm thinking Ted was one of the "old" guys (that would be anyone over 25) at the Western Wheelers meetings I'd go to during the early-70s, back when Western Wheelers was almost a farm club for the local racing team. The "old" guys who'd give us 15-year-olds a bad time because we were being too noisy during the meetings, trying to stifle our grunts & laughs as we removed parts for people's bikes and reassembled them in a way they weren't meant to be (typically taking a crank arm off and setting it in-line with the other crank, that sort of thing).

(Thinking about Ted a bit more after I originally wrote this, I realized it was, indeed, when I was in high school that I met Ted, because whenever he'd come into the store, he'd always ask if "Jake" was around. "Jake" was a name I went by back-in-the-day but nobody who met me after I was 20 or so would know me by that name)

Ted was a regular customer of ours for many years, pretty much from the start of Chain Reaction, 30 years ago that would be, in just a couple of days. Tall, lanky guy, with a huge bike (Ted was something like 6'6" maybe?). Incredibly friendly, lots of opinions but always, always expressed in a way that never showed any rancor or bitterness. He also had one of those voices you could pick out of a crowd too, a bit on the throaty side.

Ted loved riding, commuting to work (Lockheed? SLAC? I don't recall now) for years. He started slowing down a bit maybe 20 years ago, around the time he turned 60. Truth is, I never really knew how old Ted was. I mean, he'd tell me once in a while, but what did it matter if you were still out riding a bike, still loved to climb? And so, as he got older and started having various issues that people get as they age, I never gave it much thought, because I never could see anything really keeping Ted off his bike. Not for long, anyway. He'd be bouncing back, for sure. And so, as he started having problems with his hip, and then it was something else, and it turned out that he was fighting cancer that was spreading throughout his body, I don't think I ever really understood that it was happening. Because it couldn't happen. Not to Ted. Not to someone who really wanted to keep on riding.

I'm told, towards the end, he was still undergoing frequent chemo treatments. Not the sort of thing one goes through, at 80 years old, who doesn't want to live. Eventually he had enough sores in his mouth that he could only eat through a straw. His friend Arlan, the person who told me today that Ted had died, said that he saw Ted just a few says before he died, and he didn't seem all that bad, complaining that it was perhaps the final indignity that he would be drinking wine through a straw!

And so it goes. Ted is gone, but tomorrow I go to my grandmother's 100th birthday party. Her actual birthday is on Feb 5th, but this is when my mom could get people together. At 100, you're probably better off cheating the birthday on the short side than long. I don't know how all this fits together, which is likely the reason we don't get bored by life. It's a puzzle that remains just a bit beyond our grasp. Do the final pieces fall into place as we die? I don't know. That would be the Hollywood version. Is mortality a good or bad thing? I don't know the answer to that one either. I do know that I will miss Ted, and that, as I get older, I'm gradually unraveling the mystery of what it means, to become older. But for now, tomorrow morning, I'm going to be riding my bike with my son, and thinking about an old friend riding beside me.

01/29/10- TIME TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT STOLEN BIKES SOLD ON EBAY! In the last few months, we've helped recover two of our customer's bikes that were stolen from them and sold on eBay. One of them, a pretty expensive Trek Project One, was spotted by Becky (my daughter and our Project One "Queen") in a search through eBay after the customer had reported it stolen. Great that we're able to reunite our customers with their bikes once in a while, but... you really have to wonder what percentage of product people buy on eBay is, in fact, stolen. The bike Becky located was from a supposedly-reputable seller, so positive feedback isn't a good indication that all is right with the sale.

WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT? I have an idea, one that could dramatically cut down on eBay being used to fence stolen goods. For items that have serial numbers, require that they're disclosed by the seller. That way, it's easy for someone to do a search and find something. You could argue that the seller could report an incorrect serial number, but that would come back to them through the feedback mechanism (somebody buying a product and having it arrive with a different serial number would report it).

Because eBay makes a ton of money selling stolen merchandise. We're talking many hundreds of millions of dollars over the years. Enough that they'd rather turn a blind eye towards most of it while insisting that they do everything they can to cooperate with law enforcement agencies.

IF YOU GOT CAUGHT HELPING SOMEONE FENCE STOLEN MERCHANDISE, you could go to jail. As far as I know, nobody from eBay has ever gone to jail for doing so. I'm not suggesting the should; I'm just saying that this one simple thing I've proposed, posting serial numbers of bicycles (and other serialized items), would dramatically cut down on the use of eBay to sell them. And if the single biggest market for stolen bicycles dried up, there would be a lot less incentive to steal them.

If anyone reading this has connections to someone who could do something about it, please send me an email. I would gladly devote a fair amount of effort trying to reduce the number of bicycles stolen from my customers. Thanks-  --Mike--

01/28/10- THE SUN COMES OUT, THE GANG'S ALL HERE! Or most of them anyway. Nice to finally be on my "nice" bike as I approach the start of the ride and find... let's see... Kevin, Karl, Karen, another Kevin, (neither of them my son Kevin), Eric, Chris... is that everyone? Might be one more. A very civilized pace up Kings, just under 30 minutes. Of course, everyone's yakking away but me... my usual winter heavy-breathing mode. Pretty dry roads except where it counts (on the descent into Sky Londa, and heading down 84 back into Woodside).

As you can tell in the photo, it really was a beautiful morning. Not too cold, maybe around 40 degrees or so in Woodside, and very light clouds. I can take more days like this. Normally we have lots of days like this in the winter! But as you can also see in the photo, the winter storms have taken their toll on our favorite piece of road, dropping small boulders and a lot of dirt onto the pavement. No matter, plenty of room for bikes to get through! Sadly, the weather forecast is scheduling more rain for tomorrow afternoon and Saturday morning. Sigh. But that's why we have our rain bikes.

01/26/10- A LOT OLDER THAN ME, JUST HAD SURGERY ON HIS KNEE LAST WEEK, AND I STILL CAN'T BEAT HIM? What's it going to take??? Sigh. At least I wasn't the only one out there this morning, facing a light drizzle but certainly none of the rain forecast. Eric and Kevin... pilot Kevin, the one who's so much older than me and had knee surgery last week. Well OK, he's just a few months older, but in your mid-50s, those months count a lot more than when you're younger. And the surgery was pretty minor, just having his knee 'scoped to remove some stuff that shouldn't have been there. And sure, I could have, with some effort, put him behind me, but that wouldn't have been very nice, would it? And truthfully, while Kevin may have had surgery on his knee, the past two weeks of gray skies and rain have done a number on the scale at home (which must be reading high, right?) and my mental health is in question!

The good news about riding slowly? In theory, you burn a greater percentage of fat calories that way. Of course, Eric pointed out that a greater effort causes an increase in the rate of burning all calories, so sure, if you rode an easy 60 mile ride maybe you could burn more fat calories than a 35 miles fast ride... but riding the Tuesday/Thursday-morning ride at an slower pace, as is typically the case in the winter, isn't going to be as kind on the scale.

Meanwhile, back at the ride, the most-memorable event was Kevin's two flat tires. Yes, two. We virtually never have flats on our ride, but Kevin got a classic snakebite puncture, the type you get from under-inflating tires and hitting a bump. Kevin weighs a good 30 pounds less than I do; with proper inflation, there's no way he should be getting such punctures, it should be me. But I'm religious about tire pressure, topping them off before every single ride, and that really does make a difference.

01/24/10- QUEST COMPLETE, MACHINE GUN MAN FOUND! For years, a tall metal skeleton holding a machine gun was one of the more-memorable sights of a bike ride on Stage Road, between San Gregorio and Pescadero. A few weeks ago, my son and I were out riding that section of road (it's part of the well-known "Pescadero/Tunitas Loop") and... no more skeleton! I wrote about it at the time, lamenting the loss of yet one more interesting sight on that ride (the first to go being the massive number of Pink Flamingos on Pescadero Road; apparently new owners of the house didn't share the same fetish).

Flash forward to a week ago when I got an email from Michael Head, creator of the interesting artwork we'd seen for so many years while riding. It turns out that the property had been sold (a familiar theme!) and he had to find a new home for his work. The most-famous one, the tall iron sculpture holding the machine gun, had been sold to someone on Highway 84, about three miles east of the coast. He claimed it was visible from the road, so today, my son and I set off looking for it!

It was one of those days where you prepared for weather that simply didn't happen. It was supposed to be raining all day; we saw maybe half an hour of very light rain, which ended before we got to the top of Old LaHonda. We were even more fortunate as this was one of those few rides out to the coast without a headwind! But would be find the sculpture, without knowing its exact location? We scanned the terrain, Kevin looking for the sculpture, while I was looking for a place that someone would likely place the sculpture. There is a fundamental difference between the two; to me, there was too much terrain to scan and I'd have to get darned lucky to happen to look in exactly the right place at the right time. Plus, I was competing with someone with far better eyesight!

Amazingly, I found it first. I just had this feeling for where it might be, what it might be doing. And that feeling was based upon where it was before, and what it was doing. Guarding a house. How could it do anything else? And there it was, as you're heading out towards San Gregorio, just before Bear Gulch Road. You can find the spot here on Google Maps. It's on the left-hand side of the road (heading west), at the end of a long driveway.

I was surprised and pleased we'd been able to find it. There are lots of places for a skeleton to hide, and fantasies ran wild as we rode towards San Gregorio. Could it be standing atop one of the hills? Perhaps armies of skeletons on opposing hills, ready for battle?

But in the end, it was doing exactly what I expected it to be doing. Guarding someone's house.

The rest of the ride was pleasant, including a stop at the San Gregorio General Store (we split a sandwich; Kevin and I learned long ago that half a sandwich is Kevin's limit, anything more than that and he becomes a slug for the next couple hours). They had a pretty cool band playing, although I didn't appreciate it when the singer was asking if everyone had their bloody mary yet, saying "A relaxed driver is a safer driver." Seriously. Trust me, many were taking her advice.

The climb up Tunitas was a bit tougher than it should have been, since this winter hasn't been too kind for riding. Kevin's been getting driven to school most days the past two weeks, and the cold wet weather has put my body into serious hibernation mode, such that even though I'm still riding, I'm eating even more. But hopefully the worst of this weather will be behind us soon!

01/22/10- GOOD NEWS/BAD NEWS. The good news is that my wife, heading back east to visit one of her sisters, was sitting next to former SF 49er offensive lineman (during the time the 49ers won SuperBowls) Bubba Paris. The bad news is that she was in coach. :-)

I mentioned this to Burt, one of our employees, who was surprised that Bubba was in coach. To which I replied, where was his surprise, nay, indignation when he heard that my son and I returned from a Tour de France with Chris Horner, who'd just finished riding the event the day before us, was in coach, one row in front of us???

and I'll be able to comfortably ride in cold rain. Sure wished I'd found that piece before this morning's ride though! Unlike Tuesday, which was incredibly wet & windy but not that cold, this morning there was a certain bite to the air that made it seem a lot worse. No problem climbing up to Skyline (alone, nobody else out there today), and no temptation to cut anything short. Skyline itself was pretty nice too, as long as I kept the engine running. I was completely convinced I was doing the full ride, including the west-side Old LaHonda loop, until the descent into Sky Londa, where I found my gloves weren't cutting it... even with an extra outer layer, water was getting through and my fingers felt like ice. So straight down 84 I went, every so relieved to get to the bottom so I could restart the engine and warm up!

If anybody's found gloves that will survive two hours of heavy rain and 40 degree weather, please let me know. I went to the Gore website, and their offerings suggest nothing more than water "resistant." I sent them an email, listing my requirements, and hope to hear back from them soon.

You'd think there wasn't a huge demand for people riding in cold, wet weather... as if they'd rather stay in their nice warm houses and cars? Yeah, I'm nuts.

01/19/10- IF IT'S TUESDAY IT MUST BE RAINING/SAFETY IN NUMBERS. So my daughter Becky comes into the room as I'm getting ready to ride, and tells me "You're not going on a bike ride this morning. It's dangerous out there!" As if. It's Tuesday, so I ride. That's the way it works. Sure, I questioned it a bit at 5-ish am when I woke up to the screaming wind and probably the thunder that everyone else but me heard. But I knew I'd ride. It's what I do. And so I got out there, thinking it likely it would be a modified ride, not heading up to Skyline, because coming down from Skyline on a day like this generally eats through a set of brake shoes and does pretty nasty things to your rims. But if anybody else had shown up with plans to head up there, I was game.

As it was, nobody else showed. Safety in numbers, the numbers being home, safe. I did see one other cyclist out there, a commuter I see regularly. But that was it. Cars, yes, out there dodging the same crud in the road that I was. I looped up through the park before heading back down, spending almost exactly an hour in the downpour. I made sure to keep a decent but not suicidal head of steam going, the idea being that I'd stay warm as long as I could keep my output up, but push too far and have to slack off and bad things happen real fast (the cold and wet start to get to you and you begin a quick slide from an absurd sense of comfort to freezing your tail off and wishing your numb fingers could dial the phone for a rescue).

You can dress for mornings like today. The jacket is a no-brainer- cheapie clear plastic (and waterproof). You don't care about breathability on days like this. For pants, windfront tights to keep the chill off, but not even a thought of trying to stay "dry" because any sort of "waterproof" pant is going to have a strong sauna effect (so you're as wet on the inside as the outside). Wool socks, shoe covers, moderately-warm gloves with waterproof overgloves, and please make sure you put the jacket on last or else the water flows down the arm of the jacket and into the gloves! Not that I screwed up this morning and did something like that. But this really wasn't epic, because it wasn't that cold (mid-40s), the worst of the wind had died down, and I didn't ride up to (and thus down) Skyline. It was fun though.

01/17/10- A BIT OF RAIN, A BIT OF WIND, AN EASY INTRO to the big bad storm that's supposed to be hitting shortly. Kevin (my son) had been home sick from school all last week but felt better Friday and was able to work Saturday, so bad Dad that I am, it was time to get out on a ride, even though it was wet. We stayed out of the mountains, because I didn't think it would be a good idea to subject Kevin to an "epic" ride to the coast, and if we were only going up Old LaHonda, it would hardly be worth the trouble we'd have on the descent.

So instead we did an extended loop, including the east-side Alpine/Joaquin climb, and wound our way down to the Los Altos Chain Reaction where we made a mess of the floor (as both ourselves and the bikes drained) and warmed up a bit. And then, to make the ride a bit more utilitarian, we rode into Mountain View and dropped in at SlingIt, a LaCrosse store, so Kevin could buy some new shoes. No backpacks, so we arranged to have them shipped home (more green than driving down to the store), and then rode El Camino home.

Why on earth would we ride El Camino, with all its traffic and stop lights and right-hand-turn lanes that seem to randomly appear and disappear? Because I wanted to see how Kevin would do in traffic and teach him a thing or two. To be truthful, it was interesting to note the differences between someone very traffic-aware (myself) and not (Kevin). All the little things that keep you alive on a bike, like looking ahead at the intersection and noticing that a car, even though it doesn't have its blinkers on, has its wheels turned slightly as it gets ready to make a right-hand turn right in front of you. And Kevin's tendency to move back in towards the curb after passing a parked car, even though there were more parked cars not too far down the road (the reason you don't want to do that is because you could get potentially squeezed when you have to move back out into the lane to pass the next parked car).

As we approached Redwood City we started to see blue skies and it got a bit warmer, becoming pretty darned pleasant. This in stark contrast to the weather forecast, but we're getting used to that. Perhaps Tuesday morning the forces of nature will seek revenge on me for saying such things. That's certainly the way the forecast is presently shaping up! Doesn't matter, I'll be out there.

01/14/10- THERE'S HOPE! This morning I finally had a bit of fun on Kings, choosing not to try and climb it for speed but rather as a series of intervals, pushing myself to the point where I died, resting a bit, and then going at it again. Eric, John & Chris were out there helping me exorcise my demons this morning, a morning which, if you can believe the weather reports, is the last one we dare enjoy before we start loading our Arks.

As I've said often, any morning you can see your shadow is a good morning, so you can tell in the photo that this was, indeed, a good morning. A bit cool (it is winter I have to remind myself!), but the major challenge was the pavement. It had apparently been pretty foggy during the night, making the descent on either side of 84 a bit nerve wracking. More than once we felt our wheels slip out a bit, including a major (for me) slip descending 84 into Woodside. At one point I just pulled over and let some cars go by. I just didn't feel quite right. Making things worse is that, when you're tense, your bike handling skills pretty much go out the window, making it tougher to recover each time you encounter one of those tar stripes. I would much rather be descending in pouring rain, when traction is consistent and the oil has been washed away. Looks like I may get that wish on Sunday.

01/13/10- A NON-BIKE RAMBLE originally posted to the Bicycle Dealers e-list in response to someone asking how old each of us are and what changes we've seen over the years. --Mike--

My whole family has gotten too caught up in "life" and what it is to be a part of this time in history. It's too easy, too convenient, to buy things pre-made pre-packaged. Coffee at Starbucks or Donut King. Orange juice by the milk carton instead of frozen. Pre-grated cheese.

Pre-grated cheese???!!! If there is a symbol for everything that's wrong, it's got to be pre-grated cheese. You pay twice as much for a minimal amount of convenience. And who knows what they have to add to the cheese so it stays "fresh" after it's been grated; common sense tells you that enhanced surface area (and pre-grated cheese probably has 10X the surface area of a block of cheese, maybe a whole lot more) is going to enhance spoilage.

Our lives depend upon a financial system that's become entirely electronic and impersonal. And subject to all manner of internet disruptions, not to mention bailouts that maintain only the façade of lending, not the reality. My grandfather, a farmer, had to go to the bank and present a good case for why he needed the money for next years' crop, and the decisions were made by local people who actually implemented loans that were often backed by the government because farming was something the country couldn't do without. Some years he did well, some years the bank owned him. But the bank's success rose and sank with the success of its customers. Today, the bank's success is assumed an entitlement. How did we get there?

I miss my grandfather. I miss my dad. At 53, almost 54, I'm trying to connect the dots between past, present and future. The dots of the past are fading beyond recognition. Technology allows my kids to send their DNA to a lab and have their family "history" sent back to them and discover their "roots." Yeah, right. It's become more important to know where you came from 10,000 years ago than how your grandfather lived and laid the stones that you walk on today.

01/12/10- A BIT MORE RAIN WOULD HAVE BEEN NICE. Now that's a strange thing to say about a bike ride, but in all seriousness, it's a lot less fun riding in a drizzle than in a downpour. It's tough to get comfortable as you're taking your jacket on & off and thinking it's hardly worth the hassle, and the descents have to be done carefully because it's not raining hard enough to wash the oil off, resulting in inconsistent traction. And your bike comes back a mess, because you pick up all sorts of gunk from the road and the rain isn't heavy enough to wash anything off. As I type this (around midnight), the real storm is finally moving in, a bit of wind, some brief periods of heavy rain now & then, and not terribly cold. And I'm thinking this is what I'd rather be riding in.

Usually it's the larger ride on Tuesdays, but today, just Kevin at the start, meeting up with Chris up on Skyline. A pretty easy ride up the hill (not that it felt that easy at the time), but it was one of those strange days where there are whole sections of the ride that I don't remember much of. Just not that memorable a ride I guess!

01/10/10- EVENTUALLY, EVEN KEVIN WILL GET IT. Get what? Get that you might not feel great at the start of a ride, but you'll likely feel great later on. Today's ride was all about having the patience to see things through. We'd planned to go to Pescadero via Old LaHonda, then do the Lobitos/Tunitas route back. 61 miles, nice climbs, and the possibility that the coast might be having a bit nicer weather than the bay side of the hill.

It was at the base of Old LaHonda where Kevin asked "Dad, this feels like a bad ride day for me. Can't we just do Page Mill and go home?" There was a time when Page Mill would have seemed like the nightmare alternative, so we are making progress! But I told Kevin no, he'd be feeling better soon, let's stick to the plan. And it didn't take all that much time for him to feel much better, with the second half of the Old LaHonda climb going pretty fast. Plus, the more we climbed, the warmer it got! The fog had burned off at the top of the hill, and it was downright nice as we headed towards Pescadero.

Of course we had the mandatory stop for a coke & pastry at the bakery, and came across a couple guys on bikes loaded with the works. I asked where they were heading; from SF to San Diego. Except that they'd already had 6 flats and were out of tubes, had just walked one of the bikes a few miles into town with another one, and there were none to be had in Pescadero. No problem; between myself and Kevin we were able to spare two tubes to keep them going. They wanted to pay for the tubes, which I wouldn't allow... they'd been through enough already. To which they said they couldn't believe how nice people were out here. I asked where they were from... Connecticut... and mentioned that I'm sure there were a lot of nice people there as well.

From there we headed out Stage Road, sadly past the house that used to have the Machine Gun Man sculpture, and on up the coast via Highway 1, past Tunitas to Lobitos, and then looped around the hills a bit to come back to Tunitas. It was on Lobitos that we spied a cyclist a bit further ahead, already on the main climb, which seemed to kick Kevin into high gear. Eventually we caught up to Darrio, one of our customers, nice guy who seems to be able to ride forever, and usually pretty quickly. Looked like he was taking it a bit easy today... but Kevin wasn't. Usually it's no big deal to moderate your pace a bit and be social, but that just wasn't in the cards. But it wasn't too long before Kevin paid for his efforts, having a bit of an asthma issue, so the middle and upper parts of Tunitas weren't entirely to his liking.

What was to his liking were the sprints. The first one, on Pescadero Road for the Loma Mar city limits, no problem for me. If I can keep the speed up high enough, he can't roll past. But the Pescadero City limit sign, the one he always discovers too late? This time he was ready, and this time he'd been drafting closely behind, saving his strength. That plus he gave me about half a foot of pavement to deal with! Yes, he rode a straight line, so technically it was a legal sprint, but it he'd been one of the guys I'd likely have bumped him out of the way. Don't know that my wife would care to hear how it was Kevin's fault that he crashed when I bumped him though. And then the biggie, the sprint on Albion, the final sprint of the Tuesday/Thursday-morning ride. Ouch, he nailed me. I should have had it, but he sat behind me as long as possible and when he came around, I thought I could... but I couldn't. Darn. This is not a good thing. I did take him on the final sprint on Jefferson (at the top), but that again is a fast sprint that I can ride him off my tail on. For now.

01/07/10- WHAT HAPPENED TO THE RAIN? Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, nor do I think a serious drought once in a while is such a bad thing. Gets us away from our own problems and gives us a chance to complain about all those awful folk in LA who are watering their lawns and washing their cars while we're waiting to flush our toilets until you can no longer see the bottom of the bowl. Besides, droughts are good for the bicycle business.

So yet another opportunity to ride the nice bike, on a cool but not really cold morning (don't think I saw anything lower than 42 degrees) that warmed up nicely on top (51 on Skyline). Pretty big group; Todd, Karl, Karen, Kevin (the pilot), Steve, Eric, and at least one other person. I'll have to check the photos. Rode up through the park (why?), and like most morning rides, I don't feel so great on Kings but gradually feel better as the ride goes along. People who don't enjoy cycling... maybe they're just not riding far enough!

It will rain again, someday, but for now I'll ride the nice weather for as long as possible. Amazing that we don't see more others out riding when it's so nice out!

01/05/10- GOOD PARENT OR BAD PARENT? It's Kevin's (my son Kevin, not the pilot) last day off from school, and he really wasn't that interested in getting up early to go on our regular Tuesday/Thursday-morning ride. He wanted a final day to take it easy, not have to do anything tough because... well just because. I gave him the option of going on a ride on his own, later in the day, but he said no, if he's going to ride, he'd rather "get it over with" so he had the rest of the day for... whatever (never mind that "whatever" meant having to clean up his room).

So I get him up at 6:55am (instead of his preferred 9:30 or however late a teenager can sleep in) and he's actually not in such a bad mood, goes through the motions of getting dressed and eating and ready to ride, pretty much in the correct order. Which is more than I can say for myself some mornings. The plan (there's always a plan when I'm involved) is to get to the start of the ride a bit early and have at least a five minute head start going up the hill. And things were looking good... heading out the door, it looked like we just might do it! Until- until about 100 feet from the house and Kevin's telling me "Dad, we have to go back, I forgot to take my meds." Which doesn't make Dad happy, but what can you do, back he goes into the house... and he doesn't come out. After a couple minutes I go in and he's sitting at the table, experiencing a relatively-mild seizures.

OK, so you might have thought that the good parent/bad parent part was just about getting him up early for a bike ride on his last free day before school? No. The good part/bad part comes when the seizure clears and Kevin looks at me and suggests that maybe he shouldn't go on a ride this morning. Many sensible people would think yeah, good idea, just had a seizure, let him rest. But not Kevin's Dad, who has this weird concept that epilepsy shouldn't be allowed to control one's life, and a second seizure in one day is almost unheard of (for him). So I get him going out the door again, up the hill, meet with a pretty large group this morning and off we go.

Thankfully, the guys were in low-testosterone mode this morning. Don't know why. But they went the "long" way up the hill (through the park) and then rode at a moderate pace the rest of the way, finishing just a few minutes ahead of us (and were nice enough to wait). For the run along Skyline and down 84 to East-side Old LaHonda, Kevin hung in there nicely, drafting in a reasonably-safe fashion, and I actually did my normal thing, taking my place towards the front of the group instead of always riding next to him. But yeah, I'll admit I was looking back quite a bit, making sure he was still there, and hoping I didn't hear any bikes-meeting-pavement sounds from behind.

It turned out to be a spectacularly-beautiful morning to ride, once we got above the mild haze/fog at about 800 feet. Nice scattering of high clouds, mostly-dry pavement, and great people to ride with. Big group, as I mentioned- looking at the photo I see Eric, Chris, Kevin (pilot), Kevin (son), Steve, Todd, Jim (a friend of Kevin the pilot) and George. And Kevin suffered no ill effects from the earlier seizure, which (in my mind) helps keep the feeling that epilepsy is in control of what you do at bay. So maybe there's some chance I'm a good parent?

As much as I talk about my wintertime asthmatic breathing, I really don't have much to complain about. Broken bones twice, virtually no back issues ever, rarely get very sick, and I always feel better moving than resting. Yeah, I've got a "weight problem" but it's within the relatively-narrow confines of my winter/summer 7-pound swing (I long ago gave up on the idea of getting down to an ideal riding weight, but decided there was no way I was going to let my weight start creeping up again... the plan was and is to maintain the weight on my 1990 driver's license, nothing more). But in a way, it does come at a price, and that price has been sticking to the regime, no matter what. People often ask why I ride on Tuesdays & Thursdays, not matter what. Simple. Because it works.

And "because it works" is a darned good reason for keeping up at something. Even when that something seems difficult at times, or repetitive, or tedious. There is a reward for doing something "because it works."

01/03/10- YOU CAN GET A LOT OF THINKING DONE ON A BIKE RIDE. Last night I asked Kevin where he'd like to ride today and got one of those indifferent "I don't know" shrugs which means "Gee Dad, a bike ride, what a surprise, can't I just stay home and do something with my friends instead?" This isn't unusual; actually getting him out on the bike can be a pain, but what's also unusual is that pretty much without exception, after he's been out for an hour or so he's really enjoying himself.

So I figure fine, if he doesn't want to come up with something, we'll do something different, and make it "ugly." I've talked about "ugly" bike rides before- rides where you approach a hill from a direction that just isn't as much fun as it is the other way. Of course, you dress it up a bit by tossing in some fun elements too. Today's ride went up Old LaHonda (fun), down the other side and back up West Alpine (fun), then south on Skyline to Highway 9 (really not fun in that direction!), down 9 & Redwood Gulch to Foothill (ok) then north back to Redwood City on the flats (generally not much fun).

Somewhere in the middle of the ride Kevin mentioned how his mind clears when he's out on a bike and he wished he could ride with a laptop and just stop someplace and do his school work or whatever. I know exactly where he's coming from on that; it's been one of the things I've enjoyed about cycling for years.

But back to the ride- Kevin took a while to get warmed up today; his Old LaHonda time was petty mediocre, but he kicked into gear pretty strongly where it counted, on West Alpine. And he appreciated that we were stopped, shortly before the top, by a cute young woman cyclist, asking where Old LaHonda was. Probably a Stanford student new to the area. But probably in her early-to-mid 20s, something a 17 year old can certainly appreciate, but also remain frustrated by the fact that you just don't see many 17 year old girls out riding. Maybe that made the subsequent run south on Skyline, the "ugly" part of the ride, even worse. Frustration replaced by "junk" climbs mere minutes apart.

That long flat run at the end, from Los Altos to Redwood City? I tossed that in because that was where I was really going to get a workout, motoring north on Foothill, with Kevin glued to my rear wheel. Not fun, but definitely needed! Well I'm lying a bit, because it was fun, seeing how hard I could push myself and making sure Kevin stayed on my wheel (while at the same time taking some enjoyment from the fact that others would try and hang on at times and not be able to keep up).

01/01/10- BURT & STEPHEN (and anyone else who thought it was going to rain), YOU MISSED A GREAT DAY TO RIDE! It's time to treat the weather forecast as what it is- entertainment. The more they threaten with "bad" weather, the more people pay attention. And anybody paying too much attention and thinking this morning wasn't going to be a good time to ride up Mt. Hamilton (or anywhere else in the Bay Area) missed out! Sure, we got a little bit of drizzle for the first few miles, but from then on up the hill it was a comfortable 51-55 degrees, dry, with very a very light breeze. We saw some familiar faces today; Todd, Brian K, Kevin (the Pilot), Leslie (the Pilot's friend), Jeff K, Roger from our Redwood City store and a few other familiar faces whose names escape me. But overall we saw maybe 50 or so people on the climb, and at the top, maybe 8. A far cry from those years when the top was literally crowded with cyclists!

My son (one of the several Kevins) started out a bit, well, casual, but worked his way into it. We knew that Todd and Brian were behind us, and were expecting them to catch us pretty quickly, but surprisingly, we didn't see them until stopping at the porta potty at the top of the last little descent before the final assault (about 10 miles to go). We left ahead of them and kept looking behind, wondering how soon, they must be around that last bend, etc. Finally we saw Todd emerge with Brian close behind, but soon Todd started pulling away and got up to us pretty quickly. That's when something surprising happened. Kevin apparently had an invisible virtual bungee cord that he must have attached to Todd's bike because he was keeping up with him and I was running into a bit of distress! This is probably the first time that's happened on a climb, and I came very, very close to waving him on and telling him that I'd meet up with them at the top. But I didn't do that, first because of pride, and second, well, I know my son fairly well and there was just no way he could maintain a pace like that forever... in other words, he was going to crack. And crack he finally did, albeit fairly gracefully, slowing down but not completely blowing up.

The reference to Burt & Stephen? Both decided not to ride based on the weather forecast (plus Burt was getting over a cold). But there will be other days to ride up Mt. Hamilton. The big hill's going nowhere.

12/31/09- NOW THAT I KNOW, WHAT WILL I DO WHEN FOOTBALL SEASON IS OVER? Interesting ride this morning. It almost didn't happen at all; due to an alarm-clock mishap, instead of waking up at 7:05am, I noticed my secondary alarm beeping on my watch at 7:20. Uh-oh. The ride leaves at 7:45, it takes 10 minutes to ride there, that leaves 15 minutes to shake myself conscious, get my clothes on (hopefully rightside-out), pump up the tires & go. And go I did! But it's not as if it felt very good; makes me wonder how the firefighters wake up and instantly get going without leaving half of their brains behind.

It seemed like quite a few out there this morning, although that could have just been my foggy brain seeing double. Karl, Karen, Kevin, Billy, John, Todd... and later on we were joined by Kevin's friend Leslie. I was just barely hanging on (actually I might have been hanging on in my dreams; in real life I was off the back). We split into two groups at west-side Old LaHonda, with Billy, Todd & John joining me on the regular run back, while the rest headed on down the hill to a date with West Alpine. But here's where football comes in. Bill, Todd & John were more interested in talking about college football than turning the pedals in anger, and y'know, that suited me just fine! So in the future I'm going to figure out how to seed the conversation a bit, head it towards college football, in hopes that it will moderate the pace a bit.

Next-earlier entries here-

Prior entries 07/02/07-12/31/07 including 2007 Tour de France trip
(Tour de France entries 7/15/06-7/25/06)
(prior entries from 01/01/07-06/30/07)

Hit Countersince 11/26/03


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