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
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.
Millo, who complains that he's old & slow but somehow
always there in the sprints. George, always out on Tuesdays, nice guy, too fast on
HARDEST 30-MINUTE CLIMB EVER! Would have been nice,
for the last Tuesday/Thursday ride of the year, to be
of something more than just trying to keep those ahead of me within
the same county, but that's about all I was good for this morning.
Could have been the 1/3rd (ok, yeah, sure, maybe it was 1/2) box of
wheat thins I ate last night. Could have been the scale showing me
about 5 pounds over what I weighed during the summer. Could have
been that it was fairly cool (about 40) on the climb, so I was once
again breathing like a steam engine. Or could have just been one of
those mornings. Kevin, Todd & Karl showed up initially, with Karl being honest
about not riding two days ago, saying he got up and just didn't like
the look of the clouds. We kinda expected a story about sick
relatives or something like that. I promised, and delivered on that
promise, to take it easy on the first part of the climb. Truthfully,
that's actually more difficult for me, because you're not carrying
any momentum over the top of that very first (and very steep) rise
at the beginning.
I started feeling a bit better once on Skyline, but that
feeling quickly went away once we started climbing the west side of
Old LaHonda. About halfway up we came across Chris, who'd gotten a
late start and figured he'd find us by riding the route backward. He
warned us about the debris on the road just up ahead, but I'm
thinking yeah sure, so the wind blew down a few things here & there.
It was more than a few things; there were places where you couldn't
even see the road! That plus a phone or power line whose support had
apparently fallen over, placing it about 6 feet above the road, just
above helmet height. Fortunately, at my speed, it would have just
gradually slowed me to a stop had I made contact. So, am I ready for
Mt Hamilton this coming Monday? Not if I'm trying to keep up with
RAIN? WHAT RAIN? For once, just once, the forecast
was for rain but we never saw a drop!
It was entirely my doing (stalling the rain), by the way. I brought
up my rain bike from downstairs, so it would be ready for the
forecast deluge. Had I not done that, Northern California would have
been hit by a whopper, guaranteed.
But even without the rain, we were pretty slim this morning. Maybe I
can consider that the best showed up, and the rest stayed home?
Yeah, sounds good. Just Kevin & Millo with me this morning, with an
easy ride up Kings, followed by a short detour down Swett Road to
Kevin's place so he could pick up his Captain's stripes (there's
some official name for them that I don't recall). He was flying
right after the ride, and had left the most-essential part of his
uniform at home. Heaven forbid that an American Airlines pilot shows
up not properly dressed! Funny that that would be more of a concern
than him going directly from our ride to the plane, without a
shower... Meanwhile, you can see him in the photo, with his stripes
on his jersey. Just like he normally does!
Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays
From our loyal & dedicated Redwood City & Los Altos Christmas-Eve staff.
Hope to see you out on the road & trail! And don't forget to read about
the Science of Santa Claus!
CHRIS IS BACK!Back on 11/7, Chris, one of our regulars,
went boom in one of the corners and was told by the doc it
would be six weeks before he'd be back on the bike. Well, six weeks
are up and Chris is Back! Unfortunately, he hasn't seemed to suffer
much from the time off the bike either. Fairly sizable group this
morning, trying to beat the rain scheduled for about the time our ride
ends. Chris, Karl, Kevin, Millo, Mark & Todd. Seems like there was one
more person, but don't know who it might have been. Moderate pace up
Kings in fairly-warm weather (mid-to-upper 40s), with a regroup at the
park entrance. Karl, Chris, Kevin & Mark then rode on ahead, while I
was in the no-man's land between them and Millo & Todd behind. Todd
clearly wasn't feeling well, although he still won the only contested
sprint on Skyline (I stayed out of it, not liking the wet pavement).
Todd began feeling worse on the climb back up west-side Old
LaHonda, finally getting rid of breakfast at Skyline (after which he
seemed to feel a whole lot better). But it was just about that time
that a few drops were felt, and then a whole lot more on the descent
into Woodside. So no, we didn't beat the storm, but it still seemed
like a pretty nice morning to ride.
JIFFY-POP, ANYONE? Riding
when it's really cold (or at least California's version of really
cold, which is rarely below freezing) sometimes brings out a bit of
improvisation. Still, when I looked back at the photos from
this-morning's ride, there was something I missed at the time. It's
quite obvious in the photo at the right. Is that not a JiffyPop
popcorn bag on top of Karl's head? I've seen people use bread
bags to keep their feet dry, newspapers stuffed under jerseys to
trap air and stay warm, but this is the first time I've seen someone
wearing a JiffyPop headpiece.
And no, he didn't share with anyone else.
12/19/06- IF REVENGE IS A DISH BEST-SERVED
COLD,then I passed up quite the opportunity this
morning! Kevin, Karl & Millo showed up for our coldest ride in over
a year although, truth be told, I was a bit disappointed it was even
colder. The temp gauge on my bike computer has a bit of a lag, so I
can always claim a "virtual" ride in the 20s, but the lowest it
showed was 30 degrees. I'm sure we could have hung around for a
while and it might have shown the true temp; my guess is 28 or so.
Hardly a record; for that honor we go back to
December 22, 1998, when it hit 23 degrees.That was cold!
Very little ice on the road, always a good thing, and the
temperature warmed up nicely on the way
up Kings, getting as high as 37 degrees and allowing us to remove
our jackets at the park entrance. That may have been a mistake for
me; while it was nice not having the jacket on, the sudden cold air
against my side did quite the number on my bruised ribs/torn
muscle/whatever-the-heck it is that had finally gone away until
coming back with a vengeance on last-Sundays' ride (described
below). But it only hurts when I breathe, so no problem! Oh yeah, it
also hurts when I sleep on my side. Or my back. Or my stomach. Just
kidding; it really isn't all that bad (had to add that 'cuz my mom
read this website and will conjure up all manner of terrible things
that might be wrong with me if I'm not careful).
We did find some ice at the top of Kings, as you can see in the
photo. Why Kevin chooses to stand on it is beyond me, but it's
consistent with the mentality of our group. As Hobbes (the tiger in
"Calvin & Hobbes") would say, we're kinda dumb that way.
We played it pretty safe this morning, not sprinting for any of the
usual places since we didn't know where ice might show up. The only
place it really did show was on west-side Old LaHonda, parts of
which were covered by a fine crunchy texture that, fortunately,
didn't seem to affect traction. Looked a bit scary though! I would
have taken a picture but it's just not possible to get the camera
out while wearing a jacket.
Did I say we didn't sprint? Thatwas the unspoken plan, at
least as far as I knew. So we're heading down Albion (towards Olive
Hill) at the end of the ride, and I'm intentionally up front,
intentionally showing that I have no intention whatsoever of
sprinting. Partly out of self-preservation, as I figured sprinting
might not be the best thing for my pulled or torn or whatever
rib/muscle. And if Kevin wants to take advantage of things, fine, I
can live with that. Kevin deserves to win a sprint (albeit
uncontested) at least a couple times a year. Karl's a man of his
word, a guy for whom honor means something, so even if he did go, I
knew it wouldn't be for himself, not an attempt to run me into the
ground. But Millo. I should have known. Millo sees that I'm carrying
no speed at the bottom of the roller coaster and takes off. I should
have let him go. But I couldn't. He goes flying past me with way too
much intensity to just be pushing it for fun. Honor was at stake. In
a few days, my ribs will let me know if running him down was worth
12/17/06- IT'S COLD, BUT THINGS COULD BE
WORSE. I knew ahead of time it was going to be a very
cold afternoon, so I made sure Kevin (14-year-old son) was going to
be quite warm, with Dad's best winter gloves, windfront tights,
full-face balaclava, long-sleeve heavy-duty base layer, long-sleeve
winter jersey, jacket, booties... did I leave anything out? Even
with all that, if he so much as sneezes in the next few days, my
wife is going to be on my case for subjecting him to riding in the
Things didn't start out great, as I noticed the booties I'd brought
home for him wouldn't fit on an spd-style shoe, so I forced them
(with great difficulty) onto my own, and let him use my easy-on (big
velcro opening) booties. But I later paid for the effort getting the
tight-fitting ones onto my own shoes. We'll get to that later.
Aside from being a bit on the cool side, it was really nice out. Not
too many cars, a few clouds in the sky, no threat of rain. Roads
were reasonably dry, although heading up King's Mtn we were warned
by a rider coming down that it was slipper up there (and he'd
actually crashed). It was in the mid-40s climbing so we stopped at
the park entrance to take off our jackets, and continued, quote
comfortably, to the top. Kevin's still got a ways to go; two weeks
ago he got his time up Old LaHonda under an hour (48 minutes), while
today he shaved his King's Mtn time from 1:15 to about 1:02. He's
getting there, but I'm not going to push things too hard. It wasn't
all that long ago he wouldn't have wanted to climb a hill at all,
and his speed on top (or just about anywhere that it's relatively
flat) is pretty good.
Fortunately, it did get down to 39 degrees up on Skyline. I say
fortunately because 39 degrees sounds so much more impressive than
40-something! Even if it's only a degree difference. Bragging
rights, y'know? We were definitely happy to find indoor tables
available at Alice's Restaurant, for the obligatory hamburger.
THINGS GET WORSE.
Post-lunch things kinda went downhill. Literally and figuratively.
First, exiting from the 70s+ restaurant into the cold outside air
suddenly caused my side to react in a most-painful manner.
Apparently, getting those shoe covers on earlier in the day had
brought back my bruised rib/torn muscle/whatever it was that took
forever to go away and was now back worse than ever! I was basically
limping all the way back home. But it didn't end there. After lunch,
Kevin went to use the bathroom, and when I entered paying the bill,
he looked up, and the glove that he was holding under his chin...
you can only guess exactly where it went. Thankfully, they're both
windproof and waterproof, so they probably weren't too bad to be
wearing after rinsing them off. Don't think that's a mistake he'll
be repeating again, ever!
12/14/06- NOT EVERYTHING IS BLACK & WHITE
although this picture, showing Karl fixing his flat tire with
Millo looking on, is. For some reason I had my camera on the black & white
"special effects" setting and didn't notice it. Too bad, since there
were some pretty striking colors this morning, as the clouds started
breaking up and the sunlight was casting very strong shadows here &
Just Karl & Millo and some damp roads, this morning, but no
rain. For that matter, the creeks were nearly bone-dry, which
surprised me; I'd have thought there would have been some more
runoff from the recent storm. But there was enough debris on the
road for Millo to pick up something (Karl said it was a piece of
glass), delaying us a bit too long to be able to ride the west-side
Old LaHonda loop. That's twice in a row! Not a good thing. Next week
will be different!I probably would have been more willing to ride further had it
not been unexpectedly warm; about 55 degrees during the climb, much
warmer than I had dressed for.
At least they've taken the rain & snow out of Sunday's forecast,
so hopefully I'll be able to get out with the younger Kevin (my
12/12/06- A LITTLE RAIN SCARED EVERYONE
OFF?Everyone but Millo, apparently. No Kevin, no Karl,
no George... the usual suspects may have stayed home this morning. Too
bad, as it was a pretty nice intro to riding in the rain. Not too cold
(around 50 or so), pretty heavy rain from the start all the way up
Kings Mtn, where it mellowed out a bit at the top. A good morning to
get reacquainted with the rain gear, although neither Millo nor I had
run down our flashing lights.
Seemed like more cars than normal this morning, with a number of
them demonstrating an interest in doing science experiments. I guess
it's good that Americans are taking more interest in science these
days, but I wish it had more to do with environmental stuff and less
to do with hydroplaning! Interestingly, both Millo and I were getting
great traction, probably because the rain was heavy enough to wash
away the oils. Still, we skipped out on the west-side Old LaHonda
section, as it looked to be pretty foggy (and, without flashing tail
lights, it might not have been too safe).
Unfortunately, the rain tapered off to showers by the end of the ride.
Unfortunately because it seems like you don't get as much credit for
riding in the elements when things taper off at the end. Conversely,
seems like you get more credit than you deserve when it's not so bad
when you're out riding but later becomes nasty!
One last observation. Those people in cars that we make fun of. The
ones with the windows up, heaters on, drinking coffee, listening to
the radio, basically insulated from the elements. Wonder what they're
thinking of us?
IMPRESSED BY THOSE GUYS WHO CAN PUT ON OR
REMOVE A JACKET WHILE RIDING? Or are you the type of
person who thinks it's a good idea to stop, because there's always
that chance that something might get snagged somewhere and cause
trouble? Never happens. Never ever. Especially not when someone's
riding up King's Mtn, like this morning, removing their jacket,
sleeve gets caught in the wheel, wrapping it up until everything
comes to a sudden stop and boom, you're on the pavement. Never
happens. The photo shown here is obviously an artistic recreation of
what could happen, if Mark did manage to dangle part
of his jacket into his spokes, which might have locked up his
rear wheel, which possibly could account for that awful sound
you hear behind you of someone crashing... when there are no cars
around, open road, just no good reason to crash.
Millo, Kevin, Karl & Mark out on another cooler-than-we'd-like
morning ('cuz we're California wimps!). Got down as low as 37
degrees, so we've still got a way to go before we hit bottom
(typically 28 in a normal year, although last year we never saw
anything below freezing). Rode through up through Huddard (Greer
Road) at Millo's request. Why, I don't know. It's definitely harder
that way, but it puts off the pain for maybe half a mile or so on
the Greer Road run-in. Hard to believe it's going to rain anytime
soon, as it was beautiful clear skies everywhere!
KARL KNOWS. AND THAT'S A BAD THING. It started out
like any other cool morning, only worse. Millo, Karl, Kevin & George.
And the absolute-toughest 30-minute climb up Kings Mtn ever. Everyone
was content to hang back and take it easy, but rather than do a
steady, easy, conversationally-paced ride up the hill, I chose to hit
sections of it at full-speed (well, OK, maybe 2/3rds speed!) and then
kick back for a bit and wait for them to catch up. After you do that a
couple times you're toast, and it was about that time that Karl
cruises up, says something about me being alone out there, and then
rides on ahead... leaving me alone out there. At the top I turned the
corner and just kept going, effectively eliminating the first & second
sprints on Skyline. The main event, heading into Sky L'Onda, was
somewhat controversial as George says I didn't hold my line and
drifted across a bit, shutting him down. It's possible; I was paying
more attention to Karl and Millo. If I accept a DQ (disqualification)
on that one, I'm not sure who it would go to, probably Millo.
The descent on east 84 seemed faster than normal, and when I hit the
front, Kevin was quite cruel in telling me to stay up there, keep
going, don't give up, everything he could do so that I'd run myself
into the ground. But it may have been an intentional and literal
interpretation of the phrase "No rest for the wicked." Kevin wasn't
going to let me take it easy, and during the climb back up towards
Skyline, neither would Karl. It would have been so easy to just let
Karl ride away, but I couldn't. Or maybe it was Karl who wouldn't let
me, easing off just enough so that I didn't give up hope, and would
have to give it everything I had to cling to his wheel. That way, I'd
be gassed when we got to Skyline, where Karl seems to have created a
new sprint up that last steep part. And it nearly worked; I'd say it
was a draw and Karl and I sped upwards towards an imaginary line. But
Karl wasn't finished. On our return through Woodside, Karl was pushing
it pretty hard once we hit Manuella, and tried to create a gap on
Albion, knowing that I'd have to work hard to close it, with everyone
else sucking my wheel. Bastard! (As Millo would say). I couldn't
assume that I'd have the power for a long sprint in a big gear, so I
started early in a smaller gear, just managing to hold off a
So yeah, I might be the king of the 20-second effort (as long as
Todd's not around), but these guys could (and sometimes do) kill me on
a long climb. It's only through their good nature that I'm even around
to sprint with them. So I guess it's official. I am that thing
I so-despised when I was younger. A wheel-sucking opportunist.
2007's GOING TO BE A GOOD YEAR FOR KEVIN.Not old-guy
Kevin who rides with us every Tuesday & Thursday morning
("old" meaning anybody approximately my age), but 14-year-old Kevin
who's changed his attitude about cycling (and maybe fitness in
general) after his experiences earlier this year at the Velodrome
(bicycle track). Yesterday morning he was still whining about
getting out there; it seems like (road) cycling is something he can
look forward to from a distance, but when it confronts him directly,
he'd rather watch TV or play video games. But once he's out there,
he stops complaining and is beginning to do pretty good. Yesterday's
route was the old Woodside/Old LaHonda east/Old LaHonda west/lunch
at Alice's/84/Woodside loop. Almost exactly 25 miles round-trip from
our house; about 20 miles round-trip from Woodside.
The goal was to climb Old LaHonda in less than 50 minutes. His
previous best included a number of stops, and came in at 1:02. But
he had a reason to do better this time; we'd agreed that if he
climbed faster than 50 minutes, he wouldn't have to have his hair
cut (which he really needs to do). So, just one stop on the way up
(at Orchard Hill) and he made it in 48 minutes. Not like you're
burning the rubber off your tire at that speed, but we're seeing a
continued steady improvement that, if it continues, could point to a
very different future than appeared to be the case just a year ago.
His bike is now... well, it's almost his friend. He understands what
it can do, and he's having some fun with it. His descending skills
have improved even faster than his climbing and, once he's out
there, he actually looks forward to a challenge. Next stop? Time to introduce him to our Tuesday/Thursday course.
Not on one of our regular morning rides though! But if the weather
permits, maybe next Sunday will work out. From there, it's all about
planning that first round-trip to the coast. Could be a bit more
ambitious than practical at the moment, because there's no easy way
to return. Coming back via 84 isn't steep, but pretty long &
tedious. Tunitas is great... until you hit that middle 3 miles of
hell! I'm thinking it might be worthwhile to try a one-way trip from
the coast, up Tunitas, which would be possible even if you had to
walk long sections of road. Too bad there's no way to train for it
on this side of the hill; Page Mill is similar, but both too busy
and not nearly as pretty.
MAY NOT BE GOOD FOR ME, BUT I DO IT ANYWAY. Thinking
about my sore side, caused by either a pulled muscle, bruised rib or
combination of the two, and how it actually got me to see a Doctor
(something I make a habit of not doing)... it came to me that it's
probably the hard sprinting that caused it, and my continuing to
sprint (on our Tuesday/Thursday-morning rides) that kept things from
getting better. I could climb without causing problems, but putting
everything I've got into a 20-second attempt to find the absolute
limits of my body, and my bike... all in an effort to beat the other
guy to either a real or imaginary line on the ground... yeah, it's
pretty obvious that did some damage to me. You do that three times on
a two-hour ride, and you're thinking wow, how can you possibly recover
after each one and keep going? But three twenty-second efforts comes
to all of one whole minute! How could one minute of effort be so bad?
And, it's during that one minute that I feel more alive, more
confident, more in-control than at any other time on a bike.
But that's leaving out the most-important reason I sprint. It's a
time machine. It turns back the clock, making me feel a lot less old
than my 50 years on this planet. I like that. Too bad I never got into
sprinting in the way-back days, when it would have helped my racing.
Back then I thought climbing was where it's at; those who focused on
sprinting were guys who couldn't climb and needed to suck wheels to
make it to the end, when they'd inevitably beat me to the line. To me,
it seemed like a less-than-honorable way to win a race. What it comes
down to is simple. I was dumb. They were smart. Time to reverse that
IT'S 34 DEGREES, I'M WHEEZING, IT'S BEEN A WEEK SINCE I'VE BEEN ON THE
BIKE, AND LIFE IS GOOD. Yeah, it doesn't make much
sense does it? Just got back from three days in Wisconsin (product
meetings at Trek), and haven't ridden since last-Thursday's
Thanksgiving ride to the coast. So there was no small amount of fear &
trepidation with which I approached the ride this morning. No, that's
not actually true. There should have been, but there really wasn't. It
was more like filling a need to get back in the groove. Part of that
groove is actually being on a bike, and part of the groove is spending
some time with Karl, Kevin & Millo.
It wasn't easy clawing my way up the hills; the legs were much
stronger than the first-cold-morning lungs. It's a bit frustrating
when your breathing limits what you can do, but would it be better to
be back at home, adjusting the heater to 72 degrees because that feels
so much nicer than 68, and thinking how much more pleasant that is
than being out in the cold? No way. On a Monday, Wednesday or Friday
morning, sure, I've been guilty of thinking that. I'll admit it. But
on Tuesday & Thursday, it's time to
And yes, that's Gary Fisher in the photo on the right, taken at a
dinner following one of the product meetings on Tuesday. Very healthy
dinner; I had something called the "Sausage Race" which is basically 3
types of terribly-unhealthy sausage, in huge quantities, and
apparently you're supposed to try to eat it faster than the other guy.
In my case, I didn't even get through half of it, maybe because I
didn't choose to drown it in beer.
11/28/06- WHILE MIKE'S AWAY
AT PRODUCT MEETINGS IN WISCONSIN, MILLO FILLS IN WITH THE RIDE
Hi Mike,Hope u r having fun in Trekland. Entry for today:
degrees according to my outdoor thermometer. Hmmmmmm. Headed back to
the closet and dug out a few more items of warm clothing. Rolled out
to find a skeleton crew - George, Kevin, and your humble narrator (Millo).
No sign of Karl who just yesterday said "See you Tuesday". Maybe he
showed his typical good judgment and let the cold drive him back
under warm bed covers.
In Fargo, North Dakota it was 17 deg with a 25 mph wind so 48 is
really nothing to whine about. We all whined anyway. Wet roads so a
leisurely pace up Kings with a stop at the Park to shed jackets,
then a half hearted run down to the Sky Londa sprint foiled by a
slow moving and noxious diesel exhaust emitting dump truck we caught
2/3 way down the hill. Continued on a leisurely pace with no push at
the Olive Hill sprint. Back to my driveway at 9:38, a good 15
minutes off the typical pace. Quite the relaxed workout and easily
the most laid back Tuesday AM ride that any of us could remember -
and Kevin goes back 15+ years! Oh, and did I mention the spectacular
blue sky, brilliant sun, and fantastic clear vistas of the coast and
the east bay? Just another (chilly) day in paradise......Millo Fenzi
(Added by Mike- Not sure from reading this if the group actually did
the west-side Old LaHonda loop, since Millo mentions getting back at
9:38, after a leisurely pace. 9:38 would be the normal time for him
to get back to his driveway after a relatively-high-speed ride.)
HATE THAT AGE THING.
You know, how when you're younger you don't worry about anything,
but as you get older, something about your body that doesn't seem
exactly right gets you concerned there might be something, well, not
exactly right. And that's how I've been feeling the past couple of
days, as a bit of a dull pain (actually, more like a feeling of a bit
of pressure) in my upper chest at the edge of the ribs (nowhere near
the heart) was getting just a bit worse. Something that started out
about two weeks ago as a barely-perceptible pain, which I dismissed as
a bit of a bruise or pulled muscle. But since the three other members
of my family had recently been dealing with pneumonia, I did the
unthinkable. I actually called Kaiser (our health care provider) and
got checked out. A whole lot of questions, a few x-rays, and she tells
me... looks like a bruised rib or pulled muscle.
It's probably my first really obvious indication that my future
might involve a few more Advils than my past. But if that's the worst
thing I have to complain about (I've kinda gotten over that
"transparent hair" spot towards the back of my head), well, things
could be a lot worse. I'm still keeping the weight down to a
reasonable level, I'm still able to ride long (perhaps even longer)
distances, and I can still pull off a pretty hard sprint. Really steep
climbs are another matter. I still enjoy riding them, but the speed's
not there any more. The desire is there, but the legs & lungs to match
that desire apparently belong to someone maybe 10 years younger!
ABOUT LANDIS AND THAT LEAKY FRENCH LAB THAT DOES THE TESTING...
something that's really bugged me is that employees of that lab have
been making a habit of leaking test results to the press, something
specifically against the rules. And without anybody seeming to care.
It seems that somebody in that lab has decided it's not just their
job to acquire and analyze evidence, but to circumvent whatever
judicial process might be in place and have the athlete found guilty
in the public eye via the press. And as much as I've tried to not
paint this as a US vs France thing, I'm beginning to think that
maybe it actually does depict one of the most-basic differences
between our cultures... the fact that it's relatively easy to fire
someone for breaking the rules in the US, but considerably more
difficult in France. Thus there's no heroic act of any sort in
leaking info to the press, because there's much less fear of being
fired if you're caught.
People working in a drug-testing lab shouldn't be acting like it's
party-time when they find someone who appears to be guilty. Their
job is to analyze the samples, in an environment where bias cannot
come into play because they don't know whose sample is being tested.
It's wrong to try and circumvent the normal process (courts & judges
& juries etc) and seek instant condemnation (which, in the case of a
professional cyclist, is the equivalent of a jail term) by leaking
damaging information about someone. There are reasons why the system
has been constructed the way it is, and those reasons should be
respected. Unfortunately, the downside for not following the rules,
at least as far as the testing-lab is concerned, is apparently
ANNUAL TURKEYDAY TROT A SUCCESS!
Of course, by my definition, anytime you're out on the bike it's a
good thing, so it could have been a day of epic weather and only three
people riding and I might still have said it was a great ride. But the
weather was quite nice, if a bit on the cool side (pretty much 43
degrees all the way from Woodside up over Old LaHonda and down to
LaHonda, before it started warming up towards 60 by the time we neared
the coast). We had between 11-14 people as we picked up a few and lost
a few here & there (not literally lost, but rather people who had to
get back a bit earlier). We've got a map & photos with descriptions on
our Google photo site at
That's Todd & James doing side-by-side wheelies in the photo.
If you slept in instead of riding, you missed a good time. Only
one disappointmnet, which was finding that both the bakery in
Pescadero and the General Store in San Gregorio were closed.
EVERYBODY READY FOR TOMORROW'S RIDE? You never know
how many people are going to show up for our annual TurkeyTrot each
Thanksgiving. Actually, I don't even know how many showed up last
year, since I was in Maui riding up Haleakala at the time. Yeah,
life's tough, what can I say. But this year looks good. We've got a
nice route lined up (Woodside/Old LaHonda/LaHonda/Pescadero/Stage/Tunitas)
and the weather looks cool but no rain. And it's a great excuse for
not riding the Mt. Hamilton low-key hill climb going on at the same
time! Besides, Mt. Hamilton has neither the Pescadero Bakery (which
will hopefully be open when we cruise by) nor the metal machine-gun
man & woman sculptures on Stage Road.
11/21/06- TODAY'S TOUGH WORKOUT WAS
FOR THE BIRDS! Or at least one bird anyway, which just about
flew into me at the same place I had my infamous squirrel encounter
some years ago.
Karl, Eric, Milo & George today, with Karl & George actually taking
it quite easy up Kings, while I did my off-season hard/easy/hard
(which sounds more how it felt than saying easy/hard/easy, which is
probably closer to reality) intervals up the hill. Actually we had
an all-too-brief visit with Mark P, who flew up the hill and then
headed directly back down. Overcast, cool but not cold, with very
little moisture on the ground, despite the apparent fog that had
been around earlier. So far we've bee pretty lucky that way, as the
fog seems to burn off from the hills first, then eventually down to
the bay. I rode defensively for the first sprint, not really wanting
have to push, but then rode hard into the second one, with Karl on
my tail. Not sure what George & Milo were up to, but experience
tells me it's always no good, and if I either think they're not
right on my wheel or look around for them, I'm toast. The sprint
into Sky L'Onda was interesting because I had managed to get a gap
on the rest of them, and they couldn't seem to get it together to
chase me down. Karl got even though, forcing me to sit on his
very-fast wheel on the upper stretches of west-side Old LaHonda and
then take the not-yet-official sprint to Skyline. As if I have
anything left at that point; Karl's a great temp rider, and can hold
a hard pace on the flats or gradual climb that amazes me.
THE USUAL SUSPECTS on this-morning's ride. My son
Kevin, who was actually looking forward to a ride up Old LaHonda (he's
a bit of a competitive thing and wants to see if he can beat his old
time), was still down with a nasty cold, so it was an opportunity for
something a bit longer (and definitely needed, with the annual TurkeyTrot coming up in just a few days!). So I met up with Patrick,
our Trek rep, and some friends of Kevin (older Kevin, the regular on
our Tues/Thurs rides) for a trip out to the coast. Kevin's crew was
into a bit more "spirited" pace than Patrick & I, so we sent them on
their way up Kings, and had a very nice ride out to the coast (via
Skyline, then down 84 to San Gregorio) and back up Tunitas Creek. This
was Patrick's first real ride in the hills, so we enjoyed a relatively
leisurely pace up Tunitas Creek, enjoying the sights & sounds on the
That's Patrick in the photo on King's Mtn, with the "2 miles to
go" painted just ahead of him on the pavement.
HATE THAT DREAM!Every couple of years it comes back.
This time, quite vividly. Waking up only put it in pause mode; it
restarted as soon as I was back asleep. 30 years of that dream is
enough for a lifetime. Heck, 30 years for some is a lifetime.
Unfinished business. I'm back in school, about to graduate, only
there's some class, some requirement that wasn't met. Sometimes it's a
math class that, in my dream, I would often skip (in reality, that
just didn't happen; I'd have to be close to death to skip a class in
college). Actually, the dream isn't that far-fetched, since I came
down with mono during the 2nd quarter of my senior year, forcing me to
drop two classes and finish them in my last quarter (25 units in your
final quarter was quite certainly the catalyst for my nightmares!).
Whatever the case, that's what I'd been dealing with (in my sleep)
before this-morning's ride.
And, of course, the nightmare continues when I find Kevin, Karl, Milo
and Dick. No Todd (could be mid-terms at Stanford?), and, of course,
no Chris for a while (broken clavicle from his fall a couple weeks
ago). Milo and Dick start out a bit ahead of us, but unfortunately we
catch up pretty early on the climb up Kings. The morning is cool but
at least the roads are dry, which is good since I'd spend some time
yesterday cleaning up my bike (first time since leaving for France
back in July, so yes, it was in need of some help!). Since we're in
the off-season, people aren't trying to get up the hill in the
fastest-possible time, which allows me to push harder in the tough
parts and then rest up until the others have caught up to me. The
danger is that I might still feel gassed when they catch me, in which
case they just ride on past, leaving me to the vultures that sometimes
circle overhead. But I made it, followed shortly by everyone else
but... Dick. We waited for a bit and then went on, thinking maybe he'd
turned back at some point.
No serious sprints on Skyline, due to
the road being a bit damp in some corners. Actually that's not true;
Kevin, Karl & Milo did go for the final sprint on Skyline, while I
just watched from behind. It's a different view than I normally have,
and kinda interesting. But it's not a perspective I want very often!
On the return up west-side Old LaHonda, through the dark forested
section, it was "rider up!" time as we spied someone heading in our
direction on the one-lane road, which turned out to be Dick. He was
apparently not far behind us, and rode the Old LaHonda loop in reverse
to get back to us.
But getting back to that dream... hopefully I'm good for another
couple years before it strikes again. And while I could think it has
some ominous meaning about unfinished business in my life, it more
likely came up due to a conversation I had with my daughter (who's
attending UC Santa Cruz, that terrible place that created my bad
dream!), who, I'm proud to say, did great on her Chem 1B qualifying
test (if you pass, you go straight to Chem 1B, while if you fail, you
have to take Chem 1A and probably some summer school to make sure you
get in all your requirements). Go Becky!
IT'S NOT JUST GUYS OUT THERE, although you wouldn't
know it from reading about our Tuesday/Thursday-morning rides.
Actually, for the most part, it is just guys on our ride; women
seem to have more common sense than the typical guy and rarely join
us. This morning was no exception, but I bring it up because we have
come across a number of strong women climbing the hill. If we had any
sense (which we don't), we'd probably ease off on the pace a bit
and strike up a conversation (at least those of us with lungs might;
if it's at all on the cool side, they'd hear me gasping for breath and
think someone was stalking them). For what it's worth, there are quite
a few women who'd have no problem keeping up with most of us. This morning it was Kevin, Karl, George & Dick R (not to be
confused with Dick K, our Redwood City sales manager) at the start,
with Dick making a pre-planned strategic move off the back sometime
early in the climb. At Kevin's request we rode up through the park,
just like I did with the other Kevin (my son) a few days ago. I don't
really like going up through the park, as there are two darned steep
sections that do a number on me. Plus it's longer; it generally takes
about 10 minutes to exit at the park entrance on Kings, vs 8 minutes
getting there "direct." And that's two minutes that you have to make
up elsewhere, if the goal is to get to the top under 30. But you gotta
do what you gotta do, so that's what I did, just barely, with about 6
seconds to spare. And yes, Kevin & I did pass a couple of women on the
way up, shown in the photo above, just as they reached the top. A bit foggy in parts at the top, and a bit wet, but as always, a
nice time to be out on a bike. But apparently that's not what some
turkey in a truck thought as we headed down 84 towards Old LaHonda, as
he yelled something nasty at us as he drove past (despite the fact
that we were all riding single-file along the edge of the road at the
time). A couple of us yelled at him to slow down, which he interpreted
as an invitation to lock up his brakes. We were almost looking forward
to an altercation at this point, but he drove on, just a bit too fast
for me to get out the camera and snap his license plate. Maybe next
GETTING BEHIND AGAIN, as computer problems kept me at
the shop for quite a few hours Sunday evening, but will get back
shortly to talk about Sunday's ride, with Kevin (younger Kevin, my
son) who rode up Kings for lunch at Alice's again. Photos (but no
available on line.
INTERRUPT-DRIVEN RIDE THIS MORNING, causing us to
finish 20 minutes behind schedule. Schedule? We have a schedule? Sort
of. In general we're pulling into Sky L'Onda (on our run from Kings
Mtn) around 8:45 or so, but this morning we had run into more paving
work on Skyline, delaying us maybe 8 minutes. Add a couple minutes for
a very easy pace up the hill (at least for Kevin & Eric; I was
suffering in the oxygen-debt-wake behind James, who shows up a couple
times a year to remind me that pain comes from a variety of people,
not just George, Karl, Kevin & Chris). And then another 10 minutes on
west-side Old LaHonda where I got my once-every-3000-miles flat. Well
maybe. I have a feeling I'm running closer to once/1500 miles or so,
but at least it's rare that I ever get a sudden flat, usually just
very slow leaks where I notice that my bicycle seems to have acquired
suspension).Still working on getting rid of this danged cold,
which has taken on the feeling of one of those summer annoying types
of cold that just won't go away but never gets really bad.
11/08/06- EMAIL FROM CHRISthis
morning regarding his crash. "hey mike, so
here's the damage report. besides staying in the e.r. in tremendous
pain for three hours( that day had to be disaster drills day in the
hospital). once they took x-rays it showed i dislocated my shoulder
and to top it off i broke my scapula or shoulder blade bone. so i'm
out of action for three to four weeks. let me tell you, poping that
baby back in was definitely not fun. so you can tell karl and george
they were both right on their diagnosis. finding something to do with
one good arm will be a challenge. well there you go.
i hope you got a
good picture of me to put in the blog. later mike
chris" Given his limited typing abilities at the moment,
we'll excuse his not being able to find the caps key! As for pictures,
yes I've got one that might be relevant, but since it shows him in a
fair amount of pain, I've chosen not to put it up (but I've forwarded
a copy to him, so he can remember that, however he feels right now, he
felt a lot worse yesterday morning!).
11/07/06-OUCH! But we'll get to that in a
minute. A beautiful morning, temp around 61 at the start, and not a
cloud in the sky. Spectacular visibility due to a mild breeze. Karl,
George, Millo, Todd, Chris & the guy I forget the name of, but Millo
will get back to me shortly on that, right Millo? We took it
relatively easy through the park this time, and finished the climb
just under 30 minutes. I was surprised that it wasn't too tough,
since I came down with a bit of a cold, but breathing wasn't much of
a problem (well, no more than usual anyway) while riding, just
before & afterward. Noticed a bit of wheel slippage in a couple
places on Kings Mtn, which seemed odd, as it didn't seem like the
pavement was (or should be) wet.
I rode on ahead a bit on Skyline, hoping to get to the top of the
first sprint well ahead of everyone else and get some shots of...
guys sprinting, what else? Only they didn't sprint! Maybe because
Todd had turned back at the park, due to a foot injury. The only
sprint taken seriously this morning was the infamous final one on
Skyline, even more infamous than normal because at least a couple of
us (myself and Karl) found our rear wheels sliding out a bit in the
corner at the bottom, a very disconcerting feeling. From there on we
took it a bit easy in the corners.
I should also point out that we were held up for quite a few minutes
by a road paving crew on Skyline. Nice guys handling the traffic;
Chris was talking football with one of them. Looks like the really
choppy corner on the Skyline descent will be repaved shortly!
But back to the wheel traction issues. We took it pretty easy going
down 84, as we've already seen enough carnage on our rides on that
section, but it wasn't until the tight turn from Manuella onto
Albion that things caught up with Chris. He looked like he might
have been trying to get a bit ahead, trying to get the advantage for
the final sprint. Unfortunately, his rear wheel went out from under
him, causing him to come down hard (much harder than it looked,
actually) and do a number on his right shoulder. Just got word from
Millo, who went home, got his van and took Chris to the doctor.
Chris ended up with a dislocated shoulder and broken clavicle. 6
weeks off the bike. No fun! And removes one of the main threats to
my awesome (not!) sprint record on our rides. Darn.
And no, I did not take pictures of Chris on the ground. Just
didn't seem like a good thing to do. Not that I was needed to help
him with anything, as we had both Dr. George and Dr. Karl with us,
and can you do a whole lot better in such a situation than having an
MD GP and a DC (Chiropractor) on-hand? It was actually kind of
amusing watching George and Karl try to figure out what Chris might
have done. Seemed like they both had a pretty good handle on what
turned out to be the case.
11/05/06- ONE OF THE BEST DAYS OF THE YEAR, AND I DIDN'T RIDE???
Hard to believe, but true... too many other things going on, one of
which was definitely worth missing a bike ride for. It was the final
even of the season for the Junior Track clinics at the Hellyer
Velodrome (bicycle racing track), which I've been taking my son to
(Kevin, the younger Kevin, not the pilot Kevin that I ride with on
Tuesday & Thursday mornings) for the past couple of months. They've
been holding these free clinics for kids 10-14 each first & third
Sunday of the month, and they're great. Coached by Rob, Glen &
Andrew, it's a great, highly-organized & safe way for kids to get
involved in bike racing... no matter what shape they're in, no
matter how many hours they've spent at video games instead of real
YOU CAN VIEW PHOTOS OF THE EVENT HERE-
19 kids showed up today, probably the biggest turnout of the year
(but I can't be sure, because we didn't get involved with the even
until just a couple months ago).
little kids, boys & girls.
All kinds of kids (even
kids doing Yogo while riding), and I daresay every one of them
looked to be having a fun time. This is like all the best parts of
Little League, and none of the bad. Seriously! One of the reasons
for that might be because, if you don't do well, you're generally
not letting down others on your team, because most events are
individual. And for those that aren't, they're very careful to
balance out the faster and slower riders, and in a way that doesn't
make the kids feel bad about not being the fastest person out there.
I wish I'd had as much training on the track when I raced! Only back
in the day, a roadie like I was generally wasn't very welcome there.
Back then, the road & track cultures were very different, with a lot
of animosity between the two. I was even thrown out once by the guy
who ran the track, supposedly because I was carrying on with my
girlfriend too much (something she seems to remember more than I,
which is the opposite of how such things generally work).
Today started out with the usual warm ups and then a type of pursuit
race (one group of cyclists chasing a group starting on the opposite
side), followed by the always-interesting cone drills, where they
place traffic cones on the track and the riders have to negotiate
tight turns to get around them.
Kevin found a way to get one jammed up into his bike; I wonder
if the fine for destruction of track cones is in Swiss Francs?
I think this was our 4th trip to the track, and the first time Kevin
has really started to get the hang of strategy. In the final points
race (where you have something like an 8-lap race with separate
points for three different sprints during the race, including the
finish), Kevin was a bit back for the first couple of laps and then
noticed things started to get a bit disorganized after the first
sprint, and he found himself off the front a bit. By accident. But
it wasn't an accident that he decided to try and take advantage of
it, so off he went, by himself, with maybe 4 laps to go. The guys
behind just couldn't get a good chase organized, so Kevin kept
hanging out there ahead of the field, looking pretty ragged as the
laps went by, but managed to finish 4 seconds ahead of the
finally-chasing pack. You could say he was
one happy camper as he crossed the line. I'm really going to
miss the track sessions with him, which won't start back up again
until February. And he's going to miss them even more, which really
says something about the quality of the program being run by Rob,
Glen & Andrew!
11/02/06- YES, IT WAS WET OUT, YES, THE RAIN BIKE MADE AN APPEARANCE,
but no, it was anything but epic, just a bit of a drizzle, with
wet messy roads, and so darned warm that you were better off not
wearing much instead of suffering from the dreaded "sauna effect."
That plus the relatively high humidity & temps meant that your eyewear
fogged up too.
I got up just a bit earlier than normal, knowing that it takes a bit
longer to get going when you gotta put on all the extra stuff before
heading out (plus it simply takes longer to ride to the start!). Chris
& Millo showed up; Karl was evidently too sensible, and Kevin was
still elsewhere. We were a bit concerned about slick roads but it
really wasn't a problem... for us. We seemed to have traction on the
roads that was at odds with the conditions, but that wasn't the case
for everyone; about half a mile up King's Mtn we came across a white
VW something-or-other (one of those rectangular-looking cars) that
hadn't made it through a corner and was resting some ways down from
the roadway, very nearly colliding with a tree. Nobody was visible in
the car so we rode on to the park entrance, where we called 911 and
reported it. We had seen a couple county sheriff cars coming down the
hill just before we got to the scene; my guess is that they'd heard
about the accident, but had driven past without seeing it. Most days I
probably wouldn't have seen it myself, but this particular day we were
taking it pretty easy going up the hill, and I spotted it through the
Because of the delay we skipped out on the west-side Old LaHonda loop,
but did decide to ride back up Kings just a bit to see if the car was
still there. Nope. Already removed. They didn't waste a whole lot of
time getting that sucker out of there!
UNBELIEVABLE. THAT DARNED @$%! DID WHAT HE SAID HE DID.
I thought Kevin was joking last Friday, when he told me he'd painted
finish lines for each of the Skyline sprints. But danged if
somebody hadn't done exactly that. Kevin wasn't with us this
morning, but Chris, George, Karl & Millo were. We took it really
easy up Kings, finally giving in to the idea that we are, after all,
heading towards winter and don't need to perform heroically every time
we're out there. As if. But the sprints are another thing entirely. I
wasn't feeling particularly frisky so figured I'd better do the
tactical gig and ride somewhat defensively, following everybody else's
wheel at first until things got going and it was time to let loose.
Only I didn't know about the precise finish line (in the past, the
"finish line" was pretty much determined by the other guy giving in),
and it was just a wee bit further than expected, allowing Chris to
nail it. He didn't even know he took it, but I did. After a while, you
just know. I was so gassed after that attempt that for the next one (Skegg's
parrking lot), I couldn't hold off Karl. Great, 0 for 2. Not good! That last sprint is at least double points though, maybe triple.
The one following the long descent into Sky L'Onda, where it flattens
out at the bottom before heading back up to the finish. There are
several ways to win that one, and many more ways to lose. The easiest
way to lose is to concentrate too much on someone you can actually see
coming up on you; that's not the person who will beat you. It's the
person you don't see, the person in your blind spot, the person
sitting on your wheel. Your focus has to be on absolute speed once you
start heading up from the bottom. And not on the car not that far
behind you (for whom I'm sure we put on quite the show).
Other than the deadly-serious business described above, it was a nice,
but cool morning. Down to about 43 degrees, with just enough dampness
in the air to make it feel even colder. Thankfully, the end of
daylight savings time meant it was probably many degrees warmer than
it could have been, and a fair amount lighter when I woke up.
10/29/06- BREAKFAST AT ALICE'S WAS BOUND TO
BE LESS DEADLY THAN LAST-WEEK'S LUNCH,so Kevin (my son
Kevin) and I set out a bit earlier than our previous rides, heading up
Highway 84 to Sky L'Onda
before the traffic got too bad. Three pancakes for me, some sort of
omelet for Kevin, plus the apparently-mandatory Lemonade we have each
time. The climb up 84 is quite a bit easier than any of the other
routes up to Skyline, being both lower than most (1461 ft, almost
exactly 1000 higher than the start) and never steep. One of the fun
things about riding with Kevin is that the pace, which is quite a bit
slower than I'd normally ride, allows you to see things you might have
otherwise missed. This time, it was a monstrous salamander at the edge
of the road. A salamander as big as last-week's burger!
We stopped maybe three times climbing up 84; it's not about racing
to the top, but just getting there that's important. A bit different
than when I'm on my other rides! But that's OK, because we're
beginning to see it pay off. Kevin's riding stronger up the hills, and
once in a while even smiling. He doesn't recognize the improvement
himself, but it's pretty obvious for me. Well yeah, he'd still
rather be playing video games, or maybe paintball, but I think he's
close to turning the corner where he actually recognizes the potential
that cycling offers him. The freedom of going places on your own,
under your own power. The mind recognizing that pain isn't always a
bad thing, but something that's a telling sign that you're
WHERE'S UEYN? A friendly voice of reason, a regular
rider from the past, but sidelined from our rides by a new kid (his
first) and exiting Stanford graduate school, which means having to
join the ranks of the seriously-employed. He's also one of the few
showing up on our rides whose weight is sometimes greater than my
own! Never seems to slow him down much though. OK, enough of the past, let's get to today's details. Kevin,
Chris, Karl, Millo and... Mark was with us for a bit. No Todd today.
I wasn't feeling particularly fast and did something around 27:30
while the Kevin/Chris/Karl group easily cruised in maybe a minute
ahead of me. Not much in my legs on Skyline, at least not until
close to the start of the descent. Kevin & Chris (I think) got ahead
a bit, with me in the middle and Karl & Millo not visible to either
side, which meant they were most-likely sitting on my wheel. I was
more concerned with closing the gap, and pretty much forgot about
the guys I was probably towing behind me. In fact, I'm caught
totally by surprise when Millo's suddenly there at the line, and had
no idea if he got there first or not (he said it was mine by about a
foot). I've got to be more careful next time; if I don't see Millo
in front of me, I can be pretty darned sure he's right behind me,
waiting to come around. Sneaky guy, Millo!
I wasn't going to have any of that for the final sprint on
Albion, so I put it in too-high a gear and just pushed it as hard as
I could from the front, accelerating to the end (which makes sense,
given it was intentionally too-high a gear). Just a straightforward
long sprint. They can trash me on the climbs, they (well, just Karl,
and he has every right to!) can make fun of me for not doing hard
pulls on 84-west, but at some point you have to put your foot down
and do something. Great. So now I'm just like all those old guys in
the club back when I started racing... old guys that I could trash
on the climbs, but they'd do whatever they had to to make sure they
won the sprints.I used to think, how sad, that that's the
best they can do. Now I know. It is sad!
Clarifications to our 10/26/06 ride report- Karl writes to tell me
that he was "dogging it" back there with Millo on the King's Mtn
climb, a bit behind me, and reminds me that it was actually him (Karl)
that helped bridge the gap for me up to Kevin & Chris on the final
Skyline sprint. And he confirmed that Millo was sitting right on my
wheel the whole time.
STILL PAYING FOR THAT BURGER.Or at least that's
still a convenient excuse! At the start we had Kevin, Chris, Todd &
George, and picked up Millo & Steve on the way up. I'm feeling fat
(gee, I wonder why?) but determined to make the best of things
before the weather turns on us. 26:50 represented the absolute best
I could possibly do this morning, and my heartrate readings back me
up on that. Beautiful morning, if a bit cool, with no dampness in
the air, just a burning in my lungs as I try to extract whatever
oxygen is left in the wake of Kevin, Chris & George. Todd was
holding back a bit, nursing a foot issue of some sort. Didn't stop
him from winning the sprints though. Maybe I'll buy him a Harley
burger at Alice's. That might slow him down!
A GOOD REASON TO RIDE, but back in the day, yeah, I
used to think so.
to eat. Can't
imagine how many arteries suffered from my meal at Alice's on
Sunday. A "reward" for my son, Kevin, who looks forward to lunch
there when I drag him up to Skyline. This time we rode up King's Mtn
(his second time up), then headed south to Sky L'Onda, just like the
Tuesday/Thursday-morning ride does. Normally I'd go for something
just a bit healthier (or perhaps less-unhealthy), but, scanning the
menu, there was this one burger that looked more interesting than
the rest. The Harley. A hamburger to which bacon, sausage & cheese
are added (normally grilled onions too, but I'm not an onion fan). A
darned-good-tasting hamburger, I might add. But something that
harkens back to several years ago, when I rationalized I could eat
what I want, as long as I rode. Any my weight would creep up, bit by
bit by bit. And the guys around me just seemed to get faster &
faster & faster.
Well, my weight's not creeping up anymore; in fact, I'm about 10-12
pounds lighter than several years ago. And that's made a world of
difference in my climbing, no question. The slow decline in speed up
hills has been stopped and even partially reversed, which is a
darned good thing, because the guys I ride with? They just seem to
get faster and faster as they get older. It's not fair! But that's
life, my life in this case, and having to switch to rabbit food
(salads) for lunch, and skipping ice cream & cake pretty much
completely... yeah, sometimes I wonder what it would be like to eat
what I want, when I want. But I don't miss such things nearly as
much as I thought I would. It's possible that my discovery that I
couldn't use riding as an excuse to eat might have added a few years
to my life. It's a certainly that it's kept my times up King's Mtn
reasonable. And it's questionable which I feel is most important!
But dang, it was one fine burger!
10/19/06- 46 DEGREES AND WE'RE WHINING. 'Cuz that's
what we do. We live in California after all, where it's
supposed to be between 65 & 80 degrees all year long. Or at least
that's what we think should be the case. But it's not as if it's 46
degrees the whole time, just at the start. Up on Skyline it's
typically in the mid-50s this time of year, and by the time we're
finished, the day is well on its way to becoming near-perfect. Todd,
at least, has a good reason to feel a bit cold at the start, since
he comes straight from the 6am "morning" ride, where intelligent
people leave a warm coffee shop to go ride bikes in the cold & dark.
Just Todd, Kevin & Chris with me this morning. Todd took it easy up
the hill, and yet dropped me like the rock I am. He didn't get out
of audible range though; with breathing like mine, you can probably
track me one or two corners back. I didn't even contest the first
sprint, choosing instead to watch from a distance with Kevin as Todd
rode away form Chris. Kevin thought it was close; but I could tell
from looking at Todd that it was no closer than Todd wanted it to
be. He's that good. The only way I can beat him is if he really
messes up tactically, which isn't that often.
CAN'T BELIEVE SOMEONE SAID THAT. We've got a
decent-sized group again this morning, starting out with Kevin,
Karl, Chris, George, Todd & Millo. Millo still claims to be a bit
under the weather, so he showed up on a track bike (fixed gear
single speed) and just went as far as the base of Kings. Everyone
else charged up the hill, with me gasping for breath behind (so what
else is new, when only the "A" team shows up?). Chris flatted about
halfway up, so I managed to catch up and then wait for them a bit a
the top. 27:40-something; certainly nothing to write home about! But
we're heading into winter after all. Still, Karl telling us a couple
weeks ago that we should moderate the pace during the winter? I have
yet to see evidence of such!
But the silliness comes a bit later, on west-side Old LaHonda. We're
all together, with a couple people talking about which teams or
clubs someone might want to join. Somebody, don't remember who, says
the absurd. Unbelievably absurd. The question was, Pen Velo or Alto
Velo, and on the anti-Pen Velo side was the fact that they do the
same rides every week. Right. What a terrible thing. And we've
been doing the same ride for what, 20 years now???!!! Like I
said, it was a pretty silly thing to say.
ADDENDUM ON MY DAUGHTER, THE TRACK STAR.Well, she's a long way from being a trackie of any sort, but she
did have a pretty good time until she crashed last Sunday. Turns out
she did, in fact, cause a slight fracture, and will be wearing a
removable cast for a bit. She's cool with that, because it gives her
official "BA" status. After all, it's pretty cool riding a track
bike, on the track. And even more cool getting injured doing it. But
we've got to refine the story a bit. It's not enough to say that
someone in front of her slowed down and she over-reacted and
crashed. I think this is the better story (and mostly supported by
the facts)- "I was coming out of turn #4,
accelerating down the banked part of the track, when the rider in
front suddenly pulled up into my line, causing me to crash."
Yeah. Something like that.
GASSED TO THE EYEBALLS,but that's not me, it's my son,
Kevin, in something evil & nasty called the "Italian Pursuit" at the
San Jose Velodrome (bicycle track).Fortunately not rained out
this time, and Kevin had a blast. In only his second outing he now
thinks he knows his way around the track, and he almost does. I can't
say enough good things about this program; if you've got a kid 10-15
years old, who has any interest at all in riding a bike,
this might be just the thing. Unfortunately, there's only one
session left, coming up November 5th. Kevin doesn't have the greatest endurance in the world, but he was
strong enough to finish with one of the faster 500 meter times in one
of the events they run (timing the riders over a distance of 500
meters). This essentially seeded him in the infamous "Italian Pursuit"
fairly high. What's an "Italian Pursuit?" You've got two teams, on
opposite side of the track, and the lead rider on each lap rides as
fast as he or she can and then, after one lap, peels off the front and
drops out. Then it's the next person's turn, then the next, etc. They
start out with the slower riders and end with the fastest, which means
the faster cyclists end up putting in a lot more laps... which meant
Kevin was pretty gassed by the time it was his turn.
And for those wondering how safe it is... it's very safe
under the watchful eyes of coaches Rob, Glenn & Andrew. Well, there
can be a few bumps & bruises. OK, guess now it's time to admit that my
daughter Becky, who'd taken the bus over from UC Santa Cruz to watch
her brother on the track, got in a little bit of time on the concrete
oval herself (first time for her), and, trying to avoid someone she
thought was slowing down too quickly (on a track bike with no brakes?)
found herself on the ground, managing to do a bit of damage to her
elbow. We're waiting for the official word from the radiologist, but
might be some damage to the Ulna (one of the main bones in your arm).
She still insists she had a great time though, and she's certainly got
bragging rights back at school!
10/12/06- HERE KITTY KITTY KITTY, HERE
KITTY... actually, it didn't take much coaxing at all
to coax Kevin's cat out of hiding so we could feed it (I'd normally
use "him" or "her" instead of "it" to describe someone's cat, but I
really don't know which it was, aside from being a blue-grayish ball
of fur... and, truth be told, I'm more of a dog person anyway). Karl &
Todd joined me this morning up the hill, with Millo begging out due to
a cold, and Kevin in Dallas for training (flight, not bicycle). But
since he was out of town for several days, he asked if we could drop
by his house during our ride (he's about a half mile off Skyline) and
feed his cat. I guess that's what friends are for?
No sprints this morning, not even the full run on west-side Old
LaHonda, since we ate up some time taking care of Kevin's cat, and
then Karl noticed that his tire was trying to come off his rim and
wisely decided to re-mount it.
10/10/06- BACK TO THE LOCAL GRIND ON
THE TUESDAY/THURSDAY-MORNING RIDE! But it's
generally a good grind, with good people and great roads. Lots of
people out there this morning, so I'll probably miss a few. Millo,
Chris, Karl, George, Steve, Todd... I think there was one more.
Kevin didn't show, probably worried for his life after leading us
over Sonora Pass in the snowstorm.
I did things a bit different this morning, staying in the saddle for
the entire ride (normally I spend quite a bit of time standing on
the climbs). After Friday & Saturday's rides, when I basically lost
all power in the saddle (which is a real problem when you're no
longer climbing) I decided it would be a good thing to force myself
to not stand, no matter what. And boy, that's a hard one for me. So
many times I wanted to literally pop up off the seat! I felt so much
slower (which apparently was more than a perception, as it was
mentioned by others), but I do need to re-train those muscles so I'm
not totally dependent on standing to get me up a hill.
10/10/06- REFLECTIONS ON THE
SONORA/JUNE LAKE/TIOGA PASS RIDE. Friday's ride
from Columbia (just north of Sonora) up over Sonora Pass and into
Bridgeport was probably one of the hardest rides I've ever done. I'd
just gotten over the worst of a cold that's been going around, and I
haven't put in significant miles in ages. But I'd gotten talked into
the ride by several "friends" who were going to be doing it and,
since I hadn't yet done my Sonora Pass ride yet this year, it seemed
to be fate that I just had to do it.
We had a pretty strong group of riders, and perhaps lived up to
ride-leader Kevin's motto of "Cowards won't show and the weak will
die." When it started to get bad on Sonora Pass, the "weak will die"
part seemed like it might have applied to me. Somewhere around
8000ft I felt like I lost most of my power, and when it started
snowing, it twice seemed like a convenient excuse to stop and take a
few photos, and then, heaven forbid, I actually walked a short
distance up a couple of steeper sections. Yes, I walked. I could
have just stood and caught my breath, but it seemed like moving in
the right direction, regardless of propulsion, was a better choice
than standing still.
After things leveled off a bit (around 9200ft) I felt a bit better,
but still couldn't get much steam going. I was very happy
to reach our sag wagon at the top, a happiness that was mistaken by
Ralph, the sag driver, to mean that I was in good spirits and having
a great ride! Well, I was in good spirits, but it was entirely for
the moment. Something about having ridden alone for over an hour,
with your legs trying to distract you from the beautiful
surroundings, as well as the absurdity of riding up the 2nd-highest
trans-Sierra pass in a snowstorm.
The real test was just ahead. 40 miles to Bridgeport, with the
crazy-in-good-weather descent off Sonora Pass as soon as I was ready
for it. My first test of my Bontrager XXX-Lite carbon wheels and
cork brake shoes too. But who needs brakes, on a descent with grades
as much as 26%, on roads coated with rain, sleet & snow, and
temperatures guaranteed to create the shivers? Thankfully, I'm here
to tell you that my brakes worked incredibly well. No issues
whatsoever. I was very pleasantly surprised!
What wasn't quite so pleasant was the very, very slow improvement in
temperature as I lost altitude. 30 degrees at the top, and at 8000ft
it was only up to 34. By the time I got to Levitt Meadows (with most
of the descent behind me) it was up to 40; I'd really been hoping
for 50! But you take what you get and move along. Only I wasn't
moving very quickly, as it was here that I first really noticed the
issue of not developing much power while seated. The final 30 miles
into Bridgeport was not a whole lot of fun, as my only challenges
seemed to come from my own body (it's easier when you can blame the
elements!) and I was beginning to bonk a bit (the original plan had
been to eat something at the top of Sonora Pass, but with the temp
being 30 degrees, I really didn't want to wait around long enough
for the roads to ice over).
But I limped into Bridgeport, between a number of riders who'd
finished ahead & behind. After a shower I felt a bit better; heck, I
felt a bit better as soon as I was off the bike! But shortly after
that things became a bit "dark" as we pondered the next couple of
days, knowing that all the passes over the Sierras were now closed
(including Tioga, our route home in two days). A couple of people
decided that the uncertainty was a bit too much and made plans to be
picked up by friends who were staying at Lake Tahoe, an hour (by
car) to the north. The rest of us hoped that the promised nice
weather for the weekend would materialize, and made plans for our
"easy" day tomorrow, heading from Bridgeport to Lee Vining in the
morning, followed by a casual ride out to June Lake in the
The next morning (Saturday) arrives on-schedule, with the skies still not
looking particularly pleasant. But it was dry, it wasn't too cold
(about 42 when we started out), and it was going to be an "easy"
ride to Lee Vining. Easy for most everyone else but me; I wasn't
feeling too comfortable, still not getting any power, and on the
long, gradual grade up to Conway Summit I fell off the pace and
regrouped at the top. Quite the view from there- all of Mono Lake
and much, much more... and all of it under heavy, dark clouds.
Clouds that lightened themselves up a bit shortly after we began the
descent, with a literally-painful combination of rain & hail. This
was Kevin's "virgo" that he was pointing out to us at the top- rain
that never quite makes it to the ground. Right. Instead, it targets
Thankfully, my legs finally started coming back to me on the final
run into Lee Vining, as I made good speed on the descent and
connected with a train of three of the faster riders in our group.
Saturday evening it was time for dinner at the famous Whoa-Nellie
Delli, a strange eatery at the Mobil gas station (yes, you read that
right) at the 395/120 junction. Interesting, reasonably-price
semi-fancy cuisine served in a fast-paced-Denny's atmosphere. You have
to see it to believe it. I had a steak salad that was very good,
although what I really felt like having was a hamburger. But somehow
that just seemed a bit wrong, as you can have a hamburger just about
As it was Kevin's birthday we had a cake with candles (15 instead of
51) and a good time talking about the past two day's riding with just
a bit of fear regarding what lay ahead tomorrow morning. That
apprehension (along with the terrible springs in the sofabed) kept me
awake later than I wished that night, but I resolved that Sunday was
going to be a great day, period.
7am Sunday and the alarm goes off... 7am just didn't seem so
early anymore, after having to get up at 4:30am on Friday for the long
drive to the start! I tried to eat as much as I could, given that I
don't feel like eating much that early, and forced down some
semi-frozen yogurt and a couple of pop-tarts. Yes, you read that
right. Then, instead of continuing to let the stubble on my face grow
(there's something about being away from work & family that encourages
me to not shave), I decided that, if I really wanted things to be
different today, it was time to shave. No, I can't figure that one out
either, but it did make a difference in how I felt about the day.
First victory, I guess (the victory being not slicing off my nose or
something like that?).
The original plan was for people to leave at 8am, but the past couple
of days told me that 8:15 was more likely. But a couple of us were
ready at 8am, so the heck with waiting, I set out ahead of the rest,
allowing me to ride up Tioga Pass at my own pace... probably the
smartest thing I did those three days! It was a beautiful morning,
cool but manageable for a climb (36-39 degrees), with mostly sun but a
few clouds casting interesting shadows here & there. It took about an
hour and twenty minutes to get to the top, which meant I was climbing
at pretty close to my normal speed (about 3000 ft/hour). We regrouped
at the park entrance at the top, ate a bit, put on an additional layer
of clothing for the descent (which was promptly removed about 10 miles
later) and headed down.
Down? Down the west side of Tioga Pass? It really isn't "down" at
all... seems like you climb just as much as you descend on the way to
Crane Flat! But I hung in there and felt pretty darned good the whole
way (although it did seem to take longer to get to Crane Flat than I
thought it would). Thankfully the service station and general store
there was open, so I grabbed a Mtn Dew LiveWire and a ham & cheese
sandwich and life was very, very good. Something about eating
non-cycling food that does the trick sometimes. Powerbars & Cytomax
can only go so far before you start craving something terribly
unhealthy! --More to come
THERE'S A STORY HERE, and I'll
bet you want to know just a little bit about it. And you'll find out
shortly, but not until I catch up on a bit of sleep. It has to do with
a ride that just about anyone would consider to be of "epic" caliber,
and not just because it involved riding from Columbia (near Sonora)
over Sonora Pass, with a planned return over Tioga two days later. The
distances and amount of climbing by themselves would tend to deter
most sensible people.
But what happens when you have 13 people, with one sag (with room for
only one extra person), and on your way up Sonora Pass you just happen
to run into a snow storm? The photo on the left tells you what
happens. You end up with a bike that's got snow all over it, frozen
chunks of ice on the cranks, a computer display telling you it's 30
degrees (instead of the 60 expected), and a whole lot of questions
about such things as, how well do cork pads work on carbon rims in the
We had no choice but to continue on over the pass and on to
Bridgeport, a mere 100 mile day with approximately 13,000 feet of
climbing. Somehow, all but one of us made it. Don't worry, the one who
didn't sagged in. And, because this was, after all, a questionable
time of year to be heading over the Sierras, I really wasn't all that
bad off in terms of clothing, and while it wasn't always fun, it was
certainly memorable, and not entirely a bad memory.
Unfortunately, the passes closed behind us (gee, I wonder why?)
leaving us at a loss for how we would get back home, since our planned
ride back was over Tioga pass. Fortunately the skies
cleared a bit and Sunday we made our way, relatively uneventfully, the
116 miles from Lee Vining back to Columbia. I actually felt pretty
strong on the final leg, and the section from Crane Flat to
Groveland literally flew by, even the nasty straight climbs tossed
in courtesy of Highway 120. Groveland to Columbia is another story.
Ouch! If you look at a map and see the roads Wards Ferry and Old
Wards Ferry and think gee, those look like a nice way to get from
point-A to point-B, think again!
More on this ride in the next couple of day. --Mike--
FIRST RIDE WITH THE RAIN BIKE this season; never
something I look forward to, especially when it's unexpectedly
early. Had to dig out the various cold-weather & rain gear, and only
found bits & pieces. That's the penalty for living in California,
where you basically have a drought between mid-May all the way
through (usually) the end of October. A penalty I'm willing to pay!
But this morning was a reminder that changing times are ahead.
Kevin, Karl & Millo showed up this morning to wet pavement, but no
real rain. Not even sure it even drizzled, and the views were pretty
spectacular. Of course I didn't bring the camera because I was
expecting rain (not good for camera gear, and generally doesn't make
for great photos).
We took it very easy going up Kings... pretty much the entire
way for that matter. Pretty much a B-ride pace, which was just fine
for me as I continue to recover from my cold. Didn't feel too bad,
but no sprints due to the wet roads and the fear of what happens
come way too early for me, as I haven't been able to talk
myself out of a 3-day ride in the Sierras with Kevin and a bunch of
his friends. His 51st birthday ride, which will start in Columbia
tomorrow morning, head over 108 (also known as Sonora Pass) to
Bridgeport, where we spend the first night, then Saturday a nice
ride around June lake, then on to Lee Vining Saturday night, and
leave Sunday from there, over 120 (Tioga Pass) and back to Columbia.
This is my idea of a good time? Good people, to be sure, but when I
had my 50th birthday party a while back, noticeably lacking was
anything that might be considered S&M.
10/03/06- THEY THINK THEY'RE SO SNEAKY! I'm getting
over a nasty little cold, so when the guys (Kevin, Millo, George &
Karl) suggested heading up through the park to meet up with King's,
I said no, didn't have the horsepower for the steeper parts of that
route. And secretly I was hoping they'd do exactly what they did...
let me get a bit ahead and then make the turn into the park while I
went up the "normal" route. Good thing too, as it gave me an extra
couple of minutes to rest at the park entrance. And I still managed
to drag myself to the top in a bit under 30 minutes, sick or not. I
did sit out the first couple of sprints, but that last one into Sky L'Onda... dang, Millo was giving me a leadout, then let somebody
else get past him (whose wheel he sat on), and how could I resist
going for it in an ideal position like that? I kept wondering where
George was; somebody must have been unintentionally blocking for him
because I came across the line with only Millo a bit behind. Millo
who was screaming something very loudly, giving me concern there
might be a car coming up behind us, but no, it was just Millo
screaming. He does that sometimes. Usually it's just "Bastard!"
Which I take as a compliment.
And yes, summer is over. Got down to 48 degrees on the
ride. I asked George, who's an MD, if maybe I should get a lung
transplant to deal with my cold-weather breathing, er,
inefficiencies. I was joking, but he took me seriously, and said
there's no way I'd climb well again after a lung transplant. So
guess I'll scratch that one off the list...
10/01/06- IT SEEMED SO
MUCH LONGER THAN 44 MILES!Rode
the Old LaHonda/San Gregorio/Tunitas loop, and it sure seems a lot
longer than 44 miles from my house & back. I guess you actually cut
off a fair number of miles when you go up Tunitas and down Kings,
instead of heading back via LaHonda/84 (the way you came). Or maybe
it's one of those wishful things that goes back to the days before
bike computers, when you figured it was 50 miles roundtrip to the
coast, 100 miles to Santa Cruz (via Skyline & Highway 9) or 120
miles the long way (via the coast). The reality is that all of those
numbers are likely on the wishful side. Nice ride though. Started out with Kevin, Lesley (his
a-bit-more-than-just-friend), and Laura (one of the strongest women
on the planet, veteran of things like the Furnace Creek 508 and I
think she's done RAAM/Race Across America as well). Laura rode as
far as west-side Old LaHonda/84, and I split from Kevin & Lesley at
Tunitas (they were doing a longer run through Half Moon Bay, while I
had to get back early to take my son to the San Jose bicycle track). Ah yes, the track. This time my son ambushes me with three of
his friends tagging along. Hey, why not, the more the merrier. A bit
of a pain picking them all up and making sure they've got signed
releases, and explaining to parents that it's likely they'll be
coming back in pieces, but it all works out. At least until we get
within spitting distance of the track, and are caught up in a huge
traffic jam at the 101/something-or-other merge. But we get there
only a few minutes late, to find... Rain. Light drizzle, actually, but they won't run track events
if it's not dry. And the light drizzle isn't letting up; in fact, it
turns into light rain over the next 45 minutes or so before they
officially call it off. Dang. Where's the helicopter to dry things
off? And the strangest thing is that San Jose was about the only
place getting rained on. Just a few drops a few miles north at our
Los Altos store.
REPORT FROM MILLO WHILE MIKE'S IN LAS VEGAS-A grayish
overcast day and the usual suspects - Karl, Kevin, Millo - gathered
at the start point. Mike was using Interbike as an excuse to taper
and see girlie shows in Vegas. In Mike's absence we decided to
eschew Kings and do what Karl calls a local flat ride. Local flat
means vaguely level with frequent moderate hills. A typical 30 mile
local flat ride includes over 1800 feet of climbing! So we head
south on Canada, up Alpine until it turns to dirt, then back up
Canada to Crystal Springs, up Polhemus, across the bike trail to
Canada and back. Ride took about two hours. Our train regularly
exceeded 30 mph with good strong pulls by all. Karl cagily defined
all the new sprint locations by blowing off the front and so
collected pretty much all of them. Kevin begged for some real hills
to slow the pace down. A nice change of scenery and it does
highlight that the "regular route" is hard to beat what with little
traffic, few stop signs, and fantastic views. Now the trick will be
to see if we can get Mike to do the local flat route....
THESE YEARS AND FINALLY AN ALTERCATION WITH A MOTORIST!
We've had a pretty good record going; 30 years of riding up Kings
and down Skyline and never a serious incident with a car. That ended
this morning, as our group (pretty
group too... Kevin, Karl, Bill, Todd, George, Millo, David H
(long-time customer & friend who's never been on our ride before),
was heading south on Skyline towards Sky L'Onda. Shortly before the
descent I hear a car horn blasting at us, look back and catch
glimpse of a green car sitting on Todd's butt, as Todd was passing
Kevin. Near as I can tell Todd never knew the car was there and was
simply moving past other riders, a perfectly-legal (and consistent
with the California Vehicle Code) maneuver. The driver thought
cyclists shouldn't be riding double-file on the road and hence the
Meanwhile I'm slightly up ahead of all this (which gave me time
to get out the camera and get the blurry photo) and, just before the
descent, pull off the road to get a better idea of what the heck is
going on. The car is still back there and I wave him over (at least
that's what he thought I was doing; the reality is that I think I
was actually waving over the others in our group). Oh great, what am
I doing I'm thinking. Fortunately the guy isn't 6'2, 280lbs and
drunk, but a rather normal-looking late-30s guy who has a problem
with cyclists on what he thinks is his own private road.
take long before there's another four of us with the guy in the
car... definitely safety in numbers, I'm thinking about now. And we
had a reasonably calm, rational discussion with him until he gets
into this thing about how he's not going to cross the centerline to
pass cyclists!!! Mind you we've had minor issues with this guy
previously, basically coming too close to us for comfort, and now we
know why. That's when Kool Karl lost it a bit and told him that he
was a whole lot more concerned about his life than this guy's
insistence on not crossing over the line to pass. And keep in mind
that, during the entire five minutes this took place, not a single
car passed us. It's not as if he didn't have many opportunities to
My contribution to the conversation was to tell him he was
picking on the wrong group of cyclists; that the last thing in the
world we want to do is get in someone's way and automatically move
to the side when we see or hear a car. It's just what we do.
Sometimes someone sneaks up on us, and we feel bad about it,
sheepishly moving back into single-file mode if we happened to have
been riding side-by side (but we never, ever, take over the road).
I've intentionally left the photo small & fuzzy so you can't
identify the license plate, but the car is a green Subaru Outback.
My guess is that he's not going to be much of a problem in the
future, or at least that's my hope. The fact that he did stop and
talk with us is a good thing, not bad (had he emerged with a
baseball bat I might have felt differently!). But if anyone has had
an accident involving this guy, please let me know and I'll provide
the missing details (license plate and less-fuzzy photo).
Actually, I was rather surprised that the guy didn't seem to
mind me taking photos & video as he was talking.
RETURN OF THE CLAW! OK, somebody please tell me why
yellow jackets are an essential part of the ecosystem. What exactly
would go wrong if they ceased to exist? Perhaps a minor effect on
picnic gluttony, as they try and take over the food, but what else?
What redeeming creatures do these guys have?
What brings this up is episode 4 (or maybe 5?) of THE CLAW. Yellow
jacket sting (could be a bite) to one of my fingers, which causes
severe swelling beginning about two hours later, usually peaking at
48 hours and gradually returning to normal within maybe 5 days or
so. I have no idea why this happens; a bee sting, no problem, scrape
the stinger away and it's no worse than a mosquito bite. But a
yellow jacket and Puff Daddy's got nothing on me! The affected hand
swells up such that it looks like you could prick it with a pin and
it would explode, in a very gross fashion.
First time it happened was kinda scary; after a couple days, when my
forearm looked the shape & size of a football I went to see the
Doctor, who said it was a severe toxic reaction. Not an allergic
reaction, nothing that would require emergency medication or some
such, just a real nasty inconvenience. One time, heading up King's
Mtn, it was quite literally a pain in the butt as several of us got
stung in our behinds by an unseen, but obviously agitated group of 'em.
But no, my butt didn't swell like my hand in the photo above (thank
Does anybody know of a good yellow-jacket repellent? In the
meantime, next time they want to spray malathion to get rid of some
nasty bug, I'm going to find out if it will kill yellow jackets as
well. If it well, to heck with the environment. Spray away!
IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES, IT WAS THE WORST OF TIMES.
Not really the worst, but doing a memorial ride for a cyclist killed
by a drunk driver is something you wish didn't come up. John Peckham
was a fast-rising racer in the Alto Velo cycling club, struck by a
car on Old Page Mill Road a few weeks ago. Around 500 cyclists
showed up for a ride to the site of his death, where flowers and
other items were laid down in remembrance. It was difficult to
watch, as John's girlfriend (wearing a t-shirt under an Alto Velo
jacket that read "I Love My Boyfriend"), her mother, and John's
mother revisited the scene.
THINGS WERE VERY DIFFERENT LATER ON as I took my son and a friend
of his to the San Jose Hellyer Velodrome (bicycle track) for their
first experience not only on track bikes (which have no brakes or
gears) but also racing. More on that soon as I go through the photos
and put up a web page.
09/23/06- TOOK A FEW HOURS OFF ON A BUSY
SATURDAY to help out with a ride put on just for Town
Council members of Woodside. The idea was to introduce them to
Woodside on a bicycle... what we as cyclists face as we ride through
town, why somebody would want to ride a bike, and to show that we're
not all, as someone said, "recreational terrorists." I think we
accomplished our goal. The council members certainly didn't seem
like nasty, unreasonable people who hate everything about bikes.
More on this one as things develop.
JUST ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE. Warming up again so no
need for legwarmers or windshells. Todd, Kevin, Millo, Karl, Mark...
might have been somebody else who had to turn back early besides
Mark, but don't recall. A decent, reasonably-civilized ride with
Mark charging up the hill a bit faster than I can handle, while Todd
controlled the pace in back. Which kind of left me alone, in the
middle. That place where you're seeing the guy in front disappear
around the corners way up ahead, and imagining the guys behind are
going to suddenly fly past if you try to catch your breath.
Nice to have Kevin back with us, after having to work the past three
rides. No noteworthy sprints; that's usually the case when Todd's
around. The Human Hummingbird just winds it up and flies on past.
Very impressive. Once in a while I try to time it just right and get
on his wheel when he jumps, but if you sit and wait for it (instead
of anticipating it and taking off just a bit before he does), you
don't have a chance.
DON'T TRUST KARL. Nice morning, a bit cool but nice.
Karl, Eric, Todd, Millo, George and, a bit later (at the top) Steve.
Still no sign of Kevin (the pilot, who's apparently had a change in
work schedule lately). I should have figured things out early; as we
approached Kings Mtn, Millo was off the front just a bit, so Karl
suggests we make the right turn into the back side of Huddart Park,
essentially ditching him until we meet up again at the upper park
entrance further up Kings. Alas, Millo looked back to see us make
the turn, so we regrouped for a ride up through the park and then
onto Kings. Moderate pace that felt much harder than that... hate it
when it's like that!
The sprint into Sky L'Onda was pretty easy, with Karl and Millo
leading out, making for a pretty easy slingshot past... except that
I didn't realize Todd was coming up on my left. Darn that guy! Not
even sure if he took it or not, but that doesn't really matter.
Today, the story was all about Karl.
Karl who, on west-side Old LaHonda, was pushing the pace, went off
the front pretty hard, and then disappeared into the corners. We
chased, and chased, and chased. And never saw him. George was
pulling me along (my bungee cord stretched to its limit!), all the
way to Skyline. And still no George. ??? After a bit we finally see
Karl coming up the hill, along with everyone else. Karl, it seems,
had hidden in a driveway or some such, watched us go past, and then
pulled in behind. We were chasing a ghost!
BECAUSE YOU CAN DO IT!Forget about the usual drivel you'd read here regarding the
latest Tuesday/Thursday-morning ride, how fast we got up the hill,
who nailed the sprints, etc. There's a whole world of people out
there who really enjoy cycling, but will never relate to any of
that. Heck, there's a whole group of cyclists-that-might-be that are
probably scared off reading about that sort of thing. My son Kevin
would be one of them.
Kevin's the real world. The kid who thought it was crazy to think
about riding up to Skyline on a bike. That it was beyond his
abilities. But he's proven himself wrong. First with Old LaHonda and
then, today, on King's Mtn. Hecan do it. He did do it. And
it's not as if he's a sports jock at school either. His idea of a
good time is likely to involve an X-box as much as anything
outdoors. I'm working to change that. Slowly. A bit at a time. And I
think it's working.
And if it works for Kevin, I'm thinking it can work for others as
well. Don't give up, either on yourself, or your friend who doesn't
believe in him or herself.They may think a ride up to Skyline is
beyond their abilities, but odds are, they're wrong. They can do it.
It may not be easy that first time, and it may not even be fun as
you reach for a lower gear, only to find there are none left.
But there's that feeling you get when the top is finally in sight.
Like the part of King's Mtn when you first see the yellow caution
sign, telling you there's a stop up ahead. That can only mean one
thing- the top! And that's the moment caught here, as Kevin dares to
look up with hope that his hour+ trip up King's Mtn is over.
Don't be fooled into believing that you can't climb because you're
not in shape. A bit of patience can help you accomplish almost
THIS IS WHAT YOU LIVE TO HEAR.It's a relatively-small
group this morning, as Kevin is still working (he's a pilot and
every once in a blue moon, it seems work gets in the way of his
riding), but we've got Karl, Millo, Eric and Mark. A bit breezy &
cool, with temps as low as 50 degrees, and definitely wet in areas
due to fog. Nobody's really killing themselves on the main climb, so
for the first time in ages I'm able to do interval work, letting
someone get a hundred yards or so in front of me and then trying to
chase them down. Finally a chance to get away from simply trying to
get up the hill as quickly as possible, trying to keep up with the
other guys. But the surprise comes later on, when we're cruising
along on the west side of Old LaHonda, and Karl's telling me that
we'd get some more people on the ride if the pace were a bit more
moderate in the off-season. It seems that some others would like to
ride with us if the pace were a bit more moderate, particularly now
that the racing season is over. No complaints from me on that
suggestion! I could definitely use some more interval work to keep
things interesting.So we'll see about moving the pace from
26 minutes or so to something closer to 30.
09/12/06- 2.2 MILES PER HOUR!
Well, that's what it felt like on this-morning's ride up King's
Mountain, a far cry from how I rode Sunday returning from Half Moon
Bay. Karl, Millo, Eric & George on the main climb, although George &
Karl later headed out to the coast while the remaining group did the
usual ride, on a morning that actually got quite warm- 79 degrees on
west-side Old La Honda! No snakes or lizards out on the road though.
I blame the slow speeds up Kings on some recent paving patchwork;
unquestionably, sticky pavement and my tires just don't mix. Can't
figure out why it doesn't slow down anybody else though...
22,000 MILES PER HOUR! Well,
that's what it felt like on the return leg of my ride this morning.
Had to deliver my 13-year-old to a barbeque in Half Moon Bay, so he
did a one-way trip up Old LaHonda, lunch at Alice's at Sky L'Onda,
then down 84 to San Gregorio, up stage to Highway 1 and north to
Half Moon Bay. He wasn't exactly a happy camper heading up Old
LaHonda this time; seemed to be a bit tougher than two weeks ago. On
the other hand, he finally got up in less than an hour, including
He was definitely rejuvenated for a while after lunch, although he's
still a bit cautious on the descents, holding onto the brake levers
the entire time (which tends to make your hands a bit tired & sore).
But a Gatorade and cookie at the San Gregorio store, which didn't
help immediately on the
climb up Stage to Highway 1, did kick in once we got to the top. I
had assumed we'd be calling his sister to head south on Highway 1
and intercept us (so he wouldn't have to ride the whole way), but
once on the coast he found his legs again and wanted to ride all the
way in. Somewhere around 2500ft of climbing for him, in about 37
Lots of people out on the road today, including Burt, from our Redwood
City store (shown in the photo on the left, on Mountain Home Road).
And why not? Just another beautiful day in paradise. Really, just
what (besides perhaps warmer water at the beaches) would paradise
have to offer that we don't have right here?
Once I jettisoned my cargo in Half Moon Bay, it was time to head back
and see what the legs could do. I wasn't really looking forward to
the west side of 92, which is very narrow and, where there's a
shoulder, it's got quite a cut in the pavement that seems designed
to swallow up road bike tires. But if you go fast enough it's not
much of an issue, and fast was what I wanted on the return. My
mission was to make sure my speed never saw the lower side of 10mph
during the climb, and, while it looked pretty doubtful a couple
times, I made it. And somehow got back to Redwood City in about 47
minutes (from the stop light at Highway 1 & 92). It felt like
22,000 miles per hour. Thank goodness the max effort was, in fact,
less than an hour... no way could I have kept it up for much longer!
But overall a very fun ride.
HATE THAT SOUND!That sound you hear just a bit ahead
of you, metalbanging against pavement. That was on the
descent into Woodside
on 84, when Jeff, who had ridden off the front of the rest of us,
couldn't quite make it through "Millo's Corner" (the hard right-hand
banked-wrong corner with nasty pavement on the upper section of 84,
where Millo had previously gone down) and ended up on the ground in
the middle of the road. Not hurt, but obviously a bit stunned as we
had to remind him that it might be a good idea to get out of the
middle of the road.
That's Jeff in the yellow jersey, looking on while Karl is tending
to his bike, with Eric to the left.
Jeff, Eric, Kevin, Karl & Millo were with me this morning; I think
everyone felt better than I did. One of those mornings where I just
couldn't quite get going. One of those mornings I used to have
fairly often, but far fewer lately. But fortunately one of those
mornings where, as used to be the case, things got a whole lot
better as the ride progressed. That's the great thing about cycling;
if you don't feel great at the start, you usually work into it an
hour or so later.
The worst thing about crashing, whether it's you or someone else, is
the loss of confidence. That feeling as you're descending that
something isn't quite right, maybe low tire pressure, maybe a stiff
headset bearing, but somehow your bike doesn't feel like it's
handling the way it should. It eventually goes away, as it's all in
your head, just one of those things that happens when you get a bit
09/05/06- WHY DIDN'T I BRING MY CAMERA TODAY?
Small group this morning; myself, Millo, Eric and Todd. (Normally I
don't include myself in the listing, but when it's only four
people... ). Nice morning, a bit cool with the fog just burning off.
We had a pace deer on Albion, as a young doe was racing along the
patch beside us, looking for a place to turn in. Probably raced
alongside us for over 100 meters before finding the hole in the
We did have a project- getting Millo up the hill as quickly as
possible. We held him back at the start of the ride (he often leaves
a few minutes ahead of us), telling him life's tough, we were going
to pace him up the hill. And he did pretty good! Something around
29:20 if I recall correctly. From there we wheel-sucked Todd (I
think; I know it wasn't me!) to Sky L'Onda, where Todd took the
sprint (not much chance of me beating Todd), and then a fast
Todd-driven run down the west side of 84 to Old LaHonda. West-side
Old LaHonda is where I really needed the camera; the fog had settled
in at maybe 800 feet or so, so just the tops of the various ridges
were poking through as you looked out toward the coast. Dang! Maybe
09/04/06- FUN RIDE UP TO SF TO WATCH THE SF
GIRO BIKE RACE.Actually, the idea was that Todd & I
were going to ride up to the race, and Todd was going to actually
enter it, which was the reason I was riding with my oh-so-heavy
camera bag (yeah, right... it actually weighs just 6.5 lbs). Then,
the plan was that we were going to take the train back home. But as
usual, plans are subject to change, this time because Todd's even
had already filled up to capacity, with a 30-person waiting list.
Wasn't going to happen! So instead we loop up around the Marina and
head back via Skyline & Sawyer Camp Trail. Nice day for a ride; a bit on the cool side heading up El Camino
and cruising through the City (about 57 degrees), but warmed up
nicely on the return. 70 miles or so of riding; I'll be putting up a
web page detailing the route in the near future.
09/03/06- HEROES & GOATS.
Sunday was a special day for Kevin (my 13-year-old); his first outing
on a real road bike with drop bars, a Trek Pilot 2.1. So we lined up
something special for him... not just up Old LaHonda, but down the
other side, so he could see the faces carved into the rock, and
really earn that hamburger waiting for him at Alice's. That was
the plan. And it was a good plan! But it was also a plan that
was foiled when I forgot to bring along the baggie that I'd placed
my cell phone, cash & credit card into... so that we're sitting down
at Alice's after having ordered some lemonade when I realize oop, I
have no money to pay with... so I have to go hunt down the waitress
before she brings the drinks, apologize for screwing up, and try
(not-so-well) to keep Kevin in good spirits while forcing him to eat
a PowerBar, which he really didn't want to do.
ERIK ZABEL'S GOT NOTHING ON ME!Four sprints, four
second places, all to Todd. Tuesday's epic Sky L'Onda sprint is not
likely to ever repeat, as Todd's not going to get caught napping
like that again. Oh, for those who don't get the "Zabel" reference,
Erik Zabel is one of the best classic European sprinters ever, but
as he's gotten on in years, he just doesn't seem to have what it
takes to win, just a whole lot of 2nd & 3rd places. Of course, the
comparison requires that, in my past, I could show a lot of
victories, but that's where the comparison dies, hard. In my five
and a half years of competitive cycling, I had only one really
notable win, and one heck of a lot of 2nd places. So many, in fact,
that one could make the case that I must have let myself get beaten
mentally before getting to the line. Todd doesn't have those
problems. Let's see... it was Karl, Todd, Eric (not Zabel!), Kevin, Millo...
dang, I'm missing someone... Mark, I think Mark P was with us for
the main climb. Of course, I'm not in any position to be watching
everyone, although my efforts did get me a time of 26:10, definitely
faster than I thought I was going. But to tell you the truth, I miss the earlier days of the season,
when the fast guys climbed quite a bit more slowly, and I had the
chance to ride up the hill not just for time, but for fun as well. A
chance to play "interval" games on the hill, where you let your
target get out ahead of you a bit, usually a hundred yards or so,
and then race back up to them. The first time isn't so hard, the
second time you're really feeling it, and the third time you pull
that sort of stunt you just barely make it and have no possible hope
of riding up the rest of the hill with them. Yes, that's my sick
idea of fun, and it's a great way to get into shape when you have
very little time to ride.
08/30/06- FEELING A BIT CHEATED AS I THINK
BACK ON THE '06 TdF.
I've been looking over the many hundreds (actually well over a
thousand) photos I took at this-year's Tour de France, and there's
quite a few that I could do something with. Photo essays, not just
on the racers but the people watching, the towns traveled through,
the beautiful bikepath alongside the canal on the way back to Beaune
following the final time trial. Things I normally would have gotten
around to several weeks ago, but never quite got around to... not
just from a lack of time, but also the ambivalent feelings that have
come in the weeks since, as the Floyd Landis testosterone story
recedes from the headlines and the feeling that any chance of a
definitive truth has long-since disappeared. But I'm going to take a
stab at things in the near future.
I don't just travel to France to ride and have a good time; to me,
it's an opportunity to tell stories,
in both pictures and words.
Partly it's selfish, as it benefits the business when I can convey the
wonders and fun that can be found only when riding a bike. If I can
expand the dreams people have about what they can do on a bike, it's
likely they'll be more willing to make their bike a bigger priority
in their life... which means spending more money at Chain Reaction!
But beyond the benefit to the business, it also benefits me
personally, because documenting my trips gives me something to look
back upon down the road, and in tracing things forward from my first
trip, I find a sense of direction, a road map into the future. And a
seemingly-incurable desire to go places... something that was never
part of my psyche before.
But tonight is the first installment of my promise to get those
2006 Tour de France photos published. The one above is from the
final time trial, in Le Creusot. Looking at the cyclists'
expression, you might imagine he's thinking something not-so-nice
about the woman he just passed. "Definitely not my type"
perhaps! And with such irreverence and disregard for propriety, I
will begin my search for the beautiful, the strange, the majestic
and, yes, the tragedy that was the 2006 Tour de France. --Mike--
08/29/06- IT'S ALL A BIT FOGGY THIS
MORNING,and not just my state of mind. No Karl, no
Millo, no Kevin, but we do have George, Todd, Eric & Chris. Without
the KMK trio, our average age drops a bit, although Eric is a
suitable sub for Karl, at 45. Chris & Todd though... those guys
throw the curve, and should be DQ'd (disqualified). Not because
they're too fast, but too young. Well, too fast too! But then George
is even older than I am, and way faster, at least on the
climbs. Kevin is all over the map; on a good day, he's wicked fast
on the climbs, but on a bad day, his pace quickly drops him off the
back. Todd, George & Chris just toy with me this morning, staying just
out of reach, yakking away, while I'm doing my usual cool-morning
heavy-breathing routine. They finish within sight of my 26:38, which
represented a full-on effort for me, and a casual cruise for them.
Seriously. The sort of thing that should discourage me, but doesn't,
because, well, because I'm just too dumb to know any better! And
then there's that thing where my absolute worst day on a bike is
better than my best day off one. And this really wasn't that bad a
day. I was pretty winded going up the hill, but gradually recovered
on Skyline, and even managed to nail the sprint into Sky L'Onda
(entirely on tactics; they thought I was too far off the back on the
lead-in descent to be involved in the sprint, when in reality I had
the sling-shot thing timed so perfectly I hardly had to make an
effort to come through everyone, even Todd at the very end, who must
have been napping).
Thursday... I'm really looking forward to Thursday. Don't even
really know why; maybe because I missed out on the ride last
Thursday when the Los Altos store was broken into. But more likely
it's just because I like to ride. And maybe it's because I'm back to
contesting the sprints again. Just too much fun. How can anyone not
love riding a bike?
FUN PESCADERO/SAN GREGORIO RIDE THIS
AFTERNOON.Interesting how few people there are out
riding in the afternoon;
with the different angle of the sun, things look very different than
they do in the morning. The plan was to try and get the definitive
photo of the Flamingo House out near Pescadero, hoping that the
different lighting might do the trick. Alas, Flamingo House was sold
a little while back, and the new owners removed the many hundreds of
Pink Flamingos, leaving only a token few. But the secondary task was
to get some better shots of the wrought-iron skeletal
machine-gun-man and machine-gun-women sculptures out on Stage Road.
That I succeeded with! About 60 miles total, with a bit of a time bind as I didn't leave
the house until 1:15 and had to be back at 5. Funny how, after all
these years, you can get the timing pretty exact... I was out on
Stage Road at 3:20pm and managed to pull up to the house at 4:59.
08/24/06- SOME THINGS ARE FUN IN THE
BUSINESS... AND SOME THINGS ARE NOT.This morning was
solidly in the not camp, as I was woken up at 4:30am by a
call from our alarm monitoring company, telling me that the alarms
had been tripped in our Los Altos store and I need to head there and
meet up with the Los Altos police. You're hoping that it's a false
alarm (they happen from time to time), but alas, this one was not.
Looks like a couple of crooks decided they wanted to stock up on
Oakley sunglasses for the flea market (and you assumed they were
always fakes?), so they tore apart the front door and, apparently
not expecting surveillance/alarms, grabbed some stuff and ran off,
dropping some of it along the way. Good chance they'll get nabbed,
but that's not much consolation at the moment as I consider that I
didn't get to ride this morning, and spent from 5am until 11am or so
down there, waiting for my brother to arrive and take over as the
Not a great reason to miss a bike ride! Thankfully, such things
are very rare, and we've learned a number of things over the year
that both make them less-likely and increase the odds that somebody
will get caught. Still, I'd much rather be out on a bike than be
part of a process that will be simply one more mark on a person's
sad excuse for a... I was going to say life, but there's that part
of me that thinks I shouldn't be so judgmental. I don't know if
that's a good thing or stupid. You'd think that, by age 50, I'd be
sufficiently battle-hardened not to care.
08/22/06- I REALLY LOOK FORWARD TO TUESDAY
& THURSDAY MORNINGS.But why?
After being gone last Thursday (in Wisconsin for a Trek gig) and no
riding on Sunday (getting one of my kids ready to head back to
school... in August? Shouldn't school start after labor day?), I
figured I'd be dead meat on this-morning's ride. But it didn't work
out that way. Not as if I was fast or anything; just about everybody
(Jeff, Todd, Kevin, Karl, George & Millo showed up this morning)
beat me up on the Kings climb, and I didn't even contest the first
sprint. But riding up the hill was great. That awful feeling I've
had in my legs since having to run from Terminal F to Terminal C in
Chicago (trying to avoid having to spend the night there, an effort
which was for naught)... well, it's there when I stand, it's there
when I walk, but it's not there when I ride. There's just nothing
better, for me, than the feeling I have when I'm on my bike. The
world is the way I would like it to be. There's one problem about riding in this area though. Those
vacations & business trips to places
like Hawaii & France? They have a tough time competing with the
roads, and the weather, we have here on the Peninsula. How can you
not want to ride a bike in a place like this? A place where we get
so spoiled we whine that it's too hot when it's above 80, and too
cold below 65? A place where it's very rarely humid, and we
basically get zero rain from late May to October or so? And yet
whine we must, it seems. Like I said, we're spoiled. But getting back to this morning's ride, for the Sky L'onda
sprint I did things a bit differently, leading everyone out. I'd
actually planned to pull up on the descent for positioning, and let
some others get past, but as I started to do that Kevin yells from
behind "Keep going, you're my leadout!" As if Kevin would ever be
contesting a sprint, but what the heck, I obliged, and got to watch
things unfold a mere 5 meters in front of me. It was actually quite
interesting; not as if they were pulling away, and yet I was
expending very little effort. In the end it was Millo at the line,
surprising many (especially those who expected Todd to take it, but
Todd had gotten held up in traffic).
That's Jeff in the picture, on the west side of Old LaHonda.
Hard to believe that, for several years, our ride didn't include the
west-side OLH "kicker." The most-scenic part of the ride, with
killer views of the coast.
I'M NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE.
Or maybe I am? Three of us from the shop (myself, my brother Steve
and Bruno, our Redwood City Service/Operations manager) are in
Wisconsin for Treks unveiling of the '07 product line. Interesting
stuff, lots to talk about later, but just one thing really stood out
as a new way of looking at something old. As seen in the photo,
we finally know what that slot at the back of a saddle's for.
And yes, since I'm in Wisconsin today and not Redwood City, I
didn't do the usual Tuesday/Thursday ride. Tomorrow I will get the
opportunity to demo a bunch of product I haven't ridden on before
though, which should be fun. Trek has their own private mountain
bike trail system, right next to their factory. Very cool, with
photos coming soon!
08/15/06- A PRICELESS FEELING.
No, that wasn't really the way I felt at the start of the ride this
morning, especially when met by the Tuesday version of our group,
which included Karl, Todd, Chris, Jeff, Milo and Kevin. Well, not
everyone all at once; Milo had gone up ahead, while Kevin met us at
the very top. Karl & Chris played at the front, while Todd sorta
kept an eye on me (after all, he'd already done the fast "morning"
ride before the start of ours) and I was doing my best to try and
stay ahead of Jeff. 26:38 to the top, so things could have been
worse. So of course, things did get worse! I couldn't hold
anybody's wheel on Skyline, so sprints were for everyone else, not
me. I ended up rolling into Sky L'Onda with Kevin, well behind the
rest of the gang. I finally started feeling not-quite-so-bad by the
time we got up most of Old LaHonda, and managed to contest a suicide
sprint to the stop sign on Olive Hill/Albion. Actually, it wasn't
just a race to the stop sign that was kinda crazy; Karl was moving
me over to the right, squeezing me towards a woman jogger who must
have been caught completely unaware... but I wasn't looking (at
her), just trying to get past Karl. Don't know who won, but it felt
good just to be back in contention.
But what really felt good was that feeling in your legs
later in the day... that feeling that says yeah, those legs did
something on the road this morning. A different type of feeling than
you get when you're simply tired. I like that feeling.
BACK ON THE BIKE, FINALLY.I'd be lying if I told you
it felt great, after being off the bike for... well, the last ride
would have been on 8/3, so that makes, yikes, 10 days! I decided I'd
do a one-way ride from Redwood City to Scotts Valley, where my son
was being dropped off at camp. How tough could that be, after all?
Things started out nicely, heading out through Woodside and up Old
LaHonda. Met up with some nice people, including Mike, someone who'd
purchased a 5.2SL from our Los Altos store. From the top of Old
LaHonda things got not-quite-so-fun, as I battled a headwind the
entire length of Skyline, and it (the headwind) continued all the
way down Highway 9 as well. I barely made it during the window I'd
given myself, having to get to the camp around 4:15 or so (I'd left
at 1:15). Not quite like the old days, when a run all the way to
Santa Cruz would have taken only 2.5 hours! Still, 46 miles in 3
hours with about 4k feet of climbing wasn't too bad for my first day
back on the bike.
EXHAUSTION!That's what some vacations can bring, and
this past one to the Big Island (Hawaii) was no exception. Not one
single bike ride for over a week, too much food and way too
much driving! Fun, yes... found some cool places to snorkel
(definitely hit up "Place of Refuge"), did the horseback ride in
Waipi'o Valley, drove the infamous (for no good reason, really)
Saddle Road, saw real-time lava, spent way too much money on too
much food, and did I tell you about too much driving? If you plan to
visit the Big Island, and snorkeling isn't your main agenda, I'd
highly recommend staying on the Hilo side of the island, not Kona.
Hilo is much less commercial, prettier, better access to the various
waterfalls, way closer to the Volcano, and generally less expensive.
Also, the airport is much easier to figure out. Film at 11.
Meantime, it's back to the bike tomorrow. Probably a relatively
long, definitely slow ride to get back into the swing of things.
08/03/06- TOO MANY, TOO FAST.
It was easier when just a couple people would show up for the
Tuesday/Thursday-morning rides, but now? I'm terrible at remembering
names... today, I'll probably leave someone out... Todd, Kevin,
Karl, Eric, Perry, I think Jeff was in there somewhere... dang, I'm
leaving out at least one person, maybe two. Whatever the case, it's
enough people that, no matter what, the pace is going to get pushed
by someone. This morning we went up the back way, through Huddart
Park. The idea was that we'd ride at an easier pace, since Karl has
a big race this weekend. And maybe for the rest of them it was
easy! The only saving grace for me was that running through the park
makes the overall time irrelevant, since we don't keep track of that
route. At 27:30 though, we can figure that it adds somewhere around
a minute to a minute and a half, since it's just a bit longer (.3
miles) and you usually don't ride the first part flat-out.
08/01/06- GOT SOME CATCHING UP TO DO!
I've been a bit remiss the last week, not keeping up the
almost-daily diary entries after my return from France. But for now
we'll start backward, with today's ride first. Another fairly-large
group, with George, Karl, Kevin, Chris (I think???), Todd & Milo.
But for some reason I felt good today. One of those rare days where
your first pedal strokes up and away from your house feel like
you're lighter than air, and your heart rate ticks up exactly as it
should (no long delays, such as I often experience on a slow day).
Unfortunately I could see fog flowing over Skyline from my kitchen
window so I was wearing leg warmers, but it still felt good. Really
good. Of course, I've learned that feeling can disappear fast once
you get to King's Mountain!
But fortunately, not today. I held a fairly steady pace for the
whole climb, with Todd just a bit ahead of me, giving me something
to aim for. Obviously, Karl & George had finished a day ahead of me,
but I still managed a sub-26-minute time of 25:54. Of course, that
left me totally wasted for any sprints on Skyline, but that's OK, a
good, hard climb is worth it. My body needed a full-on effort (and
the subsequent purge of toxins or whatever that you feel for the
rest of the day), and it keeps alive my dream of becoming a bit
faster, not slower, as I get older.
07/30/06- WHY DIDN'T I DO THIS SOONER?
WHY DIDN'T YOU? How many times have you ridden up Old
LaHonda in your life? And noticed that interestingly-named road that
intersects it twice, Upenuf? And yet neither I nor you ever checked
it out? Isn't that rather silly? As if we always have something more
important to do when we're out riding than to do a little bit of
exploring? Well, on Sunday, I finally did it. I was in cruise-mode
heading up Old LaHonda, not trying for a fast time, just enjoying
the day as I rode past Upenuf. Again. And then thought hey, why not
check it out? And that I did. It's a well-paved dirt road (certainly
passable on a road bike) which goes a little down, then a little
flat, then a little up before your approached by two nastily-barking
dogs that don't want to let you past. Sort of. I have this thing
about dogs; for the most part, an unfriendly dog is simply one that
you haven't made friends with yet (but please keep in mind this
doesn't work for all dogs and all people!!!). So I roll to a stop,
place myself behind my bike and call the dogs over. Within seconds
they were licking my leg & hands and just plain happy to have a new
Oh, but what about the road? Alas, it ends shortly past the dogs, at
a driveway to a house. Next time I'll have to try it from the
opposite end and see how far that goes. Could be there's a trail
that connects the two halves? --Mike--
CATCHING A DOLPHIN IN A TUNA NET?I was there, I saw both Floyd's spectacular failure and
next-day's resurrection to claim victory in one of the world's
greatest sporting events.
And now? Everything is eclipsed by allegations of doping, due to a
positive test for unusual ratios of two types of testosterone.
So everywhere you go, whether it be network news or talk radio, the
story is all about Floyd Landis. Which is fine, it is a huge
story. But an even bigger story may be, could be, that Floyd is, in
fact, innocent. Caught up in the rabid (and necessary) zeal to catch
But what, exactly, am I all riled up about? How about KCBS this
morning airing the news conference (in which Landis proclaims his
innocence and the steps he'll go to to prove it), which was followed
by not one second about the possibility that he could be speaking
the truth, but instead a sports psychologist talking about why
athletes cheat. How they deceive themselves etc. They're
using his protestation of innocence as evidence against him!
Floyd may very well be an innocent dolphin caught by people
fishing for tuna. People whose driving ambition to achieve their
goal over-rides the possibility that somebody innocent could get
caught in the net & killed. Yes, drug usage among top athletes is a
severe problem. But this is a story that has more than one angle.
Floyd Landis could be guilty, and I'll feel very betrayed if that's
the case. But his trial & conviction in the media is absurd.
Please, won't somebody of stature, an athlete, a news reporter,
point out that there could be an even-bigger story here- the
possibility that we've gone too far and caught a dolphin in the net? Instead of repeating the same sound
bites over and over and over... talking about how much of a problem
there is in professional cycling, that this is evidence they're
getting a handle on it, and that both his heroic comeback and
protestation of innocence are proof that he's guilty? --Mike--
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