Friday, January 25, 2013

Long time, but not, gone.

Still at it, I know that I've been quiet for a few months, but I am getting back in the swing here. Winter was very dry this year and mostly mild, we hit a short span of 80 degree days in November. We don't see that much in the summer. I haven't been able to ride much though. Now I am. spring here is a riot of color, the stand out for me are the Acacia trees, they tend to be 20 feet tall and a mass of deep yellow small flowers. Got a new road bike this year. Decided to try the Giant Defy Advanced 2. My first bike not in the standard road race geometry. That is slightly longer wheelbase and taller headtube/shorter top tube- the so called endurance riders bike.I didn't expect to be so impressed. On the tecnical descents here, it is so confident, on the flats it reads my mind hammering into corners keeping the line effortlessly. Rough very rough surfaces keeps a very tight line, it is good accelerating and stout feeling but not to harsh. The term often used on these bikes is comfort road, but I think thats very misleading. Its confident and makes you want to ride long rides. Oh, and I upgraded it to Di2. Very fine!

Let's get back to it!

Its been over a year since I put up a post. Plenty has been happening in my life, and I did put in another 5000 mile year, enjoyed plenty of good Sonoma County. Wine, beer, food and music. But I feel like my blog has run out its focus,as I am no longer a stranger in a strange land, writing back to my homies. I am a Sonoma County CA dude with NC roots, I am excited when I meet someone out here with similar back history. But this is more and more my home. I am fascinated by the place and it's people, its history and wildlife. My blog voice is changing, kind of a adolescent transition. It still seems I am speaking to people who don't experience this place first hand. I just finished a most amazing event this past Saturday. The 15th annual Grasshopper Adventure Series was begun with its Old Caz (short for Cazadero) ride, race, oh its not a race, but then why the results? It began as a club ride attracting a bunch of tough local racers/riders on rather bizare excursions. It developed a kind of underground popularity amoung the cognoscenti and attracted a following of regional hardmen and women. What was once a dozen then thirty has become three hundred riders taking on mostly remote sections of NW Sonoma County, very rural at best. Not much in the way of course marking, no marshalls, no police or road closures. You had best be prepared. People have gotten lost and there is no course sweep. Even my Garmin got "lost"' the download of the route I rode is wrong! I had heard of the event and was kinda overawed until this year, by god this is my home! I can do it! Its 53 miles this year with 4900' of climbing. Maybe 15% of the distance is off road, old unkept logging/fire roads, lots quite smooth but a fair amount anything but. Think trees down, washed out sections, and a stream crossing that has been waist deep some years. Most people ride CX bikes, quite a few mountain bikes and some road bikes for the real tough. The fastest, think U23 Garmin pro Peter Stetina finish in about 3 hours. Thats a measly 18ish mph, so thats how tough it is. A pro, LL, does the same. This year saw carnage in the first five minutes as we crossed a section of unexpected black ice, unconscionable on the part of the organizers,in my opinion, but then its kind ofa be prepred for everything kind of event. I rode rather conservative, since I wasn't really trained for what I expected would be 5 hours in the saddle. I got through the first climb OK then the off road decsent as well. Fun, mostly flowing, double track but plenty of opportunity to mess up or run out of luck. Saw some, but my mojo was goin good. Got down to good pavement and tried to ride with two guys, but decided to let one go as I watched my heartrate just edging too high. The remaining guy knew the course, I would have missed the turn up this road that looked more like a driveway. I couldnt down shift fast enough to ride this STEEP section so he took off w/o me. Others came up behind me as the road came to a gate and turned to a steep off road section, after maybe a 10 min. grind I came to a turn but was told by a couple fixing a flat, that was not the way. The way was not more than a deerpath throgh a thicket that became a very sketchy fire road and worse, cool! Then back to pavement and passage through an old neighborhhood of getaway cottages from the 1940s and 50s, then a steep five mile climb to anther gate and a rather steep offroad twisty descent to the stream crossing and yet another climb. Finally back to pavement and a return to a semblance of civilization. West county version anyway. Think cattlemen, pot farmers and meth heads. Yup got it all. I settle in with some riders to make some good time as we approach the last climb, the descent we did earlier! About four mile of lovely double track. I finished up feeling like I still had something in the tank so to speak. Great, great day for me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Home again

I was back in North Carolina several weeks ago. Haven't been there since I left two years ago. The visit really cemented the differences in cycling between my old home and my new one. I couldn't believe the great pavement in NC seeing miles of smooth, unpatched asphalt left me longing for my bike. The weather was great, warm even. But where were the cyclists? It became a counting game. I travelled on four counties roads, non interstate and counted eight riders, only eight riders in six days. Back home in Sonoma County I saw double that within two hours. On our crumby,lumpy, patched, cracked up pavement. I did get in some southern delicacies, namely fried oysters, fried foods aren't big in CA - especially oysters. We did a genuine pig-pickin ( whole hog BBQ ) also some southern fried chicken and SWEET tea that I didn't have to make myself. Nice. Cyclocross finally. I haven't been able to travel to regional races, but last Saturday the race came to me. I haven't had much real specific prep, so it was going to be a revelation of what my modest prep and my years of experience can come up with. All of last years races where soppy mudfests, this race was sunny but the course was mostly gluey mud from rain two days prior. Ten guys took the line in my 55+ class. I raced mid pack as is my norm so I was pretty happy to be where I left off. I did give up a place that I had to take back in the last lap. All told a very satisfying race day. 5th place in a field of tough old guys! Two weeks 'til next race. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Gran Fondo

I am still alive, it's been a busy summer. I have been using an iPad since January and seldom use my PC anylonger. BUT it is not conducive to writing my blog, at least I am not able to write and save a draft. I seldom sit down at the PC these days. I had one lengthy draft, that just vanished. Not fun, as typing is laborious for me. So that is my alabi. I did check off one more of Sonoma Countys classic climbs. The Geysers. It is a remote corner of the county that has a lot of geothermal activity. The ridgetop is about 2500' and we start the ride at 120' round trip that day was 70 miles and hot a good ole' upper 90s but thankfully low humidity. Draining just the same its hard to make the change to heat after temps 10-15 degrees lower. One interesting factoid is the county pumps wastewater up there, and into the earth, the ensuing steam is used to turn turbine generators producing alot of electricty. The area is as stated, remote, no water for 20-30 miles but the uncluttered views make up for it, if one is prepared. The climbing is very strenuous in places and corespondingly treacherous on descents, if one messes up no one will find you for a long time, very little road traffic. Now for a Levi's King Ridge Gran Fondo wrap up. It was last Saturday Oct 1. This year I did the Gran (103 mi.) version in '09 I did the Medio (65 mi.) route. the big has probably 60% more climbing a total of 8000+' total. This is in another remote corner of the county. It is a big county by Eastern standards at almost 1800 sq. mi. We climbed up and over a coastal ridge overlooking the Pacific Ocean twice. 7500 registered riders took off I think 6000 do the Gran route. The start is amazing, as we are lined up about 15 riders abreast, it took over 15 min. to even start moving. the first 5 miles are on two lanes of flat road and closed to traffic so it opens up quite quickly until that first hill! Things progressed fine as I moved into the King Ridge climb proper. I had purposely held back exertions to save for later, and was feeling good. Sunny became cloudy, became drizzle became wind and rain in the next hour plus of climbing. No stopping at the top because of cold and the rest stop would require clogging my cleats on the moistening earth. Now down a twisty 20% dropinto the coastal redwoods, but hold on, a crash has already caused a major log-jam. A mass of riders clomp across a metal grate-decked bridge to resume climbing/sizable rollers to a lunch stop with an amazing variety of foods, but its chilly and fog is settling in so I don't stay long. A screaming descent to the coastal highway finally comes and light overcast and warmer temps, but my energy now seems pretty much gone at 65 miles in. The rest of the ride is fortitude and experience shared with a host of others, some I pass and others passing me. The big climb back over the coastal ridge is cruel but quick and I eventually make it back to the finish line festival. Was all that a dream?! The following pictures are from those areas, but the King Ridge ones were from a clear warm day!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer finally

After a topsy-turvy June, we are settled into normal weather, warm to hot/dry days, cool nights. Riding is good, getting some rides done that I haven't done in a while.Yesterday I returned to Los Alamos Rd. see my sept 09 post for a reference. It really is amazing. 1600'+ climbing in just over six miles from my place. I still had to stop once, on the 19% pitch, there is a driveway that allows a brief flat spot. Climbing certainly takes power and skill but also mental fortitude. You have to want to keep going, once you let your brain give in, you're done. From that stop I was ok, and a good bit faster than previous. The decent is still scary, it has a wavy and patched surface, it is so steep in places that the back wheel wanted to come up, even though I had my butt pushed way back.
And I hope you are enjoying the tour, probably the most compelling competition in over a decade, it is still a rather open game with lots of drama to come into the last week, enjoy!

Friday, July 15, 2011


Was out in Napa on a little winery diversion on Thusday after watching a spectacular Tour stage. Later that afternoon we stopped at Velo Vino, a tasting room opened by Clif Family Winery, yes the Clif Bar people. It is a very cool stop especially for cycling enthusiasts. Along with nice wines, thet have a interesting collection of memorabilia. I was wandering around with a glass of wine a came opon a race bike of modern date, a carbon Orbea, I wondered what it's significance was as I approached, then on inspection saw S.Sanchez on the top tube, this was none other than the '08 Olympic RR Gold Medal winners bike, the same Sammy Sanchez who won that very day's tour stage, also coincidentally on the TV playing discreetly in the tasting room. How cool is that!!
Stop by if you are ever in St. Helena, Napa County CA

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

what's up with the weather?

if you are following me from outside Norcal or even LA you likely have warmer weather than us. May was largely cool and wet. But I am not missing the humidity of the Old North State, you folks are warmer than normal, we are 15 degrees cooler than normal. Even Northern Vermont has been warmer. Yesterday the wet spell is finally broken, I sure hope so.
May was Ride to Work month in the San Fran North Bay. There was a team challenge contest. 5 members max, you log all type commute or non exercise specific miles on their website. The team of four, which I am captain of, logged 542 miles and this is in a wet month. way to go team. we finished in the top 20% It was fun and definitely got me out there hittin' the streets more, which was the point, I'm sure. We saved somewhere approaching 20 gallons of gas not to mention the crud in the atmosphere.
now y'all get out there and ride, ya hear?