Thursday, January 28, 2010

It's on it's way

Spring must be coming. I know y'all back in NC are expecting snow this weekend, but days are getting longer. Its doing wonders for my frame of mind. After last weekends long ride, I even shrugged off all of January's mental burdens and rode to work and back home- 7:00 pm. On the morning trip it was dreary weather wise. Damp and low clouds. But I saw a Robin near the roadside. In Michigan where I grew up that was a sign of springs approach. I left work in the full dark, but it was a near full moon. Is I left the urban areas I could see the moon light on the road and surrounding fields. But also heard the singing of spring frogs. Every low area resounded with their cheery calls. This makes me reflect on one of cyclings best aspects. When you travel encased in a steel enclosure, you are sealed off from so many experiences that benefit the soul. When I drive to work, I am shut away from my fellow travellers, I experience them superficially, if at all. Yesterday, on my ride I passed another cyclist and we exchanged comments appreciative of what promised to be a dry day. We just came off an eleven day rain streak. Another thing to be thankful for as cyclists, where many of us live we actually can easily enjoy our activity for over 200 days a year, with plenty of rest time included. Skiers and surfers, two sports that require similar balance, coordination and strength, can only dream of such. Not to mention the geographical limitations. Even if you lived on a ski mountain you could not approach that number of days if you skied every day available. So, cheer up, lets get out there, have fun, and spread the love!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ahh, the long ride

January view of the Windsor Town Green outside the store, nice hills in the distance
Outside the new place, new signs are yet to arrive
several shots of the new Windsor Bicycle Center, come see me!
After a week of rain, today was supposed to be mostly sunny, I had to work until 1:00 so that's fine, it will warm up some from 39 up to 50. Well, it turned rainy in the morning, but the NOAA radar details just showed scattered small pockets of showers. I really wanted to get a nice steady aerobic base of three hours, but had the underlying anxiety of not having a long ride since Dec. 30. Throw in a dash of "it sure feels colder than 50 do I have the right clothes?" So I get all set. There is a lot of getting ready to a long solo ride. An extra, extra tube and CO2, plenty of food, shoe covers, secret weapon vest (go ahead ask me) cool weather leg embrocation, ooh that feels better already, bike set and out the door. Roads are soaked, and lots of flooded fields and vineyards, but sun splashing all over the distant hills. Lovely. See my first rider approach from the other direction in less than four miles out. I will see quite a few more before the day is done. I have ridden the area some, but it still a lot of new experience. I have a route outlined in my brain. An hour in, and three hours starts to seem maybe a little ambitious. So far no rain, but it looks far from safe. The once dry hillsides are just exploding green and it seems every couple hundred yards I hear water rushing in the road side ditches. I wonder if this bodes well for next years grape harvest. The fields are quiet now, all the pruning and clean up is done. The vineyards are so tidy, most look picture perfect. I've crossed the Russian River several times. It is swollen and fast moving, in the summer it is more of a lethargic steam. After a nature break at a very cycling friendly store - Jimtown- It had just started to sprinkle as I rolled in. On my exit I am greeted by a fine rainbow and the shower is gone. My one climb of the day is a new one for me, it hits 12% right quick but eases back after a bit. Fitch Mountain is next to the town of Healdsburg, a fantastic wine and food destination. I am now at over two and a half hours. Alright! its a flat spin back to the bike shop were I work. Done 3:16. Legs feel nice and tired, but not hammered. 51 miles. I think I'm beginning to crawl out from under my winter funk. Let's ride. Oh I used my old bike, the Litespeed, I just put a set of 700X25 Continental Gatorskins on. They are popular out here on the crummy roads. I thought they'd be good for my off season rides.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Rain, Rain go Away

They told me it may come. I suppose the earlier rains have prepared me, but.... this has been the week of rain. One storm after another has rolled in off the Pacific. Four of them this week. We will probably get 6-7+ inches of rain before Saturday. Then a day or so of sun then some more rain. We have had some windy periods, kinda like east coast tropical storm winds, the kind that blows down trees. Today I was in the car and watched a guy roll out of a neighborhood on a bike, yeah he had tights, rain jacket, and stuff. His bike had fenders. He blasted off like he was out for a hard training ride. It was a solid day of steady rain. A couple days ago a guy rolled his bike in with a front wheel that looked like a potato chip. He had full rain suit, lights etc. He dropped off the pavement edge and ruined a wheel. He was obviously a randonneur, judging by the bike and gear. Look it up or ask Joe V. But the weather that day was HEAVY rain and wind. As I've said before, there are some dedicated riders here.
The photo above was from Sunday, the wave of storms was just starting, and I dashed out during a lull. I only got sprinkled on the last three miles. The photo is Mt. Hood which you, the faithful, may remember from a previous post. The clouds are just at the mountain top. So you see it pays to follow regularly as my blog refers back to itself. Is that self-referential? Lake Sonoma, also see a previous post, is up over eight feet. This certainly helps the drought we've been in for a while. I'll have to remember this rain in midMay through September when it will-not-rain.
I hope all is well with you. Have you noticed the increasing daylight?
Thanks for reading

Monday, January 11, 2010

Road trip

Wild Mustard blooms under dormant grape vines These photos were taken Monday on a road (car) trip up to Lake Sonoma in the northern part of the county. I have this area on my to do list for the bike this year. Its a rather remote and hilly area that is a destination for on and off road riders. You can see how low the water level in the lake is. This is a seasonally arid climate, but the past several winters have been in drought, so lake levels do not recover in the winter. This year has shown slight improvement. To give you some idea of water importance here, our water/sewer bill was equal to our power bill in November. December was colder so that changed some, but I venture a guess that no one sees that back in NC, unless you keep a golf course of a yard. Of course, on the plus side, we seldom run the air conditioning in the summer, and bike rides will not be done in the rain from mid May thru October. One would think this makes for spoiled riders unaccustomed to riding in less than lovely conditions. Wrong. Riders show up for scheduled rides in the winter in the rain! Diminished numbers, sure, but talk of clothing and fenders is frequently on the club forum. This month had a century, just a club ride not an event. This weekend offers 65 miler with 6500' of climbing. My current work schedule has kept me away from these opportunities. But I did get to do 55 miles on Christmas day led by a guy on a fixed gear at 18 mph, and we were chasing him, not the other way around. This coming Monday is a MLK day 54 miler honoring the 54 mile march from Selma to Montgomery. I'm hoping the mildish temps hold,I'll pedal some for you guys. Saturday's 6.5 mag. earthquake was a ways north of here, some folks here say they felt it but I didn't. I didn't see anything move in the bike shop like I would have guessed. The numbers don't reflect the relative impact of a quake. Other factors are the depth and type of physical geological movement. The distant ridge in the above photo is The Geysers, there a small shakes there nearly everyday. The county has a system of pumping waste water into the geothermal area and using the ensuing steam to generate electricity! It feels good to see a creeping back of daylight. Come on Spring. Have a good week on wheels. HH

Friday, January 8, 2010

Happy Birthday Jacques

I know, another birthday story, but if you know me, appreciation of riders of the past enhances appreciation of the present. So if you are interested in such, follow this link. Jacques Anquetil was the first rider to win all three Grand Tours and until a certain American from Texas came around shared the record of TdF wins - 5. He was a dominant force in the late '50s and into the '60s. His style foreshadows the tour winning style of dominating the time trials and holding on in the mountains, so familiar to us in the past twenty years. Thanks again for reading, and I hope you are enjoying some rides. Those of you in the SE , well, sorry about the chill! HH