Ride With The Old Pros 20100208

Ya know, I thought last week’s ride was a nice reprieve from the rain we’ve been having.  But, somehow this weeks ride was even better.

I rolled up in front of the Flying Goat from the south just as Matt was heading in from the north and Susan was heading in from the east.  At least that’s what it looked like from my perspective.  We all triangulated upon the same place at more or less the same time. I liked that I wasn’t the last guy for once.  The J-crew (John, Jon and JoAnn) were already inside, getting their coffee going.  Jeff was the last of this alliterative force to arrive.
A notable absence this week was our Bistro bud, Brian.  As this Monday was after all a holiday, his kids had their leave from school, leaving Brian with daddy duty.  We’ll catch ya next week, my friend!
Though not at all wet, it was in fact a rather cold morning.  And so, we spent a few extra minutes inside the soothing warmth of the cafe, delaying our departure into the chill.  Once we were properly warmed and caffeinated, it was out onto the bikes.
John and I took the first turn at the front. He and I settled into a very steady pace, letting the rest of the group follow comfortably.  It was the perfect tempo, allowing for the feeling of speed, yet comfortable conversation. It was good to see John back in town after his month or so away.  He and his wife Chris, as I had mentioned in an earlier post, had spent several weeks helping to rebuild earthquake ravaged homes in Sumatra.  He was riding well, especially for a guy who had been off the bike for a month.
As we got to the end of the paved path, I wasn’t sure if people were going to want to ride over the potentially muddy sections that the dirt path would surely offer.  It was great to hear a bit of a chant coming from the back, “dirt, dirt, dirt.”  How cool is that!  And I wasn’t about to deny this rolling charge.  If it’s dirt they want… Well, sadly the dirt doesn’t go on forever.
The next few miles covered very familiar territory. Willowside to Piner to Olivet, then West Olivet wiggling our way over to River Road.  Even with the little rollers, the group stayed together riding a very sensible steady tempo.  Eventually, we were heading north on Eastside Rd.  Things broke up a little here, but impressively, we were able to exercise advanced riding skills to get everything back together into one cohesive group.
From there, it was up to Limerick Lane and over the freeway.  Then it was south on the frontage road, left on Arata, then over to Faught Rd and back on Old Redwood.
I am fairly certain that our speed never deviated from our very steady average.  There was virtually no half-wheeling or any of the antics that oft detracts from an otherwise perfect ride.  With no detraction, what does that leave.  Perfection.  A good group, rolling a steady tempo through what has to be the most beautiful place on the planet.  It was a great way to start the week!

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Ride With The Old Pros 20100201

Wow. What a nice treat. After several weeks of less than stellar conditions, today’s weather meant riding without getting soaked. And it worked out pretty darn well.

We met at the usual time and place, 9am at the Flying Goat in Santa Rosa. When I pulled up, it was a few minutes after 9. I can’t seem to help it, but I have been arriving fashionably late for most of these rides. Oh well… Those of you who are a parent can probably relate to the challenge of getting your young one out of bed, changed into a new diaper and into some play clothes. I am just glad that I get a chance to ride. Jennifer does great to take over on morning mom duty so that daddy can go play! (Thanks, honey!)

Anyway, by the time I got there, Susan, Jo Ann and Brian were already there, chatting amongst themselves. Once I got there, all that was left to do was figure out where to go. As so many have before us, we made the decision to head west and within moments our tires were rolling westward along the path. We quickly settled into a nice tempo that propelled our quartet out of the city limit and soon we were on the dirt section of path. The recent rain had soaked this path of gravel and dirt to the limit, however the surface was remained very passable. Brian and I have long wished that bit of path would continue all the way to the Pacific. Instead, it rather unceremoniously ends at Willowside Road, where we turned right.

At that point, the massing of gray clouds began to let loose some sprinkles and the threat of real rain loomed large. I don’t think any of our small group gave the smallest consideration to turning for home. And that turned out to be the correct decision, for after just a few minutes of the falling wet stuff, the heavy clouds reneged on their threat and floated elsewhere.

Except for puddles and damp roads, the rest of our ride was dry. We did head over Martinelli Rd and went back through Forrestville, where we saw G-Wes out with his dog. Then it was back through Graton and home on Occidental and Hall Roads. We engaged in something of a city limit sprint, but it included low gears, braking and a comedic bike thrust. Brian emerged victorious.

Let’s hope we get to do it again next week and hope to see y’all there

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Ride With The Old Pros 20100104

So, do you ever wake up on the morning of a ride, just TOTALLY ready to ride, ready to rip the cranks off the bike from the first push on the pedals? Yeah? Well, this wasn’t one of those days. Coming off a bit of a cold, my body had a few aches and I was hacking up a fair amount of lung butter. I am glad I went out. I met the guys at the Flying Goat Coffee Shop in Santa Rosa at 9 (ok, 9:04…) and got myself the usual – a lukewarm soy latte with sugar. The lukewarm lets me drink it down fast and the soy part makes sure it stays for awhile. TMI? Yeah…
So, one notable absence from this Monday’s ride was John Mason. At the end of last week’s ride, John mentioned that he wouldn’t be on the ride for the next several weeks because he was going to be in Sumatra. I half thought he was joking. Given the cold and damp on that ride, I thought he just picked some random warm spot on the planet to tell he was going. Turns out he was serious and really was going to Sumatra. Check out this article in the Press Democrat. John and his wife, Chris, keep themselves quite busy in the winter months doing some very kind and generous deeds.
http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20091229/ARTICLES/912299946/1349?Title=Grapes-for-good
If you are interested in learning more about John and Chris, their Emtu Winery or the Labyrinth Foundation, then click on the following link to get to their new site:
http://www.emtuwines.com/
So, back to Monday… After I slammed my lukewarm soy latte with sugar, the boys were ready head out. Twas a brisk Westside loop. We kept a good steady tempo and knocked it out pretty good. Not too fast and not too slow. No chance of overheating, as the temps started in the low 40′s and barely tipped into the 50′s by rides end. I sure do love my Garneau gloves.
Would have been uneventful, were it not for the double puncture that my bike endured on Mendocino Avenue, right in front of Kaiser. Well, at least we were close to home. I got to test out my new favorite pump, that Genuine Innovations 2nd Wind that I discussed last week. I am really impressed with how well it works as a pump. I still haven’t replaced my CO2 cartridges that I dispensed from other recent flats. Hmmm, threadbare tires and no CO2 cartridges… perhaps I should make a little time to take care of my own bike next time I am at the shop. I’ll make sure my bike is rolling well and I am properly stocked before next week’s ride. Until next week…

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Ride With The Old Pros 20091228

Despite the absence of several of our regular Monday morning crew, today’s ride proved to be a pretty good ride. We had a little rain, some mud, a couple of short yet steep climbs, one flat tire, a good first time experience with my new Genuine Innovations pump and for a couple of us, a second ride, another flat and a really good second time experience with my new Genuine Innovations pump.

My buddy Mark showed up at my house around 8:30. He and his wife Sara are here from New York for a few days and they are borrowing bikes from the shop so that they can ride a bit while here. He and I rolled from the house around 8:50 and showed up fashionably late for the 9 o’clock ride. Brian, John and Matt were already there. We chatted, drank some coffee and warmed ourselves in preparation for a slightly late departure into the last cold and damp Monday morning ride of the year. Thankfully, the threatening skies failed to deliver full fury on their precipitous potential, choosing instead to deliver unto us only meted doses of randomly intermittent showers.

We headed west for the lumpy topography that lay in wait just beyond Forrestville. There are numerous short and steep pitches in the area that extends between Mirabel and Hacienda. Due to time constraints and looming skies, we chose to only do a couple of these little canyons. A nicer day in the future and I am sure we’ll continue to explore in these directions.

Moving on to the pump. I swear by these things. I am so glad I got one and think you should get one, too! It’s the Genuine Innovations 2nd Wind Road Pump. This is a combination CO2 inflator and pump. Today, I got a front puncture. Using the pump, I was able to slightly inflate the tube. Then, using the CO2 cartridge, I was able to quickly inflate the tire and not keep the group waiting. The whole stop was less than a few minutes.

Later, Mark and I rode with my wife, Jennifer, and his wife, Sara.. In less then a mile, Jennifer got a flat. Well, I was out of CO2. So I got to really test the pump. This Genuine Innovations 2nd Wind Road Pump ROCKED! The handle end of the pump is threaded, so that you can use a cartridge (either new or dispensed) to extend the handle, making it very easy to hold onto. It is a really well thought out product. To put it quite simply, this pump really works – quickly and easily.

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Ride With The Old Pros 20091221

Cold and wet , this December day started too early. Luckily, there were only a few of us this morning and collectively, our motivation was at something of a low. Yes, the rain had dampened our spirits. We stayed hunkered down at the Goat until nearly 10am, waiting for a several flurries of light rain to pass. After nearly an hour and a bit too much coffee, we seized what we thought was a break in the rain, but instead headed out onto the Creek Trail into another gentle sprinkle.

Brian was the only one with a fender, so we all got a little bit of gunk on our faces as we proceeded out on the dirt section of the path toward Willowside. Despite the precipitation, it felt good to be outside and pedaling.

The route took us from Willowside to Piner, on Olivet and West Olivet to Slusser, then left on Mark West Station, right on Starr to Windsor and back by the airport. We maintained a good steady pace, through wet and even wetter sections, but luckily avoided any serious deluge. Good times were had by all.

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Ride With The Old Pros

Brian and I have been riding together for years. Heck, we were juniors together for gosh sakes. And we both lived and raced in France in 1990.
For the past few years, Brian and I have been trying to ride our bikes together on Monday mornings. At some point, the people who came on our rides started calling these rides “Ride With The Old Pros”.
Yeah, we tend to talk about the good ol’days… nailing cleats into our wooden soled shoes and how it was always snowing, up hill and into a headwind when and wherever we rode.

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A Ride Up A Volcano

A memorable day on a mountain

Many pay for the privilege to descend this mighty mount
But we are cyclists and we chose to climb!

In May of 2007, I went on a week long vacation with my family to Maui. It goes without saying that my bicycle went on vacation with us! I mentioned that this was a family vacation, meaning that while Mom, Dad, my sister and her fiancé were out sunning themselves on the beach, I was out doing that thing I love…pedaling my bike.

Maui is not a bad place to ride. Yes, it is warm. The sun can feel rather intense, but it is generally not that hot. Most mornings are in the low seventies and things quickly get up into the eighties. Warm? Yes! Humid? It’s the tropics, so yes to that, too. But, is it too much? When you consider that you are pedaling in paradise, it’s pretty nice, indeed.

It is true that there is a fair amount of traffic in certain areas, but most of those areas have decent shoulders on which to ride. There might not be the greatest number of roads from which to choose, but there are some good rides to be had. The West Maui loop is absolutely stunning.

For the most part, I was riding by myself. One notably exceptional highlight was the ride up Haleakala. My sister’s fiancé, Paul, is no slouch on a bike. A former record holder for the old 10 mile Dry Creek Time Trial, he’s spent a fair amount of time in the saddle. On a Wednesday evening, Paul rented a fairly good performance road bike from West Maui Cycle. We then made preparations for the 38 mile ascent of the 10,000 foot dormant volcano.

A carbo-loading feast is different in Maui, especially on a vacation. Had we been home, we’d likely have had pasta. But tuna abounds on the islands and the rice is plentiful. It was easy to get enough fuel!

The next morning, Paul and I received the assistance of a VERY seasoned and experienced cycling pit crew – my Dad! He offered unparalleled and unflinching sag support. He woke up early and drove us from our hotel to our starting point near the airport. Then he proceeded to leap frog us all the way up the mountain alternatively taking photos and offering food and water. Really, we had the easy bit of just pedaling… We couldn’t have done it without him! Thanks Dad!!

Paul and Steve in Maui

Paul and Steve, near the airport in Maui, prepare to start the climb of Haleakala

We started near the airport. It was about as fine a day for such a climb as you could possibly get on Maui – roughly 78 degrees at our 9:30am start and not terribly windy. Though sunny, looking up there was donut of a cloud surrounding a good portion of this mighty mount.

The first 8 miles, or so, are just not very steep. But the real challenge to the first few miles is the wind. Though not a pummeling gale, Paul and I were challenged by a crossing head wind that kept the pace down. It was a bit daunting to climb into the wind on such open, straight roads. But soon, as we gained a bit of elevation, the winds diminished. After the first several miles, the road begins to get a little curvy and there are places to hide from the breeze. By the time we reached nearly 2,000 feet of elevation, the wind became a non-issue.

For a brief period, the cloud around the mountain felt like a large beach umbrella. We were still warm, but the higher we climbed, the more the sun was getting blocked. The closer we got to cloud-level, the cooler it got.

By 4,000 feet we were completely enshrouded by the mist. The roads were damp and the light rain was a bit of a blessing. We had climbed into the middle of the cloud and we certainly had no worries of overheating.

We kept climbing, gaining elevation and pushing our way through the cloud. The temps started slowly rising again. At somewhere around 6,000 feet, I saw something that was beautiful and unique. The temperature increase was causing the moisture on the wet road to evaporate quickly such that it created a thin carpet of fog that lifted off the road and hovered at no more than 2 or 3 feet above the ground. The gentle breezes and passing cars would swirl the fog into patterns. As the climb carried us higher and closer to the cloud ceiling, the occasional ray of light would pierce through the gray and collide with the twisting tendrils of mist in a multi-spectral explosion. Oxygen deficiency can provide such thrills!

At around 7,000 feet, the terrain becomes a bit lunar – or perhaps Martian. There is lots of red rock, very little vegetation and switchback after switchback.

By 8,000 feet, we climbed high enough above the cloud that we are treated to a breathtaking panorama, the blue Pacific extending in nearly every direction. The climb continued like this, with every hairpin bend in the road revealing an even more spectacular view.

Steve nearing the summit

For nearly the entire climb, the grade had maintained at a fairly steady 4 to 6 percent. For the past 37.75 miles of the 38 mile climb, the legs have ticked over at a near constant work rate. Until, that is, you get up to about 9,850 feet. And then all of a sudden, you have to drag yourself up the last steep pitch. But, that last bend is SO worth it! Around the final turn is that sign that says “Elev 10,000 feet” and the feeling is victorious, the view is incredible and there is nothing like it!

Steve at summit

This was Paul’s first time up the mountain and it was my second. It had been about 10 years since I had done it previously. I may just have to go do it again someday.

Paul and Steve at the summit of Haleakala.
Mission accomplished!

They say the best things in life are free, but it does, in fact, cost $5 to get your bike into the National Park that is Mount Haleakala. Seems a small price to pay for a memory that will last a lifetime…

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