Welcome!

[Mile 612] Flying up the pass, feeling great, and absolutely amazing views in the snowy peaks with a huge valley behind me. — in Washington.

Welcome to my blog! This is where I post about my rides – for other adventures, check out The Woodsy Ones.

My wife and I are currently traveling the west while she takes travel nursing assignments. We’ll be in Cali through April 2015.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave comments too.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

San Fran – Two Rock / Valley Ford 200km

Only two weeks into my rando career of 2015 and I got my second 200km ride done! Despite the general forecast of the week being dreary between major storm systems, the weather turned out as fantastic as I could have asked for. Others weren’t so confident in the day though, and turnout was very low. I’m figuring that in rainy places (PNW especially), randonneurs are prepared for the worst and still come to rides with predictions of rain. California being generally sunny and fenderless meant few risk takers, but they missed out on this ride!

Breakfast #2

Breakfast #2

The route started similar to the last – over the big red bridge, through some rolling terrain, and eventually making a turn into new territory in Sonoma County. My jacket only lasted for the first hour, until it started to get warmer out. Just past the a high point where I stashed it, I was riding over nasty shoulder debris and got a glass shard in my Compass tire. I was nearly at the front when this happened, and watched as most of the crowd passed by. I went with a tube change rather than a patch job just in case, and later clocked the time at 10.5 minutes stopped, which isn’t too bad for a flat in my experience.

I engaged Cat 6 racing mode, and would catch someone to briefly hold their wheel before launching ahead again. A few people seemed surprised and uncomfortable with someone behind them, so I kept moving along. I was soon back up to pace and didn’t need to push my luck trying to go fast. The first controle came soon enough, and I got pizza and OJ to keep my sugar high enough to avoid relying on Clif Bars.

IMG_20150207_111221From Petaluma to Valley Ford, I was still mostly riding alone but with other randos typically in sight. It was getting even warmer out, and I didn’t have room to stash any more layers, so I rolled up my sleeves on the climbs. I took an extended break at the second control when a few more familiar faces rolled in, and I would roll out with this small pack including Eric, Metin, and Roy. They were the right pace for me, and great for conversation too.

I recall the point where we returned to familiar roads, as this time there was more wind, and a lot of tree debris on the roads. This made it harder for cars to pass along Tomales Bay, where the road is already a bit winding, and we weren’t riding far to the side to avoid some of the sticks in the road.

IMG_20150207_163107My typical rando-math skills yielded not-so-accurate estimations, as the final approach to the finish was slower than I remember. I was tired, hadn’t eaten or drank enough, and the terrain feels a bit tougher on the way home after 100 miles. My right knee was getting sore from frequent stop/starting in town too. We lost Eric to a flat close to the end, as he told us not to wait up. Three of us finished at 9:15hrs, which still brings down my average 200km pace, so I was very happy with that result. Big thanks to Metin for the carpool, and especially for showing me the best burritos in town on the way home.

Posted in 100-150 miles, San Francisco | Leave a comment

San Fran Randos – Pierce Point 200km

Update: I’m now in the San Francisco area. Previously I was near Los Angeles, Seattle, and Ithaca, NY.

It’s certainly nice to have weather in my favor for riding 200k this early in the year! I had only gotten out for a few 20-45mi rides after moving to San Mateo, so I knew the first brevet was going to be difficult. It was great to show up at the start and see ~130 riders though.

The rides start by crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s an experience, but I’d struggle to call it anything more than that. With bumps all over the place and obstacles along the sides, it requires paying close attention, so it’s hard to appreciate the views. At least in the morning there are no tourists out yet.

sfr-pierceThe Pierce Point route follows scenic roads along both sides of Tomales Bay. First on the west side, with a good amount of terrain, especially with the final hill before dipping down to the out-and-back control. There were signs for beach access trails, and I hope to come back sometime to hike here. The east side had a little more traffic, but was still a great bay view, with the smell of seafood in the air.

Photo by Deb Ford

 

I was able to ride along with a few people, but there didn’t seem to be much of a group anywhere, except for the fastest guys in the front that I would see on the out-and-back controles. Apparently the Golden Gate Bridge also contributes to this, because it strings out all of the riders in the first few miles.

I had a good fight with diabetes all day, since this was the first big activity since before the holidays. I had eaten many Clif Bars, and was getting sick of them. At 90 miles in, I just sat by the side of the road to try to get more food in. I started to ride again, and was feeling better. Somewhere after this point, I met another rando and we rode together to the end, with a time of 8:57hrs. It’s tough to stretch from 45 mile rides to 200km this early in the season, but with open roads and good weather, it’s tougher to pass up a ride like this!

Posted in 100-150 miles, San Francisco | Leave a comment

The Los Angeles Experience

I didn’t blog much over the past few months. It’s not that I wasn’t ridding, it’s just that I never seemed to find my kind of rides in time. The difficulty with this plan to frequently move is that it takes me about as long just to hear about the kind of rides I’d love to be on. LA also seemed to have relatively few adventurous riders and no real sense of randonneuring. That’s not to say that I wasn’t riding though.

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I seemed to literally make a circle with my routes. In the beginning, I was riding to the northwest in the Santa Monica mountains. This is excellent grounds for climbs, with very little traffic. My favorite ride here was the Gran Fondo, culminating with a climb on Piuma. Another good one was Tuna Canyon – a one-way descent through a twisty canyon that feels extremely isolated, yet is literally connected to the infamous Pacific Coast Highway.

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Then I meandered more north to the canyons above Beverly Hills, Bel Air, and Hollywood. These were close by, and although they had more traffic, they were fun to ride and still difficult climbs all around. I even did a midnight ride here with a group, overlooking the cityscape of lights.

I moved onto the northeast, aiming for group rides out of Pasadena headed east under the big hills. It’s 20-25 miles away, but this was the only place I could find group rides that weren’t simply up-n-down the coast highway. After riding to a group ride with no group showing up, I ran into Will, who was also into adventurous riding, as he led me through a mountain bike area, and told me about a big fast group ride I would later come back for. We also rode together to Santa Barbara, which was my last long ride in the area.

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To cap off my circle, my final rides were to the southeast. This was the first I heard of #CoffeeOutside, where serious cyclists converge for a very serious coffee drinking party. It wasn’t far, it wasn’t intense ride, but it was a great way to spend a morning with a good group, while we made coffee over camp stoves. More on that to come later.

In a nutshell, I think I now understand the hashtag #LASucksForCycling. There are great opportunities for all sorts of rides, but in order to get to them, you just might need to ride through 25 miles of city, or 25 miles of parked cars on the PCH. And other than some racing groups and some very late night somewhat questionable groups, it’s tough to find others just looking for an adventure. I’m sure more of it exists, but I didn’t find it in time. At least the weather is always perfect.

Posted in Los Angeles | 3 Comments

Pacific Coast Highway Randonneurs – Trans Sierra Triple Pass 200km

Sherman Pass

Sherman Pass

I DNF’d. After 14,000ft of climbing in less than 70 miles, my lungs weren’t happy, I was feeling a bit dizzy, and the descents on loose chipseal had me concerned. And there was a LOT of descending ahead. Normally that is something to cherish, but in this case, it was bad news. I knew that with only a few thousand feet of climbing left, this shouldn’t have been tough to finish, but I just became overly concerned with my condition. Being alone, riding several hours at night, this tired and spent with sore lungs, I just didn’t feel that continuing was a good choice.

Quail Valley

Quail Valley

I love climbing, and so it was tough to decide to bail on this. A major issue was that the riders were told to expect about an hour between seeing the sag wagon to refill water and grab more food. The beginning of the day started great. I was climbing swiftly, and was able to refill my water frequently enough. But because I was moving along well early in the day, while a few others were already slowing down, a big spread was forming. I heard that in order to get back to the last riders, the sag skipped a trip to see me in the front. However, over this time, I had climbed over 3,000ft in 2.75 hours since I had last refilled water. Normally 25 miles is nothing to worry about, but this was 6% climbing for several hours over that distance. I started sipping water to ration it, but climbing this much really required taking down a bottle every 1000ft or sooner, and I was falling too far behind on that plan.

Kern River

Kern River

I don’t think that this was the only reason, as clearly this was a stupidly tough route to try. But it really was a bummer to expect more frequent fill ups and end up dry on the toughest climb. I really love these routes that get out well beyond where most people would consider riding in a day (the Cascade 1240km being another), but without the proper support, the difficulty changes from challenging to dangerous. I hope to find other crazy routes in the future, but I’m going to be very diligent about making sure there are stores along the way or ensuring support isn’t far away.

Soma Stanyan

Soma Stanyan

Strava: 13,925ft climbing in 78.4 miles = 177ft climbing per mile!

Posted in 50-99 miles, Los Angeles | 4 Comments

LA Wheelmen Grand Tour Lite 200k

In early September, we moved to Los Angeles. (Kathy works 3 month positions as a nurse in hospitals, and we were previously in Puyallup and Olympia, WA this year). LA has been harder to find rides, oddly enough. Few randos, but I get the impression that race teams are popular, but not my thing.

I had emailed a few clubs and caught wind of this Grand Tour ride. There were 70, 100, and 125 mile options. I got up at 5:15am and rolled out half an hour later, 20 miles to the start in Malibu. They didn’t have maps (either online or at the start, though I had an idea of the route from past Strava data), but I was told that the 2 shorter versions stuck to the coast and had little climbing. What’s the point of riding with no climbing?! So I was left with a 200k, plus 40 miles to get there and home on the ends.

IMG_3541The whole weekend was an annoying mess of bike maintenance. I new I was long overdue for a chain, and when I swapped out the chain and cassette, it became clear that my little chainring wasn’t happy with this. I swapped bottom brackets and finally put on my little 30/46t crankset. Then on my way to the ride, the rear derailleur stopped springing back. I asked around and got some lube to coat the cable, and this solved that problem at least for the day. I should probably just put new housing and a cable in there soon…

The route starts with an amazing climb up Latigo Canyon. It’s got switchbacks, great views of the coast, mountains, & canyons, and it was still a reasonable temperature for a morning climb. I passed a few riders here, and also rode with a guy in full Rapha Sky kit from the UK, but was not on the team. I never quite found anyone my pace though, everyone was either a bit slower on the climbs, or hammering on the flats.

Latigo Canyon

Latigo Canyon

I missed the first rest stop, as another ride had a stop very nearby that I mistakenly stopped at and must have zoned out when the real stop came up. Apparently I wasn’t the only one to miss it though. There was a pack of people at the lunch stop another 20 or 30 miles later. I thought I’d roll out with them, but of about 8 people, 4 noticed flats from thorns in the grass as they were about to roll out. I didn’t have one though, and just left on my own, sure to get caught in no time by this Hot Wheels race team. Surprisingly, I made it about 20 miles before 3 guys caught me. I latched on for dear life for a few hours, but approaching the next stop I veered off because their fearless leader was hammering more than I could handle at that point, but it was fun while it lasted!

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Most of the route after 60mi was fairly forgettable. Way too hot for me, and with lots of flat roads with headwinds. The last portion of the ride looks dead flat on the profile, but it was awful. What I thought should be an awesome 20mph TT down the Pacific Coast Highway was actually rollers. At 140+ miles for the day so far, I found myself climbing up slowly and coasting down the back, and then watching the next roller come up. To make it worse, there’s intermittent parking along the highway, with much of it forcing cyclists to ride in the lane. I had caught a few more people, but couldn’t stay with them because they just rode the door zone and I didn’t care to be a witness to the door prize.

Strava link: 161 miles, 7,900ft climbing

Posted in 150-200 miles, Los Angeles | Leave a comment

Randonnesia

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Seattle Summer 400k – Barlow Pass

Realizing that I only had less than 2 weeks left in Washington, I had to fit in one last ride with the SIRs. I had briefly considered volunteering the Barlow control, but after realizing that just getting to Seattle and out there without a car would be logistically just as much effort as riding it, I signed up for the ride instead. I coordinated a ride up with Susan and Asta from Portland, and stayed with Andy just a few miles from the start. I couldn’t be more grateful for such generous randos helping others out!

In the hour before driving up, I noticed my bottom bracket was just slightly backing out. I honestly hadn’t looked at it in a year, so I had no idea if it was moving fast or slow, but figured it would be okay. Of course, upon mentioning this to Andy, he swiftly took off my cranks and snugged up the BB. I got about 6 hours of sleep, and awoke to Andy on his way out of the house at 5am, and I got out by about 5:20 for the 6am start.

IMG_3466As usual, my plan was to stay close to the front and keep up for the first 100 miles. The pack stopped in Snohomish for breakfast, but my sugar was still high, so I just topped off my water and continued up the trail at a reasonable pace with a few other guys at a slightly slower pace, knowing we’d be caught after a little while. Our group of 10 or so rolled along for a long time, until in the foggy mist some fast sprints started to break things up.

My latest ride-metric is how fast the first century is. My too-fast brevets seemed to do the first hundred miles in 6 hours, which lead to me running of out gas by the end. This ride hit the 100 mile mark at 6.5 hours, which felt much better for me. The town of Concrete was just a few miles later, where the lead guys (Theo and Steve) had stopped to refill. Steve had a BB back out too far to continue the planned route, and was going to roll back to a town with a shop and then home.

IMG_3467I continued on with some guys around my pace, but eventually ended up between a few, and rode alone. I briefly sped up to catch Ward, but was having a hard time pulling with just two of us. I would spend a little longer at the stop in Darrington, and while I was there I saw many more randos coming in. I left with just one though, and we were together until the gravel section. The gravel was nothing bad – just a few mostly avoidable washboard sections. I was on 32mm tires (Pasela and Compass).

IMG_3468All day I was wondering where the ultra racers were at, and they flew past on the dirt. I caught up for a moment, but just wasn’t able to hold anywhere near that pace for more than a minute, so continued on solo. At the top of the pass were two amazing volunteers making sandwiches and soup, and just a few randos. Theo had already left, on his mission to reduce stopping time. Several more came in shortly behind me, and we eventually began the hour and a half descent together.

IMG_3469Luckily we were well down the descent before the sun fell, as there were a few craters in the road to stay away from. With just a few moderate stops in Granite Falls and Sultan, the night continued. Doing some rando-math I figured we’d actually finish around 1am, which was better than my initial estimate of 2am. Like every long ride, I started to get antsy, especially for the last hour. My bum hurts so I tend to stand more, which makes my feet hurt, and my hands are no longer comfortable. I count down the miles to the next turn or hill. With just 5 miles to the finish, we hit what felt like the worst hills of the day to climb into Seattle. As others said, this ride didn’t have a lot of big climbs, just some punchy steep ones.

We reached the finish at 12:49am as a small group. Burgers and “recovery drinks” were prevalent. The celebrations were cut short by news of riders that had crashed, though I’ve since heard that everyone is okay. I hung out for an hour but didn’t see anyone else roll in before I left for one final climb back to my couch to sleep on for the night.

I may even retract my prior statements about avoiding 400ks. While I like sunrise-to-sunset rides best, longer group rides tend to be a better pace for me and can be more sociable than 20mph pacelines. So this was a great last SIR ride. I’ll be in LA for the next 3 months, and hope to join some PCH Rando rides down there for the end of the season. Thanks to everyone I rode with, and especially those that help carpool me to ride starts or offered a place to sleep – I couldn’t have done all these rides without that support!

Posted in 200-300 miles, Olympia | 2 Comments