Sunday, May 23, 2004

Tour de Cure for the American Diabetes Association, 100km

Thanks to all my sponsors I raised over $1,100! My corporate team raised almost $8,000, and the Santa Cruz event raised around $25,000.

The Santa Cruz Coastal Tour starts in Aptos, about 1h45m from my house and the 100km ride was a mass start at 7:30 so that meant I had to leave home at 5:30am (this is a Sunday remember). The ride down went fine but I noticed the transmission on the old G20 is slipping worse and worse; I figure I’ll drive it till it falls apart, no sense spending more than the whole car’s worth for a new tranny.

I actually got there early and found the little park where the ride was to start from but they were still setting up and none of the riders was there, so I went in search of some coffee. Then I somehow got lost and by the time I found my way back to the park it was getting late. I got checked in, met Steve from Irvine who was borrowing my Eddy Merckx for this ride, and turned in my contributions. As Steve was finishing up his pre-ride rituals most everybody was leaving. We had to park our cars quite a ways from the start area so I went down once more to see if our team was still in one piece but they were all gone. By the time I got back to the parking lot Steve was gone too so I was the very last person to start out.

Here’s me at check-in: (note how many riders are eyeing my beautiful bike!)

I hammered hard for about 20 minutes before I started catching up to people, Steve first, then a small group of riders from some other team, then other folks from my team and shortly after 8 o’clock we were pretty much all together. It was cold and foggy but nice riding weather in the morning. We got to some nice rolling hills at about mile 25 which broke up the riding dynamics somewhat but we all re-grouped at the first rest stop (a gravel wide spot in the road) and all the other riders admired our team jerseys – there were even some unattached riders from one of our competitor companies there whose company didn’t sponsor them or provide matching team jerseys. I have to say that this first rest stop was understaffed, undersupplied, and underportapottied… I was unimpressed.

It was still foggy and chilly and now we were in the flat windy agricultural part of the county so Adam, Rick, and I decided to do some fancy paceline work and we made great time and had fun too – a few other riders tried to hop on our little train but none could hold on for long. At one point one of the out-of-whack orchard irrigation systems sprayed us with recycled water – yuck. About mile 45 we hit some more hills I did a few sprints to challenge Adam; the first hill was kind of long and he caught me before the crest, but I did surprise him and won the sprint on at least one other occasion. I tried to make my jumps when Adam was in too big of a gear and not paying attention, but after a couple times he got wise to me. I had to tell Adam about “fun ride” etiquette – he was unaware of some of the finer points like when you pass someone on a hill you can’t be breathing hard – you have to slow down just enough to catch your breath and make it look like you’re going easy… same thing goes for being passed; in general the rule is to go as fast as possible (while passing or being passed) while projecting the image that you’re taking it easy because this isn’t a race. There’s a certain amount of competition that’s expected, and a certain line that you don’t cross… century newbs like Adam sometimes don’t pick up on those subtleties.

Rest stop the second was even more disappointing than the first. Bottled water, ClifBars, and banana halves on the shoulder of the road next to a cow pasture. At least there was a semi interesting view of the coastline from here – there were big flocks of small birds eating bugs or something over the water… no whales though. A few of my team riders met up with us here again and Steve left with us three afterward.

A huge pack of racers on a training ride came around us on the coastal highway and they even dropped some of their own riders. Adam helped tow a guy back to the pack but couldn’t quite bridge so they both gave up. One more good hill and then we were back in Aptos and the ride was over. Steve, Adam, Rick, and I all finished together in a show of solidarity.

There was supposed to be an award ceremony recognizing people who raised lots of money (ME!) but it never happened. The lunch was an uninspired, unvegetarian barbeque so I had to settle for lettuce and tortilla chips on a hamburger bun and some generic soda. Honestly as good as these ADA folks were at organizing the fund raising you’d think they’d put on a better show for the payoff. Anyway it was a good time and I really feel like I accomplished something and certainly found out a lot about this disease that affects so many people. I got a lot of nice notes from my sponsors telling me about their own experiences with diabetes and this cold hard heart of mine softened up just a bit thinking that I might actually be helping to make things a little better in the world.

Here’s the Team BC photo after the ride – some of these folks had done the 50km or 25km options. Jeff and his son Ian did it on a tandem.

No ride stats – it was a team charity event, not a race or even a training ride!
(OK, 16.5 mph average but I could have gone a lot harder if I wanted to!)

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Bike to Work Day

I bike to work most days. I live three and a half miles from the office, the route consists of good roads and multi-use trails, it’s faster than driving, and it’s fun.

Adam has been rallying up support to get more folks to ride in for this year’s Bike to Work Day and he did a great job. Eighteen people pledged to ride in, but twenty actually did! The bike rack in the parking garage is overflowing, and Adam convinced the office manager to cough up the funds for a biker’s breakfast with brekkie burritos, juices, bagels, fruit, soymilk, and ClifBars. Many of these folks haven’t ridden their bikes in years and some of them groused a little about hills and dodgy roads but everyone seemed to be glad they did it.

Here’s a composite photo showing the actual bike rack this morning, CrazyEddy with the posing with Adam’s Cannondale, and the whole group of cyclocommuters at the brekkie buffet (I’m in back holding up the white helmet)..

Please sponsor me in the Tour de Cure charity ride for diabetes on May 23…That’s Sunday – better click the link NOW before it’s too late!

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Diablo Junction, 17 miles

JB is feeling much better but still doesn’t have his Della Santa wheels fixed and still can’t get out of the saddle, so today he rode up his touring/commute bike with the granny gear. He left just ahead of me, trying to get a head start. The Diablo Cyclists were congregating at the church and it looked like a big pack. I caught JB before the Gate and we rode together for the first couple of miles. Mark A. and another guy came flying by us near Moss Landing but the other guy lost Mark’s wheel after another couple hundred meters – he was a stocky guy with good speed but not a super climber, I see him a lot up here but don’t know his name.

Near the bottom of the bump a rail-thin teenager with red aero booties came around us – he looked like a natural grimpeur. Right behind him was “Big Jim” the Diablo Cyclist guy I saw on Primavera last month. I dropped JB at this point and rode with Big Jim to the Bump and then pulled ahead of him too. Then I passed StockyGuy, and I almost caught the GrimpeurKid too!

Around the Lower Ranch I got passed by StockyGuy but I stayed ahead of Big Jim all the way up to the Junction. I kept looking back expecting more of the DC riders to catch me because there were a lot of them down there, but I must have been burning up the course! Elapsed time: 41m43s (remember that I rode the first two miles pretty leisurely).

It wasn’t until I got to the Junction that I noticed Mark was riding his single-speed QuickBeam with cyclocross tires on it… that guy is an animal, but also very soft-spoken and friendly. The GrimpeurKid was there putting on some knee warmers and Mark joked that he could use arm warmers on his legs because they were so skinny. Another twenty or so folks rolled in while we were waiting around and it was good to have such a great turnout.

Wildlife Encounter: Three young deer munching grass on the slopes above the Upper Washout on my way down. No mother doe in sight, must be the time of year to cut the apron strings. Also a whole flock of turkey vultures fighting for the good parts of a squirrel carcass. I was concerned they wouldn’t get out of the way in time – that would be interesting, a collision with a vulture in flight with a beak full of entrails!

Please sponsor me in the Tour de Cure charity ride for diabetes on May 23…That’s Sunday – click the link NOW!

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Diablo Junction, 26 miles

Just me today, everyone else is either on vacation, injured, or otherwise occupied. I decided to go a little later than usual to spend some time with the girls before they went to a birthday party; I got to the Gate at about 10:30.

It was cool and very windy this morning. For a change of pace, I decided to do a strength ride instead of an aerobic ride so that meant using bigger gears and slower pedaling cadence. I managed to do the whole of North Gate Road in a 21 except for a few sections where I got into the 19 or 17. Kind of enjoyable, certainly a different ride experience whether or not it has any training benefit. My cassette is shot though, the new chain helped for a while but I’m skipping on several cogs now. Ordered a new one from Excel Sports Boulder – the local shop couldn’t provide one, saying there was a world-wide shortage of Shimano components… not sure whether to believe that or not.

There are a lot more cars this time of the morning, another good reason to go earlier. Pretty uneventful ride, I much prefer having friendly competition and company.

Please sponsor me in the Tour de Cure charity ride for diabetes on May 23.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Diablo Junction, 17 miles

JB, Lois, Nicole, and I all met on Doncaster Street, next to the Mormon Church. Cindy met us shortly after that. Cindy’s returning to road cycling after a long hiatus and recently bought a beautiful Landshark bike from the nice folks at Left Coast Cyclery. I had recommended that shop as one that would give her good customer service and she told me they really treated her well and they certainly sold her a nice bike that is a good match for the kind of riding she’ll be doing.

So we all rode together for a little while but Cindy was eager to push it a little while Lois was more interested in conversation so we split into about three groups. JB’s rib is still painful and he still doesn’t have his Della Santa fixed so he was back with Nicole. I rode with Cindy at her pace for a while; we’ve been in the same office for three years and we’ve both been at the same company for a long time so it was nice to get to know her a little better today.

At the three miles to go point (3mtg) I took off and rode it in 18m48s which would be great if I had been pushing the lower half of the mountain. My Junction time was 43+ so that wasn’t too bad for an easy ride. When Cindy got there, we talked for a while more and then went down to sweep up the slower riders and ride back up again.

On the way down, below the bump, there was A SNAKE in the road! It looked like it had already been run over but I steered wide anyway. Later JB told us he ran over it by accident but didn’t crash this time… man, he’s going to get snake phobia if this happens again.

Please sponsor me in the Tour de Cure charity ride for diabetes on May 23.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Diablo Junction plus Juniper, 29 miles

Didn’t sleep well at all last night – I’ve had a stiff neck for the last few days so I tried to sleep on the couch with a heating pad and it helped some but I didn’t feel rested this morning and the neck still hurt so I skipped brekkie, dropped a couple generic aspirin, downed two cups of coffee with Equal, and mixed up my Cytomax. Nicole arrived right on time to pick up her bike that I’ve been letting her store in my garage and we left for the Gate together. JB said yesterday that he wasn’t sure if he would be coming or not so I said I wouldn’t wait.

I told Nicole that I was planning on doing Juniper so I’d leave her at the Gate and then meet back up with her at the Junction and she was fine with that idea so off I went. Weather conditions were excellent; no wind, cool and sunny. I was planning on an endurance ride – no intervals and no stopping at the Junction. I don’t think I got out of the saddle for more than about 10 cranks in some of the steeper spots and I was enjoying the ride when I marked my time at 3mtg – 19m22s. Hey I thought, that’s a sub 40 pace! I was kind of surprised but I figured I’d keep the same attitude and hold on to the high-aerobic pace and just let the numbers do whatever they were going to do. With 2mtg I was just under 25 and I figured I’d wind up just under 40 and I’d have a big smile on my face as I motored on through the Junction on my way to Juniper. With 1mtg I couldn’t believe I was at 31m21s… now this is PB territory. I started to pick the pace up a little bit at a time, still not red lining though. Then I realized I could really SMASH my existing PB and break 38 minutes, which was my goal for the Hurl Ride so I dug really deep and dieseled all the rest of the way and crossed the line at 37m05s !!!!! Holy crap – a minute and a half slashed off my best ever time on a day when I felt crappy and wasn’t even trying for the first half of the ride. I couldn’t help but think how much faster I could be on a good day!

I rode a few cool down laps around the Junction parking lot where Peter was resting and then we two went on to Juniper at a relaxed pace. Peter had already been to the Summit so he was starting to fatigue and I didn’t feel like I was slowing him down any and my Juniper time was 55 minutes even. When we got back to Junction it had been an hour and twenty but Nicole wasn’t there. She usually does about a 60 minute ride so I figured she had been there and turned around already. Peter went down South Gate for some extra miles and I started for home but soon ran into Nicole and JB. This was his first Diablo ride since the snake scene and he was moving kinda slow but he was doing it. I guess he showed up at the Gate shortly after I left and did the whole ride with Nicole. I turned around and rode with them back up to the Junction, then we all went to Peet’s for coffee, my treat.

Please sponsor me in the Tour de Cure charity ride for diabetes on May 23.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Diablo Junction and Bump de Bump 36 miles

Yes, a rare Sunday morning ride. JB is still nursing his wounds (the bruised rib is the worst part), Rick has left for his Bike-opelli MTB adventure in Colorado, and the wife decided I needed to help with her yard sale on Saturday so that leaves today for a ride. Nicole rode up yesterday as part of a wedding processional (bride and groom rode up separately from opposite sides and rode down on a tandem). So it was just me and it was a beautiful, warm, sunny morning. I rode along in autopilot, just appreciating the mountain's splendor and not pushing myself too hard but planned all along on doing Bump de Bump.

Wildlife Encounter: Coming around one switchback I happened on a group of three young deer who, upon seeing me darted adroitly straight up the steep incline to my left; it was such a smooth maneuver as to have been choreographed. Also, although I didn't see it, there was definitely a skunk encounter of some sort in the vicinity of Son of Chainbuster.

I passed about a half dozen riders on the way to the Junction and then I kept on going down South Gate Road without stopping. I did pause briefly at the South Gate Kiosk to fill up my bottle at the water fountain because it was getting really warm. I rode past several dozen riders coming up as I descended. The view from South Gate Road is quite a bit different from the North - there aren't the cow pastures and ranches, there is more greenery and several camping/picnic areas, but the expensive housing developments are a lot closer to the park so that's a big detractor. At the Boundary Gate I turned around and started the ride back up. I passed a few of the riders I saw on the way down, and some of the riders that were coming up before were now descending so that was kind of interesting. Then I rode right threw the Junction again to descend down the North and there were dozens more riders coming up there too. A good day on the mountain, but then I got a flat about 2 miles from home - small shard of glass went all the way through the rubber and tire casing. I hope the cut doesn't get any bigger, I just put these tires on! Also, that nagging knee pain started to reappear during the flat part after the last descent... disturbing that.

Product Review: My wife got me this Polar insulated water bottle for my birthday - the big one in the middle of the picture. I'd been curious about these but not enough to actually buy one. I like it, the tall one holds the same amount of liquid as a regular (small) water bottle, the valve is nicely designed for easy cleaning, and it does do an excellent job of insulating. I usually put lots of ice in my bottles in a vain attempt to keep the Cytomax cold on hot days. With this bottle I had ice remaining when I refilled at the water fountain - well over an hour after starting. There's a little dimple on two sides and you have to make sure your cage grabs the bottle at that point for the best hold. And it's a little heavier than a regular bottle - just enough to make you think there's more another two gulps of water in there when there isn't. Retail price is $10, any color you want so long as it's white (translucent so you can see the shiny foil insulating layer).