OYJ Lucas Valley 2008

I decided to book my flight to LA late in the afternoon so I wouldn’t miss the Lucas Valley ride, and I’m glad I did. The Yellowjackets met a park and ride parking lot. Just east of the freeway. Maybe about 70 riders all told. But it was so disorganized like many of the “Away” rides. Groups of riders took of at different times. The was no organization. It was sort of a bummer. In the end, it didn’t really matter, because I was waiting for some friends from work, Kim & Zach, who were running late.
Kim is a new rider, so we hit the road before Zach arrived, knowing that he’d be able to catch up.
Lucas Valley is a road that runs (roughly) from San Rafael to Nicasio Valley. It winds slowly up past farms in a rural part of Marin and descends down through a redwood forest along horse ranches to Nicasio. It’s part of the Marin Century and seemed much harder the first time I rode it. This time, it was a piece of cake.
Zach caught us with at the junction Lucas Valley Rd and Nicasio Valley Rd and we road together into Point Reyes Station. We were going really slow and I was sort of bummed about it, but I wanted to help Kim train up for the Waves to Wine, so I stayed with her. Then on Pt. Reyes Petaluma Rd. We were passed by a double pace line, that is two parallel lines of riders, riding about shoulder width apart. They were flying down the road, and I could have stayed with, but I would have left Zach & Kim in the dust, so I just hung on for a little while and then circled back to met up with them.
I’ve been to Point Reyes Station many times on my way to beaches and hikes in Pt. Reyes, and I’ve seen cyclists there, but I’ve never seen anything like it. There were probably 75-100 riders hanging out in the area in front of the Bovine Bakery. There was a mobile bike tech. Bikes stacked up everywhere. It was awesome. It was also a perfectly beautiful day, around 75 degrees with perfect blue skies.
There were some OYJers in town, but we left so late and were going so slowly, that most had already had a long break and headed up Highway One to Marshall. The riders left were mostly from the Light group who started in Nicasio Valley.
We probably stayed in PRS for longer than we should have, about an hour. It was definitely much longer than I would have liked. I needed to get the ride finished and get home before 330 to finish packing and not miss my flight.
I had an orange chocolate scone at the Bovine Bakery and waited while Zach had his flat fixed (cost him 15 bucks!&mdashnormally it runs about 8). I took pictures of everything.
By the time we got back on the road, it was getting warmer and we were in serious jeopardy of not making it around the route. Since Kim was tiring out, I made an executive decision at about the 26 mile mark that we were turning around and heading back. Zach continued on a finished the route. I’ll have to come back an do it some other time. I was just worried about Kim and wanted to make sure that she got back in one piece. She didn’t have tools to fix a flat and only had one water bottle. Someone had to go with her. Since I convinced her to come out and I needed to make sure that I got myself home in time to make my flight, I volunteered.
The ride back was a struggle for Kim. She didn’t have enough water, so I shared, and she didn’t have much strength left, so I gave her support. We managed to get back in one piece, with no flats, which I’m thankful for.
It was tough thinking that I could have been in a paceline all day and blasted my way around the route. Instead I took my time and a lot of great pictures. The roads aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Pt. Reyes Petaluma Rd
Dead Raccoon

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BAO notes

It really was a beautiful day. Cool in the morning. Not exceedingly hot as it could have been in the afternoon. What little wind there was mostly refreshing.

The ride took us along many of the familiar OYJ roads, but also down some places in our hood that I haven’t seen on the rides this year: most notably the south end of Skyline with its shady eucalyptus lined streets, Pig Farm hill & “not so” Happy Valley Rd. We also got to ride the reverse direction on many of our most traveled paths: Wildcat Canyon, Redwood Rd. Moraga Way, San Pablo Dam Rd., which was really nice. Thankfully they did not make us ascend Shepherd Canyon. That would have been really ugly.

The absolute best part of the ride (other than the Otter Pops at the stop at the summit of Pig Farm) was the descent down Park Blvd. Maybe I was going too fast to see the new potholes, but for me it was excellent and I would love to see us change some of the routes that finish down Trestle Glen with all it’s unfortunately placed stop signs with Park Blvd that is fast, safe and really, really fun.
Kudos to everyone who participated. The amount of money raised by the club was really staggering.

Photos are up on Flickr.

There were a couple of things that were a little disappointing. I had hoped that there would be a larger group of Yellowjackets riding the century, but there were only a handful at Lake Merritt when we left around 6:45. I rode all day with Dan and met up with Chip around the lunch break. I saw Jason for a second before we left us in his wake up Broadway. I saw a few other members, Tom & Susan, at the Bear Creek rest stop, but that was it. It just seemed a little odd that there weren’t more of us riding together.

It was also somewhat befuddling that when we finished the ride at around 3:45, the after-event was really over. We left fairly early (6:45) and rode reasonably fast, around 14 mph, faster than most of the advanced-intermediate club rides. Very few other riders passed us and yet the finish area was like a ghost town when we arrived. We were talking to another century rider who finished behind us and he was complaining that some of the rest stops had closed before he arrived and there were many riders behind him. Considering the amount of climbing on this ride, advertised at 10,000 ft, but probably more like 8600, the organizers should have anticipated that most of the century riders would finish after well 3:30, even if they started before 7am.

The last thing that was surprising was the lack of cold beverages at the rest stops. The guy with the cups of ice at the top of that insidious Deer Hill Road was awesome, but the only other stop with ice was the Bear Creek Rd. stop and then only on the second visit. I suspect someone realized the oversight and ran out to grab a bag. It was a huge help for the final leg of the ride.

None of these things will stop me from doing the ride next year. Just a few minor tweaks will take this event from great to excellent.

See you on the road.

Here’s the route map:

Slow Down!

Michael on Silverado Trail
Almost every day I pass by this memorial to a cyclist killed by a car. It’s right around the corner from my place. It is always lovingly maintained. The bike has been stolen and is always replaced. The white bike is a stark reminder of how unsafe the roads can be and how dangerous my new hobby is. But the message is clear:
I try to be careful but as I share the roads with cars, there’s only so much I can do.
More photos here.

Emeryville – Lafayette BART

Self-Portrait at Inspiration Point
Shadow on Bear Creek Rd
Crosses on Hillside in Lafayette
Went for a little ride after work today. When I left my place in Emeryville, it was starting to cool off, but it was still sunny. By the time I reached Grizzly Peak, the fog had rolled in and it was freezing. I headed east through Tilden Park and, according to my speedometer, hit 51.6 MPH down Shasta Rd., but I’m skeptical. The road was smooth and straight and I was going fast—fast enough not to be able to look at my computer—But that’s like stupid fast and I don’t think I was going stupid fast. I don’t think I can.
Anyway, I continued on past Inspiration Point down WIldcat Canyon and I climbed the first Bear (the hardest one) but instead of following to the second two, I hung a right at Happy Valley Rd., one of those perfect winding steep backgrounds that litter the East Bay. The street is lined with leafy trees and is wrapped around farms and hidden homesteads. It’s really quite beautiful.
The ascent was super steep (you can see it on the profile at around 16 miles), but the payoff was fantastic. After a short technical descent, Happy Valley straightens out into a perfectly paved road with about 2-3% grade and I hauled ass about 30 MPH all the way down to the Lafayette BART.
It’s great to be able to take the train back instead of climbing in the dark, but I don’t understand why it should cost me $2.25 cents to go two stops. It’s a wonder any one rides the BART who doesn’t absolutely have to. Even with gas prices at this level (about $4.30/gallon).

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Centuries in the NYT

I found an article in the the New York Times, Turning a Century in California, that describes Century riding in Northern California better than I ever could. Here the author, John Markoff, discusses the merits of the food available at the various events:

Over the years the refreshments served by century ride organizers at rest stops have become a source of heated competition. Some rides are epicurean, some are organic, some offer complete feasts, and at the bottom of the heap are the rides that provide the meager PowerBar and Gatorade.
Each May, the Foothill Century, which involves a leisurely spin along the edge of Silicon Valley, bills itself as the “only kosher ride in the West.” In August, the Tour d’Organics, in Sebastopol, offers locally grown fruit.
The Grizzly Peak Century measures up well. In fact the ride’s slogan is “eat to ride and ride to eat.” This year the organizers handed out yellow Grizzly Peak Century socks to all riders, with the slogan embroidered on the bottom.
THIS year the first rest stop in Tilden Regional Park, in the hills behind Berkeley, featured tasty chocolate chip cookies prepared by a local culinary institute. At the second rest stop, just past the refinery-laden town of Rodeo, there were more cookies and a lot of fruit, from orange slices to watermelon, as well as more muffins. In fact, there were three rest stops in the 73 miles before lunch.
My favorite cycling food is small, salted and boiled red potatoes, which this year were served at the rest area just before the three bears, three climbs that form a classic patch of cycling territory in the rolling hills east of Berkeley. It’s odd to think that you can burn four to five thousand calories and still gain weight, but I believe it’s true.

I burned about 7000 calories when I rode the Marin Century last weekend, so I don’t think there was any weight gain, despite the well stocked rest stops.