Coastal Cruise

This weekend is the end of the season Yellowjackets ride from Pacifica (or from further south in Pescadero for some) to Monterey. The roughly 120 mile route hugs the coast, first on Highway One down to Santa Cruz and then through the southern part of Santa Cruz county to Monterey via a series of surface streets and bike paths. Should be absolutely spectacular provided:

  • The prevailing wind is from north to south, as is often the case
  • It doesn’t rain

Apparently it rained last year and it was just damn fucking miserable (so I’m told). The ride was in October and it’s been moved up a few weeks to catch the last good weather of the year (hopefully). This will be longest, but not the hardest ride I’ve been on. There’s only about 3,800 feet of climbing, most of it right at the start. Devil’s Slide is particular notorious, but we’ll get it out of the way early (we leave Pacific at 7am) and when most drivers are still sleeping. The route past Santa Cruz is mostly flat. The forescast is calling for a high in the 60s in Santa Cruz and the low 60s in Monterey, which is perfect weather for cycling. No sign of precipitation at all.
The ride is supported by the club with rest stops in Pescadero & Sand City and lunch in Santa Cruz at the Lighthouse Field. It will be really interesting to ride along a route that I have driven many times. Should make for some amazing photography.
I took a spin class today and my right knee is acting up again. It took about 20 minutes of spinning for it to loosen up. I’ll be armed with ibuprofen on the ride, so I’m sure I’ll be fine. Thank you, Big Pharma!
Here’s the route sheet and the map:

and the profile:

Attack of the Power Goos

Gus and Gels that athletes use to have been around for almost a decade now, but I have mostly been spared them because, well, there’s no reason for me to have used them. They are consumed by athletes looking for quick energy when the are competing or training. But since I’ve started cycling in earnest this year, goos and gels have been an increasing part of my training nutrition diet. I almost always bring one with me on a ride and when I do a supported ride, like Waves to Wine or any of the Century rides, they are usually available at the rest stops. Since they are easy and quick to consume and provide a well needed energy boost, goos are very welcome.
However not all goos are created equal. They come in a rainbow of “flavors” and brands. For me, there’s little difference between the brands. At their core, they are all a same—a viscous jelly-like substance similar in texture (and often taste) to tree sap. I tend to stay away from any of the fruit flavors which taste like Elmer’s glue and stick to the chocolate, mocha, espresso spectrum, which are far more palatable.
On the first day of the Waves to Wine ride, I made a huge mistake and, at the last rest stop, ate several goos with a fistful of pretzels. Big mistake. The combination of the viscous goo and the flour from the pretzels creates a mortar like substance that could have been used to build the pyramids. It sat like a brick in my stomach for the last 15 miles of the ride. It was terribly uncomfortable. On the plus side, I probably won’t have to shit for a week.
Here are some sample goo varieties:

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Ypenburg Heklucht

It’s often a problem finding a place to fill up the tires with air. On my mountain bike with uses Schrader valves, I can go to any gas station, but with my road bike, the stem is different. It’s a Presta valve, so the standard gas station air hoses don’t fit.
Enter Dutch designers Jeroen Bruls & Krijn Christiaansen who invented the “Heklucht, type “, a bike stand with an integrated pump. What a brilliant idea.

WHAT is it?? a bikestand with airpump (Heklucht), type Ypenburg The product has been conceived for an art project in Ypenburg (a newly build neighbourhood in the Netherlands). Eight products will be placed in front of eight houses. The goal of the project is to stimulate an interaction between neighbours, while pumping up the tyres of their bicycles. The hurdle is made out of polished stainless steel. Because of this, it shines like a jewel on the grey pavement. Available in every color.

OYJ Calaveras 2008

Since it was going to be a hot 90+ day, I was wearing my Camelbak, but it was leaking on the way the short ride from my house to the lake, so much so that by the time I arrived, my ass was soaked. I tried to fix the bladder, but I couldn’t find the problem and the thing leaked all the way Sunol when it was empty. I just bought a replacement for the original bladder that was leaking. Damn thing.
I was really looking forward to the Calaveras ride because the routs heads south into a place I’ve never been, the area between Sunol and Milpitas. There were probably about 100 riders at the Lake when we departed at 8:20. The sun was already out and the Canadian Geese were lounging everywhere in the grass.
The ride starts with one of my favorite ascents up to Skyline-Wildwood & Butters Canyon. It’s not a very difficult grade, maybe 4% tops, and the roads wind around palatial homes in the Oakland hills up to Skyline Blvd. It’s just really pleasant.
From Skyline, we glide down Redwood Rd., again a great descent because it’s very straight and not very steep. There was a freshly killed opossum on the far side of the road and I wanted to stop and take a pic, but I was going too fast.
Redwood bottoms out and then the rolling climbs begin. Nothing too tough. Finally, there’s rather speedy descent into Castro Valley for the first rest break.
Out of CV we head east up and down the Dublin Grade. It’s a really easy climb and the road down is so smooth and straight, it’s no trouble to hit 40+ MPH. After a short regroup at the little powerstation at the bottom, we head south on the leafy Foothill Dr past Pleasanton homesteads and golf courses and into Sunol, the tiny whistle-stop town where we had a lengthy break at the general store.
The sun was starting to bear down now. It was around 11am with the mercury hovering around 90. We were heading south into some pretty unforgiving territory. After a Gatorade and a popsicle, and about a 40 minute break, we headed out towards Calaveras Rd.
It was really hot. No shade. It had been drinking lots of water, so I was going to be fine. But it wasn’t very nice. The climb up Calaveras is not tough at all. It might be 3 percent on a nice curvy road. But the road is crap, full of pebbles and pieces of gravel which I was constantly having to knock off my front tire lest I get a flat. Then my right knee started to really bother me.
I’ve had some knee troubles on longer rides in the past, but it’s never really been disabling—just sort of nagging. This time, it felt like someone was driving a railroad spike through my patella. I had to clip out my right foot and ride along with just my left. Since the grand wasn’t all that demanding, it wasn’t that big of deal—just annoying.
The last 8 miles when we turn out of Milpitas and head north up to Fremont, we just sheer misery. The road is just terrible, flat and boring. Tons of cars and street lights. 95 degrees. It was terrible. Early in the day, I had thoughts of riding the 35 miles back to the lake, but now, I was so beat up, I just wanted to get on BART on get on home. I did manage to stop at Raley’s to grab a roast beef and horseradish sandwich for the ride home.
Michael on Redwood Rd.

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MS Waves to Wine: One Week Away

The 150 (or possibly 175*) mile MS Waves to Wine event is just over a week away. Thanks to everyone who’s supported me. I’ve raised $995, just 5 bucks shy of my goal, which I’m sure now will be no problem. The next goal is to get into the top 150 fund raisers. This is pretty unlikely as the numbers will spike in the last week before the event, but right now, I’m only a couple a hundred dollars from making the list. At the top of the list, the top fund raiser has over 16 grand, but the bottom is only $1389.
To donate to the cause, please visit my personal site.
*On the first day, there are 40, 75 and 100 mile options. I originally signed up for the 75 miles ride, but I’m leaning towards the century as I think it’ll be a good challenge. I’ll definitely be riding the 75 miles on day 2 as it’s the longer option.