National Bike to Work Today

BTWD2009.gifToday is Bike to Work Day. I can’t really pariticipate as, I’m not working (and leaving for Brazil for three weeks today), but I encourage everyone who has a bike and lives close to work to get involved. It really is a great event and if you can bike to work, you are really blessed. It’s so nice to cruise the streets a few miles while other fuckers are stuck in their cars in massive traffic.

Tour of Napa and Sonoma

I felt like I had to do this ride because I had signed up for the charity Tour de Cure, but was unable to ride because of a conflict with the Grizzly Peak Century. (Thanks to all those who donated to the cause.) Today was the last day for me to do it since I’m headed to Brazil tomorrow for three weeks so I headed up to Napa in the early AM for a nice long day in the saddle.
The weather was fantastic, clear blue skies and nice light clouds. The only problem was the wind which swept south down the valley and sapped my strength and made the riding pretty miserable. The surface of Highway 29 between Yountville and St. Helena is also crappy—not smooth at all and lots of flat-threatening debris—plus there is tons of traffic on this two lane road, which is never nice.
The ride really gets started when you pass Calistoga and head up into the hills towards Sonoma County. There wasn’t much climbing on the way out, but the road is nice and windy, super smooth and traffic is light. The county line is at the summit of the climb on Highway 128 and the decent is not long, but fun.
Still fighting the infernal headwind, I pedaled through the wineries of the Alexander Valley before I took a breakfast break in Healdsburg. Then, after making a few wrong turns, I headed north on Dry Creek East and then back to Napa via the same Highway 128 that I took out to Sonoma. I stopped in Calistoga for a cold drink and then just hammered it down the Silverado Trail. Aided by a nice tailwind, I did the miles 80-100 in less an hour. It was really brilliant.
Despite the wind, this was far and away the easiest 100 mile ride I’ve done. I’d love to do it again next as part of the Tour de Cure.

Miles 100.1
Ride Time 6:02:32
MPH 16.55
Max Speed 32.3
Elevation Gain
Flats 0

For some reason, I wasn’t able to upload my ride data from my Garmin, so I don’t have the actual route. Instead I have my planned route.
Here’s the route map (not exactly, but close enough):

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CAT2 Lucas Valley & Point Reyes

This was a great ride out to Point Reyes and back until a crazy woman who wanted to buy flowers for her mom on Mother’s Day veered into the bike lane when she spotted a flower shop in Sausalito ran over George. Fortunately, he came away with some minor bruises and a little road rash, but it was scary as hell watching that happen right in front of me and it really underscores how dangerous it is to be riding in traffic, even when in the bike lane.
Had a great flank steak and fennel sandwich at the Cowgirl Creamery and a banana and blueberry muffin the size of an enlarged heart at the Bovine Bakery, both in Point Reyes Station.

Miles 89.02
Ride Time 5:39:56
MPH 15.7
Max Speed 43.3
Elevation Gain 4,322 ft
Flats 0
More detailed ride stats here:

Here’s the route map:

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OYJ Marin Headlands-Tiburon 2009

The normal club ride was Arlington Rd., a nice ride, but a little boring. So we set out across the bridge and then across the other bridge and into Marin for a loop around the Headlands and Tiburon. It was simply a gorgeous day—perfect for cycling.

Miles 60.82
Ride Time 4:08:13
MPH 14.7
Max Speed 38.0
Elevation Gain 3,232 ft
Flats 0
More detailed ride stats here:

Here’s the route map:

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Steve Schlanger & Todd Gogulski…

…are really boring. Can’t believe I have to listen to these jokers for the entire Giro. Where are Phil. Paul and Bob when you need them? Give me Al Trautwig. Give me Al Michaels. Give me anybody but these guys. I’d even take Craig Hummer.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to have the Giro on US television, but we’ve got to be able to do better than Schlanger and Gogulski.

Viva Le Giro

girbecco.jpgHold your hats, but the Giro D’Italia is coming to American TVs for first time in it’s 100 years. It’s going to be on Universal Sports.
So what’s the occasion? One word: Lance. Lance Armstrong is back and riding the Giro for the first time. Can he win? I wouldn’t put it past him. He has an iron will and you have to know that his training has been insanely intense. However, he’s coming off a broken collarbone, he hasn’t raced a grand tour in a couple of years and doesn’t have that many race miles under his belt. More likely, he’ll be helping his teammate Levi Leipheimer win the race. Only one American, Andy Hampsten in 1988, has won the Giro, so it’ll be good to get another yank in the winners circle.The competition is going to be fierce. This is the 100th version of the race, so the Italians will be extra-motivated to keep the title at home. Should be an incredibly exciting race. Defending champ Alberto Contador, Armstrong’s teammate on Team Astana, will not be riding. Instead his preparing for his return to the Tour de France in July.
The Universal Sports announcers are rather dull. I’ll take Phil, Paul or Bob any day, but it will be a pleasant change to have commentary in English. Last year, in order to watch the event live, I signed up for the Italian Sports Channel RAI. For three weeks I watched the cyclists suffer through the Italian peninsula while commentators babeled in Italian I couldn’t understand. I was happy to watch it, and the animation of the Italian announcers was impressive. It would have been nice to understand what they were saying.
The three week Giro kicks off with a team time trial on Saturday on Lido di Venezia. Coverage starts at 5:30am PST, so set your DVRs.
If you don’t have a TV (or don’t have cable) or just want to follow the event online, the best place to track news of the Giro, as always, is

OYJ Sonoma 2009

There’s a large schizm in the Oakland Yellowjackets over the issue of “away” rides. An away is where you have to drive to the start of the ride. Most of our rides start at Lake Merritt . Members can drive and park there, but most ride to the lake. Many members feel like they don’t want to have to drive to the start of a ride. This is totally understandable. For me, I want variety in my cycling. I want to new places and cover new terrain. So I’m not opposed to driving to a ride at all, but I understand why some people are.
Now the Lake Sonoma picinic ride has been one of the most contentious of the away rides because the ride, which is north of Oakland, starts at Lake Sonoma, which on the north end of the route. This required members to drive 25 mile north of the most southern part of the route. And it’s a long drive, about 100 miles.
So the map committee was tasked with finding a southern staging site and creating a new route. Since I’m sort of an unofficial member of the committee, I was invited along for the ride to test out the new route. In the end, it turned out that it was just Richard and I riding around the Sonoma wine country starting from the Shiloh Ranch Regional Park.
Hop Kiln
The ride starts by heading west through rustic rolling hills south of Winsor, heads north on West Dry Creek, which is one of the best cycling roads in the country. The route then crosses over the Yoakim Bridge to Canyon Rd. (a great quick descent) and then heads south on the 128 through Geyserville and Alexander Valley with a little climb of Chalk Hill at around the 47 mile mark before the ride finishes back at the park 51.5 miles later.
It’s a beautiful route passing dozens of wineries with lush, green vineyards on the gently sloping hillsides and in the valley. The are very few cars. It’s a cycling paradise.
Self Portrait at Lambert Bridge
Richard and I really put the petal to the medal. We finished the 51 miles in 3 hours. You do the math. Fast. Fast. Fast. Rich is about 20 years older than me, but he’s also roughly 30 pounds lighter and has been riding for much longer than I have. When you have someone pushing you, it’s amazing how much faster you can ride. Alone, I would have dogged up most of the little rolling hills. With Rich nipping at my heels, I was out of the saddle and flooring it each and every roller.
It was a little tough for me in the morning when we were facing a 10mph head wind up Dry Creek Rd, but heading south along 128 with the wind at our backs was joyous. The sun was out but I don’t think it got much over 70 degrees. Really a perfect day.
Rich in Alexander Valley
I’m going to miss the picnic ride which is scheduled when I’m going to be in Brazil, but the map committee has created a great route and the club should have a fantastic ride for this year and many years to come.
Alexander Valley vineyards
More photos on Flickr
Miles 51.66
Ride Time 3:01:35
MPH 17.1
Max Speed 43.1
Elevation Gain 2,127 ft
Flats 0
More detailed ride stats here:

Here’s the route map:

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and the route profile:

Night Before the Grizz

grizzlyPeakCentury2009.jpgTomorrow morning is going to be my first Grizzly Peak Century. I’m anxious (and a little nervous) because of the forecasted weather. It’s supposed to rain all day. Not that I’m opposed to riding in the rain. I actually like it. I’m just not sure I like it for 100+ miles.
So much depends on the quality of the rain. If it rains like it has the last couple of days, a light sprinkle. I’ll be fine. I just picked up full fingered gloves and some neoprene covers for my shoes. The only question will be how much clothing to wear to not be too hot or too cold. If it rains cats and dogs, I’m going to be miserable. We’ll see.
There’s more than 8000 feet of climbing, but over terrain that I know quite well—right in my backyard actually. The food is supposed to be great on the ride, so that’s something to look forward to. I’ve trained well, riding more than 400 miles in the last two weeks of April. I tapered off this past week so I should be well rested. Again, we’ll see. I don’t expect a monstrous pace, simply because I won’t descend that fast in a driving rain storm, but it should be around 15mph. That fast or faster and I’ll be happy. Much slower and it’s going to be a long day.
I’m starting from the “carless” start in Tilden Park which means I have to ride about 6 miles (all uphill) to get the beginning on the ride at 6:30am. I’m meeting Dan at 6am at Peet’s for a pre-dawn caffeine injection, so I need to leave the house at around 5:30. Yikes!
Hopefully there will be some breaks in the weather and I’ll be able to take some pics. The route is beautiful and I’d like to be able to document at least some of it.
Alright, time to hit the sack. Only 7 hours or so before I need to get my ass out of bed and into the saddle. Details to follow tomorrow evening.

WIne Country Century

wineCountryCentury2009.jpgEven though I’m riding a century tomorrow, I would have really like to ride the Wine Country Century up in Sonoma today. It’s supposed to be one of the most beautiful rides in the country. I’ve ridden many of the roads up there, but never that far. I hadn’t signed up, but you can always go on Craigslist and find someone who is injured or can’t make the ride for whatever reason selling their registration. As late as last night, I could have ridden it for 40 bucks (30 plus a 10 dollar transfer fee).
However, it was going to rain today. A lot. And it’s supposed to rain tomorrow. A lot. And the thought of riding 100 miles in the rain on consecutive days is just a bit much for me. It will have to wait til next year.
So tomorrow I’m riding the Grizzly Peak Century for the first time. I just joined the Grizzly Peak Cyclists last week so this is my club’s century. I’m excited despite the forecast. The route is hard—over 8000 feet of climbing, but it’s over roads I know very well, right in my backyard. I rode most of the 70+ mile North Loop. It was tough, particularly the wall that is McEwen St., but it’s doable, especially with rest stops, good hydration and nutrition.
So next year, I’ll try to ride both events. This year just the Grizz in the wet.