Saturday, January 26, 2013

Hiking Loch Leven

Just off the 38 highway that connects Redlands to Big Bear is a conference center called Loch Leven. It sits on the old Big Bear road that was abandoned many years ago. The road leads up to Angelus Oaks about 7 miles away and 2000' higher. Over time it has degraded to the point where it is a great hiking and mountain biking trail. The condition varies between very poor pavement and sweet single track. It would be a great way to introduce a road cyclist to mountain biking.

My wife, daughter and I hiked it today even though the weather forecasters promised a 40% chance of rain.
The hike starts at the Loch Leven Conference Center at about 4000'. The sky was overcast and the weather was cool and humid. The route is seven miles of up to Angelus Oaks at almost 6000' followed by seven miles of down. The scenery was amazing with the mountains enshrouded by clouds.

The trail quickly deteriorates into a mix of narrow fire road and single track with occasional outbreaks of broken up pavement. Great for hiking and mountain biking.

As we climbed the sun started playing hide-and-seek about half way up which heated us up quickly and had the jackets coming off. There is a creek which is tricky to cross and a gorgeous waterfall that were both in full flow thanks to the rain.

We finally got to Angeles Oaks Restaurant hot and sweaty and ate a grilled cheese sandwich and a teryaki chicken burger. Yummy.

It was much colder when we set off back down the trail and the jackets went back on. Obviously heading downhill is much easier. About halfway down we started feeling some sprinkles and pretty soon it was raining heavily. The weather forecasters were vindicated. We were pretty wet by the time we got back to the truck.

Total distance was 14.4 miles with about 2000' of climbing.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

My Wife

Today my wife rode to The Crema and back with my daughter and I. My wife used to ride double centuries but after being diagnosed with breast cancer and other health issues she was off the bike for about three years. She's finally coming back to the level of fitness she used to enjoy. Today was her longest ride in over three years.

She had never been to The Crema before because my daughter and I only discovered it last year (thanks Dave). We had perfect weather at the start - about 75F - and no wind. I pulled her down to Huntington Beach at a gentle 15mph even though Sherry kept sneaking past me. We stopped to stretch at the beach then headed up PCH to Seal Beach.

The Crema was awesome as usual. I had my usual fried egg sandwich, Sherry had the breakfast crepes, and Amber had her usual fitness omelet. None of us managed to finish our meals even though we really wanted to. The portions are that big.

We headed back to Huntington Beach, stopped to stretch, and then headed back inland with a brisk on-shore tailwind. I was pleased to see Sherry was holding 18mph even after exceeding her personal mileage best. But four miles from the trucks the Santa Ana headwinds kicked in. I don't remember any tailwinds when we left the trucks. We got hosed :-(

So the last four miles were hot and windy - but Sherry ground them out (like she had a choice, lol).

All this is even more impressive considering that only three days ago Sherry hiked the Loch Levin trail which is a 12 miles round trip with 2,100' of climbing. Wow.

Well done, Sherry.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Reasoned Decision

I have just finished reading the USADA (US Anti-Doping Authority) Reasoned Decision concerning Lance Armstrong's doping activities. It's well worth reading - all 200 pages of it. USADA published this document because Armstrong opted not to challenge the doping accusations made against him in 2012. It is a detailed and thorough list of accusations, with copious supporting evidence, that Armstrong, together with every world-class American cyclist, has, since at least 1998, used EPO, steroids, cortisol, and blood doping.

I remember when Tyler Hamilton tested positive for blood doping in 2004 at the Vuelta and again in 2009 and was suspended from professional cycling. I remember assuming he was innocent and that the foreigners were simply being vindictive. I was wrong.

I remember when Floyd Landis tested positive for testosterone in the 2006 Tour de France and reluctantly accepting he was probably guilty. That was an easier call after watching his suspiciously strong climb on stage 17, especially after he had ridden like a club rider on stage 16. I was right.

It seems those were just the two that got caught. All the American riders were doping and Armstrong was making sure they did. He may never have failed a drug test, but the evidence that he was doping is overwhelming. Now he has appeared on Oprah and he claims to be contrite. I don't believe a word of it. He's just sorry he got caught.

Ironically I think he would have gotten away with it if he had only won two or three times. The truth is the UCI doesn't seem to be too eager to expose dopers in the peleton. Read the Reasoned Decision and you'll see what I mean. But Armstrong got greedy and that's what got him more attention than he could dodge. So now the record is five consecutive wins again - although there's no reason to assume Indurain didn't dope.

One of the more sickening parts of the Reasoned Decision starts at page 149. It lists Armstrong's intimidation tactics including threats against Andreu and Leipheimer's wives. The doping I can understand - you have to dope to win a major tour - but the intimidation and threats made against other riders and especially their spouses is unforgivable. That's why Armstrong should have all his titles stripped and should never be allowed to compete in any sport again - ever. If he tried to register for one of my brevets, I'd ask RUSA if I can tell him to piss off.

While we're at it I think we should take a closer look at the UCI. They should be much more aggressive in pursuing dopers. I get the distinct impression from the Reasoned Decision that they deliberately and actively impeded the USADA's pursuit of Armstrong in collusion with Armstrong himself. There's also evidence that Bruneel (Armstrong's team manager) had inside information about the drug testers so he could warn his rider's of impending 'random' drug tests. That should be examined more fully.

A few years ago Armstring would likely have sued me for this blog (assuming enough people read it) just like he did the Sunday Times of London. I hope they sue him to get back the money he got from suing them. The court should add substantial penalties.

I bet Kristin Armstrong (his ex-wife) is glad she's no longer part of his life.

One sad thing is that Armstrong is clearly a talented cyclist. He could have been a great cyclist without doping. All his natural talent and all his hard work is obscured by his cheating. What a waste.

A few years ago I contemplated changing cable providers so I could watch the Tour de France. Now I don't give a damn. Thanks for nothing Armstrong.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Views of Anacapa

The 2013 brevet season has started. The PCH Randonneurs hosted their second 200k of the year on Jan 12th - their popular Views of Anacapa brevet. Southern California was in the middle of a cold snap so temps were very close to freezing when we started at 7am. Fortunately Amber and I were well prepared with double and triple layers. There was a chap there from Utah - it's so cold there he drove seven hours to Moorpark to ride a brevet with us. I think he brought the weather with him :-)

Views of Anacapa has 6000' of climbing which makes it a fairly tough 200k. Fortunately none of the climbing is more than 8% and the worst climb is the 500' grind over Casitas pass. It's a good way to start the season if you've been riding through the winter, but it's quite a challenge if you haven't.

While preparing to start I noticed a number of seasoned randonneurs with their taillights pointing high up into the sky. Such an elementary mistake. Taillights should be horizontal. They need to be seen by drivers while they are still 100 yards behind you. They don't need to be seen by passing planes.

The ride started off very cold in the face and fingers - even with the undergloves. It wasn't until we had been climbing Grimes canyon for a while that I warmed up. We hooked up with Mel at the climb. As the sun came up near the top we started feeling comfortable again. There's lots of climbing and descending in the first part of the route so we alternated between comfortable and freezing. Foster was hosting the first control where we lost contact with Mel.

It warmed up to about 50F which is a great temperature for riding when you have arm warmers and leg warmers. The ham sandwich at Casitas market was fantastic. The oat muffin at Carpenteria was less so but it did mark the turn around. Headed back south along the beach with a tailwind was nice although I swear CalTrans hasn't worked on that road in the twenty years since I first rode it.

The cheeseburger at Wendys was amazing - I must have been hungry. Soon after we turned inland and the tailwind got stronger. It pushed us up the dreaded Santa Rosa road faster than ever before and we got to the turn onto Moorpark road before I even realized we were climbing.

We got to the end of the ride while it was still light. My target time for the ride was 10 hours total and we came in at 9:42. Greg had great pizza waiting for us. We stopped and chatted with old friends we hadn't seen for several months. Just before it got too dark we jumped on our bikes and returned to the trucks for the drive home.

Next is the 300k in San Luis Obispo on Feb 23rd.

Friday, January 4, 2013

SON 20R and Cygolite taillight reviews

After work yesterday I rode the SART with my new SON 20R dynamo front wheel and Cygolite Hotshot 2-Watt USB Rechargeable Taillight. This was my first ride with them in the dark.

The dynamo hub was awesome. The light is as bright as my Niterider MiNewt 600 but I don't feel any drag from the hub. The light pattern is great and lights up the trail far enough for me to ride at 20mph comfortably. It's also perfectly bright as slow a 10mph and the stand light keeps it lit for up to a minute at a stop light. It's kind of heavy at 400g but just perfect for those all night rides. I now have a day and a night front wheel depending on the kind of riding I plan on doing.

The Cygolite raillight is awesome too. I reviewed it on Amazon and gave it five stars. It's visible during the day, but I really wanted to see it at night. It's incredible although it's very important to align it horizontally. That's how you make sure cars approaching from behind can see it but draughting cyclists don't get blinded.

I had to turn back early on my ride. There was a fire on the bike trail and it was blocked by five fire trucks with commensurate fire-fighters all doing their thing.  They almost had it out, but I decided to turn around rather than wait.

Backbay tomorrow with Amber and then the Views of Anacapa 200k on the 12th.

I'm very pleased to note I rode over 8000 miles last year and I hope to do the same this year.