Sunday, February 24, 2013

A good day for 'bents

Amber and I drove up to San Luis Obispo yesterday to ride Vickie's 300k brevet. I reviewed the course beforehand and it has a lot of my favorite roads. There's the unforgettable Drum Canyon, lovely Santa Rosa Rd, the famous Foxen Canyon and a new one to me - Corbett Canyon.

About 20 of us gathered at 6:00am outside Vickie's house and set off into the dark. This was my first brevet with my Schmidt dynamo hub and it performed beautifully. The ride headed south on just about the only route available to cyclists and we made our first stop at Guadalupe at mile 25. I've cycled through here many times and never found anywhere good to eat. Ask me about the Mexican chef with skin cancer sometime. It's never a good sign that the gas station makes it onto the top 5 best places to eat.

The next control is in Los Alamos - a lovely little town just off the 101. It's well worth the visit, especially the Quackenbush cafe. After sharing a subway with Amber we headed up Drum Canyon. I've ridden Drum Canyon a couple of times before and always enjoyed it. It's about 700' of climbing at 6-8%. You'd think a big guy like me wouldn't like that, but I've always had good memories of the climb. We got to the cattle grid at the top before I was expecting it and the handlebars tilted down for a long, steep, rough descent. To say that Drum Canyon is rough is like saying the Pope is Catholic.

At the end of the canyon we turned right on 246 (strong headwind from the West) into Lompoc and the next control at the Albertsons. Amber bought a chicken and apple croissant for me. It was wonderful. We took D St. down to Ocean (have to remember that) and soon we were on Santa Rosa. The road joins Lompoc to Buelton and is scenic and quiet. However there is a some climbing and the road is pretty rough in places. The headwind had turned to a tailwind. We continued to Los Olivos where we ate at a deli. We had a turkey, bacon, cream cheese, and BBQ sauce bagel. Awesome!

Pretty soon we were on Foxen Canyon with a powerful swirly headwind from the Northwest. We were struggling to hold 10mph on the flat. There were times when it felt there were two people standing on either side of me taking turns to try to push me off the bike. At the top of the first summit around 1300' there was a 40mph crosswind that blew both Amber and I off the road into the dirt. Thankfully we weren't hurt. If I hadn't been on a 300k that I needed I would not have ridden in these conditions. We had to walk our bikes the next 100 yards to the far side of the exposed section.

Then there was more headwind until we got to the control at Sisquoc. Except there wasn't a control there. The Sisquoc store closed down last year and the old route slips and gps file had been posted on the PCH Randos website. They weren't fixed until 5 days before the ride so those of us who downloaded them last week got very confused. After battling the headwinds for the last 30 miles we found we were out of water and only had emergency food that randos should always carry. We went to the fire station near the store and begged for water.

If you need water there are several types of people that will help you. Fire stations are always good - they are normally bored, they understand cyclists, and they have bottled water. Also look for gated communities with a manned guard shack. They are also bored and normally have bottled water. Schools and churches often have drinking fountains on the premises. Parks are obviously good places to look for drinking fountains.

Amber ate an energy bar and I had some trail mix (almonds, cashews, and dark chocolate from Trader Joes - very good). We topped up on water and continued cycling into the headwind. Ten miles later we passed by the outskirts of Santa Maria. My though is that we could have detoured into Santa Maria for a control. The next control was 10 miles further up (50 miles from the previous one). Maybe next year. Both our backsides were painfull and the flesh over my sitbones was swollen. Foxen canyon was just one of several extremely rough roads we rode on.

Continuing into the headwind we got to the formal control in Nipomo. Because our routeslip was outdated we didn't make the detour to the freeway as we should have and stopped at a mexican grocery store instead. Gatorade, coffee, red bull, and sweet Mexican pastries. Loved it. Vickie moved the control 1/2 mile off the course because she needed the miles. I wasn't too worried that we would come up short because we had ridden an extra mile trying to figure out what to do in Sisquoc.

It was dark by now and the wind was dying down a little. It had also shifted due north so sometimes it was a headwind and sometimes a tailwind. We went through Arroyo Grande and climbed Corbett Canyon which was an absolute delight. It's a gentle climb on smooth pavement with light traffic.

Control #7 was an info control and then we started our Tour de SLO to get the miles. There was a receipt control just ten miles from the end of the ride - neither Amber nor I wanted anything so I just went up to a gas pump and pushed the 'print receipt' button. Bingo - I have a receipt with the current time on it. Because we were using the old route slip there was an info control just two miles from the end of the ride but when I opened my brevet card there was no reference to the control. Grrr. It's time to finish the ride. We put the bikes in the truck and walked over to Vickie's house. We got a official time of 23:24 which is a ride time of 17:24 - one of my slowest 300k rides.

When I think about it I've had the worst weather on 300k distances. Is it because they tend to be held in February? Next ride is my 600k staff ride on 23rd March.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Jubilation and Celebration! Praise the Riverside Parks and Recreation! They have finally paved the last quarter mile of dirt on the upper SART. I rode my Lucky Greek Permanent Populaire last night after work and was amazed to see that the bike path is fully paved all the way to Norco. I had to celebrate in rhyme.

Ode to Riverside Parks and Recreation

I ride the SART 'most every week
But the dirt section just makes me weep
I wished it paved just like the rest
Now you've paved it, you're the best!

The weather forecasters were predicting sustained winds of 20-30 mph with gusts of 50-60 mph. Not ideal cycling weather. However when I left work it was no more windy than normal (10-15 mph) so I decided to ride.

I had a good tailwind on the outward leg which combined with the increased power from my workouts gave me an average of 18mph at the turnaround at the Lucky Greek. Talking of increased power, I've increased my training to 10,000 miles a year with more intensity training. I've noticed my power at 130bpm has increased from 140 watts to 160 watts - an increase of 20 watts in three months.

According to Dr. Ferrari I would need to be able to sustain 600 watts to win the Tour at my current weight. That means I'll be ready in five years at this rate of improvement. I don't know what all the fuss is about drugs :-)

I got through the control as fast as I could and still had a 17mph average when I left. The return into the headwind was tiring but I figured I only had to average 15 mph on the return to set a new personal best. Unfortunately the bulk of the climbing is on the return. The french fries in my top tube bag were delicious and I enjoyed the fully paved SART on the way back too.

I finished the 63 mile solo ride in 3:48 - my first sub 4 hour 100k. My average speed was 16.2 mph which is more that a full mph faster than my previous best. The more intense training is paying off. I just hope USADA doesn't note my spike in performance and start drug testing me. I'm not too worried about the UCI - apparently you can buy them off.

A nice and easy The Crema ride tomorrow with Amber and Sherry in preparation for the SLO 300k next week.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Chilly Champagne Bakery

Rode the 60+ Champagne Bakery ride with Amber today. It was 55F most of the way with intermittent rain. You know the kind - as soon as you get your jacket on it stops raining and a few minutes after you take your jacket off you feel raindrops again. Fortunately we only got a few minutes of light rain and a few more of sparse drops.

The Champagne Bakery was a good as always. I had Black Forest Gateaux  and Amber had a Napolean - both excellent. And we shared a basket of bread and butter which is our version of carbo-loading. Pointless in the middle of a 60 mile ride but we don't care :-)

For some reason I got lactic acid buildup in my legs during the climbing section. Oh well - it just made me even slower on that section than usual.

Great ride, despite the rain.

Friday, February 8, 2013

South African Mountain Biker - Ouch


Los Angeles Mayoral Race

On March 5th Los Angeles will elect a new mayor from a list of five. The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) asked each mayoral candidate to answer some questions in order to gauge how bike-friendly they are. All five responded - here are the responses to the first question in the order they were received, together with my personal evaluation. Go to the LACBC site to see the full questionaire and responses.

1. Please share a memory involving a bicycle that has had a lasting effect on you (whether or not you were the one on the bicycle).

Wendy Greuel (5/5)
"I have participated in CicLAvia each year since its inception here in Los Angeles. Last year, I was able to share the experience with my son and thousands of other Angelenos who enjoyed the day on their bikes and on foot. I remember a woman riding next to me yelling out "I love LA!" It was a moment when I was very proud to be from Los Angeles and I fell even more in love with the city. My experience illustrates the positive impact CicLAvia has had on the city. It allows Angelenos to gain a fresh perspective on streets they may have traveled by car or bus. Getting to know these streets on a bike allows for a more intimate view of the city and allows us all to pay more attention to details that we might otherwise miss. It is experiences like CicLAvia, biking on the city streets without motor vehicle traffic, that remind me how accessible, diverse and beautiful our city can be."

"Growing up in El Sereno, we didn't have a car. In fact, we were too poor for Section 8 housing and barely had a roof over our heads. Riding my bike was for many years the only way I could get anywhere I wanted to go quickly and for free. My neighborhood was dangerous and there was a constant gang presence, but I always felt safe on my bike. It helped me travel, stay in shape, and feel free. In college, I rode a bike every day. Cycling has been an important part of my life."

Jan Perry (3/5)

"One of my best memories was when I joined thousands of Los Angelenos on bikes at the Los Angeles Marathon. Biking across our great city alongside other Angelenos helped remind me of the diversity of our city. It was a way to explore the city from the street level, enjoying the unique neighborhoods, architecture, and community that make Los Angeles like no other. It was a moment I will never forget."

"I grew up on a flat street in the Valley, and I remember the freedom of being able to bicycle safely to the park, to Little League, and to the bus stop."
Kevin James (4/5)

"A close friend told me about a close friend of his - Doug Caldwell. Doug was truly a rocket scientist. He designed the cameras for the space shuttle. He was working with LADWP to try to set standards for new homes that would usher in a new era in energy efficiency. My friend told me that Doug Caldwell was killed while riding a bicycle on August 20, 2010. Doug's story reminds me that bike safety isn't just a policy, it's about real people.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Should Armstrong readers get a refund?

There's a funny story on the website today asking whether people who bought Armstrongs autobiographies should be entitled to a refund. As an owner of 'It's not about the bike' I feel I should have a say in the matter.

We may or may not be entitled to a refund, but I do think his autobiographies should be reclassified as fiction!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The crema again

Rode to The Crema again on Super-Bowl day. This time we took Jennifer and Eric along too so we had a group of five. This was Jennifer's longest ride since I don't know when. It was a warm day (hard to believe it's February) so I figured the beach trail would be busy. We went along Atlantic which was much busier than usual. It turned out there was a half-marathon and full marathon being held along PCH and all the traffic was being diverted along Atlantic.

We jumped over to PCH and even though it was closed for traffic they were letting cyclist ride it. Most of the runners were headed back at that point on the other side so we had the whole road practically to ourselves. Sweet.

The runners were really well supported. There were aid stations, rock bands, a closed road, and a party at the finish line. Amber and I committed to running next year's event. I'm going to run the half-marathon and Amber will run the full marathon - which is simply running the half-marathon course twice.

The Crema was as awesome as usual. I had my usual fried egg sandwich, Amber and Sherry shared a chicken pesto crepe, Jennifer had french toast, Eric had a BLT without the T or mayo. We all had a good time.

Heading back Eric informed us that he planned on hammering from the beach back to the trucks so Amber and I joined him. We had a powerful tailwind and took one pull each, covering the 13 miles at 22-24 mph. When we got to the end we turned around (into the headwind) and rode back to meet the ladies.

Total distance was 53 miles with less than a 1000' of climbing and a roaring tailwind all the way home. My kind of ride :-)