Thursday Ride Report
What a glorious late afternoon/evening for a bike ride and they showed up in droves for the final unofficial Thursday COP New Albany ride, all two of us, Little Diesel and the Big Fatty. 36 degrees and cloudy but no wind. It won't get much better than that for awhile. One of my primary concerns during the off-season was, "Will the Little Diesel allow us to ride him like a one hump camel again this year?"
Jeff's biggest concern was probably, "Is my favorite route still in good condition, any potholes I should know, any worn shoulder, etc..." So, we headed out old #161. After the warm-up, I dropped in behind him and stayed there all the way out 161. A few times I edged out and yelled "Car up", "Car Back", "Head Wind Up" and the classic to scream when one is about to drop, "Neutral Zone". I even tried out a new one, "Was that Elvis?" to try to slow the pace. We made a left and then a quick right on Jersey Mill. I had a 12x28 installed so this year I'm ready for this long down hill.
Finally, we reached Alexandria and headed north on Northridge, my legs trembled in anticipation. Reaching Concord, we turned left and eventually reached Johnstown. Wow, Caswell as gone from a 1 1/2 lane road to just a 1 lane road. It did not survive the winter well. Coming on to Duncan Plains we made a quick left onto Caswell and then a right on something and finally arrived back at the parking lot with 31 miles, 900' of climbing and a slowish 17.1mph pace (hey, it was one guy against all the elements).
How bout that Saturday forecast. 20-30mph winds, cold, rain, I can't wait.Also, a largish group is departing at 9:00am on Saturday to ride the "Woodstock" ride. Many of us will do 100 of course. Weather forecast worsening but maybe any rain/snow will run through before we depart. If not, given my extensive experience riding in inclement weather, I will be there to ride and give out pointers on what to and no to, wear.
Climbing Figueroa, Slowly
Last day of riding in So. Cal and today was supposed to be sunshine and high in the low 60's. I regretted not having gotten over to Santa Barbara and doing the Gibraltar, Painted Cave and Old San Marcos climbs and I had really wanted to do the fantastic Refugio climb from the beach all the way to the satellite array. However, I also had to do Figueroa since I have kept track of my times through the years and it is a kind of fitness gauge for me. I also dreaded this ride because I arrived in CA a couple of pounds over my normal spring weight and considering what I had consumed while out here, I wasn't any lighter. I could imagine this climb being a real spirit killer to top of a kind of crummy trip.
So, left the hotel at 9:30 under heavy maritime fog and worked my way over to Happy Canyon and after 16 miles and 1000' elevation gain, reached the foot of the climb. I wondered about the 1 mile dirt section and if it was passable and wondered about the stream crossings and wondered about turning around and just wondering what my time would have been. I stopped and stripped down to the basics, drank and ate and chatted with a nice couple who had rolled up on cross bikes and were out for a spin. OK, no putting it off so I started the clock and pushed off. The plan was to hit it hard for the first 2+ miles to the dirt section, recoup a bit through there grinding through the dirt and rocks and then recover while coasting down the saddle through the camping area and stream crossings and then just grind out the final 6 miles.
Felt pretty good and reached the dirt section. Every time the road took a dip, there was mud and in two places, really deep so there I stopped, climbed on the hill side carrying the bike and then dropped back down. Can't imagine it would have been rideable the previous days and in fact noted the only tire tracks I saw were mountain bike tires. Reached the paved section and my bike was carrying a lot of mud but soon that problem relieved itself through 3-4 stream crossings that were not bad, but then picked up more mud. Finally, the final stream crossing was seen and I noted as I closed on it the water was running fast and kind of deep. As I got to within a few feet I saw the slimy green algae and wondered if the force of the water, coupled with the slippery surface would send my bike from under me so I gunned it, briefly thought this would be Flyin Tuna's revenge if I went down. The tires sent up a huge wave that crashed onto my legs and my shoes were soaked but I made it through.
Now comes the grind, a straight shot up along a canyon that goes on forever but it was kind of neat to be distracted by the water roaring by in the canyon. I had risen above the fog and it was brilliant sun. Eventually I reached a "T" intersection and went left, where it became very steep in places, always 10+% when I looked down. I had been fighting a head wind during the previous canyon stretch but turning left gave me a tail wind for most of the way. This is a climb that never gives a clue about where is the summit. Each time you round a curve, there is another 100 yard stretch that ends at a corner and then more of the same while always climbing. I was closing in fast on my 1:30 time that if I beat it I'm in good shape if I exceed it I suck and am the outofshape fatty I suspect I am. What's this???? A final very steep ramp that I recall as being the end so I stand and sprint (well, ride harder) arrive at the crest and the turnout with a lone pine tree signaling the end, stab at the computer and freeze the time, 1:29:28.
Well, I coast down to Los Olivos, arrive in Solvang, quickly shower and dress and head to the Greenhouse Cafe for another Spinach Ravioli. Ended the week with 492 miles (actually not too far below the norm) and 35,000' of climbing. I know I should keep things in perspective and that compared to the weather in Ohio it was much better but if that were my only goal I'd ride around Lexington or Nashville. Arrived back in Ohio on Tuesday evening. Weighed myself Wednesday morning and huh????? Was actually the same weight as when I departed so not as bad as I thought. Will have images to post of a Sunday drive that included some neat views.
I have no real narrative for the Tuesday ride and in fact, the official photographer forgot to take images during the ride so the group decided to stage scenes in the parking lot. Here, the Big Diesel is pulling someone posing as me.
Todd, confirming his status as sign sprinter #1 with John and Ryan.
Steve O looking back at Mark C before dropping him on a big climb.
Let's Get the Proof Out of the Way
While I have lots of images and story to report, I have to get the proof out of the way. Some characters of tawdry reputation (Grand Poobah among others) claim I don't actually go to these places but instead make up stories and pull images from the internet. So, each trip I find some undeniable local to pose with me to prove that yes, I was where I said I was. This time, I put on my best poindexter sweater and headed to the Hitching Post restaurant. There, I posed with Drew and Oscar, two very entertaining bartenders. I enjoy eating here as I meet a nice mix of locals and tourists.
Well, rode up Figueroa Mountain today and have lots to tell, later.
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THE PLAN: Jump in with The Solvang Double Century for half the route. THE REALITY: Geez, it was cloudy, cold at the 6:30 start but they were sending them off in waves with the last wave at 7:30am. They start in Buellton, ride the 3 miles to Solvang where I am staying, then head farther east before looping back to Los Olivos. If I leave here at 8:00am, I should catch the 7:30 starters who plan to ride the 200 miles in under 10 hours. I leave the hotel, ride to Los Olivos via the long uphill Ballard Canyon Road, descend the hill and arrive at #154. Just in time to see a group of 15 roar by turning right on Foxen Canyon. Having to cross #154 before I could hook up with them, there was no chance, I arrive 1 minute too late. I missed the fastest group and there ain't no one comin in behind them.
The forecast for Solvang was 30% chance of rain. Like all the days, the morning low is 42-45 and the day time high is 54-57 (well below the normal high of 68....could someone freaking explain why after enduring a winter of 10-15 degree below normal weather in Ohio I have to endure a week of 10+ below normal temps in California.....never mind). Rain was forecast to arrive around 2:00pm but when I arrived in Orcut and stopped at the store there, I grabbed a Monster and read the local paper. Oh oh, for this area, 30 miles north of where I started, rain was 90% and arriving like NOW. That cut it, no going farther north and getting soaked for the effort and the return. I headed back, taking a circuitous route with good climbing and ended with 77 miles and 4800' of climbing.
The cumulative effect of riding 4 straight days on rough roads has taken its toll. I've decided to take Sunday off, despite a forecast of sun and warming temps. It's not muscle soreness as much as ligament and joint issues that suggest I should back off for a day. Should have some good images tomorrow.
Friday, the final day with the gang from Cycling Escapes. Because they had a scheduled departure in the late afternoon, a nice recovery type ride of 60 miles was planned. Recovery rides around here are difficult to schedule without a monster climb and today was no exception. Harris Grade...yeah baby?
We headed out of Solvang at 8:30am and rolled through Buellton, making a left onto Santa Rosa Road and it's length of 17 miles past wineries, pecan tree groves, veggie fields and great scenery. I elected to hang back a bit, aware of what lay ahead. Meantime, Frank, Kelly and Clyde, the Englishman, pulled ahead and soon Clyde, showing he is rounding into form, took off on a long solo, arriving first at the SAG stop #1. We regrouped and headed into Lompoc with the ace ride leader Benny leading us through a somewhat complex series of turns that finally spit us out onto Harris Grade. While not steep, it nevertheless gains close to 1000' feet with an average grade of only 5%. To the west are fantastic views. Frank, Kelly, Clyde and I struggled (hey, it's been a long week) but eventually we reached the top and the SAG#2 at mile 30.
One of the ubiquitous ground squirrels leaped onto the table and grabbed a Wheat Thin, here, Frank pursues the creature into the ice plant as the 3 second rule had not yet elapsed. Frank loves his Wheat Thins.
A somewhat technical descent brought us to #135 and we took that east into Los Alamos, with an uncharacteristically light head wind. Todd Lee would have been proud of me as I drafted most of the way and with 50 yards remaining, shouted "Sign sprint" and took the coveted Los Alamos sign sprint title. I felt sorry for the gang as they had no idea my background as an unflinchingly, opportunistic KOM and city sign sprint hunter who has no shame.....much like several of my Ohio cycling buddies. Now, we headed up the dreaded Drum Canyon Road. It is here where the state of California sends its rookie pot hole fillers to practice before releasing them to the rest of the road network. Nothing but a patchwork of patches. This climb is around 600' with a couple of nice ramps in the 12+% range before crossing a cattle guard, signaling the top and then the descent. It's rare to dread a descent but having ones' body pummeled over a 5 mile stretch, even if mostly coasting, is not fun. Clyde, Frank, Kelly and me arrived at #246 and took that home, 61 miles and 3100' of climbing. The four of us had a nice lunch at a cafe and then bid farewell. My cycling camp continues for a few more days. HEY, the crummy weather (today being no exception but at least the rain held off) inhibited my willingness to take images but to see what this area normally looks like, check out my March, 2010, August, 2010 or March 2009 reports.
Had a nice ride on Saturday and will report, e
So, another day of forecast rain but coming in later so off we go at 8:00am to get ahead of the wet stuff. Today is the Tepsuquet Century ride except it's not. Our tour leader was unaware a bridge, long out of commission, had been replaced so the workaround was kicked to the curb for a more direct route, thus we're down to 90 miles. Hey isn't that a buffalo?
And is that a Longhorn steer? See a little of everything out here. We took the remorseless uphill route out Ballard Canyon Road and then Foxen Canyon. At mile 25, we had 2550' of climbing. One of our group had enough and turned around. We continued until making a right on Tepsequet and headed up a 1000' climb. At the top, the option was to stop for lunch or continue on the road until it dead ends at #166 for an extra 5 miles. I coasted down, reached #166 and then...turning....was blasted by the 25-35mph winds. Ouch and probably a mistake, one that no one else in the group took. Loooong 5 mile return to the summit where, everyone had left except the van with food. I made a most delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwich, jumped into the back of the van and rested while being driven to the bottom where the road stops at Foxen Canyon Road. Having wolfed down the PB&J, I jumped out of the van and rejoined my tour buddies. The next 17 miles into that head wind....let's see....what is the appropriate adjective here......oh yeah....IT SUCKED!
In fact, at one point at a SAG stop, in the distance it was obvious rain was coming down hard and approaching rapidly. Frank, Kelly and I jumped in the van and rode for a couple of miles until the rain shifted north. We got out again and kept going. As we approached the final climb, I was a beaten cyclist and cracked at the foot of the climb. After dragging myself up the hill, I coasted back into Solvang, cleaned a 1/4" of mud off the bike, hand washed the cycling clothes and headed to Hitching Post for a steak and watching some NCAA games. More rain forecast for Friday so we'll see. Oh, 67 miles and 5900' of climbing.
Another Rainy Day in So Cal
The day was as forceast...rain and high winds, what a crummy day for cycling. I went to Dr. Js to see if my new bike helmet arrived (sorry tomorrow now), drove to Pismo Beach to check out that coastal area, back to Solvang for lunch then hook up with the tour group for wine tasting at Firestone and Fess Parker wineries. Despite the rain adn wind, there were still people out picking strawberries and other veggies at vast areas.
Good time with the gang but such a waste too. I'm out here to ride not drink like a fish.....ok.....that's not true but normally my drinking like a fish is after dark not during daylight. I can see snow up on the mountains, a sight I have never seen before. In fact, there's lots I have not seen before and most associated with high water. Oh well. Here, my cyling tour group is enjoying a glass of wine at a winery! How bout that? Woman on the left, Kelly, is the Cat 3, Clive from England (former racer in England trying to ride back into form in the middle), Cat 3's hubby on the right (Frank and a really good guy) and Terry in the yellow jacket. Later we ate at the Firestone Brewery and Restaurant and....drank more wine! How bout that. Tomorrow, 100 miles for sure...or, if it rains more, more time drinking too much wine. I wish I was in OHIO. GO BUCKEYES!!!!!
California Ride #3
Good day for a bike ride and heading out to Jalama Beach, probably the area's classic ride, next to the climb up Figueroa. We left at 8:30 to Buellton, left on Santa Rosa Road and quickly were in the vineyards and farms with little road traffic. Eventually, it was the couple from Cleveland and I. Talking to the Cat 3 woman, turns out she knows Ginger Ballard, having raced against her in a cross race or something...small world. Frank, her husband, is very strong and also carries a 3 handicap at golf. I can't comprehend how much time is needed to maintain pretty good cycling fitness and be a 3 in golf (average score is 3 over par in 18 holes). I gapped them on a 1900'+ climb that is a little less than 2 miles. Gosh that hurt, a lot.
Couple of climbs later, broke through the hills and had this view. Then, a couple of pedal strokes later....
....saw the object of today's ride, Jalama Beach State Park. Unusually quiet as the usual scene is a campground packed with RV's. This is home to the world famous Jalama hamburger and I was not going to eat the cold cuts laid out by the Cycling Escapes tour. If one suffers to get out here one must eat the burger and so, I did. Gosh it was fantastic.
On the ride out, I had convinced Frank & Cat 3 that they too should eat the restaurant food. Having finished mine, I caught up with the group setting up the sag food and joined them. Frank came strolling out with a burger and also a chicken sandwich to be polite and eat with the group. Having set the food on a picnic table, he walked over to grab a drink and in that instant, a flock of seagulls swooped in and made off with the chicken sandwich and burger! We yelled and one gull dropped the burger. Frank was pissed, grabbed the burger off the ground, slapped it on a remaining bun and ate it. The 3 second rule applied, no matter that included time in the beak.
The culprits with Benny, one of the tour guides who is driving today on the right. Interesting guy. Retired doctor who rides 13,000-18,000 miles a year. Set a goal a couple of years ago to climb 1 million feet in a year and I think made it. Described coming across a woman during a ride out of Palm Springs who had passed out while on the bike, careened into a rock pile and was unconscious when he came across her. Recognized she was having a seizure and cleared her passage to prevent death. We eventually left and retraced our route out Jalama Road and then Santa Rosa again. The good thing about group riding is it forces me to ride harder than I otherwise would. Once I gap Cat3, I have to keep up the pace to stay ahead...she is relentless. On the last long climb of the route, I had gotten ahead and began day dreaming, heard a noise, turned to find her closing in only 15 yards back. Holy Crap. Anyway, we rode the last few miles together and once the head wind picked up, you can guess where I found myself, yes drafting.
Ended up with 75 quality miles and 5200' of climbing but that was not quite enough so I continued and ended with 93 miles and 6100' of climbing. Looks like tomorrow is a rain out but then things start to improve. The area was in severe drought a couple of years ago but with this year so far being 180% above normal rainfall and last year's rainy season, the area's ponds, lakes and reservoirs are overflowing.
Recumbent Dude with his new upright Masi. Some day he'll learn the answer is not in the equipment but dudes like him are good for the bike industry.
Couple of obscure cyclists. Not sure who they are.
The Little Diesel, getting ready to pull me for another season. Keep training buddy.
The exhausted paceline. See if they still be smiling in July.
The Weather Turns!
Well, what do ya know...horrible forecast but awoke to the marine layer of fog but through that I could see the sun. Yipee. Met the other members of the cycling tour, Clyde from the UK, couple from Philly, couple from Cleveland (they are both racers and know Granville well from racing in various races around central Ohio), Benny one of the tour guides and Richard, who I have known for a few years from riding out here during Cycling Escapes other tours. Nice people. We headed out #246, right on Drum Canyon and that good climb and soon it was down to the couple from Cleveland and me......the woman, who I later learned was the top Cat 4 racer in Ohio last year and now a Cat 3, slowed a little at the middle of the climb and I put in the attack!!!!!! Gosh that hurt a lot but I dropped them and reached the summit. Yeah, the overweight fat guy from Ohio is the winner of KOM.
Here is the Cycling Escapes van, setting up for our arrival with tables of snacks and food at mile 37. So far, partly cloudy and temps in the low 50's. Sitting in the sun felt great as the sun here, when out, seems more intense. One of our group had taken a wrong turn so Benny had retraced the route to try to find her as Richard continued to pile out the food. We hung around for way too long and soon, dark clouds appeared on the horizon and I suggested we get the heck out. Off we went and it began raining, then someone had a flat. I had promised Richard, because I know the roads so well, I'd hang with the group and make sure they made the correct turns while he went back to help find the missing cyclist. The slowest guy kept going so I went with him while 3 were left to fix the flat. I figured they would soon catch us. It's a long story and somewhat chaotic but eventually, everyone made it back.
100-200 year-old oaks are everywhere. What magnificent scenery out here.
There were many mudslides that covered the road, debris but it's better than sitting in a hotel room. Finished with only 60 miles and around 4000' of climbing. Because the mountain had received so much rain, we wondered if it was even ridable, as that is on the agenda for Tuesday. I volunteered to drive it and see, going up the west side or the side on which Michael Jackson's ranch is located. It had been raining all day in the mountain as the clouds got hung up here and so I drove in the rain and as the elevation increased, it began to snow. About half a mile from the top, a gate crossed the road with the message that icy roads prevented further advance. I also know on the other side, the east or "Happy Canyon" route, there are 3-4 stream crossings and surely they would be impassable on bikes. We've decided to ride out to Jalama Beach instead, one of the classic rides anywhere Huge climbs and then the reward, a Jalama Beach burger, the best hamburger in the world. And......the forecast.....grim a couple of days ago is improving......Wednesday is likely a washout but after that......no freakin rain but that can change I guess.
Oh Yeah. Found this shirt and bought it. Way overpriced but after climbing this SOB 15+ times, I deserve it.
Saturday night was wild with winds at 45+ and strong rain. Went out to check out the damage and mud slides everywhere. Around here there was 7' of rain since the start of the event and up in the mountains over 10". The impact of that is probably not good for the 1 mile dirt section up Figueroa. Maybe the tour will take the other side but so much steeper. Today looks like some rain but not a washout so we're riding. Sounds like the Ohio boys and girls had a good weekend. Kenda Janet sent me this brief report which includes the arrival of the Fashion King, Dennis. Sorry I missed that just to see what wild new gear he's wearing. So. from Janet:
I just thought you’d like to know that Dennis joined the Kenda’s as did Amanda and Kent Rigsby for a great ride out of NE. Stefano totally put the hammer down. It was Dennis’ first outdoor ride for the season! He seems to be doing well and I learned he use to ride for Savage Hill, so big reunion on the ride when he says others in the Savage Hill kit that matched his! We did the 55 mile Ridge Runner Ramble course…And when we got to Granville, a gaggle of cyclists were there, including Larry the Legend and Lisa and a posse of guys who joined for the uphill ascent back up Jug and into NE. p.s. I also rode yesterday’s Canal ride and Nate had his new Masi on the road…We did not shortcut although we discussed doing it in YOUR HONOR> Many did, but the strong and the bold continued through 31 miles of headwinds to eat at the OuterDeck b-fast place in Millersport. Frans, Ross, Kent, Amanda, Nate, Dane (Nate’s bro) ; Stuart and Marybeth, Chris Brooks (with a brand new Trek machine that looked very interesting (no discernable logo’s) and he even had shoe boots on that were very fancy – poss nickname is Mr. Shoe Boots -- and a maybe a few others? Can’t think of who though!
Day #2 in Solvang, California
I can't sugar coat it...I am beat, cold and wet and beat and tired and somewhat beat. Cloudy at the start and a grim forecast.Hopefully the rain would hold off for awhile despite the sky suggesting otherwise.
The Planet Ultra touring group was riding their last day so I headed to Buellton to hook up with them for what was promoted as a century ride, starting at 9:00am. I walked into the hotel and announced I was taking Cindy B's spot, who had quit the tour the day before. Crickets chirping to my announcement, Then I said, she was the Shorty from Ohio who fell climbing up Figueroa. Suddenly everyone knew who she was. A woman said Cindy was kind of a strong rider and I confirmed she had trained all winter for this and they caught Cindy at her peak, having watched Richard Simmons workout tapes all winter. This got quite a laugh. Unfortunately, the century riders changed the start time to 8:00 so I missed them but it was only 1-2 riders. What was left intended to do only 45. So, I headed out with them. We headed west on #246 and a right on Drum Canyon, the world's roughest road that gains around 800' before descending into the small village of Los Alamos. There I left the group and went north on Cat Canyon and another big climb before finally getting into Garrey and the store there, where I watched part of a movie while drinking a Monster and eating a Fig Newton. It don't get no better and the rain had held off, so far.
Then the rain stopped holding off but it was mostly a sprinkle with temps around 52. Headed east on Santa Maria Road and then hung a left onto Tepsequet Road (the above image is at the top of Drum Canyon Road with te road at the right and quite a view down canyon). This is a canyon road that gains 1000' as it reaches the top but it is a gradual climb of 9 miles. What I noticed was very pedal stroke brought more rain. Closing in (slowly) to the top it was raining hard. I reached the top, turned around and began coasting down. First thing I noticed was, DAMN it was cold and soon I began shivering uncontrollably. I braked to a stop under a tree, took off the rain jacket, put on that trusted wind breaker and then reapplied the rain jacket. That should do it and off I coasted. Soon, I began shivering uncontrollably. A very long 9 mile descent but hey, as I closed to the bottom through "Riverbench Vineyard" it stopped raining. I turned left on Foxen Canyon Road and was greeted with a blast of 20+mph wind.
The sign said 18 miles to the end of FCY. That stretch would qualify as a "Mother of all Longest Days" award. I remember being on a 3% incline and being in the 26 and thinking, "Gee, I suck" but you have to understand the wind and my outofshapeness to fully comprehend the situation. All along, trying to be positive, I kept thinking, "At least it isn't raining"....and then....it began raining. Drizzling at first then harder. This is a stretch, first by Foxen winery then Zaca Mesa winery that is a gradual up hill until you reach the brute of the road, a 400' climb which is ok because after reaching the top, there is a huge runout down hill.....except....I began shivering uncontrollably. Remember passing the Fess Parker winery on the left (yes, that Fess Parker who played Daniel Boone and other characters as a somewhat successful movie star but who passed away last year) and then hitting a stretch of road that is so rough that one has to rise from the bike seat and coast, allowing the bike to absorb the punishment. Then another 400' climb before descending into Los Olivos.
From there, up Ballard Canyon Road, joining the official Tour of California time trial route, and after 6 miles, coasting back into Solvang with 85 miles and 5500' of climbing. I was soaked, cold and did I previously say beat? Yes, 25+ miles into a ferocious head wind with driving rain will do that I guess. But amazing how great a hot shower feels and then out to Matties Tavern to watch some basketball and eat.
Arrival in California
Flight into Denver was early and the flight into Santa Barabara also was early. No issues with Budget car rental and was on the road in an Altima by 2:30. Drove north on the 101 that included what locals cyclists call the "tunnel of death". Arrived in Solvang, grabbed the bike box with THE bike, put it together, rode to local Dr. Js' bike shop, bought a couple of jerseys and said "Oh by the way, can you put my bike through the 5 minute check-up"? They again said, "No problem" and so my bike is good to go. For the first time, the forecast looks....awful. Rain just about every day but like the local bike shop told me, "Pretend you are riding in Belgium" and so...that is exactly what I will do.
Wild looking oaks on the drive in to Solvang.
And so it begins. The clouds roll in, I cringe and swear but it is what it is and on Saturday morning, I will ride no matter what. I must get in good enough shape to defeat the greats of Columbus like Peggster, Amanda, Flyin Tuna, maybe Brad the Dentist, maybe.......could it be possible......Grand Poobah????I'm going to the beach to pcik up California sand to kick in the face of an army of antagonists.
Hey all, I put the request out there but no one stepped forward to volunteer to come up with a route for Saturday. Probably something will firm up today and I'm sure Mark C will have something. I land in CA around 5:00pm and will have an update if someone has not already cr
Flyin Tuna is cycling with Planet Ultra in California right now and she checked in with an update. As most of you know, the Cycling Blog is a beacon of truth so I was taken aback by Flyin's demand that I speak only positively about the experience she related to me or else she would not reveal where she found a neat "I climbed Fig Mountain" T shirt. I'd like to grab one when I go out there and would like to know where one would go to buy one. However, being held hostage is an unpleasant prospect so instead I'll just have to relate the truth.
Tuna is struggling, as would anyone coming through our Winter weather and who can't force themselves to ride a trainer even after having purchased one just a couple of months ago. Planet Ultra has about 29 participants and Cindy bravely went with the lead group but fell back, as would anyone who thought hopping around to Richard Simmons fitness tapes a couple of times a week would sub for time on the bike this past winter. She ended up riding with the weak from places like some guy from Minnesota, a grandmother from North Dakota and a 12 year-old from Maine, as would anyone who thought watching reruns of old Jack LaLane videos would approximate the energy loss from hiking with Mark C. That was the first day.
The second day, the group headed up Figueroa Mountain, a beast of a climb in high winds too. In fact, it was so windy, the ride leader quit the route! Tuna bravely churned on but at least once, the "wind" forced her to stop but always for less than half an hour. Coming through a saddle with several stream crossings, the road turns up again and there in a wet spot, disaster struck......Cindy stood to apply more force to get through a steep ramp, the back wheel hit a wet spot.....and........down she went. She's ok with minor scrapes. At that point, the rest of the story got a little muddled but I think she made it to the top and coasted down the front side, past Michael Jackson's old Neverland Ranch and into Los Olivos for a snack. She's having a great time and can't wait to return to dominate us. Now, my California trip begins this Friday. After years of nothing but sunshine, if the weather.com forecast holds, I'll be riding in the rain most days. Bummer. I'll post ride reports each day with gray images.
I've been asked about Tuesday Canal Winchester, COP rides. I have consulted with THE leader of ride leaders, Mitch O and I can release this official announcement. The Tuesday rides officially start the first Tuesday in April (April 5). The team had some technical difficulties that kept this from the March COP newsletter. There will be unofficial Tuesday rides, weather permitting, throughout March. The Little Diesel, Jeff S, confirms the first official Thursday NA ride is April 7th. People want to ride this Thursday out of New Albany at 6:00, people also want to ride out of Canal at 5:30 and Poobah is riding out of Ohio University campus in Lancaster at 4:00. Something will probably firm up in the next day or two. HEY, also note the "Characters" is back on the list to the right if you need to identify nick names with actual names or faces.
The Mother of All Longest Days
There are long days, there are longer days, there was The Longest Day and then there was today, the mother of all long days. As someone commented, it was "triple dog day afternoon". Where to start...well.....how bout at the beginning? Steve O turning 53+/- brought people out in droves, including Grand Poobah a.k.a. Todd Lee, showing his better side here. There is Kenda Janet in the background with that weird garb she wears pre-ride.
There were 21 of us at the start but sadly, Tall Dude and Ross embarked on their own route. Personally, I was devastated by this because Tall Dude is a good dude behind whom to draft. Never mind, there were still several large bodies from which to choose. At the start were birthday fella Steve O, Mark C, Tri Andrew, Larry P & Lisa, Green Caboose, Cyclist Connection Kayla, Jeff S, Margarita Rick, Mark V, John S, Kenda's Janet and Dave, Chuck, a 14-year-old phenom and dad, Jeremy and Grand Poobah.
Oh My! This shocking occurrence had to be recorded because it is likely Grand Poobah taking his only pull of 2011. Stunning stuff this. Actually, you can tell the guy has spent way too much time down south and is way ahead of most of our fitness schedules. Mark C did not have maps so it is difficult for me to remember the route as I kept tucked in behind various wide bodies. However, we went through Ashville into fierce wind (consistently at 25+mph with gusts in the 30's) and here the kid & dad cut off and Kendas J & D disappeared too.
We went through South Bloomingfield and had a brief stop in Commercial Point. Integrity requires me to accurately report a series of what can best be described as uncharacteristic lapses in manhood. Larry P was whining like a little girl about taking a short cut before the short cut. I've known Larry a long time and heretofore he has always been a rock, a piece of granite a man of solid character so to witness his whimpering performance (in other words sounding just like me) was hard for me to swallow. Anyway, he convinced Lisa and Mark V to take the 60 mile SHORTCUT and thus, we were down to 10 for the 100 mile route.
Actually, I was surprised so many of us opted for the long route. Oh yeah, birthday boy begged these three beautiful women to pose with him because it's his birthday. They managed to force a smile before being released. Talk about a thorn surrounded by rose petals. Hey, watch those hands boy!
After 58 miles mostly into winds from Hades, we made it to Mount Sterling. The winds were BRUTAL!!!!!. Our average speed entering MS was 15.4 and I felt sorry for those who had preformed most of the pulling but thanked my lucky stars I was not one of them. We stopped at a restaurant called Ben & Joes or something like that. Good home-made food and we ate like starving POWs or something. To top it off, the waitress brought Steve a piece of pecan pie with a candle and we sang happy birthday. Then, Todd ordered cherry pie and I got caught up in the nonsense and ordered a piece of pecan pie, as did someone else. So much for using the ride to burn more calories then those consumed! During our meal, Andrew stripped down to shorts and T-shirt and revealed that excessive winter weight lifting now requires him to wear a Manziere.
Then, something wonderful happened. We took a stretch of road that was down wind. HOLY MACKEREL!!! WHAT A DIFFERENCE!!!! It was absolutely glorious. While drafting, I was coasting at 30+mph for long stretches. We made a couple of brief trips on roads swept by cross winds but mostly, it was DOWN WIND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. We cruised into South Bloomingfield at around 80 miles and I was still feeling pretty good.
The temperature was in the low 60's so there, some of us redressed and we were witness to Amanda stripping down to her bike shorts, removing the tights. Therefore, we were witness to the "Mother of all Pasty Legs". Curiously, Todd bought one of those tiny bottles of "5 Hour Energy Performance" which was a sign the great one was running out of steam. Also, as I checked out with my can of blue Monster, birthday boy sided up and said, "You haven't donated anything yet for my birthday have you?" This put me off my game and I was taken aback a little. Steve asked if I could give him a dollar as he expected to be short for his purchase. Unfortunately, my remaining $3 was almost entirely used to pay for my Monster so I had to decline. Then, I looked into his open wallet and saw two $10 bills. Thus, I was introduced to the, "Mother of all Cheap Skates". Dude had $20 in his wallet and was hitting me up for a $1. What's up with that?
We left South B and headed toward Canal but Kayla, after consuming bacon and other tummy upsetting goods while at Bend & Joes (or some name like that), was having stomach issues so some of us hung back to nurse her in. We finished with 102 miles, 3600' of climbing and a rather pedestrian average of 17mph. I was still feeling strong so my strategy of drafting "Every Freaking Mile" paid off. May ride with the Canal ride on Sunday and try to recover from a very long day.
That's right, he who constantly mocks me, Steve Oxley, turns 53 +/- on Saturday and to celebrate this august occasion, there will be a 100 mile ride out of Cyclist Connection at 9:00am The temp difference between a 9:00am start and a 10:00am start is 4 degrees so since it's a 100 mile route for the strong, the brave and me, we be starting at 9:00am. The route will be flat to rolling with no hard climbs. Shorter options available too. I AM RIDING THE FULL 100 MILES NO MATTER WHAT! There, I said it so I can't go back on my word. Oh geez, that final 25-30 miles will be brutal, even with the wind but I need it.
Rain Jacket Help
OK, for once, a serious question. The ultra long range forecast for California shows a couple of days of rain during the week I will be there. It has never rained out there on 6 previous visits so I am kind of bummed but maybe the forecast will change. Anyway, what rain jacket has worked for you? Temps will be in the low 60's on the day(s) it rains so considering the temperature and liklehood for an all day rain, what works for you...plastic trash bag with head cut-out...please no....what else can I use? Thanks in advance for your good recommendation and please no biting comments, just good opinions please.
For the last two weeks, I have been without my beloved red/grey windbreaker. This has thrown me into a state of confusion as normally, every mix of clothing required for a ride between 32 and 55 degrees includes this jacket. But now, ITS BACK! And, as an improvement, the new zipper is far more sturdy and no matter what pressure my expanding stomach places on it, the fabric will give before the bullet-proof zipper (note the old fragile zipper on the left and the new IED proof zipper newly installed).
Got out on Tuesday but legs were more fatigued then normal. This was my 4th straight day of being on a bike and I've been running most of those days too. Jumped in with Flyin for a few miles before I headed to Cooks Hill Road for some repeats. Great training area. Cooks is 220' of steep climbing while beside it is Balou, about the same elevation gain but probably averaging only 5-6% so more about higher cadence. Clouds rolled in and got kind of dark so headed back with 35 miles and 3300' of climbing. Still way behind and growing more apprehensive about the CA trip in two weeks. Plus my weight has not moved in a month of more rigorous activity. Very depressing. Need two long rides this weekend and weather may finally cooperate. Hey, anyone want to volunteer a route for Saturday?
Rear cassette is finished with new chain jumping around (let that be a lesson to change the chain more than once a year). Probably going to switch to an 11x28 from the 12-27. Before I forget, Green Cabbose has a good ride report on her Facebook page. Solidifies my thought she has a screw loose for attempting a 300k event, in the rain and cold.
Oh No, Not Again
Spent close to 3 hours on the trainer and a couple hours on a treadmill this weekend while watching "Inception", "Iron Man 2" and 1999 Tour highlights. Also picked up the Trek from Rick Miller, bike mechanic extraordinaire. He put it through the tune-up process, new chain and bar tape. Now the bad news, the frame, which replaced the original because of cracks around the bottom bracket, a common problem with the 6.9 and 6.7 frames, has cracks around the seat post (understandable because of huge stress from carrying my lard ass around) but also beneath the bottom bracket (understandable from the huge stress I place on the pedals from my enormous power) but in other places too. So, the process begins to get the frame replaced and hope that does not include sending the frame away for inspection.
Looks like there will be opportunities to ride this week and weekend. I know Steve O and Mark C are getting out on Tuesday at 2:30. Hope we can put together a good group ride this weekend.
Saturday & Sunday Plans
The forecast looks so grim, so hopeless, so freakin bad that I can not even hope to get out on the bike. So, it's to the trainer. I did my Granville hill climbing routine a couple of times this week, which is 10-20 hill repeats up Thornwood and did some trail running to try to shed some weight but no luck putting in a long ride on the weekend. I'll pick up a few DVDs and chain myself to the bike and try to maintain sanity while I pedal the trainer. Friday marks 2 weeks until my departure for California...I can't wait but I am so far behind my usual preparation that I am getting kind of panicy. It could be worse, I could be headed to CA next Friday, which is what Flyin Tuna is doing. Gawd, she is going to die out there on those mountain slopes. She promises to call in every few days to report on the excrutiating week and I will update here. Oh yeah, found this image of me from a few years ago. Kind of explains my enormous cycling strength