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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Week #32 - Still Cycling

My Buddy Jeremy and his feather light bike.

Lillie, Bec, and Ella.
Katie is hiding and riding.

The biggest crowd I've ever ridden with.
(Not everyone is in the picture)

I managed 4 rides this week.
My first 2 were the now typical, ride home and then back to work. On my ride home I incorporated a series of climbs which we refer to as the "3 Bears". Rather than making the left off San Pablo Dam Rd at Castro Ranch Rd., I proceeded to climb up SPD Rd. and turn left at Bear Creek Rd.
The 3 bears part comes from the notion that there are 3 separate climbs on this road. It is my opinion that someone can't count. Each time I ride the road, I begin counting hills, and eventually pass the number 3. If there were 3 distinctly difficult climbs, I would likely have resolved the issue with that, however, there are really only 2 that will eat your lunch. On my most recent pass through this stretch, I again began counting. At least 4 distinct climbs faced me heading north. I established that the first climb is Papa Bear. This hill is notable because it hurts. I sat in 1st and 2nd gear for the duration, and got out of the saddle on numerous occasions to stretch my legs. (To those unfamiliar with cycling terms, "out of the saddle" doesn't mean I walked the bike, it means I was standing on the pedals, rather than sitting on the seat.)
That morning, my friend Jeremy, had invited me to run with him, and so I did. My jaunt was about 2.5 - 3 miles after a relatively long sabbatical from running. My calf muscles began to remember the morning's surprise, somewhere near the middle of Papa Bear. I coasted over the crest, and geared up for the descent, which proved rewarding. The base of that side of the hill coincides with the entrance to Briones Regional Park, where I have often ridden. (MTB)
The climb up Baby Bear was to ensue. I caught and passed another rider at this point, at which time we exchanged formalities, and verbalized our disdain for the day's head wind. Baby Bear has brothers. Several more moderate climbs ensued before I encountered the matriarch of the sleuth.
Though Mama Bear was indeed the second hardest climb of the group, it in no way compares to Papa. What Mama does have though, is an awesome backside. I peaked out at 50 mph, but could easily have gotten far more if it were not for the cramps that kept gnawing at my calves. The incredible rpm's needed at the bottom bracket to force speeds over 50 mph require a lot of nerve and cooperation from all of the muscles in the leg. My muscles were were not cooperating and frankly my calves were close to going on strike. That descent brought me down to Alhambra Valley Rd. where the route typically passes on the ride home. A right turn and an ascent of Pig Farm hill ended the climbing. The ride ended with a time of _____ and an average speed of _____. Sorry, forgot to look - but it wasn't all that good.
The following morning though, did bring my best time riding in to the office. 1 hour 12 minutes.

Tuesday afternoon I managed to assemble a mob.
It started with Jeremy and I wanting to ride again this week, after our disappointingly short journey last week. I kept his bike at my house (He lives and pastors a church in Lakeport) and we were to connect at Castle Rock and ride a rather tame, yet enjoyable trail through the Diablo foothills (See my post from 5/26/08). The creek that this trail follows is unfortunately dry at this time of year, with the exception of some rather stagnant pools, which are wisely avoided.
I then invited Andrew and Lisa, a young dating couple from our church. Lisa would hike with Bec and Jeremy's wife Amy. I invited my project manager, and fellow outdoor enthusiast Rick, who invited Vince and Phylis (not sure of the spelling). Realizing that he had not ridden with us in a while, and that this was a favorite trail of his, I also invited Dave, who ended up bringing Lillie and Katie to hike with the women. Oh yeah, Ella came too. You can count, I lost track.
We all finally arrived around 5:40 for a 5:00 start time. Vince exercised immense patience, as he was on his bike ready to ride before 5.
Dave took a dive and bloodied his nose within the first mile. His helmet will be replaced. I heard the grumbling and initial impact and turned around in time to see the conclusion of a splendid dive over the handlebars. We then proceeded on a relatively uneventful ride with the ladies following our trail of dust.
The majority of us guys tested our adrenaline and testosterone levels on a short steep climb. All who attempted the climb were rewarded with the view of another hill at the top of that hill. We rode back down. Vince and I continued up the trail for nearly another mile, after descending Testosterone hill, while the balance of the group began the return trip. They moved rather slowly as we expected, and we caught back up to them mere seconds after they had rendezvoused with the women and children. We were both riding very fast, as the return trip is a long gentle descent, and we were intent on catching the group. Vince led into the mob and performed a splendid front wheelie while screeching to halt in the midst of the group. His rear wheel was easily 18" - 24" off the ground for several seconds. (Yes mom, that is a good thing)
Not to be out done, I likewise showed my disregard for the applicable laws of thermodynamics, and grabbed my front brake. Likewise I slowed rapidly and rose up onto my front wheel, and for nearly a week and a half suspended my bike in a vertical position - rear wheel pointing skyward. Somewhere near the second week, I should have released my grip on the front brake lever. Whether I forgot, or merely failed to remember - it frankly doesn't matter at this point. I entered week 2 face first on the dusty trail. Ah yes, my friends all assembled to watch me dust off my shorts and shirt. However, I got a 5 year old high 5 from a little girl who had just taken a dive herself. We were twins.
Dave felt much better too.

Today, Saturday, I met Rick on the same trail. I left from my house on my mountain bike, and was late again. A few adjustments to the bike, and a fierce headwind put me about 20 minutes behind schedule. The snooze button had added another 10.
I had warned Rick via text message of my tardiness, so he had headed out on the trail, where I caught him a few miles in. We rode and talked, and enjoyed a relaxed morning among the oaks.
On the return trip, we parted company, and I looped around through Shell Ridge open space to finish off my dirt trail riding. From there I picked up the Iron Horse trail system, and the canal trails which wound me toward home. Total today was around 30 miles.


  1. Thank you Amy for taking the pictures.
    I stole them from your Face Book page.

  2. So glad we could help you out :) That sure was fun; we'll have to go do that again.

  3. Spectatular--stupendous, that must have been quite a sight --you suspended vertically!---NO, what I am thinking??--this is your mother. What were you thinking??! Oh my, the gray hairs increase.

    Actually, I am wondering how you came off the bike with your shoes stuck in the pedals, or is it kind of like a car accident where the shoes autmatically come off--which by the way rather intrigues me for some reason. I am sure there is some scientific explantion for that, but back to the issue at hand. How did that work? Any pictures of that performance?

    Love and MUCH prayer,