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Thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Get Out and RIDE !

The days don't get much more beautiful than this.
I was supposed to ride with a young friend on the road bike. I wanted to introduce him to the Bay Area's jogging and riding trails, as he and his family are new to the area.

It wasn't to be, as he called me around 10:30 last night and canceled.

No worries.

Plan B. The guys were planning on riding mountain bikes in Briones at 8:30 am. I pulled the Lemond off the stand at a quarter to 11, locked in the GT, and had it ready to ride by 11 pm.

8 hours of sleep. Wow that feels good.

Rode on almost muddy trails for just under 3 hours - half of the time wearing a sleeveless shirt.
Spring is my friend.

Cows are not my friend.
I plastered Vince twice with cow pie rooster tails, managing to speckle myself in the process.
If you wait a few minutes it chips off pretty easy though.

Vince, Jeff (and new bike), Reza, Milt (and new bike)

Vince meeting the cute - uh - dog. We met a LOT of people enjoying the Awesome weather.

I finished out the ride on what I like to call the "Roller Coaster." It's actually the Lafayette Ridge Trail. There are sections of the trail that can take you from 40 mph to 4 mph in about 4 seconds. It's hard to get it in the right gear for that stuff.

I almost got lost when I left the guys and headed for the roller coaster and beyond. What I thought was a short cut to the Ridge Trail, was actually a short cut to the Crescent Trail, at what point I had to make a right / left decision. Astonishingly I made the right decision by going left.

I made it to my 11:00 appointment in Pleasant Hill at 11:16.
Thanks for the good ride guys.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

And then I decided I didn't want to climb the mountain...

Morgan Territory

The Saturday ride was intended to be just another quick training ride fit in amongst my busier than usual spring schedule. 80 miles. From Martinez, to Morgan Territory, to Mt. Diablo, to Martinez. Approx. 6500' of climbing.

The frost on the roof tops affirmed my suspicion - It was cold when I left at 6:00 am

There are times when you just know that things aren't right, and probably aren't going to be getting so any time soon. I came to that at round 30 miles into my ride. The Morgan Territory climb was behind me as was the screaming descent toward Livermore. I turned right onto Manning road, with a new stretch of asphalt before me and a nagging pain in my quads. Why do I hurt already? Why am I going so slow? What did I do wrong?

I'm not bonking. Accelerade in the water bottles, and I'm putting them away with regularity. Lots of calories for breakfast, and plenty along the way. What is going on?

In retrospect I've pieced together the pizza, cake and ice cream for dinner, the extra leg workouts during the week, the 5.5 hours of sleep the night before with no more than 2 hours at a stretch, and basically figured out that I didn't set up too well for that ride.

But at 40 miles into my ride, I wasn't putting all of those things together - I just wanted to go faster and couldn't. As I rode into Danville on Camino Tassahara, the twin peaks of Diablo loomed above the canyons to the north east. I wondered if I should skip the mountain.

My first time cycling through this intersection.

The very act of THINKING that thought made me angry. Of course I would ride up the mountain. If it killed me - I would ride up that mountain. 5 miles later the decision came in the form of a stop sign. I turned right and the road turned up. I made sure I was well up the road before I pulled off to the side and pulled off my bandanna and stowed it with my windbreaker. No turning back. Another rider succumbed to the power of suggestion and pulled over to shed some layers. I hoped for company, but he was tuned in to his ipod, and indicated he would be riding slow. "Yeah me too" I thought, and left him behind.

The climb was cruel. I was amazingly slow. I hurt. I started the climb at 50 miles into the ride, but it felt like 100. I fought gallantly with a carnival of negativity for over 45 minutes as the valley slowly shrunk below. The short flats and descents on South Gate Rd. that typically offer a chance to augment the average speed - merely gave leave for a fleeting reprieve. At nearly 6 miles into the climb, the Ranger Station finally appeared around the top of the "S" curve.

I could end it here. I could ride over the hump, and let North Gate Rd. propel me toward home. I was tempted. It was getting cold. The wind coming off the top had begun to sting. Don't give up.

I filled a water bottle, hit the men's room, and then headed for the top. It got colder.

Juniper's sweeping right hand turn offered the next logical place to recognize the inevitable, escape the now nearly freezing temperatures and turn back.

Juniper disappeared around the corner below me. I was riding so slow. I couldn't catch anyone. I was getting passed. The wind was beginning to chill me, and I was still climbing. What was the descent going to feel like? 4 mph. I rarely see that on my computer, even on the steepest hills. this is not my day.

Devil's Elbow. I can turn around here. Ice starts showing up on the sides of the road.

The lower parking lot. I really don't have to climb the wall.

Half way up the wall. I think I'm going to throw up.

Three quarters of the way up the wall. I start praying for Divine help to keep me on my pedals.

The top. I wonder how in the world, a place with such diabolical names can be so incredibly cold. I think "There is a God, and He has quite a sense of humor."

I found a corner basically out of the wind and in the sun. I waited for the sunshine on my back to dry the sweat, and then pulled on the breaker, long gloves, and bandanna. The water fountain is frozen - I guess what's left will have to get me to the bottom. How many times have I ridden up this mountain, and I'm still surprised at how cold it can be.

Down, down, down. Not incredibly fast, because my wrist (still recovering from my New Year's day dive OTB) won't let me forget.

On my way down, I pass 2 unicyclists climbing up. How is this possible? How do they descend?
I decide not to think about it.

3000' makes a huge difference. Before I even reach the bottom I'm ready to shed the arm warmers, knee warmers and gloves.

The road levels out and my legs remind me that they've been had.

I take it easy. I get home later than expected. I take a hot shower.

I realize that for the first time - I actually didn't want to climb the mountain.

But I did.

I hope the pair on the unicycles didn't freeze.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Update on the pros

Contador pulls off a victory in Nice
Photos from CyclingNews.com

He rode a good race and smart in the last stage, not letting Valverde out of his sight.
Let's hope - for the sake of Armstrong and fans - that winning in France is out of Contador's system now.

Levi finished 23rd out of 97 finishers, but his Radio Shack team took third in the team rankings.

George Hincapie has been riding a few hundred miles to the south in Italy supporting BMC teammate Cadel Evans. He claims to have had a rough start to the Tirreno-Adriatico, and his overall standing certainly represents that of a supporting cast member, and not the prima donna. He is in typical fashion, riding for the team, and as such aided Cadel in his third place finish for today's stage 6.

And the Schleck brothers?
Same continent - different races - different countries.
Frank Schleck landed 16 overall in Paris-Nice.
And, Andy is hanging in there in Tirreno at 44th, and a 1:17 down. Cycling News had a great article with Andy discussing his return after the knee injury. Most impressive to me though was his comment near the end that he and Frank would never ride for different teams. There is something refreshing about seeing strong bonds within a family. Society in general is degrading the value of family at an alarming rate. Not sure what other "family values" they may have or lack, but as siblings - way to go guys.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Best Laid Schemes...

The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promised joy.

Robert Burns "To a Mouse"

That was my ride Thursday. Not that it was fraught with grief and pain, but it certainly didn't fall out as I had planned.

I was fitting in a ride between a 3/4 day at the office and an appointment to introduce Dave to Kipp, so that Kipp could work on Dave's bike. I wanted to summit Mt. Diablo, and needed 3 hours to do it. The 3/4 day turned into the whole shebang including finishing a half dug trench (some employees haven't heard the last of this one!) on a job in Walnut Creek, and before I knew it I was an hour late for my ride, sporting a new blister, and still trying to get home.

So I hit the road anyway and made for the mountain as planned knowing I might not get past 1000' if I even made it that far. On the way, a long stoplight convinced me to make the ever tempting right hand turn to keep my rhythm and sent me on a detour that just wouldn't quit. I corrected my course by turning left and then left again, but found the road didn't go through and pushed on through Pleasant Hill neighborhoods. I wandered several miles at nearly 20 miles an hour till I came across one of the many canal trails and succumbed to the temptation - no stoplights. This should have taken me all the way to the final stretch before the climb, but of course the trail was closed for repairs just as I was entering Walnut Creek. Back on the road - not even trying for the mountain now.

One of many redlights I chanced upon

I then wandered toward the very popular Danville Blvd. where one can find dozens of cyclists at all times of the day. On the way there I turned right on Arlene - the cut through to South Main St. - right? Nope. With great charisma I tore around this circle like I belonged there, got back on Lilac, and kept looking for the correct right turn. Danville Blvd. is a long stretch of road with wide shoulders and relatively affluent commuters. But it's flat. It climbs maybe 20 - 50 feet per mile as it stretches to the south. This was no good, as I was really supposed to be climbing, so guilt forced me left at Livorna Rd. I climbed Livorna, realized I was now going to be late, and enjoyed the descent back down.

I took the most direct route I could think of to get to Kipp's house, knowing it was not likely the most direct route. Even then a series of phone calls left me propped against my bike on the side of the road eying the clock. I soon found myself on South Main in the heart of Walnut Creek (the result of another elective detour as a result of another long light) monitoring a red light at the front of a line of cars. Motivated by passing shoppers and the relative low speed limit, I left the light as if entering the Champs elysees on a warm day in July. I sped ahead of the entire line of cars for several blocks, to the cheers and applause of the crowd. Stymied and awakened by another red light, I glanced over my shoulder to gloat in the face of the vanquished - and realized that they were, in anticlimactic fashion, all still sitting several blocks back behind that first car trying to turn left.

I was late to meet the guys, but that was no surprise. I had a young cyclist pick up my draft on the final stretch, which again elicited a short burst of adrenaline. He was pretty strong and I wasn't going to drop him. We chatted at a couple of stop lights, and may be able to connect again for a ride in the future.

The only thing that really went as planned, was that Dave got a new wheel and much needed tuneup on the bike. And, I got in a ride. Not the climbing I had intended but 30 plus miles nonetheless.

Vuelta Ciclista a la Regiona de Murcia - Final

HTC Colombia leads the peloton, and eventually the race with Frantisek Rabon winning overall.

Vuelta Ciclista a la Regiona de Murcia is now over, with names foreign to me listed in most of the top slots. Lance Armstrong finished comfortably in 7th place, about a minute and a half behind Rabon.

Armstrong (seen above in gray and red) seems dissatisfied with his performance at Vuelta, and has talked of adding some time among the peloton to his spring warmup to the Tour De France.
You can read about his plans here.

George Hincapie is currenlty in Italy riding the Tirreno-Adriatico - Stage 3 is Friday.

Levi Leipheimer rides stage 5 of Paris-Nice tomorrow with fellow American Chris Horner and 5 other Radio Shack team mates - not including Lance.

Though I'm not choosing to follow him closely, Alberto Contador is looking strong again this year.
Ok, so I am following him a little. I would really like to see a showdown between Contador and Armstrong at the Tour in July. I would really like to see it not be embarrassing. One more time Lance.

Friday, March 5, 2010

What Kept Me From Riding on a Decent Day to Ride

Other than the typical things that keep me off the bike, like baby sitting and the weather, there are often times that other passions rise above the love for jetting along on 2 wheels.

My wife compared me to the father on the classic "Honey I Shrunk the Kids." I can't imagine that the comparison is devoid of negative connotations, but she insists that it is purely complimentary. I think her point was that I get frustrated by things that should be much simpler, and I go about to "create" an alternative to the problem - most often employing the raw materials at hand. Unfortunately I also go at such projects with a severe tenacity, giving them undeserved yet unalterable priority.

So, this past week, I was again confronted with a dilemma. I have recently built a desk to facilitate the home office, since the old office is now occupied by daughter #1, and her old room is occupied by daughter #2, and we are thus bereft of extra rooms to accommodate an office. The desk landed in our bedroom, which is now divided between the office end, and the bedroom end. (Yes, to my chagrin clothes do get hung on the filing cabinet doors, but in general the division works fairly well.)

My goal was to provide the home office with a 2nd monitor without compromising the function and appearance of the new desk. We already owned the 15” monitor, but the new desk was designed by Bec without giving thought to a second monitor. I let this slide during plan review.

I have pondered this for many months and last Saturday finally became motivated to address the problem.


Must retract completely out of the way and “disappear”

Must be either directly above or beside the laptop monitor

Must take no special skill, tool, or knowledge to set up or retract.

Must be basically free. (I ended up spending $11.50 on a magnet, mounting screws, washers and spacers.)

The full extension drawer slides came out of a filing cabinet that has been collecting dust in the shop for several years.

Each of the rails on all of the slides had to be modified and cut to length – some on one end, and some on the other, even within one slide. 2” hinges were laying around – mismatched pair. Plywood side wall – scrap.

I spent probably twice as much time pondering every pivot and slide as I did welding and fabricating. Nothing went on paper, just brained through every step till I knew exactly how I was going to lay it out (I didn’t have extra rails, so no mistakes allowed.) It has to slide not only out of the shelf and then swing free, but then also sideways across the desk to line up with the center of the desk directly over the laptop display.

Approx. 12 hours in construction (to date).

The book binding was the final step (to date).

Yeah, I’m pretty proud of it. It worked like it was supposed to, so I’m a little surprised too.

Unintended result…

We can swing the monitor all the way out and see it from laying on our bed. May come in handy.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Vuelta Ciclista a la Regiona de Murcia

Lance at the Tour Down Under

If you can even pronounce the title of this posting - which happens to also be the race where Team Radio Shack and the re-emerging Lance Armstrong are back to racing today - then you are doing better than I am. Lance has been training since the Tour of Qatar and has resurfaced in southern Spain. You can check out the preview to the race here.

From Cycling Weekly - Hincapie in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2010
Yeah, try and say that 3 times fast.

George Hincapie is currently in my home town of Greenville SC training amidst the flurries of snow. If I know SC - and I do, having lived there for 20 some years - he'll have the roads to himself, because all schools and businesses shut down for any chance of snow. He just finished the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and the Kuurne-Brussel -Kuurne in Belgium preparing for the spring classics. Interestingly he was out here in California just a few weeks ago training around Agoura Hills. I would love to meet him some day.

Where's Levi? Not sure how I missed this before but Levi Leipheimer, of Santa Rosa, CA is riding with Lance again this year for Radio Shack. Not sure that he is in Spain right now, but I will be finding out.

Where am I riding right now? Nowhere. Work has picked up for me - which is good on its own - we just need my proposals to turn into signed contracts. Thus, even trying to fit rides into the cracks has been difficult. I managed a commute to work once last week, and even had company for once as a friend of a friend wanted to ride along in the dark on the way to work, and Vince put in a few miles on my way home the night before. No commute this week though. I haven't seemed to find a way to end up at the office in the afternoon, where I can be back in the office a little late the next day, at any point this week. I might have an hour or 2 to ride tomorrow before dark, so I will see if I can fit a week's worth of training into it. Sounds painful.