Thursday, May 29, 2008


Went out with some friends Wednesday night to get a baseline time for Old La Honda. I wasn't sure how this was going to go, I told my friend Dan I would be happy to be under 24 (in true Sandbagger fashion). Knowing I was not on top form, I decided I would run out the first couple hundred yards in 39/23, then get into 39/27 where I belonged and stay there instead of blowing up in the 25. I kept that strategy until the 2nd Upenuf Road where I knew I could start blasting into the 25 and eventually the 23 for the last couple of shallow bends.

Time - 22:57

Have not weighed myself but I am probably around 210. Getting to 190 should be 2 easy minutes, and the process of getting to 190 should require enough training for another 50 seconds. 8 seconds can be had by jettisoning the pump and the water bottles :)

It's a good baseline to start with, back in 2001 I told myself I could but myself a Seven if I got under 22, at that point 24 was my record. So I am clearly not dead yet if I consider myself "out of shape" and am a minute faster than I was after 3 years of trying to figure out how to ride a bike (I bought my first road bike as an adult in 1998).

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Pine Flat Recon

There is a race called "Ross' Epic Hill climb" in a few weeks. Don't know if I can make it, but I have wanted to do the climb - Pine Flat Road - for a long time. Well, I still want to do it sometime...

Last year my wife and I were riding through Jimtown and decided to check it out, I told her I would ride up for 20 minutes and then come down to collect her. This past weekend we, along with my buddy TJ and his girlfriend Theresa, decided to go back up. Here is the recon...

At the bottom there is a sign that says "Windy road next 12 miles". I sort of hoped this included some gravel section that is not part of the climb proper. No such luck. You ride up a rolling gorgeous climb for a little over 8 miles, not very steep, several rolling/short downhill sections. You then hit a meadow - which I assume is the pine flat. This takes you for a mile or two, you do down a short steep downhill section and then it gets rough. Steep, then steeper. At this point I was riding with a woman from Santa Rosa I picked up on the climb, but decided to go back and find my cohorts. TJ was in the meadow and we headed back up. I saw my SR friend riding down and figured we were close to the top as we struggled up a very long steep section. She yelled "good luck!". Finally I came around a bend and it flattened out, but I could see in front of me an even worse steep section and could not discern where the finish was. I was shot from the prior 1/2 mile or so at 15% and didn't really feel like going after the 18% looking stuff in front of me. TJ and I decided to bag it and descended to Jimtown for snacks.

This would be a very rude awakening at the end of a race - I am sure everyone would ride the first 10 miles very hard, then BOOM.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Life back to normal.

For 5 years, I rode from San Jose to Santa Barbara every Memorial Day weekend with a group of about 45 friends. Last year I went to the Giro instead, and didn't get my mojo back together for the trip this year. But I did manage to get up and ride from San Jose to Morgan Hill with them this morning. A good way to shake off the cobwebs from Tuesday, and a lot of perspective upon seeing a photo of David Ritter's post surgery stitches from his gnarly crash last week.

We rode down Camden/Almaden/McKean/Uvas, I returned via Oak Glen and back through Uvas. Nice riding but crazy wind. I rode with the front group a while and was doing ok but someone dropped a HR monitor and I got gapped going around him, just as the pace lifted. I closed the gap once, but the last 2 riders got gapped and I couldn't get around them due to a car passing. I don't have a 2nd gap close in my right now with that sort of crew. The "no car" photo is from Oak Glen Road, a very nice road around Uvas Resevoir.

I had to get a photo of a realtor I saw on Sycamore Road. There were a few things about the scene that amused me. A realtor driving a Prius? Realtors are very image conscious about their cars - I know from experience. So now the Prius is "accepted" amongst the realtors - at least in the Bay Area. Anyway, he was posting a "Price Reduced" sign on the for sale sign. This is in Morgan Hill, a bedroom community for the Silicon Valley, and out on Sycamore you can get all sorts of land for "cheap" but must suffer a hellish commute on 101/85 to get to work. Prices are being reduced in MH just like our friends out in CC County? Gas Prices? Prius driving realtor? I just found it an interesting juxtaposition. And you thought this blog was going to be about bike racing.

I certainly realized everything was back to normal when I approached a section that was narrowed to one lane while PG&E trimmed back some trees. I looked back and saw an SUV. I signaled my intention to take the lane and the driver signalled their intention to not allow this by hitting the accelerator. I backed off and flipped her the bird. Yes - things are back to normal, post incident.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I was hit today...

A few times this year people have asked me what I was training for this season. I have always found that happily I can always answer this question "To be in shape". No specific race or event goals. I usually try to go to the Terrible Two, but I would hope to be in shape to do that event at any given time, at least in the summer. Somewhere around 30, I left behind trying to do well at some race and thus needing to do my workouts, to enjoying exercise on its own merits. Not to say I am not hyper-competitive, but there is a reason I don't have power meters or a computer on my bike. I just like to ride. Period.

This has come into play more now that I ride a lot with my wife - she is a good rider, handles her bike well, and is strong enough to get most places but we don't put the hammer down. I enjoy these rides as much as any in a fast paceline or up a steep hill.

However, I decided this year that I would put a goal in front of myself. Much like my Aussie compatriot Jonathan(known for his Tolstoy like messages as well) I decided I wanted to break 20 minutes on Old La Honda. My prior best - 20:41. My ace in the hole, I did that at 195 lbs. With a reasonable training load, if I could get down to 190, I would hit it easy. It's a good goal for me because it doesn't require training for a peak on a specific date, so the slings and arrows that work, life, injury, might throw at me can be accounted for.

I decided to open a blog to track this quest with a bit of personal ego by making it public. I put up a strawman first post, and was going to announce the quest once I settled a few things down so I could get a good baseline - a time up the hill, current weight, etc... This task slipped along as life got the better of me, though I have gotten in some riding.

Well, it starts tonight because if you wait too long, you never know when it might be too long. I met my friend Joe in Redwood City and rode up Edgewood Rd to meet my wife. I have ridden up this hill at least 30 times. There is heavy traffic but a very wide shoulder. I probably feel as safe on the upper slopes of Edgewood as I do anywhere.

Nearing the top, as Joe related some anecdote to me, and I laughed, I was thrown violently forward and to the right. I rammed into Joe and then it was over. I was standing over my bike but only in mild shock. Before I could even do a systems check I knew something was wrong, I watched the car driving away, heard Joe saying something about "Check this out" and carrying the passenger side mirror. I realized my right shoulder was sublexed and set about quickly getting it into joint before the capsule had even more time to get irritated. I then took stock.

I had been clipped by a Honda Prius going about 45 mph and didn't even go down. The rearview mirror put a nice scrape up my left thigh, I injured my shoulder ramming into Joe's backpack. I was riding at least 2 feet to the right of the white line, granted I was overlapped with Joe's rear wheel but still well on the shoulder. A second's inattention by a driver, perhaps assisted by gusts of winds in the canyon let her drift onto the shoulder. 6 inches more and I get hit by the right front fender instead of the mirror, and am most likely not typing this blog entry.

I walked up to the driver who had stopped at the first pullout. She was very upset, very apologetic, quickly offered all her information, told me to go to an ER (I skipped it, having been through this injury before - if it doesn't settle down overnight I'll get it looked at). Strangely I just told her thanks for stopping, got her information, said "please drive carefully" and we parted ways. I can get worked up for an entire day over someone who does something intentionally stupid on my commute to the train, this woman had just screwed up and she knew it, that was enough for me I guess. She's probably more upset than I am, thanks to the fact I am ok.

But now - game on. That hill is mine now. One more Coke tomorrow morning to settle my nerves and the race begins....