Saturday, July 25, 2009

Riding in Sonoma with Ammon

Ammon Skidmore came up to Healdsburg today and we went out for a spin up Sweetwater Springs, the climb that I had ridden the bottom mile or so earlier in the week.

After the ride he turned me onto Trail Guru which allows you to track your rides while riding with your iPhone. Very cool, links the pictures you take while you are riding to the map. Free app for the iPhone. He was able to upload the ride within seconds of us returning to the house.

Pictures and info from the ride are here courtesy of Ammon Skidmore.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mill Creek Road, Healdsburg.

Last night I had the opportunity to do a short ride from our house on Limerick Lane. Not wanting to go too far, I rode through downtown Healdsburg and onto Westside Road and then turned right onto Mill Creek Road.

Mill Creek Road is a dead end to cars that goes several miles into the hills West of Healdsburg. I had been up a mile or two when we were looking for property, but never taken the opportunity to ride to the end on my bike. The Sonoma County Bike Coaltion map listed the summit at 1320 feet, so I figured it would be a perfect workout.

The hill starts steep, 7-8 percent grades for a mile or so, then settles into a rolling uphill with many intermediate descents. You quickly leave the grape fields and go along a stream surrounded by Redwood Trees. It reminds me a lot of going up Steven's Canyon Road in Cupertino.

There are many houses tucked in the trees - people who clearly value a bit of privacy by living up here, but I had no problems with the few cars that were driving up the road. In fact, several miles up a guy in a truck pulled up next to me just as I was heading up a steeper pitch and asked if I needed a ride.

I stopped and chatted with him a bit, asking where the finish was. He said "About a mile but the next bit is REALLY steep. The road ends at address 10,000, you are at 8700 now. Good luck!"

He wasn't kidding. This next part did not remind me of Steven's Canyon - it reminded me of Redwood Gulch. 15-18% grade for the better part of a mile. A real grunter, right outside my door! A great find!

I did take the requisite picture at the top.

mill creek rd

I was going to stop on the way down and try to get a photo of the steep bit, but I came off of it with so much speed that I didn't want to stop. The descent is tricky, the road is narrow so you need to be careful lest there be a car around a blind corner. The steep section is very twisty so I basically rode the brakes the whole way. And the pavement is pretty chopped up. And of course, since there are intermediate descents on the way up, there are intermediate climbs on the way down.

Check it out sometime. And please be mindful of the residents, hold your pee until you get to the bottom and use the bathroom at Mill Creek Winery.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

More riding in Healdsbug - Sweetwater Springs Road

I got out on Monday for a short ride. I'm in Healdsburg and did a quick Eastside to Westside loop. I had a little extra time so I decided to check out the lower chunk of Sweetwater Springs Road.

Classic California riding.


The road has a slight gradient at the start, little traffic, a few cattle grates. If you go to the top it eventually becomes dirt apparently, but is manageable on a road bike, and you then descend down into Anderson Redwoods and come out in Guerneville. When I get the chance to do the whole thing I'll post some pics.

I couldn't go to the top so I turned around. At 30 MPH I came around a corner and the road was blocked!


I stopped and waited for them to go by. No need to try to get cute - once upon a time my buddy and I were driving around the Grand Canyon and he tried to shoot a gap in a set of cows and ran into one. Very unpredictable and they can be quicker than you think. A little over a decade ago, Pam Downs, a woman from San Jose ran into a bull on the Death Ride. I certainly didn't want to become the next piece of roadkill.

In fact, this is not the first time I have encountered such beasts on a bike ride.


This was the scene on the top of the Col D'Aspin in 2002. I went back in 2004, the cows are still there, trying to lick the salt of cyclist's legs.

After my ride I finagled a Healdsburg treat - blackberries from the side of the road.


Monday, July 20, 2009

The difference between me and Levi Leipheimer

Or at least one of many differences.

One thing we have in common, we have broken a scaphoid (wrist) bone in a bike crash and have small titanium screws in said wrist. Don't try to catch yourself when you crash boys and girls.

The scaphoid is a small bone in the wrist known for not healing very well. Much like Levi, after my crash my wrist hurt but I figured I was ok. Hours later, we both ended up getting X-Rays. Unlike Levi, my fracture was not spotted by the doc. I'm guessing that Levi gets a bit more of a fine toothed comb going, and they look very closely at the scaphoid since it's a common cycling injury and not correcting it quickly would be devastating to his training. I wouldn't be surprised if they X-Rayed Levi the night of the crash, and when he woke up and it felt worse, he got it X-rayed again. These fractures are hard to spot early on.

My ER doctor gave me the standard "follow up with your orthopod in a few days" line and I ignored that - no fracture, I'll be ok. When it didn't heal in a month, I went back in. By this time the fracture was more apparent. The doctor pointed at 2 bones and said "Those are supposed to be one bone". In my attempts to do therapy on a sprained wrist I had finished off the fracture. Had I gone in the week after the break, I probably would have been in surgery much sooner or perhaps even avoided surgery. Levi might have been able to avoid surgery by wearing a splint but the healing time would be much longer and he wouldn't be doing this right now. With the screw in place, the bone will stay together and heal. A peon might try to avoid surgery (perhaps a good idea since surgery has its own risks) by wearing a split and seeing if the bone heals.

Since Levi got on it fast they did the surgery without a general anesthesia. Good for him. Going under isn't so bad, but coming out from under really sucks.

One other thing Levi has going for him as a professional cyclist is that if he needs a new cast, they'll just slap one on. While I had my cast on, I would try to ride on the spin bikes but I had to keep my heart rate down and have a fan directly on the cast. It still started to get pretty funky. I would do a very hard workout the morning of my doctors appointments because I knew that I could funkify the cast since it was coming off that day. If Levi is lucky he has not a cast, but a removeable splint so he can take it off and wash his arm.

One thing we both had going for us was that as cyclists, we ride with our wrists bent back, which is excellent for improving the range of movement of the wrist (he won't be in a cast as long as I was, so hopefully won't be as stiff). My wrist bends back pretty well, but forward there is still some limited range of motion. My surgeon said "The people who get that range of motion back are guitar players". Amusing.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Cycling Sonoma County

I did manage to get away from my garden and ride my bike this past weekend.