Jacque Anquetil's 1962 Tour de France Winning Bike

Friday, December 23, 2011


A completely uneventful half an hour on the trainer in front of another Sharks game.  For the third time they've gone to a shootout.  With me watching and riding they're 2:1 in shootouts.  I've determined that my watching while riding has no effect on the outcome of the games even if I watch 176 of them.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Monday, Monday

The last entry was after midnight on Sunday, so on Monday.  When I looked at the blog, it had entry on Monday, but no ride on Monday.  Momentarily, I was confused and disconcerted, then realized what had happened.  So, back to Monday, again, for 175th time.

On Monday, I did a hard 65-minute ride in class with power builds and cadence builds.  That was good and hard.  Tuesday, I did half an hour on the trainer in the evening.  Wednesday, I did another hard ride in class with more/harder cadence and power builds.  I built until I couldn't build anymore, but fortunately, the class ended just then.  Today, I did easy 45 minutes at the gym during class, watching classmates suffer.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Too Busy Riding to Blog?

Not really.  Well, maybe yesterday.  I'll get to that.  First, there was 70 minutes in class on Wednesday, another 90 minutes in class on Thursday, and half an hour in the gym on Friday.  I really enjoyed the Wednesday-Thursday class because it was really like a bike ride.  I use singular because it was the same class, essentially.  I rode hard on Wednesday and didn't intend to ride hard on Thursday, but I felt good, so I went at it.  The class consisted of climbing/muscle tension intervals followed immediately by a base-speed/cadence steady state ride.  We did this three times for decreasing duration with increasing resistance, with two minutes of very easy pedaling in between.  Just like outside: a two-mile climb that plateaus into a flat ride.  Two minutes to descend, then do it again.  We closed with a cadence build to flush out the legs.  None of 5 over base business.  Yes, I understand it is designed to make our pedaling more efficient, but unless I descend on a fixed-geared bike (and I don't), I see little practical use for that exercise.  I go along, but I don't like it and don't think anyone else likes it much either.

The real ride of the week was yesterday, when David and I rode around Mt. Diablo over Morgan Territory Road.  We had about five and a half hours of riding and twenty minutes of not.  We left at 6:00 and by the time we got to Orinda, it was mid-30s and butt-cold.  I was wearing two thin wool base layers, a long sleeve jersey and was fine above the waste.  I was wearing DeFeet Blaze super-thick wool socks and the toes were OK too.  The fingers weren't doing so great even with a pair of long-fingered gloves and glove liners.  After half an hour of this, I lost feeling in my right pinkie.  I thought I'd pull the finger out of the glove's finger and tuck it with the palm to warm it up, so I grabbed the gloved finger with my teeth and pulled, but the glove refused to come off.  I pulled and pulled harder.  Then I realized I'd bitten so hard that my teeth grabbed the finger too hard and I didn't feel it.  Wow.  I let  go of the finger and decided to leave it alone, looking forward to warming up the finger on the climb.

It was cold and thickly foggy from Orinda all the way through Clayton, clearing only as we approached the Marsh Creek/Morgan Territory intersection.  The last time I rode Morgan Territory I thought that about two-thirds of it is doable in the big ring.  So, I did two-thirds of it in the big ring -- OK, the 46 that passes for a big ring on my Spectrum -- and just kept going.  What the hell, if the road forced me to shift down, I'd shift down, but as long as I could keep going, I was going to keep going.  Well, I kept going all the way to the top, even sprinting up the last steep bit before the parking lot/trail head/bathroom stop/water fountain at the top.

That was a pleasant surprise.  We refilled the bottles, emptied bladders and began the descent.  The descent is narrow, steep, and windy, so we took it easy, which was a good thing, as there were a couple of trucks coming up and it was important to have the bikes firmly in control on this dangerous descent.  We met Gary at the bottom and turned west toward Danville.  There was periodic hammering, but the legs were good, hard efforts were interspersed with recovery behind David and Gary, so by the time it was my turn to pull again, I felt good again.  We made good time into Danville, where we turned north to Walnut Creek, climbed Hillgrade, on to Lafayette, where we climbed the always too steep and too long Reliez Station Road, which I rode aggressively, into Moraga, again more hammering up a slight rise, then by the time we left Moraga and turned onto Pinehurst, I was pretty well legless and had very little left for Pinehurst.  I plodded up it aggressively and descended home.

Don't know how far it all was, but I was gone for six hours.  Legs felt horrible the rest of the day.  Then, today, December 170, they felt great, but all I did was pretty easy 30 minutes on the trainer.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

60 Minutes

It took me two days to ride 60 minutes.  Still mourning what's happened with my Llewellyn.  The ankle has been bugging me since my long walk in cycling shoes, so I'm taking it easy on the bike and stretching a lot -- like 165 minutes a day.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Big Bummer

Ride 163 started mundanely enough -- Brian and I met at Domingo Peet's, rode up Tunnel, and headed south on Skyline.  It was foggy and chilly.  I dressed barely adequately, feeling comfortable and sweaty on climbs and slightly chilly on descents.  As we kept riding south on Skyline, we began chatting about riding off road.  One thing led to another and we decided to take the dirt trail from the staging area at the end of Skyline and ride east around Lake Chabot toward Redwood.  The trail started as a fire road.  I was very happy with my Llewellyn's 32mm underinflated tires.  Traction and comfort were great.  Short drops, followed steep climbs.  Mountain bikers gave us weird looks as they saw out bikes.  The weather was improving.  Lake views were wonderful.  My first extended off-road ride was fun, exciting, and challenging.

We descended to the lake and turned north in search of a lakeside campground at the end of Maciel Road, two miles west of Redwood.  We ignored no bicycles signs.  The trail narrowed into a singletrack that climbed the hillside.  The hill was on my left, a precipice was on my right.  I rode reasonably confidently and comfortably, trying not to think about the starboard abyss.  I wasn't shy about unclipping often to get around tight hairpins and roots protruding into the trail.  With four days of Santa Ana winds last week, the trail was strewn with eucalyptus leaves and acorns, twigs, and rocks.  On one climb, I rode over a long and squiggly branch.  It kicked up into my wheel, the wheel took it to the rear derailleur, where it became lodged.  The rear derailleur rotated backward and exploded.  Derailleur hanger bent inward.  I could not run the chain through the derailleur.  It did not occur to me until now that I could have shortened the chain and bypassed the rear derailleur.  This wouldn't have  been easy without an 11-speed Campy chain tool anyway.

Brian came back toward me and was impressed with the damage.  I walked, he rode.  On downhills I remounted and coasted.  On flats, I had my right foot in the pedal and pawed the ground with my left as if skateboarding or riding a scooter.  This was surprisingly effective and I covered the ground reasonably well.  I was in a good mood.  This was an adventure, derailleur straightening is a simple repair, and I was motivated to go on more off-road rides.  We reached the campground in half an hour to 45 minutes.  There, we called Jessica for a ride and I started on Maciel, making my way toward Redwood; again, walking on uphills and coasting on descents.  Made a pretty good time, reaching Redwood by 9:20.  Jessica arrived about 10 minutes later.

At 11:00, I took the bike to a shop to have the derailleur hanger straightened.  The mechanic took a look at the bike and shook his head.  The hanger bent inward and rotated backward, as it had been pulled back.  They can bend it back out, but not forward.  Oh, and when the chain folded inward, it gouged and dented the right chain stay.  My face fell.  It's 5:04 p.m. as I type this, which means I've been really bummed for about six hours.  Bottom line: I'll need a new chain stay, a new derailleur hanger, and the rear end will have to be repainted.  Considering the frame builder is in Australia, this will take time and air freight is incredibly expensive, I may have to have it repaired locally.  And yeah, they say it'll be as good as new and functionally it may be, but...

At least I have other bikes to ride, though I wouldn't take off road my bikes that have clearance for only 25mm tires.


Three in 1:30

Thursday and Friday, I rode the trainer for half an hour and Saturday, I rode around the neighborhood for another half an hour.  The Saturday ride was quite enjoyable.  I sought out all the short and sharp hills and went pretty hard at them.  Legs felt better at the end than at the beginning, so it seems that was beneficial.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Wild (B)ride

There was nothing wild about this evening's late 30 minutes on the trainer.  It came after we went to see Berkeley Rep's The Wild Bride, an English-Irish hill-billy musical narrative of a deal with the devil, an unwitting victim, and triumph over many awful obstacles.  The cast played a set of 159 devil-related songs ("Sympathy for the Devil," "You Look Like an Angel," etc., etc.)  in the lobby after the show, complete with dancing with members of the audience.  We had a great time.


Monday, December 5, 2011

A Private Lesson

I was the only "student" at Velo SF noon class today, so throughout the class Alex, the instructor, and I engaged in a running discussion of training methods and their benefits, such as why every class we pedal at 5 mph over base when we hardly ever pedal that fast when we ride outdoors (base is cruising speed/cadence and mine is 25.5 mph and ~93 rpm).  Alex posits that we do this to create neurological adaptations and for muscle memory, making slightly faster than base cadence more efficient.

The conversation was a good distractions and the 60-minute class flew by in 65.  Most of the hard work wasn't too hard or terribly memorable, except for the last set, during which we pedaled at 7 below base with resistance set at zone 4-5 border.  We did seven of these.  After the first four, which weren't that hard (RPE of 6.5-7), I asked Alex where his zone 4-5 border is and he said 375, so I bumped my resistance 100 watts just to see what it feels like for him.  It wasn't so awful.  The way Computrainers are designed it takes the resistance a bit to catch up, so the first 8 seconds were almost easy.  Next 10-15 seconds were hard, but not bad, and the final 7-12 were on the painful side, but RPE did not exceed 8.5.  I did three of those and we were done, as was ride number 158.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

157 Bottles of Beer

Santa Ana winds finally died down and we had a perfect December fall (? -- yes) day: mid to high 60s in the sunshine, cool in the shade.  Jessica and I walked our dog on Dunn Trail in Oakland hills for 90 minutes.  We did flat, we did, up, we did down -- it was the longest dog walk I've done since my ankle accident.  I intentionally stepped on berms in the trail to make my ankle turn in and out to test it and it did just fine.  By the end of the walk my back had had enough, but the ankle was ready to keep going.

Nice weather continued into the afternoon, so I did what any self-respecting cyclist would do -- I took a nap.  Got up after an hour and a half, dressed, and went for a 45-minute ride at self-conversational pace.  It was still very pleasant, albeit by then it was knee-warmers weather and I had to turn on the lights for last 10 minutes of the ride.

With dinner, I had a 158th beer, Chimay, to celebrate the preceding 157.

P.S. Speaking of ankle accidents, Sophie wants to go skating on Tuesday -- yay!


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Out and Out

On Friday, I did half an hour in the neighborhood, up and down hills.  Since the neighborhood is just about all hills and no flats, the ride was about mostly hills, since I spent 80-85% of the time climbing and rest descending.  Physics.  As Jeff Meredith said, "I have a love-hate relationship with gravity."  I climbed semi-aggressively, which felt pretty good and I did not worry about Saturday's 3-4 hour group ride.

On Saturday, I rode with Brian, Howie, David, and Todd.  We climbed Spruce, descended Wildcat, did San Pablo Dam to Castro, where we turned east and went toward the Bears.  Up and down Mama Bear, then over Happy Valley into Lafayette for coffee at Papillon, then up Moraga Road into Moraga, then up Pinehurst back to Oakland.  Since I don't have a computer on the Llewellyn, which I rode, I estimate the ride's distance at 156 Vladometers.  A fun and windy way to spend 3.5 hours with friends.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pucking Around and Around

No, I haven't returned to the ice.  I'm emotionally ready, but not sure whether my bulky ankle will fit in my skate.  There's one way to find out, I suppose.  Stay with me, there's a cycling connection.  I watched 17:46 of the third period of Sharks-Canadiens on the trainer.  17:46 of hockey time worked out to 32 minutes.  Sharks tied the game with 1:26 left, so I rode for five minutes of overtime, which decided nothing and the shootout, which lasted six rounds, instead of regulation three.  I stayed on the bike for extra two minutes after the Sharks won to make it 50 or was 154?


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

80 More

On Monday, I did a 60-minute class in 65.  Today, I did a 90-minute class in 80.  It was 80 minutes of pedaling, with 48 minutes of that devoted to intervals of varying intensity, with 8 minutes of warming up, which is often harder than the intervals themselves.  Today's warm-up was on par with the hard efforts.  Riding with focus, which means concentrating on breathing and pedal stroke, I'd say nothing today exceeded 7 on 1-10 perceived exertion scale.  Riding absent-mindedly, the high cadence, mid-zone 3 efforts would have reached 8 on PE scale.  I was focused most of the time.  Skipped the last 153-minute interval, as I had to return to work.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

80 Minutes

I managed to sneak out late this afternoon.  It was sunny, calm, high 50s, great views of SF, the bay, and Marin.  I rode spasmodically, going hard and easy when the mood struck, without any planned reason to do either.  Enjoyed the hell out of it, even the 152 hard parts.


Monday, November 28, 2011

He Shoots, He Soars!

Maybe not.  On Sunday, I barely snuck it under the midnight deadline, getting off the bike at 11:40 p.m.  Mixing sport metaphors, I either snuck it in just below the crossbar or high jumped over it, grazing the bar, leaving it shaking, but with it not falling.  It's a legal jump and a legal ride.

Today, I did a 60-minute Velo class in 65 minutes.  I went hard the whole time.  The shin held up very well.  Right knee is feeling dodgy, so I'm continuing on the Advil regimen for the knee more than the shin now.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

P.S. Where Was I?

Tuesday and Wednesday I just rode the trainer, riding a bit harder on Tuesday.  On Wednesday, I got up at 6:30 and did 30 minutes before we took off for Palm Springs, fearing that we'd sit in traffic all day and I'd have to no time for a ride after we arrived.  I was right.  We sat in awful traffic from Magic Mountain to Ontario.  The drive took over nine hours, hours five through eight utterly exasperating 80 miles.

In Palm Springs, I took three outdoor rides.  The first was mostly flat, with a three-mile climb in the middle.  Still protecting the shin, I resolved to pedal slowly, still in the big ring.  So, I spent all day in the big ring in 52x17 and bigger gears.  Geometry of Palm Springs desert riding is boring: straight roads and 90-degree turns.  The three-mile climb was at the start of Highway 74, a three-mile ramp to the climb up San Jacinto Mountains.  After the ramp, the road becomes a typical twisty and spectacular mountain climb that tops out 11 miles later.  I had neither time nor legs to do the whole thing, so I turned around at the end of the ramp.  Another interesting feature of PS landscape is that though the desert is flat, it's not completely flat.  There are numerous uphill (1-2%) drags that last up to half a mile and provide a good opportunity for higher intensity training.  I took advantage of the terrain and rode hard for most of the 105-minute ride.

That was Thanksgiving Day.  On Friday, I did an hour and a half over most of the same roads, eschewing the climb, and making intermittent hard efforts.  Riding the same gears as the previous day was more difficult.  Oddly, the shin felt better than the day before.

Saturday, was another early, pre-drive ride.  After two hard days, I needed a rest day, but I'd thought that the long flat drags would make it difficult to take it easy.  I solved the problem by riding almost entirely in residential neighborhoods, checking out architecture, and really managing my 149th effort well.

The drive back was initially OK.  We made it out of LA basin and up the grapevine easily.  But driving in fairly dense traffic on a four-lane road through the mountains, it occurred to me that all these cars would have to fit into two lanes once we got to Central Valley.  Sure enough, they didn't fit well.  We came to numerous full and complete stops at random and unexplained places.  It eased a bit after Highway 46, where many drivers left I-5 to try their luck on 101, and again, after the Pacheco Pass turn-off, but traffic remained steady all the way home.  I'm never going on big driving Thanksgiving trips again.  I think I said that several years ago.  This time, I hope I mean it.


Monday, November 21, 2011

... Tied Behind My Back

Since it seems I'm favoring my left leg and overloading the right, I decided to do go back to one-legged pedaling.  As much as I enjoy riding outdoors, it impractical, shall we say, to ride one-legged outside.  So, it was back on the trainer again for the past two days.  Yesterday, I rode for about 45 minutes, watching the Niners-Cardinals game, riding fairly hard during the play and riding left-legged during commercials.  Today, I did the same thing during "Summer of George" episode of Seinfeld, though today the "fairly hard" part was fairly easy.

A dozen squared.

P.S. Today, I replaced my MBZ wagon's 18-year old factory AM/FM tape deck with an unremarkable Pioneer AM/FM CD player with a USB port.  I never figured out pre-set buttons (of which there were just 10 -- 6 FM and 4 AM) on the old stereo, the left speaker was dead and the volume lever was temperamental.  I love changing stations at will and can't tell you how much I look forward to playing my CDs in the car.  Somehow, the car feels less authentic now, but the stereo sounds great and I'll get over it, I promise.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sneaking Out and Mucking Around

1. On Thursday, in a throwback event, I went out at 4:35 a.m. to meet Brian and Howie at Solano Peet's.  Mornings have been clear, so I used a helmet light.  Helmet lights work much better for me because I can point the light in the direction I want to go rather than in the direction the bike is pointed at the moment.  Coming around a turn, I can point the light at the turn's arc, rather than have a handlebar-mounted light point at a tangent.  So, a helmet light works better, but not in the fog.  You know how cars' fog lights are mounted really low?  They are there to light up the road.  A light mounted higher -- on a helmet, say -- lights up tiny drops of water around the rider's head, with the drops reflecting the light back at the rider's face and creating a conical halo.  In the fog, a helmet light is remarkably ineffective.

As I said, mornings have been clear.  Not Thursday morning, however.  So, as we rode through the fog, I turned off my light and relied on Brian and Howie's Magicshines.  That was fine.  Then, my glasses started fogging up and I ended up trying to see better by peering over them.  I did see better without looking through the lenses, so I simply took off my PRESCRIPTION glasses.   Luckily, my prescription is quite mild and I coped just fine.  As the sun rose and we turned off our lights, I continued riding without the glasses.  I could see well enough.  I also discovered that I descend better without my glasses.  I can see the white line on the right and the yellow line on the left just fine and simply aim between them.  Without the glasses I can't see rocks, twigs, or potholes, so nothing distracts me and the road looks perfectly safe... at least until I find myself on the ground.

I did not find myself on the ground on my eastbound descent of south Pinehurst and Thornhill/Colton and was quite encouraged by my glasses-free ride.

Also, to save the shin, I pedaled slowly and in the big ring.  The shin liked it.  The knees -- not so much.  But Brian suggested an aggressive course of Advil treatment for the shin, which I undertook.  Coincidentally, Advil helps the knees as well, so things are looking a bit better.

3.  Today, I continued my outdoor big ring riding with a two-and-half-hour ride to Moraga and back, not as the crow flies.  An important development for "the more things change... " file, I went back to 190mm cranks with oval chainrings, which made turning big gears easier.  On today's ride, the shin felt the best it's been in a couple of weeks.

It got damned cold overnight.  Todd and Brian and I rode downhill through the town of Canyon, where it was 36 degrees.  Just east of Moraga it was 35.  I dress for the worst, figuring that I can always remove clothes.  If I'm not wearing enough and am not carrying additional clothes with me and it's colder than I like, I'm screwed.  For weather in the mid-30s, I put on thick wool socks, toe warmers, wool leg warmers, long-sleeve wool base layer, a long-sleeve jersey, a softshell jacket, and a hat under the helmet.  I have a pair of gloves with a finger cover in a pouch.  Pull the cover out of the pouch and over the fingers and, voila, you have mittens.  The covered parts of my body felt fine, the face didn't like it.

On Redwood, on the way back from Moraga, temps were in high 30s.  I was grateful I was riding uphill, generating my own heat and minimizing wind chill thanks to the gravity's effect on my speed.  Downhill came a man, wearing a windbreaker, a balaklava, and shorts.  He had nothing on his legs, which were bright, bright red.  His legs were quite hairy, but inadequately so for the weather.  I think his fashion choices were impractical.

2. In between 1 and 3, I did 15 minutes on the trainer.  Yes, I'm supposed to do 30, but last night I realized I hadn't ridden until quite late in the evening and would much rather have been in bed that on the bike.  I didn't come close to breaking a sweat and managed to maintain the streak.  I viewed this ride grimly.  There was no good reason for it; the only reason for it was maintaining the streak and it's clear that the streak is running my life on some small level.  And this is the mucking around part of this post.

So, I'm doubly glad I rode outside today.  The ride was social and pretty and cold and provided a great mental break.

Waiter, make that 142, please.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Two on the Trainer and Once in Class -- and an unrelated event on the streets

November 14 and 15 were uneventful, late evening 40 and 30-minute trainer spins.  This ride every day for a year thing is starting to feel more like a chore than pleasure.  Getting off the bike at 10:30 also leaves me going to bed around midnight and unable to get up for early morning rides even when I plan on doing so.  My planning goes as far as laying out my clothes and breakfast bananas, charging my light's battery, and setting out my bike.  Everything is ready for my ride except for me.

To combat this, today I went to Velo and actually did the whole 60-minute class as prescribed.  Left shin hurt some, but no worse than when I ride easy, so I was encouraged to keep riding hard.  The shin also hurts when I walk moderately fast or faster and, again, after the gym it was no worse than when I don't ride.  Perhaps it's healing at last.  A change of scenery (the club) from my living and the shin feeling better left me in a better mood after ride number 139.

As I was leaving the club, I heard commotion outside.  Kate and Donald stood at the door, looking out, discussing.  I peeked out -- helicopters were hovering overhead.  Occupy San Francisco protesters were marching up Broadway a block away.  We discussed historical ramifications of the movement, then I declared that I had to get back to the office to occupy my desk and departed.

I walked south on Front, turned west on Pacific, crossed Battery, where I saw the marchers.  They had turned from Broadway onto Battery.  I walked a block up Pacific to a taco truck to get lunch (lengua burrito -- yum!).  The march turned up Pacific and was coming toward me.  Motorcycle cops were riding up and down the street and up both sidewalks, ahead of the marchers, whose chants consisted mostly of simple 99-1% math.  For a moment, I contemplated walking a block with the marchers just for the hell of but decided against it, feeling content with walking on the sidewalk half a block, then turning off.  As I walked up the sidewalk, a motocop bumped me lightly, as he passed.  Briefly, I felt kinship with victims of police brutality, but decided not to press charges.  I turned south on Sansome, away from the hubbub.  I walked back to my office, on Montgomery.  As I approached Montgomery, I saw the marchers massing at the intersection of Montgomery and Pacific, appearing ready to head down Montgomery toward my building.  It was almost 2:00 p.m. and traffic was light.  Two or three hours later and 200 people marching down Montgomery would lead to a traffic nightmare.

I went into my building.  The procession passed peacefully about half an hour later.  On my way home, I saw them massed in front of Wells Fargo building.  I didn't get close enough to find out what was going on there.

In the evening, I saw on the news that 100 protesters occupied a Bank of America branch on California and Davis, where I often go to drop off my mortgage payment, and were arrested.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Riding Better, Still Going Nowhere...

I've had a shop put together my randonneuring bike.  It's my second Spectrum, designed to ride the same as the first, but with fenders, a rack and a handlebar bag.  The rack and the bag are this week's addition and I haven't had the chance to ride it outside yet.  The bike has 190mm cranks with oval Rotor chainrings.  Having ridden round rings for the last few months, going back to oval rings was eye-opening.  It simply feels easier to pedal the bike in the same gears with oval rings and slightly longer cranks (190 vs 185mm).  Yes, I have two variables going.  I'm sure both are contributing to the perceived difference in pedaling, and I don't care which variable contributes how much to the benefit -- I'm just happy to be benefiting.  On this, 135th day, I benefited for an hour on the trainer while watching college football, riding in the big ring during the telecast and in the small ring during the commercials.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Move Along...

Nothing to read here...  Two more days of riding the trainer at home.  Which leads me the believe that I must be getting really good at 30-minute minimal effort riding.  I'm sure this is doing wonders for my fitness.  Still, I'm at...



Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Back on the Train (-er)

Yesterday I did 30 minutes at home, but I must have been feeling better because I pushed it hard enough that sweat was pouring off of me liberally.  Felt good.  Today, I went to the gym and, because the shin splints are still bothering me, decided to take it easy.  But, as we know, deciding to take it easy and taking it easy are two different things.  I did 35 minutes hard with the class, but modified the workout.  I did all the training zones but kept the cadence in the low 90s the entire time and not going into hyper-drive mode since that is what gives me the shin splints in the first place.  Then I cooled down for 5 minutes.  It was nice to work.  If I had to give my shin a grade, I'd give it a B-, but it's no worse than it was before the class, which is encouraging.



Monday, November 7, 2011


Two more days on the trainer.  My tendon pain has migrated up my leg and is now where one would expect to have shin splints.  A tiny blessing -- pain being higher up the leg, I don't have to reach as far to rub it.  For a change, this case of shin splints came on with no weight bearing exercise.  Two days later, it still aches.  The pain seems duller and a bit more widespread and I hope it'll abate soon.

Meanwhile, the streak must go on and in my lame state I'm reduced to easy pedaling on the trainer.  Yesterday I took it easy, today I rode a bit harder.  It felt fine for a while, but as I picked up the pace, I began feeling it.  It's never so debilitating that I have to stop or slow down on the bike, so I keep going.  Walking it's not so great.  It aches.  The pain doesn't affect my pace, but it definitely affects my gait.



Sunday, November 6, 2011


Ever have a mediocre-bad ride?  I did.

A bunch of guys organized a ride in West Sonoma county.  Starting in Monte Rio, on to Cazadero, up King Ridge, down Skaggs, south on Highway 1, up Ft. Ross, down Meyers Grade, then back to Monte Rio on River Road.  72 miles, 6,200 feet of climbing, most of the climbing in two hills -- King Ridge and Ft. Ross.  Both are steep.  King Ridge is longer, Ft. Ross is steeper.  Rain in the forecast starting at 1:00 p.m.

Brian, David, Howie, and I came up to ride together.  Mike G came up with Jules and Marius, a 20-something French whippet-like ex-racer.  There were 28 other cyclists there -- 27 men, one woman, all looking serious and fit.

The ride was to start at 8:30, but in spite of e-mailed promises and threats it wasn't starting at 8:30.  The four of us were circling the parking lot anxiously, ready to get going and to minimize our time in the rain.  Finally, after a few inconsequential announcements by chief ride organizer Theoren, aka "Buck Johnson," we started riding at 8:45 under gray skies in temperatures in high 30s.  Somehow, Brian and I found ourselves at the front, riding into the wind west on River Road toward Austin Creek.  We realized that we'd been pulling for eight minutes, agreed that we weren't so interested in pulling 31 riders and retreated into the shelter of the peloton (guffaw!).  Soon, we all turned onto Austin Creek Road, a badly surfaced, quiet road that parallels an eponymous creek.  A few drops fell, as we optimistically agreed that they were from redwood trees that are known for collecting moisture, except there were no trees overhead.  Well, even raindrops were OK, we were well prepared.  I was wearing two wool base layers -- a short and a long-sleeved, a long-sleeved jersey, a rain jacket, wool knee warmers, thick wool socks, and toe warmers.

Austin Creek took us onto Cazadero Highway, on which we rode through Cazadero and began climbing King Ridge and I discovered I wasn't climbing so well.  Quickly I found myself in my bottom gear -- an intentionally and embarrassingly low 30x29.  I was making progress, but had no energy to spin.  I was pushing it and, though only Marius, two guys I don't know and Brian and Mike were ahead of me, traveling lousy 5-6 miles an hour I was harboring no illusions about my climbing strength.  We had perfect climbing weather -- it was still and cool, so it was very frustrating that my legs weren't working.  Perhaps this was because I was sick a week ago and hadn't recovered completely.  Maybe it was because I've been riding very easy at nearly no intensity.  I could have been just having a lousy day.  Hell, I was having a lousy day, but it was just too early to be riding so weakly.  The tendon on top of the ankle was bugging me too and there I was, riding weakly.  Now that I think about it, no one was passing me, so maybe it was the road making me suffer, and I was suffering along with everyone else.  Mike and Brian were in view, they waited and when the grade eased, I picked up the pace and caught up with them.  A few more drops fell in King Ridge.  The road was damp, but not soaking, so descents were reasonably safe.

The road crested, but these roads never seem to crest, there were quite a few rollers of varying length and grade.  Brian took the rollers aggressively, jumping at the bottom, usually making it to the top.  I took the tortoise approach, catching up just after each hill topped out.  After a few of these, we came to the intersection with Tin Barn Road.  There was a Honda Element with water and food.  We refilled, David and Howie rolled in, we remounted and took the high road to the Temple of Doom, a copper-domed Buddhist temple in the middle of nowhere, Sonoma County.  More climbing and descending ensued.  It seemed there was more climbing.  Soon after passing the temple, we found ourselves at the top of Rancheria Wall, the infamous Terrible Two climb, but we got there from the easier south side.  We turned left on Skaggs Springs Road, descended and climbed and descended to the coast at Stewart's Point.

We regrouped at Stewart's Point Store and rain started in earnest.  It wasn't heavy, but it was steady.  We weren't making rooster tails, but we were getting pelted.  Sonoma coastline is full of hills and little canyons with creeks that drain into the ocean.  Therefore, Highway 1 constantly turns, dips, swoops, and climbs.  These are short, big-ring climbs.  Today it was a little harder because the road was wet and we warily  slowed down before hitting the turns, so climbing was harder because we carried less speed into the ascent.  Somewhere in Salt Point, we went through one of these dippy turns and stood up to jam up the hill.  As I stood up, I glanced ahead and saw Brian just ahead of me, his rear wheel about three inches from my front wheel, riding in one o'clock direction just as I was riding in eleven o'clock direction.  Oops.  My front wheel hit his rear from the right.  Instead of bouncing off and going to the right, I did what almost every cyclist does and pushed back against Brian's wheel with predictable results.  Lucky thing we were climbing, so I just fell on my left side, bounced back up and, happy that the front wheel was pointing forward, jumped back on the bike.  I think all that delayed us only 30 seconds and I recon proudly this was the fastest post-crash remount.

Fueled by crash-induced adrenaline rush, I was feeling good and riding strongly.  After riding for close to an hour we came to our turn-off, Fort Ross Road.  Fort Ross is the last major climb on the Terrible Two -- two miles averaging 12%. I was glad I had a 29-tooth cog.  Almost immediately, I was in my 29, pushing and shoving pedals around.  No smooth, graceful circles for me -- colloquialism for good riding is pedaling circles and for poor riding is pedaling squares -- I was pedaling triangles.  I was not glad that when Merlin built my Spectrum they put the rear brake bridge about half a centimeter too low.  I run 25mm tires and there's just 2-3mm of clearance between the rear tire and the brake. When my tire picks up road junk it can get stuck in the brake and rub against the tire.  When roads are wet and road junk is wet, the junk is more prone to adhere to the tire and get stuck in the brake.  Fort Ross was a wet and messy road and stuff kept getting stuck in my brake.  Normally, I hear a piece of junk rubbing against the tire, but I don't feel.  On this ride, I learned that I feel it when I am riding four miles an hour.  Every time I heard something rubbing, I reached down and tried to rub the brake-tire juncture to de-junk it.  Sometimes that worked, sometimes it didn't.  Eventually, whatever it was came off, inevitably replaced by another redwood twiglet, a piece of gravel, a leaf.  Let me tell you, it's not easy to ride a 12% hill one-handed while repeatedly reaching behind your, fishing for the brake.  Crampy twinges began as I approached the top, but the top was close enough that I managed to ward them off long enough to reach the top.

The SAG Element was at the top of Fort Ross.  It felt good to get off the bike.  We refilled and remounted again, proceeding southwest on Seaview, a lovely road with predictable views of the Pacific.  Before the road becomes Meyers Grade and descends to the coast there are a few minor rollers.  I was feeling strong and fresh, standing in the big ring up the first roller.  The second roller was a bit longer and steeper and, wisely, I shifted into the small ring.  As I spun ahead, crampy feelings in both quads returned.  I tried to change my pedaling style, focusing on spinning, using my hip flexors and hamstrings more, and immediately spinning myself into a severe right hamstring cramp, which required immediate action.

Immediate action consisted of screaming in pain, unclipping left foot, putting it down and trying -- with mixed results -- to straighten my right leg.  As I did this, most of my weight was on my left leg and my left quad was twitching threateningly.  Fortunately, I brought a licensed massage therapist -- Howie.  Howie grabbed my hamstring and squeezed.  This helped a lot, but I wasn't ready to ride yet, so I walked.  (Two years ago, I saw another rider walk up Rancheria Wall, explaining that walking is actually a good cramping remedy.)  I walked up the hill, escorted vigilantly by slow riding David and Howie.  I remounted at the top.  As we started, the rain intensified and the headwind picked up.  It was cold and I was getting pelted in the face by stinging rain.  Meyers Grade descent is 18%, it was wet and I felt my brakes almost bottoming out.  I focused on braking early and often to dry out the rims repeatedly, and to keep my speed down, so I wouldn't have to brake super-hard.  I made it to bottom uneventfully.  Brian and Jules waited for us at the Highway 1 intersection.  I explained and apologized for the delay and we set off on the last and easiest leg of the ride: south on 1, then west on River.  Highway 1 continued to dip and climb a bit.  Wary of more cramping, I took it really easy on the climbs.  Howie was feeling sympathetic and wanted to provide me with company and massage therapy, or emphathetic to the point of near-cramping, and he rode with me.  If it's the former, I'm grateful for the sentiment.  If it's the latter, I am just glad we were there for each other.

We rode into the wind and the rain, occasionally catching glimpses of David, Brian, and Jules in the distance.  After we turned onto River, it seemed they slowed down and I started pushing the pace.  We were probably within 50 yards of them, when we decided to back off a bit.  We sat up, they rode ahead.  Then we bore down again for a while and got almost within shouting distance, but backed off.  We kept making 3/4-hearted efforts, would get closer to them, then back off again.  Then I rode up next to Howie and said something to the effect that if we ride 17 mph than 20 we'd feel much better and arrive one minute later, so what's the point?  We backed off, but the whole smell-the-barn mentality kept re-rearing its head and we'd speed up, then slow down, then do it again and again.  We arrived soon enough; the River Road leg took about 25 minutes.

Just Brian, Mike, and Marius were in the parking lot.  I guess we were among the leading finishers of this non-race.  David and I got in the car as quickly as we could (the two us drove up together) and the rain really started coming down.  Glad we missed the dump.

In sum:  two and a half hours in the rain, road rash, cramps, a nasty case of tendon pain, and unhappiness with my legs.  Then we got stuck in traffic in the rain in Petaluma.  We drove nearly four hours round-trip for a five-hour ride, and when I got home my formerly cramped legs were stiff as hell and my tendon ached so much I could barely walk, hence the title of this post.



Friday, November 4, 2011

Trainer, Trainer

Not much to report: just two short trainer rides.  Tomorrow will be fun, though -- Monte Rio Fondo.  Seventy miles and two major climbs: King Ridge and Fort Ross.  King Ridge will be manageable.  It's early in the ride and steep and long.  But Fort Ross is two miles at double digit grades and there's rain in the forecast, so coming off Ft. Ross back to the coast could be eventful.  Glad I'm riding 32mm tires.  Stay tunes.



Thursday, November 3, 2011

Where Were We...?

I didn't mean for this post to have an alliterative title, but now that it does, I like it.

On Tuesday, I did 40 minutes in class.  I warmed up mellow-like on my own still nursing my vanishing cold, while the class worked up through progressively higher resistances and cadences, then I joined the class for 16 minutes of alternating high and low cadence Zone 3 intervals, after which my 40 minutes were up and I had to go.

Yesterday, I went out for 30 minutes in the evening darkness in the neighborhood, searching for the steepest hills -- and there are some damn steep ones: Alta, Proctor, Masonic, Florence, etc. -- and climbing them seated (32x27 helps with this) way back on the saddle, staying as low as possible, and keeping minimal pressure on my hands to avoid pulling up the front wheel, at which I succeeded.  Enjoyed this ride quite a bit.



Monday, October 31, 2011

Six Wheels

Still getting over my cold -- feeling much better, thank you -- I was determined to continue riding at recovery pace.  To help with motivation for a slow ride, I picked up the October 2011 issue of Car and Driver that was lying on the VeloSF coffee table and read it for 30 minutes while I pedaled.  I was somewhat surprised at my enthusiasm for the magazine's subject matter -- car tests -- and its effect on my riding -- I was riding, well, enthusiastically.  Too enthusiastically for the state of my health, but it felt good, so I let myself get carried away by the handling comparison of cars costing under $40k.  For the curious readers, Mitsubishi Lancer beat out Miyata, Mini, VW GTI, Mustang, and another car.


Sunday, October 30, 2011


Last post's predictions came true.  On Saturday, I spent half an hour on the trainer at a mellow pace.  Not feeling any better today, Sunday, but desiring to ride outside on the day commemorating completion of one-third of my ride-every-day-of-my-50th-year project, I finally got out at 9:42 p.m.   I had all my lights on and just rode very slowly around the neighborhood, enjoying the bay and San Francisco views, checking out the architecture, and scaring cats and squirrels with my helmet-mounted light.  With inversion layer weather, it was warmer higher up the hill and that's where I did loops most of the time.  The riding was enjoyable and the half-hour flew by quickly.  I'd like to get better soon so that I don't have to be so vigilant about ride intensity every day.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Keepin' On

Runny nose, sore throat, mellow half an hour on the trainer equals 121.


A New Challenge

On Thursday, I didn't feel quite right, so took it easy for half an hour on the trainer.  On Friday, I definitely didn't feel right -- a cold that for me inevitably seems to follow a flu shot -- so I took it even easier on the trainer.  Today is Saturday, I have a sore throat and a runny nose.  My illness is above the neck, so I'm riding the trainer at recovery pace again.  After these last couple of weeks I'll be really, really well recovered.  I'm just not sure from what.  And tomorrow is an important day -- 122 -- one-third of the way through my adventure.  I'll try to mark it by riding outside, no matter how I'm feeling.  In all likelihood, I'll still be feeling lousy, so it'll be more of the same at recovery pace.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

And on 118th Day...

... I went back into last Monday's mode for another 33:33, but took it even easier, riding at a lower cadence and at lower power levels.  Talked to Kate at Velo about my theory (see 10/25 post) and she shot it down, saying that a given power level feels the same in any gear AS LONG AS THE COMPUTRAINER IS CALIBRATED FOR THAT GEAR.  Aha!...  I think I get it, but I'll test it anyway.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On The Other Hand...

During today's 33:33 ride I did something completely opposite to yesterday's.  Taking you several posts back for a moment, I'd written about riding at a lower cadence because I worried about pedaling too fast, adding strength, and so forth.  Yesterday, I rode in a lower gear than usual because yesterday was a recovery day.  Today, I decided to slow down my leg speed by riding in a bigger gear -- 53x14.  I reasoned that in a bigger gear I'd encounter more resistance from the roller at any given power level, which would force me to pedal slower.  This made sense.

As much sense as that made, it appears I don't work that way.  My normal cruising speed is about 26 mph at 95 rpm.  In a bigger gear, I started out pedaling 29.5 at 92 rpm.  At first this felt moderately difficult, then I became used to it and it felt almost normal.  Without meaning to pedal faster, I found myself pedaling faster anyway.  Pretty soon, I was cruising at 31 mph without feeling undue stress.  This seemed bizarre and it got me thinking sweatily about power rates and training zones.

My training zones are based on the amount of power I produce to pedal the bike in a certain gear.  My body's reaction to the stresses depend on the size of the gear I turn and the amount of resistance the trainer's roller places on my bike's wheel.  During a RAMP training zone test, I ride in the same gear, while the resistance is gradually increased to the point that my body reacts by raising my heart rate in an effort to pump more oxygen to the muscles, my respiratory rate increases for the same reason, my body goes from burning fat to burning sugar, to inability to clear lactate faster than I produce it leading to muscle burn, to lightheadedness, to surrender.  In a bigger gear I ride at a faster speed.  If I rode in a lower gear, I would ride slower, but any given resistance would feel easier.  The computer may say I am putting out 200 watts, but if I am riding 53x17 instead of 53x14 at the same cadence and, therefore, going slower, I am not working as hard.  It would be the same as if I were riding at 200 watts in the same gear, but slowed down from 26 to 22 mph -- obviously, the latter would feel significantly easier.  The speed drops, but the test does not measure speed, it measures body's response to stresses.  If the stress is lower because the speed is lower I can continue riding with less effort at a higher resistance.

Where I am going with this is self-esteem.  We want to put out greater and greater power during tests.  I peek at other people's training zone stickers affixed to their stems and am duly impressed with cyclists whose Zone 5 starts at 350+ watts (mine's at over 270), wishing I could be more like Mike.  But now I wonder what gears they use for their tests and how gear selection affects their training zones.  It probably doesn't on absolute level, zones are zones and our bodies respond to various levels of stresses accordingly, whatever numbers we want to ascribe to them.  On the other hand, I am curious what numbers I can produce in a lower-geared test.

Instead, though, I am going to give bigger gear training a shot for a few weeks.  My leg speed in the next cog over to the right seems fine.  Never mind that I was operating on a quarter tank after just half an hour and probably would have been done in another 15-20 minutes -- riding in a bigger gear at over 31 mph for most of that period was awesomely inspirational.  Off-season is the time for experimentation.  I'll be my own guinea pig and we'll see how it goes.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Recovery of Sorts

So today was going to be an easy day at the gym.  Instead of using 53x16 I was going to ride in 53x17, a gear significantly enough smaller to allow for recovery.  It allows recovery when one rides at lower cadence and against lower resistance.  This I could not accomplish, however.  The gear felt so easy that I rode at 100+ rpm.  And I decided to ride use my higher gear training zones.  At 200 watts 53x17 is significantly easier than 53x16, as is 220 watts, etc.  That was the theory, but I was sweating profusely anyway.  And my heart rate was climbing too.  During the warm up it hovered in 120s-130s.  I wanted to bring it up to 140s and stay there.  I got to 140s all right, and as riding intensity increased, my heart rate kept going.  I was in 150s for a while, maxing out at 161, about 12 beats higher than I'd planned.  Thirty-three minutes and thirty-three seconds of failed recovery was enough and I climbed off.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Week of Riding Done, A Week of Writing to Do

Still riding, but writing about it has been falling through cracks.  It's been long enough (six days) that it's becoming hard to remember what I did when, but I think I have it.

Last Tuesday, I did half an hour on the trainer pretty late in the evening.  It was fairly mellow and provided good recovery after Monday's hard work in class.

Wednesday, I rode to David's with tools in the backpack to help him swap the cassette from his old rear wheel to the new.  He just got a set of very cool Speed Dream wheels.  Downhill to his house took 10 minutes and uphill home took 20, which took care of my daily half an hour.

Thursday, I went to class full of motivation.  The meat of the class was three efforts -- 20, 22, and 24 minutes -- in zones 2 and 3.  I arrived a few minutes late and rushed my warm up.  The first interval went fine.  The first eight minutes of the second were OK too, but a few minutes later I felt completely empty.  I powered way down and finished the interval.  Tried to do the third interval in zones 1 and 2, but had neither strength nor motivation and shut it down.  Still ended up with 75 minutes on the bike.  I think I ate something bad; felt more than a little bit off the rest of the day and the next morning.

Friday, I commuted to the City, taking a detour on the way in to run an errand.  On the way back, I took the scenic route of West Oakland (that's a joke for those unfamiliar with my hometown), as I rode to the temple to meet Sophie and Jessica to see Sophie off on religious school weekend away.  All this added up to 35 minutes.

Over the weekend, Jessica and I took advantage of our freedom and headed to wine country.  We spent Friday night and most of Saturday in Calistoga and late Saturday afternoon through Sunday morning in Napa.  We had fabulous meals in both cities at Jole in Calistoga and Zazu in Napa.  On Saturday, Jessica and I rode for 2:30 on Silverado Trail and climbed Howell Mountain, taking a portion of the route of Knoxville Double.  Since I'd missed my big ring Friday ride, I climbed Howell in the big ring, doing a lot of pulling and pushing.  The climb was exposed and hot at noon, so after climbing four miles we turned around at the White Cottage Road intersection, about half a mile below the summit.

We came home on Sunday and I snuck out for 81 minutes, doing Pinehurst-Redwood, descending Joaquin Miller, and cutting about 3 miles from the traditional loop.  I ride harder when I ride alone, and today's was the biggest effort I've put in on an outdoor ride in a long time.  After 21 very hilly miles I ended up with average speed of 15.6 mph, which I found both encouraging and disappointing.  The encouraging part was the average speed, going hard and steady up South Pinehurst, and climbing the last mile of Redwood at 12 mph, maintaining the effort while sweat and drool poured down my face.  The disappointing part was the climb up Tunnel, on which my PR is 22:27, but today I barely broke 26 minutes in spite of working fairly hard.  I think I have good aerobic fitness from riding indoors, but my leg strength is at about B- level.  I hope additional big ring rides will help build strength and get me to tops of climbs faster.  It doesn't help that my PR is ten years old and that I did intervals up Tunnel twice a week during the spring and summer I'd set it.  It would be nice to come close to a 10-year old PR -- something to aspire to.

115 (damn, time flies!)


Monday, October 17, 2011

About Last Weekend...

Saturday afternoon, I got out for 40 minutes -- just up Tunnel and down through Montclair.  Unsure what to do, I decided to stand up and go hard whenever the road steepened.  That was surprising difficult.  Recovery between these efforts seemed just barely sufficient, probably because I tried to recover on uphills.  All in all, it was a an efficient and productive workout.

On Sunday, Brian and I rode 50 miles, very little of which was flat, as we did over 6,000 feet of climbing.  Perhaps I was still feeling Saturday's ride, but my legs weren't so good and this 50-miler wore me out.  Then we sat at a cafe in Montclair for half an hour, bs-ing.  Good times.

As long as we're on the subject, today, I did a hard 60-minute class.  The last interval I did was a mid-zone 2 cadence builder.  With 15 seconds to go we were to pedal as fast as possible.  My "base" is 26.5 mph in 52x16 gear.  This works out to about 96 rpm.  Ales, the instructor, talked us through "base + 10", which for me means 36 mph in the same gear.  Then, he said, "go to max cadence."  I maxed out at 40.something mph.  I think I lasted at 40 for just a few seconds, but I was at 38+ for good 12-15 seconds.  Now, I wonder what my cadence was at 40.  I glanced in the mirror when I was in high 30s and my legs were moving damned fast.  I hope it was at least 120.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Catching Up

Here goes:

On Tuesday, I didn't go to class, Jessica and I went to the theater and, as we were driving home at 11:00 p.m., I remembered that I hadn't ridden that day!  Jumped on the trainer at 11:15 and managed half an hour before the day ended, riding easy to protect my tendon.  Whew!

On Wednesday, I went to class, rode easy again -- more tendon protection.

On Thursday, rode easily outside in gorgeously warm darkness with Newman for an hour and a half.

Today, I rode with Newman for 90 minutes again.  It was a big ring day.  I think I rode bigger gears than last week.  It was fun.  Then we sat and shot shit at Peet's for half an hour.  That was almost more fun.


Monday, October 10, 2011

The Long and Short Of It

Ride 101 was a 58-miler Fruit Stand ride that Howie affectionately -- and catchily -- calls the Fruit Loop.  It was mostly mellow and conversational and at very high cadence.  I was in 30x29 on the steep Westbound direction of Norris Canyon Road, spinning myself silly.  I went at it pretty hard on Pinehurst from the false flat at Canyon intersection all the way to Skyline, but keeping the cadence high kept me reasonably fresh while I was hammering.  A side detriment of all that high cadence is that the tendon on top of my left ankle -- where the shin transitions to the foot -- is sore.  This is the tendon that got tight from disuse during inactive recuperation from surgery.  I'm not a very disciplined PT patient and definitely could commit better to stretching.

And today, I went to the gym for an easy spin, but ended up working hard, feeling very good aerobically, as I did so.  High cadence really bugged the tendon, but I rode through it.  This made walking back to the office after class achy.  Arnica externally and Advil internally helped.  I think I'll have to back off from intensity and cadence for a few days to let the tendon recover.


Saturday, October 8, 2011


The 100th day fell on Yom Kippur.  Well some ride was going to fall on Yom Kippur and it so happened that it was the 100th.  Completely coincidental; I'm sure there are no Kabalistic implications to the number.  Since I fasted, I was going to go out for a very easy 45-minute spin, trying out my newly-functioning 30x29 micro gear.  But just as I was heading out the door, Jessica said to Sophie and me, "how about taking the tandem out?"  "Sure," we both said.

Sophie changed while I pumped the tandem's tires and we were ready to go.  The tandem fits nothing like my single bikes, but it's adequately comfortable for 40 minutes.  We went up the hill, then back down, then up and down another and so on and so on.  I will say that I rode much harder than I planned to ride and much harder than I planned to ride on an empty stomach, but I enjoyed it much, much more than if I'd ridden alone.  We rode and talked.  Sophie picked the directions we would travel at intersections, and we waived at her friends on the roof of their house watching the Blue Angels.  We spent a few minutes exploring an un-rebuilt house that perished in the Oakland Hills fire of 1991 on top of the ridge.  Then, we whooshed back down the hills and were home again.  What a great way to celebrate the centennial ride.  My only regret is we didn't ride on Centennial Drive in Berkeley.


Push It Real Good

Rode with Todd early in the morning for 1:45.  Warmed up for 15 minutes, then rode in the big ring.  Pushed up hills fairly effectively, focusing on pulling up and pushing.  It went quite well, considering this was my first big ring ride in over a year.  So, I'd say I pushed it pretty good.  Still felt that vague weakness before I left for the ride, but it didn't seem to affect the riding.

Then, I had a really big get-stuffed-before-Yom Kippur lunch and that seemed to do the trick.  Almost as soon as I stopped eating, I felt better and in the ensuing 36 hours I've felt fine.  I'm so happy I could release 99 Luftballons.  You guess what number ride it was.


Independent Study

I dropped by the gym an hour before the class and did half an hour at progressively higher resistance ending up in low zone 4.  Didn't feel great during the ride, but it seemed like I am getting over whatever it is that's ailing me.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

33 on the Trainer

With rain falling in the last two days I feel somewhat more justified to ride on the trainer.  Still not feeling right I did 33 minutes on the trainer medium easy.  The knees are not bothering me, at least.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Meh Again

It's not a cold, but it's something.  I feel weirdly weak in the morning.  The weakness abates somewhat if I eat and abates more if I eat a lot.  That's not a good thing when I'm trying to lose weight, however.

Did a 90-minute class today.  It was an hour and half version of yesterday's class, when I backed off after the warm up.  Had to do it again today: did the warm up and it left me bathed in sweat.  So, during the meat of the class -- steady 50 minutes in zones 2 and 3 with cadence play -- I backed off again, doing the prescribed cadence and resistance occasionally, then going easier when I felt tired.  I felt tired more often than I would have liked, so there was a lot of backing off.  Not sure what's going on but I think I felt better than yesterday.  Hoping for more improvement tomorrow and thereafter.


Monday, October 3, 2011


It appears that Velo SF is on Jewish calendar.  Today we started the new training year with a months worth of base building consisting of riding in zones 2 and 3. 

Last night I felt a cold coming on and it didn't help that I've gone to bed late almost every day in the preceding week.  I felt OK by noon, when I arrived at the gym and was all excited about base training, looking forward to a reasonably comfortable ride.  The 12 minute warm up that consisted of cadence and power build to low zone 3 was going fine, but when we finished warming up I was completely drenched in sweat and darned near exhausted.  I backed off on the power and worked on cadence.  Will try to get to bed at a decent hour tonight.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Post With No Name

Couldn't think of anything catchy to describe today's ride, so there you have it, a post with no name.  I got on the trainer at home today for very mellow 40-something minutes.  About half an hour into the ride it occurred to me that I can do cadence work in a very low gear while doing a mellow ride, so I actually had a productive very mellow ride.

I am thinking of starting bike strength work by doing a hilly big ring ride once a week, but last couple of times I've been on the bike my left knee bugged me, so I'll have to implement that plan carefully.


Alternative Means

On Friday, I commuted into the City.  I'd had enough indoor riding for a while and it was nice to ride outside, even just to Jack London Square for a ferry ride to work.  

On Saturday, I was in Orange County for a work function.  Hotel gym did not have a bike, so I amended the definition and "rode" an elliptical trainer for half an hour.  The elliptical resembled a bike more than my other option -- the hotel's treadmill.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Shana Tova!

The first ride of year 5772 and ride no. 91 almost didn't happen.  I had the day off for  Rosh Hashanah, but didn't get out and left it to the evening to do a trainer ride.  Then, I was so busy finishing my Knoxville Double 2011 report that I forgot all about riding until 10:30 p.m.  Oops.  I got on the bike, did 31 minutes while watching the replay of this year's pro women's world cycling road race, which was more appealing than the men's race that I watched without knowing the result, and got off at 11:12.  It seems the most efficient way to do this may be to start a ride at 11:30 p.m., go for an hour, finish at 12:30 a.m., thus doing two days' worth of 30-minute rides in one ride.  I think that technically complies with my rules, though I am not sure I want to stay up that late to kill two days' worth of ride birds with one stone.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

School Again

On Tuesday, I did a hard 90-minute ride in class in new zones.  At first, I was conservative with zone 4 work, but I did the last set of three zone 4 intervals increasing resistance for each subsequent interval, ending up in the mid-zone 4.  It was hard, but felt pretty good.

Today, I was too damn tired from Tuesday and needed a recovery day, so I did easy 30 minutes in zone 1, then climbed off and did core work.

That's 90 for those keeping score at home.  I think I'll have a commemorative rode for the 100th day.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Kx 2011

Knoxville 2011

Dedication: To My Honorable Shepherd, Jeffrey W. Gould, who dragged my sorry corpse into the teeth of the wind up and down Napa Valley, Butts Valley, Pope Valley and who knows how many other dales and hills all day.  Without him I may still be somewhere in Lake County, among people who count their teeth on the fingers of one hand.

This was the first double since my triple ankle fracture and surgery six months ago, so having bagged a double, with considerable help from Jeff, was important.  It feels good to have completed a Comeback Ride.

Ride Preparation
Ride plan – and it was a good one – was to start early at 5:00 a.m., ride comfortably but quickly, spend as little time as possible at rest stops, and finish in decent shape and at a decent hour.  I had the same good plan last year, but we spent too much time dallying at early and late rest stops, then tending to cramps and heat and gastric distress at mid-ride rest stops, and finished at 8:45 p.m. or thereabouts, riding in the dark for an hour and a half, fearing light battery failure as we went.

This year, I had a fail-safe option for battery drainage – a dynamo hub light, which lasts forever.  I installed the light on my Spectrum.  In preparation for the forecasted heat, I installed a saddle-mounted gizmo for carrying two additional bottle cages.  Finally, I bought a 12-29 cassette that would allow me to spin, spin, spin, thereby preserving my legs for late miles and warding off cramps.  This cassette would replace the 12-27 that was on the bike.  The day before the ride, I took the cassette and the rear wheel to a bike shop, where the mechanic installed it.  I tested the shifting at 8:30 in the evening and discovered that with the new cassette chainline was way off and shifting was terrible.  Cursing, I pulled the cassette off and discovered that the 1mm aluminum spacer that had separated the 27-tooth cog from the spokes had been tossed or lost (thanks shop mechanic!).  I didn’t have another one, so this wheel would be of no use.

Cursing some more, I took the bike downstairs and brought out Goldie (not too stiff, not too flexible -- just right), my Colnago Monotitan.  Goldie had been on just one double – last year’s Knoxville, so at least it knew the course and Goldie's 11-28 cassette was close enough to the Spectrum’s.  On Goldie I’d have a higher big gear, allowing me to ride faster on pedalable downhills and a slightly bigger low gear, but I still should be able to spin up hills.  I pumped up the tires, moved the bottle cage gizmo from the Spectrum to Goldie and got on the bike for a 15-minute streak-preserving spin.  I got off the bike at 10:10 p.m. and, with all the pre-ride prep still to do, didn’t get to bed until nearly 11:00.  With the alarm set for 3:25, I’d have to do the ride on little sleep.

Rise and Shine
I woke up before the alarm at 3:07.  Feeling pretty awake, I got up and remembered that I’d forgotten to pack my lucky ice sock.  I went to the dresser and rummaged in the sock drawer in complete darkness.  Unable to find the sock quickly, I decided to search systematically by removing every piece of hosiery until I stumbled upon the right one.  This approach worked.  I put on a sleeveless base layer, a short sleeve 6ABC jersey, arm warmers, and knee warmers – there were predictions of a cooling trend and I wasn’t taking chances.  I had my usual pre-double meal of two bananas and three egg whites, put everything in the car, and left the house at 3:50.
Driving through Berkeley, I noticed that the car’s thermometer read 56 degrees and remembered that I planned to bring a vest.  Oops, no time to go back to get it, I guess I’ll have to suck it up until it warms up.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to suck it up for very long, as by the time I reached Fairfield and glanced at the thermometer again, it read 73.  I was glad again to have found the ice sock.
As I approached the ride’s start at Pena Adobe Park , I saw ghostly lights crossing the freeway and traveling alongside it toward Fairfield – early starting cyclists.  I parked, got out the bike and after a moment's indecision shed knee and arm warmers.  I traipsed to the starting area, where I got my number and met Jeff and Brian.  To my surprise, Ken, who led me through the second part of last year's, was there too.  A few minutes after 5:00 we were off.

Heart of Darkness
Everyone’s lights were on, there wasn’t a hint of dawn in the Eastern sky.  We rode around Pena Adobe Lake, through Fairfield and north to points unknown; unknown because I’ve never seen those places in daylight.  As usual, Jeff was pulling at slightly faster than comfortable speed and I was trying to slow him down.  Just as we rode through a subdivision, a trio of riders wearing PBP jerseys passed us.  I looked at the names on their numbers and realized these were some of the most accomplished Northern California randonneurs: Eric Norris (campyonly.com), Todd Teachout, and Rob Hawks (head of San Francisco Randonneurs).  We sped up a little, they slowed down a little, and the seven of us rode north out of Fairfield together.
The staying together ended when we hit rollers somewhere in north Solano County .  People began popping off – even Rob admitted the pace was a bit much for him – and soon there were just three of us: Jeff, Todd, and I.   We motored through nasty headwinds past single riders and small groups with all of them acting as moving targets for Jeff.  At this pace, it felt like my matchbook was out and I was ready to strike, and this was not a good thing so early in the ride.  Finally, we came to a T-intersection that led to a climb over Mt. George.
Dawn was barely breaking.  Jeff rode ahead and I shifted into climbing mode, trying my newfangled high cadence technique.  It took a few minutes to get used to it.  During that time, a few people came past me, but I passed them again once my cadence went back up.  The descent in improving daylight into Napa Valley was fun and chilly, as fog and ocean air had reached Napa , where temperatures were in the 50s.
Jeff was waiting at the bottom.  We rode past Silverado Resort amid a loose group of around 20 people, going past most of them except for a man and a woman who rode at our speed.  I thought they were together, as they seemed to be in matching kit, but later I found out they weren’t.  The man, Tim, was also remarkable for full leg-length tattoos that didn’t seem to match.  Visible parts of his upper body were tattoo-free.  Jeff resumed pulling at 23-25 mph, and these two slotted behind me.  We rode north on Silverado, past chateaux, vineyards, fancy restaurants, hills, passing many riders.  At one point, Tim pulled alongside me and said, referring to Jeff: "We suck him until he's dry?"  I responded: "He can go like this forever.  For him, this is a social ride."  Satisfied that he wouldn't have to work for a while, Tim returned to his place on my wheel.  The first rest stop was in Yountville, 6.7 flat miles ahead.  When we reached Yountville Cross Road and turned left toward the rest stop, I looked back for the first time since Silverado and realized, surprised, that Jeff had been towing at least 10 people.  Many thanked him for the pull, as we arrived at the rest stop.

There, we greeted Scott Halversen, the head Quackcyclist, and other volunteers, refilled bottles, emptied bladders, and set forth quickly before unauthorized wheelsuckers were ready to go.  I was an authorized wheelsucker :-).  (I say this in jest because Jeff was extremely generous with his draft, inviting rider after rider to get in the paceline with us.  Their problem was we were going too fast.)

Go Jump Into Lake County
We rode west toward Highway 29 and on it for just a bit before turning west on Oakville Cross Road, back toward Silverado.  We turned north on Silverado, for another 7.5 flat miles.  We saw more of the same picturesque dullness: vineyards, fancy houses, wineries.  All along Napa Valley we'd been riding in low to mid 20s.  All that faster than comfortable riding through Solano County in the dark and Napa Valley in daylight starting adding up -- I was beginning to feel tenderized.  Jeff told me repeatedly to let him know whether we were going too fast, even encouraging me to use profanity to slow him down.  And though I said several times, "too fast, motherfucker! :-)," inevitably, we'd speed up again.  I was reluctant to keep reining him in, so I sucked it up and rode.  Finally, we reached Deer Park Road, the first serious climb of the day.  Howell Mountain Road, the usual way Knoxville Double takes from Napa to Lake County was closed due to construction, so we detoured by riding extra couple of miles north on Silverado before turning up and heading east over Howell Mountain by a different route.

Unlike the Mt. George climb, I could see this one.  I also remembered this road somewhat, having descended it like a demon on Napa Century just over a month earlier.  I remembered a fast descent, which means a slow climb.  After 24 miles of flats we had 4.2 miles of uphill.  I shifted way down and spun.  It took a little while, but I found good spinning gears and decent spinning legs and went at it, almost at Jeff's speed.  I was working harder than he -- I think he was resting here after all the work he had done on the flat -- but I was just about keeping up on the easier, lower slopes.  After a couple of miles, the road kicked up, I shifted down, and slowed down.  Jeff pulled ahead, still riding comfortably.  I was working, but it felt OK and I thought I was riding pretty strongly.  I was more comfortable than on the flats, probably because I was in control of the pace now.  We passed a few more people.  By now, we'd passed at least 30 riders over the course of the morning and considering our fairly early start we had to be toward the front of the ride.  I told Jeff that if we keep going like this we -- well maybe he because I couldn't maintain this pace to the finish -- would "win" this ride.  He replied that if I thought we were going to win, I was suffering from delusions of grandeur.  To which I said, "maybe I'm deluded, but you're grand!"

Four miles up Deer Park and we turned left up White Cottage Road for more climbing.  At first the road rose steadily and steeply for a quarter mile, then mellowed and turned into rollers, frustratingly dipping and twisting, rising and meandering and slowly sucking strength from my legs for another three miles.  Finally, it leveled off and plunged toward Pope Valley.  Immediately, we were stuck behind a slow moving RV.  At one point, I tried to pass it in the opposite lane of traffic, but saw lights of an oncoming car, grabbed the brakes too hard, locking my rear wheel and fishtailing, and returned safely to the shelter of the RV.  A small adrenaline jolt is all that was.  The RV pulled over at a turnout half a mile down the hill and we proceeded down impeded only by potholes and wicked hairpins.

The next 10 miles was like riding in Vatican.  We went from Pope Valley Road to Pope Valley Cross Road, to Pope Canyon Road, which led us to the second rest stop at Lake Beryessa.  Pope Canyon Road lived up to its name with a few unpleasant hills, particularly unpleasant was the one immediately before the rest stop, which one (I) tends to climb harder than one should because one knows the rest stop is just on the bottom, where recovery awaits.  But it's all about burning matches and their number is limited and it's dumb to go hard 72 miles into the ride unless your ride is 75 miles long.  (Stop me if you've heard this before.)  I arrived at Beryessa rest stop tenderized further, my book a few matches lighter than at the start.

Kx 37
The 37-mile ride from the second rest stop to the lunch stop has one turn, a right into the park where we had lunch.  Before then, it was all straight on Knoxville Road.  Well, it's not all straight.  The road is quite three dimensional, as it climbs, descends and twists and turns many times, but you get the idea.  There's a flattish part that goes for quite a while along Lake Beryessa, where I was still feeling the efforts of the previous 70-some or 80-whatever miles, before the road leaves the lakeside, heading north toward Clear Lake's southern edge's imaginatively dubbed burgh of Lower Lake.  Again, as the road began to tilt up and its surface deteriorated, I began to feel better, spinning my small gears.  We passed a few more people on bikes and many more people with guns.  Knoxville Road is a popular hunting spot.  Some hunters wore camouflage gear, others wore bright orange.  Considering most of the game they were shooting is colorblind, I wondered why they wear camo.  Somewhere along here, my bike started making a rattling-jangling noise whose source I could not identify.  I worried that it came from the drivetrain, but when I reached for a bottle in my behind-the-saddle gizmo, I realized that David was right: those devices do come loose and mine was loose as a goose.  As I remembered, they required a hex wrench for tightening.  I didn't have one and neither did Jeff.  I began to look for the water stop, which was 22 miles into this leg.  I hoped to find the right tool there to fix my gizmo and hoped I wouldn't lose the nut that went with the bolt that needed tightening before I got there.

Well, around mile 90, I plain ran out of gas.  I don't now if it got hotter or I didn't eat or drink enough, but my legs felt empty.  My brain was OK, I wasn't cramping, but I had very little power.  Considering my two training rides for this double were only around 100 miles each, I suppose my body thought it was approaching the end of the ride and was behaving done and depleted.  As several times on other rides, I thought, "maybe I am in decent century shape, but I am not in double century shape."  Plodding was the only viable option, so I plodded.  Fortunately, most of the climbing of Knoxville Road was behind us, but some rollers remained.  If you are fresh and strong, most of them would be big-ring rollers, but I was neither, so I was in my 30x25 and 30x28 a lot.  On one of these rollers someone passed me after he sat on my wheel for a couple of minutes -- the first time that happened all day.  I would have been offended had I felt better, but I wasn't and, as he passed, I said to him, "not much draft at six miles an hour?"  He smiled, agreed, and rode away.  I was at peace with that, trying not to think about the fact that another 110 miles in 80-plus degree weather remained.

The water stop finally appeared as a tent in a turnout on top of another roller, competing for space with a Clif Bar tent, a rest stop for Clif's corporate ride that travels in the opposite direction.  Only two people were at our rest stop: Jeff and the guy who'd passed me.  I asked for a hex wrench, but volunteers said they didn't have one.  I examined the gizmo closer and discovered that I needed a 4mm Allen wrench, which I had.  Unwilling to rummage in my saddle bag, which was jammed behind the gizmo and access to the bag would be difficult, so I asked a volunteer for one.  He said he'd get one and went to the car, but either forgot or didn't have one.  With no tool forthcoming, however, I had to fish out mine.  Did that and tightened the correct screw as well as I could, topped off the bottles, filled the ice sock and set off again.

In spite of the stop, I still wasn't feeling great.  There was more groveling up rollers until the real descent began.  It was fairly long and fun and didn't require much braking, providing a nice rest.  Still, there were a few more small, stinging hills to climb, each taking a little more out of me.  The final flat drag to the lunch stop saw me gritting my teeth and hanging on to Jeff's wheel.  I was glad to have made it to mile 108.  The match book was quite depleted by now.

For lunch I had a very plain burrito, half a bag of potato chips, water, a coke, salt tablets, and Advil.  Refilled the ice sock and was ready to go.

When we left the rest stop, two things were bother me: I felt vaguely nauseous and my ice sock was giving me a brain freeze.  I figured that brain freeze would go away when I got used to the cold or when some of the ice directly on the back of my neck melted.  Or I could simply dump out all or some of the ice.  Nausea was more troubling because I couldn't figure out a way to get rid of it.  Running on fumes, I plodded along the false flat that is Siegler Canyon Road in my second and third lowest gears.  This was disheartening especially because double-digit grades of the climb to Loch Lomond loomed a couple of miles ahead, but I was ready to carry on.  I was willing to walk if I had to and was ready to barf if I had to.  In fact, on some level I wished I'd just barf and get whatever was bugging me out of my system.  Barfing wasn't happening, so I plodded on through this lovely, lush canyon with its rapidly flowing creek and happily chirping birds.  Jeff waited at the Loch Lomond Road intersection, but I was riding very slowly, so he rode ahead a bit.

The road tilted up and I shifted down, wishing for that 29-tooth cog.  No spinning for me now -- pushing and grinding.  I started cramping toward the top of this climb last year.  Mindful of that possibility, I rode carefully, trying not to over strain any muscle.  Trees line most of this climb and it's fairly shady in early afternoon.  Having shade helped, as did realizing that I was making decent progress even while feeling crappy.  Jeff was waiting half way up the climb and I announced that the climb was going better than I expected.  He offered words of encouragement, as he had done all through the day.  We crested at nearly 3000 feet, descended toward Cobb Mountain and climbed out of it.  I'd recovered substantially by then, but my climbing legs were pretty well gone.  I was still spinning well, but even on the tamest grades I found myself in the lowest two gears.  That was OK by me as long as I was making progress.

The Cobb climb from the north is mercifully short.  It is mercilessly steep from the south, but that was the side we descended, which was a blast.  What was not a blast was a feeling of shadeless heat from the valley, as we left what passes for cool mountainous climate in Lake County and approached Middletown.  We rode through Middletown and turned south into a nasty three-quarters side wind that blew me all over the road and must have been hell on Jeff, who pulled us manfully.  This was [kick my] Butts Canyon Road for 27 miles.  My computer died on Siegler Canyon, so I had no electronic way to tell where we were on the course, though I remembered terrain fairly well.  I remembered running low on legs and energy during these few miles that preceded the Pelican Lake rest stop and it was no different this year.

Valley Boy
Refilled the bottles at the rest stop, chatted with Jason, Bruce Carroll, Alfie, Lisa, and Bryan.  Bless Duck volunteers at all the rest stops.  They filled our bottles, took food orders, parked our bikes, dispensed pills, and applied sun screen with great cheer.  I had another coke and a bunch of gel and refilled the ice sock.  Not wanting to spend more time here than necessary, we set off.  Again, I didn't feel so great and wondered whether the not-so-great feeling was related to sock shock.  The sock had served me so well on a number of other rides that I wasn't going to blame it for anything that happened.  I was riding on autopilot, operating on what felt like a quarter tank.  Bless Jeff, again, for dragging me all over these roads.  At first, Butts is almost completely flat and beautiful, starting in a valley with a head-side wind, a valley that gradually narrows into a green and shaded canyon that provides shelter from the wind and the sun.  Twenty-some miles down the road, however, one has to climb out of the canyon and that is where I slowed again -- no drafting Jeff on slopes.  I was making decent headway up the hill when I heard a cyclist behind me.  I had enough energy and determination to refuse to let him pass me here, so I sucked it up and sped up.  I held him off comfortably, picking up Jeff's draft at the top and we sped away from the pursuer.  Just a few more mostly downhill miles to Lake Hennessey rest stop and we were there.

At the rest stop, they were serving hot soup and not finding any takers in the 80+ degree weather, but they also had hot dogs and I asked for one.  I sat down in a lawn chair, armed with a coke and a dog.  That dog was the tastiest thing in the world and I inhaled it in no time.  I had to use the bathroom, which meant that I was at least somewhat hydrated.  Upon using the port-a-potty I realized that I wasn't so well hydrated, but the guy who used it before me was in worse shape than I.  Others were in the same boat; I wasn't the only one suffering and was lucky to have a friend and a team leader in Jeff.

End in Sight

This is the point in the ride where it feels like we're on the way home, but the way home lies over a number of hills, including one immediately after the rest stop.  As I began climbing, a strange feeling came over me, a feeling of having eaten the hot dog too fast, not a good feeling.  Even if I had better legs, my stomach would not have let me use them.  Jeff was playing, riding on gravel surfaces along the road.  I didn't mind.  If I had a much weaker riding partner I'd be somewhat bored with the slow pace and look for diversions too, and it was fun watching him do it.

Soon enough, we crested, rode over the plateau, and descended into a valley whose name I didn't know.  Cardiac and a few nameless climbs remained.  The road rolled and boat towing trucks rolled past us, but it wasn't even 5:00 p.m. yet, so we had plenty of daylight and were plenty visible.  I felt OK on the climbs, aided immensely by my grandmotherly gearing.  On descents, I discovered that the hot dog wanted us to become reacquainted when I got in the drops, so I stayed on top of the bars.

Just one climb to Putah Creek Dam remained.  We were at lake level.  I've climbed to a few dams and it takes at least half a mile to get up all of them.  This dam is weird, traveling eastbound, the road passes the dam at practically lake level, so the climb was barely a pimple.  We descended along Putah Creek into a valley, blown along by a howling tail wind.  This tail wind was stronger than the tailwind I had for the last leg of 2009 Central Coast Double, where I rode 25 mph alone for over an hour.  It was the first time I'd seen this part of the course in daylight and, as we were blown southward.  Yes, we were pedaling too, but pedaling was almost superfluous.

The last rest stop at Pardehsa Store (wtf is Pardehsa?) at Pleasants Valley Road intersection came into view about half an hour sooner than I expected.  Whether that was a result of wind, our riding, or low expectations I don't know, but I was thrilled to be there.  It was just 5:45 and with another 90 minutes of daylight and just 13 miles of flats and false flats before us, making it back in daylight should be a snap.  We left the rest stop quickly, climbed a roller, after which Pleasants Valley really feels like the final leg, and proceeded.  After spending significant time on state highways with their sometimes fairly heavy traffic, it was nice to ride on a quieter rural road.  For a change, we rode side by side, with Jeff entertaining me with stories from his junior tennis tournament playing days.  I found the story about his cowing of Malibu Cheater particularly entertaining.

We rode and rode.  The road is mostly straight.  We rode past ranches and ranch-like houses on large lots.  It was bucolic and scenic and looked like the residents were engaged in recreational agriculture.  After a while we started looking for Kx directional signs for the turn toward Pena Adobe.  The course was superbly marked and we hardly consulted our route sheets, but we just kept going south on Pleasants.  We passed a turn off toward Vacaville (literally, "cow town" in Spanglish) and it wasn't our turn.  Another mile or two later, a small yellow directional sign loomed in the distance and a car turned right from that intersection toward us.  I told Jeff that I thought that was our turn, from where less than a mile to the finish remained.  Jeff glanced back and looked just a little miffed.   He said there were a few riders behind.  "Close?" I asked.  "Pretty close," he replied.  "No way in hell," I said, and we went back to work, which means Jeff went back to work and I assumed my customary role of a caboose.  I turned around at the Cherry Glen intersection.  They group was about 100 yards back.  I told Jeff that we had a winning lead and were going at a winning speed.  That group had no chance.  Just to be safe, Jeff made sure that they really had none.  We arrived at Pena Adobe Park at a ridiculously early hour of 6:40.

Jeff nudged me toward the volunteer who was taking down arriving riders' numbers to announce my arrival first.  I told him that he deserved to be first, but he demurred.  So, to the volunteer, I said "207," Jeff's number, and then added "117," mine.

Just like that, my Comeback Ride was in the books.  I felt pretty spent, but in good spirits.  I hadn't cramped.  Considering that my two long training rides for this double were both around 100 miles, the huge jump in the distance on a hot day went surprisingly smoothly.  For the last time, I give a tremendous amount of credit and gratitude to Jeff for helping me not just finish this tough ride but to finish it in what for me was a fast time of 13:35.