Training Ride Report: Jonathan Pon Memorial 2-Day Ride

This past weekend was the last of the back to back training rides before ALC (now just 12 days away).  I was able to participate in the Jonathan Pon Memorial 2-Day Ride – an annual ride to remember Jonathan Pon, the founder of the Positive Pedalers.

On Saturday, riders met up in Mill Valley at 5:30 am for check in, gear drop off, stretching, route review, safety speech, and ride out.  Our route took us over Camino Alto, through Fairfax, over White’s Hill, through Samuel P. Taylor park, and to Point Reyes Station.  From there, we continued north on CA-1 to Tomales for our lunch stop.  After lunch, we were back on CA-1 battling some serious headwinds as we made our way through Bodega Bay and onwards to the 116 turn off that would take us to our destination – the Casini Ranch Family Campground.  Upon arrival, I had to find my bag (and sleeping bag) and helped my tentmate set up our tent for the evening.  Then, it was off to find a shower (which felt AMAZING), and take a nap before joining the group for dinner.  After dinner and some well deserved thank-yous to the organizers and volunteers, we went over the route for Sunday.  My evening wrapped up with a trip to the general store for an It’s-It, a quick walk to the bathroom to brush my teeth, and back to the tent to fall asleep.

Sunday morning’s wake up call came particularly early, in the form of a coyote-deterrent measure that sounded a LOT like gunfire.  That was followed up by a family of birds singing furiously for their breakfast, which continued on until my alarm went off.  Once I worked up the nerve to unzip my sleeping bag, I got dressed and headed back to the dining area to grab breakfast with my tent mate.  We had oatmeal, scrambled eggs and a muffin.  Thankfully, they had plenty of coffee for us, as well.  After breakfast we were back to the tent to pack up and gear up for the ride.  We departed Casini Ranch a little before 7, and headed towards Guerneville on 116.  From there, we headed toward Occidental on the Bohemian Highway (a pretty nice climb followed by an even better descent). After a few rest stops (and a pretty decent pace to get us off a section of the route that we shared with the AmGen Tour of California), we wound up in Petaluma for our lunch stop.  From there, we took on the Red Hill Rd climb and then had some pretty nice rollers as we made our way to our last rest stop at Northgate Mall in San Rafael.  From there, we headed back towards Fairfax and over Camino Alto to return to our starting point.

The entire weekend was fantastic.  I met some really great people (some of whom had heard about my accident on the bridge), and got to see a number of folks I’ve trained with on various rides over the past few months.  I got to experience camping and what goes into set up and tear down – something I’ll be doing every day for seven days on the ride.  I also got to experience the sense of community and the fun that I’ve been told will be a thousand times greater during ALC because of the larger number of people.  It was the perfect way to wind down my training – and an event I hope to attend many more times.

Next weekend is a rest weekend (and hopefully my chance to finally see Star Trek: Into Darkness), but looks like it’ll include a celebratory ‘end of training’ ride with the Awesome Ahead group.  I’ve not been able to ride with them since I got back on the bike, and I really am looking forward to seeing the TRLs and familiar faces.  I’ll also be pulling stuff together to begin packing for the ride – everyone I’ve talked to has said that beginning to pack now will help me to avoid a panic attack later…so you know I’ll be starting early.

Here are a few pictures from Saturday:


My tent mate and I after lunch on Saturday – this was right before the headwinds really started hammering us on our way up the coast.


Our first impromptu rest stop – taking a breather from fighting against the headwinds, I couldn’t pass up taking this shot.  As challenging as the afternoon was, we were riding a truly scenic route.


Our second impromptu rest stop – another spectacular view of the ocean (and a break from the headwinds…).

The next two weeks will fly by as I try and take care of final preparations for the ride.  I’ll be doing my best to update you on my progress, as well as a draft schedule for blog updates from the road…

Till next time – pedal fast:)

Bike Fit Report

So, today, I headed down to the Bryant Street Sports Basement for their Basic Bike Fit service.  I’d spent some time reviewing a few discussion threads on Facebook that included various recommendations about where to go, but decided ultimately to go with Sports Basement.  They’ve been my go-to store for gear and general stuff as I prep for ALC, and I’ve always been able to find what I’ve been looking for in their stores (and in some cases, I wind up with things I didn’t know I needed – prompting Allan to say today that Sports Basement is my Costco…).

Once I arrived, Derek took me over to the area set aside for bike fitting, got my bike set up on a stationary trainer, and gave me a rundown of the process.  First, I got on the bike and he did a general evaluation of my position.  I wound up pedaling for a bit so he could get a sense of my movement (and so he could get a good look at any odd movements I might be making in my up or down strokes).  He took some measurements and began adjusting various things – cleat position on my shoes, seat height, and handlebar height.  He spent some time talking about how my posture on the bike could be adding to some lower back pain I’ve experienced during longer rides.  He also pointed out a few things about my pedaling that could be adding to the knee pain I’ve experienced in the past few rides.  Allan showed up toward the end of the session and snapped a few pictures I’m including below.


Talking about cleat placement…


Moving into my normal cycling position…


Spinning a bit to get some feedback (also, I can see in this picture the curvature in my spine he mentioned as being an issue – so this was before he modified the position of the handlebars and gave me some tips on how best to maintain my posture…

Once we were done with the process, Derek took some extra time to answer some technical questions I had about bike maintenance and various unidentified noises I’d been hearing on the bike.  I was really impressed with his thoroughness during the bike fit, and his patience in explaining some of the things I had thought might be technical issues.  I won’t get to fully test out the modifications until this weekend’s two day ride to Guerneville and back, but I can say that I was very happy with the whole process.

Speaking of this weekend, the ride I’ll be doing is the Jonathan Pon Memorial 2-Day Ride, an event put on by the Positive Pedalers group.  We’ll meet up EARLY Saturday morning, and then ride about 75 miles to Guerneville.  We’ll set up camp, have some dinner and hang out until time for sleep.  Then, we’ll get up Sunday morning, pack up, and bike the 75 miles back to our starting point in Mill Valley.  This will be my last official training ride before the ride starts on June 2nd.  I’m hoping to pick up an afternoon ride or two next week to get a few more miles in and to continue getting used to the adjusted positioning on the bike.

I’m struck by how the end of the training season is sad in its own way – I’ve spent weekends meeting old and new friends in San Francisco, Sausalito, Orinda, and Sunnyvale at earlier and earlier times of day to ride routes that have shown me some spectacular places.  I wound up in Lake Tahoe (for the first time in years) and can now say I’ve biked around the lake.  I’ve been benched by a broken arm and made my way back to riding long distances – all with help and encouragement (and hugs and love) of friends and family.  The time and effort I’ve put into this has paid off in ways I couldn’t have guessed eight months ago when I decided to sign up for ALC 12.  This has truly been an amazing adventure…one that really is only just beginning for me.

See, when ALC12 is behind me, there will still be pick up rides, as well as more training for the Double Bay Double 2-day Ride that will be happening in September.  After that, it’ll be time to start picking up weekend rides here and there for ALC13.  Hopefully you’ll stick around to see what happens next:)

Ride Report: Lake Tahoe Edition

A little late in getting this post together – jumped at the opportunity to see Iron Man 3 in IMAX 3D earlier this evening, once we were back in SF from what was a fantastic weekend in Tahoe. The weather on Saturday was perfect. There was a pretty large turnout for the ride, some friends (and teammates from New Bear Republic) and a lot of new faces.

After some stretching, some group photos, the route review and the safety speech, we departed from the Cal Neva Resort in North Lake Tahoe. The route around the lake was challenging in two distinct places. We hit the first early in the day – a climb that took us to our highest elevation (6526 ft, but there seems to be some question to the accuracy of that). It was about 7 miles from the beginning of the climb to the top most point, then a nice extended downhill that led us into the South Lake Tahoe and eventually to our lunch stop at Heidi’s Pancake House.

After lunch, we had a few miles of fairly flat road before we made it to the second challenge of the day – this time the climbs weren’t as high (the tallest of the three peaks was 6322 feet according to my Garmin), but seemed to be more steep. Afterwards, we had a few smaller climbs, but nothing terrible, until the last 1/2 mile or so before reaching the resort. We had a very short, somewhat steep climb to our ending point. The feeling of accomplishment (and the relief of having finished that last little hill) was totally fantastic – it also helped that there was a Mint Chocolate Chip milkshake as a ride reward from Mourelato’s Cable Car Ice Cream Parlor.

I will do that ride again. It was challenging, but really fun:-) Here’s some pictures from the day…

20130512-234514.jpgA shot prior to lunch. There were so many stops for photos, and the views of the lake were almost distracting at times…

20130512-234546.jpgThat’s Justin, my tent mate for this year’s ALC. Always a lot of fun to ride with, and a great motivator!

20130512-234606.jpgThis was taken toward the end of the day – we had about 15 miles left and had stopped to take pictures one last time. I really liked the way the bikes were balanced and the background. It will definitely be a great way to remember the weekend…

Happy Bike To Work Day!

Taking a quick break from all the talk of training and preparation to wish all you bicycle commuters a safe and happy Bike To Work Day!

If you aren’t familiar with this event – it’s put on yearly by local bicycling organizations and companies to highlight bicycle commuting to and from work.  Because of a number of issues (car related, planning for the upcoming weekend in Lake Tahoe, and some work meetings that have been on my calendar for some time) I wasn’t able to participate by riding today.  However, I’m doing my part to let you all know about it, and making a pledge to bike to work, regularly, after completing ALC in June.  There’s a group that rides from the city to Google most every day that I’ll be joining for the majority of the ride, then striking out on my own for the last 10 miles between the Google campus and the EMC campus.  I’ll be sure to keep you posted, and am hoping that this will help me keep my endurance levels up in the months before training for next year’s ride begins…

Yep, already looking forward to next year…there are a couple of really fun things happening later in the summer and in the fall that I’ll talk about soon.  For now, if you participated in Bike To Work day today – you are AWESOME.  Thank you for doing your part.  Here’s a very abbreviated list of local organizations that are helping celebrate Bike To Work Day today:

Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition
East Bay Bicycle Coalition
San Francisco Bicycle Coalition

Till next time…pedal fast 🙂

– Clarke

Ride Report: April 27th and 28th, and May 4th and 5th

Time flies when you’re on the bike – and it would seem that I’ve got four rides to recap this evening!

Saturday, April 27th was the NorCal Day on the Ride – the AIDS/LifeCycle event to give riders an idea of what a typical day on the ride will be like.  The ride was a little over 64 miles and started out of Sports Basement in the Presidio.  That, of course, means that our route took us across the Golden Gate Bridge.  For those of you who’ve been following, the bridge was the site of my rim-bending, hand-breaking, arm-fracturing accident back in February.  To say I was nervous revisiting the scene of the accident would be an understatement.  I was able to face it down and enjoy the rest of the ride with friends and my teammates.

Sunday, April 28th was a training ride from Mike’s Bikes to Point Reyes Station and back (totaling around 59 miles).  I approached the ride as a ‘recovery’ ride – barring some technical/mechanical issues, it wound up being a great day.  This ride holds the distinction of introducing me to Bovine Bakery and their pizza slices and humongous chocolate chip cookies – I will definitely be going back (see May 5th summary, if you think I’m kidding).

Saturday, May 4th was a training ride from Orinda BART station out to Morgan Territory and back through Livermore, Pleasanton, Dublin, San Ramon, Danville, Alamo, Walnut Creek, and Lafayette (just realizing that we did go through quite a few towns on Saturday, wow!).  The climb through Morgan Territory was scenic and challenging and totally worth the effort once we made it to the top.  The views were pretty stunning as we made our descent and wound our way back towards Livermore for our lunch stop (made all the better by a local street festival and free bike parking courtesy of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition).  Total mileage for the day was 90 – my longest single day ride yet!

Sunday, May 5th was a training ride out of Mike’s Bikes in Sausalito that included stops at the Cheese Factory (I’ll be going back there for sure) and Point Reyes Station for lunch (where else, Bovine Bakery!).  I also was introduced to the scones at Fat Angel Bakery in Fairfax (specifically the Lemon Scone and the Scone of the Moment – added to the repeat visit list).  Lots of climbing and some serious headwinds made this much more than a recovery ride – but I finished strong and felt great at the end of it. Total mileage for the day was 66 miles. As I packed my bike back into the car, I realized that I felt ready for the ride in June.  It was a fantastic feeling, and a great way to end the weekend.

This coming weekend will include a trip east to Lake Tahoe to participate in a training ride around the lake, hosted by the South Bay Blaze training group.  I’ve not been to Lake Tahoe since I was in high school, and cannot wait to see the lake and take on the challenge of the altitude and the climbing.  Hopefully I’ll remember to take some pictures while we’re out on Saturday (since the past few training rides I seem to have neglected taking any).  Stay tuned, I’ll be updating after the ride this coming weekend and then start counting down to Day 0 on June 1st, 2013.