New year, new adventures…

Well, this has turned out to be the little blog that didn’t….2014 was a big year, and a year full of changes. My cycling tapered off after the ride in June, and I struggled with my motivation to ride. My health suffered a bit, and I am finding myself struggling with routes and familiar sections of road that I recall being much easier/faster.

So, I’m starting over, training wise. I’ve made out a list of cycling goals for the year, gone in for a bike fit (thankfully, somehow my saddle position was WAY off), and have committed to commuting by bike and taking a few mid-week rides in addition to the normal Saturday and Sunday training rides I’ll be doing in prep for ALC.

This morning, I was up at 5 to meet friends at 6 for a ride up to Twin Peaks. We didn’t stick around for a full sunrise, but the view was spectacular (check out the image included in this post). I’ll be doing that ride every week, weather permitting, to help with my climbing. Hope that you all are excited for the challenges and excitement in store in 2015 – I know I am:-)

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Time for a comeback…

Well, if my silence hasn’t been enough of an indication, 40 has been a super busy year. Between work, facilitating training rides as a training ride leader, carving out time for my own training, more work, and a teeny bit of a social life, I’ve been BUSY.

We’re just a few weeks out from this year’s AIDS/LifeCycle, and it seems as good a time as any to crank the blog back up and to continue examining how cycling influences my life.

Right now, I’m in the midst of refocusing on my fitness levels and trying to reign in eating habits that have been affected by the post ride ‘Eat All The Food’ mentality. Yes, there’s a case to be made that the longer rides require more fuel, but there’s also the whole idea of being smart about what you eat before, during, and after a ride. And, ultimately, not feeling like I’ve been stuffed into my cycling gear…

There’s also pretty strong motivation to keep up my current level of riding through the summer, in an effort to step up my speed and climbing abilities for next year…lots to do, lots to do…

But first, I need to make it through this coming weekend’s back to back century rides (and a screening of Serial Mom at the Castro Theater!). Stay tuned for updates…

A cyclist arrives at 40…

And promptly gets whacked by a cold.

That’s not an omen. Right?

On to bigger and better things – TRL’ing is going great. I’ve been helping out with a series that meets at the Del Norte BART station in El Cerrito. We’ve had good attendance, and biked some really fun routes so far. I’m helping out this coming Sunday, the 17th, as well as two more Sundays in December (the 8th and the 15th). Then, I’ll have a few weeks of random holiday rides before starting a training ride series as a co-facilitator on Saturday, January 4th. I’ll be sharing facilitator duties with a friend on Saturdays from January through mid-May, riding all over the North Bay Area from our starting point at Mike’s Bikes in Sausalito. I’m in such a different place than last year – I’ve found myself focused on all the ways I can give back to this amazing community of cyclists, roadies, and friends. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to help some new riders as they prepare to make their way to LA in June.

One thing that I’ve not done so well? Fundraising. I have a few things I’ll be doing in the next week to reach out to family and friends who were donors for last year’s ride, but find myself in desperate need of some new ideas. I’m going to try and do less through Facebook, this year, and focus more on actively engaging past and potential donors, to talk more about why I am riding. I’ll be attempting to tell a story – my story and the story of those I’m riding for. I’ll be sharing those stories here as well, in an effort to create a ‘training season narrative’ that I can look back on at the end of the 2014 ride.

Lots of things to look forward to in this, my first week as a 40 year old cyclist. Stick around and see what happens…

Climbing, Descending, Falling, and TRL’ing…weekend recap!

This past weekend was a change of pace for me. Instead of back to back training rides, I participated in a skills clinic offered by Savvy Bike on Saturday, and TRL’d my second ever training ride on Sunday. I spent the weekend focusing on learning new skills and practicing them while riding with an amazing group of new and returning ALC’ers.

The strangest thing about Saturday? Sleeping in…well, sleeping in after feeding Marty.  After lunch, I made my way to Portola Valley Town Center and met up with our instructors, Bob and Annie.  After introductions and some ‘class time’ we headed out and spent the better part of the afternoon learning how to climb and descend.  We learned when it makes sense to climb in the saddle (long, slow climbs) versus out of the saddle (short, steep climbs or for a posture break). We talked about finding (and holding) your line, counter steering, looking where you want to go, and when your hands should be where on your bars. Bob and Annie were really amazing – they both had some really good pointers and techniques that I think will be invaluable as I move forward with my training in the coming months. As part of our exercise, we wound up going to the top of Alpine Rd – something that was offered as ‘bonus miles’ on a training ride last spring. I declined the extra mileage then, so this was my first time to the top – what a fantastic stretch of road!  It gets a little bumpy (and has a few steeper sections) but is a really nice ‘up and back’.  The other, not so fun, part of our exercise resulted in me losing my balance and falling…twice.  Both times I was practically stationary, and had plenty of witnesses.  It was a humbling experience – but, I remembered to laugh.  Everyone falls, and everyone picks themselves up and keeps going.

Sunday, I headed out to Del Norte BART in El Cerrito to help out with a 32 mile training ride.  The ride was a basic ‘out and back’ from El Cerrito to Vallejo and back, including the Carquinez Bridge.  There were some nice climbs (and even better descents) which gave me ample opportunity to practice the skills learned on Saturday.  I also spent some time practicing emergency stops, and biking at a pace slower than I’m comfortable with, all while providing support and encouragement (mostly smiles) to our group of riders.  The ride was a fairly quick one – we had all our riders back in before 2pm.  Afterwards, I sat in Berkeley traffic on interstate 80 (shocker, I know) as I made my way back to San Francisco.  Once home, I cleaned up and spent the rest of my day and evening reviewing cycling news and training resources.

This week, I’m hoping to get out on my bike after work one afternoon – it’ll be a night ride, with the time change, but I haven’t ridden the park in a while and could use some time working on my climbing (there’s a few blocks on Kirkham road that are perfect for short uphill sprints).  The weekend will likely be back to back rides, a fun Saturday night out celebrating my last weekend as a 39 year old, and some time spent looking ahead and beginning to make my goals for the coming year. The next few weeks should be interesting, on a number of fronts – stay tuned!

Guess what I did this past weekend?

I’m a full fledged, certified ALC Training Ride Leader (or TRL, for short).  I spent Saturday and Sunday learning what it means to be a great TRL from a few veterans, the importance of (active!) stretching with Steve and Imee from Renew Physical Therapy, the importance of bike fit with Dan from Revolutions in Fitness, spent some time improving our bike skills with Lorri from SavvyBike, and reviewed some basic bike maintenance and ways to keep things clean and shiny (as much as possible) with another veteran….

It was a really fun, engaging two days.  I’m already reviewing the information we received (and have been getting together my home bike maintenance supplies so I can give the Trek a proper scrub down).  The cycling community I have found myself in continues to provide me with opportunities to grow and challenge myself further – next up is maintaining my own training while I help others begin to prepare for next year’s ride.  After all the support and encouragement I received from my TRLs last year, I can only hope to do the same for the riders I’ll get to spend time with this year.

Also!  I’ve updated my donation page – the same link from last year should still work (and, you’ll see it points back to this blog!).  Please check it out, and if donate if you are able.  Stay tuned for a recap of my first ride as a TRL this coming Sunday!

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What I did over my summer vacation…

Time flies when you’re having fun (and when you’re crazy busy at work). As we fall even farther into Fall, and as we begin to see the hints of a change in seasons, I’m beginning to realize that I’ve grossly neglected my blog over the past few months. My lack of posting does not equate to a lack of time on the Trek. While my training schedule hasn’t been as hardcore as the months leading up to ALC 2013, it has kept me in shape and has taken me on a few amazing rides.

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In the months following this year’s ALC, I managed to go on a number of group rides with friends, training rides in preparation for back to back centuries, and the occasional solo ride. While I wasn’t on my bike every weekend, I feel like I kept up a decent level of fitness.

In September, I spent a fantastic weekend with a group of riders cycling from Mountain View to Marina and back as part of the 3rd Annual Double Bay Double. The organizer, sponsors, and volunteers did a fantastic job supporting our group as we braved unexpected and strong rainstorms on Saturday, and bumpy roads and headwinds on Sunday. Money raised for the event goes directly to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, providing support for their outreach and caregiving efforts. Two days, and almost 200 miles – definitely a challenging and rewarding experience.

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This weekend, I’m in the midst of Training Ride Leader Certification with 5 others in the South Bay. Today was spent in the classroom discussing qualities needed when leading rides, organization details, and also some great information about stretching and basic bike fit. Tomorrow, we’ll focus on basic bike skills and simple bike maintenance.  I’m really excited at the prospect of helping a new group of riders prepare for next year’s ALC – also, getting to spend more time with some of the amazing training ride leaders that I’ve met in the last year.

Double Bay Double Training, Sunshine, and Sweat…

This past Sunday, I ventured out for my first training ride after a few weeks of much needed rest and relaxation.  I joined a smaller group of 9 people for the fourth Double Bay Double training ride.  The ride was 56.9 miles (57 according to my Garmin – check out my ride data on Strava) and had somewhere around 3600 feet of climbing.  We revisited some climbs from last year’s training season (La Cresta Drive, right off Arastradero, is still as tough as I remember) and endured the sun and the higher temps to make our way to Los Gatos and back to Mountain View.  The route included two new (to me) climbs – Kennedy and Shannon – by the time I got to the start of Kennedy, I was already starting to lose steam.  It was stop and go for most of both, but I finished them and will be looking to try that route a few more times so I can properly conquer it.  By the end of the ride, I was out of water (camelback and bottle) and was beginning to feel the fuzziness that accompanies a bonk – rolling into the parking lot and racking my bike was a slow process, but was extremely satisfying.

Looking to get out mid-week for an evening ride around Golden Gate Park and Lake Merced – hopefully it’ll be cooler:)

Back in the saddle…

Well, the hiatus is officially over. This past weekend I helped a good friend shop for his first road bike and got out for a 40 mile ride from Mike’s Bikes in Sausalito to Nicasio and back.

Saturday’s shopping expedition was primarily to Mike’s Bikes in SOMA. My carpool buddy has signed up to ride in the 2014 AIDS/LifeCycle and is in need of a road bike. We spent a few hours talking to a guy there about what bikes he should be looking at, and got a chance to take quite a few out for test rides.

Sunday, Justin and I took off for Mike’s Bikes in Sausalito, parked the car and headed out for a 40 mile ride to Nicasip and back. The weather started off cool and foggy, but wound up being absolutely wonderful by the time we made it to Nicasio for a quick rest stop at the general store.

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Bikes parked at our first rest stop in Fairfax, just outside Fat Angel Bakery…

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Justin, taking a water break…

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Panorama from the porch of the Nicasio General Store…

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Obligatory self portrait…

It was really great to get back out on the road. It wasn’t the same as a training ride, but it was a fantastic day – the extended break made for a really strong ride. Next weekend will include some of the same route, but will take us out to Pt. Reyes Station (and Bovine Bakery!).

I’m also trying to spend time at the Bike Kitchen here in the city, in an effort to get more comfortable with doing basic maintenance on my bike. More on that once I get a little more experience.

Hope you all have a fantastic week!

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:

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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.

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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.

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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:)