Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Intervals in the Dark

Left at 5:30 this morning and 15 minutes into the ride decided to ride controlled hard tempo up every hill with heart rate in mid 160s to low 170s.  Since there was next to no flats on the ride, I spent about 40 minutes doing these intervals in the pre-dawn darkness and recovering on descents.  It being dark, I had my light on, which completely fritzed my heart monitor, so I went by RPE, occasionally turning off the light to check the heart rate -- when the light was off the HRM magically resumed functioning.  (Additional benefits of a helmet-mounted light:  (1) the lamp is too far from bar-mounted electronic gadgetry to cause interference; (2) since the light "follows" the eyes it is easy to read HRM and computer displays with no need to use gadget backlights.)  Thus, I became very well acquainted with my bar-mounted light's on/off switch.

Thought I'd try to ride these intervals in low gears.  I am not much of an uphill spinner, so this was a new challenge: reaching the desired exercise level and staying in it for 3-12 minutes, depending on the length of the hill, while riding a smallish gear.  It worked pretty well after a while.  When I felt like I was bogging down, I concentrated on spinning smooth circles and breathing, which got me over the tough parts.  A hard ride this was.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Santa Claus Wind

I rode for an hour this morning into a gale-force wind that was blowing from the same direction as summer Santa Ana wind, only this morning it blew at 40 degrees colder...  Hence the name.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Blogworthy? I think so.

(Click on photo for detailed description of the climb)

A week and a half ago, on Saturday, Todd and I were noodling about "Lamorinda."  I attempted to climb Happy Valley in the big ring -- this was my big ring training ride -- and succeeded, climbing it from the easier Lafayette side in 53x19, shifting to 53x21 at Sundown Terrace.  We turned around and descended Sundown toward Orinda, where I suggested we climb El Toyonal -- Lomas Cantadas.  So, up we went.  Since I'd been in the big ring, I continued riding in it on the easier lower part of the climb.  Todd and I began discussing the wisdom of doing -- no attempting -- this climb in the big ring.  We agreed that completing it would be a blog-worthy accomplishment.

I didn't make it.  I was in 53x21 until the first steep ramp, then in 53x23 for a while.  When it got seriously steep and stayed seriously steep I was groveling in the 53x27, barely turning the pedals.  The infamous farm came into view and I thought, "if I just make it past the right turn at the edge of the farm it gets easier there and I just might make it..."  I made it to the edge of the farm, made it through the right turn, looked up the road and it didn't look any easier.  So, I unclipped for fear of falling over.  Dumped the chain into the small ring, remounted in 39x27, and rode that gear the rest of the climb.  And that last 150 yards was damn hard, even in the 39x27.

The next day, Brian and I drove to Fairfax, where we met Jeff and embarked on a "9"-shaped ride to Bolinas, down to Stinson, up Panoramic, down through Muir Woods, back up Highway 1 to Bolinas and over to Fairfax.  58 miles, about 7,000 feet of climbing, through redwood forests, eucalyptus groves, along the coast, over Alpine Dam...  Beautiful and challenging.  A fantastic ride.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Not epic, but funny

Brian and I stopped at a scenic turnout on Skyline Rd. yesterday to check on a voicemail to make sure the caller wasn't Todd warning us he'd be late or worse, not riding.  It was 6:00 a.m. and dark.  There was a van parked in the turnout.  I had my helmet light on full blast because we'd been descending and I hadn't switched it to a lower output.  Anyway, I stood there checking the message.  It turned out the message was an abusive from my friend Chris who questioned my manhood because the past two years I'd ridden only five double centuries a year, while in 1939, a British racer Tommy Godwin rode 75,065 miles, which is over 205.6 miles a day for 365 days (Tommy Godwin's 1939).  Since neither Brian nor I was particularly keen on descending into fog in 37-degree temps on wet Tunnel Road to meet Todd who was climbing toward us, Brian waited while I stood there, heaping abuse on Chris on my Blackberry.  Suddenly the van started up, the driver pulled out of the turnout and made a 3-point turn.  As he did so, he rolled down the window and gruffly said, "What's the problem?"  We said, "No problem" and cracked up.  He drove away.  We had no idea there was anyone in the van and, obviously, my headlamp woke up the occupant.  I think we found it funny because it was so unexpected.  You had to be there, I guess.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New Bike and Not New Bikes

I've been riding my Spectrum very happily for nearly two months now.  After about a month on it, I was curious to see how it compares to my Parlee Z1x, the bike on which I rode Leipheimer Gran Fondo and which I adored for its smoothness and comfort.  So, two weeks ago, I rode the Parlee.  It felt stiff and dead compared to the Spectrum.  I was forced to ride gears 3-4 cogs lower than those I ride on the Spectrum.  Just confirmed the unique fitness of the Spectrum to my riding style.

Then, during the Thanksgiving break, my family visited my father-in-law in Palm Springs, whose garage houses my 1982 Picchio bike, which I ride when I'm down there.  This bike is quite different from the Spectrum.  The Picchio is steel frame and fork, the cranks are 1cm shorter, and chainrings are round rather than oval (I'm a big fan of Rotor Q-rings), the bars are lower than I like, and the saddle is about 1.5cm farther forward due to short saddle rails of the Brooks B-17.  It took a while to get used to the Picchio, but after a while it felt good and lively.  I rode it twice: a 3-hour flat ride and a 4.5-hour ride that had 1.5 hour of flats, 2 hours of climbing and almost an hour of descent.  It was good on climbs and flats, not so great on descents due to super-low bars (no room to raise them the way the bike is set up).

We got back and I eagerly rode the Spectrum.  Soooo nice............


Blog Clean-up

The blog had become polluted with short notes about daily rides, diluting its purpose -- stories of long and epic rides.  So, I got rid of them, though I'll continue posting stuff that's interesting to me, amusing, brief, and possibly unrelated to the stated goals.  Such as the immediately preceding post.