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The Climb... Mount Diablo

Today I tried my new gadget, a SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger unit. The Spot is a GPS tracking device that transmits you location, anywhere you are. I had used one once before on The 508 so that and friends and family could track me from afar. The original model I used was a little bulky, but last year they launched a more compact model perfect for the back pockect of cycle jersey.

I enabled the Spot tracking widget on this site and set off for my ride. As I have a another double coming up in at the end of the month I want to refamiliarize my self with the first climb of the ride, Mount Diablo. The last time I did this climb was on the Devil Mountain Double back in 2008. It really hasn't changed a whole alot in the last couple of years, still the same height and still as steep :-)

The one thing that was different was the weather, a dark cloud covered the peak. Nothing says a have great climb better than the wind pushing against you as you climb up. The climb as a even grade to it for the most part, except for the last few hundred yards. It is extremely rare that I've ever got my heart rate above 200bpm, but a couple years ago, this was the climb for it. Today, I can't say what it was, as I was preoccupied with my new gadget I forgot my beloved heart monitor. There are some things you just need the feel for and I sure felt in that last hundred yards, as I was getting out of breath. At the top of the an awesome climb, there is only one thing to do, take picture to prove your there :-)

The decent was a whole other story, which starts with me being cold at the top and nearing freezing half way down the mountain.

 

Race Conditions

Back from Louisville and recovering from a cold, this really was my last chance for training before taper. It was hot, very hot. The difference in humidity was very noticeable, I had acclimatized to mositure in Louisville and now the air felt very dry.

To simulate the race conditions, I headed out 10:30pm with lights and a support car behind me. I choose Serria Rd, for my night route. Let me first say, I regret the large dinner I had, it was good but not the best thing before steep climb. So i started the ride, it funny how having a car constantly behind pushes you faster. Of course we also had to be mindful of other cars on the road and be sure to let them pass. The night was clear a view of the lights of the valley was great. As I was about halfway up the hill I could feel my stomach turning, but I told myself this just meant for better simulation afterall by this stage of the race I wasn't going to be feeling great. With the car behind I continued with a strong pace. This being the first time I had done the climb in the dark, I found myself constantly looking down at my Garmin to check the mileage and the elevation to get my bearings. The twists and dips in the road meant that all of sudden I could lose the light from the car's headlights, which was part of chalenge and something we would also face during the race, though it did make for some scary moments.


After reaching the top of Sierra Rd, I continued along the road and turned in towards Calaveras resevior. That steep turn is no better whether it can be seen or not. It felt just like I was on the race even though I'd only been out there just over an hour. It sounds a little crazy when you think about it. I could just see someone saying "What were you doing Saturday night?", to I'd need to reply "Well I was conducting some race simulation by riding my bike till midnight with a support car following me" :-)

The Louisville 300

It was now for something completely different, Louisville!! The team were doing Ironman Louisville and I was out there with my bike to support. 

 

Day one, I set out on my own to do some recon on the course to see what they would be facing. It was a two loop course and an out and back. No long step climbs, just rolling hills, this course is all about maintaining momentum. I was sweating within the first couple of miles (heck I was sweating the moment we landed). The humidity was very noticeable.  I rode about 150 miles on the course, doing three loops on the loop part of the course. It was course going through my lush grassy fields with horses roaming and huge ranch style houses. I fueled at convience stores along the way. I finished the ride in the rain as a thunderstorm started.

Day two, I put in another 50 miles going off the Ironman course into the surrounding area.

Day three, having already nearly 200 miles over the couple I was looking for more relaxing day, plus it was the day of Ironman Louisville, so I had my spectating duties to peform. I had planned on riding out on the course and taking some shortcuts to see the whole race. I hadn't banked on very exit of the course being blocked by the police. I didn't want ot try and explain though I looked like a racer I was only there t

o watch. What to do? Well ride the whole course :-) which is eaxtcly what I did. I was able to take pictures of team and track everyones progress in person. It was awesome! It was also a very hot day, as I was coming in on the last loop I was racers resting on the side of the road. I certainly had better day supporting than had I actually been doing the race.

The Great Loop

A number of the team were up in Canada for Ironman and the rest were in taper for Iroman Louisville, so I was left alone to my own devices. One route I had always wanted to do was to loop over to the coast and back the long way. This was my longest self supported ride of the year and the most challenging. I had never actually cycled over to Santa Cruz from the valley before. I kept the route simple Highway 9 to Santa Cruz, Highway 1 to Half Moon Bay, 92 to Skyline and back to Highway 9 to the start.

Of course I had climbed up Highway 9 many times before but have never continued across to the other side, I found there is a good reason for that, cars. While I didn't feel in any great danger I did grea the distinct impression that the cars/SVUs did not appreciate the opportunity to share the road with a cyclist. 

Once at Santa Cruz, is was just a straight shot up Highway 1, with a stop a filling station to get some more fluid. I was carrying 4 water bottles so I had a good range. However I had to stop on a couple occasions to retrive the rear bottles as I hit the odd bump in the road.

Highway 92 on this side of the hill was also new to me. I did find it to be a little cramped to begin with, but a good shoulder appeared for the climb up to Skyline. Reaching Skyline really was just the begin of the climbing, of road that has as many ups and downs as a roller coaster. At 100 miles in, the climbs just kept coming. However it was the perfect day for the ride, not to hot or cold, just ride. I was up for the challenge and kept on going to the end. I celebrated my victory with a nice Burrito at the end.

 

Ride Details (Click here to view on Google Earth):
135 miles
8hrs 24mins
10,920 feet of Climbing

 

 

Heart Rate:
136bpm Avg.
181bpm Max

 

 

Speed:
16.1mph Avg.
44.5mph Max

Into the Fog (Part 2)

 After failing to avoid a short but unaturally cold dip in the bay at Aquatic Park I headed out on a short ride. The picture really says it all. Fog was clearly (pardon the pun) the theme for the weekend and where better to expierence it than San Francisco. I headed across the bridge over Golden Gate National Recreation, where I managed to find my way up some hills quite litterally get lost in the fog. Obivously I made it back to write this :-)     

 

Ride Details (Click here to view on Google Earth):
1hr 12mins
14.59miles
2,103 feet of Climbing

 

 

Speed:
12mph Avg.
27.5mph Max

A Day of Skyline

Yesterday had proved to be a great ride, so how could I top it? Well with even more climbing on a equally warm day :-)

The team were off swiming at Redwood Shores, and I a new idea for a ride. Instead starting my ride at the bottom of hill I thought I'd start at the top, this would make for a long climb to finish the day. So I found place to park up on Skyline and headed down towards Redwood shores to meet up with the team.  After meeting the team I headed back over to Skyline and up Kings Mountain and then down 84 towards the coast. I turned off 84 halfway down to take Pescadero Rd, which of course lead to more climbing: Stage Road, then up Tunitas Creek, back long to 92, down to Crystal Springs and up Kings Mountain one final time.. Did you follow all that? well the route is below if you didn't :-)

Ride Details (Click to view on Google Earth):

7hr 56mins
112 miles
10,957feet of Climbing

 

 

Heart Rate:
146bpm Avg
178bpm Max

 

 

Speed:
14.1mph Avg.
50mph Max

Heating up, Mount Hamilton

 The team was nearing the end of there training for Ironman Louisville, so I had one last special ride for them, a nice climb up Mount Hamilton. I had done the same climb myself on the Devil Mountain Double back in April and found it to be great climb. The out and back route I had planned started at on Mines Rd, near to entrance to Lake DeValle, with the round trip distance totaling just over 80 miles.

I knew Lousville was going to be hot and I wanted to prepare the team the best as I could. With a few exceptions I would say that most of our training rides rides had been fairly temperate. The forecast for the day had temperature peaking just under 90F and for a long exposed climb it was not going to be easy. I knew this ride would be the perfect challenge for the team. 

The climb to the top was indeed challenging, especially the last few miles. The good thing was I had a support stop organized for the top. One of the team would had recently completed Vineman was out to lend a hand (thanks Jeremiah). We all regroup at the top, this when the 'kind words' and 'appreciation'  for me creating the route of the day began :-) I knew then my job had been accomplished and it was time to head back down..

 Ride Details (Click here to view on Google Earth):
5hr 19mins
84.5 miles
7,183 feet of Climbing

 

 

Heart Rate:
138bpm Avg.
183bpm Max

 

 

Speed:
15.9mph Avg.
35.7mph Max

112 Miles, Santa Rosa to San Francisco (the Ride back)

 Yesterday was truly exhausting, we had started the day at 5am and finished it at 1:30am, needless to say no one was getting up early the next day. I was on the road by 10:30am and even that felt too early, but I had another long day ahead, I wasn't driving back home, but riding.

 I started from the hotel the team stayed at in Windsor and headed out towards the coast. I hadn't really planned out the route, I had just had a sense of where to go from the yesterday's ride. I knew once I hit Highway 1 all I would need to do was follow it south until I reached San Francisco. The weather was great, a little cooler than yesterday making for idea conditions.

 I weaved my way down the coast past Bodega Bay at which point the route I was following took me inland, but all I need was to keep my eye out for the signs. As I was on my own with no support close at had I came out with a Camelbak to keep me hydrated. With yestersday flat fresh in my mind I not only was carrying a spare tube, but a spare tire for extra measure.

The journey was by no means flat, as I headed back out to towards the coast a few hills were in my path.  Over the hill the sky was overcast and it appeared I had reached a different climate. It was fitting that I was aproaching the town of Inverness. The scenary is diffinately reminisant of Scottish Loch I know well.

I took a lunch break at Point Reyes Station and quickily inhaled a sandwich there. Back the road there were a few more hills between me and the coast.  The route continued parallel to the coast though I was in valley with no site of it on my left.

Now at mile 83 I had reached Stinson beach and with a blue sky back again I was crusing. The biggest challenge lay ahead, Mount Tamalpais.

As I continued on Highway One, I started the grind up the side of the mountain, I was on twisting roads with a sheer drop on my near side. To add to the fun, people were returning home from the beach adding to the cards on the road. Not too fast and not to slow was the game, make sure I'm seen and safe. Despite the very literall downside to the road, the view were breath taking! It was not long before I was safely into the hills heading towards Sausalito.

Remember I said I didn't have the entire route planned out? Well here is where the adventerous part comes in navigating through the city the to reach the Golden Gate bridge. It wasn't too bad, I followed the coast line and with some directions from another cyclist found my way to the bridge's bike path. I hadn't been across on bike before and certainly wasn't prepared for the evening breeze, but it is a spectacular crossing and highly recommended.

 

 

 

 

Once on the other side the sun was starting to set, so I cycled across town to the train station. I don't envy the bike messengers of the city, the roads seemed a little more dangerous than fun, I can't image what it whould be like midweek at rush hour. At the train station I concluded my journey, perhaps the next time I'll start earlier enough to make it all the way back before dark :-)

 Ride Details (Click here to view on Google Earth):

6hr 58mins
113 miles
7,000+ Feet of climbing

 

 

Heart Rate:
133bpm Avg.
174bpm Max

 

 

Speed:
16.2mph Avg.
41.6mph Max

Day of the Vineman

This weekend I was up in Santa Rosa area to support the Ironteam who were doing the Full Vineman (Ironman distance). The morning started as earlier as the racers, a bunch us were volunteering at the first transistion area. My job was to make sure no non-atheletes entered the transistion area to keep it secure. By around 9am the area was closing down as the last swimmers were coming out of the water. It was now time for those of us who were not doing the event to get our training in for the day done.

We headed out on our bikes away for the Vineman bike course towards the coast. Coach Dan and created a bike loop that would take us out to Highway 1 and back. The ride started off great, a fairly flat route and simple directions. Once we reached the coast we continued south on Highway 1, there was a small tailwind which made for a fast ride. I had a cat and mouse chase going with a team mate until we both realized we had missed the turn and we weren't the only ones. We regrouped and headed back north, eventually we found the turn, which lead us an extremely steep climb. The day was heating up and climb was exposed, no better way to max out your heart rate than this. It should be noted this was described as a little hill, though Coach Dan, addmited afterwards he hadn't ridden the route himself :)

The rest of the route was easy to folow. The downhill had a couple of Cattle grid, which is always a great way to verify everything is attached correctly. With about five miles to go, I got a flat. After a quick repair, a less than a mile later I had second flat. With a through check of tire and second tube I was back on my way and glad to be close to end. Overall I have to say it was a great route and nic change to be cycling in a new area.

In the evening we headed over the run course to cheer on the team, the weather had hit the high nineties earlier and it was still hot. The team on the course were going strong despite the conditions. The run course was a three loop course which is great for spectating.  By 10:00 it was dark and there was only an hour to go before the official cutoff. There were still a number of the team out on the course, we ran in few people and cheer them on.

By midnight a few of us were in the car waiting for the final parcipant to finish, we strugling to stay awake and it was cold outside now. Yet even one hour after the official cut-off there was one person still going. The person was Stefanie, this was heard third attempt at an Ironman race and this was as further than we had ever been before, she was stopping for nothing, but the finish line. Nearly the whole team gathered at the finish line with car headlights to brighten the dark and abandoned finish line. This was the finish the team had waited for, well desvered and long time coming. The team cheered was she ran in, she had won her race against the distance...

 

Ride Details (Click here to view on Google Earth):
3hr 41mins
54miles
5,000+ feet of Climbing

 

 

Heart Rate:
143bpm Avg.
188bpm Max

 

 

Speed:
14.6mph Avg.
37.6mph Max

17 Mile Drive (ride)

This weekend the team was down in Monterey for a swim and long run. As I was in taper for Lake Placid, I opted to ride (this is a time where it is great ot have two bikes). I rode out on 17 mile drive, coincidentally for about 17 miles :-) The weather was overcast and a little windy, but overall the conditions were good.

Ride Details (Click here to view on Google Earth):
17 Miles+
1hr+
16mph Avg.
28mph Max

The Test Ride

It was time to ship off the bike for Lake Placid. I had just gotten the my new Zipp Wheelset fitted to bike so one quick test ride was in order. I did a quick loop up through Portola Valley, new new wheels felt great, giving better aero-dynamics and acceleration.

Ride Details (Click here to view on Google Earth):

50mins
18.7miles
1,439 feet of climbing

 

 

 

Heart Rate:
154bpm Avg.
185bpm Max

 

 

 

Speed:
18.7mph Avg.
38.5mph Max

Bike Toughness (was Mental Toughness)

On the training schedule was the Mental Toughness ride, a 100-mile solo ride.  I like a good un-interrupted ride, so I choose Highway 1 for the ride. My mental toughness, was not in question on the ride but my toughness of my bike was. Highway 1 can be a little rough around the edges, unfortunately it wasn't until mid-way through the ride I realized that I was not only missing a bottle but the entire cage from the rear of my bike. I spent the ride back looking across the road to see if I could retrive it, but alas no luck. On the upside I still had enough fluid to keep me going the rest of the ride.

Ride Details (Click here to view on Google Earth):

4hr 52mins
94 Miles
8,100 Feet of Climbing

 

 

Heart Rate:
153bpm Avg.
180bpm Max

 

 

Speed:
19.2mph Avg.
52.4mph Max

Eastern Sierra Double Century

My second Double Century of year, was at high elevation, starting in Bishop. The ride start was early still dark at the time, the course started off doing a loop around the outskirts of town before heading up towards Mono Lake.

The first 80 miles had the majority of climb for the day, it also offered great views of the valley. We passed through Mammoth and then on to Hwy 395 towards to get to Mono Lake. Having just arrived the day before I was not acclimatized to the elevation, going from 4,000 at the start to 8,000, I was really starting to miss the oyxgen of sea level.

I took a longer than usual break at lunch to recover. Back on the road I was ready for the last big climb.   The last 50 miles was almost all downhill, the really bonus was a tail wind on the last 25 miles. I finished the riding feeling great!

 Ride Details (Click here to view on Google Earth):
11hr 25min Ride Time
197 Miles
10,875feet of climbing

 

 

 Heart Rate:
155bpm Avg.
183bpm Max

 

 

 Speed:
17.3mph Avg.
52.7mph Max.

The Hill Chase

It was that time of the year again, with long evenings it meant time for repeats on Mount Eden. To keep things interesting each time was a little different. A normal climb, a seated climb, a standing climb, a single leg climb (yes, I did that too). The fun really began when Coach Dan set a challenge. He took a 3 minute head start on running up the hill. At the appointed time Brian and I were to race him to the top. So there were two challenges, one beat Brian, two beat Dan. I was neck and neck with Brian until the second turn where went all out to pass him. I think that is where the 189bpm listed below comes in :-) Next up was catch Dan, around the three third turn I could see him just up ahead. It was close a run race as the road flattened out towards the top I managed to just pick-up enough speed to pass him.      

Ride Details (Click here to view on Google Earth):
58mins
13.67miles
2,925feet of Climbing

 

 

Heart Rate:
140bpm Avg.
189bpm Max

 

 

Speed:
13.9mph Avg.
35.9mph Max

You know "that" hill...

"Bike 180mins with Hills!" is what the schedule called for today. Naturally I thought that 6,000 feet of climbing over 50 miles would do nicely. It was the though the first time a number of the team who joined my for the ride had done, that "hill". Yes, I choose the in famous Redwood Gulch as a the method of ascent to Skyline. It isn't a first timer kind of hill for sure, and not one you'll ever forget. It didn't take long for the complaints and the complementary cursing to ensue. However the team made up the hill just fine without any major issue. With Redwood Gulch out of the way the rest of the climb up Highway 9 was easy. The weather turned out to be great, reminding me why I love cycling on Skyline so much. To finish off the ride we continued on Skyline to Highway 84 through Woodside then back to Foothill Expressway where we began. We followed this up with a quick 15 minute run. I'd just like to say "Thanks!" to those who joined me and no killing me for coming with the route :-)

 

Ride Details (Click here to view on Google Earth):
3hr 21min
48 miles
6079 feet of climbing

 

 

Speed:
14.2 mph Avg
43.5 mph Max

The Return to the King's Mountain

Today is my turn to make up the route for team ride, I thought how about a little climbing to usher in the New Year, so it had to be the return to King's Mountain! I created made the maps and memorized the route the night before, it won't look to good get lost on the ride I was leading, although when have I ever got lost :-) We started the ride at Edgewood and Canada Road, just north of Woodside, it was a very driech looking morning and not the warmest to be sure, I layered up though decided to forgo the leg warmers knowing I'd be burning up on the climb with them on.

I led the ride out and kept the group together, the easy part to get lost on a ride is always the beginning, the middle can be troublesome and don't get me started on the end, but this was a mostly simple route with as few turns as I manage. After winding through the back roads of Woodside we reached the base of King's Mountain and the fun began (yes climbing is fun, just keep repeating that in your head). At this point I broke from the team, climbing is best done at a comfortable pace and the quicker I reach the top the more comfortable I feel.
After about four miles of climbing, an old team mate (Tyler) from the last year's Ironteam caught up with me, he had started a couple of minutes late. While we chatted has ascended the last two miles of the mountain, the pace had also picked up some as silent battle of egos began. We paced each other to the top no doubt a little faster than

Ride details (Click here to view on Google Earth):
2hrs 43mins
44.29 Miles
5,278 Feet of Climbing

 

 

 

Heart Rate:
149 bpm Avg.
188 bpm Max

 

 

 

Speed:
16.2 mph Avg.
40.0 mph Max

 

 

The Ride with odd gloves

To mark the one week anniversary of my failed my bike ride, I was back for the same route, this time though I had brought my other bike and apparently due to a packing error some odd gloves (at least I still have a right and left even if they didn't match). I headed up Steven's Creek Canyon Rd, and continued up Redwood Gulch with great determination, I would not stop, I would succeed. As long as succeeding just means in this case getting to the top without stopping then my goal was meet, if it had been to keep my heart under my lactate threshold, then I still need to do some work. From Redwood Gulch, I continued up Highway 9, along Skyline to Highway 92. It was great afternoon and perfect route for very few stops. I came back along Canada Rd, through Woodside and Portola Valley, eventually getting back to Foothill Expressway to complete the route. It felt great to get a long ride in, this is never a disappointing route.

Ride Details (Click here to view on Google Earth):
Distance:
64 Miles

Climbing:
8,311 Feet

 

Heart Rate:
154bpm Avg.
195bpm Max

 

 

Speed:
15.8mph Avg.
45.0mph Max

The Ride that wasn't...

Today was not going as planned, I missed the morning's Ride and Tie practice, but I'd figure I would make it up with a good long ride, on my favorite Skyline Loop. I started off my ride from Chain Reaction at Foothill Crossing, I had one false start and returned to the car for a some extra layers, though the sky was clear and the sun was shinning it was cold. This was the first time I'd tried this route on the using my Triathlon bike which is not particularly suited to steep climbs with it's race gearing. I headed up Steven's Creek Canyon Rd, towards the legendary Redwood Gulch climb, my goal was to make it up the hill without any stops. It started off well and I was keeping my heart rate in check, but then just around the first steep turn, my chain came off. I stopped and put it on again, due the incline I went back down a little to get a proper start. It was a tough climb but things were going well, the grade then leveled out which gave me a few minutes to get my heart rate come down a bit. As the second part of my climb began the chain dropped again, I fixed and continued on. Moment later it came off again, however on close inspection the chain itself was broken, 7.6 miles and the ride was over. I had my cell phone so starting make calls, luckily someone was able to rescue me.

Technical Details (click here to view on Google Earth)
7.6 Miles
1619 Feet of Climbing

Heart Rate:
144bpm Avg.
189bpm Max


Speed:
12.4mph Avg.
34.9mph Max

Quick out and back on McKean

This morning was a short Captain's Ride with the Ironteam, we met near Almaden park to start the ride. The route was out on McKean towards Uvas out and back in 1 hour. Well when you just have hour to complete a ride you have to make it fast :-) We followed up with a short run afterwards.

Ride Details (Click here to view on Google Earth)
58 Mins
19.63 Miles
1215 Feet of Climbing

 

 

Speed:
20mph Avg.
35mph Max

 

 

Heart Rate:
157bpm Avg.
190bpm Max

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