Monday, October 21, 2013

Mark and Jim ride the 2013 Foxy Fall Century - together, on a tandem!!


Yes, we made it! Here's the track from:


Just under 99 miles in 5 hours, 47 minutes, a minute and a half faster than we did it last year on singles.  This was purely by accident, since we specifically agreed not have goal this year other than to finish.  We did agree to take it easy the first third, get through the hilly middle third, and then see how we felt for the last, flat part.

The hardest part was getting out of town. We started a little late, and got caught in a heavy bike and motor traffic. To make matters worse, there was some event at the nearby high school, with parents dropping off their kids. We also managed to hit every red light. Lots of starting and stopping. Very nerve-wracking. Once on the open road, we were able to relax and enjoy the perfect morning weather. It was a little cool, in the high 40s, but we had the slight breeze at our backs and cruised along at an easy 19-20 mph.

It's inevitable on a ride like this that one encounters a large population of average or even "poor" riders, especially after leaving 15 minutes late (Jim's fault - the parking lot was completely full when we arrived because it takes an hour and fifteen minutes to get from Novato to Davis and not just an hour). But we digress..."On your left" resulted in a sharp move to the left by an inexperienced rider; thankfully we had a flat road and a full lane to avoid a collision. Another "On your left" elicited a sultry response from an arrogant rider who refused to move over and occupied the entire lane, forcing us to veer into the oncoming lane. But the most intriguing encounter when passing a cyclist was a guy on a downhill who would not move over. Mark yelled "On your left", but he still did not respond, and we were clipping along at 35MPH plus. But then instincts kicked in from Jim, the stoker, and he yelled at the top of his lungs "On your left" (dammit was implied). Of course, this probably scared the living daylights out of Mark, because when someone yells at that volume by one's right ear lobe, it almost hurts. Lesson learned by Jim...don't try to be a captain while sitting in the stoker seat. From that point on, Jim    had to try really hard not to "think" like a Captain...and boy, is that hard! When we came to intersections or were passing other riders, Jim would just look down at his Garmin or the top tube and try not to be a part of the decision making for the bicycle. It's very subtle, but also quite revealing what a stoker must do to really "let go".

The rest of the morning went quite a bit smoother, as the tandem duo rode through the Vacaville "English Hills" area. It was very, very pretty, and the weather was warming up nicely as we encountered our first set of "hills" on the run through Vacaville. Following that section one literally ends up on the Frontage Road beside Interstate 80, and both Mark and Jim remarked that we were almost halfway home back to Novato at this point!

Of course, riding a tandem always gets you comments, and we had just made a run down Air Base Parkway toward Wooden Valley when we got to a stop sign and a guy who had been drafting us for less than a mile said "You guys are really fast on that thing". He stayed with us another mile and then we dropped him on a long downhill stretch. At that point, about 40 miles into the ride, there's a twisty, rolling section. We got our momentum going and blasted through it. Great fun! We rolled into lunch starting to feel a little weary, mostly for lack of eating and not drinking enough water, as the air was really dry that day. But the excellent lunch stop at Wooden Valley school fixed that, and we had "luxury" patio chairs to sit in while we ate lots of potato chips, yummy sandwiches and V-8 juice (gotta keep up that salt intake).

After lunch, the serious climbing began. On each uphill, we got passed by a group of cyclists, then we'd blast by them on the downhill. After passing Moscowite Corners, on the edge of Lake Berryessa, we went up the gentle uphill to reach the aptly named "Tandem Hill". Although not a steep downhill, it has the perfect pitch for pedaling a tandem at 25MPH plus with almost little effort. So again we passed people with almost no effort. At the top of Cardiac Hill, which was the last serious climb of the day, Jim told Captain Mark to "let it go", that we could take all the curves at full speed. Mark said OK, and down we plunged. Mark kept telling himself to relax and focus on getting the right line through each curve. Mark's adrenal gland was at full production. To make things more interesting, some slower riders insisted on riding down the middle of the road. We screamed at them at the top of our lungs - "ON YOUR LEFT!".

On our last ride, Mark's tandem  developed a strange noise emanating from the free hub. It sounds kind of like a sea lion with a bad head cold. It only happened when the pedals are at a specific orientation.  Mark disassembled and greased the free hub in preparation for this ride, and it seemed to have fixed the problem. About 30 miles in, however, the sea lion was back. It kept getting worse, and by mile 70, he was barking every time we coasted.  Fortunately, we didn't have to coast much the last 30 miles.  Monday, Mark will call the tandem dealer, Crank2, and the tandem may need a new free hub.

One unique stop on this ride was the corner on Pleasants Valley Road and Putah Creek Road, which was just over a little hill about a mile from the Lake Solano Rest Stop (the last rest stop before the Finish). Jim's Mom and sister Susan were manning the corner marshall duties on that turn all afternoon (it's a pretty tight left-hand turn after bombing down a hill, so it's good to have someone there to slow riders down). So Mark and Jim pulled over to say "hi" to them and Jim delivered two birthday cards to each of them (they are both October birthdays two days apart!). It was fun delivering birthday greetings "by tandem"!

As the afternoon wore on, we realized the climbing took a lot out of both of us. Jim suggested we gear down and spin more on the flat. It was a good suggestion. The temp had risen to the mid 80s, and we now had a slight headwind.  We got into a routine. About every 10 minutes, we each took a drink of water, then we'd gear up and take turns standing.  We cheered when we reached the Davis city limit sign. At that point it's only a few miles to the finish through the bike-lane laden suburbia of Davis, and it was a very pleasant way to finish this epic ride.

One thing we realized while talking on the way home...very few wheel suckers (only two we could remember, and both of them for a very short duration). And relatively few large groups and pace lines. We both remarked that last year we rode quite a bit with other riders in groups and pace lines, but this year we were solo tandeming almost 95% of the ride.

It was, indeed, a fun ride. Jim is an amazing stoker. And Mark was a consistent and strong Captain. There were times when Mark felt this huge surge of power pushing us along. Our communication and our teamwork is improving - you need a lot of both on a tandem. Mark realized he needs to work on starting and stopping. And Jim learned some valuable lessons about being a stoker that can directly be applied to riding with Linda (much more appreciation of the stoker's mindset). Overall, though, we did great, and it was quite an accomplishment for only have ridden several times together. Now, if Mark can just get rid of that congested sea lion.

Mark Gire and Jim Gloystein

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Apple Ride/Picnic, August 11, 2013

Diane and Jess hosted another great picnic. Small group of riders - five. And some of us were attired in retro jerseys. Tim had a pristine VCM jersey, I had an old woolie a bit less pristine (moth eaten, actually), and Jess had probably the oldest of the bunch with front (!) pockets. Later, Art and Pat showed up with matching jerseys from a long-ago ride in Idaho. As for the ride, it started out in the fog but finished in glorious sunshine. Our route was the usual run into Sebastopol then Santa Rosa and then back. Then it was food time! Great BBQ (Diane and Jess) complemented with delicious dishes others brought. Next we went into the orchard and picked apples (the trees were full of great fruit this year) and these, along with luscious pears Eva and Ken brought, yielded outstanding juice. After all this pressing, we were ready for pie and ice cream. Great as ever and special, too, as we celebrated Vern's birthday! Nice riding, yummy food and fun socializing. Nice way to finish the summer :-)

Sunday, June 09, 2013

AIDS LifeCycle 12

We're back! What a week! Instead of a day-by-day report, I'll just give you some random highlights, observations, and thoughts.

-There were 2203 riders and over 500 roadies who raised $14.2 million for HIV/AIDS research and services, a new ALC record. The top fundraiser brought in over $150K! Impressive.

-My Garmin showed 544 miles in 36 hours 47 minutes in the saddle, for an average speed of 14.8 mph. That really doesn't mean much, considering all the in-town riding, heavy traffic (both bikes and motor vehicles), offset by all the great tail winds. Still, a good week's work.

-ALC passed a milestone this year - 20 million miles ridden in 20 years of AIDS/LifeCycles and Californa AIDS Rides.

-We had great weather, the best of my 6 ALCs. Temperatures were mild: 50s in the morning, 70s to mid 80s in the afternoon. We had some fog and a lot of cloud cover, but no rain. The winds were moderate and mostly at our backs, except on day 3 when we had the usual headwinds going into Paso Robles. Great riding weather.

-The ride out of the Cow Palace was much better this year. Bruce and I snuck out of the opening ceremonies a little early and got near the front of the pack in the staging area. Much less standing around waiting.

-Our bikes worked perfectly. We had no flats, and no mechanicals. We checked the air in our tires a couple of times, but that's it. We both ran Hutchinson Intensive tires, mine of the tubeless variety. Since going tubeless and using Hutchinson Intensives in January of 2012, I've logged 6,700 miles with no flats.

-We must be showing our age, even from the back in our cycling kits. Several times during the week, riders passing us called out "On your left, sir". My reply: "Thanks, Sonny."

-People posted their photos on Instagram using hashtag #ALC2013. Every evening, there was a continuous slideshow of the day's photos running on the big screens in the dining tents. Half way through the ride, there were 17,000 photos posted. One photo of cyclists riding through the fog out of Santa Cruz on day 2 was the number one rated photo on Instagram for the day.

-There were no tandems on the ride this year. The rule that requires a foot down at every stop sign makes riding a tandem very difficult. There was at least one recumbent and several fixies. The number of mountain bikes continues to dwindle. I saw a couple of old 10 speeds that looked, and sounded, like they had been stuck in a garage for the past 30 years. It amazes me that most people use regular Look style road pedals. You see them fumbling around trying to clip in after every stop sign and doing the "duck walk" at all the rest stops and in camp. Two-sided muntain pedals with mountain or touring shoes makes life much easier. It also amazes me how few people use mirrors. With all the traffic we deal with, you would think mirrors would encouraged if not required for safety.

-The route out of Santa Cruz went through Capitola this year due to road construction on the usual route through Soquel. Everyone thought this was a big improvement. The roads were better, with less traffic and fewer stop signs and traffic signals. It added a couple of miles, but it was well worth it.

-Bruce and I did a couple of good deeds on day 3. A rider ahead of us dropped a glove without realizing it, so Bruce circled back, picked it up, and we chased down the owner. A few minutes later, I saw Bruce pull over for a nature break, so I pulled over just ahead where two guys were examining a rear wheel. Broken spoke. I pulled out my spoke wrench, and trued the damaged wheel enough so the rider could get to camp. Bruce and I were feeling pretty good about our charity, but of course no good deed goes unpunished. The next morning, I had a piece of paper wrapped around my top tube - a ticket for riding two abreast! That's one rule we never break. But, I can't complain, since we bend the no drafting rule on a pretty regular basis. We try to maintain the required one bike length gap, but sometime you just can't help but creep in a little closer.

-One key to good cycling is to get out of camp early, within a half hour of the course opening at 6:30, and skipping the first rest stop if possible. That way you avoid having to pass the big groups of slower cyclists. You also avoid long lines at the remaining rest stops. Getting to camp early means no crowds at the showers and more choice if you have the opportunity to poach a better camp spot. of course, you don't want to hammer too much. It wouldn't be the same ride without stopping for fried artichoke hearts on day 2 or ice cream at Paradise Pit in Santa Barbara.

-The first few days, I found myself thinking it might be my last ALC. It's a big commitment in time and money, and I'm not getting any younger. The crowds and long lines were getting to me. I felt like some of the magic of the first few rides had somehow faded. I've looked at ALC as a kind of retreat, a chance to completely get away from the constant frenzy of everyday life and lose myself in the daily routine - eat, sleep, ride. Since retirement (it's been 2 years now), there isn't as much need for that kind of escape. The last few days, though, my thinking changed. I realized that just the sheer joy of riding my bike and seeing so much of this beautiful state is enough to make me want to come back. More importantly, it's the community that develops during the week that makes this such a special event. In the six years I've done it, I've never heard anyone say a word in anger. People are kind, caring, and accepting of each other without reservation. It's been called a week of peace and love, Woodstock on wheels, a utopian model. It's that, and much more. It's like we're all in a bubble of compassion and empathy that expands to include everyone we encounter along the way. You make dozens of new friends, sometimes for years, for a day or two, or maybe only for 10 minutes. Age, gender, race, ethnicity, gay or straight, fitness level - none of that matters, we are all just humans. Being a part of ALC has made me a better person. It makes me more hopeful for the future of the human race. That's why I keep going back, and why I'll probably go back again.

Here are my GPS tracks for the week:











Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tour of CA, Santa Rosa, May 19, 2013




Diane and Jess on their tandem and yours truly left early (7:30 a.m., yawn) for Graton to get a bite at the new fire department breakfast (years ago Jess used to work with the firefighters). After getting our fill we headed into SR to see the festivities for the Tour of California on its finale of the stage race. There we checked out the myriad booths with all the cool bikes, clothes and bike food. Then, because it was still an hour before the cyclists were due in, we headed back out to park ourselves on Fulton Rd. and watch the riders flash by just seconds behind a small break of two. From there the plan was to go to a church fundraiser feed at the Orthodox church on Stony Point road for lunch (see the theme here?).

However on the way, right at the Hwy 12 crossover, the tandem's chain broke and dumped itself in the middle of the road. Using the lights for interference, Diane ran out and retrieved it. Then we went over to a shady grassy spot next to the road for repairs. As it turned out, this was not an unusual occurrence for Diane and Jess. Seems the tandem has had its issues with chains and other items. And Jess was well prepared to fix the chain and get going again. It was an omen for our lunch plans, too. When we arrived at the church, a sign announced the event had been cancelled. Oh well, but no worries. Diane and Jess had a pile of great leftovers from a previous day party so we finished off the ride very nicely indeed.

Here are some photos:

http://flic.kr/s/aHsjFvWC8U

**Update** Flickr changed its site recently and I only just found the original slideshow display. I have added an embedded viewer it for the photos. If you choose the 'full screen' display after starting the slideshow (button with four outward pointing arrows), click Options at the top right and then uncheck the 'Embiggen...' box - the photos will look a bit better.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

2013 Davis Double Century Ride Report


2013 Davis Double Ride Report, May 18, 2013

This was my 41st Davis Double ride. It was also one of the most comfortable double centuries I can remember.

Highlights

  • one of *the* best Davis Doubles I've ridden in many a year
  • mentored a friend with whom I work into finishing her first-ever Double Century
  • felt strong the entire ride; a very steady pace all day long; no real "low" point
  • absolutely zero cramps or electrolyte problems; not even a hint of a cramp all day long
  • the weather was to die for; topped out at around 90 degrees at Resurrection (as opposed to years of 100+ temps)
  • favorable winds; the usual headwinds up to Lake Berryessa, but the tail wind/slight cross wind down Cache Creek Canyon at mile 150 was divine. Cross and headwinds back to Davis, but nothing a good group or riders couldn't handle together
  • a new starting place - the Davis Bicycling Hall of Fame (with free admission). Lots of fun visiting that museum for the first time and seeing friends from rides past.
  • no flats (no punctures, as Paul Sherwin would say), no mechanicals; not even a missed shift
  • sun sleeves - bought the white REI brand for $20, and one of the best things I've ever worn on my arms in warm weather. Actually kept my arms cooler than with just bare skin. Highly recommended!
  • drank at least one full bottle of plain water between each of the rest stops; some stretches were almost two full bottles
  • the sunrise was something out of a cinematography palette



Lowlights

  • waiting in line for port a-potties. We must have lost nearly an hour of total time (we started just short of 5AM and finished the ride just short of 8PM) waiting in lines at the rest stops. One time was almost 25 minutes! When I ride this alone, I'm in and out of a rest stop in 5 minutes, and if I have to honor natures call, it's easy to find a bush/tree by myself.
  • meager food at the 2nd rest stop in Capell Valley - how did this happen? The Davis Bike Club is famous for their well-stocked rest stops, but this one had only bananas, oranges and water. Where were all the foods with carbos and such? Good thing I was carrying an extra Cliff bar, because I needed it for the rollers to come on the way into Pope Valley.
  • construction right of out lunch at Lower Lake on Highway 53 - the 8ft. shoulder, which we ride on every year, was completely torn up with a drop-off of a few feet. The only place to ride was the edge of very busy Highway 53 with cars buzzing by at high speed. Add to that a cross wind that every once in a while made you feel that you were going off the pavement into the ditch, never to be seen again. Scary stuff, but fortunately it was over quickly because we just wanted to get off this horrible stretch of road.


More Detail

Feeling Good at Guinda Rest Stop (Mile 160)
And I found out a long time ago
What a bike ride can do to your soul.
Oh, but she can't take you anyway,
You don't already know how to go.

And I got a peaceful easy feeling,
And I know you won't let me down
'cause I'm already standing on the ground.

With my apologies to the Eagles for changing one of the words of their lyrics, but it was truly a "Peaceful Easy Feeling" when I finished this ride. We, as bike riders, all know how elusive those peaceful feelings can be, but when it sneaks up on you, it's a feeling like no other. After returning home that night after the ride and waking up early the day after, I actually tempted wife Linda with a tandem ride - that's how good I felt (but she declined and went to the gym instead while I unpacked).

But the week before the ride was very foreboding. I spent most of the week on the verge of a sore throat and cold, and actually spent a day in bed the prior weekend trying to get my health back. Add to that an enormous amount of stress at work with a multi-million dollar project with pesky and demanding Dutch customers, I was a basket case throughout the week. But later in the week the cold/sore throat started to back off a bit, and I consumed mass quantities of water starting Wednesday before the ride. And even more mass quantities of water on Friday so that by Friday night my body was fully hydrated. Believe it or not, I think this made a big difference on the ride this year. I never fell behind in my water consumption, and starting with a fully hydrated body seemed to make a profound difference.

One part of the day that was like no other - the sunrise while pedaling through the agricultural fields North of Davis. Words almost fail the beauty and grandeur of this part of the day. Add to that the smell of sweet earth and crops growing, and you have sensory nirvana. The light starts as a completely faint blotch in the East - this is the kind of light a camera will never capture. And it gradually builds ever-so slowly, just like the Tchaikovsky orchestra piece "Bolero". But then all of a sudden, objects within view have form and dimensions. It's like magic watching this change, especially while cruising along at a comfortable 18MPH with fresh legs and lots of enthusiasm for the 12 more hours of sunlight that will light up the day.

I had almost forgotten how beautiful the back country of Lake Berryessa and Lake County really is. My riding partner on her first Double Century, Heather, had never seen these roads or most of these places before. Her remarks about the austere beauty of these little-traveled areas peaked my own sense of appreciation, even though I had seen the same scenery countless times before.

Heather at Lunch Stop, Lower Lake (Mile 114)
Speaking of my riding partner Heather, she was quite happy to accept my pacing all day long on her first double attempt. As such, we throttled back on most of the climbs and aggressively rode the rollers and flats. That strategy contributed to a very steady pace and plenty of energy to finish the ride in fine style. I was really happy for her that she had such a positive experience on her first-ever conquest of the 200 mile venue. But it caused me to pause when I realized that I had already ridden 7 Davis Doubles of my own before Heather was even born!

Well, that's about all for now, and not much else to write about - a fine day with plenty of positive vibes gives me hope that I can complete 9 more Davis Doubles to achieve my lifetime goal of riding 50 Davis Double Centuries.

Jim Gloystein
May, 2013

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Anderson Century

Paul and I rode the Anderson Century on Saturday, 5/19. We drove up the day before in my new Honda Fit. We got two bikes, with just the front wheels removed, and all our gear in the back with room to spare. The ride was comfortable and the little engine had no problem maintaining 70, although much above that and the engine revs became a little loud. The best part - 38 mpg.

Friday night, we dined at Jack's Grill in Redding. Jack's is a small, funky, crowded, loud steak house. They don't take reservations, so we put our name in and bellied up to the bar, had a drink, and watched the Giant's game. The hostess told us the wait would be about 30 minutes, and she wasn't far off. They sat us at a table for 6, so we half expected they would seat other customers with us, but no, we had the huge table all to ourselves. The menu is small, and printed on a folded sheet of paper. Jack's is somewhat famous for their food, and deservedly so. I had an excellent 10oz New York cut steak, done just right. Dinners come with a baked potato, a "salad" of shredded lettuce and dressing, and garlic bread. Just your basic meat and potatoes. Except for the crowd, this is my kind of place.

It took some sleuthing to find the start of the century. The web site had no mention of the starting point. Finally, we looked at the registration site and noticed it had a different name for the ride, the Anderson River Park Century. We found the park, and saw a canopy with a few cars and bikes parked around it. This was a small event, with maybe 100 riders. We joked that it was a "one-holer", because each rest stop had only one porta-potty. The weather was beautiful: mild temperatures and just a light breeze. It can get very hot in this part of the state, so we felt fortunate with highs in the mid 80s. We registered and hit the road just after 7AM. The 15 miles to the first rest stop was almost flat. We started off on the next leg, following the same orange arrows we had followed up to that point. We had gone about a mile when a car came up from behind us. The driver opened his window and asked if we were doing the century. We said yes, and he explained that we should have followed the pink arrows after rest stop one. He noticed us leaving the rest stop on the 20 mile route and thought we looked more like century riders, so he got in his car and chased us down. Confusing route markings, but I have to give them credit for personalized service.

The next 15 miles was nearly all up hill through a barren, dry and rocky landscape, with nice views of Lassen and Shasta at times. The grade was mild, mainly 2-5%, with a couple of short sections of 6-8%, but it was relentless. About half-way, I started losing energy. My legs had no "snap", and I couldn't get into any comfortable breathing pattern. We finally got to rest stop 2. I ate something and drank a lot of water, and tried to recover. Right after leaving the rest stop, the climbing started again, this time a constant 6-8% on busy highway 44. I had to spin in a low gear and just try to get through it. Finally, we made a left hand turn on to Dersch Road, a nice shaded, gently rolling back road. We reached the point where the 100 and 60 mile routes diverged. Paul knew I was having a bad day, and he kindly suggested we take the shorter route back. Knowing that we had at least 4K ft. of climbing ahead on the long route, I opted to cut my losses. I suggested that Paul go ahead and complete the century and I would wait for him at the finish, but he insisted that we stick together. The last 20 miles was nearly all down hill or flat, and we made good time. We got back to the park around 1PM. Here's my GPS track.

The post-ride meal was simple spaghetti, salad, and bread. The rest stops had just the basics - fruit, cookies, bagels. There seemed to be good SAG support, and the organizers and volunteers were very friendly and helpful. Would I make the long drive to do this ride again? Probably not.

Why did I have a bad day in the saddle? I had a poor nights sleep and may have been a little dehydrated, but I've had good days before under similar conditions. We never got over 3000 ft., so altitude shouldn't have been a factor. I rode the Bolinas-Fairfax road both directions on Thursday (4K ft in 29 miles), but I had time to recover from that. Was it something I ate for breakfast? It may been a combination of all of these, or something else. Who knows. It happens.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Cemetery Ride, October 29, 2012



Well, did this ride. Didn't sign up on the ride schedule because I was having some mechanical 'fun' this weekend and wasn't sure I was going to get out or not. Flat tire, road damaged tire, defective replacements, shifting and chain issues. All resolved by the end of the morning on Sunday and with such a nice day, I went off on my own. After all the tribulations leading up to this, was rewarded with a nice ride in the end. And the Giants made a nice cap on it, too! :-)