Vacation day 9 – April 24, Part 2 – Goodbye Hamburger Rock camp, drive to Monument Valley The Beast packed and we’re on the road, leaving our sweet campsite at Hamburger Rock. Just as we are starting out, the weather … Continue reading →
Rouvy ride before lunch today: Melbourne | Victoria – Hampton Beach, completing the current Australian challenge. Ben had already headed down on his own agenda for a longer, harder ride in the 5-route Eschborn-Frankfurt challenge in Germany, pouting somewhat that … Continue reading →
I was hoping for another fine swim at Albany Beach…. And my swim buddy, Francesco Papalia must have read my mind, for just as I was kitted up in my Maratona dles Dolomites jersey with all three H20 bottles filled, … Continue reading →
Swim day at Albany Beach with my swim buddies Francesco Papalia and Nick Pilch . Amy Smolens came too, for the sandy beach part. Nick arrived a bit too late to fit a swim into his schedule today, but hung out for a while to socialize and enjoy the vibe on this calm, warm, early Spring day.
Families gathered and several small groups swimming, paddling – it’s Spring Break for some of the schools in town. Lots of doggies playing fetch in the shoreline shallows.
A good time for all.
After relaxing in the sunshine, Francesco and I kitted up in our “gear” and savored about 30- minutes of pretty-near heavenly swimming conditions: water in high 60s and in some spots as warm as 72°F, very minimal swell; air in high 70s with balmy, calm breezes.
Water was so warm that after about 15 or 20 minutes I took off my swim caps (silicone over neoprene) and goggles, and the scrunchie for my ponytail/bun, stuffed all that down the top of my swimsuit and just let my long hair flow mermaid-style, diving under frequently. Very refreshing to have the salt water running over my scalp.
My Sweatie and I set the alarm for before the crack-O-dawn, rising at 5:00am to watch the fellas battle out the last 100km of the Ronde van Vlaanderen (of 272.5km total, plenty of it on cobbles and cold, gray drizzle the last bit!!).
Although our fav, Wout, didn’t get to play, cuz COVID….and Eritrean rising star Biniam had resolutely declined the race in favor of a visit home with his wife and child after his brilliant win last week at Milan-San Remo… today’s adventure in Flanders promised and delivered on plenty of excitement and drama right up to the very finish line cuz many other big players in the mix.
One world-stage champion is triumphant, another likely retroactively reconsidering and regretting his cat-and-mouse strategy for what played out in the final km after the flame rouge…. And truly, I share his disappointment, but revel in the winner’s effort. Uh, yeah, that’s why they call it “racing”!!
JUST WATCH IT!!
And now, we’re watching the women’s race (pics below)! What a great way to begin our day!!🥳🌺🧘♂️
Today’s Rouvy ride was literally “for medicinal purposes”: Redwood Drury Scenic Park | California | USA, one of a two-route TRAVEL CALIFORNIA challenge which runs 03/21/2022 to 04/17/2022. Today’s route was only 19.60km long and 276m of climbing (1% avg, 6% max gradients)
I selected this relatively easy ride to help kickstart me out of my recent doldrums (old ghosts are the WORST… And honestly, mostly self-inflicted).
I put on my aloha sunshine flower jersey as added inspiration (as you can tell by the first selfie snapshot, it didn’t help until i actually mounted up and started riding!!)
In spite of starting out very slowly, by the end of the ride my energy and endorphins were kicking in properly, and I put on some actual power, turning in a time of 0:55:30.7 rather than the one I’d anticipate during the first part of ride to be well over 1 hour. That felt good! (see the “after” snapshot of my elevated post-ride mood)
Stats: a remarkably low avg heart-rate of 137bpm, higher than expected avg cadence of 72rpm, faster than initially anticipated speed of 21.18km/hr, and much better power than guessed 95W normalized (W/kg avg). 52.9 TSS and 321 “coins” earned toward my Rouvy career for this Level 2 difficulty route.
Also, who can be sad when the irises in the garden have bloomed and your amaryllis is saying hello to Spring by poking the tip of its little stalk up through the soil.
Cleaned up, ate lunch, and Ben fixed me a hot beverage. “There, there.” Lots for which to be thankful in the real world. (The one who cares!)
And…. Thank goodness for the healing powers of exercise!!🌺🧘♂️🥳
Rouvy indoor bike ride today: KPŽ TV NOVA Vysočina Arena Tour. This was the final of the 5-route mixed-terrain KOLO PRO ŽIVOT challenge in the Czech Republic, which concludes on 04/03/2022.
Very short, not too steep. 8.18km long with 144m of climbing (2% avg, 13% max gradients). Even in this brief ride, there were two Splits at 3.1km and 5.37km, respectively.
My energy felt sub-par again this morning, however at the end of the ride I still managed to close a large gap which had grown significantly from almost the beginning and “almost” caught up to one of my faster “rabbits” (Tabby) before she pushed over the finish line about 50 meters ahead of me.
My finishing time today for this short, level 1 difficulty route was 0:20:58.3 with an average speed of 23.39km/hr, maintaining 2.002W/kg power (normalized 120W)… hmmmm, maybe more energy than I thought?
Of the 7405 Rouvy members registered for the challenge, only 508 women!! In the women’s category, in 264th place (for women) my rabbit “joeyinbama” is currently the last one to have completed all 5 routes. By comparison, I’m in 195th place for the women, ahead of my main “lead”, strong rabbit (Tabby, 199th place). In the overall standings (men & women), we rank 2276 (me) and 2286 (Tabby)…..Hooray! Our pal joeyinbama is back in 2535th place. Folks have 5 more days til the challenge ends, so those stats can change.
Now on to another challenge. Maybe in Italy, maybe in California. So many options!
Today Ben and I were in another European pro tour mood, and the current TRAVEL AROUND SWITZERLAND challenge in Rouvy (otherwise known as the Tour de Suisse 2022) only has 12 days left, so after breakfast and our respective floor workouts (Pilates for me), we kitted up and dialed in the Stage 2 (Aesch) – Tour de Suisse 2022 route in Rouvy.
Unlike yesterday’s ride from the same Tour de Suisse 2022 group which started in Switzerland then crossed over into Liechtenstein during the first km or so and spent the remainder of the route climbing into the Alps of Liechtenstein, today’s route is completely inside Switzerland (near the French border).
The route arcs from its start (between the towns of Fehren and Breitenbach) for 26.85 km in a semi-circle northwestward from a hilly valley up to the mountains, then northeastward, finishing in the town of Aesch, in a lower valley, climbing 488 meters along the way (2% avg, 11% max gradients). As you can see in the elevation profile and in the terrain on the map, the climbing is concentrated mostly in kilometers 6.5 through 13, however there are a few small “bumps” from that mid-way point until the end. There are two Splits, at 7.67 km and 21.91 km, respectively.
I was curious whether my “virtual partner” rabbit Tabby had done this route before (she had!) and also djdyer7, so in addition to my nine new “Ghosts”, selected both Tabby and djdyer7 to come ride again with us! We started out with Ben’s phone casting to the TV monitor, but connections were wonky, so after about 5km, he disconnected from the TV, and I cast from my phone around 6.5 km along.
Ben was on a mission today, having re-calibrated his settings in Wahoo and Rouvy, so did not “wait” for me. (Turns out, yesterday he didn’t “wait” either, but blames his low power output on a temporary re-calibration he’d done earlier). Meanwhile, my hard effort yesterday made my medial meniscus right near the knee cap on my fake knee sensitive, so my own energy and power felt like I had to scale down for most of the ride. Such is the balance of life. Ying-Yang!
I liked the ride, mixing valleys with towns and mountains, then back to lower elevations. After the summit, there’s a long, fast descent into the high-valley town of Metzerlen-Mariastein (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metzerlen-Mariastein), then some more descending and flats to the finish line in a lower-lying valley town of Aesch.
My final ride gave me a finishing time of 1:16:38.3, averaging 21.02 km/hr and 112 Watts normalized power (1.858W/kg avg) for this level 3 difficulty ride.
Tabby measured her effort, as usual, and in the 2nd 1/2 of the ride (after she’d passed me for the 2nd time while I was messing about with the electronic connections – when Rouvy temporarily sort of “forgets” I’m riding, so my actual effort at that point isn’t recorded during those “distractions”). Tabby’s time was 1:13:52.00 (1.8W/kg) on 05/20/2022, currently in 939th place overall for this ride.
Our other pal, djdyer7, seemed out of sight/out of mind behind both of us and my “Ghost” riders, so I didn’t even see him on the route…. his current stats are finishing time of 1:45:01.00 (1.137W/kg) on 05/20/2022, currently in 1034th place overall for this route.
In any case, I’m currently in 973rd place overall (men and women) for this ride, and my overall place in the Challenge is now 762th place (moved up to 57th place for the women). All these rankings will change when the challenge concludes in 12 days.
After breakfast, Ben announced this morning he wanted to ride Stage 7 of the Tour de Suisse today, the shortest, but steepest by far, of the four-route Tour de Suisse challenge in Rouvy. 10:00 a.m. “Go” time. Well, alrighty, then – it’s a date! This level 4 difficulty route is 20.02km long with a daunting 1130 meters of climbing (6% avg, 15% max gradients). I filled three bottles: 1 H2O + a splash of black tea, 1 H2O + a GU energy tab, 1 unadulterated H2O, and grabbed a fig bar.
I had a bit of computer work to do, then got kitted up in my most appropriate jersey for this route, the one from our 2011 Maratona dles Dolomites adventure…. similar mountainous terrain, just a bit further south, and in Italy, not Switzerland or Liechtenstein.
Then laid out my “mat” (really just a narrow, double-thick fleece blanket) and got into my Intermediate Pilates core strength cardio workout to stretch my bones before hopping on the bike.
Selecting the route on my cell phone, tried also to add a few of my normal “virtual partner” rabbits, but Tabby and the others don’t appear to have ridden this Swiss route in Rouvy yet (the challenge is brand new and only runs from 05/17/2022 to 06/05/2022, with the description: “The Tour de Suisse Challenge is the first amateur cycling event that covers the whole original race route of a professional cycling stage race! Explore the wonderful Swiss Alps, the landscape of the most important cycling race in Switzerland.” Hmmm, puzzling, cuz this Rouvy challenge only includes FOUR routes! Oh well…..
In any case, with Rouvy’s new “Ghost” rider feature, my nine imaginary friends mounted up and headed out of the start chute almost right on time, although Ben had gone down to the pain studio a few minutes earlier, and was 6-1/2 minutes into the route by the time my imaginary friends and I got going around 10:10am.
My ghost pals and I kept a steady clip throughout the ride. The first split comes at 5km in a flat section; the 2nd Split is at 15km, in the midst of some rather earnest climbing. One thing I found unique today is that rather than Ben powering ahead with an ever-increasing lead, the distance between us stayed fairly constant throughout (about varying between <1km and <1.5km, generally about 6-7 minutes), so when he crossed the finish line at 12:08pm in 1:57:21.00 (avg power 2.028 W/kg), my elapsed time was 1:48, and then I soloed to the end keeping the same relative time of about 7 minutes behind him, finishing my own ride at 12:15pm, in just over 2 hours (2:04:23.4 with avg power of 1.926 W/kg). It’s a new challenge, so of the 2158 Rouvy riders currently registered for the challenge, I’m currently in 233rd place overall for this route (for the 4-route challenge, 71st among women riders, 860th overall for men & women)! Refreshments consumed: 1 H2O +black tea, 1 H2O +GU tab; didn’t get into 3rd bottle (plain H2O) or the fig bar.
Scenery in this ride is very nice, passing from Switzerland into Liechtenstein, and quickly through a few towns Balzers and Triesen, along switchbacks up into the mountains through Triesenberg, Steg, and finally to the ski resort of Malbun, Liechtenstein. Video was shot on a clear Spring day, very tempting to my travel-hungry soul to pay that part of the world a visit for real sometime. Here are some representative screenshots of the scenery and terrain in this beautiful ride.
Here are my finishing time and results from the ride. My imaginary friends stuck more or less around me with varying degrees of faster and slower throughout the ride, natch! Nice to have those Ghost riders!
I really liked this ride and the effort it took to complete it! Lunch was great, too (leftover Indian food from last night’s dinner from Café Raj, one of our local favs on Solano Ave: Chicken Tikka Masala, Kofta Zafran, Sahbsi Masala and chappati. Well-earned and delicious!
We spent a productive yet relaxing morning, Sunday morning breakfast (Ben made French Toast, served with syrup and our home-grown strawberries… of course I enjoyed my delicious home-pressed, hand-drawn caffe latte, too!
Then dishes cleanup, change clothes out of my jammies, short floor exercise (Intermediate Pilates) in my back room, just in time to host our weekly Reineman Family Zoom Visit. Decided to make a little music video of the screenshots… so that took a while…
Interspersed with lunch and watching the last 35km of Giro d’Italia (GCN Eurosport’s livestream coverage… exciting finish today, btw….
Afterward, Ben was keen on taking a walk…. so I changed into my hiking shoes and we headed out….. another beautiful (albeit a bit hazy), breezy day in Albany. Sunday, so a nice mix of people up in Albany Hill Park: a father with his two kids playing on the rope swing at the lower entrance by Hillside Ave; a jogger; another father and his two sweet girls in Sunday dresses hiking the ridge; an older couple resting on the bench by the Lion’s Club cross viewpoint, a South Asian couple and their doggie at the summit heading southbound along the ridge…
26.34km distance, 482.4 meters of climbing (2% avg, 17% max gradients). Rouvy difficulty level 3
Last night I slept heavily and well, catching up a bit after being slightly sleep-deprived the previous night; then after breakfast and Pilates, Ben & I got kitted up for one of our “local favorite” routes in Rouvy (Ben actually did the video and uploaded to Rouvy, so while the route is available to all Rouvy members, Rouvy hasn’t further added any “Augmented Reality” features so we see only the scenery (and any real riders captured along the way), plus the route elevation profile (bottom of screen) and “Nearby you” diagram (near upper left) when riding the route in Rouvy, but not the rider avatars. And one can still add any “virtual partners” selecting from the list of Rouvy members who have ridden the current version of the route, and ah wait, if you also have activated the Ghost Rider feature, for any Rouvy route done in regular or Time Trial mode, or as a Group Ride, the particular riders of the 10 available “imaginary friends” one has specified will always be in the mix (for non-AR routes, like this one, only in “Nearby you” diagram, and their bots plus those of “virtual partners” and live riders on the route/elevation profile).
Ben started the route on San Pablo Avenue just before Crockett. We progress along Pomona Ave through town then continue on Carquinez Scenic Road past Bull Valley staging area, down into Port Costa as far as the old historic schoolhouse, then a right-turn up Reservoir Road, grinding back up to Carquinez Scenic Rd which we cross and Reservior Rd becomes a further punishing local classic, McEwen Rd, grinding away amidst the beautiful scenery to the summit, where we meet a most lovely and fun downhill for a few kilometers before crossing under Hwy 4 and our left turn onto Franklin Canyon Road. Continuing there for about 5km parallel to Hwy 4, Franklin Canyon is a steady, fast, shallow downhill until just before it meets Alhambra Road. A right turn and about a kilometer of flattish brings us to Alhambra Valley Road, past John Swett Elementary School. Alhambra Valley Road winds along residential and small farming communities for a few kilometers, eventually to a “T” intersection with Reliez Valley Road. A left turn would take you to Pleasant Hill (and ultimately to Lafayette); however, for this route, we will turn RIGHT to stay on Alhambra Valley Road, where some more climbing “fun” will begin after a few kilomters of flattish, partly twisty, rollery preludes, the longer, seemingly endless direction up “Pig Farm Hill” is followed by another whizbang fun descent, then rolling (still fast) along the lower, twistier section of the descent, to the ride’s conclusion at the intersection of Alhambra Valley Road and Bear Creek Road.
We’re riding a local favorite route today, so I’m kitted up in a favor-favorite designer, Sheila Mooni
It was good to have the company of my 9 “Ghost Riders” as well as a couple “virtual partner” friends along for the ride, including Ben and a few others from their previous rides. My own previous effort did not display as an available “virtual partner”, likely because Ben has edited and uploaded a different version of the route since I last rode it in Rouvy.
Of course both Bens (live today and the bot for his earlier effort) smoked me, but I ended up finishing about 10-1/2 minutes behind him today, so considering the climbing and distance, that’s about right!
The route record for this current version of the route in Rouvy (uploaded 05/08/2021) is held by young rando29 at 0:47:28 on 05/05/2022 (3.754 W/kg!!!). Ben is in 5th place with his time today of 1:03:57.00 (2.325 W/kg), and predictably, I am in last/tenth place with my time of 1:18:38.6 (1.758 W/kg)… still behind Ben’s previous effort of 1:08:06.00 (2.11 W/kg) on 05/08/2021, but at least better than my previous ride (in Version 6 of the route) which was 1:23:26.00 (1.507 W/kg) on 05/01/2021. Other stats for me for today’s ride are 67 rpm avg cadence, 20.1 km/hr avg speed and normalized power of 106 Watts (1.758 W/kg).
Felt good.. and it’s such a fun, hard and gratifying route, can’t wait to ride it again in real life!!
Virtual travel and real effort in today’s Rouvy ride – ESCHBORN-FRANKFURT challenge: New Horizons by Eschborn-Frankfurt (May 16, 2022). This is the third ride I’ve done in the 4-ride challenge. Rated in Rouvy as level 3 difficulty, it’s 21km long … Continue reading →
Rouvy ride today – before lunch, after breakfast, Pilates and general goofing off. The route is ŠKODA Velotour Skyline 40km, 40.36km long with 292m of climbing, mostly flattish (1% avg and 6% max elevation gains), with 3 Splits (16 km, 25.3 km and 30 km along the route), winding around in and out of Frankfurt’s city center and its surrounding suburbs and countryside.
Part of the Eschborn-Frankfurt challenge, and a route we’ve done before (even then, I’d added a couple of my trusty “rabbits”, so – in addition to Ben living live and casting his ride to the big screen, riding with me on my smaller cell-phone screen are rider avatars and bots representing previous efforts of Tabby, joeyinbama, djdyer7, outbackbikes and Ben.
Ben’s power and speed today are much faster than his previous ride on 12/21/2020 (when he had 1:27:04.00 time, avg power 1.855W/kg), so he’s done in about a buck & 1/4 (elapsed time 1:17:13.00, pushing 2.375 W/kg avg!!). My own “personal record” time of 1:34:58.1 today also surpassed my previous effort on 07/17/2021 when my time was 1:47:32.00 and power 1.199W/kg). Other stats for me today for avg heart rate, cadence, speed and power are 150 bpm, 73 rpm, 25.49 km/hr and 98W (a conservative 1.636W/kg), respectively, also earning 85.8 TSS points and 586 “coins” (561 for the ride + 25 bonus as a level 3 difficulty challenge-ride).
I enjoy the route, despite its length and a bit of monotony with its flattish terrain, because I like seeing the fast forward to how Frankfurt has upped its game in terms of interesting architecture – also recollecting with fondness my adventures as a flight attendant days in my mid-late 20s and 30s with World Airways (April 1979 – February 1989), with FRA layovers and carousing around Frankfurt so frequent (esp for me as a German-speaker), we identified the Canadian Pacific Plaza Hotel in the city center (leased/operated by the Canadian Pacific Hotels company from 1976–1989 – now the Frankfurt Marriott: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westend_Gate) and the city in general as a kind of second home. Among other features, aside from its excellent central location close to the river, train station, Frankfurt Trade Fair ground, shopping, sightseeing, local transportation and a good, long but manageable walk from the Zoo, the CP Plaza offered: a huge, nutritious breakfast buffet, a relatively rockin’ yet amusing discotec (if you’re of my generation, certainly recall the “pop-corn”, not to mention the many male guests from all over the world attempting to be slick and impress a girl with not-so-subtle grinding against you on the dance floor – sheesh, fellas, seriously!!). Ah, but i digress…..
Vacation day 9 – April 24, Part 1 – Hiking up from Elephant Hill parking area & trailhead to Needles plateau
After our chunky driving tour and great hiking at Colorado River Overlook and Cave Springs Trail on the 23rd, we were primed for more hiking, our hearts set on stretching our bones on the trail to The Needles… before breaking camp and driving to Monument Valley.
So the next morning we drive out to Elephant Hill Trailhead after breakfast, lucking out on the last available parking space! While Mark sets out on his own up to The Needles, Ben hangs with me for a shorter version of a still really great hike, up to the plateau, stopping there for a short rest with views of The Needles and a light snack before heading back down. Getting there and back, we come across many people on the trails, but it feels more friendly than crowded. One guy (as we are on our way back down), hiking with his friend and loaded down with a bunch of telescopic stargazing equipment, has never been backpacking before, and his friend and a ranger are getting him straightened out on adjusting the waist trap of his pack to better distribute the weight of his heavy pack.
As for me, we have deliberately left my poles in the car and I am quite pleased and happy to be getting stronger, able to negotiate the trails and slab without my poles, including quite a few steep steps up small boulders. Other fun characters we meet along the way, a group of about 15 women all with matching burgundy-colored backpacks – members of a group called Women’s Wine Hiking Society (https://winehikingsociety.com/) whose motto is “Empowering women in the outdoors while hitting happy hour on the trail”), based in Utah but comprising members from all over the US!!
On our way back down the trail, we also greet our Hamburger Rock campsite pals, Courtney and her two small children, as they are starting their hike upward.
Hike finished, and feeling quite proud of my achievement – back in the parking lot, I make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for Ben and myself as a quick snack while waiting for Mark to finish his longer hike, and we are entertained by a small convoy of 4WD Jeeps exploring the chunky roads above the parking area. Afterward, we drive back to Hamburger Rock, break down camp, and pack up the car for our drive to Monument Valley.
morning roundup, Wednesday – Stardate May 11, 2022: well, yesterday was “Tofu Tuesday”, so first thing on today’s agenda is “Weigh-In Wednesday”. Then breakfast, then my short cardio workout. I’m rotating in my old Intermediate Pilates to the mix lately, … Continue reading →