Satinut: uh oh, Tunitas Backwards! – Sunday, July 24, 2016 – 5!/TM/62

The ride listing said:
SUN JUL 24 5!/TM/62 Uh oh – Tunitas backwards
Leader: Philip Morton
Meet at 8:50 am for a 9:00 am start
GPC Route: Tunitas backwards
Start Location: Woodside Town Hall
The potholes on the top of Tunitas Creek Rd have been nicely paved since the Tour of California went up there a few years ago. So it’s up King’s Mountain, and down Tunitas Creek – a lovely descent – much less white knuckle than King’s Mountain, with a quick stop at the Bike Hut. Lunch in Pescadero is still about halfway. Return via Alpine, and down Page Mill Rd. Refreshments at Roberts in Portola Valley. As a humane alternate, avoid the brutal Alpine climb by taking Pescadero Road to La Honda and Hwy 84 to Skyline.

My buddy, Phil, tends to put together rides that combine steep terrain and new adventures with maybe a twist on the same-old-same-old folks are used to, and true to form, for the dozen riders who piled into cars (some of us car-pool style) and made the drive south (Phil, Andres, Der Lutz, Tim, Alex, Kate, Eileen, Pat, Vinny, Wallace, Kurt, me), he served up another amazing torture fest on the Peninsula yesterday, taking a well-known and well-loved loop (Woodside-Pescadero-Tunitas Creek), turning it upside down on its head and throwing in some new “discovery” trails to cap off the insanity of it all….and despite moments of doubt whether i’d finish (and why), every hot, dry joyless climb and every summit reached led me to the same conclusion. . . i’m glad i did. For the payoffs in views and sense of personal accomplishment were worth every pedal stroke of the journey. The first leg took us from downtown Woodside up King’s Mountain Rd – although seemingly never-ending, is lovely that time of morning, almost no motor-vehicle traffic, the occasional bow-and-arrow hunting party getting ready for their own adventures in the top sections. At Skyline, we had our first Regroup, then took the plunge down the other side on Tunitas Creek Rd. Jury is still out on whether I enjoyed Tunitas on the downhill, since the first time on any loop I’m unsure what to expect (i think i still prefer its rewards as a climb in the shade on a hot afternoon).

Left turn onto Hwy 1 from Tunitas Creek Rd took a long time, what with the density and speed of the cars whizzing along on the Hwy. And btw, you know just after the bridge (crossing the creek), how you get that looooonnnggggg uphill? Well, it’s a bit easier when you’re already on Hwy 1, not starting cold after a stop/regroup at the BikeHut. But being on the coast, overlooking the surf and the wild rocky profile is always great for an ocean baby such as myself.

At the top of that somewhat longish slog from where the creek meets the ocean, the left turn onto Stage Rd was easy and then I got to experience the old stage route for the first time southbound. I’ve been tempted and curious to do just that before, and must say, i think i prefer it to the usual northbound direction…. also, it was a beautiful thing and picture-perfect to see a line of some of the stronger riders in our group proceeding as a clean line of closely spaced Grizzlies climbing the ramps ahead of me (Kurt, Alex, Kate, Wallace, Greg, Andres, Tim). And all in all, it seemed like the southbound direction is an easier climb, at least it felt that way to my legs, and a nice way to go (even with that last bone-jostling downhill section right before Pescadero, where i truly felt i was riding on an old-fashioned buckboard on the old Stage route!)

Lunch at Arcangeli’s (Norm’s Market) had its usual treats, group picnic at the common tables in the backyard, and i feasted on one half of a sandwich and a small carton of chocolate milk, saving the other half of the sandwich as an immediately available post-ride recovery snack. Yum!

Eileen had started her uphill trek after lunch a bit ahead of us, then Kurt led out from Pescadero, and somehow I was able to catch up with and hang with the “big kids” for a long stretch on Pescadero Creek Road, leap-frogging Eileen until we were further into the climb up Haskins Hill in the relentlessly hot mid-day summer sun, and then I fell back and suffered alone for a while. Phil had offered a shortened (50 mile), bail-out option from Pescadero Creek Rd to Hwy 84/La Honda Rd as an alternative to the next climb (Alpine Rd), and I deliberated whether to cut my ride short by 12 miles (as Vinny had indicated he was resolute in doing) or take my chances with what mysteries might unfold on the 6.75 mile uphill and unknown adventure of Alpine Rd. Kurt and Greg had just taken off before I reached the “decision-point” intersection of Pescadero Creek Road and Alpine Rd (I saw them sprint out as I was making that turn) and Wallace was off-the-front most of the ride, so I didn’t see him, but the rest of the group (Andres, Tim, Alex, Kate) was waiting for us (me, Eileen, Vinny, Pat, Phil). Looking left at the continuation of Pescadero Creek Rd toward Hwy 84 in full sun and traffic, and comparing that to the tree-lined one-lane loveliness of Alpine Rd stretching out uphill to the right, I chose to stay with the main group, as did Pat, Eileen and Phil – up Alpine Rd, which turns out to be relentless in its uphillishness, but never really steep, and the few stretches of open sun were accompanied usually by a breeze, the majority of the climb being tree-lined to the ridge and vaguely resembling pieces of both Tunitas Creek Rd and Calavares Rd (in the direction toward Sunol) in character.

At the top, Skyline again (it’s EVERYWHERE!), Alpine becomes Page Mill Rd, a long and fast descent forever down toward Palo Alto and beyond, with views that go forever (and from VERY HIGH UP!). The last miles on the valley floor wind back and around to Portola Rd and eventually back to Woodside.

Despite the heat, it turned into a perfectly wonderful ride, with great company, excellent challenge, and a good sense of accomplishment. I’ll do it again, and I recommend adding it to your ride “library”, too. Check it out in our “Routes” page (Route ID: 164), https://ridewithgps.com/routes/6308281, pick a day with temps lower than the 80s-90s, and go for the full almost-metric-century version. You’ll be glad you did!

Thanks again to our fearless and inventive Ride Leader/Ride Coordinator, Mr. Phil, for setting us loose on such a great adventure!

Cheers,
Sherie

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Kurt’s “Cool Ride for Hot Weather” – Sunday, June 5, 2016

Was pondering a “Mount Hamilton, Take 2” for the weekend, to try another ride on our “other” Bay Area iconic mountain and actually reach the top. . . . then on Friday eve, my buddy Kurt put out an impromptu ride on the bike club email list, and i couldn’t pass it up.

Here’s the listing:

I’m calling an impromptu TM ride as follows:

*Sun Jun 5* *4/TM/70* *A cool ride for hot weather*
Leader: Kurt D
Meet at 9:00 am for a 9:10 am start

We’ll ride around the Embarcadero and the Marina and loop through Presidio and GG Park before crossing the bridge and climbing Hawk Hill in the headlands. Then down the back side and through the tunnel before descending into Sausalito. Continue to Tiburon via Belvedere and back around Paradise Drive and over Camino Alto before heading back across the bridge. Route will look something like this:
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/14180097

Bart from East Bay arrives a few minutes prior to 9:00. Please RSVP via my email. If its a small group we’ll forgo rout sheets. All riders welcome but expect to be able to maintain 12 MPH pace over this distance and elevation.

By Saturday evening, it looked like just four of us (Grizzlies Kurt, Anne S, Wallace W, and myself), plus a possible pal of Kurt’s from Oracle, Mark B.

Here’s how it played out: Got myself organized the night before (water bottles & secret weapon home-made pickle juice in fridge, CamelBak w/ bladder filled with ice, and a sandwich of roasted peppers, melted pepper jack, toasted Milton’s 9-grain bread, mustard & arugula wrapped in aluminum foil and a ziploc nestled inside the CamelBak (outside the water/ice bladder), all keeping cold overnight in the freezer. Bike kit, wallet, spare tube, snack foods all laid out in the back of house.

Sunday morning prep uneventful, and i got myself to BART well early enough ahead of time for the 8:02 train. Grizzly Carla shows up, but going on a different ride, with the “gals”, and sure enough, when we transferred trains at MacArthur (where the fella I recognized as Oracle Mark also boarded), Grizzly Lenore was also already on that train…. all headed for Embarcadero for our respective rides.

At Embarcadero, elevator to BART exit full with bikes, including Mark and an elderly couple and their tandem, plus maybe a few others, so i happily wait for the next one.

Once up to BART exit area, processing ticket “out” and catching the elevator to Street pretty painless. Easy ride along Market the few blocks, and through Justin Herman Plaza to the Ferry Bldg, where I see Carla, Lenore and a gang of gals right in front, and Mark B somewhere in the distance. Carla offers to watch my bici while i head inside for the Restroom. (for “security reasons” the restroom at BART are not available. WHAT!?).

Mark comes along on bike out of the Ferry Bldg. with his hot java in a lidded paper cup about the same time i’m exiting the Ferry Bldg from my bathroom break. A few minutes later, here comes Wallace, and then Kurt arrives, most likely from the same train. We learn Anne decided to do another, shorter, closer-to-home ride to meet afternoon obligations, but Susan J is coming, as well as Jill N (whom I’d met the week before on the Marshall Wall ride). I’m happy to know Susan is back in the saddle after her untimely crash on wackly pavement last week. What a trouper! We catch Susan (or vice-versa) along the Embarcadero, and she has the suggestion to take Bay Street to avoid a bigger hill later on.

I always trust local wisdom, and Kurt has also lived in the City in earlier years and agrees (plus I’ve travelled on Bay Street on the bike a few times, and so I have no objection). The five of us continue along Bay for a bit, then hook right onto the Marina at Webster….The plan is to pick Jill up enroute along the Marina path. Which we do, and then our little “6-pack” is complete.

But then just before we get near the GG Bridge, we peel off uphill through the Presidio (seeing Lenore, Carla and troup along the way). Then we wind up and around through all kinds of beautiful Marina district neighborhoods, up the the Palace of the Legion of Honor, then down through the Golf Course for a regroup and restroom break, before touring a few beautiful, toney 1% of 1% neighborhoods then up and out over Lands End, the Great Highway, Ocean Beach and finally jaunting left and returning through the GG Bridge through GG Park. Lovely! This portion is 16 miles.

Crossing the GG Bridge, two things stand out. It never gets any LESS windy going around the two sets of Suspension cable pillars. I simply unclip and hobble around to the straight section again. The other thing is the number of rental-cycle tourists going too slow, too far in the middle, stopping just “wherever”, etc.  I proceed cautiously and eventually end up a few minutes behind my group.

Jill has given me very sound comparison advice, upon hearing that i’ve never attempted Hawk Hill or Conzelman Rd on the bike and don’t know what to expect: she says that the climb is somewhat like Marshall Wall (east to west), but not quite as hard and that nothing compared to what we are all used to. That sounds fine. I’ve been up the headlands in a car several times over the years, just never on the bike. I’m excited! We wait at the stop sign for an opening between up and downhill motorized traffic, finally get a break and shoot a clean left up the hill. I find i’m about in the “middle” as far as how many people I pass, and how many blow by me. So far so good. My peeps are never more than about 1/2 a turn in front of me, always within sight and almost within earshot.

At the top of Hawk Hill, where one-lane, downhill only Conzelman Road begins (http://www.parksconservancy.org/visit/park-sites/hawk-hill.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/), we take a short porta-potty break, savor the views each direction, snack on pocket food, and then a detour through the old fortification/tunnel, to catch the views down toward Rodeo Beach and Point Bonita and beyond. Fog is just about clearing, and the day promises to be sunnier but never “hot”. I have come with summer-weight knickers, a short-sleeved GPC jersey, neck gaitor and arm-warmers, happy for once not to have “overpacked” (although you wouldn’t know that from all the stuff in my quite full pockets!) (Note: while my companions change in and out of jackets and vests during the day, I never unwrap my nylon windbreaker from where it lives below my saddle, even on the blustery return over over the bridge later in the day). Then we’re ready to roll and continue our journey. The top of Conzelman Rd has a sign that warns “Use Extreme Caution, 18% Gradient” and visually just drops off immediately.

Everyone but Susan and I have taken off and and I’m ready to experience the steep descent I’ve only been on in a car before this day. Susan calls me back, because a red mini-van has just begun its descent. She knows my ride will not be fun if I end up riding the tail of the van the whole way down.  So I happily and obediently wait a few more minutes until Susan clears me to start. She heads out a second or so before me, then I have the road clear to myself. Oddly, it is not the white-knuckler I’ve been anticipating. Views to die for, but I just feather my brakes, proceed with care, take my time and occasionally “let it go” and enjoy the ride immensely. I don’t catch the red mini-van until almost the bottom where the bridge crosses the stream and you start back up with a climb. There’s enough room to pass the van on the left and I do so. The driver and passengers of the white SUV which has been stopped for a out-of-vehicle photo-op catches up when i’m in the uphill, but they pass courteously and safely.

The group is assembled at the next point, and we decide to go to Point Bonita Lighthouse for the overlooks.

After that, it’s back along the road toward Baker Beach and then down Alexander Rd, through Sausalito, past Mill Valley and on to Tiburon / Belvedere. Kurt takes us up some roads through the middle which eventually drop back down toward town and the waterfront park. At some point, Wallace powers on ahead, and we all comment he must be hungry. Sure enough, when we arrive in downtown Tiburon, there he is finishing up his sandwich at an outdoor table at the Italian Caffe’/Gelato place (Acri Caffe’). We follow suit. Sandwiches look good, pastries even better, and coffee drinks perfect. I settle on a spinach salad and figure I can save my homemade toasted pepper/cheese sandwich for a quick post-ride refueling snack. The salad does not disappoint.

Then we make our way around Paradise Loop the opposite direction (counterclockwise) from the few times i’ve done it, and back to and through Corte Madera. Up and over, then finally a mobbed Sausalito, and the final grind up Alexander Rd to the bridge. Return trip over the Golden Gate has that characteristic blustery, fierce headwind with the fog layers streaming through. The tourist-bike scene is even more obnoxious in the afternoon than it had been in the morning. But soon it’s done, and we’re quickly back to the Presidio and Marina side of things, detouring off onto side streets to Bay for the final, quick sprint back to downtown San Francisco and BART. Susan leaves us at Bay & Laguna, announcing she’s going to do another loop before heading home. Tough cookie, that gal (I’ve seen her do this on several rides, just can’t seem to get ENOUGH of the bike ride! no wonder she’s so strong!).

Our group has rubber-banded back and forth in size at various points, but by the end of our trek back along Bay Street and to the Embarcadero, the four of us (Kurt, Mark, Wallace and me) are riding together in a nice line.

Uneventful BART ride home (if you ignore the broken ticket machine that delayed Kurt and Mark a bit (happily, my trusty, never-leave-home-without-it TransLink card has allowed me to pass through the gate). Three of us catch an eastbound train, Wallace waits for the next one. I transfer at 12th Street and bid adieu to Kurt and Mark when I see the sign for the Richmond train advertising a short 2:22 minute wait and an almost empty train arriving on the other track.

Painless transfer (and a clear spot to lean bike up against the foam-wrapped pole), and I’m home by 5:30. A great (and challenging) adventure and an overall excellent day on the bike shared with some damn good folks! (and I ‘almost’ kept up!!). It may not have been “hot weather” but it most certainly was a very, very “cool” ride!

Thanks so much to Kurt for putting forth this highly scenic, entertaining, challenging and elucidating ride. In a short 71 miles, our nice little six-pack of 5 Grizzlies + 1 went “everywhere”!!!

Several firsts for me:
1.) 16 mile counterclockwise loop in the city to various “1%” environs, Land’s End, the beach and Great Highway before sauntering back through the park to the GG Bridge and across to begin the rural portion of the ride.
2.) Hawk Hill up and Conzelman (mostly down) to Point Bonita on a bicycle.
3.) The hilly innards of Tiburon to our lunch spot, a cool little bike-friendly Italian cafe/bistro (Caffe Acri on Main Street: eggs/breakfast served til 2:30, yummy sandwiches, salads, pastries, gelato, coffee/espresso drinks)
4.) Paradise Loop counterclockwise (previously only clockwise for me, and that eons ago).
5.) Camino Alto from very near to my old home in Costa Madera (a brief 6 mos in 1986) tired me out but didn’t hurt as much as I’d remembered, and the descent southward wasn’t scary anymore.

Thanks also to both Jill and Susan (as well as Kurt) for lending invaluable “hints” about what to expect in their “backyard playgrounds” both in SF, Marin Headlands and Tiburon. And to all for not completely dropping me (-;

Finally, special thanks to our other two riding companions, “strong rider dudes” Wallace (GPC) and Kurt’s pal Mark from Oracle for hauling this somewhat slower old MamaBear over hin and yon on a thoroughly enjoyable Sunday adventure.

Suffice to say, I look forward to seeing this ride in future in the “regular” (WT) GPC ride schedule. Soon even!?

Ciao,
Sherie

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Mt. Hamilton, Take One – Monday, May 30, 2016

Here’s my ride report for my first attempt up Mt. Hamilton.

a few weeks ago, Coach Ben had reminded me that NOW is the time to ride Mount Hamilton, while the flowers are out and before the high summer temps kick in on that 18-mile one way climb (yeah, and that’s from the “easy” side!).

He was also in favor of me doing the Marshall Wall ride on Sunday, so that left Saturday or Memorial Day Monday for Mount Hamilton.

I’ve been aware of the 42-mile version of this ride up the western face for a while now, and decided Monday’s holiday was the day to try it. And almost succeeded, and even though i didn’t go all the way to the summit for the coke/candy machines and the big view, i was content with my decision and my result.

Phil had said earlier last week he’d be game for this, but we had’t settled on a time or cue sheet. Knew it would involve a start at either Penitencia Creek Park or Alum Rock Park (closer to the begin of the climb). Didn’t post on GPC-Talk because Phil was targeting returning home by 2:30pm for a 3:00 pm yoga class. (note to self, it’s a short ride but takes LONGER than that!).

On our way there (car), we passed by the construction site of the upcoming Milpitas BART station (southeast corner of Capitol Avenue & Montague Expressway, so much closer than Fremont BART!), scheduled to open some time in Fall 2017 – and that got me excited about transportation options to the area for future forays either up Hamilton, Calavares Road and/or Sierra Road.

So what happened? Well, there was a large group (60-80 riders) of mixed abilities (A – C+, which roughly translates into “T – MB” in GPC-speak. From Alum Rock Park, once i got going (had to negotiate a multiple-attempt restart on a slight, but still – for me – challenging uphill from a dead stop, once in past the first gate and the congestion there, something my old ACL injury makes a difficult proposition). At the next gate (out of the park onto Alum Rock Way), we got in the mix of the Western Wheelmen folks, and I was right in there with the large group of gals who at first seems stronger than me, Phil seemed happy chatting it up with some Wheelmen about our Century and the Sequoia (theirs) and then their pace ratings, so i kept going on ahead with the main group, then i got my mojo on and started passing a bunch of folks.

Long story short, and advisory to rookies. I was feeling pretty good (as good as one might, facing that length of a climb with temps reaching the low-mid 80s), but ended up with a cramp 2 miles below the summit; walked it out for 1/2 mile, then after Phil came along, decided to walk it out a bit more before finding a shade tree in a corner with a breeze, a great view of the summit and a nice spot for my picnic lunch less than 1.2 miles from the top, and decided “yeah, i could hop on and go up there, but i could also just enjoy my picnic, save the summit for another day, and not put myself any further into “stupidland” on a hot day. It was also a great spot to greet the never-ending train of cheerful cyclists i’d passed between 1/2 hour and 1 hour or more earlier:
1) it’s a LONG climb – better to slow down at first, and hold back some energy for the last two miles!
2) views are spectacular, and right now the wildflowers are gorgeous, better the higher you get on the mountain. Go now, but start your ride EARLY in the day.
3) there are very few places to pull off the road and in much of the distance, the double yellow line is a mere suggestion of two lanes in a width more appropriate for one vehicle. It seemed too many of the motorists seem to be more concerned about not crossing their wheel over the double-yellow than whether they are passing too closely to a human being on a bicycle. Fortunately, many of the drivers are also very courteous and safety minded. Motorcyclists all behaved exceedingly well.
4) Although there is no shoulder, there are occasional places to pull off the road for a short breather. Do it. (Even the people who went by me in the lower sections seemed to be pull over and take a breather under a shade tree somewhere along the line, some more than once. Guess what, they all passed me later! and made it to the top).
5) Rest Area at mile 10, in the elbow after a slow rolling descent, where you can get water and a restroom. I felt good at the time, and knew i had “enough” H2O (two BIG bottles plus my 1 liter CamelBak) so kept on going. Really, just STOP! Drink the rest of your bottle RIGHT there and fill it up again. More importantly, take the opportunity to get off the bike. Your legs will thank you if you give them a rest… for many of us (most?) cramps are more a factor of overworked muscles – suffering from the same motion over and over – than dehydration. That is certainly true in my case.
6) the return trip is a lovely, long but non-technical descent, but re’s a lot more climbing that direction than you realize. (-:

Will i do it again? YES. Definitely.
Soon? possibly – but with a plan to start at least 2 hours earlier in the day.
Here’s a suggested cue sheet/map from Google maps (starting at Penitencia Creek Park) which sez the 20.6 miles should take 3:43 of saddle-time (one way) on a bicycle for the average Joe and that sounds about right:
Penitencia Creek Park-MtHamilton Cue-Map. This version goes through Penitencia Creek Park, then takes Noble Ave for a stretch at the beginning (before Alum Rock Park), a quieter option than Piedmont Road to Penitencia Creek Road); and at the mid-point, goes left onto Yerba Buena Trail and past Joseph Grant Park (nice lake) instead of staying on Mt. Hamilton Road (Hwy 130) the whole time to the top. Looks like a nice option! (curious about what the experienced folks think of that?).

Go have fun and explore!
Sherie

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40th Anniversary Cinderella Classic ride report (April 9, 2016) – A Soggy, Silly, Serendipitous Cinderella Adventure

Had plans to drive out with a Grizzly pal Esta in her car, Grizzly pal Sandy would meet us there. We were all eager to ride the longer, hillier 87-mile “Challenge” route (which basically is Patterson Pass counter-clockwise), so would arrive early enough to get to the turn from Cross Rd to Patterson Pass Rd by its 10:30 cut-off point, having just missed it by a minute or two (or less) in the few previous years it’s been offered.

A few days before, we were monitoring the weather, and it looked like I am still up for it, Esta on the fence, Sandy still a maybe, but all three in agreement that assuming we did go, and early enough to make the time cut-off for the “Challenge”, we would stick to the regular “Classic” route and forego the somewhat tricky wet, blustery, twisty descent which the east side of Patterson Pass in the Challenge option offers.

The short version:

both my gals decided to sit it out, and I decided to go by BART.

Leaving the house, I see and hear the 6:02 a.m. southbound BART train rumble onward. OK, so I’ll catch the next one, 6:22 a.m.

some additional delays and costume complications delayed my departure from home.

Once at BART, running up the stairs, at the almost at top of the stairs and miss that one, too!

Catch the next “next train”.  6:43 a.m….. a full 40+ minutes behind schedule.

It will be tight, but I’m pretty sure i’ll still make it.  I am also noticing, for the first time, that I’m the only Cinderella on BART today. That should have been a clue.

You can’t get there from here… or you can.. .but it’s going to be more complicated and take longer than usual.

Track Maintenance (therefore no BART trains) between San Leandro and Bayfair, and vice-versa.

At San Leandro all passengers disembark, descend the stairs/elevator/escalator to the street level, follow the arrows to the special, free buses waiting for the free ride to Bayfair station, re-board BART to continue the journey.  “Expect delays in total travel time up to at least 1 hour.”

At San Leandro, I’ve waited just about as long as I can for the elevator, and am running over to the stairwell to see that it’s several stories high… the helper on BART sees the elevator finally arrive, and holds it for me… I just make the bus before it’s taking off.  The bus ride (and actually, the whole operation of extra helpers and signage at both San Leandro and BayFair BART stations) is a smoothly running, well-staffed operation.  The bus driver takes a quick route to get to BayFair, and the elevator is pretty near to the bus stop.  Just a few minutes of waiting on the train before it departs Bayfair for Dublin/Pleasanton.

8:35 when I arrive Dublin/Pleasanton. It’s not my first rodeo, and part of the way there is also the last piece of the official route, so my path to registration/check-in is well-marked with the familiar pink “Cinderella” arrows on the pavement guiding me onward. The entire ride south and eastbound has shown nothing but gray, drizzly looking skies for as far as the eye can see. But I’m still going to at least show up and try. I put on my “it will work out fine, out of my control anyway” hat, and hope for the best.

I make it just in time (and am glad to see I’m not the last one… several Cinderellas are just coming from their cars in the parking area over to the registration point (about 1/4 mile or so bike ride further).  But the Valley Spokesmen crew have the little mini Luna bars at check-in, so I munch on one as I get going.  It is raining lightly, and has been. Pretty much, I’m soaked from beginning to end.  And have a blast!

As usual, although I’m not a particularly speedy rider by Grizzly standards, on the Cinderella I find that almost nobody ever passes me (or if they do, we leapfrog, and then I make it in before they do)….generally, there are “pods” of riders that all leapfrog off and on, and we see each other again at Rest Stops, but at the end of the day, I’m still more or less in the first or second wave of riders finishing, regardless of when I start. Yesterday was no exception.  The ride itself?  Well, soggy the entire time, raining full time for the better part of the first 50+ miles. Hills are green and luscious. Wildflowers still up and out in the fields. Just a bit cold between mile 18 or so, just before the 1st rest stop and lunch.  After lunch, I zipped up the front of my jacket, as well as the long “air-vent” zippers in the underside of the sleeves – which open, were letting in a bit of wind AND wet earlier; also, having my costume more “cozy” was also aware of some heat radiating up off the pavement on May School Road to Highland. Overall, the course was less windy in the Livermore/Dublin sections than in some other years. I’m always surprised – even though I know it ahead of time – that we end up way over westward in San Ramon before continuing the somewhat circular course back to Pleasanton.  Overall, it’s a fast, flat ride, much of it in beautiful countryside. I also love to do it every year because it holds a special place in my bicycle-riding heart as the ride that gave me the confidence to try longer routes. And the costumes make it a big smile-fest.

The rain kept many of the usual inexperienced “spread across the whole lane going way too slowly” Cinderellas away, and so the actual riding was more pleasant, much like when I started doing the ride in 1996 (and participation was limited to 1000 or 1500 riders, not the 2500 of these days).

I enjoyed the salads at the end  [new, i think, or my memory is getting worse than i thought].  Delicious…. similar in style to our Grizzly Peak Century recipes.  Quinoa; Asian noodle with julienned fresh veggies; baby roma tomatoes with baby bufala mozzarella balls; the usual hot minestrone soup. Very welcome after a wet soggy ride. Grizzly Steve T was a talent with tongs, serving up lunchtime leftovers (Bagels, PB&J, veggie and/or chicken wraps) for those who preferred sandwich fare to the salads. Grizzly Gary H was also on-hand, and I saw him both at the start and at the end.

I had fun. Got soaked, but was never too cold or miserable, by any standard (although I did ask myself, both while on BART and learning of the “extra-credit” delays and gray, gray skies in all directions, “what the heck am i doing going 2+ hours via public transportation just to go riding around in the rain?). Every year I wonder why, and then i go and the atmosphere is always positive.

During the ride and afterward i saw a few Grizzlies: Roxanna (at Wente, Rest Stop #1); Gail G (at lunch), Lenore R (at lunch), Riva (from Benicia Bicycle Club) on-route (getting a flat changed) and at Post-ride; Grizzlies Kati T (and daughter Britt in Minnie Mouse ears, and husband/Grizzly Eric H at Post ride meal), Grizzly Loida M (and riding pal Christina from Oakland), Grizzly/co-worker Betsy Q at lunch (RestStop#2), briefly at RS#3, and post-ride. Were there others?  A light showing of Bears this year.

Here’s the course:

– for the 67-mile “Classic” route (67.6 mi +2242 ft / -2241 ft), billed as:

“This unique bicycle tour for women of all ages and abilities winds through Amador, Livermore, Diablo, and San Ramon Valleys. This metric century (100k/67 miles) is mostly flat with a few moderate hills. From the start at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, the ride circles south through Pleasanton, out through the vineyards of Livermore, then north and along the base of beautiful Mt. Diablo to Danville, where it turns south and winds back to the Fairgrounds in Pleasanton.”

Ride with GPS link:  https://ridewithgps.com/routes/12673766

– for the 87-mile “Challenge” route (87.7 mi +4334 ft / -4334 ft, incl. Patterson Pass loop):

“The Challenge route is for fit experienced riders only. The course has an additional 2,000 feet of elevation gain with significant ascents and descents and increases the total ride distance to 87 miles. Entry to the Challenge route is monitored and closes at 10:30 am.”

Ride with GPS link: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/12812589

Here i am in the photo from one of the photographer’s sites. Copyright MilesJohn/NaturalLightPhotography: http://www.milesjohnphotos.com/#/gallery/cinderella-16-c5-845-to-10-00/mj6-1213/

the URL will probably auto-forward to other pics of other riders, so you can appreciate the general happy vibe of the ride …

Other Cinderella photos can be found at another event photographer’s site, PhotoCrazy.com (here I am at 11:18 a.m.): http://www.photocrazy.com/cgi-bin/inspect_fullsize.plphotoID=P160409111852101d1&path=/2016/0408CIN/Cin1&ev=1196&picno=3321482

There was one more official-looking photo guy right before the intersection at Cross Rd & Patterson Pass Road, I haven’t located his site yet, but that’s the shot I really want. There’s a wee climb just before the road drops down again to the intersection, and I saw him sitting in the back of his truck with the long lens out, so I stood up on the pedals, smiled and pushed hard ahead, and as I approached, he said, “you make it look easy” (yeah, I wish! But truthfully, was happy for the compliment. And I do generally have a broad smile on my face when I ride my bicycle…).

Totaling the 67.7 miles of the Cinderella Classic course, plus the 5 flat “bonus-miles” each way between Dublin/Pleasanton BART and the ride’s Start/Finish at the Alameda Fairgrounds, plus the 1 flat “bonus-mile” each way between home and El Cerrito BART, I had 79.7 miles for the day.  My average pace was 12.9 mph… not terribly fast, but not terribly slow, either, especially considering I was wearing a multi-layered, soggy, billowy party dress and loose rain jacket. Fun Day!  I’ll do it again next year, too. Just a wonderful tradition for me. Maybe even make the time cut-off for the “Challenge” course, for once!

I got home late (after 7:30 p.m.) after a long BART/bus/BART ride on the return trip. It was raining locally, still. Ben offered to buy dinner and suggested if I ordered take-out at Cafe Raj and walked over to pick it up, he’d buy. I didn’t turn that down! Called in the order, took a long, steamy shower and washed my hair, then walked over to “the Avenue” to fetch a quick and sumptous supper. Three dishes, plus 2 chapati and 1 order of rice, a dish of delicious raita “on the house.” Enough food for dinner that night and lunch on Sunday. Yum yum. Life is Good!

Ciao & cheers,

Sherie

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New Year’s Day on Mount Diablo – PH BART – SouthGate – NorthGate

Grizzlies,

have i mentioned lately i love this club?

today was such a fine example of positive spirit and a commitment to having fun and accomplishing a good physical effort while honoring tradition outweighing “what if” excuses and erroneous data.

from PH BART, four leaders and 27 other riders headed out on a wonderful alternative (quiet, beautiful) route to the normal “direct” way we’re used to going on the traditional loop (Alamo Rd, Danville Rd to Stone Valley Rd..etc). [Thanks to Phil Morton for providing me the base cue sheet as well as ridewithgps link (/routes/6459400). As i mentioned at the start, Phil reports that much of the cue sheet is from Carol Feagles, with some refinements on the return by Charles Nighbor… so thanks to them, too!].

We did not meet our intended goal of convergence with Mark A’s M-paced Berkeley-SouthGate group at the Athenian School, but i understand from some in our PH-SouthGate group and from Chris & Pat’s PH-HeatherFarm-NorthGate group who ventured high and observed “Mark A sightings” that the M-pacers mostly summited and headed down before some of us reached Junction. Suffice to say, we had a few delays:

1) large group and a slightly modified/late start from PH BART (there was a flat tire getting changed, and also more people just kept showing up!), that was a GOOD thing – the more, the merrier, so we waited and took off a few minutes late…

2) most of the group went straight on the Canal Trail instead of seeing/making the turn onto Cherry Lane near the start (so we hollered and corralled them back – that took about 5 minutes or so);

3) some of us arrived at Livorna Park a lot later than the majority, having missed a turn onto Shady Glen from Walnut Blvd.. the mileage continued to accumulate until a “no through traffic” sign at the cul de sac at the end, so we made our way back to Bales/Mountain to make a left turn onto Palmer to get back on course… (that’s what happens when the lead leader has been out of town and has not had an opportunity to properly scout a route new to her!).

Also, once we arrived at Livorna Park for our first Regroup/Rest Stop, and the larger part of the group was ready to leave (which they did with co-leaders Ann and Janet), I spent a few minutes extra removing several layers down to my base layer so I could take off the Wool Jersey which proved to be one warm layer too many even for the flats (over SmartWool base layer and under GPC fleece-lined thermal jersey and GPC fleece-lined thermal vest), so made a solo ride continuing to the Athenian School where i waved my dutifully and kindly assembled group to continue forward and upward. (i left the thermal underwear on under my fleece-lined long-legged wind-stopper tights, even though they had started to feel warm the first few miles… and was glad to have them once i left Livorna Park, and especially in the cooler temperatures on the mountain.

I went only as far as Junction, as this was my first time on the road bike since the October ASSR! and when i made the last turn at Maple Nook to the Junction, my quads told me “this is enough for a first ride in a while”… a decision for which I am happy, as last time i attempted (and succeeded) in a Mt. Diablo Summit on NYD after not riding for a while (two years ago, to be exact), on the final, super-steep ramp to the summit I strained my left inside quad muscle just above the knee (yeah, i know – there is probably a better, more accurate anatomical term for that piece of physiology…. ), and it hasn’t been right ever since!

Hung around at Junction for a while, saw Chris & Pat descending from their journey upward to Juniper… enjoyed a delicious brownie from Alison (“pink panniers”), and chatted with several Grizzlies while waiting for much of the accumulated moisture to evaporate from my SmartWool base layer.  Happily loaned my thickest, longest, warmest neck gaiter to Cristian who returned from the Summit freezing and shivering (I had an extra which I donned before descending), switched out my lightweight, mesh-top, KOM cap that is good for winter climbing, with the heavier, warmer SmartWool beanie (for winter descending), put my green long-sleeved GPC wool jersey, arm warmers, fleece-lined GPC full-zip long-sleeved jersey, nylon GPC wind jacket, and rainbow tie-dye buff, back on, along with fleece/neoprene toe covers, lightweight wind-pants, and finally my fleece-lined wind-stopper GPC thermal vest for the descent down to Peet’s.

OK, why do i spend so much time, so many words describing my attire:  because partly one learns over the years what extra layers to bring on a cold morning that also involves a considerable amount of climbing followed by a bone-chilling descent.  For one day a year, it’s OK to pack the little satchel of contingency options… and it usually – as it did today – proves to help another Grizzly!  (the same was true in the loan of some ear warmers by Grizzly Doug Smith to a rider who appreciated it – and whom we are still trying to identify – Steve, i think, not of the Tracy variety, went all the way to the summit with Jessica??.  Think “Mark Homrighausen w/ a few more lbs and a bit of salt & pepper in the coiffure.”  Handsome in an Antonio Banderas look-alike way…. (oops, sorry, apparently i digress!  Hope my enthusiastic descriptions are not perceived as offensive or inappropriate, i mean it not that way… I can tell i’m overdue for going to see my Hindi-film hero, Shahrukh Khan’s latest film, “Dilwale”  which is getting mixed reviews but doesn’t he look great in the trailers!(oh sweet, one trailer is followed by trailers for upcoming SRK flicks “Raees” – premiering EID 2016, around early July – and “Fan!” coming to theaters near you on tax day, April 15, 2016!). Anyway, back to Steve, or Antonio, or ersatz Mark H….we were all at Peet’s together at the big community table after the descent.  If this is YOU, then please tag up with Doug for the return of the 180s ear warmers!

A bunch of Grizzlies were nestled in at Mountain Mike’s Pizza (maybe Mark A’s M-paced group???) when some of us reached the Ygnacio Plaza shopping center.  I headed straight for Peet’s to find most of Chris & Pat’s group enjoying coffee or hot cocoa or hot tea and other sweet and savory treats. That was fun, and more Grizzlies from our group kept appearing later…. these stalwarts had ventured all the way to the Summit (or at least to Juniper).  Good Gracious! That will be ME, next year.

Bottom line, fantastic day on the mountain… Thanks again to my wonderful co-leaders Ann Lehr, Janet Monks and Stephanie Clarke, and to all the riders who accompanied us to the Junction (and a lot of you braved the cold and the winds even higher!!), also to Chris Witt and Pat Greene who led the other group via Heather Farm up NorthGate and down, and to Mark Abrahams who led the M-paced group from Berkeley…. i look forward to a report on that adventure soon!

All in all, it was a perfect way to start out the New Year.  2016 is going to be Grand! I can just tell!  We missed those of you who “woulda coulda shoulda” and stayed home to savor indoor entertainment instead of joining in on the fun today.  it was indeed cold, but not in the least “crazy”.  Hope you do have a wonderful ride of your own tomorrow or in the next few days….

(did i mention i love this club?)…

cheers,

MamaBear Sherie

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Leading in the Lane – one woman’s reverie on taking a turn at pulling

The winter holidays bring stress, but also joy. Sometimes sketchy weather (can be dicey for cycling on rain-soaked roads), but the crisp, cool skies of a dry day in the season always give me a renewed sense energy and vigor! The new year brings new beginnings.

This year we have (at this writing) at least two groups converging for our traditional New Year’s Day ride up Mount Diablo. Mark Abrahams will lead the “fasties” from Berkeley, and I will be accompanied by co-leaders Ann Lehr and Janet Monks for a loop from Pleasant Hill BART. Both groups will join at the Athenian School at the foot of the mountain, before starting the climb (summit optional, but it seems we always get a large contingent scaling that final brutal ramp to the top where the 360 degree views are unbeatable!)

2011-06-11_11-24-18_520

I’m excited to share several new developments which promise to bring new vitality into the club. As much as I continue to honor and be impressed by so many of our long-time members and officers (both as riders and as volunteers), it gives me no shortage of pleasure to see new ideas and leadership constantly arriving in the form of younger club members. Happy to see both Mary Ann Jawili and Jessica Jensen in their roles as “Additional Director” Board members . . . .Hmmmm, methinks perhaps we can parlay these talents into one of the primary officer positions in the next year or two??). In addition to being strong riders and steady ride leaders, both of these young women are making positive contributions in other aspects of Grizzly Peak Cyclists’ organizational efforts: Mary Ann as “Bike Expo Coordinator” and “Post-Century ride and picnic Coordinator”; and of course, Jess as our excellent Holiday Party Coordinator (that was a WAY FUN time at Faz for the holiday dinner in 2015!).

Our Vice-President, Mark Nienberg, continues with innovative updates to the club website. Rumor has it there may (sooner or later) be a mechanism for online ride submittal – which may expand impromptu listings to the website listings, and not just to GPC-Talk. In other news, club member and formidable Randonneur, Craig Hicks, has worked hard in the background developing an exciting off-road option for our 2016 Century.

Century Chair, Frank Castro took on the role as a newcomer in 2015 and after “flying blind by the seat of his pants” committed to re-enlisting in 2016, and has taken on the task of securing really awesome artwork/graphics for the Century Jersey, T-Shirt and patch, as well as sourcing a very cost-effective vendor for the shirts — I was at the most recent Century Planning Meeting and can vouch for the quality of the product!

I am continuing a “new” tradition begun with the inspired idea of Eric Rydman and Estella of a few years ago for a club wool jersey, and hope to get a re-authorization of funds for another round of red, long sleeved Wool Jerseys at the upcoming club meeting on Wednesday, January 13th. The design will be the same classic “Hawthorne” style we’ve ordered before and I’m happy to report that after posting my initial “feeler” email to the GPC-Talk list in the middle of the night, I already had about 10 requests for these shirts. At this writing (several weeks before the Jan.13th meeting), about 8 more members have weighed in on their interest with their preliminary orders for a Wool Jersey. Available sizes are M, L, and XL. (Separately, 2 of the 3 remaining green short sleeve “Forest Park” jerseys in our inventory have been spoken for, as well as the 1 remaining long sleeved green one). So, THANK YOU again to Eric and Estella for starting this adventure and also to the club for allowing me to continue to promote it!

This holiday, Ben and I are doing a road trip south to spend time with family, but will return in time for the annual New Year’s Day ride up Mount Diablo. I am happy to be co-leading one of the loops, from Pleasant Hill BART up the mountain via South Gate and down North Gate, hoping for a happy convergence at the Athenian School with our fast-rider group led by Mark Abrahams from Berkeley. Then we’ll all make it up to the Junction, and as many further up to the Summit, before gathering for post-ride celebratory meal at Ygnacio Plaza shopping center before making our way back to our start locations and home. I hear a third group might go up North Gate and back down, lead by our venerable seasoned members, Chris Witt and Pat Greene on the tandem. I love this mix of options for the first ride of the New Year. Gives me hope and cheer for great collaboration and innovations in the year to come.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to all,
May our roads stay dry, our muscles strong, our joints and minds flexible!

20151217_104930

“We Can Do It!!”

Cheers,

 
Sherie (“MamaBear”)
President, Grizzly Peak Cyclists
“Grizzly Strong”

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Sun – Oct 4 – Fort Ross Road, Willow Creek Road, Figure 8 Challenge Ride recap

DuncansMills-FortRossRd-WillowCreek_Map_Elevation_ESRIFirst, let it be known that the emphasis is on the “Challenge” part.

I think the entire group would agree!

Here’s what the ride listing said (yeah, it’s my ride, altering another one I found to suit our needs, and i submitted it; discovered later the actual mileage is LESS and the elevation MORE than what the posting states):

Sun Oct 4   4/T/58, 4/TM/58   Fort Ross Rd/Willow Creek Rd – Figure 8 Challenge (approx. 4700 ft elevation gain)
Join Kurt and Sherie for a dual-paced romp in the coastal redwoods and high plateaus of rural western Sonoma County. This cordial but challenging ride will give you a choice of riding the beautiful hills either T (Sherie) or TM (Kurt) style, joining riders of both paces together at key regroup points (including an al fresco lunch break – maybe to live acoustic jazz – at Cafe Aquatica overlooking the mouth of the Russian River in Jenner-by-the-Sea (https://tinyurl.com/cafeAquaticaJenner). Meet at 10:00 a.m. in Duncans Mills (B Street – please park on B street behind where the store patrons need to park), ride inland to Austin Creek/Cazadero and up over Fort Ross Road, down Meyers Grade for the most fun descent to Hwy 1 to be had around these parts, then climb the lovely, rural Willow Creek Road and swoop down to Occidental before returning through the redwoods to Duncans Mills. Optional Bailout after Jenner if you don’t want to tackle the dirt/gravel climb of Willow Creek…. but then you’d miss a whole lot of the fun! See cue sheet and map at http://ridewithgps.com/routes/9917371. <SNIP>

There were seven riders total (including the two leaders, Kurt and myself).

You know how they say that people of mixed paces can ride together pretty easily, and then throw in a hill and see the separation happen?

Well, yeah, that happened. It seems we were all together for the first couple of miles on Fort Ross Road, but by about mile 2 of the 9 mile climb, the faster kids were out of eye and ear range.

Also, it was one of those days I felt I was just losing my mind, as many of my otherwise pretty good memory and spacial cognitive powers seemed to be short circuiting. (my co-riders pointed out later – in kinder terms than I will represent here – that it was just a case of my brain being fried from the hard climb on Fort Ross Road.)

A bit past the 1/2 way point of the climb, we approach a “Y” in the road (where some sport motorcyclists were doing fast, loud, smoky, smelly wheelies toward us! (you know, the kind of thing that’s just hella fun if you’re the one doing it, but not so much if you’ve been climbing a hard hill on a bicycle for a very long time, and suddenly getting charged at with speed, noise and fumes?).  Ah, but i digress.  At this point, Fort Ross Road veers off downhill toward the right, and continues somewhat steeply on somewhat sketchy pavement for a long time.  Too long – because it also means we are going to have to climb back out of it. Which we did.

 “It’s just around the Corner!”

Fort Ross Road comes right into Meyers Grade, and here it was that i had my first “mis-memory”, as I happily told my charge that we’d be coming very soon to the fun downhill.  Oh, my, did i ever mis-remember THAT!  For Meyers Grade undulates mostly gently but with some steeps upward for quite a long time before getting into the real descent that I so love.

Aadi was ahead of me at this point, which turned out to be a good thing, because when I caught up with him about 1000 yards from the turn onto Hwy 1, he was stopped on the side of the road, having just discovered that his phone had somehow come out of his pocket on the descent . Now it happens that this occurred in one of the last shadowy areas before it opens up to the really fun, fast part, and I had seen something in the lane near the center line of a shadowy curve, a few pieces of plastic-construction, some red, some black, some bright yellow, could not quite identify what it was, but kinda thought “that looks like it came off of some bicycle” (like pieces of a light, or something).  So he started back up to get it while i flagged down a driver to pick him up and take him to where it had fallen, then he was back and we got onto Hwy 1 and those lovely wedding cake layers down to the water and back up before Jenner. (Good news, screen cracked but phone functional).

Dual-Paced REGROUPS, Slinky-Style

Cafe Aquatica was good, but each order is lovingly and individually prepared in a small kitchen. So the faster riders had ordered but some were still waiting for food when we arrived. Some had ordered quicker-prepared delicacies, and they were finished with their meal. I think everyone was happy with the brownies that i’d made last night and brought (and Jim Rosenau gallantly carried in his CamelBak! Thanks, Jim!!!).

happy but tired riders, rewarded with home-made brownies at Cafe Aquatica in Jenner: me, Aaditya, David (photo credit Kurt Doelling)

happy but tired riders, rewarded with home-made brownies at Cafe Aquatica in Jenner: me, Aaditya, David (photo credit Kurt Doelling; pastry credit MamaBear; CamelBak credit Jim Rosenau)

these three just look TOO rested! Christina, Kurt and Jim (photo credit Aadi, with Kurt's phone)

these three just look TOO rested! Christina, Kurt and Jim (photo credit Aadi, with Kurt’s phone)

 The “Extra” Effect and Memory

On Willow Creek Road, again things just didn’t seem right… some of the landmarks seemed out of place (did i really have to hop the barrier at the beginning of the trail section before? –  Also, the fast kids took off from lunch about 5-10 minutes before us, so it was just Aadi and me again, and we were happily talking about Indian films and the relative comparative virtues of SRK and Aamir Khan, and then the climbing began in earnest!!  And the whole time with me thinking we were somehow, impossibly on the wrong piece of trail.  I vaguely remember – or misremember – just going through a narrow opening; so the whole time up i kept thinking i’d taken the wrong spur, although i did spot the little picnic spot on the left with the large stumps and logs.  And after that point, I had remembered the top section much shorter than it was today… and that once on the pavement at the top, Coleman Valley is a quick left turn and then a short descent down into town.  None of this was true today. Way more climbing after the picnic area, both on the trail section and the paved section, and certainly also on the Coleman Valley part later on.  I’m familiar enough with both of these roads to finally re-connect the dots at key points, but there were many moments of being disoriented and disconcerted.

I was able to keep going on some of the steep, slippery sections, but in two places i opted to unclip while i still could rather than risk a clumsy fall higher up. Even the walking was steep and challenging!  The turn onto Coleman Valley Road seemed a LOT further from the top of the dirt trail than i’d remembered before, (and even further from the paved residential section above that).

Now, i am reminded by my co-riders that all of the previous times i’ve done this ride, even starting back as far as the mid-80s and the last time must be at least about 2-1/2 years ago, that I pretty much started out in Duncans Mills, and just did the loop from there, up Willow Creek Road, down into Occidental, and back via Bohemian Hwy and Moscow Road to Duncans Mills. Fresh legs, fresh brain? Does it make a difference. Why, yes, decidedly it does!  (I believe putting the timing of my last ride up Willow Creek Road at three years is pretty accurate, because i remember wearing my bright pink “Laugh In” themed Sheila Moon bicycling costume, and used the photo from that ride in one of my first Madame La Prez columns for the WT. So, let’s just say it has been a while since my last time of Willow Creek Road!

Anyway, we made it!  And eventually arrived at Coleman Valley Road – seems like miles from where it was before! and also eventually arrived at Occidental. I was going to make the right turn toward our “scheduled” regroup when we spotted Philippe down the other end of the parking lot in the opposite direction, sort of in front of the Union Hotel… The other four riders had just taken off about 5 minutes before we arrived, and after a brief rest, the three of us high-tailed it along Bohemian Hwy and Moscow Road pushing a nice, fast, strong pace. All of the other riders were still at Duncans Mills when we got there, so I guess we made pretty good time!

Said our goodbyes, I think folks genuinely enjoyed the ride, new roads for several. That – and my feeling of accomplishment that i actually did it and finished strong – made it a highly successful day and good way to spend a Sunday! Thanks to my co-leader, Kurt, for agreeing to piece these two hard hills together into one GPC loop. Thanks to all the riders who came to experience it with us and provided miles and miles of great company (Aaditya, Philippe, Jim, David, Christina).  Also, thank you to everyone for the great creativity and flexibility with carpools for the 6 riders we knew for sure were coming, stuffing 3 people and lots of gear into each of two vehicles. It worked out well for all, I think!

From many comparative accounts, it seems that total distance of our ride was closer to about 52 or 53 miles than the anticipated 57+ that the ridewithgps folks told us it would be.  (i often find that the program creates some inadvertent “out-and-back” turns, etc that tend to bump up the total mileage).  OTOH, our riders with altimeters report elevation gains of over 5000 ft, as opposed to the 4700+ ft which ridewithgps promised.[*See ADDENDUM below!!].

Will i do it again?  Well, sure, I probably will. . . . Sonoma coast still high on my list for beautiful scenery and low-traffic cycling enjoyment; but it’s clear i need to start back into my hill-sprint training and also resume my “normal” hilly commute, to be able to better prepare for these tough weekend adventures!

ADDENDUM (October 5, 2015):

This is a link to the revised cue sheet and map (new ridewithgps link removes extra “artifact” miles from Jenner to Duncans Mills and back before going up Willow Creek). New map only://ridewithgps.com/routes/10693423). Corrected Cue Sheet & Map here and Map/Elevation as introductory image for this post above. [50.0 miles; 5000 ft elevation gain. and it’s not really a “Figure 8″… strikes me now more like an upside down flipped outline of my beloved Santa Catalina Island. . . . what do YOU think?]:

DuncansMills_FortRossRd-WillowCreekRd

DuncansMills-FortRossRd-WillowCreek_Map_Elevation_ESRI

The Real Deal: 50 miles, 5000+ ft climbing!!

CatalinaIsland

Santa Catalina Island

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Friday – 28-Nov-2014 – Post Thanksgiving Turkey burnoff – one bakery – Miller Creek – Marshall Wall – Pt.Reyes Stn loop

was looking forward to this one since seeing it earlier in the “future listings”…. combo of these particular ride leaders and the loop being such a winning prospect for a good day on the bike.
then thanksgiving and oh, am i supposed to stay home and finish making that big pot of soup, and start xmas baking? or would i be able to sneak out for a day of fun. in the errrrrrr sunshine…..
last minute posting for carpool, then just jumped in the Jetta and scooted on over the RSR bridge, getting myself to the start about 9:15, plenty of time to get ready in a more relaxed mode, for a nice change (-:

It had been clear skies at home, but as soon as i reached the end of Buchanan Street to merge onto the 580, the fog was already socked in (yes, my weather reports for all areas had predicted that, too, to the inclusion of “45 degrees and dense fog” in Pt.Reyes Stn….. however, for that location and everywhere else i needed to know, no actual rain prediction until 17:00. OK, i’m gonna put my trust in the weather dudes and sheer hope. Meanwhile, the further northwest i drove, the more grey and wet it became, and i’m thinking – oh man, this does not make for safe conditions – or much fun – for a bicycle ride…. ..

…. but somewhat magically, just past Terra Linda, blue skies and a bit of sunshine spread out above. by the time we rolled out, a nice group of about 16 or 17 had gathered, with a few more meeting us in Nicasio. This 60 mile loop is about the perfect thing for a bicycle ride. The hilly sections are just enough of a challenge to make one have to put in some good effort, and at the top of Marshall Wall, the view down toward Tomales lagoon is heavenly. Recent repaving and patching on Marshall Road over the past year or two replace the former nerve and wheel-rattling pothole-ridden obstacle course into a pleasurable swoop along some of the most beautiful terrain in our coastal hills and the section along Hwy 1 just after where the wall drops at Marshall and meanders along the lagoon is one of my favorite stretches of road, anywhere. Spacing of the terrain throughout the ride… where the hills are in relation to the flats and rollers…. is just about perfect for alternate bouts of climbing and stretching those bones at a fast pace. The only place i start feeling a bit laggy (and this is true every time) is the short section around Drakes Bay Oyster Company… it’s ridiculously scenic, but for some reason my energy just goes flat for a few miles before Pt. Reyes Stn.

Yesterday i took a very minor detour from the the standard cue sheet…. i’ve always noticed that Cypress Ave – the street immediately before Mesa Ave – off of Hwy 1 – comes back in at a right-angle to Mesa just before the first big left-sweeping turn on Mesa…. and wondered what that road is like… so yesterday i exited Hwy 1 at Cypress instead of Mesa. Quiet residential avenue with one little bump about 100 ft high. Nice. (disclaimer: hmmm, i’m sort of reporting this not in an effort to alter the cue sheet, and hoping it’s followed only on solo hops, not a bunch of loud-talking, hungry folks chomping at the bit in anticipation of that long-waited restroom break and Bakery stop in town – you KNOW how we can get!!… as Cypress is quieter and narrower then Mesa and i’m sure the residents want to keep it that way.)

Avg pace until the main part of the climb on Marshall Road: 13.7 (dropped to 12.6 by the top)… went back up along Hwy 1, but somehow (blame it on that section on Hwy 1 by Drakes Bay Oyster Co), my overall avg was only 12.4 by the end of the day…. and i didn’t quite have my normal energy after the bridge turn onto Petaluma-Hwy and section of reservoir along Nicasio, or even after the final combs on Lucas Valley Rd to the finish where i usually cruise along at between 19-25 mpg (only reached 21 tops in that section yesterday… then again, i pulled for a long distance both before and after the turn at the reservoir.)

My Stats for the day (taken from my cyclometer after reaching home):
Distance: 59.70 mi
12.4: Avg mph
35.4: max mph
4:46:47 saddle time

Route amenities: well, if you want to make a day of it, sure – in addition to the porta-potty stop at Nicasio (both directions), one can blow a bunch of time and $$ getting some R&R, food, water, etc. at the following along the way:

  • Miller Creek Community Center: restrooms (at start/fin of ride)
  • Nicasio Valley Cheese Company – YUMMMMY!! just around the bend outside the main part of “town” in Nicasio
  • The Cheese Factory – otherwise known as the Marin French Cheese Company, the home of “Rouge et Noir”: cheeses, sandwiches, beverages. Good restrooms in separate building outside. Enjoy a picnic lunch staring at the waterfowl in their own little pond. This well-known cheese factory and “shoppe” comes along right when you’ve dropped down from the stair step climbs off Pt.Reyes – Petaluma Hwy: heck, if you plan ahead, you can even have a tour of the place. Also, it’s really the last opportunity for any restroom, water or food purchase til you reach the coast. On the other hand, momentum is good, and you’re on a good roll, just keep on going. (yup, that’s why we bring “pocket food”).
  • Hog Island Oyster Company: right where you drop down onto the Hwy 1 from the wall.
  • Nick’s Cove:  i used to come here on my motorcycle trips. Burgers, BBQ oysters, beers
  • Marshall Hotel,
  • Tony’s Seafood Restaurant  –  Marshall, CA – never been, place always seems to be packed, though
  • The Marshall Store: this is the classic bike-picnic stop! Cash only; porta potties outside. great chowder and samiches, delicious and worth the wait.
  • any one will give you great chowder, crab sandwich (in season NOW), hot coffee, burger-death, fries
  • Drakes Bay Oyster Co.: the final stop on the coast before Pt.Reyes Station. BBQ oysters and fresh ones to take home, too. Always tempting to bring a satchel and stop in for a to-go portion for home. But while on the bike, it’s a total madhouse scene with way too many cars, set right where you need to start climbing a bit. Ugh. I usually have my big-mouth voice on for that section, ever vigilant for whoever is going to turn from the dirt parking area back onto the Hwy, or from the Hwy to the parking area, right across my path – “NO!!! HEY – STOP!!!”
  • Pt. Reyes Station public restroom: continue on Mesa Rd across State Hwy 1 (also accessible by crossing through the parking lot of the Wells Fargo Bank, if you’re too lazy to go all the way around between the restrooms and the Bovine Bakery).
  • Bovine Bakery: coffee, cocoa, hot soup, yummy treats both sweet and savory. Line 5 abreast in front. Thank goodness for pocket food! (and Thanks, Susan Jeiven for sharing her soup. Susan had joined us in Pt.Reyes Stn after soloing out from Sausalito.) And “secret” water spigot tucked away right next to the Grizzly Peak Cyclists bench at the edge of the Marin Commons. I sat THERE, sort of perched on my little Grizzly Peak throne, well – you know, cuz i’m a Grizzly and Grizzly Mama! and shared stories and a bit of chocolate brought by Birthday girl Sandy E! (thanks, Sandy!) btw, the many tree stumps strewn about the commons in the sunshine looked mighty welcoming, too!
  • Cowgirl Creamery: (Pt.Reyes Station). this is the original factory and store, located in Tomales Bay Foods on 4th Street (keep going straight instead of turning left for the Bovine Bakery)
  • Palace Market: everything! just gotta love a place that has a picture of parsnips featured in the fresh veggie bin on their website!
  • Toby’s CoffeeBar: California Hwy 1, same side of street as Palace Mkt. in Pt.Reyes Stn.
  • Station House Cafe: same street as Bovine Bakery (this is for if you’re really in a relaxed mode, maybe on a day trip or weekend holiday, and maybe have something else to wear other than your lycra!, live music Sundays at 5pm too.)
  • Rancho Nicasio: on the town square of Nicasio – sandwiches, oysters, crab and chili fries. to-go in the shed outside, or sit and relax with a beer at the restaurant. I’ve heard tell, “arguably the best chili fries, anywhere” (undocumented source)

But since this is a Bad Ass Grizzly ride, there is no such stopping. After climbing up and over Lucas Valley Road, short regroup/porta-potty, add’l sign-ins at Nicasio. The mere hint of a rolling re-group at Hicks Valley, the Marshall wall summit and the intersection of Marshall & hwy 1. Restroom and bakery break in Pt.Reyes Stn. Porta-potty back in Nicasio. That’s the way we roll on a Steph-Janet TM-paced ride. And it’s fun… and heck-yeah, we sure did beat the rain! Thanks to Stephanie and Janet for putting on a great ride and getting me out of my lazy stop & slow trend!

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Measure Twice, Cut Once

Measure Twice, Cut Once
(…. some (retrospective) humor from a bicycling-commuter’s perspective….)

Had a somewhat amusing lesson today…..

On 9/4/2014 5:51 PM, Communications wrote:
Subj: Update on Lawrence Road Closure…

Lawrence Road under the Centennial Bridge will remain closed while further evaluations of the structure are completed.

Strawberry Gate will remain open until midnight tonight to accommodate those who need access into this evening, and will reopen at 5:30am on Friday.

….. which (i thought) would indicate that this morning i could have come through via bicycle, rather than being instructed upon reaching Strawberry Gate to continue further uphill to Grizzly Gate

oops!  of all the days to decide i’d do my “full” bike commute (from Albany to Berkeley, up through Campus to Gayley, Rim Road, Centennial to Strawberry Gate, then rollers back across LBNL to my office in the northern part)!  apparently, i sort of only “half-read” (or “half-understood”) last night’s message so thought i’d be able to do that full commute.

Alas, it was not to be!  First i had the detour from Gayley/Rim road over to dicey Channing Circle and up the back side of Memorial Stadium to get to Centennial… and then the “Road Closed” signs upon reaching Strawberry Gate……normally i enjoy the steeps and rollers that come from Strawberry Gate across LBNL to my building (56A)… but going Centennial further uphill to Grizzly Gate?????  Yikes!   I’ve done it enough times in the past to know that section is even harder than the part before Strawberry Gate, and today – feeling a bit old, fat, out of shape these days – just reaching Strawberry Gate I was almost at my limit, so ready for my rollers across LBNL;

I’ll note it’s also a dangerous left turn into the Grizzly Gate, with downhill traffic coming from a somewhat blind curve (from uphill) and also car traffic coming from behind (from downhill). (typically, if i’m going in Grizzly Gate, i’ll have gone up Spruce/Grizzly Peak down Centennial, and then r/h turn into Grizzly Gate)

Normally, although any uphill on Centennial is ridiculously HARD, in my normal fitness level I would have just gritted my teeth and continued up Centennial….but these days i’m working my way back up to prime fitness from a few years of injury/laziness…. (ach!). Fortunately, one of the LBNL shuttle bus drivers who was going in the van up through Grizzly Gate offered to give me a lift. (Thanks, Dianna!)
Finally, although I appreciate the reasons behind closing Lawrence Road due to safety reasons (*retaining wall cracked/unstable), I was at first unclear why my offer to WALK my bike up Lawrence road along the south side until past the retaining wall (if the problem is on the north side of the road); it is also true that if the retaining wall crumbles and causes the bridge/overpass (i.e., “Centennial Drive”) to collapse, then sending traffic out on Centennial (up to Grizzly Gate) also means that same traffic is traveling directly on top of the unstable area.  Just some food for thought.

Anyway, I guess I’m appreciative that LBNL Faciliites is thinking on the conservative side for safety. I’d hate to think of the worst-case scenario if the whole deal suddenly went south and there were no precautions to prevent people from going through there…. and i suppose the info put out “Lawrence Road under the Centennial Bridge will remain closed while further evaluations of the structure are completed” should have given me all the information I needed… Strawberry Gate open but Lawrence Road still closed….guess i just didn’t put two and two together…. “Coach” (my hubby) keeps telling me i’m supposed to start doing the longer Spruce/Grizzly/Centennial-Grizzly Gate commute option for my training, anyway…. (slightly longer and with many “sprint interval” options). and once i do that a few times, i’ll be in shape to go the other way and brave the climb up Centennial past Strawberry to Grizzly Gate (-:

That’s the theory, anyway…

Ride far, have fun!

Sherie

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GPC Century Prep Ride #4 – “Three Small Walls” (Sunday – April 6, 2014)

Century Prep Ride #4 Ride Report – “Three Small Walls”
(…or “who NAMED that thing, anyway???!!!…”)*

Hi all,

We had a good ride yesterday, 33 cyclists in our group, including the 5 of us ride leaders (me, Jessica J, Chris W, Estella, and Brian A).

I gave a briefing, letting folks know that this one is the ride during/after which some people “re-evaluate” their commitment to riding our Century, so people would not be too discouraged without warning on the “three” walls… also explaining that IMHO, the ride is really more like 6-7 small walls, with most of those happening before the first “official” wall.

Estella led out the first segment, with Jessica and Chris and I more or less in the middle and Brian acting as Sweep until the lunch break. I had planned on sweeping after lunch, however the group was strong, and largely comprised repeat riders from the first three Prep rides and the 2 warm-up rides (Thanks to all of the leaders for THOSE rides, too – who helped prepare our group for yesterday’s suffer-fest!).

A couple of seasoned, stronger riders joined in on the fun, including Mark A and Ken M, who were repeat offenders, having just done McEwen the day before with Eric Rydman’s sojourn into the hills for Coffee.

For co-leader Jessica and myself, we were also still glowing in the “joy” of a small but rather “wall-less” metric Century warm-up ride on Saturday… namely the Cinderella Classic…. so I definitely felt McEwen yesterday more acutely than I do normally.

Many riders were commenting on how green and luscious and pastoral our hillsides are right now. I can’t agree more.

I had recommended riders fetch their “to-go” picnic lunch provisions at either Valona Deli or J&L Market in Crockett. As it happened, we learned upon arrival in Crockett that Valona Deli is now closed on Sundays until evening.. but thanks to Estella’s diplomatic and graceful pleading, J&L Market in Crockett was very accommodating to our group for use of the restroom in exchange for folks contributing to the local commerce in the store. For my $4.38, i rode away quite happily with a packet of teriyaki beef jerky, a bag of delicious jalapeno-spiced potato chips, and an almond Snicker’s bar…. perfect sweet/hot/salty refreshments for a hot day.

Last one out of the restroom and store, i ended up lagging a bit – also visiting for a short minute with Vicki & John B who rolled in on their own ride just as i was preparing to leave….

McEwen was the usual climb-fest… and solitary as i was, i noted as usual – in the first 1/4 mile on the right-hand side of the road “wow, if tired or losing focus for a short second, or any number of other reasons….a person could just fall right down that cliff into the ravine” (which it turned out, a Grizzly had done the day before… i learned last night after my ride – YIKES! Be EVER careful and wary out there, my friends!)

Franklin Canyon has been recently chip-sealed, so bump bump bump the entire stretch and i rode in the edge of the regular traffic lane, avoiding the additional accumulated gravel in the “bike lane” (shoulder), so didn’t power it the way i normally like to do.

Arrived at “lunch” (Swett Elementary in Martinez) and most of the pack was finished with their lunch and ready to roll. Jessica, Estella and Brian led them out. Chris lagged a minute, then with my assurances i was fine and thinking even i *might* catch up, left me to finish my jerky and chips. Pounded the rest of my big water bottle, refilled then headed out.

The deal with Alhambra Valley Road is, it’s lovely and shaded the first 3/4’s or so, and then once you hit “Milagro” and the final, steeper section, it’s full, beating mid-day sun. I deliberately slow down under the two oak trees on the right side of the road, strategically located just when you need the shade… and then reveled in the glorious, zippy descent down the back (front???) side of Pig Farm hill.

Hills along Alhambra Valley Road so green and lush. Wildflowers in abundance. Thoroughly enjoyable… i con myself into memories of this while climbing Castro Ranch back toward El Sobrante.

At the turnoff from Olinda Way onto Valley View, then before the turn onto SPDR, I head into the Dino Mart & Gas station for my final restroom — er, ICE CREAM break (Helado – I put it on the cue sheet, after all – not sure whether others took my advice, but I did and decided to try a new flavor: cucumber and pepino chiles… wonderfully sweet/hot/spicy and cool at the same time). I steal some minutes under the shade of the filling pump shelter, then feeling refreshed and relaxed, head out again on San Pablo Dam Road.

Seems the light at Hillcrest has me standing in the sun for about 3 cycles, but a car finally comes into my lane to trigger the signal, and off i go up “small wall #3”. Legs yelling….me yelling silently back (and ignoring my cell phone chiming in which I figure — correctly, it turns out — is the other leaders calling to tell me they are all at BART/finish and ready to leave), but eventually i’m at the top and descending down Alpine to Amador, and back at BART.

Ken is wrapping up a phone call in the shade, we strategize a bit about the Century Staging & Inventory, then Estella comes around.. the three of us chat for a while and then make our way home through the streets of Richmond, El Cerrito, Albany and beyond.

I’m happy to report that our participants are doing great and right on the money in their training for our hilly Century! It seems we have a pretty steady and strong group this year in our “training” series. YAY!

Thanks also to my co-leaders (especially Estella assisting with rider sign-ins at the start, and leading much of the ride, and Brian who swept the first 1/2). I think this was a successful adventure yesterday! No flats, no mechanicals, no accidents… all added up to a FINE day on the bicycle…..Sunshine, technicolor views and legitimate accomplishment savored by all!!

Cheers,
Sherie
(* – well, we know exactly who named it… Mr. Mike Briggs! He even got credit on the modified cue sheet i prepared)

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