Hills and Wines

l22.jpgThis was a fantastic weekend! Will, the man behind this success was unfortunately unable to join us, being stuck in Denver for work. We missed you!

On Friday, our loop included the infamous Slug Gulch, with its portions at 15%.

On Saturday, all the group was here, we did a figure 8 through Sutter Creek, Volcano and the lower country.

Here is a clip for my favorite part of the road, the gentle climb to Volcano, along Sutter Creek. You can admire the pedaling style of Stephanie, Jeff, Nancy and Doug O, along with a part of my left cheek.


Doug D was probably too far ahead for me to catch up.

Sunday morning was a shorter and somewhat flatter loop to El Dorado and back.

You can view some pictures from Doug and Jerome on the DSSF gallery.

Hope to see even more Spokers on the Gold Country roads next year!

A Dream Century

IMG_0225.jpgSunday, I rode the Tour for Woodside century. I am not sure we can come up with a better route, or a more convenient location.

It included 2 of my favorite climbs in the Bay:

– Kings Mountain, which is almost a model climb, even more so than Old La Honda

– Tunitas Creek, both challenging (but not ridiculously so) and magnificent, with its meandering through the redwoods (without the Muir Woods crowds)

It comprises also the gorgeous Gazos Creek Rd and Stage Rd, and even a bit of Hwy 1 to test your pace line skills in headwind. Of course nothing out of the ordinary for people used to ride in the Peninsula, but beautiful nonetheless.

The support was more than adequate, surprisingly so for a charity ride (its benefits the Woodside High School) with the wonderful surprise Expresso stand on Tunitas Creek when things starts getting serious.

My ride is here. As you can see, its only 75 miles, because I skipped the absurd back-and-forth on Canada Rd, which seems to be there only to get to the 100 “magic” number. Like I care. This way, I could show up at 8 am instead of 6 am, which considerable increased the fun factor of this ride.
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There was only one downside to the century: it seems the proportion of jerks was unusually high, especially amongst a racing team called Peninsula Velo. A century like that is not your training ride, so it would be safer for everybody if you didn’t try at all costs to stay as a pack of 20 racing down at 40 mph. Thanks in advance.

Tunnel, Three Bears, Pinehurst

Seven cyclists challenged themselves over 90km (55mi) and 1410m (4620ft) of ascent. The weather treated the roadsters well, being as cool as one could hope around the San Pablo and Briones reservoirs. Having warmed-up on Tunnel Rd and through Tilden Regional Park, the crew attacked the Three Bears from behind. Team Doug came in with an average time of 36:30 (along Bear Cr Rd from San Pablo Dam Rd to Alhambra Valley Rd). Team David averaged 42:10. And Team AlfredNancy 46:50.

The recovery ride along San Pablo Dam lead to lunch in Orinda, where half of Team David and half of Team AlfredNancy had to then abandon the ride for prior social engagements. A leisurely ride along Moraga Way served as an actif-digestif, and then the gang hit their final challenge up Pinehurst. Team Doug turned in a average 22:57 (Pinehurst from Canyon Rd to Skyline Blvd), and the now more evenly matched Team David and Team AlfredNancy came in at 28:20 and 28:47 respectively. Congratulations to all those who came and put in a great performance, as evidence by shaking legs, heavy breathing and profuse sweating.

Running Up That Hill

Four of us enjoyed a great day of cycling on Saturday, July 19th in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Mark Yelencich and I were joined by his friend Glen and Doug Dexter for our own self-supported century featuring over 12,000 feet of climbing.

We started in Los Altos and rode up Stevens Canyon to Redwood Gulch, which features several sections of 20% or more grade. Once up to the top of that beast, we rode up Highway 9 to Skyline Blvd. for our first regroup. The next part of the ride was particularly beautiful through the redwoods and up and down another climb to the ranger station in Big Basin State Park.

After a water and refueling stop, we began another climb culminating in the difficult ascent up Jamieson Creek Road, again with sections topping out at over 20%. From there, it was all downhill (and a great, screaming, 40mph+ one at that :-)) past Bonny Doon and into our lunch stop along Highway 1 in Davenport.

Of course, what goes down, must climb back up, so we had three miles of 10%+ climbing back to Bonny Doon. We turned right onto Ice Cream Grade and headed into Felton for another brief refueling stop. I am happy to say we didn’t see any evidence of the recent forest fires along our route.

With our third and final water stop complete, we began the looong climb up East Zayante back to Highway 35. After a rest at Hwy 35/9, it was time for one more long, screaming descent back to Los Altos and dinner, since it was now well past 6pm. A full day! Check out my MotionBased record of it here.

Old La Honda, Tunitas Creek

Mother nature treated to a beautiful day with sunshine, dry roads and just the right temperature for hills—Doug, who generated his own rain storm, may have a different view on this last point. Five arrived for the ride, but unfortunately Rob had to bow out before it started since he was missing a quick release and skewer.  Mark joined us by riding and additional 13 miles from Mtn View.  Yeesh.

We did a short warm up along Mtn Home Rd, and without much ado went straight into the first big climb up Old La Honda.  Mark challenged us to beat 23 minutes and promptly disappeared up the hill.  Topher, then Doug, then Nancy followed, only to find Mark heading back down to taunt us.  Final times: Mark completed his first climb in 22:15, meeting his goal.  Topher in 25:10 beating his previous PR by 2 minutes.  Doug in 28:08.  Nancy completed her first climb of Old La Honda in 33 minutes, which beats the Leader’s first climb up that hill, so we can tell she’ll be leading this ride next year.

We continued down Old La Honda and La Honda (must be new) to San Gregorio General Store.  Mark broke away, while Topher and Doug attacked each other deceiving themselves into believing they might catch up.  Everyone arrived at the market ready for food and rest.  Ah, Rest.  But then came Tunitas Creek.

Mark declared that catching Topher wouldn’t be any fun, because Topher wasn’t really pushing.  So they enjoyed each others company until the last 200 feet of climbing, whence Mark easily dusted Topher.  Final times, starting from CA-1 and ending at Skyline: Mark under 56, Topher 56, Doug 1:04 and Nancy 1:05.

Final stats: Total time 4:03, ascent 3944 and miles 37.7.  Everyone congratulate Nancy for a superb first time performance.