Archive for March, 2008

My First Double Century Ride

| March 31, 2008 3:37 pm

By Louise McCracken

It was a 5:00 am start with Jon Kaplan, Barbara Murphy and Fred O’Leary. I was nervous as this was going to be the longest ride I have ever set out to accomplish. Jon had complete faith in me to finish. And to give me a boost in my confidence, had expressed his concerns that his pace would be too slow for me, “You can finish this ride in 12 hours.” Thanks Jon, I know I need to pace myself so I can have the energy to finish.

Several had started this ride “at the butt-crack of dawn” as a dear friend would tell me. Many ultra bright headlights mounted on bikes and helmets made my lighting in-effective for the first ten miles or so. Those of us who are “new-bee’s” identified the seasoned cyclist instantly when there were turns on the course. I was so thankful I was cycling with Jon as he clearly expressed the directions. Barbara was very helpful herself yelling at other cyclists if they had turned the wrong way down the road. Talk about “Girl Grit,” yee haw.

My wool jersey was keeping me plenty warm and my jacket was becoming more of an access item than a barrier to the wind. As the sun peaked over the mountains, the fields of poppies, lupine and mustard were glowing creating a breathtaking view. I turned to Fred as we rode on a long stretch of road amongst a single row of red flashing lights, “This is quite the Kodak moment.” I forgot how he replied to me, but the look on his face validated my expression. Nothing beats the coolness of the morning hitting your face, watching the colors glow with the first dawn light, and the sounds of cyclists turning the pedals – priceless.

Tim from San Diego joined us as we continued the ride. At approximately mile 70, my energy hit an all time low. Jon says that I “hit the wall” as I dropped back from the group before the reaching the 2nd rest stop. Barbara knew right away what happened – “You’re not eat and drinking enough!” Yea, you’re right, I am still learning how to cycle and reach for articles in those back pockets of my jersey. Took advantage of electrolyte pills and inhaled some goodies, most of then salty and topped-off my water bottles. A rider and a SAG crew member complimented me on the wool jersey. Oh yea, they are warm! The group had been waiting for me so I was not going to hold them up any further. I shed my jacket as I felt overheated and as able to keep up with the group refreshed-I was starting the ride all over again.

Winds blowing pretty good to Morro Bay that took a toll on our group as Jon and Barbara broke away from Fred, Tim and I until the Main Street turn-off on the highway. I was so happy to have that red “dot” placed on my number as we knew this was the half-way point of the ride. You know what they say, “Strength are in numbers.” And that is especially true when you are riding through towns like Morro Bay and Pismo Beach. Traveling in packs, a grand presence is created when approaching traffic signals and stop signs. Motorists were gracious and courteous. There was one incident where a small-sized burgundy truck was passing us honking his horn and “flipping the bird.”

Lunch was a welcoming sight. My camelback was empty and the energy bars and gel shots I stuffed in my sleeves were nearly gone. Time to re-energize and re-group thoughts about the ride; as Gary Franc advised me at Death Valley, strategy is eating and drinking. So very true, and lesson well learned. Tim dropped behind and informed us that he was having knee problems-too bad, we were enjoying his camaraderie. A sandwich and a soda made me feel bloated, but I stuffed my sleeves knowing that sensation would not last for long. Met Barry Schwartz after a group photo; after telling him about my experience hitting the wall, he smiled and said, “That is what Doubles are all about-suffering.” Larry joined us as we continued down the long and straight flatlands enjoying some tail winds and battling crosswinds. I concentrated on keeping pace as I felt guilty of “sucking wheel” more than pulling the group.

The last rest stop was a welcoming sight as we were asked for our numbers to be checked-off a list. Many riders reassured me that I was “almost done” and lots of congratulatory expressions once they learned this was my first double. One last climb and the rest is downhill from there. The cup of noodles went down easy-comfort food that hit the core indeed. Barbara and Fred took off ahead of us because Fred is a slower climber and Barbara had confidence that we would catch-up to them. Of course, another comment the wool jersey before leaving the rest stop, “Women aren’t supposed to wear wool jerseys!” Hmmmm. “Well, they do now!” LOL

Climbing the last hill, I was mentally prepared for a tougher climb. Granted you have cycled more than 160 miles at this point and your legs are getting tired. I guess I was concentrating so much on maneuvering around the patched, chopped-up, and re-patched road up the grade. When Jon and I reached the cattle guard at the top, he expressed that I had made a better effort than him. The decent was challenging because of the beaten-up road, I was happy we were doing this while it was still day-light. Once we were on better surfaces, it was smooth sailing from there.

One last climb-yea right; a rolling hill into Buellton and a short “climb” into Solvang to complete the ride. To us new-bee’s that was the last amount of suffering to be had on the ride. Jon was pleased to announce that he did his all-time best ride on the Solvang Double completing the course in 12hr 50min. Many thanks go out to Jon, Barbara and Fred! I was happy to be a part of the experience for Jon to achieve his best time, what a ride to remember.

First Double – Solvang Spring

| 3:05 pm

by Dave Zajac

Wanted to give my report of my first DC. Thanks to all of you who offered me some great advice prior to the ride as it all really helped.
I decided to focus on three items from all the great advice
1. Don’t start with the 7:30 group
2. Keep Heart Rate around 80 % of max (Did this up unto around mile 140)
3. Get in/out of rest stops fast Solvang was the perfect DC, great course, cool weather and really friendly riders.

I decided not to start at 7:30 AM as I did want to finish my first DC and not be stupid and ride too hard and burn out. I really don’t own good lights so I waited until the sun was fully bright to take off and hope nothing goes wrong where I have to ride in the dark with my cheapy $10 light. I rode easy staying in the HR range but had a mental problem taking the rolling hills slower than normal. But this would pay of big time later. Nothing big to report the first 130-140. I was lucky and caught on to many not too fast pacelines.

Because I only needed water, and hammer products from the rest stops I was in/out in short order. After the lunch stop where I ate half a sandwich (I normally don’t eat on long rides and use liquids) and downed two diet cokes (love that caffeine:)) I caught a tandem and their friend, very nice people who told me they would help me finish the ride. They where riding at a nice pace but a little slow up the hills but I figured it would be smart to stay with them and finish the ride. Being smart and ego don’t mix well as shortly a group from the 7:30 AM start came flying by, I could not stop myself and sprinted onto that train and felt bad as I told the friendly group I would stick with them. We where flying in the upper 20’s and
several riders started to drop back, I was able to hold on thanks to the many times I have been hanging on to David Hoag in the LDTRs, thanks
Dave your putting the hurt on really does help!

At the next to last rest stop I found out the group was trying to break 9.5 hrs and decided it would be smart to let them go, but after I took off from the rest stop I caught up with them as they where eating on the bike and getting ready for the next big pull. So off we went faster than I probaly should of been riding but at this point I lost my smarts somewhere back around mile 140. The ride into the last rest stop was really tough as there was just three of us and the two where flying, I could not hold a pull for long and I may of been in my 13 or 15 cog trying to keep up the speed,
HR was way above Threshold and lactic acid was burning the legs, lucky we hit the last rest as I was about to pull back or out. The rest stop was funny as the two fast guys never dismounted there bikes they filled water bottles and grabbed food while straddling the
bike, talk about being in a hurry.

I waved bye to them as I knew I could not climb with them and downed more soda for the caffeine then took off and missed to the turn to Drum Canyon, got back on course and got caught by two more 7:30 starters and barely held on to them for the climb. We lucked out and hit all the lights green through Buellton. I was now running on pure adrenalin knowing I was going to finish my first DC so much that when we hit the last roller into Solvang I pulled so hard that when I looked back the other two had dropped back.

Made it back before 5 PM and finished with a 10:24 total time. The pace off the last 60 miles is what really brought my time down. I asked one of the 7:30 riders his time and it was around 9:20, wow some fast riders out there!

I really learned alot out there but also know have many new questions to ponder. I plan on coming back next year and mayby my theme will be 24, as in knock off 24 minutes and break 10 hours. Hey I can dream
can’t I 🙂

Solvang Double Century 2008

| March 30, 2008 9:58 pm

by Franz Kelsch – For the version with music and more details go to my personal blog entry.

There were twelve club members who took on the Solvang Double Century challenge this year, including Joe Farinha, Dave Zajac, Jon Kaplan, Gary Franck, Barry Schwartz, Marnel King, Barbara Murphy, Fred O’Leary, Louise McCracken, Steve Sundstrom, Ken Emerson and myself. In addition I knew a couple of others that I ride with that joined the event. This is the account of my experience.

Last week I took a look at my data from last year trying to figure out how I could improve on my time. I wrote about my strategy in a prior personal blog entry.

Just as we did last year, I started with the 7:30 am group, the ones that wanted to be timed. Joining that group was Gary Franck, Joe Farinha and Kley Cordona. This 7:30 start group is made up of mostly fast riders. We had a large gathering, maybe over 40 riders. The pace was brisk but I didn’t feel over taxed. After 20 miles we turned to head up Foxen Canyon. This has two moderate climbs and after the second one there is a longer descent. It was on this second descent that I lost the group last year and never was able to catch back on.

My strategy this year was to stay right near the front of the pack for the second climb so I had a better chance to stay connected. It may be the fact that this year there were no tandems to chase down the hill, or that I had been working on descending down faster, but in any event this time I was able to stay connected to the front pack, something only about half the group were able to do. We lost the other half on either the climb or the descent and I knew that they would never be able to catch back on.

We stretched out to a single pace line. Except for a few wheel suckers at the back, everyone was taking a turn pulling, some longer pulls than other, which was okay. One guy, who was particularly strong, would ramp up the pace every-time he pulled. I found myself right behind him on a couple of rotations which meant I had to drive hard to hang on his wheel, then do a pull and still keep enough left to rotate to the back.

I had already planned to skip the first rest stop and sure enough this group went right by it. We made one wrong turn which costs us an extra 2 miles and some lost time trying to get back on course. There were some rollers right before the 2nd rest stop (our first one) that proved a bit difficult due to the pace. I was glad when we finally stopped with a total of 84.8 miles averaging 22.0 mph.

Some of the group had a very quick stop, just enough to fill water bottles. I needed a bit more time but was was able to get back on the bike in less than 6 minutes. There was only one other fellow from the 7:30 group who started with me by the name of John who was from Nevada. He and I biked together for awhile. We were soon joined by others from the 7:30 group that had taken a little longer at the rest stop. But there was a couple of young guys who were driving the pace too high for me, so I eventually dropped off the back. I slowed down to wait for John who had fallen off earlier. We biked together, taking turns pulling until we hit the check point at Morro Bay. We had to wait 1 minute there to get the dot to prove we had gone to the turn around point.

While riding through Morro Bay I hit a bad bump and came down on the back of my saddle, which tipped up the nose. I couldn’t get it to move back level. Although it was quite awkward to ride like that I decided I could not afford to stop so I rode that way until the lunch stop, which was another 14 miles from Morro Bay.

It took me about a minute to fix my saddle and then another 6 to 7 minutes to get some food. We saw some of the 7:30 riders leaving, so John and I jumped on our bikes and caught them.

We started to form a pace line behind a tandem and rode with that group for awhile but eventually some of us moved out ahead and we never saw the tandem again. Soon it was just John and I again as we pulled into our third rest stop with an average speed of the last section of 19.5 mph. The pace was clearly slower while we kept behind the tandem for those miles.

After a 5 minute stop John and I took off, again just the two of us. I hit another bump and my seat got tipped once again with the nose pointing up. I didn’t want to take the time to fix it again so I decided to just keep riding that way. It made it hard to use the aero bars but I felt maybe I could just wait until the next stop.

We were taking turns pulling but on one uphill grade on Highway 1, where I was pulling, I notice that John had fallen way off the back. I had been doing some calculations in my head and figured at this point I had some slight chance to finish under 10 hours so I made the decision to ride on solo, which I did for the last 50 miles. I had a thought of skipping the last rest stop completely but was down to a half of water bottle so I made a 1 minute stop for water. Fatigue was setting in so I was having a hard time keeping my heart rate up. Fortunately we had a tail wind now. There were several club members at that stop who had started earlier. One told me that Gary was about 10 minutes ahead of me, so I jumped on the bike to chase after him. I noticed at that point I had averaged 20.6 mph rolling from the start.

On the way up Drum Canyon, I heard a popping noise so I stopped to check my bike, only to find I had broken a spoke. That was so unexpected for a light guy like me. I wrapped the broken spoke around another spoke, opened up the brake, then jumped back on the bike and started to climb. I had yet to fix my saddle and wondered if I had time. I decided to stop again and to level the seat. As I started to climb again I kept worrying about breaking another spoke and was not sure how hard I should be torquing the pedals as I climbed. I decided to climb carefully, but steady. I was getting very tired and found it hard to do the math in my head to see if I could still finish under 10 hours. My rolling average speed had now dropped to 20.1. When I made it to the summit, I was wondering how fast I should go down, considering it is a rough road. I decided to ride down fast, just hoping no more spokes broke.

Periodically I would calculate again how much further I had to go and how much time I had left. It seemed to be an impossible task and I was about ready to give up trying to make it under 10 hours. I felt lucky to make all the traffic lights in Beulton, thinking one single stop was more than I could afford. That final uphill as you are entering Solvang was just about enough to kill my chance. I then started to hit the traffic in the town of Solvang so I turned right one block early to take a back street.

I finally made it to the end and clicked the split button on my Polar Heart Rate Monitor just as I came to a stop. I was almost afraid to look down but when I did it read 9 hours, 59 minutes and 51 seconds. Ann was there, a bit surprised I finished so fast. She watched my bike as I ran to check in. I had averaged 20.3 mph for the entire ride and had a total stopping time of less than 23 minutes. Funny thing was that I felt better than I did last year after finishing 43 minutes slower.

For those that think this is a tall tale, check the Planet Ultra website for the 2008 results.

Tour de Franz – 3-22-2008

| March 18, 2008 12:00 pm

Tour de Franz

We had a large turn out to the Tour de Franz last year (the photo at the top of this website was taken on that ride). This year’s event will be on Saturday, March 22, to coincide when the tour founder reaches a new milestone (age wise). We will have three routes and two starting locations.

Lunch is going to be provided at the home of Franz and Ann Kelsch, in Gilroy. So please RSVP to Ann Kelsch. Check the ride schedule for information.

Take plenty of water and food. Lunch will not be for 57 miles for Route 3, 67 miles for Route 1 and 85 miles for route 2.

Route 2: Distance is 116 miles, 8,200 feet of climbing
Start: Meridan and Redmond, 7:30 for slower riders, 8:00 for faster riders
Route Sheet – 116 Miles (DOC)
Map and Profile – 116 Miles (PDF)

Route 1: Distance is 67 miles, 5,000 feet of climbing
Start: Home of Franz and Ann in Gilroy at 8:30
Route Sheet – 67 Miles (DOC)
Map and Profile for 67 Miles (PDF)

Route 3: Distance is 57 miles, 2,600 feet of climbing
Start: Home of Franz and Ann in Gilroy at 8:30
Route Sheet – 57 Miles (txt)

We should be at our house around 2:15 pm. If you are faster than that you can stop at the Starbucks in Gilroy (on the route) at Wren and First Street, because you obviously need more caffeine.

LDTR for 3-15-08

| March 10, 2008 6:04 pm

The start time has been changed as follows:

7:30 am for most riders

8:00 am for fast riders

Route Sheet for LDTR on 3/15/08

Long Training Ride to Junction

| March 8, 2008 7:58 pm

By Franz Kelsch

Today was a long distance training ride. The route started at the normal location and headed down to Bailey and then up Metcalf. I biked from my home and met up with Gary F. in Morgan Hill, timing it so we would meet the other riders on Metcalf. Four of us were route rebels and went off the published route after going up Metcalf. The great weather beckoned us to go up Quimby West. Then it beckoned us to to up Mt. Hamilton to the summit. We decided, why not go out to the junction for lunch. Three of us then descended down the backside of Mt. Hamilton and biked the 19 miles out to the junction cafe.

This would make a great long distance training ride route for the future. I biked from my home in Gilroy but a start in San Jose at Redmond and Meridian would end up with a good distance with a lot of climbing.

This chart show the climbs for the entire route. They are plotted against time so the slope should be a constant if I am climbing at an even rate in terms of feet per minute. You can see my heart rate never went that high because I was holding back on the climbs due the long distance I had to go. Click the graph to enlarge.

HR and Elevation Graph for Long Distance Training ride on 3-8-08

When I finally made it home just before dark I had logged 141 miles and 12,700 feet of climbing. I believe of all the training rides I have done this was both the longest and had the most climbing. It made for very good training ride for Devil Mountain Double since we had to do the backside of Mt. Hamilton after about 90 miles and and considerable climbing already. For DMD it is usually not the early climbs up Mt. Diablo and Morgan Territory, but the backside of Mt. Hamilton that takes it’s toll.

Death Valley Double Century Ride Report

| March 5, 2008 7:50 am

March 1, 2008
by Barry Schwartz

I signed up for the Death Valley Double Century in December thinking I would have plenty of time train. I was 10 pounds overweight and I had not ridden a long ride since the death ride (July). Due to the excessive rain in January and February, I was only able to get in a few good weekend rides. I was able to ride my trainer and go to Spin classes during the week. I did lose 12 pounds which I thought would help a lot on the hills.

I started checking the weather forecast for Death Valley about a week before the ride. It said some wind on ride day, March 1, and very windy on March 2. I checked every day and the forecast continued unchanged, 16 mph winds. By Thursday I was checking the hourly forecast. Wind started at 6 mph in the morning and was up to 16 by 2:00pm.

Six riders, me and five from Pleasanton left at 5:30 am for Death Valley. The riders were Gary Boal (former ACTC member) and his friends Jim, Bryan, Pam and Jerry. Jerry has a great van that has six seats in the back (2 DVD players) and 2 seats in the front.

The ride starts in waves of 50 riders. The fastest leave at 6:00, then the next fastest at 6:10 and finally those not as fast at 6:30 (the century riders leave after the double). We choose the 6:10 start time (Jerry and Pam were doing the 100 mile so they were not departing until 6:50). I was outside waiting to start and saw Joe Farinha and Barry Burr. While Jim was pumping up his from tire the stem broke. New plan was now to start at 6:20.

Finally, we start out at 6:20. The first leg of the ride is from Furnace Creek to Badwater (272 feet below sea level). It is 17 miles of slightly rolling hills. The wind was light the temperature perfect, no jacket just arm warmers. We tucked in behind a Tandem and with a pace line of about 10 we were in Badwater in no time. Gary and Jim dropped of the line somewhere along the way so Bryan and I waited at the rest stop. The Tandem left before we could get rolling.

The next leg was from Badwater to Ashford Mills with 27 miles of rolling hills. The four of us left the rest stop hoping to catch the Tandem. We chased the tandem for about 5-10 miles before catching them. After we caught the tandem, the wind really started to pick up. The paceline slowed to a crawl with the Tandem doing all the work and 10 to 15 riders sucking on there wheel. About 5 miles from the rest stop the rolling hills start to get more serious. The paceline disintegrated and the tandem was abandoned (it’s a cruel sport) due to its lack of uphill climbing speed. The wind also seemed to have let up a little bit.

From Ashford Mills to Shoshone the road goes over 2 mountain passes, Jubilee and Salsberry. Salsberry pass is at 3315 feet. The climb is about 17 miles of 4 to 5 percent grade. About one mile from the rest stop the road makes a 90 degree turn to the left. As soon as we turned the wind was no longer an issue, it may even have been helping. Bryan and I sailed to the top in no time. Then it was downhill to Shoshone. Bryan and I were the second and third riders from the 6:20 group to get to the rest stop. We saw Joe Farinha at the rest stop and after about 10 minutes Barry Burr pulled in. I waited about 20 minutes for Gary to show up and then another 10 before we were ready to roll.

This ride is an out and back. Shoshone is the turn-around point. So it was back up to Salsberry pass. This time the climb wasn’t so kind. The last 2 miles the wind was in our face and it really sapped my energy. I was able to recover on the long descent to Ashford Mills. It was my kind of descent, shallow grade, no sharp turns and the wind in my face keeping the speed manageable. No braking required.

To my dismay, but not to my surprise, when I got back to Ashford Mills the wind had changed direction (head wind again) and picked up in intensity. Bryan and I waited for Gary and then left with 3 others in a paceline. We all shared in the work on the way back to Badwater. At first we were picking up riders in the paceline. The paceline was getting longer but only Bryan, Gary and I were taking turns pulling. After a while the riders started dropping of the back. By the time we pulled into Badwater it was down to just Gary, Bryan and me.

We had lunch in Badwater and started back to Furnace Creek. Joe and Barry B. joined our paceline with about six or seven others. After lunch I seemed to catch my second wind. I felt very strong and broke away from the paceline with Bryan for the last 6 miles back to Furnace Creek.

It was starting to get dark at Furnace creek. I turned on my lights which I had picked up at Badwater and was feeling very strong and ready to tackle the last 50 miles. It was just 25 miles out to Stove Pipe Wells and 25 back with no major climbs. The wind had really taken its toll on a lot of riders as many of the double century riders were calling it quits at Furnace Creek, including Gary and Jim.

Bryan and I left Furnace Creek just as it turned dark. The wind seemed to have died down. However, the rest stop had a signup indicating to be cautions because there were 60 mph wind gusts possible. I thought the sign was a joke; the wind couldn’t have been more than 10 mph. So off we went. The first 5 miles were as calm as can be. And just like someone turning on a light switch the wind started. It came mostly from the side but also a little from the front. It was relentless. The sand was blowing, my bike was being pushed into the center of the rode, I felt I was riding at 45 degree angle to keep from being blown over. Bryan pushed on ahead of me as I struggled in the wind. I knew there was a slight climb of maybe 600 feet elevation gain that lasted 3 or 4 miles. I started climbing, the wind kept blowing, and I kept shifting to an easier gear. I think I was in my granny gear after what felt like an hour. However, it was too windy to look down to see what gear or what speed I was going.

I knew I was going slowly. I just kept hoping the road would take a 90 degree turn to the left because 1) that’s the top of the climb and 2) the wind would be at my back. No such luck, every time I looked up I just saw the taillights of a few bikes in the distance and at higher elevation which meant more climbing. The wind continued, the blowing sand continued, the endless howling in my ears continued, where was the top of this monster. I saw a sign by the side of the road, surely good news, ¼ mile to the top. Nope, it was an elevation sign “100 feet below sea level”. All that work in granny gear and I had only climbed 100 feet. That’s it I quit. I get off my bike, my spirit broken, and leaned over my handlebars. After about 30 seconds I realized it may be along time before a SAG comes by. OK it back on the bike again and push on to Stovepipe Wells.

Somehow I make it to the top of the climb turn right and what’s my reward, more headwinds. The intensity wasn’t as strong but the direction was wrong. Its was mostly downhill to Stovepipe Wells, I could see the lights, I felt better knowing I had gotten over the hill. When I get to Stovepipe Wells I almost missed the stop. The canopy that has the lights on it had blown over so there wasn’t much to see. After that 25 mile leg I was done. Although I think my legs had the energy for more my heart was no longer in it. I hoped in the SAG when it arrived and had to take a DNF. Bryan continued to ride on. He finished the ride and said the last 25 mile back to Furnace Creek were not bad, tailwind all the way.

The following table shows the wind speed as reported by weather.com for Furnace Creek on March 1, 2008

Time

Temperature

Wind
Speed

Wind
Direction

6:00

52

13

W

7:00

51

10

WNW

8:00

57

9

WNW

9:00

67

12

W

10:00

73

24

WSW

11:00

73

21

W

12:00

74

22

WSW

1:00

75

33

W

2:00

71

40

W

3:00

67

37

WSW

4:00

65

44

W

5:00

61

33

WSW

6:00

57

28

W

7:00

55

33

W

8:00

54

29

WSW

9:00

53

24

WSW

The Long and Windy Road – Patterson Overnighter

| March 3, 2008 12:33 pm

by Franz Kelsch
photos by the group

About 25 cyclists enjoyed a weekend of biking together for the Patterson Overnighter, led by Russ and Sheila. We all started in Milpitas with more than half of the riders on tandems, I believe about 8 tandems.

Group at start

It was a bit cool as we started, be we all warmed up as we started to climb up Mt. Hamilton. Russ and Sheila had waited near the bottom to make sure everyone made the correct turn, but we figured they would catch us soon.

Russ and Sheila

And then pass us.

Russ and Sheila

They must have slowed to enjoy the scenery.

Russ and Sheila

As we climbed the temperature dropped constantly and it went down to 43 degrees at the summit. But as we descended down the backside the warmth returned and it was very pleasant for the ride over to the junction for lunch. We did have some headwinds so we thought at the time, maybe tomorrow we will have a tailwind on the return.

The ride down Del Puerto Canyon was fast and fun. Some even stopped to enjoy the scenery.

We arrived in Patterson soon after 3 pm where many of us enjoyed a rootbeer float.

Some new restaurants had opened in the area so we all tried a new Italian restaurant called Strings Italian, which turned out to be very good.

That evening we could hear the wind all night. When I finally got up early I looked out the window to see the trees blowing in the wind, but these were tree limbs without leaves. I could see the direction of the wind was in the exact opposite that we would be traveling. So much for a tailwind on return.

At 8 am, we all started out together to brave the wind. Some tried to go the wrong direction thinking we were going to have a tailwind.

It was rather cool, but it was the wind that was most difficult. It was so strong I had to keep my hands on the brake hoods and could not move them to the top of the handlebar because that would not provide enough leverage in case a gust was going to blow our tandem over. We averaged only 7.5 mph for the first 20 minutes, even though we were going flat, on a tandem. Some riders were following further behind, especially those on single bikes.

After about an hour, the winds went from crazy to just real strong. We plugged our way along the canal.

We had to stop several times to get through the barriers. Some of us did it the hard way.

Others took the easy path.

All enjoyed a break from the wind.

We asked Mike to take this picture of us, but from his high vantage point, it made us look real short. I guess that is how we look to the world.

Franz and Ann

At mile 27 we finally made it to the first break. It took us nearly 3 hours to make that distance and it was all flat. We all needed to get some food and a rest. About a mile further down we made the turn onto Corral Hollow Road and the direction was such that we were finally out of the strong headwinds.

We stopped again in Livermore for a sandwich. We found a Subway Sandwich shop near the Lucky’s where people were going to take a break. After about 30 minutes we made our way back, over Calaveras Road. It was beautiful this time of the year.

Mike didn’t get enough riding in (I guess the big guys don’t feel the wind). So he biked home via Felter and Sierra.

It was a great trip. The ride leaders did a great job and the company of everyone made for a great weekend.

This morning I was listening to the news about some jumbo jet that was trying to make a landing in a strong wind and almost crashed. I thought, hum … I didn’t realize they had an airport in Patterson.

See all photo and see the video of the wind .