Archive for July, 2009

Masters National Time Trial Championships

| July 23, 2009 5:47 pm

by Marcia Morrison

Masters National Time Trial Championships: July 1, 2009
Weather:  mostly cloudy, mid to high 70’s
Division:  Master’s Women, 60-64
Average Speed:  20.6 mph
Time:  35:46

This year the race was in Taylorsville, KY.  Yes, it is a long way to go for a short time trial, but we make a 3 1/2 week trip out of it visiting friends and family in Colorado, Michigan and Wisconsin.  Besides that it motivates me to lose a bit of weight and gives me something to look forward to.

The course was a 20K out and back on a hilly, but non-technical course.  The course was different from last year’s course.  It was hillier.  In fact the whole course was hills with false flats.  Last year’s course was easier than the Beat the Clock course on Canada Rd. in Woodside and this year’s course was more difficult than Canada Rd.  The climbs were steeper and longer.  Unlike last year this year’s course was closed to traffic.  All start times were delayed 2 hours because there weren’t enough course marshalls and the sheriff didn’t get the road closed off in time, so now my new start time was 3:48:30.

Looking at the racers signed up I knew the best I could hope for was third place.  This was my 4th national time trial and every year my goal is to be at least in 5th place.  Fifth place puts you on the podium and you receive a medal.

I was seeded first, but I had the 2 strongest racers in front of me. (They moved up to the 60-64, but were still 59 at the time of the race.  It is called cycling age, whatever your age will be in 2009.)  My friend Martha, a multiple national and world champion, was 30 seconds in front of me.



The time trial started with a very short flat distance and went right into a 3% climb.  Previous racers said to take it easy on the first climb.  I was getting closer and closer to Martha.  I thought I must be going out too hard and Martha is playing it smart.  I found out later she stopped briefly to fix a rubbing brake.  I shouldn’t have slowed down and should have kept my own pace.  However, my power was around 225 watts on the hill, so I probably was going too hard for me.  It was a straight course, so I saw her for the first half of the race.

Before the turn around I passed two riders, so I knew I was at least 6th.  Right before the turn around I saw a third rider and shortly after that I passed her, but she quickly came alongside me on a climb.  Then that was the last time I saw her, so I was excited to think I had met my goal of being in 5th place.

A few times on the way back I was in the wrong gear.  I stayed in the big chain ring on a hill that I thought was shorter.  Another time I thought I was in the big chain ring and I wasn’t.  I attribute that to just being tired.  Al put a chain guide on my bike which increased my confidence for not dropping a chain.

After the turn around we had a strong headwind.  On the last downhill coming into the finish line I wanted to go as fast as possible, even though I was nervous about being in the drops and going fast.  I didn’t reach my speed goal, but I think the headwind had something to do with that.

I felt good during the race.  The only uncomfortable feeling I had was a hot feeling.  I think I put on too much leg salsa and a Chinese linament as they both generate heat.  (Also, forgot my HRT which I didn’t realize until I was in Michigan).

I gave my best effort and that’s all I could hope for.  A good indicator of strong effort for me is that I had the dry heaves after the finish line.

When Al saw me he said I was in third place.  I was thrilled because I surpassed my goal of being in 5th place.


2009:  3rd
2008:  1st
2005:  5th
2004:  4th

It looks like one of these years I need to be in 2nd place in order to have a medal for each place.  It probably won’t happen next year with all those young 60 and 61 year olds in 2010.

Summer Solstice

| July 10, 2009 2:50 pm
Summer Solstice

by Marie Becker

Towards the end of 2008 Pat Becker and I were sitting around trying to decide what our goals for riding would be in 2009.  Both of us were burned out from all the training for the Death Ride, so we decided not to do that this year, and picked the Summer Solstice up in Quincy in the Feather River Valley on June 27 instead.  Its scalable, so depending on how much riding/training we could get in would determine the length we would ride.  The longest version of this rivals the DR in difficulty, but you have the option of doing a 100k as well.  This sounded good to me, and I have friends who live up in Quincy we could stay with, so that was our “big” ride for the year.  Cathy Switzer decided to join us, and she brought her husband Larry up there too.

About a month before the ride I was talking to a friend here at the office, and turns out he has a cabin up in Quincy, right on the route of the ride.  What are the odds of that??  And in reviewing the route with Bruce, his comment that “you’re  not riding up the hill past the Nelson Creek bridge are you? do you have good brakes on those bikes for the ride down??” it made me think that maybe I hadn’t given enough consideration to the difficulty of this ride before I signed up.  Hmmm.  Too late by then, you go until you can’t go any more and enjoy the ride!

So Pat, Cathy, Larry, and I all drove up to Quincy Friday and agreed to meet at the fairgrounds Saturday at 7:30.  If you’ve not been there, this is a beautiful place, small town in the mountains.  We rode over to the fairgrounds and had no trouble finding each other.  Small town and evidently not many riders participating.  There were literally no other riders there.  And I mean none!  My friends who live there told us after the ride there is a big music festival there that brings in thousands, but for the ride we think about 170 signed up.  Those doing the 200k likely started earlier, and we never saw them.  In fact we started counting both riders and cars as we rode because there just weren’t but a handful the whole day of either!  We see more riders on our weekend rides down here in the valley than we saw that whole day.  Actually was kinda nice, but a little weird.  And we did have a clue about this the day before when Pat and I drove the route to see how steep it was and only saw one porta potty on the entire route.  We were worried about that… until we rode.  It really was sufficient, there was never a line!

The route is rollers through a beautiful meadow in the beginning, and then you climb a bit to the first rest stop and the one porta potty.  Never pass up an opportunity to pee or eat, so we chatted with the folks there, took a group picture while listening to Jimmy Buffet, and headed off to what is referred to as the Hogsback.  Now I don’t really know what a hogs back looks like but it must be ugly!  Are they all humpbacks?  This was a 4 mile stretch with a grade of 14% for too much of it.  When 11% feels like a relief you know you’re  climbing a mountain.  Both Pat and Cathy are stronger riders than me, so I didn’t see their butts for long and they were gone.  I tried my best to stay in my “happy pace” with a lower heart rate so I wouldn’t burn out before I got to La Porte (it is an out and back route).  But those double digit grades are tough!  I did feel good when I made it to the top, and was rewarded with beautiful scenery.  Snow on the tops of the mountains, fields of some big yellow flowers, maybe onions of some sort… it is called Onion Valley after all.  And more rollers all the way to La Porte.  The climbing just never really stopped going or returning.   The final long descent into La Porte was fun and fast. The road was wide and well paved, and with the sweeping turns and non-existent traffic you could easily reach speeds of 40+ mph. While exhilarating, in the back of my mind I knew I’d have to climb right back up after lunch, so I’d better enjoy this while it lasted.

Lunch was at the fire house in La Porte, population of 26 .  [cid:image001.jpg@01CA00B3.01CEDA80] Even smaller than Quincy.  And they must be worried about those folks down in Quincy as evidenced by the Neighborhood Watch sign.  If there are only 26 of you in town I’d guess you pretty much always know what everyone else is doing… but those folks down in Quincy, well who knows about them.  I caught up with Pat and Cathy for a minute at lunch.  They were getting ready to head out as they planned on doing the full 100 miles (an extra 30 flat miles at the end of the 100k route) so we chatted for a minute and off they went.  I had a roast beef sandwich which I shared with a beautiful black lab who lived there, chatted with two young guys who rolled in (one from Stockton, one from SF), and off I went too.


As you all know riding after lunch is a challenge sometimes, as your legs can think you’re done.  Then you hit some of those stinkin hills you sailed down, and you now have to climb back up.  That one long sweeping hill, in the full sun and 10% grade, it was just ugly.  One of those times where you just stare at the asphalt as your front tire rolls over it and your brain says over and over, just keep pedaling!  I rolled up on Stockton who was walking his bike up.  At lunch I learned this was his first century ride, that some dingleberry told him to do this ride.  Poor guy, there are no hills to train on in Stockton.  But he intended to finish!  So I continued to just pedal, pedal, pedal and I got to the top of the thing.  I stopped there for a minute to contemplate life, and why I think doing things like this is a good idea.


I pulled out my camera and took a few pictures, then tried to take one of myself.  Hmmm.  Lots of people seem to do this and they don’t look like dorks, I need to practice this!  Stockton showed up about then and volunteered to take one for me.  I must have looked more like a dork than I thought!  Then we rolled off together, and came up on San Francisco.  We hit the top of the Hogsback and the boys went sailing down.  Lots of switchbacks and very steep, but you get down a whole lot faster than you go up!  Back to the one rest stop, made use of the one porta potty again (really one of the cleanest ones ever) then down into Quincy.  As I rolled through the meadow at the bottom who do I find but both Pat and Cathy hanging out under a tree.  Since all the hard climbing was in the metric they decided that doing the flat 30 just for the sake of saying you did a 100 miles seemed silly and they waited for me.  As Cathy said, we start together and we finish together, which we did!  Even Stockton finished, rubber legs and all.

After a quick shower we went back for our BBQ dinner.  Again, no line and no steam table.  A BBQ wagon, you told them what you wanted and they made your plate.  Some of the best BBQ chicken ever, then we headed over to Cathy and Larry’s and we finished off all the wine they brought.  A hard ride, but a great day with good friends in a beautiful place!!

BTW… Cathy’s ride notes consist of hanging out under the tree with Pat and having some wine at the end.  So whether it was a “hard ride” was dependent on the rider :-)!

Lake Tahoe Prologue Free Day

| July 6, 2009 6:37 am
Lake Tahoe Prologue Free Day

by Paul Metz

Don and Barbara from the “Alameden Cycle Touring Club” want to do some climbing on the free day in Lake Tahoe on the Prologue.  They haven’t done much climbing on their tandem, and want to see how it would go.

We get up a bit early, hoping to leave by 8am to do the easy side of Kingsbury Grade, and return by 10am for Randall Braun’s ride to Echo Lake (echo lake).

We leave a little late, and I mention to Randall that I wasn’t sure we’d be back by 10am, and he suggests that we take Pioneer Trail, and meet up at HW 50/South Upper Truckee at 11, instead.  That sounds good, as none of us had ridden that.  He told me his route to the meeting place.

I lead the way, since I’d looked at the maps and had been in Tahoe before.  I picked the main roads, not knowing that road work was in progress.  Partway there, near the Y, the bike lane was closed, so we took over the slow lane.  We went a little farther, and the slow lane was also closed, so we took over the *only* lane in our direction.

We try to go fast, so as not to block traffic too much.  I think we were doing close to 20mph through there.  Although it was a bit stressful, I was happy to point out to Don and Barbara that no one had honked at us!  We made it into Nevada, and turned onto Kingsbury Grade.

Kingsbury Grade from the Tahoe side doesn’t climb much more than 1000′; the grade seems around 7% according to the gradiometer I bought for $3 off John Mazzella years ago.  Traffic wasn’t bad, but when I saw one HUGE truck climbing up, I got off the road and motioned Don and Barbara to do the same.

Signs at the top said this was a 9% grade!  The math doesn’t add up; 9% x 3 miles would 1800′. Perhaps there were some sections of 9%.

After some photos, we head back down and look for Pioneer Trail.  It came up quickly, so we ended up making a square turn.  It has a gentle grade and is quite pretty.  I got a photo of a bike route sign that had a typo and another mistake.  I started talking to a cyclist going our way.  He introduced himself as Rabbi Jonathon, and as we chatted, we realized we were both from New York, and that he went to my high school! (We didn’t meet there, he graduated 9 years later).
When we hit the downhill, the tandem left me in the dust using their LBS (pounds).  Part of me wanted to race to catch up, but then I decided to take a picture of the lupin, and take it easy.

We hit HW 50, and saw the bike path.  I try to ride over the dirt to get there, and almost fell over; the dirt was looser than I’d expected.  We walk to the path, and get to go a couple hundred feet along it before we’re off the path and in a bike lane on HW 50. Whoopee.

We arrive at the rendezvous a bit early, and Randall isn’t there.  We consider backtracking his route.  Don is short of water, and takes the tandem back to a gas station, while Barbara and I talk.  Randall shows up from a different direction!  He didn’t want to spoil the surprise of the next day’s riding, so he took a different route.  It all worked out.

We start up Meyers Road, and I hear people mention “Log Cabin”.  This is on the photo scavenger hunt list (a surprise idea from Connie)!  I ride off to the right near the lower gate to get a photo, and someone in the cabin comes out to tell me that this is where the Vikingsholm caretakers lived!  The cornicework was added as a tribute to Vikingsholm.  I use the ascent to take photos of a lot of the riders.  We had seen Vikingsholm from the dinner cruise last night.

Crossing HW 50 at the top of Meyers is not fun.  Cars come downhill fast, and there’s a turn so you can’t see as far uphill as you’d like.  As I am approaching the summit of Meyers, I hear someone getting honked at.  Someone took exception to Mike McGeough crossing HW 50.  It was suggested the people cross the road quickly, and ride the wrong way on the opposite shoulder.  Not legal, but safer.

Across 50, the road may have a different name, perhaps Echo Summit Road.  We get a history lesson from a man in suspenders; cargo was winched up to Echo Lake, and came down Myers Road into Tahoe.

At the store in Echo Lake, many of us chip in $5 (Randall’s idea), and we got bread, lunchmeat, mayonnaise, chips, vodka dip(!), etc. to share.  We ate at the picnic area that had been covered in snow a few weeks earlier.  Now, the ground was just squishy.  We sit on the benches, tabletops, and logs that were available.  Someone had spread mayonnaise on a slice of bread and left it, and I put my sleeve right in it!  The “bathrooms” there were of the cement portapotty type; no running water.  I rinsed the sleeve out in Echo Lake before seeing the sign about not contaminating the water.  Oops!  Well, it already had at least one Cheeto in it.  I saved one loaf of bread, and carried it back inside my jersey for use by the Prologue.  (Does this loaf make me look fat?)

As we get ready to go, I realized that in my rush to leave in the morning, I hadn’t put on any sunblock.  I borrow some to put on my nose, but I was quite pink for a day.

We return down Meyers to HW 50, and get to use a bit more of the bike path than on the way out.  We duck under the construction tape to make use of an almost-open Bikeed bridge just before Sawmill Road.  To get back “quickly”, most of us go over Tahoe Mountain Road.  The name should have been a  hint.  It had several hundred vertical feet of climb, perhaps at 10%.  Then the road changes names and zigzags before depositing us on Fallen Leaf Road.  We did this in the other direction the next day.

Two of the group take off for Fallen Leaf Lake (I think it was Vickie and Karin), which I understand is also quite pretty.  I want to get back to camp, so I lead the remaining riders down 1.5-lane-wide Fallen Leaf Road.  About 1 mile from camp, I could feel my rear tire going flat.  I’d had a rash of rear flats lately, which is one reason I didn’t try the loop into Nevada that Alison, Franz, and Anne went on.

We make it back to camp, and the little bike shop at the entrance has a 25C Michelin tire for $17, just a little wider than I usually use.  I replace the tire (which I finally notice is a bit worn), the tube, and just in case, I add some electrical tape over the rim tape (this puncture seems to be on the spoke side of the wheel).  It’s been two weeks now, and no rear flats!

See more photos

July 5th Patterson Overdayer Ride

| July 5, 2009 10:40 pm

by Brian Chun

Vince Cummings and Brian Chun biked from home and then merged at Landess and Morrill Rd. @ 6:15 am, starting from Milpitas, taking short stops in Livermore, Carnegie motocross park, and the Patterson Jack in the Box on Sperry Rd. Russ left much later with the Reverse Hamilton Challenge group (Sheila, Hoags, Guy, Kryia, Ken Emerson, McGeoughs) to overtake Brian at Del Puerto Canyon @ mile ~20 and later catching Vince, then passing Brian again along Isabel canyon after stopping with Vince at the Junction.

Brian climbed with and then changed a soft tube at the closed Lick Observatory (locked shut, no restrooms or soda machine access), arriving much later after Russ and Vince, then went home with Safeway and Taco Bell stopovers. Cold evening San Jose winds, total time a whopping 1600 hrs for 178 miles (home start) 8709′ with the last 2 miles of Mt. Ham backside at hiking, not biking, speed.