Sunday, September 26, 2010

3H Ride - Heat, Hills, & Headwinds

I have a love, hate relationship with riding to Dudley's Bakery in Santa Ysabel. It's our turn around control during the annual San Diego Randonneurs' 300K. The last time I was at Dudley's was during a 200K permanent back in August. Both times, I quit. Man, I hate quitting a ride! It's for one reason or another. The next day when I reflect on the reasons why I quit, those reasons don't seem like such a big deal.

Since I'm not bike commuting to work any longer, I actually have to get out and train. I don't ride as many miles training as I did commuting, but it's not by much. I've been able to extend my training rides to 25-30 miles a few times per week, then every other Saturday throw in a longer ride of at least 80 miles. My goal is to maintain this "training" program for the fall and see how well I do in the upcoming brevet season starting in January 2011. I do have goals of completing a 600K ride, approximately 372.822 miles in a single weekend.

As most of you know, I had several trips to the doctor and emergency room throughout the month of August. No worries now, everything is fine, but it has been a bit of a recovery to get back to training. This ride culminated in my first full week of training rides and it didn't disappoint! Here's the profile for this ride:

Alarm goes off at 5 AM. I have to take my new medication 30 minutes prior to eating anything. This means my pre-ride fuel. So, I just go back to bed and think about the day until 30 minutes are up. My plans are to leave at 6 AM to head to Dudley's Bakery. It's an awesome drive, and breathtaking ride from our home. It's 40 miles away and all uphill. I live at about 250' above sea level, Dudley's is around 3000'.

I'm ready to go and step outside. I'm instantly greeted by a stray pitbull out on the sidewalk. As the door closed behind me, I had my bike between me and the dog as I'm standing on the porch. We both just look at each other. I know what you're thinking - did I lock the door before walking outside? Oh yes I did! Mr pitbull starts growling and gives me somewhat of a weak bark. So what do I do? I growl and bark back even louder! Dog turned tail and ran back down the sidewalk. Now I'm thinking - is it gone, or laying in wait? I walk the bike out to the street and no signs of Mr pitbull. I think I'm safe! It was a cool moon to get the ride started.

I make my way to the base of the first climb out on highway 67 headed towards Ramona.

The sun starts rising and I grab a self moving portrait still riding up the 67. Shortly after this video, I had a bee fly down my jersey. When this happened, I was going about 35 MPH on a downhill. I looked into my jersey and saw the bee. I grabbed it with my left hand making a little pouch to keep it away from my skin. I squeezed the heck out of it to kill it, all the while keeping an eye on the 60 MPH traffic on my left, one hand on the bars - all at 35 MPH. I safely come to a stop at the bottom of the hill, which bummed me out because there's nothing like a bunch of kinetic energy to help get me over the next hill! I flick the bee out and I squirt water on the spot where the formerly alive bee resided. The bad news is the venom of it's stinger was in my jersey which proceeded to irritate me all throughout the ride.

I've lost a bunch of weight since I change my way of eating back in November 2009 and it's reflected in my newly found uphill speed!

It doesn't take me too long to make it to Ramona and make a pit stop at Stater Bros market to refill my water bottles. I don't stay long and depart Ramona.

Departing Ramona takes me onto the Old Julian Highway and up through the back country. Not many cars, plenty of motorcycles.

The problem is, Old Julian Highway is all uphill, and it continues.

Nearing the end of Old Julian Highway is this way cool horse ranch.

Old Julian Highway intersects with the 78 which used to be the 67 in Ramona. Old Julian Highway has way less traffic than the 67/78, but it's a tad longer.

There's still more uphill to go with not much longer until I cross 3000' in elevation.

With just a little more uphill I can see Dudley's in the distance with a nice downhill approach too!

Still feeling pretty good at this point, I arrive at Dudley's Bakery.

I hang out at Dudley's enjoying the air conditioning and of course I bought a cinnamon bun! I ate about half and got some plastic wrap from their deli to wrap up the leftover. I down a water bottle full of water then refill both - one with water and ice, the other with my fuel mixture, water and ice. From my door to Dudley's took 3 hours and 27 minutes. Not bad for me! I decide to get going.

Not too long after my departure the temperature starts to climb.

I make it back to Ramona and stop at Stater Bros again to refill my bottles. The thermometer on my bike was reading 105. It's mostly flat to the 67, but there are a few roller coaster short hills before the decent into Lakeside. This is where the fun began.

My departure from Ramona should have been uneventful. It's a fast decent back into Lakeside with a few small hills thrown in. By this time though the temps had reached above 110 degrees and I was riding into a 25 MPH headwind. Needless to say that really zaps my energy! I decided to climb the first small hill and find some shade in a drive way. I stop and notice I have a thorn in my front tire. I pull it out and can hear the faint hissing that it made it through to my tube. 15 minutes later I have a spare tube in and I'm back on the road. The temps by this point was 115 on the bike thermometer with the headwinds even stronger. I make it about 8 miles down the road and my bike starts having this funny bounce to it. I know exactly what this means, I have a flat in my rear tire! I pull over at Scripps Poway Parkway, but there's zero shade. I pull out my 2nd tube and notice that the stem has dirt on it. Now I'm thinking - did I leave an unpatched tube in my seat bag? I look over the tube and see a patch, so I'm crossing my fingers there's not a second hole in this tube. I'm totally baking and I have the final decent into Lakeside to deal with.

I put the bike back together and hit the road. I'm flying down the road into Lakeside. The headwinds are even stronger and the temps are still showing 115. As I ride the flats into Lakeside, I'm feeling nauseous and have a slight headache. I know exactly what this means. I know there's a Circle K about a mile down the road and I stop. I grabbed some cold Gatorade, refill my water bottles with ice and water. I spend a good 20 minutes there rehydrating and cooling off.

I leave the K and head home. It's about 8 miles to get home, it might as well have been 100. I slowly ride through Lakeside still fighting very hot headwinds. I'm running through my head which route to take to get home that has the fewest hills. Problem is, there's a lot of traffic on the flatter route, plus it's about 2 miles longer. I decide to ride the safer route with less traffic. I make it a couple of miles, but have to pull over and cool off in the shade of a driveway for 5 minutes. Once I feel good again, I head back out. Smaller hills that normally don't present much of a challenge to ride up now might as well have been Mt Everest. Every turn of the pedals sends searing pain up my legs. I can't take a deep breath due to the hot air. I make it to one of the local junior high schools and grab some shade for 10 minutes under a tree. Temps 109. I drink about half of what's left of my bottles and feel better. I head back out onto a smallish hill that leads me to a nice downhill for about 1/2 a mile. I catch the light with some speed, make the right turn onto Mast Blvd with enough momentum to carry me over another smallish hill. At this point, I'm about 2 miles from home. I can barely manage 15 MPH going downhill, then uphill, then downhill. There's a smallish hill right before my street that looked nearly vertical. It was all I could do to make it up - but I did.

I made it home about 90 minutes longer than I wanted, but I was very determined not to get defeated by this ride. I quickly got inside and jumped on the scale. I lost 6 pounds, no wonder I felt lousy!!

Here are the stats from this ride:

Mileage: 80.33 miles
Elevation Change: 2500' (approx, not cumulative)
Overall Time: 8 hours 40 minutes
Ride Time: 6 hours 23 minutes
Calories Burned: 3966
Weightloss: 23 pounds ( Since November 2009 )
Average Speed: 12.55 (mi/hr)
Temp high: 115
Temp low: 58
Tubes used: 2
Bees in jersey: 3
Maximum speed of an unladen European Swallow: 25 knots

It was tough - but I wasn't defeated...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Rough Ride - Plenty of Turkeys on the Road

Normal training ride out to El Monte Park, except for all the turkeys out on the road.

Watching the sun work it's way around the peaks.

All in all, nice ride.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cowles 3-Way

Team Geezer went out for a 10 mile hike 3 ways over Cowles Mountain this morning in preparation of our Grand Canyon hike that's fast approaching in 35 days. I've been working with my new Flip Mino HD video camera. I normally bring a digital camera along for hiking and riding, but that just seems so old fashioned these days. Video is where it's at! I've put a protective silicon skin on the Mino in case I should drop it. I have run into a few challenges though.

One thing I've noticed with the camera is that if I delete the video files using my computer, the camera won't reset how much recording time is available. I use Ubuntu as my OS of choice and the Mino shows up as USB drive. The installed software on the Mino that would automatically run when inserted into a computer running Windows won't work under Ubuntu.

The other thing I've noticed is that uploading videos through this blog causes YouTube to issue an error message part way through the conversion process. If I upload the videos straight into YouTube, the conversion process doesn't emit any error messages. I just have to copy the URLS to each video. Not a big deal.

We started the hike at 7 AM from Mesa Road in Santee under very heavy marine layer conditions, which made the hike have some really cool video opportunities. Keeping up with my bionic partner can be challenging! Before we knew it we're at 1592 feet above sea level, the highest point within the City of San Diego.

On our way to the Beckhelm Lookout, AKA Pyles Peak, we passed this interesting formation Herb and I dubbed the Albino Rainbow. It's probably some kind of fresnel lens made by the mist in the air with the sunlight coming from behind us refracting into that shape. But I digress, I'm not a physicist...

With all the mist in the air from the marine layer, several spider webs had caught some of the mist. This guy meant business with his web!

As we made our way back to the summit of Cowles, the marine layer was just starting to dissipate.

The surrounding peaks were poking through the top of the shallow marine layer.

Another 360 degree view from the summit of Cowles.

Departing the summit, we hike the most popular trail on Cowles Mountain. Lots of people and dogs make it very crowded, it's by far the most popular and the shortest route to the summit. Once at the top, I took another 360 degree video showing how the marine layer had dissipated out into the Pacific Ocean.

All in all, I'm really liking the Mino. It's easy to use and works a tad faster than a regular digital camera. I think it takes better video than some digital cameras take photos. I can always grab a still out of the video if I needed. Two hours of video can be recorded.

The hike went very well. 10 miles with about 4800 feet of climbing in 3 hours and 47 minutes. Our next adventure is the Palomar 12 Miler in two weeks! This will be our final prep hike before our Grand Canyon trip October 22nd.

Until next time...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

New Bike Videos

I used some of my American Express Card reward points to get a Flip video camera. I normally take a camera with me on every ride, but thought it would be fun to take videos instead. The Flip takes real nice videos so I thought I'd try it out on my morning ride.

I left Santee at 6:10 AM. Not much to video as the marine layer was in full strength. I just rode through Alpine and was heading east on Alpine Blvd to Willows Rd. That was my turn around point for this ride. Thought the sun reflecting off the power lines was rather cool looking.

It's exactly 20 miles to the turn around from my home. It's all pretty much uphill to this point. Which means...

20 miles downhill!! Yes, this is an unedited video!

If you receive this blog via email, you won't see the videos embedded in the email. Click on the Surly Rando link at the bottom of the email that was sent to you from Blogspot.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Houston: We Have A College Student!

Had to get up and film the new SDSU student's departure this morning.

Monday, July 19, 2010

07/19/2010 Morning Ride Photo

I thought I was riding into a Monty Python movie! Holy Grail anyone?

I took this on the return from my Taylor Street loop this morning. I was just heading up Mission Gorge road for some hill sprints...

Friday, July 16, 2010

I Have To Do Training Rides

Now that I'm not a daily bike commuter, I actually have to train. In case you've just stumbled upon this blog, I used to bike commute on my LHT 28 miles per day, 4 days a week. My employer closed the San Diego office end of June. I started working from home end of May. It has taken some time to get into a new habit of riding, but I'm starting to get better. If I'm out the door by 5 AM, I can get a decent ride in before I have to be at my desk at 8 AM. I have put together a very nice man-cave and since I'm alone, I don't have to worry about offending my coworkers!

This morning I brought the camera along for one of my training rides - El Monte Park Out and Back. Very flat, about 25.5 miles. Part of the ride is very rural, with almost zero traffic. This was a peculiar day, we've been having triple digit temps. My north facing thermometer hit a high of 106.6 degrees at my home.

Sun is arising!

Looking down the road, the sun just floods the road.

Sun still trying to get above the hills.

There can be turkeys out on the road. No, not people driving, the actual bird! Blurry photo, but you can see them flying over the brick fence.

More sun, it's gonna get hot today.

Long shadows on the ride back home.

I plan on taking a camera along on all my rides now. Just never know what deserves a photo!

-- SurlyRando

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Rollers To Bonsall 200K - The Comeback Ride

Hard to believe it's July already! I've not done a brevet since Feb when I DNF'd the Dudley's brevet due to extreme weather conditions and the cold. Seems I've gotten a tad out of practice preparing for a brevet. Rollers doesn't have a bunch of climbing in it, but there's enough and it's very frequent that it makes it difficult to get in a good rhythm. Just when you settle into a pace, you have another hill to climb, and there are few really good descents to make up for the time! Here's a profile of the course:

And the course:

Overall, 123 miles.

5:47 - I sat up in bed and saw that time on the clock! Man, I was supposed to leave 2 minutes ago!! Didn't hear the alarm - again. It's been happening for the past few weeks. I quickly got dressed, filled my bottles, threw the Surly in the randovan and made my way to breakfast. Luckily no one was in line at McDonald's that early in the morning. I pulled into the parking lot of the Old Towne Trolley Station only to realize I forgot my camera. Sorry folks, very few photos of this brevet. I took some with my phone, but it's too difficult to use while riding. I quickly mounted up and rode to the start at the Caltrans station about half a mile away. Upon arrival, there's the usual cast of characters - some I haven't seen since February. Seems they've all gotten trim and fit over these last 5 months. Congrats to Jaime on his Super Randonneur accomplishment!

At the start, everyone just milling around waiting for the RBA. Last minute changes to the route and some randos ended up at the old start.

We're off around 7:15 or so. Weather was cool and overcast, very nice riding weather. I decided to hit the ground running and take advantage of the coolness - riding with a purpose I say. That worked pretty good, cruising through the second control about an hour and fifteen minutes after the start. I didn't get a photo of the person manning the control - I always forget to take a photo of the first control!

Rolling right along to the third control is when things got interesting. I got my brevet card signed, water bottles refilled, and got back to riding within about 2 minutes. This time, I did take a photo of the two people manning the control, but forgot to ask their names! One of these days, I'll get it right!!

I left the control, pushing the downhill to Palomar Airport Road. Making the right, it's a decent climb to the summit of Palomar Airport Road. When I got near the top, something made me reach back and check my seat bag. I could feel it was unzipped and when that happens it means stuff has fallen out! I stop and hop off to take a look. Wallet - check, car keys - check, gels - check, bars - check, brevet card - NEGATIVE! My brevet card fell out somewhere between the summit and the previous control. Looking back down the road, I don't see anything obvious, which means I have to ride back to find it. Without the brevet card recording my times at the controls, this brevet wouldn't count towards my R12. The correct and legal thing to do is to go cross Palomar Airport Road and ride with traffic. Problem is, Palomar Airport Road is 3 lanes in each direction, with divider - no chance of seeing anything from the other side of the road. Luckily for me, there's a sidewalk all the way back to the control, so I take that instead. I'm sure you know what I'm thinking, the brevet card is all the way back at the control - sure enough, it's very close! I found it in by one of the bus stops on Carmel Valley Rd.

Relief, but that means climbing Palomar Airport Road again! No worries, didn't cost me much time or bonus mileage. After this point, everything was going very well until I got to San Marcos and control #4. It's a 7-11 and I spot one on E. Mission Ave. I leaned the Surly against the window, dig my wallet out and proceed to go in to get a water and receipt. I look at the top of the door and it says 850, which I thought was odd. I go back to the bike to check the route sheet and I'm supposed to be at 7-11 at 260 instead! That's about a mile further away. No biggie. I bought a water, got my receipt and watered up. The next 2 hours or so will be warm as the sun has broken through the clouds and it's heating up. Fighting nice headwinds on N. Broadway, I turn left on Jesmond Dene Rd. I keep thinking about Julian Dean, the pro rider in the Tour de France. I stopped partway up Jesmond Dene for this photo of the Surly:

If you look at the vine that's by the back wheel, you'll see the very rare Surlious Brevetous plant! I couldn't believe my luck to find this plant! When it's mature, it's the same color as the Surly - amazing.

This is how I have the Surly configured for brevets. The very bottom water bottle contains powdered HEED. I use that instead of messing around with baggies. I have a new seat bag from Navarro which worked very well. It's a two compartment seat bag, the lower compartment I have 2 tubes, patch kit and spare route sheet. The upper compartment I keep my wallet, gels, bars, car keys that are attached with an internal clip, with plenty of room to spare. The other improvement I've done is with the handle bar. I double wrapped with bar tape which made this brevet probably the most comfortable I've ever had for my hands. In the top-tube bag I keep my electrolytes, antacids, partially finished gel pack, etc. Easy to get to.

Anyway, things were going very well until I made it onto Old Highway 395. I crested a hill, grabbed for a gel, and ripped the top off. I'm not one of those guys that can squeeze the entire gel pack in my mouth all at once and wash it down. I have to nurse it along, so when I take the top off, I try to only have a small opening to squeeze the gel out. As I crested the hill, I started descending rather rapidly - watching my speedometer hit 20, 25, 30, 32 - you get the idea. Well, at that speed, I NEED to have both hands on the bar!! The gel pack got trapped between my left hand and the bar. Every time I hit a bump, and if you've ever ridden on the 395, it's all bumps, I squirted out some gel! As luck would have it, the gel hit my front tire, then flung the gel back up hitting me in the chin! So, hit bump, squirt gel, get hit in the chin!! Just the way the wind was working and by this time I was up to 40 MPH! This was one of my favorite Hammer gels too - Espresso, which I couldn't let got to waste!! I simply opened my mouth and tried to catch as much gel as possible! It was like trying to eat straight from the cotton candy machine at the fair while it was on one of those spinning rides at 40 MPH!! From a distance this probably looked really odd because the thin stream of gel coming off the front tire couldn't be seen, my head bouncing all around with my mouth open. By the time I got to the bottom of the hill, I was out of gel, but I had caught most of it. Whew, energy is hard to come by on a brevet - don't want any going to waste!

I made it to control #5 and decided to get some solid food. I tell ya, a McDonald's cheeseburger and iced mocha coffee is pure jet fuel! This was the longest control I stayed at, about 15 minutes. After the cheeseburger, I left to head to Oceanside. There was a change in the route from last year which required me to make this loop then come back to the 76. When I got back to the 76 I realized where I was so I didn't read the route sheet. I made a right turn onto the 76 thinking there's no way the Regional Brevet Administrator (RBA) would have us take a left turn across the 76 without a light. I rode about a mile until the "divided highway" sign and figured I was supposed to take a left. Reading the route sheet, sure enough! So, I waited on the side of the 76 for break in traffic. That took about 10 minutes before I could sprint across both lanes and head in the right direction. When I got back to where I made the ill-fated right turn, I saw Elaine and Matt reading their route sheet. As I passed I was yelling out go left, but there was so much traffic noise they probably didn't hear me.

As I rode along alone it got me thinking. One of the reasons I'm hesitant on brevets longer than 300K is riding alone, but here I am with two people only about 10 minutes behind me. As I got to the San Luis Rey bike path, I stopped to refill water. Elaine and Matt showed up, I decided to ride with them. What's 10 minutes anyway? It was great riding along with others all through Oceanside then back to the finish. I go through a low period between 2 to 4 PM on brevets. I think it's mostly mental, but it happens. I've just learned to wait it out - drink plenty, eat, and don't stop unless I really have to. Being in a group this low period went by very quickly! So, thanks to Matt and Elaine for the mental assistance!

We arrived at the finish about 10 hours. Not bad I'd say! It's about 40 minutes faster than last year too!

Ride Analysis

This is the part you've all paid admission for! I like to analyze my rides to see how things are going. Some of you know I used to be a daily commuter, 28 miles/day for the last couple years. My employer has closed our local office, so I now work from home. This means I have to train! I've been able to get some good rides in before I have to be at my desk, but my overall mileage is about 25% less per week than commuting. I have been able to do the same distance in a single ride twice a week, and have incorporated riding more hills. I have plans on doing longish rides of around 60 to 70 miles every other Saturday. That's going to help, but I think the biggest improvements have been with my physiology.

I've blogged about changing my diet as that is the only way I've been able to loose weight. When I first started commuting, I weighed 187. Two years commuting 28 miles/day and I gained 20 pounds! I've been following the Paleo Diet for Athletes since November 2009. So far, I've dropped 15 pounds and 2 inches off my waist. Pretty good I'd say! It's clear diet plays a much larger role than training, exactly the opposite of when I was in my twenties. If you're not familiar with Paleo Diet for Athletes, essentially it's about eating only fruits and vegetables as your main carbohydrate source when not heavily training or on days off. Avoiding all processed carbs, grains, potatoes, beans, sugars, etc. Eating high quality protein, nuts, and good fats is essential too. When on long/intensive training rides or brevets, eating high glycemic foods is OK, including the hour "golden window" to replenish carbohydrate stores post workout. I must admit, I need to reread the book as I've not read it since last year.

What's the impact medically? Aside from the weight loss, my cholesterol numbers have greatly improved. I went in for a quick check with my doc last month and he noticed I've not had any blood work done in a couple of years. My overall cholesterol score dropped 44 points, all ratios, and blood sugar have come in very nicely too! I was borderline for a few years, but that's all changed now. There was one odd finding - I was slightly anemic. Following my docs instructions, I'm now taking iron supplements. I've not had another blood test done yet, it hasn't been enough time, but I think I've noticed a huge difference riding. Back in April, I was hiking the Grand Canyon and was totally out of breath after leaving the 3 mile rest house. It was a huge struggle for me to breath. This part of the Bright Angel trail is very tough, but I never struggled like this before. Couldn't imagine why either, I was down 11 pounds from the last time I hiked the canyon so it should be easier - right? Well, seems red blood cells are rather important to aerobic performance! So, in another month or so, I'll get my iron checked again and see what's going on.

This brevet was the strongest I've ever felt on the bike. I could ride fast enough to stay with others, which was an awesome feeling. I'm thinking being able to go on longer training rides during the week, ride more hills, and (hopefully) keeping getting leaner, my riding performance will only get better.

Until next time!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Riding the 52

State Route 52 is about a mile from my home. After the expansion of the freeway, a bi-directional bike lane was created on the north side of the westbound lanes. I finally decided to give it a ride this morning. I have a 200K brevet this coming Saturday, but still wanted to get out for a short ride and this was perfect. Starting at the base on Mast Blvd, the summit has about 550 feet of elevation change over 2 miles. There was plenty of trash and other debris in the bike lane and since it was commute time, plenty of freeway noise.

The summit

Looking west down the hill. It was breezy with drizzle.

Looking into Oak Canyon - spent many years trail running through here. Always wondered what it looked like from the bridge above.

Spring Canyon - another place I've run the trails.

During commute time, have to watch for the end of the bike path. It's a blind corner with a big curb right before the stop light. Cars will not see you, they're all focused getting on the freeway, drinking their coffee, talking on the cellphone, putting on gender neutral make-up, and finishing getting dressed.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Bike to Work Day 2010

Despite my previous post that I'm no longer a daily bike commuter, I decided I was still going to ride anyway. I still have to commute to my home office, so why not just make it a 37 mile loop? I departed for the first pitstop at 5 AM. Boy, it's nice riding that early, almost zero traffic!

I arrived at the CALTRANS/REI pitstop in Old Towne San Diego promptly at 6 AM. They weren't fully ready, still unpacking stuff and getting things organized. These were the only photos I took. I was the second rider to sign in. I grabbed my free t-shirt, a few Clif bars, a bottle of something and took off for the next pitstop in Mission Valley.

This is by far the tastiest pitstop! Not only is this the Art Institute, it's also a culinary school. Some very tasty treats out, which explains a nearly full sign in sheet when I arrived around 6:40 AM. After checking in here, I left for Grossmont College.

After making my way through Mission Valley, I did notice a few more cyclists on their way in to work. I rode the same route I would commute to work. If this was your first day as a bike commuter, keep going - it's a blast! Mission Valley is very flat, but once I made it to the east end, it's all uphill to Grossmont College.

I arrived at Grossmont College pitstop around 7:15. My climbing is getting better that's for sure. I was the 4th rider to sign in. It's not a popular pitstop so I really appreciate Augustine and his assistants manning the booth. Augustine and I chatted about bike commuting, he was originally from Long Island and was a bike commuter there. He told of another commuter that was struck by a car during BTWD! From what Austine knew, this rider suffered a broken femur and separated shoulder. While in the emergency room, he made his wife ride back to Grossmont to get his free t-shirt! I hope all is well with this commuter, I didn't get his name. Augustine took the photo above of me standing next to the Surly. This is the only photo I have with my ride.

Here's a photo of the pitstop. Man, I have to learn to get everyones' names! Sorry about that, next year - I promise!

My ride when I got home. Total ride, 37 miles with plenty of climbing. I thought I had enough time to make it to the El Cajon pitstop, but I spent too much time chatting with Augustine so I went home to start my day in my new office. This was a fun commute! Nice morning ride that didn't require a jacket.

Until next year!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Final Day as a Bike Commuter

Hard to believe, but this post is not a late April Fools Day joke. The company I work for is closing the San Diego office. No, I'm not out of work, I'm now a full-time work from home employee. I started bike commuting in January 2008 on a Trek Hybrid bike, but within a few months I upgraded thanks to former President Bush's stimulus check and bought the Surly Long Haul Trucker.

A few times a month I'd take a walk to the local mall and hit my two favorite places - Starbucks for an iced green tea, no water, no sweetener and Rubio's Fish Tacos Especials.

The night before, I added up all the miles I've commuted over that 27 months. I typically rode Monday through Thursday. Fridays I was a teleworker, I worked from home. The whiteboard in the cube I stored my bike, I left a little note for the movers:

This is where I stored the Surly during the work day. An empty cube was a perfect place to park the beast. It was safe, I never had to worry about it chained to something outside.

At the end of the day, I finished packing up my office. I probably had 40 pounds of office stuff: laptop with docking station, keyboard/mouse, clothes, food, shoes, project documentation, and a few books thrown in for good measure. This was probably the heaviest I've ever loaded the Surly. The Transit rack I've used all this time was up to the task, just barely. It's stamped for 50 pound max load, but I don't think I'd put that much on it. The rack was moving around a bit while I rode home. During the ride home, I did have to use the 32 up front climbing Mission Gorge hill. Got dropped by some dude riding with 2 flats, but I didn't care. I was savoring my final ride home.

Safely arrived at home, I parked the Surly like I normally would. Sat down and took the photo below. About the only changes to the bike I've done over these 27 months was to add the Topeak Road Morph G, Shimano generator hub powering a B&M LED light. This bike never left me stranded on the road. It rode flawlessly for over 10,000 miles. The only thing I've ever had to deal with was the occasional flat.

I used bike commuting as training for brevets. Nowthat my commute is measured in feet, I'll have to ride in the mornings. I'll have no problem getting 2.5 to 3 hour rides before heading to my new "office". I'm thinking morning rides on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during the week. For the weekends, every other Sat 60-80 mile rides. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays I'll be doing light upper body. My goals for 2011 is to earn Super Randonnuer  and I know I need to work on climbing. With the time I've mentioned I have available per week, how should I train? If you'd like to put together a training program for me, please post your training ideas as a comment to this post.



Sunday, February 7, 2010

Dudley's "Sopping Surly" 300K

The San Diego Randonneur's held their Dudley's 300K brevet this past weekend. It was a ride to behold!

I spent some time thinking about riding tactics for this brevet. Last year, I had no idea what to expect. This year was different. I knew I had my fueling down, limit my time at controls, and if you've read my previous posts, I have been loosing weight too. You can tack on a -2 pounds since the January brevet!

My plans were to "ride with a purpose" to get up to the control at Dudley's, then do my best to push the descent back to Lakeside. My goal to Dudley's was to get there by 3 PM, then if all went well, I should make it to Lakeside by dark. Once there, make it to the Alpine control for a nice meal and hot coffee. From Alpine back to the start involves 15 miles or so of uphill, then a screaming in the dark descent back to the 94. I had planned to push all the flats too, and take advantage of them to fuel better. It was freezing cold last year, but mother nature had other plans for us this year!

The one thing to understand about San Diego weather, is that when the weather person says there's a 70% chance of rain, 9 times out of 10 they are wrong, plus there's a 50/50 chance of the weather going either way! I'm sure all the statisticians in the randonneuring world are scratching their collective heads on that one!

I can't put the description of the rain into words any better than my great friend, Forrest. Turn your speakers on and give a listen! Yes, it was just like that, plus throw in some fog, and I swear I saw a few snow flakes too! Could have been oxygen debt though....

This is my new configuration for the Surly. I've added Cascadia Hybrid fenders, Shimano hub generator, and B&M IQ Cyo R headlamp. The lighting configuration has been fantastic for commuting, it's better than just about any battery powered light I could find. I'm not talking comparing a HID light that only lasts a couple hours on a charge either. I can feel a difference between riding with my non-hub wheel compared to the hub generator. The cool thing is, I can't tell any difference between having the light on or off. Being an LED headlight, it doesn't have the current draw as a bulb head light. LEDs are way more efficient than bulbs.

In the early darkness just before our 6 AM start, our newly fearless RBA gives us some final instructions before our departure. Plenty of people show up despite the weather forecast.

All huddled in the dark. You can see the parking lot is all wet from the rain. Shortly thereafter, we're off!

The Welcome to Jamul sign surprises me in the dark...

Looking into gloomy skies. It was going to get a lot worse as the day rolled on.

Look at the intersection of Otay Lakes Rd and the 94. Darkness is receeding, but no rain.

Starting our climb up Honey Springs Rd.

More Honey Springs... It'll be fun on the way down !!

Heading into Harbison Canyon, right turn Clyde.

The camera couldn't keep up with my Surly speed.

Will the real Harbison Canyon, please stand up?


El Monte park, our first control at mile 55.1. It had started raining, but as I was at the control filling up my bottles, we could see a huge cloud burst race towards us! Total buckets of rain coming down. I decided then to get going, I didn't even stay a full 5 minutes.

Hard to see the rain in the photo, but you can see all the water flowing across the road. I've quickly learned to LOVE my fenders! Very little dirty water splashing up on my feet, bike, back... You get the idea.

Starting the climb up the 67. A river of water flowing down the road. No choice, gotta ride up!

Rain, fog, and traffic - not a real safe combination. Drivers respect the Surly and give me plenty of room.

My approach into Ramona. The fog just got thicker but the rain stayed pretty steady. Best thing to do was to keep all my lights on, and peddle!

This photo is on the home stretch to Dudley's control at 96.1 miles. A LOT has happened. From about mile 80 until Dudley's was a huge sufferfest for me. Like Forrest said, the rain was sideways. High, cold winds, roads filling with water. I had been riding rather hard so things were starting to hurt. I kept pushing the pace to get to Dudley's but there wasn't much left in the engine room. The winds almost blew me over twice, luckily away from the ditches on the side of the road. My left foot went numb, I couldn't wiggle my toes at all. Even though I had rain gear on, I was soaked to the bone. No matter how hard I rode, I kept getting colder and slower. My arrival at Dudley's was over 2 hours faster than last year! My original plans were to just stay long enough to refill water, get my brevet card stamped and don my cold weather gear from my drop bag. Problem was, I was so cold, I was shaking. Not the slight shiver, but whole body kinda shaking. I knew what that was as I've had a small hospital stay for hypothermia when I was in the Army. As soon as I got my drop bag, I went to the men's room to dry off as much as possible. I put on all my cold weather gear and got a coffee. My original plans of 10 minutes, turned into 15, then 20. It took 30 minutes for my shivering to stop, but I knew it was important to get my core temp back to normal before leaving. I put my feet in some plastic grocery bags given to me by another rider, and got some other great advice from another rider too on keeping warm in bad weather. I went outside, refilled my bottles, and felt generally pretty good. The rain had stopped, so I figured, if it didn't rain anymore, I should be good to the finish. Well, that wasn't in the plans! I departed Dudley's and about a mile down the road, the skies opened up again! I was blasted for the next 5 miles, and once again, soaked to the bone. I made the left turn onto Old Highway 80, I was back to shivering again. It got so bad, I almost dumped the Surly! I was pushing the descent to get back to lower climes, then had to come to a stop because the road had flooded.

I've learned to watch flooded roads for a few minutes to see just how fast the water was flowing. This one wasn't all that bad, about 6 inches deep. I road through it easily enough, then took off. I made it back to Ramona quickly, and made a stop at McDonald's. I was back to freezing, all my cold weather gear was soaked, my left foot back to numb. I still had the descent of the 67 coming up, with the darkness looming, and all the shaking I wasn't sure I could ride in all the traffic. I took a deep breath, went inside, and got another coffee. I went to the men's room and tried drying my clothes off with the hot air hand dryer. The floors in McDonald's are radiant heat floors, they heat the entire building by warming the floors. Walking around in my socks really warmed my feet up, plus left wet footprints that customers were pointing out and laughing. I spent another 30 minutes there, and I couldn't get the shaking to stop. It was dark too, started raining again, and plenty of traffic on the 67. I decided to DNF there. I called the RBA to let him know, then called my wife to come get me.

I rode 112 miles, and the BEST brevet I have ever done. I may not have finished for credit, but I made huge improvements in riding. I made it to Dudley's at 2:36 PM, nearly 2 hours faster than last year. My climbing hills has gotten way better too. Probably because of the weight loss, and general change in diet that lets me build muscle. I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing with my diet for now, it's working. I don't think I do too bad since the only training I do is commuting 28 miles to work each day. I have added more hills to my commute, and have some plans to add more as I keep getting lighter.

Until next time!