Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009 cycling review

Having goals is good. Goals keep you focused, but have the tendency to induce stress and disappointment if it becomes obvious that the goal moves further away or out of reach, rather than getting closer. So sometimes, not setting goals, or at least setting a lower threshold, is a saner approach, especially for the things in life that are supposed to be fun. Like cycling.

My goal for 2008 was to ride the Diablo Challenge on a new bike, in 1:20h or less. Also, I wanted to ride 3000 miles. Well, a broken collarbone plus surgery, shattered (no pun intended) that goal in August. In November, I attempted to summit Haleakala, but faltered at 6500 ft. Well, there's always a new year, but considering the missed goals, I didn't really make any for 2009.

The 2009 cycling season started on January 10th, followed by a ride up Diablo the next day. With still no goals in mind, I just managed to ride 707 miles until end of April. Then came May and a trip to China, so the total for that month was an astonishing 0 miles. June added a mere 145 miles, and by mid-year, I had only accumulated 853 miles. With 120 miles less than at the same time in 2008, riding 3000 miles seemed already out of reach.

Riding the 2008 Diablo Challenge was not up on my radar until some time in August. I wouldn't commit to the race until being confident that I would be in good enough shape to beat my old record. Once I signed up, I became serious in my training efforts, and rode 954 miles in August and September, more than in the first 6 months of the year. So now I had a race and my "old" goal just ahead of me: ride Diablo on new bike in 1:20h or less. However, a day before the race, the frame cracked, and left me riding on my old clunker. Disappointment was immense, but maybe with that goal gone, some pressure was too, and in the end I rode a new personal record of 1:12:41h.

After the Diablo Challenge, I eased a bit, picked up my new bike (frame) and by the end of October, my total mileage was at 2348. With two months left in the year, and two weeks of Maui cycling coming up in November, making the 3000-mile mark was suddenly back on the horizon.

Riding Haleakala in 2008 was still fresh in my memory, so I was not very much inclined to repeat it again this year. Once on the island, I thought that I just have to do it. Call it 'saving face'. 340 miles cycled in Maui, about 30000 ft of elevation gain, and another 167 miles cycled back home in the month of November, bringing the annual total to 2856 miles.

Reaching 3000 miles was now just a formality. On December 20, I passed the mark, and being European, I set the next goal to 5000 km, which I reached December 29. So what is left for this year ? Today was the 99th ride of the year ... so I am still aiming at number 100. We will see if the weather cooperates, but if today was the last ride of this year, so be it. No need to be stressed out about it.

So if you don't have goals, make them (up) as you go along. Goals are good, if you keep them realistic. For 2010, I have no cycling goals. Considering 3142 miles, 5027 kilometers, a new Madone 6.5-pro frame, from sea-level to 10023 ft, and in 72 minutes up Diablo, how can I possibly beat that ?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sun, Dec 20

This weekend, rides #95 and #96, bringing the annual mileage to 3023. Next goal: 5000 km, which is 163 km or 102 miles away; if the rain won't spoil the remainder of the year, this should be doable.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tue, Dec 15

Today, the 94th ride for the year, for an annual total of 2952.5 miles so far. Will I reach 100 rides and 3000 miles for 2009 ? The suspense is killing me. Stay tuned.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Mon, Dec 7

This morning, you could enjoy a rare sight on Mount Diablo:

I rode up to Junction two days ago, where it was 48F; at the summit, the temperature was just 33F at the time (at 11am today: 25F). Due to logistical reasons, I can't just head back home now, grab warm clothes and the bike, and then just ride up ... I wish I could.

As far as my 2009 mileage is concerned, I'm 84 miles away from reaching the 3000-mile mark. With little over three weeks left in this year, the goal and another Summit ride should be achievable.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sun, Nov 22

Maui summary:
- 7 rides in 10 days
- 340.7 miles, average: 48.5 miles
- ~30k ft climbing

Next year's idea: participate in the Maui Century, which happens to "always" (this and last year) fall on the same Sunday when I leave Maui.

This year's total so far: 2763 miles; with about 5 weeks left in this year, I should be able to finally hit the 3000-mile mark.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thu, Nov 19

Yesterday, on Day 11 of this year's Maui trip, I wrapped up my cycling with a ride up from Paia to the summit of Haleakala Crater. The ride begins at sea level and climbs up to an elevation of 10023 feet, or 3055 meters. Our group of 7 riders started at about 9am from the Maui Cyclery. The route goes up Baldwin Ave at a moderate grade, and not 10 minutes into the ride, we got showered with rain, and not for the only time during the whole ride. Blaming the West Maui ride from two days earlier, I didn't feel strong, and fell about 5 minutes behind before reaching the first stop after about mile 14 at Kula Lodge, at ~3200 ft elevation. Even before reaching Kula, I was certain, that I won't make it again up to the Summit, just like last year. After consuming electrolytes, Fig Newtons, energy bars and gels, and plenty of water, all of us resumed to take on the next two thirds of the climb. Haleakala Hwy / State Hwy 377 soon turns left to become Crater Rd / State Hwy 378. The mile marker starts at 0 miles, and from there it's another 22 miles of climbing. I hooked up with another rider, Sean, who realized that riding the first third up to Kula while red-lining, won't get him up to the Crater. It is always a good distraction from the pain and suffering if you can chat with another rider, so the the ride up to about 6000 feet felt easy and was uneventful, when soon after the wind and drizzle started to really question us about how much longer we would last on the mountain. At the 6500 ft marker, at the planned rest stop, we donned arm and leg warmers, jackets and over-sized gloves, as it had gotten cold, mostly due to the wind-chill. The two ride leaders, Donnie and Mark, as well as the Support Van driver, would turn back from here, as the National Park doesn't allow any tour operations within park boundaries. So in other words, for the remaining 3500 ft of climbing (or 13 miles), we would be on our own. The other three riders, Bill, Steve and Emily, had already taken off, so Sean and I loaded up on water and nutrition, and resumed our ride. The park entrance is not too far from there, at about 7000 ft elevation, and unlike motorists, cyclists only pay $5 park fee. The first Visitor Center appears close after the park entrance, and along with it a flat of the rear tire. In the end, I had to patch the tube after having found the hole in the tube and the thorn in the tire, and realized that the stem of the spare tube was too short for that rim. Long story short, we were soon on our way again. The grade of Crater Rd past the park entrance is fortunately less steep than prior to it, so the ride stretches out because of distance and not because of elevation gain. Between 7000 and 8000 ft, the weather got nasty again, after it was sunny at the Visitor Center. Sean started having cramps and repeated "I'm spent", with just 20% elevation or another few miles to go. I convinced him to keep going, because only with mutual effort, we would make it. If it weren't for him, just riding by myself, I probably would have turned back earlier. The weather cleared up, the grade got less steep (so I felt), and at 9000 ft, it was obvious that now only a volcano outbreak would prevent us from going all the way up. Just before reaching the second Visitor Center below the summit, Bill and Emily, were already on their way down, so maybe just 15-20 minutes ahead of us; Steve had already passed us 30 minutes earlier. The last half mile to the actual Summit parking lot is tough, after having had a rather mellow incline for the last 2000 ft. Now, at 10000 ft, 6 hours of climbing and about 12% grade, the computer just reported a speed of 3.9 mph. Elation then after having reached the parking lot, and having ridden up the short path to the shack at Pu'u'ula'ula Summit and 10023 ft elevation. The obligatory round of pictures were taken, but not much time spent on enjoying the view. By now it was around 3:30pm, and we had another 36 miles back to Paia. Riding down, we hit the same cold and wet weather at 8000 ft and below, and going 30+mph didn't help keeping us warmer. We briefly stopped at the Visitor Center at 7000 ft to rush into the building and warm up for a few minutes before they would close at 4pm. By now, the weather had also gotten worse at lower altitudes, and only at around 4500 ft, it felt like we're coming back into warmer climates and out of the clouds. At the State Hwy 377/378 intersection, I shed the wet gloves, and we continued down through Kula and Makawao before another rain shower welcomed us back to Paia. It was 4:55pm, and it's been a long day in the saddle with 72.3 mile distance, and 10331 ft total elevation gain. I decided then that this would also conclude the cycling for this year in Maui; there's nothing that can top an epic ride like this.

Steve, myself, Emily, Bill, Donnie, Sean at the Kula Lodge rest stop

Happy on Arrival

Team Effort

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tue, Nov 17

Day 6, as said, was a a repeat of the Paia to Keanae Peninsula ride, except for a side trip to Wailua Village, an isolated taro-farming community; total mileage / climbing: 53.2 miles / 5534 ft.

Day 7 was a rest day.

Day 8, an early morning ride to Lookout Point and back, 33.3 miles.

Day 9: in anticipation to ride Haleakala on Day 11 (Wednesday), this was supposed to be a longer ride, followed by a rest day on Tuesday (today, Day 10). After having talked to two other cyclists here who rode around West Maui, it reduced my objections to ride on this hilly route. The North-west / north corner is usually rather breezy and rainy, but the radar didn't really show any rain until I actually got drenched for the first time, a few miles before Kahakuloa. The ride through that village was treacherous, with slippery metal plates over a one-lane bridge, and then the tires having no grip on a small and steep incline, so that I had to walk the bike up the incline. From thereon, the road surface got worse, and a while later, it started to rain again, just before State Highway 340 begins. The descent into Wailuku would have really been awesome and fast, if the road would have been dry; instead, with lots of water running on the road, and brakes not working as efficiently, 20 mph was the maximum speed I could achieve. Before reaching Wailuku, the rain ceased, and I stopped for a moment to drain the water from my shoes. The ride back south on Highway 30 to Maalaea Harbor was fast, as I took advantage of strong headwinds and a decline, reaching 40 mph. From there, another 16 miles to Ka'anapali, for a total of 60.7 miles and 4k ft of climbing.

Day 10, today, resting and pondering whether to ride Haleakala tomorrow, or this time ride all the way to Hana.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thu, Nov 12

Day 3: Morning ride to the Lookout Point along Hwy 30, and back to Kaanapali for a total of 32 miles in 1:50h. Picked up a Subway sandwich on the return, took a nap, had lunch, and somehow got around the afternoon. Dinner at Aloha Mixed Plate, a cheap place that serves Hawaiian food. Hawaiian beer and the Hawaiian performance from next door's Luau made it pretty authentic. Mission accomplished.

Vista Point Hwy 30

Day 4, Wednesday, was a ride from Paia up to Kula. Five of us, two ride leaders and three clients, headed up Baldwin Ave, and soon dropped one rider who had ambitions to ride up Haleakala without any arm warmers, vest and leg warmers; I don't think he made it very far. Four remaining, we continued through Makawao, and soon it fortunately cooled down which helped us significantly with the climbing. Rest stop was at La Provence. Cappucino and tasty pastries was all we consumed there today, definitely I have to come back here. The remaining ride was fast and uneventful; total: 35 miles, 4044 ft climbing.
After Monday's Two-Pizza lunch at the Flatbread Company, I was lucky again there as I got the Buy-One-Get-One-Free-Beer Special. The evening was concluded with the usual Mai Tai's.

At Hookipa, famous surfing spot on the North Shore

Day 5, today, was supposed to be an easy recovery ride up from Kaanapali, but after having to fix a flat before even leaving, and realizing then that the tire had a side-wall cut with the tube lurking through, I decided to ditch the bike and instead drive around West Maui. This is a trip by itself, not for the faint-hearted due to one-lane roads and lot of rocks on the road.

If the weather holds, tomorrow's ride will be a repeat of Monday's ride, from Paia to Keanae Peninsula and back.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mon, Nov 9

Day 2 in Maui. The motto for this vacation is "Bike, Mai Tai, Eat, Sleep, Repeat" (or any other order). Started with a Mai-Tai yesterday after I arrived, and in the morning today, I picked up the rental bike from Donnie Arnoult's Maui Cyclery, and rode 55 miles from Paia to Keanae Peninsula and back. The route is Hana Highway, and despite the rolling (5678 ft of climbing out and back), narrow and winding road, it's actually fun riding this stretch because cars are usually slower, and at times even can't pass. So the road belongs to you. At Keanae Peninsula I stopped for a few minutes before heading back. 27 miles later, back in Paia, it was time for lunch. Thanks to someone who forgot to put mushrooms on my 12" pizza at the Flatbread Company, I got to enjoy two pizzas for the prize of one. If you like pizza and come to Paia, this is the place to go. After returning to Kaanapali, I met up with two friends, who had just arrived and were thirsty for some drinks, and this is how we ended up having a couple of Happy Hour Mai-Tai's. Wasn't this a perfect day ? Now it's time to sleep; the bike wants to ride at 7am.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sat, Oct 31

Tomorrow is already November, so there might be just one more nice weekend like this one left in the year to go out and ride Diablo. After a rather lazy four weeks since the Diablo Challenge, with only one ride up to the Junction since then, it was about time again to go all the way. Met up with TBV in the morning, and rode up to Junction, where he decided that this would be enough of pain for today. I continued to the Summit, enjoyed the views and chatted with two newcomers to the mountain. Uneventful ride down to Danville. I think that I have now connected with the new bike; hope it lasts longer than the previous one.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wed, Oct 21

Last Sunday was the first ride on the new bike. It still felt like I borrowed someone else's bike, instead of riding my own. First order obviously was to introduce the new bike to Mount Diablo, so I rode up to Lookout Point, past Junction, before considering that without vest and arm warmers, it would get too cold. Indulgence and just two bike rides within the prior two weeks were obviously detrimental to my fitness, as even on the new bike, I felt slow. Or maybe was it the additional weight of the new frame ? I asked Trek:

I rode a 62cm 2007 Madone 6.5 SSL until the frame cracked, and the dealer replaced the frame with a 2009 Madone 6.5 model, also 62cm.

The 2007 bike weighed 15.7 pounds without pedals on the dealer's scale when I bought it, and the 2009 bike weighs 18.8 pounds with pedals. The pedals are 280g each, so roughly 1 pound total. Based on this, the 2009 frame is about 2 pounds heavier than the old 2007 frame I had.

[...] The dealer says that the 2009 frame is lighter but the scale doesn't lie.

Trek answered:
I suspect the weight difference you're encountering is from the added material in the 2009 Madone's integrated seatmast. To make it more of a fair comparison, you should put the 2009 Madone's mast cap on, insert a seatpost into your 2007 frame, and install the bottom brackets for each bike. These are two places where the redesign we introduced in '08 saves weight compared to a traditional bike design.

That being said, please keep in mind that our focus when we redesigned the Madone in 2008 was not to make the lightest bike on the market. It was to make the best bike on the market. If it were possible to take '07 Madone and an '09 Madone and have two identical riders ride two identical races on them, the '09 rider would come out on top every time. The redesigned Madone has better power transfer from the BB90 bottom bracket cluster, better tracking from the stiffer 1-1/8" to 1.5" front end, and better endurance from the seatmast's greater vertical compliance.

The bottom line seems to be "The '09 is the better frame, don't complain and enjoy what you have". OK, I will.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sat, Oct 17

Today I picked up my new bike at Chain Reaction Bicycles in Redwood City; two weeks ago, and one day before the Mount Diablo Challenge, the frame of my then "new" bike cracked, and left me racing on my older bike.

I weighed the bike at the store: 18.8 pounds / 8.3 kilogram. This is about 2 pounds heavier than the old bike. The saddle bag should not account for most of that. Hmm.

Don't know yet if I have time for the virgin ride tomorrow.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sun, Oct 11

It must be Off-Season.

The plan for the days after the Mount Diablo Challenge was to take a break, and then resume the workout albeit at a lesser intensity. However, this week has turned into off-season. Typical symptoms:

- Thinking about a bike ride actually reduces your heart rate
- It takes days, not minutes, to finally fix the flat tire
- You eat more pizza and ice cream than energy gels and Cliff bars, and drink more beer than Gatorade
- Wife's "suggestion" to vacuum the house is not countered with "I have to go out for a ride" or "I have to clean the bike"; instead, you cave in.
- Cyclists post on Facebook about their desserts instead of their pace on Diablo
- You finally clean the fireplace from last winter's usage

In addition, the weather has turned cool and windy, so I am not very much inclined to step out the door right now. Also, with rain on the way, the cycling outlook remains bleak. I hope that by the time the new frame has arrived and the bike is reassembled, that we get those usual sunny and warm October days back. If not, my cycling season will resume in Maui in a month from today.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thu, Oct 8

It's now been a few days after cracking my bike frame and racing up Diablo.

Rest day. Trek will replace the frame with a 2009 model; and they've never seen anything like that before. Pondering whether to get the 2010 model instead and pay the difference. Waiting for Trek to respond.

Rest day.

Rest day.

Rest day. Amici's pizza for lunch. Still waiting for Trek's response.

It will also be a rest day.

Total: 0.0 miles, 0:00h.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sun, Oct 4 - Mount Diablo Challenge post-race report

Following yesterday's bike tragedy, I got sufficiently demoralized to skip the race today, instead sleep in and be depressed about the loss. After all, the bike was part of my goal to ride the 28th Mount Diablo Challenge today and achieve a new personal record; and the bike was not "just a bike" to me.

Several people tried to cheer me up and insisted that I should race anyway, considering I spent many miles on the bike, many hours in spin class, some hours in the pub, all in preparation for this one race of the year. So last night, I started collecting warm clothing and my senses, and decided to show up at the start.

This morning, 40F at the summit at 6pm, and upon arriving in Danville, a mere 41F. There are already two things that I don't like about mornings: "cold" and" early". Interestingly, every year it is 41F on the morning of the Mount Diablo Challenge. Dressed up for the 2-mile ride to the start, I was still wondering when my fingers would go from blue to black and then fall off. With all 10 fingers though, I arrived at the start, collected the bib and the timing belt, and shed the warm clothes; even in shorts, jersey and arm warmers, you will feel warm at those low temperatures when you ride a mountain.

TBV showed up shortly after, and then I ran into colleague Kotaro, on his first time to participate in the Mount Diablo Challenge, and on this first time to ever ride Diablo. From then on, it was waiting for your wave to start. We three were all in wave #3, slated to start at 8:45am, after waves #1 and #2, and the women-only wave.

Then, 10-second rolling start, and we were off. I really had no plan on how to ride today. My original goal was to achieve 1:20h with the new bike. Lately, after making it to the summit in 1:15h (albeit from a location a bit up after the official start at Athenian School), I adjusted my goal up to 1:15h. Today though, riding the old clunker, I reset the goal back to 1:20h, just trying to make the best of the situation.

The first riders of wave #3 quickly took off, and I only saw them again later at the summit. This dispersed the crowd quickly though, and I made good progress and speed. All through the ride, I tried to keep a straight line (and straight face), not following the bends of the road. If the pro's do it, it can't be wrong. I reached South Gate at 0:21h and Junction at 0:37h, and only then did I think that I could actually make it in 1:15h. After Junction, I slowed down a bit and paced myself through the grind at Toyon Picnic Area, and reached Juniper at 0:54h, 2 minutes ahead of my personal record. Grabbed a cup of water, and paced myself further up to Devil's Elbow. From there, it's only a mile to the summit. I forgot at what elapsed time I was at that point, but I knew that I now could beat 1:15h. Tried to stay close behind two faster cyclists for a minute, to conserve some energy. Reached the Lower Parking Lot, people cheering on the riders. This where the final incline started, going the left road up to the summit. This is the hardest part of the ride, a final grade of maybe 10-12%, for the last 150 meters. Then finally, crossed the finish line, stopped the clock, 1:13:00h. I did it; what an elation.

The official result came back later as 1:12:43h, ranked 451, according to the printout. TBV also reached his goal of achieving 1:20h or better with a 1:16h time. Kotaro, on his very first visit to Diablo on a bike, got a respectable 1:15h time.

A new record was not broken today, the top time was 47 minutes and change. If I saw correctly, none of three top finishers of the last two years (English, Laue, Phipps) raced Diablo today.

I'm glad I raced today. Will post links to official results and photos later, after taking a nap.

UPDATE 5pm: Official results still have not been posted. Please check back later.

UPDATE 7:40pm: Official results are here. My rank and time were corrected to 448 and 1:12:41.8 (or maybe I didn't look correctly earlier at the printout), with an average speed of 8.92mph. TBV rank 524, 1:16:33.6; Kotaro rank 504, 1:15:23.8.

UPDATE 9pm: Photos:
Me: @ Devils' Elbow, @ Finish 1,2
Kotaro: @ Devil's Elbow, @ Finish
TBV: @ Devil's Elbow, @ Finish 1,2,3,4

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sat, Oct 3

I don't know what to say.

Decided to go out for an easy ride today. In Dublin, I hooked up with a group of cyclists, and we zoomed north on San Ramon Blvd. At mile 7.7, just past the Danville Town Limit Sign Sprint, I drove through a small ditch (not a pothole), heard a cracking sound, and felt the saddle tilt back. I stopped immediately and then it took only a second from thinking that maybe the saddle screw was lose to realizing that this was the last ride on this bike.

As if a broken frame wasn't enough, the ride completed with two flat tires, after apparently having rolled through a nest of thorns ... how else do you explain 5 punctures in 2 tubes ?

This definitely wasn't my day.

Brought the bike to Chain Reaction; they will contact Trek on Monday. This kind of damage is not supposed to happen. The seat post was sufficiently deep inserted into the seat tube. I expect / hope that Trek will replace the frame.

Most of my motivation for tomorrow faded away over the next few hours, but after leaving the bike store, I got my old clunker Trek 2000 from my office, just in case my motivation comes back. With a bike 7 pounds heavier than the Madone, I have no illusions about achieving the race time I like. If I go, I probably take it as an early morning exercise.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Fri, Oct 2

The day of the race is almost there. The training log for the past week:

Danville - Juniper and back, 24.0 miles, 1:40h.

Pattern#2 repeated: no beer, no performance. Anticipating hot weather ahead, I started at 9am. But it's already a bad sign, if at that early hour, you see lots of cyclists coming down the mountain. Met Diablo Scott on the way between South Gate and Junction. It was a rather pathetic ride and a hot day today, and by the time I reached Juniper, I was done.


Canada Rd - Woodside - OLH Rd - Pescadero - HMB - 92 - Canada Rd, 57.6 miles, 3:40h, 5700ft of climbing. Unlike yesterday, today I felt a lot better. Started at 8:30am to beat the heat; interestingly, it got warmer the further up OLH Rd I got. On top, elapsed time 26.5 minutes. Continued down 84, where it got noticeably cooler, and for a brief moment, I thought of returning. But went on to continue to Pescadero, and then headed north on Hwy 1 to Half Moon Bay. Took 92 back to Canada Rd. I'm glad that I headed to the coast; those 70s on the Pacific Plate were a lot more pleasant than the 90s on the American Plate.

Rest day.

Lunch ride to Coyote Pt and back, with TBV and Bill. Little windy today, so it took 36 min outbound with 11/12 mph at times. 18.3 miles, 1:05h.


Spin class, 1:00h.

Lunch ride to Sawyer Camp Trail and back; 15.6 miles, 1:08h, with Bill and TBV. About 5 minutes of those 1:08h were spent talking to a cop who pulled TBV over after he ran a STOP sign at 20+ mph. Luckily, the cop didn't cite him. This was just bad timing because Bill and I were just a few seconds ahead, also speeding through the STOP sign. Somehow it's pointless talking to a cop since they think in this way:

while (!broke_law());

Therefore they can't or don't want to accept an even good explanation why and when we would not stop.

It's a crazy world ... again no time + again no car = again no beer.

This week's total: 115.5 miles, 8:33h.
Last week's total:
100.6 miles, 6:32h.
2 weeks ago's total: 102.4 miles, 6:15h.
3 weeks ago's total: 134.8 miles, 9:19h.
4 weeks ago's total: 68.8 miles, 5:14h.

I am ready for Sunday.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fri, Sep 25

Only 9 days left until the race; the training log for the past week:

Danville - Diablo Summit, 28.1 miles, 2:11h.

I see another pattern:
Last week: Friday beer -> Saturday great Diablo ride
This week: Friday no beer -> Saturday feel crappy ... so I was just dehydrated :).

More cyclists than usual ... sign of the upcoming race. Half way up the wall, I made a rookie mistake to let cars pass; when restarting, bike did a wheelie, and somehow I pulled something in my right shoulder. Driving back home with a stick-shift wasn't much fun when pulling and pushing hurts. At least I finally got to enjoy a beer at home, before I installed my new Selle SMP saddle; looking forward to more comfortable riding from now on.


Pleasanton - Walnut Creek and back, 38.4 miles, 2:17h, avg. 18.1 mph.
The first 38 miles on the new saddle felt great; I hope the saddle quest is now over.

Spin class, 1 hour; during this hour, the only thing I heard, was "out of the saddle!".

Lunch ride to Coyote Pt and back with TBV and Bill. 19 miles, 0:59h.


Rest Day = Company Retreat = Picnic = Beer.


Lunch ride to Sawyer Camp Trail and back with TBV and Bill. 15.1 miles, 1:05h.

It should be prohibited by law to schedule meetings on Fridays anywhere close to noon, let's say between 10am and 3pm. How should one otherwise get to have a couple of well deserved beers ???

Total: 100.6 miles, 6:32h.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fri, Sep 18

Only 16 days left until the race; the training log for the past week:

Danville - Diablo Summit. On the way down, just past the 2000 ft elevation sign, I met TBV sitting at the side of the road with a flat tire. Together, we rode back up to Juniper, then back to Danville, 2:38h, 34.3 miles, 4480ft of climbing; 1:15h from Hole in the Wall up to Summit, excluding the obligatory breaks at Junction, Juniper and Lower Parking Lot. It was a quiet day on Diablo; the early morning rain and thunderstorm probably kept people at home, before the weather cleared at around noon.


Pleasanton - Walnut Creek and back,
1:55h, 33.o miles, avg. 18.4 mph.

Couldn't find my list of excuses, so went to spin class, 1 hour.

Lunch ride to Sawyer Camp Trail and back, 15 miles, 1:05h, with TBV and Bill. I notice a pattern: crappy legs the day after spin class. Pondering to make Wednesday a rest day, and visit REI instead.


Rest day indeed; legs still feel a bit sore, maybe a sign of over-training ? Visited REI to load up on Cliff bars and cycling socks.


Lunch ride to Coyote Point Gate, then doing a 3-minute Campus crit because TBV hadn't gotten enough exercise after 57 minutes on the road; 20.1 miles, 1:00h.

Mmmh, beer ... or so I thought. But if people show up at work without a car, then how do you get to the beer ? At least I didn't make a drunk expression to the VP during my presentation.

Total: 102.4 miles, 6:15h.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fri, Sep 11

Only 23 days left until the race; the training log for the past week:

Danville - Diablo Summit - Danville, 2:07h, 28.1 miles; 1:15h from Hole in the Wall up to Summit, excluding the obligatory breaks at Junction, Juniper and Lower Parking Lot. It was also another "Bring your car to Diablo"-Day, and noticeable number of cyclists, apparently also getting ready for Oct 4.

Rest day, lawn mowing and mental preparation for the Labor Day Ride.


Labor Day Ride with TBV and Dave F, Fairfax - Nicasio - Tomales - Pt. Reyes Station - Nicasio - Fairfax; 4:10h, 73.5 miles, avg. 17.6 mph. Only Dave B remarked being sore the next day.

Cheese factory: 16.2mls - 0:59h,
Tomales: 37.3mls - 2:13h,
50.0mls - 2:52h,
Pt.Reyes St: 54.0mls - 3:05h
60.0mls - 3:26h,
70.0mls - 3:59h,
back in Fairfax: 73.5mls - 4:10h


Little tired this morning. Tried to make list of excuses to avoid the lunch ride, but then decided to man up and go: Coyote Point and back, 1:00h, 18.4 miles, with Bill.


Spin class, 1 hour; actually no class and just spin, because instructor Elaine was out sick. Additional hardship: spinning to music of Cirque Du Soleil is only for the toughest.


Late lunch ride to Sawyer Camp Trail and back, 1:02h, 14.8 miles, with TBV. It was hot and legs felt like crap.


Did I say rest day ? Happy Friday was celebrated with cheeseburgers and Stella at the usual joint.

Total: 134.8 miles, 9:19h.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fri, Sep 4

Now it can't be undone: I registered for the 2009 Mount Diablo Challenge.

The race uphill for 10.8 miles and 3249 ft of elevation is 30 days away. After last year's absence due to injury, I have to make good on my original goal: "riding the 2008 Mount Diablo Challenge on a new bike in 1:20h or less". The bike is not so new anymore, and it's 2009 now. I've beaten 1:20h before, but not as part of this race, so this time it counts.

I haven't trained explicitly for this year's race as I did in 2007, but for the fun of it, I'll start a training log for the remaining 4 weeks and change.

too hot; instead, worked in the back yard, enjoyed red wine and tiramisu.


35.4 miles, 2:16h total, mostly flat, except going up to Diablo's 1000ft marker. Maybe I indulged too much last night ?


Traditional rest day.


Lunch ride to Sawyer Camp Trail and back, 1:04h, 15.1 miles, with Bill.


Spin class, 1 hour.


Lunch ride to Coyote Point and back, by myself, 30 min out, 24 min back, 18.3 miles.


The original, traditional rest day, where the emphasis is on having beer at lunch.

Total: 68.8 miles, 5:14h.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mon, Aug 24

Last weekend: 62.9 miles on Saturday, and a recovery ride of 30 miles on Sunday.
Total for the month so far: 413 miles.

2009 riding stats (2008 stats in parenthesis) as of 8/23:
#of rides: 46 (56), annual mileage: 1548 (1734), pace: 2395 (2008 total mileage: 2630).

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sun, Aug 16

This weekend started out as usual: zero motivation at 7:30am in the morning to do anything else than turn around in your bed and continue to sleep for another 2-3 hours.

An SMS from TBV then got me awake: "Leaving now for Sierra Rd". Ok, good, here comes peer pressure as some motivation to get me ready and going. The ride to San Jose was flat and fast, and before reaching Sierra Rd and the begin of the climb, we loaded up on carbs and sugar at Una Mas. Instead of the nap after a meal, we acted refreshed after burrito and Pepsi, and soon turned onto Sierra Rd, with the 10% upfront climb in nice sight. With my great ability to go out too fast and bonk early, I dropped back at about half way up, and rather struggled my way up for the remainder of the 1800 ft climb over 3.7 miles. By the time I reached the summit, TBV had grown a nice beard, completed a 1000-piece puzzle, and summer had turned to autumn. On the following false-downhill (yes, there are not only false-flats) I recovered enough to change my mind from taking a nap to continuing via Calaveras. Next stop was Sunol at mile 55; regained energy with Monster Energy and Gatorade, before continuing west-ward. Ride finished after 65.9 miles.

Sunday started similarly as Saturday, though today I was even more determined than yesterday, to stay home. Wife though insisted "go, go, go", and TBV's message about an easy 71-mile ride got me out the door. We met up at 9:15am, and rode south to Sunol and east to Livermore before the burrito stop. Energized, the ride back was next interrupted by the ice-cream stop in San Ramon. There must have been something in that ice cream, because next thing, we were riding at 25+ mph for the next 4 miles to Danville. Soon after, we split up, and I completed my ride in Pleasanton after 49.2 miles.

Total mileage for the weekend: 115.1; this is second most mileage cycled on a weekend; most mileage, 117.2, was exactly one year ago, Aug 16 and 17. After having cycled 72.3 miles on Saturday, the ride on Sunday came to a crashing halt at 45.2 miles.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sun, Jul 26: Stage 32

Today's stage was 48.6 miles, from Pleasanton /plɛzɑ̃̃tɔ̃/ to Mont Diabloux and back. Pommi's mission today was "I have unfinished business", meaning the missed opportunity to summit last weekend, and to ride up all the way today. At Mile 6, Pommi took the sprint points at the Danville Town Limit sign, ahead of a vintage guy on a vintage bike, wearing vintage cycling clothing. The climb to Mont Diabloux began at Mile 13, and from thereon it was a grueling 11 mile ascent of the Horse Category (because you really need a horse to pull you up the mountain). Pommi took the KOM points at Col de la Junction (ahead of the rider with the trailer with his two kids) and at the Summit of Mont Diabloux. The 22-minute ride down (compare this to 1 1/2 hours riding up, excluding the 1 hour for rest stops) was similarly uneventful and unrefreshing as last weekend, with temperatures now in the Oven Category. The final 10 miles back were not very enjoying after having emptied a bottle of Gatorade instead of water over my head. The ride ended with a sprint on Dublin Elysees; not because of more points to collect, but because I really wanted to go home and take a nap.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sat, Jul 18

Today I made a mistake by picking the Middle East Bay as cycling venue. I wanted to ride Mount Diablo today, so I left home at a comfortable 72F at about 9:30am; about 15 minutes later, across the ridge in the San Ramon Valley, the reading was mid-80's. At the start of the ride, 87F. Nevertheless I struggled my way up to Juniper before turning around, hoping to cool down a bit; it worked until turning the corner at South Gate, when it started feeling like a giant hairdryer blowing hot air. 102F by the time I finished; tomorrow: cycling closer to the coast.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Fri, Jul 3

Another weekday off work since it's 4th of July weekend. The weather today was too gorgeous to pass up on a ride up Diablo; mid-70s when I started, and when I finished, the thermometer in the car said 102F ... probably closer to mid-90s. This has just been my sixth bike ride in the last four weeks, and since I came back from China.

Thu Jun 25 - Sun Jun 28: Vancouver

In order to escape the masses on the 4th of July weekend, we scheduled a trip one week earlier, and flew out to Vancouver Thursday night. This was about the 6th trip up to north of the border; we simply love this city. Saturday, we rented a bike to ride along the shore, through Stanley Park, by English Bay and False Creek.

Bike fashion in Vancouver:

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mon, Jun 22

Slowly I seem to be making it back to my usual cycling life ... a mediocre 47 miles the weekend before last (Diablo Junction one of the two days), and last weekend a more reasonable 80 miles. Still haven't resumed the weekday lunch rides, but it's all a matter of time.

2009 riding stats (2008 stats in parenthesis) as of 6/22:
#of rides: 24 (27), annual mileage: 865 (945), pace: 1817.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thu, Jun 11

No biking, no blogging; it's as simple as that. Last ride / accrued mileage: Apr 26 / 707 miles ... *gasp* ... thanks to cool and rainy weather, the annual trip to China (lasting a month, or 5 weekends), meetings, work, and as always, lame excuses. Hope to change the numbers this weekend.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sun, Apr 19

After little over two years, back again at Mines Rd. This time, we went past the Alameda/Santa Clara County Line, back up to the Summit and down to the "what we call the Store", just before Hwy 130. Coming back, riding time from County Line back to Tesla Rd: 19.5 miles in 58 minutes. Total distance: 57.4 miles, 4295 ft of climbing.

Total distance for the weekend: 88.6 miles.

In other news, another encounter of car vs cyclist:

Cyclist struck by hit-and-run driver in Saratoga suffers head trauma, but conscious

A competitive cyclist who was struck by a car on Sunday is conscious and speaking, although she suffered head trauma and bleeding in her brain, her boyfriend said today in an interview.

Ashley Jackson, 24, a Category 4-grade competitor who rides with Alto Velo/Webcor, can't remember anything about the 5:30 p.m. collision as she cycled along Highway 9 near Fruitvale Avenue in Saratoga, said boyfriend David Nelson, 41.

But other than that, the West Valley College student doesn't appear to be suffering from other types of amnesia and can recognize everyone in the room, he said.

"Neurosurgeons are watching her and doctors and nurses are asking her questions every hour,'' said Nelson, who was also clipped by a car he described as a silver BMW, either a 745 or 750, with a dangling right side mirror.

Nelson said his injuries were minor.

Jackson is being treated at Valley Medical Center. She broke her clavicle, and has had one MRI and three CT scans so far, Nelson said, and she is awaiting an official prognosis on her recovery. She is listed in serious but stable condition and no word has been given about her hospital release, Nelson said.

The two were cycling together, he said, single-file in the bike lane, with helmets on. The BMW struck Jackson first, then Nelson, and then appeared to pull over to stop for a moment before speeding off, Nelson said.

Santa Clara County sheriff's deputies are investigating. But as of this morning, there was no new information to report about a suspect, according to Sgt. Don Morrissey.

The hunt is on:
Late model Silver 7 series BMW hit a cyclist on Highway 9 and Fruitvale at 5:30 pm Sunday in Saratoga and drove off. She was in the BIKE LANE. The girl is in critical condition with massive head injuries. She is only 24 years old.
No witnesses to report license. If you saw a BMW with a broken or missing side mirror PLEASE PLEASE contact the Saratoga police.
Dont let this a$$hole get away with this.
Somebody has seen this car, somebody......

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sun, Apr 12

The Easter Ride today was from Canada Rd down to Cupertino, 2000ft of climbing up Montebello Rd in 4.1 miles (average grade 9.2%), and returning the same way. 61 miles in 4:03h riding time.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sun, Mar 29

Long time, no blogging .... but the last few weekends were either rained out or too cool, so since February 1 I only added 160 miles of riding prior to this weekend.

Yesterday was a very good day for cycling: sunny, mid-to-upper 70s. For the second time this year, I rode up to Mount Diablo Summit.

Today was a very good day for .... sailing: sunny, blustery, temperatures about 15 degrees less than yesterday. Nevertheless I headed over the bridge to ride my Canada Rd - Los Altos loop.

74 miles for the weekend, only 450 miles for the year; my pace for the year a mere 1865 miles.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sun, Feb 15 - 2009 ToCA - Prologue

The 2009 Tour of California is underway.

I had signed up for a volunteer position at the Prologue in Sacramento on Sat Feb 14, and was assigned the job as a course marshal between 6th and 7th Str on the north side of Capitol Mall. The job of the five os us assigned to this 350-feet stretch there, was to ensure the safety of all participants, in particular spectators, who like to walk blindly onto the road and into the path of the incoming lead motorcycle, cyclist, team car and sometimes more entourage.

Early on we saw teams out on warm-up and reconnaissance rides, and lucky us, after the Garmin-Slipstream squad ...

... Team Astana rode by, headed by Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer ....

Lance on this TT bike, which was reported to got stolen, along with other road bikes belonging to Janez Brajkovic, Steve Morabito and Yaroslav Popovych.

Other riders that I recognized were Jens Voigt, Chris Horner, Fabian Cancellara, and then of course there was Floyd:

During the race, that started at 1:30pm, with the 136 riders departing in 1-minute intervals, there were only few chances to take pictures.

Today's stage has now started, going from Davis to Santa Rosa.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Thu, Feb 5

For everyone not attending the Prologue 2009 ToCA in Sacramento, maybe attending the San Jose Cycling Classics on Feb 14 is tempting:

"It will be a cycling celebration with professional, amateur and community cycling activities, including a competitive time trial race, a newly added non-competitive tour ride, a CEO Challenge and a criterium. The San Jose Cycling Classic will bring together a projected 1,000 cycling athletes, 20,000 spectators and cycling-related exhibitors. San Jose will show cyclists everywhere that San Jose is a one of the best places in the world to cycle!"

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sun, Feb 1

There's hardly a better day to ride the bike than on Superbowl Sunday. My disdain for American Wussball is known to the few readers (me and GoogleBot) of this blog, so I go out and enjoy roads less traveled that day, and so did a large number of cyclists as well. With temperatures just short of 70F, I spent 84 miles on the road this weekend. Total for this year: 216 miles.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tue, Jan 27

Couple more weeks left until start of the 2009 Tour of California.

My plan:
2/14 - Prologue Sacramento - attend as Course Marshal
2/16 - Stage 2 (Sausalito - Santa Cruz) - watch race on Skyline/Tunitas Creek Rd
2/17 - Stage 3 (San Jose - Modesto) - watch race on Sierra Rd

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sat, Jan 17: Diablo

The spring-like weather continued so after last weekend's failed attempt to reach Mount Diablo Summit, I rode up today. Apparently it was another of those "Bring your car to Diablo" days because the parking lots at Rock City, Juniper and the Summit were FULL. I got some nice shots and used my Canon Powershot as video camera to capture the feeling of racing downhill.

Above the haze, at the Summit

Monday, January 12, 2009

Redwood City Truck Driver May Have Aimed for Cyclists

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (KCBS) -- The CHP is investigating a possible road incident in Redwood City, where a pickup truck driver allegedly tried to run a group of cyclists off the road over the weekend.

Four cyclists were riding downhill on Skyline near Skylonda on Saturday morning at about 35 miles per hour, when a driver in a white Dodge or Chevy pickup truck allegedly tried to knock them off their bikes.

”I’m pretty banged up, so it’s been slow getting up and getting to work in the morning,” said team captain Anthony Borba, who was knocked off his bike. “My neck is pretty injured, I’m having trouble turning my head.”

A motorcyclist was able to chase the truck down and write down a license plate number.

Borba said that the incident gave them pause because two members of their team, Kristy Gough and Matt Peterson were killed last year in Cupertino when a Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Deputy accidentally hit them with his patrol car.

Link to news article on kcbs.com
KCBS Podcast

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sun, Jan 11

TBV (ret.) and I decided to ride Mount Diablo today. It got noticeably warmer with increasing elevation, and at the Junction it was 68F (I love global warming ;-)). None of us though was in shape today to continue up to the Summit. On top, the 35 mph wind would've only made things only more strenuous today, so instead we rode down North Gate and returned via Walnut Creek. Today's mileage: 27.8.

The following two pictures were taken exactly one year ago, on the second Sunday in January:

Today, the weather was a carbon copy of last year, and the Phonak rider too:

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sat, Jan 10 - first ride this year

What an awesome day it was today to get out for a bike ride. Many cyclists used the opportunity of spring-like conditions today to have their first ride of the year. By the time I finished my 45-mile ride to Los Altos and back, the thermometer said "70F". Tomorrow's plan is to ride Mount Diablo.

Sat, Jan 10

What I didn't manage ;-) ...
Ryder Hesjedal's (Garmin Slipstream) Haleakala record attempt; he beat his boss' old record set in 1993.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Fri, Jan 9

Happy New Year 2009 !

The weekend and temperatures in the 60s are upon us; this means only one thing: get out for a bike ride (or two). Mount Diablo looks great on the webcam, but it looks better from the bike: the plan is to ride up on Sunday. More later.