Sunday, April 29, 2007

Beautiful Backyard

Thank you for the donations so far, guys. I got a late start this year, so if you're thinking of donating, don't delay! Today I completed a big training ride around the Open Spaces area. The weather was awesome, the hills were green, and I got to meet a bunch of people.

The route.

I think Moody is easier than the lower part of Page Mill because it slowly elevates before the big hills. Page Mill was very challenging, as usual: I think I set a new record on my heart rate monitor: 194bpm. Here's my favorite turn on Page Mill, taken last year:

Page Mill Switchback

There's a Y in the road where Alpine turns West that I like to stop and eat my snacks. Today there were a couple of bikers hanging out there as well, so I stopped to chat. They had driven from the Central Valley just to do this ride with a few friends. "You have a beautiful backyard here," they said. I'd have to agree, I can't think of a better place to train and improve. The hills are hard, but the scenery, bay views, and redwoods make every turn exciting.

There used to be this random water fountain on the south side of Page Mill. It was great because there are basically no other places to get water up on Skyline. It was removed some time during the winter, though, and all that's left is PVC pipe sticking up out of the ground. Luckily, though, I ran into a ranger who, when asked where the nearest fountain was, offered two of his own water battles. After ensuring that he didn't need them, I talked to him while I refilled my bottles. Apparently a rancher had set up the fountain for folks passing by, but the cold snaps we had last winter broke the water lines.

Coming back up La Honda, I stopped at my favorite burger place, Alice's, for refueling. The tables are big picnic tables, so I happened to sit with some mountain bikers. After a delicious burger and ale, I swooped back down the mountain, passing a couple slow cars that were polite enough to move over.

I do need to concentrate on training in the next couple weeks: ALC is only 5 weeks away!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

By Accident

This post was from February of last year. Miraculously, I manged to correctly navigate all of last year's AIDS ride. I still rely on S to get me back on track when I get turned around, but luckily those request have become much more infrequent. Without further ado:

I was chased by a dog today for the first time! Luckily it was a smallish dog... with stubbly legs. OK, it wasn't really a threat, but it was exciting. I was doing my longest ride yet, a loop around the South Bay. I made a little detour around mile 19, mistakenly thinking it would reconnect with my route. As I was turning around, I heard the barking of a dog preparing to protect it's territory. Rather than get off the bike and trying to settle the dog down, possibly involving small teeth embedded in my skin, I took off. Its instinct aroused, the dog gave chase. Winding through a small park, I eventually lost him as the park path connected to the street. I'm not saying that I look forward to my next canine encounter, but surprises like this turn out to be essential parts of my training, pushing me a little harder than I would on my own.

One of my most common surprise is the wrong turn. The Sand Hill/Alpine/Page Mill region around Portolla Valley still manages to confound me. My medium commute was originally going to be shorter, cutting into Palo Alto on Alpine Rd. instead of going around to Sand Hill. However, the "wrong" turn I made on my inaugural trip ended up being a much better morning workout; my original route would have shortchanged me.

Of course, the next time I rode, I missed the Arestradero turn, and ended up stuggling up Page Mill. After about 800 feet of climbing, and no real idea of when it would end, I decided to turn back. The climb was a great challenge, though; pushing yourself up hills like these are the best way to really increase the body's ability to process oxygen.

Last weekend's ride was determined en route as well. Rolling out of bed at 9, I realized that I had missed nearly all of the weekly AIDS training rides. Hastily I decided I could make the 9:30 roll out time for the South Bay group, but driving up to the Union City meet point, I saw the big group already cycling down the rode. Foolishly undeterred, I parked and hopped on my bike. Not knowing the route, though, I was never able to catch up to the main group. Riding in a southern direction, my best guess as to the route, I found myself serendipitously in S's neighborhood. After a quick consult of Google maps, and a good-luck kiss, I was back on the rode, solo. I don't think I would have attempted such a long route without having taken that first stumble forward. So, while next time I hope to be better prepared for a ride, I'm thankful for all of my surprises so far.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

On the Road Again

It's official: I'm riding in this year's AIDS/Lifecycle! Last year I road almost 550 miles, slept in 6 new cities in a tent with a stranger, met hundreds of awesome people, popped 4 spokes, and raised $5,000 for the SF AIDS foundation. It was an amazing experience, and I knew I had to do it again this year. You can sign up to sponsor me now!
Paceline Crew
This year, I'm also planning on doing two Tour de Cure rides, so I'll post details about that when I sign up. My fund raising goals are $3500 for ALC and $750 for each TdC. (For the curious, this is approximately the ratio of days I'll be spending on each ride.)

I'll be reposting my entries from last year's ride, and keeping everyone up to date on my training. Thanks for your support.