Tuesday, May 29, 2012


After not getting many miles over the weekend, I need to ramp it up a bit for the last few days of the month.

With my pledge of 500 miles out of the way, my two remaining goals are a top five in my division and beating my previous best of 604 miles.

Tonight I rode 47 miles after work. When I entered the miles on the MayIsBikeMonth web site, my total came to 604 miles. Funny.

Unfortunately my throat feels a little sore after riding. I am hoping it's just allergies or riding in the dry, windy conditions.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Weekend Wrap

We finished up the weekend in Tahoe with a short Monday morning hike. My dad joined us, which was nice. The conditions were much better for riding than they were on Sunday, but unfortunately I didn't have the time.

After cleaning up, we headed back down the hill. I always hate leaving Tahoe, but school and work beckon.

I did make it out for a short evening ride at home. That 15 miles gave me a whole 32 miles for the three-day weekend. Not good.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Seventeen the Hard Way

On Friday morning when I saw the weather outlook for the weekend, I opted to leave my mountain bike at home. If I did get the chance to ride, I would use the Pugsley, which currently lives in Tahoe full-time. Turns out it was the right bike for the job.

I did my favorite short loop on the Diamond Peak Flume. Conditions ranged from snow . . .

to bone dry sand . . .

to more snow.

Today was the first time I have used the Pugs on this loop. I can't say the climb up the highway was fun, but once I hit the dirt all was forgotten. The bike excelled in the snow, sand, mud and rocks.

One change to the bike today was swapping the flat pedals for clipless. I liked it a lot better from a pure mountain biking standpoint. I had more control and security, especially when descending Tunnel Creek. The flat pedals are cool for goofing around on the beach, but for most conditions I want clipless.

I hope people don't get tired of Lake Tahoe pictures, because I don't get tired of taking them.

The conditions made it a pretty tough 17-mile ride. My legs are currently burning a bit. In the same amount of time I could have clicked off 40 miles on a road bike, but I am OK with it. I can make up some miles when I get home.


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Weekend Outlook

Well, the hope was to head up to Tahoe this weekend and get some fun miles in, but so far that hasn't happened. It's been snowing the whole time.

Driving over the Brockway Summit on Highway 267 yesterday was a little sketchy. The snow was really coming down.

Unfortunately, the temperature is above freezing, and the snow is heavy and wet. I'm just not inclined to ride in the wet conditions. I would be soaked and freezing from falling snow and tire spray within minutes.

So while I am happy to be here, I am bummed out that my coworkers are likely putting in miles in Sacramento while I am watching the snow come down.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Three Seconds

I rode the 39 miles to work yesterday and followed it up with 60 on the bike trail today. I now have 494 miles for the month, just six miles miles short of my goal with eight days to go. I like my chances.

The only thing worth noting about yesterday's commute to work was my choice of cameras. You may remember some months back when I purchased a Contour Roam video camera and promised to make movies. Well, I quickly learned some things. Making videos takes time, patience and a fast Internet connection. I have none of those things.

The Contour Roam was also the wrong choice. I wish I had gone with the GoPro instead. I think the Contour mounting method is flawed and leads to an unstable camera that (for me) produces nothing but blurry, shaky, headache-inducing video. I have tried three different mounts so far, and none have worked for me. I may try the helmet mount, or I may just cut my losses and sell it.

Anyway, yesterday I tried using the still picture setting for the first time, choosing to take a picture every three seconds. I thought it might be cool to take pictures during the entire ride hands-free and be able to choose the best ones later. Unfortunately, all 3000 of them sucked.

Here are a few that sucked the least.

We had a little fog on the hill, making for a dark and creepy start to the ride.
Riding through the big city.
Blue morning.
Heading up the only tough climb of the mostly downhill ride.
Wild Oaks Park
Brown's Ravine

Dyke 8

Near the dam.

Lake Natoma

More trail near Lake Natoma.

Obviously retired. Lucky bastard.

Lets just pretend there are pictures depicting the 10 miles of flat, boring bike trail here . . .

The Temple of Doom.

Bike Lockers

So there you go. A 39-mile commute to work in pictures.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Double Back

Everything that was good about riding to work Thursday couldn't have been more different yesterday while riding home. It was hot and windy, with allergens filling the air. My eyes and nose watered. I felt fatigued. My legs weren't exactly sore or tired; I just had no energy. I called down to the engine room and asked for more power, but Scotty was in the bar again.

There were stretches on the bike trail where the wind was hitting me head-on. At times it slowed me quite a bit, and along Lake Natoma I crawled along at a whopping nine miles per hour. I figured I might as well take a picture. It's not like riding with one hand was going to slow me down any more.

I had nothing in the tank on the first few climbs, but when I made it to Dyke 8 where the dirt starts, I felt energized a bit. Singletrack is fun even when you are dying. The scenery helps too.

I took the same basic route home until I left Brown's Ravine. At that point I decided I didn't want to do all the climbing on the "fun" route and took Green Valley Road the rest of the way. It lopped off a few miles and hundreds of feet of climbing. It was such a relief to get home.

I took today off. Tomorrow I will get back out there and log more May miles.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bike to Work

Today I rode all the way to work for the first time ever. After all, it was Bike to Work Day.

I have made the return trip home via bike on many, many occasions, which is a simple process. Jen and I drive to work in the truck together with the bike. After work I change my clothes, throw my crap in the truck and ride home. Easy.

On a few occasions, I have parked in Folsom to ride in. It was a pain. Bringing work clothes, another set of riding clothes, a towel, soap, shampoo, deodorant and taking a shower at work was a hassle, not to mention it's a lot of stuff to carry. Then to ride back to Folsom after work, load up the truck and sit in rush hour traffic on Highway 50 seemed dumb.

Still, I wanted to participate, but the round trip of 80 miles was daunting. During my ride after work yesterday the wheels started spinning. I could ride from home on Thursday, leave the bike overnight, and ride home Friday. Brilliant!

To ride from home I would have to leave very early to make it to work at a reasonable time, and that of course would require a light. The upside was I could send a bag with all my stuff to work with Jen and ride unencumbered by clothes, supplies, etc. After skipping the event for many years I decided to go for it.

I prepared a duffel bag last night with everything I needed and threw it in the car. I charged up my light battery, attached the headlamp to my helmet, put flashers on my bike, stuffed anything else I needed in my backpack and laid out my clothes.

Morning arrived and I didn’t quite make my 5 a.m. departure time. Being a new experience, I forgot a few things and was scrambling around to find them, but I still managed to roll out at 5:20. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror as I walked out, and I looked like The Underminer:

Dear Pixar, please make this movie.

It was still dark enough that I required the light for the first 20 minutes. On the second descent, a narrow one lane road, I nearly hit a deer. The damn thing just stood there in the road like, well, a deer in the headlights.

One thing you notice immediately when using a headlamp is all the junk floating in the air in front of your eyes. There's a lot of stuff suspended in the air you breathe. So much so that I have to wonder, as a cyclist, what has accumulated in my lungs after all these years. I can picture my body on the autopsy table (you know, when I'm 105 or so) and after making the Y-cut, the doctor starts pulling various stuff out. It's like the scene in Jaws—a pile of dirt, rocks, nails, bugs, birds, old tires, a license plate or two . . .

Shortly after the deer encounter I almost crashed going around a gate. The residents like to pile rocks in the gully to the side—the place everyone rides or walks to get around the gate—hoping this will dissuade people from using their private road. This behavior has always confounded me. I don’t think a few rocks are going to stop a murderous nutjob carrying a chainsaw. But I do think it has probably put a few innocent kids on the pavement. Anyway, I hit one of those rocks and my front tire came out from under me. I recovered and kept it upright, but it was a close call. I continued down the descent, my eyes watering from the wind. I couldn’t find my glasses with clear lenses, so for one of the few times ever I was riding without eye protection.

After dropping down into Cameron Park, I had one major road to cross, and then it was quiet roads for a while. The morning was cool and overcast. I rode at a comfortable tempo, my headlamp cutting a path through the darkness. In the quiet my mind wandered, and I thought about the 24-hour races, some of the few times I have used lights. Good times with good friends.

After riding residential streets for a while, I did the climb up Oak Hollow, then dropped down into El Dorado Hills. From there the bike trail along Bass Lake Road took me into Serrano. After riding a stretch of road, the next 30 minutes were all on dirt—the Serrano Trail, Powerline, New York Creek, Wild Oaks and Brown’s Ravine. Mountain biking on fun trails, almost all of which were downhill, was an awesome way to start the work day.

After popping out at Dyke 8 I had a short jaunt on East Natoma to the bike trail.

The bike trail was 18 miles of uneventful monotony, but that’s fine. It beats dealing with cars any day. At the end I just had about 1.5 miles of Folsom Boulevard to contend with, and I was at work. I scored a “May is Bike Month” T-shirt, some yogurt, a protein bar, an orange and a bottle of water.

I stopped by the car to grab my duffel bag and headed in for my shower. In the end, it wasn’t much of a hassle at all, and I had a great time. I actually want to start earlier next time to get more time in the dark.

After years of riding uphill towards home, it was nice to see this elevation profile!


Monday, May 07, 2012

Another May

Well, it's May again and that means Bike Month. A few years ago I pledged 600 miles and barely made it. This year I pledged 500. I hope to easily eclipse that total, but you never know.

Yesterday I took the mountain bike out for a nice 40-mile mixed surface ride. I was pretty tired afterward due to all the climbing. I know I could log a lot more miles if I used the road bike, but I really like this type of riding.

On a ridge looking east.

Great dirt road downhill.

Gravel road through farmland.

On the levee near Brown's Ravine. The lake is very high.

Probably the highest point in El Dorado Hills. This house has a fantastic view.

I may have previously mentioned that I have a few bikes in the stable. One thing that has given me constant grief is keeping all the computers running. The batteries were always dying, sensors broke, magnets fell off—it drove me crazy.

A GPS would have been a fine alternative, but everything I read in the past really turned me off. They were expensive, fragile and suffered early on from communication problems. Plus, they offered many functions I just don't care about. I don't need mapping or navigation. I KNOW where I am going when I ride.

Then Garmin recently released the Edge 200. It just gives you the basic functions of a cycling computer without the need for sensors or calibration. You power it on, stick it on the bike, and off you go. And the best part is it only costs $149.

I couldn't be happier with the Edge 200. It just works. And when you get home you can upload your data to the web site and everything is graphed for you. Cool stuff. Check it out.


Click to enlarge.