Saturday, April 25, 2009

We're getting a bike park!!!

Sonoma County is getting a bike park! With a UCI length velodrome! Now in reality, there are still a million hurdles to cross but this project is happening and I can hardly wait. What makes me so sure? For starters, it is the dedication of a small group of people who got this project off the ground and the progress they have made bringing the right groups on board.

The Sonoma County Velo Project (SCVP) is the brain child of a handful of individuals who recognize the recreational, educational and business prospects of building a bike park in Sonoma County. As I have written before, Sonoma County has become a cycling mecca and a world class destination for cyclo-tourism. We have many current and retired pro-cyclist who call it home. And Santa Rosa has hosted a stage finish for the Amgen Tour of California every year since its creation. So, this is a natural fit.

Whenever you launch a dream as big as this there are numerous things that will immediately stand in your way such as volunteers, funding and government support. I am happy to say that these hurdles are being crossed very quickly and hence my excitement.

On April 14th, SCVP met with the City of Santa Rosa Parks and Recreation Department to discuss building the bike park in an unused portion of an existing city park. I'll let you read all of the fine print but the bottom line is that the Parks & Rec folks climbed on board immediately. The next step was a presentation to the Board of Community Services (BOCS). The plan was presented to them at a public meeting on April 22nd.

During this presentation, which was attended by many in the cycling community including myself, Scott Bowden did an excellent job of presenting the value of a bike park. The comments after his presentation were inspiring. I have never heard such glowing comments and strong support for a project. And, here's the key, these comments were not coming from the cyclist. They were coming from the BOCS Board Members. Afterwards, many of us stood at the microphone and offered our support including 2 of our local shops offering funding to the project if it proceeds. Well you can imagine the result of their vote.

In an unanimous vote, the advisory Board of Community Services (BOCS) to the City of Santa Rosa approved the recommended process of moving forward with the investigation of the proposed Sonoma County Velo Project at Youth Community Park in Santa Rosa, CA.

So we have City government behind us. They won't be able to fund any of the project in this economy but they help clear road blocks. We have the beginning of a funding campaign. Now we need the volunteers. I intend to be one of them. And you should too!

It's time to getinvolved. There are bike parks such as ours springing up all over the United States, In places like Boulder where you expect this type of outdoor park. But also in cities and states such as Fresno, Florida, Arizona, Seattle and many, many more. There are a number of these projects still in the planning stages with plenty of opportunity for you to help. I cannot thing of a greater legacy to leave for the next generation of cyclist.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Another weekend of riding

Well, I was determined to write something that did not resemble a ride report this time around. Maybe something more philosophical or humorous. But after a glorious 3 days of cycling, here I go again.

On Friday I was at a seminar all day half listening to the presenter and half watching the weather get more and more beautiful. It's hard to concentrate on new ways to communicate when all I can think of is I want to be on my bike. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, I do not have windows in my office or I might never get anything done.

Anyway, the seminar wraps up for the day at 3:45. Sweet! A quick call to the office to ensure nothing needs my attention and I am heading home to get in a ride. Sense this is an unexpected surprise, I decide to head out on the Vegas (my single speed), Every time I ride that bike I am reminded of the simple joys of cycling. I did not have any particular destination in mind. I simply rode for the joy of riding. It was awesome!

There was no group ride this Saturday so I found myself on my own. After a short run, I decided to head out into a gorgeous Spring morning. I was actually able to leave around 8ish with no arm warmers or wind vest. I almost took out the Vegas again, but Sunday's ride had the potential to be a touch brutal so I opted for Paolo (my geared bike). It was simply another great ride. Nothing fancy. Just 40 miles of rolling through the vineyards, gardens and forests of Spring in Sonoma County.

On Sunday I was invited to join 2Wheel Racing on their group ride by my buddy Jeff. In Jeff's defense, he has invited me numerous times, this was just the first time I made it. I like the idea of riding with the 2Wheel folks, I have met many of them on other rides, but they leave at 9:00 which is about 2 hours later then I would normally hit the road. But since there were no big plans for Sunday I negotiate with Sherry to start and finish the ride later and off I go.

We started nice and mellow along the bike path while enjoying the day. It felt like we were going to push right through Spring into Summer. (Santa Rosa broke a 102 year old record with a high of 91 on Sunday). We climbed on of my favorite hills on Graton Road and prepared for a high-paced hammerfest down Bohemian Hwy into Monte Rio.

Right at the bottom of the Graton descent, my rear tire blew. I mean it blew! So after a quick repair we were on our way. On this part of the ride I made a few moves I am proud of and a few rookie mistakes that I need to work on.

In all, there are 11 of us riding. After a short descent, a pace line of 8 formed and the speed rockets up. There are some strong men and women in this group so my plan is to simply hang on. I was sitting on the back when a gap start to split our group in 2. Damn! I wanted to stay with the big dogs! So at about 20 meters I realize the gap is going to stay so I come around my group and bridge up to the lead 4. I am now fried from catching them and hoping I can sit on and recover.

After the "catch" we lift the pace again. I have never been in such a fast pace line. We are flying. So my proud moments were getting around some folks on the descent and then making the bridge to the lead group. Then it was my turn on front and I was still not fully recovered. Still I take my turn and just hold the speed. When I pull off I am unable to grab the wheel as the last rider goes by. My mistakes? I stayed on the front 15-seconds too long and slowed down to much once I pulled off requiring a hard kick to grab the wheel. It was a kick I didn't have in me. Still, it was a fast ride down a beautiful stretch of road. Thanks to Coach Tim and his speed intervals.

Towards the end, I did start to run into some time constraints so at the last water stop I headed for home. Three others from the group joined me and we pace lined and hammered our way all the way back to Santa Rosa. All-in-all it was a 53 mile ride with a few serious sections thrown in for run.

In the end, I manged around 120 miles of cycling for the weekend. Between the distance and Sunday's pace, I was feeling it yesterday. But this morning I feel great and I am ready to do the whole thing all over again. I'll let you know how it goes.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Riding into Spring

After one last dose of winter rains in March, Spring has fully arrived in Sonoma County. This weekend was simply gorgeous in a way that can only occur in Spring. Even Levi Leipheimer was moved to comment on the weather in his Twitter post on Sunday. So in honor of all of you still dealing with a winter season that is too stubborn to move on, we went for a ride.

It was a small group that headed out last Saturday. Only 4 of us. The plan was to ride out towards the town of Tomales, near the coast, and back in a big 65 mile loop. We met at Aroma Roasters for a pre-ride coffee and chat. All fueled up it was time to ride. So Pat, Sarah, Dennis and I hit the road to start the day.

I was afraid it was going to be a long day from the start. I just wasn't feeling it. It might have had something to do with the Friday night "glasses of wine to hours of sleep ratio" which was 8 to 5. Still, after a few miles I began feeling stronger and settled in to enjoy the day.

The ride to Tomales was beautiful and uneventful. There was only one weird thing. I seemed to have very little strength on the small climbs we went over but always recovered and took strong pulls on the flats. I usually ride the other way around with stonger climbs and semi-decent pulls. Oh well, somehow I chalked it up to Friday night's festivities.

In Tomales, we stopped for water and goodies at the local bakery. Sarah ran into someone from her spin class. Small world! So once again we were fueled and ready to ride when 2 guys from a bike club in San Francisco stopped and asked if there was somewhere nearby to buy tubes. They had already had flat issues and were completely out. Well, Tomales is in the middle of nowhere so you can guess the answer. However, we had plenty of tubes between us so we just gave them one and everyone headed out.

Out towards the coast we dealt with some fairly strong winds for a while before turning inland. Once again, I am weaker on the hills but turning in pulls on the flats of 20+ mph. Then it finally dawns on me. Coach Tim has me doing power and speed intervals right now. They must be working.

Towards the end of the ride we ran into another friend, Paul, who joined us for the ride back. Paul races and can fly so he and Pat take off while I take front with Sarah and Dennis. On the final pull into town we were holding 22 mph and I was feeling very stong. Coach Tim's drills must really be working.

Finally, back to Aroma Roasters for the post-ride coffee and chat. What a great way to spend a Saturday morning in Spring.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Finally, I get going

I've actually been waiting to publish this blog for a couple of weeks now. I didn't want to post it too soon because I was afraid I would jinx myself. You see, I finally got my 2009 season under way after a few false starts. Where I've been mentally and the turning point can be boiled down to 5 words - no goals and new scale.

It's actually funny to think of this as my "season" since I currently have no plans. I think that was part of problem. Of course the wind and rain of winter didn't help either. However, last year I was training for the Terrible Two so I diligently got on the trainer 2-3 times a week when the weather was bad. This year, not so much. I am discovering I am quite capable of completely ignoring my trainer if there is not an event in the immediate future.

It's not like I have been a total sloth. I did some half-ass trainer workouts. I started running again. And I have had some great rides already. But there was no motivation to keep things going. I think of these false starts a little like waking up. At first you are jarred awake by the alarm. Your up, but not necessarily awake. So you turn the alarm off and go back to sleep. Then you wake up more gradually until you finally notice you are wide awake and ready to face the day. That's how 2009 started for me.

So, since I am not currently planning any events, what finally got things going for me. Well, for one thing I bought a new scale that includes body fat percentage. Now don't get me wrong. I knew I was carrying about 10-15 extra pounds but I naively thought my body fat would be in the 20's. Then I got on the scale for the first time and saw the real number. In the words of Coach Tim; "Oh, hell no!" This was a number that needed to come down.

So I hit the trainer, I started running more regularly and I added core and strength training. How do I know I am finally awake? Because I am doing this things without having to think about them. On Tuesdays, I come from work, change and get on the trainer. No real thought, it just happens. Or I'll decide to skip my run one morning only to find myself cruising along my favorite course 30 minutes later.

The result is starting to show. Body fat is coming down. Motivation is going up. I am currently getting in 3-5 cycling workouts, 2-3 runs and 2-3 strength workouts per week.

Now, all I need are some goals for this year I just might be able to keep it going. Until then, I just keep sweating in the name of good health.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Riding both ends of the spectrum

Well, what else can I say other then it was another great weekend of cycling. I rode on both Saturday and Sunday although they were very different rides. One was a very fast tempo ride while the other was to help newbies learn how to ride in a group. The difference - about 10 mph.

Saturday was Revolution Riviera Ride #3. This monthly ride is really starting to grow and we had about 30 riders at the start. The plan? We are all heading out together for the first 30 miles then the A group will pick up the pace and add some miles while the B group heads to lunch. I was definitely going to be in the B group.

So with waivers signed, lunch count completed, and final instructions heard, we are off. As always we start on the bike path to head out of town so the pace starts nice and easy. We finally hit the open road and it's time for things to kick up a little. Coming out of the town of Forestville there is a small but very steep hill (15+%) that drops you right into a T-intersection. I was the 5th person there so I stopped and kept giving the riders behind me the all-clear signal so they didn't have to stop. Although this was a nice thing to do I ended up paying for it later.

You see, just past this T-intersection is where the pace accelerated and the attacks started. This portion of the ride was described by many as a complete hammerfest all the way to where we would regroup. And where was I? Desperately playing catch up since when the attacks started I was completely stopped and yelling "clear". So the chase is on.

I settle into in very strong cadence and try to rock it back to the group (who by the way are stronger then me on the flats). I am pushing the big ring and a heart rate in the low 160's. But I stay focused. After a couple of miles I see 3 of the lead group up ahead and work hard to bridge the gap. I get to within 100 meters but cannot seem to close it down. Finally, on a small hill I went all out and caught them at the top. After they were kind enough to give me a minute to recover we formed a pace line and road strong the rest of the way. It was hard work but in the end it felt great.

After we split into our A and B groups, the B group road back to Riviera at a good pace but nothing deadly. I was feeling very good and was extremely pleased with my recovery from the earlier effort. At one point I was on the front and simply rode away from the group without even realizing it. Everyone eventually makes it to Riviera where we all enjoy a 4-course meal complete with wine. Man I love cycling!

On Sunday I was feeling the efforts. I went for a short run and with every step my legs reminded me they were toast. That was fine because my Sunday ride was going to be a recovery ride. I was going out to help Coach Tim work with some new riders in learning how to ride in pace lines and with a group.

We meet around 1:00 and after resolving some pedal issues we are off. My first job was to hold a pace of 12 mph and make sure I did not drop the newbies. So I am riding down the road constantly looking under my arm for the shadow to see how close they are. They did a great job of holding the line. On the second part of the ride I became the official photographer as we rode together just chatting away and having a great time. Once we were done it was time for lunch at the local brew pub.

So there you go. The full spectrum of cycling in one weekend. On Saturday, I rode 60 miles with an average speed of 18 and an average heart rate of 140 (with a max of 175). Sunday was a much calmer affair of 17 miles, an average speed of 11.5, and an average heart rate of 114. And while they were radically different rides they shared 1 thing in common. They both ended with good friends enjoying a great meal. And there's nothing wrong with that.