Friday, August 19, 2011

Introducing Thomas

I think the time has come for everyone to meet my new cycling partner.  So, I am pleased to introduce all of you to Thomas.  I picked him up at NorCal Bike Sport last Friday and I have to admit it was love at first site.  When they wheeled him out from the back room I think my jaw actually dropped.  Even Sherry called him sexy. 

IMG_3368In case you missed the last post, I got a new bike because Paolo, my 2005 Specialized Roubaix Comp, had to go to bike heaven (also known as the Specialized returns department).  The short story is that I heard a noise coming out of the bottom bracket and upon inspection, NorCal found a defect that made the bike un-ridable.  With one quick phone call, NorCal had a brand new, 2011 Specialized SL2 Roubaix Comp frame on the way.  And, it was fully covered under warranty.

I need to add a quick side note.  As usual, NorCal was simply superb to work with.  I remember the call from Matt explaining the problem and thinking I had to buy a new bike.  Then he said it was all covered by Specialized.  Awesome!  Then there was Frank who patiently answered a thousand questions as I thought about upgrading everything.  Glenn, who just happened to be Levi Leipheimer’s mechanic in the 2010 Tour de France, did a masterful job on the rebuild.  And finally, Jeff, master bike fitter extraordinaire, made sure Thomas and I were a great fit.  These guys are all awesome and I see some beer in their future.

Thomas VNow, back to the bike.  You may be wondering, “Why Thomas?”  Well, I always name my bikes after pro riders I really like.  I also like to have a touch of European flare so I usually select names like Paolo or Phillipe.  Not this time.  I choose to name the bike after Thomas Voeckler because I believe he is the poster boy for all things good about cycling.  Like a lot of the cycling world, I’ve been a Thomas fan since the first time he wore, and defended, the yellow jersey in Tour de France.  He is also one of Sherry’s favorite riders as well.

During the bike fitting, Jeff was going over all the improvements on the bike since my 2005 edition.  The bottom bracket area is larger and stiffer which allows for greater power transfer with each pedal stroke.  The front tube is also stiffer and this will allow for greater steering control.  The bottom line?  I should be able to go up and down hills faster.  I liked the sound of that.

Thomas and I have already been out for three rides.  They were all awesome.  The first was a short and sweet ride the day I got him.  I wanted test all these new features so I headed for the hills where I snuck in 15 miles with 1,200 feet of climbing.  It was all that Jeff said it would be and perhaps more.

The second ride was a nice little recovery ride where I made the route up as I went along.  I was really just introducing Thomas to the scenery he would be riding in the most.  The third was with Coach Tim but I’ll save that report for a future blog.

If the first few rides are any indication, I can’t wait to see what the future holds in store.  While I miss Paolo, I will always be able to fondly reminisce about our 21,000 miles together as Thomas and I start creating stories and adventures of our own. 


Friday, August 5, 2011

No chance to say good-bye!

You know those moments in life when routine events become extraordinary (or at least blog worthy)? I had just such an event yesterday.  On Sunday, I dropped Paolo, my road bike, at NorCal Bike Sport for a simple tune up.  I also mentioned there was a little noise coming from the bottom bracket.  Yesterday, I got the call that I would never ride my dear Paolo again.

Here’s the story!  As they pulled the bottom bracket to find the noise, they discovered the aluminum threads on one side had basically disintegrated.  Apparently, these are fused into the carbon frame so they cannot be replaced.  The bottom line is that there is no way to attach the crank, and therefore pedals, to the bike.  You don’t' have to be a pro cyclists to know that the pedals are kind of important.

Of course, as they are explaining this all to me I’m thinking, “Shit! Now I have to buy a new bike!!!”  But wait!  They had already called Specialized and everyone agreed this was a manufacturer’s defect, which is covered for the life of the frame.  So, there is a brand new 2011 frame and fork on its way.  Sadly, my old fork and frame are already in a box and on their way to Specialized.  I never even got to say good-bye.

espresso stop 4I’m not usually overly sentimental but I had some great times on that bike.  Since I bought it at NorCal back in July 2005, I’ve logged just over 21,000 miles of saddle time with Paolo.  It’s the bike I rode in both of the Levi Leipheimer’s King Ridge Gran Fondo events.  It took me to the top of Mt Palomar in SoCal.  He was an awesome partner as I trained for the Terrible Two (a two hundred mile ride with 16,000 feet of climbing). 

ColoradoWe took many, many road trips together.  Perhaps the greatest road trip in the history of road trips was when we went to Colorado to ride the 3-day Courage Classic and through in the climb up Mt Evans for fun.  However, there were also shorter trips to San Diego, Solvang, Lake Tahoe, the central Sierra Mountains and Yosemite.  Yes, Paolo was well traveled.  He also helped me prepare for my greatest cycling adventure – riding Mt Ventoux in France.

I still remember buying Paolo.  I spent months doing research.  You see, while Paolo wasn’t the most expensive bike on the market, it was more then I had ever paid.  It was during this time that Coach Tim gave me my I “heart” bike porn cycling socks due to the late nights hunched over the laptop and fantasizing about bikes.  Finally, I narrowed my search down between the Specialized Roubaix Elite and a Trek.  I went down to NorCal, for the hundredth time, to make my final decision.  I test rode the Specialized first.  I never got on the Trek.

pace lineI loved that bike from the minute I first climbed in the saddle.  It was just as awesome then as it was last Sunday when I rode it, unknowingly for the last time, with some friends. It was a great companion to this weekend warrior.

Still, although it’s fun to reminisce, you can’t dwell on the past.  I mean, in essence I have a brand new bike on the way.  I can’t wait to see what adventures we have in the years to come.  If it’s anything like the last six years, it’s going to be awesome.

Now, I just need to come up with a new name . . .


Monday, August 1, 2011

Time for a cliché

There’s nothing quite like a perfect cliché to make a point.  I know, they are dramatically over used but sometimes they convey just the right meaning.  In fact, sometimes they are so perfect that they start to become more of a daily mantra.  So, what’s the cliché that’s about to become my mantra?  No pain, no gain!  Yep, it’s time to crank it up a notch or two.

It’s time to quit messing around and ride.  I need to break out of this negative cycle and spend more time on the bike.  Due to all the reasons I mention in my last post, the riding just hasn’t happened this year.  Of course, fewer miles means less strength which means you go fewer miles and so on an so on.  Basically, if you let it go on too long, an easy 45 mile ride quickly becomes a challenging 35 mile ride.  Plus, the longer you let it go the harder it is to get it turned around.

This is the result of a lack of motivation.  I am not pushing myself at all this year.  (On a side note, three my cycling friends have told me they are feeling the same way.)  Instead, I have stayed in my comfort zone on most rides.  I let myself get dropped when the pace picks up.  I look for bail out points if the ride is too long.  I skip my weekday interval sessions.  And, I’ve avoided rides with monster climbs, which I really do enjoy.  Why?  I’m simply not at the correct riding strength at the moment.

Just how far off pace has this year been?  Here’s a break down, based on the number of rides and total mileage, through August 1st.  (As a side, see if you can guess the year I was training for a 200 mile ride.)

  • 2008 – 3,648 miles in 81 rides
  • 2009 – 2,846 miles in 73 rides
  • 2010 – 2,547 miles in 69 rides
  • 2011 – 1,327 miles in 39 rides

How do I turn this around?  Well, you can’t do it without a little pain and discomfort hence the cliché/mantra.  Now, I’m not talking that ultra serious, can’t walk, want to puke at the end pain.  But, I do need to climb out of my comfort zone.  Unfortunately, the phrase “go outside your comfort zone to get stronger” just doesn’t have the same ring as no pain, no gain.  So, for now, I’ll stick with that.

This weekend got things off to a good start.  My Saturday ride included a decent climb and I absolutely attacked the first half of it.  Then, when I found myself wanting to shorten the ride and head for coffee I didn’t.  Instead, I added more little hills and kept riding.  This was in part thanks to my riding partner who is also trying to re-energize her training.  Sunday was more of the same and I finished the ride very fatigued.  But, I finished and that’s what counts.  All-in-all, I cranked out nearly 80 miles this weekend for the first time in 2-3 months. 

The next few weeks are going to be tough but I think I’m ready for them.  I’ll work closely with my coach, ride hard but smart, and continue to use the strength of others to push myself just that little bit extra.  If I do it right, I’ll be up to my old tricks in no time. 

After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A lack of consistency

So far this year, my cycling activities can best be described as inconsistent.  That is also true when it comes writing new stories for this blog.  I guess that makes sense because this is primarily a cycling blog  after all.  Still, there is an internal pressure building that I should feel more motivated to both ride and write.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve definitely had my moments this year.  However, I seem to get going and then let it fade.  Then I get it restarted only to let it fade again.  Then I get restarted and . . . well, you get the picture.  So, what’s going on?  I think there are multiple reasons with some being more critical then others.

Half MarathonPart of my inconsistency is easily explained.  I had a terrible cold in February, which was right in the middle of my half-marathon training.  Oh yeah, I also trained for, and ran, a half-marathon in May and that put a huge dent in my free time normally reserved for cycling.  Of course, no cycling meant no writing.  I mean, with all due respect to runners, the stories from running are not nearly as adventurous as the ones from cycling.  How can I compare bombing down a descent at 40+ miles an hour with running by the same houses as the day before.  It just doesn’t have the same adventurous ring to it.

Another issue is work.  We went through a small merger this year (we absorbed a smaller company).  For a lot of different reasons this merger needed to be completed quickly so it was all hands on deck.  And while the projects I was involved with were quite rewarding, there were a lot of early mornings, late nights and the occasional Saturday spent in the office.  Once again this translated to time off the bike and a lack of adventurous stories to share with you.  At one point I was going to try and compare changing the toner in my printer with fixing a flat but that felt like a stretch.

Both of those are good solid reasons for lack of consistency.  Sadly, they aren’t the real reason.  You see, for whatever reason, I simply have not been motivated to ride this year.  There have been numerous rides where I felt like I was riding because I had to and not because I wanted to.  There have been many mornings when I planned on riding and didn’t.  It seems any excuse will work and that’s not a good sign. 

ColoradoWhat’s the solution?  Well, I know myself pretty well and I think this is just a phase.  After 8 years and over 25,000 miles on the bike, I think I just needed a little break.  The half-marathon actually helped in this regard by providing a nice distraction.  Typically in these situations, I just roll with it (pun intended) and let things sort themselves out on their own.  That’s my plan this time as well.

I know it’s down there somewhere.  That spark of excitement I usually get when I’m getting ready to ride.  I just need to let it re-ignite on its own and not force the issue.  If I do it right, I will soon enough be rolling down the roads with the wind in my face and good friends by my side and knowing that, in hindsight, what seemed like inconsistency was really a re-awakening.


Monday, June 27, 2011

The SAG Wagon

I believe one of the most important things in life is the act of giving back.  There are thousands of ways to do this but it usually consists of giving time, money or both.  With that in mind, I spent a good chunk of last Saturday giving back to the cycling world that has brought me so much joy.

giro-bello-logo Carmen, my good friend and fellow cyclist, convinced me to help out with the Steven Cozza - Giro Bello Classic charity ride last Saturday.  It wasn’t very hard.  I’ve ridden in numerous fun rides over the years so I am happy to step off the bike and volunteer my services so other riders can enjoy the day.  My role was to provide SAG coverage throughout all three routes – the fun ride of 29 miles, a metric century of 68 miles, and a full century of 102 miles.  Needless to say, that’s a lot of road to cover.

I was actually on the road with Coach Tim as my co-pilot.  This was primarily due to my complete ineptness as a bike mechanic.  So, Tim and met up at the registration area at 5:30 am to begin our day.  Initially, we drove the route and place a few sandwich boards warning drivers and asking riders to stay in single file.  Then, we went to the first two rest stops to ensure they were open for business.

SAG Poster Now it was time to SAG.  As we drove the course, very slowly, making sure riders where doing great, we were also constantly on the phones talking or texting away.  I’ll never know what’s it like to be the Director Sportif of a real race but I think I got a taste of it on Saturday.  At numerous times we were on both phones and I’m sure if we had a third phone we would have been on that also.

Fortunately, all of the calls and texts were about pretty simple things.  We had SAG vehicles starting between 7:00 and 9:00 am.  As each driver checked in at registration they would give me a call to see what part of the course they should support.  It was all pretty routine thanks to some outstanding ride management by Carmen and her team of volunteers.

However, there were a few interesting instances that kept the lines buzzing.  My good friend Jeff called to say that a tractor-trailer, that was over 8-feet wide, was coming up the single lane road on the Geysers that our riders needed to go down.  So, we immediately start getting the word out to all SAGs and rest stops to pass the word along to riders to use caution.

There were the metal road panels on Chalk Hill Road (the ones they put down over holes and trenches when there still working on it).  Not only did they take up the whole road, they were at the bottom of a descent.  Although we did our best to warn people, numerous riders blew tires by hitting them to fast.  So, we left one SAG vehicle there just to help all those folks.

Giro SAG Of course, we finished the day by driving a few people back to the start.  There was one humorous incident in this regard.  We picked up a rider at the last rest stop and then we heard there was rider with a blown tire 2-3 miles back.  So off we go.  Well, we never found them (we learned later that another rider got them going again).  Just as we were turning around we heard the desperate shout of SAG!!! behind us.  We looked back and saw a woman waiving her arms.  I drove a couple of yards to park and she thought we didn’t hear her.  She told us in the car that her tears of sadness as we looked like we were driving away became tears of joy when she saw us park.

All in all, it was an awesome day.  The weather was perfect, Tim and I had a blast driving around and helping out, and most importantly, I think all the riders had a great day.  In the end, I logged 170 miles and countless laughs and that’s not a bad way to spend a Saturday.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Friends on Mont Ventoux

Sometimes, it’s okay to live vicariously through others.   I say this because three of my best friends just climbed the famous Mt Ventoux in France and I was with them in spirit on every pedal stroke.  I believe that living through others is okay as long as you don’t make a habit of it and also spend time living your own life.

Me on the summit in 2009. Actually, since I have climbed Mont Ventoux twice (2007 and 2009), it feels more like reminiscing.  I can imagine every thing they went through from their preparations to the actual climb and down a thrilling descent.  I’m sure they spent hours analyzing the profile and reading ride reports.  They worried about their conditioning and the wind.  (The French word for wind is vent so Mont Ventoux roughly translates into windy mountain.) 

I haven’t had the chance to really chat with them yet as they are still in France.  However, here is my version of how I think things went.

IMG_2707 It all starts in the town of Bédoin.  There are three routes to the top of Ventoux but the route from Bédoin is the one used in pro races such as the Tour de France.  They drove through town, found the bike shop, and got everything ready to go.  If they followed my plan, they then rode 9 kilometer round-trip to Crillon-le-Brave.  This is a perched village with a 1k climb that allows you to test the shifting on the way up and the brakes on the way down.  This village also has a hotel with a terrace bar that has the best view of Mont Ventoux period and is a great place to have drink once the ride is over.

It’s then back through town, stopping at the bike shop if they needed adjustments, and unto the task at hand.  They started on a very busy road but after 2k they made a left hand turn and started to climb.  And climb.  And climb some more.  Mont Ventoux is a 23k (13 mile) climb that doesn’t have any ultra-hard grades but it consistently stays in the 7 – 10% range and feels relentless.

During the first 19k you are in the forest and only get occasion glimpses of the summit.  In many cases, it doesn’t feel like it’s getting closer.  Finally, you pass Chalet Reynard, which consists of a café and cycling shop (it’s also the skiing HQ in winter).   In 2007, on my first climb, I was struggling due the wind and Sherry ran into the café and pass me an Orangina as I was riding.  I’m sure that’s what got me to the top.

Ventoux SummitNow, you only have 4k remaining.  Unfortunately, it consists of the highest average grade and now you are totally exposed to the wind.  The summit is now in constant view and it’s hard not to become fixated on the fact that still looks very far away.  Then it’s done.  You’re at the summit taking in drinks, laughing and talking about the climb, enjoying the views and planning for the descent, which you know is going to rock!

On the way down, they stopped on the cycling shop, which only has clothes and accessories, to buy a bunch of Mont Ventoux commemoratives to ride on the local group rides when you finally get home (at least, that’s what I did in 2009).  You then scream down the descent, passing cars and watching for sheep in the road.  In 2007, it took me nearly 2.5 hours to reach the summit and only 34 minutes to come down.

I did text them and ask how the climb went.  The only response I got back was “it was damn hard but we made it”.  And that’s all that counts.  My three good friends can now sit around in local coffee houses and while everyone else talks about the hard climbs in the local area, they can talk about the time they climb Mont Ventoux.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Fun on a single speed

Warning!  This post contains flights of fantasy, delusions of grandeur and strong profanity (words like damn and hell).

Thursday, I raced home from work, changed into my kit and hit the road on the single speed.  That’s the bike I grab when I just want to go out and have fun.  The plan was to just cruise along various bike paths and get in a solid 90-minutes of riding so I could justify having pizza for dinner.  As an added bonus, it was a beautiful warm evening, which felt wonderful.  It seems that summer is finally arriving to Northern California.

giro-bello-logo To be honest, the ride started out in a frustrating way.  I caught every light between my house and the bike path yellow.  However, I told myself to forget about it and soon I was rolling along and enjoying the ride.  Then my phone rang.  I take a look and the number is blocked.  This means it’s Sherry calling about the pizza or Carmen calling about Steven Cozza’s Giro Bello Classic.  (BTW – If your a cyclist living in the San Francisco Bay Area, you really should come out for this ride.)  Both are important so I answer it.  It was Carmen.

I’m now rolling down the path and trying to carry on a conversation with Carmen.  It was me talking and her hearing a bunch of wind (feel free to enter snide remark here).  Remember, I’m on the bike path so occasionally Carmen here’s me shout “on your left!” as I pass people along the way.  Then I hear “on your left” from behind me.  What?  I’m being passed.  That’s right!  A guy in a full kit and a very smug look on his face passes me.  I immediately start to chide Carmen with phrases like “see what’ve done, you’re making me get passed”.

Finally, Carmen gives up on trying to hear me and tells me to enjoy my ride.   As I put the phone away I noticed that on-your-left guy isn’t that far ahead so I decided his smugness needed a lesson in getting dropped.  I reach down to shift into the big ring and . . . wait, I don’t have a big ring because I’m on the single speed.  Even better.  Now, I plan to drop his ass on a single speed.

I come out of the saddle and start to hammer.  As a result, I am gaining quickly and thinking to myself how great this is going to feel.  As I get a little closer, I notice he is in his big ring, which is just perfect.  Then he sees me and accelerates.  Damn!  It doesn’t matter because come hell or high water I’m dropping this dude.  I push harder and can see he’s starting to fade.  As I get ready to pass, I’m afraid I’m going to fast.  After all, I want him to see it’s me and not just a blur of color flashing by.  I need to pass him with enough speed to raise my testosterone level and his estrogen level.  I shout “On, Your, Left” in my smuggest voice and blow past him without even a glance in his direction.  About a minute later I look back and he’s gone.  I can only imagine he’s sitting on a rock by the creek posting his bike on Craig’s List or calling his wife to come give him a ride home.

At least that’s how the whole scenario played out in my mind.  In reality, he turned and went a different direction right after my call with Carmen.  That’s was good because I needed an excuse as to why I didn’t have to chase him down. 

Of course, if he hadn’t turned then that whole drop scenario would have totally happened.  And, since we’ll never know, I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it.

I told you riding the single speed was fun.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dodging the Rain

June is a beautiful month for cycling, or just about anything, in the Sonoma Wine Country.  As the temps start to go up you can finally put away all of your winter training gear.  June is the typically the month when we transition from arm warmers to sun screen but not this year.  A new word has been created by our local weather peeps.  There all saying it’s Junuary!

Our first June weekend got off to a very wet start that is very, very unusual for this area at this time of year.  You know you’re in for an unusual weather weekend when it makes the headlines of various weather web sites.  For example, did a big article on how San Francisco historically receives 0.13 inches of rain in June.  Last Saturday, they received 1.07 inches of rain in 24 hours.  It’s all because this low pressure system was sitting just of the coast and spinning storm after storm our way.

Necessary tools for surving a winter storm! So, what’s a guy supposed to do.  Well, I actually like running in the rain so that was the plan.  After sleeping in a little on Saturday (which means getting up at 6:30 instead of 5:00), I get up, make coffee and settle in to goof around on the computer a bit.  I figured I would hit the road around 7:30.  It didn’t happen. Not only was it pouring but the rain was coming down sideways due to very strong winds.  Fine!  If the weather was going to produce a winter storm then I was going to follow my winter routine by refilling my coffee and staying inside.

Sunday was a little more promising.  It was still raining but the winds had died down dramatically.  I arose at my normal time and started hitting the weather sites.  The chance of rain was down from 60% to 30%.  The only issue was when it was raining, it was pouring.  These were not nice little misty rains.  These were deluges from the heavens that still made riding a bit sketchy.

Around 7:30 I threw on my running gear and hit the road.  With the threat of rain still very real, I started off at a nice pace.  I never slowed down.  In the end, I managed to get in a 3-mile run, at an 8:30 pace, without rain.  Now, I am normally a 9:00 minute mile kind of guy so I guess that one of the upsides to rain is that it makes you run faster.

Later in the day, Sherry had to go to the office for about 3-hours so I decided “rain be damned” I’m going for a ride.  It actually hadn’t rained for several hours but the threat was ever present.   I decided to ride straight up Old Redwood Hwy, which would allow me to turn around and head home if the skies opened up.  They didn’t.  I managed to get all the way to The Flying Goat in Healdsburg 100% rain free.

Vineyard under cloudy skies. After a quick cappuccino, I head for home.  This is when I got adventurous.  You see, I was dressed for rain and since it hadn’t found me, I went looking for it.  I rode towards  every dark cloud in the sky.  This took me into the surrounding vineyards and I began to really appreciate just how beautiful and green everything was because of all the rain.  And, if you add in the lovely grey skies and clouds as a back drop, then it becomes stunning.

Ultimately, I managed to make it home without any rain.  Not bad, eh?  A 3-mile run and 43-mile ride under dark heavy skies and I stayed dry on both.  Still, I’m ready for the sun, which is scheduled to arrive later today.  I’m looking forward to a weekend of basking in the sun’s warmth and riding under blue skies.

Of course, we humans are never happy with the weather for very long, so how long will it be before I start complaining that it’s too hot?

Until then . . . I’ll just keep riding.


Friday, June 3, 2011

My First Cycling Trophy

I finally have my first cycling trophy!!!  It took a while since I don’t race.  It’s amazing how not racing really limits your ability to get trophies.  Oh well, obviously there’s a story behind all of this but first we need a little historical perspective.

WCCP 3[9] Last year, Coach Tim introduced his Wine Country Cols & Pavé rides.  These rides were meant to be a nod to the European spring classics and follow the mantra “it doesn’t have to be paved to be a road”  Here’s his recap of the three rides that completed the series in 2010.  (You can read my blog about the first ride here.)

Ride #1 - River Snake:  48 miles with 9 climbs and 8,000 feet of elevation gain. Oh, did I mention the 10 miles of dirt and trails. 

Ride #2 - Calistoga Delight: 58 miles with 2 Cat 1 climbs and 7,200 feet of elevation gain and 3 miles of jeep road in 95+ degree heat.

Ride #3 - Ocean View "the hard way": 41 miles with 2 Cat 1 climbs and 6,200 feet of elevation gain.  We also threw in 5 miles of dirt and single track and a river crossing.

All three of these rides were a blast.  Even the hot one.  I choose to participate for lots of reasons.  The rides were by invitation and the group that was invited were some of my best friends and people I thoroughly enjoy hanging around.  There was also the challenge of the actual rides, especially considering I was the only rider who does not mountain bike.  But mostly, it was for the t-shirt.

That’s right a t-shirt.  Tim has promised that everyone who completed (not started) all three rides would get a t-shirt.  I almost wrote a blog titled The Stupid Things We Will Do for a T-shirt.   Well, the rest of 2010 came and went and still no t-shirt.  Since I also work with Tim, and see him every day, I was relentless in my harassment and threatened to boycott all future Cols & Pavé rides.

Now, flash forward to 2011 and Coach Tim is ready to start the series again.  As the date approached for the first ride, I held firm with my boycott.  I told Tim flat out that I would not participate until I got my 2010 t-shirt.  (Ok, the real reason I didn’t ride was due to my half-marathon training but I still called it a boycott.) 

IMG_3355 Then he asked if could at least meet for coffee before the ride to receive my hardware.  WTF???  Hardware?  Intrigued, I agreed and after my morning run I met him and the 2011 Cols & Pavé riders for coffee.  Then, just before the ride was ready roll, Coach Tim handed out our trophies.  That’s right!  We each got a trophy and not a silly t-shirt.

PR trophy The trophy was friggin’ awesome.  It is actually modeled after the trophy presented to the winner of that classic of classics, Paris-Roubaix, which is one of the cobbles the race goes over.  I don’t know how much work Tim put into these but I can tell how much we all really appreciated his effort.

So there you have it.  My first ever (and probably last) cycling trophy.  And, I didn’t even have to race to get it.  I just had to go over the hills, through the river, through the woods, climb through fallen trees, go over more hills, and have my body bounced all over hell and creation as I rode along on what used to be a road. 

You can bet that if Tim does these rides again next year I will be there.  After all, I finally got my reward even if it wasn’t a t-shirt.


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The cyclist is back!!!

Some time last year, a colleague of Sherry’s asked if she was married to Lee Alderman, the cyclist.  While we both still get a laugh out of this from time to time, I can honestly say that description did not fit this year as I prepared to run my first half marathon in over 25 years.  I was more like Lee, the runner.

Now, with the half marathon behind me, it was time to reconnect with the bike.  I intended to use the Memorial Day Weekend as the platform for re-launching my riding.  My plan was quite simple.  Ride all three days and if possible log at least 100 miles in the saddle.  I am happy to say I was successful on both counts.  Although these distances do not seem very long by normal standards, I was very happy with how quickly my form returned. 

To help the plan along I chose routes over some of my favorite, and most beautiful, roads in Sonoma County.  If these routes can’t get you inspired then it may be time to hang up the bike.

1000x563-knights-valley-cows Knights Valley (33.2 miles) – My adventures started on Saturday as I led the Team Revolution ride.  As ride leader, I got to select the route so we headed to Knights Valley.  I hope that every cyclists gets the chance to ride through a place as lovely as Knights Valley at some point.  It is simply stunning.  The only reason we don’t ride it more often is that it is an out and back route (we usually prefer loops).

As the ride began, I immediately felt the effects of my time off the bike.  However, as we rode along, I continued to feel better.  By the return trip, I was driving a solid pace on the front and holding my own on the small climbs.  Plus, in addition to the great people I was riding with, I also ran into many other friends on the road.  It was the perfect re-entry to the world of cycling.

Cols3 Boho Hwy/Pocket Canyon (37.6 miles) – On Sunday, Jeff and I joined the first part of Coach Tim’s Cols & Pavé ride.  We headed out Bohemian Hwy towards Monte Rio and returned via Hwy 116 through Pocket Canyon.  Once again the scenery was stunning as we rolled through the redwoods and along streams flush with spring rains.  And, while this was supposed to be a recovery ride, Jeff and I managed to hammer out a pretty respectable pace instead.  It was two days and two great rides where I felt like I just kept getting stronger.

hartford Martinelli Road (40.1 miles) – Memorial Day was overcast, gray, and cold.  It was the kind of morning that makes you reach for your coffee cup and not the bike.  It was such a blah morning that everyone bailed on the morning ride.  So, Carmen and I headed out later in the day.  My plan was to take the single speed and really focus on recovery.  However, the wind was blowing pretty damn hard so I changed my mind.   When the wind is blowing that hard I want gears.  Once again, my plan to take it easy and recover changed once I started rolling.  I felt very good so we maintained a healthy pace through the redwoods and vineyards of the Russian River Valley.  It was another beautiful day on the bike that included Martinelli Road, which may be my favorite road of all.

There you have it.  I managed to cycle all three days and felt much better then anticipated.  And, what about my other goal?  Well, I made that as well as I totaled 110 miles in those three days.  More importantly, each ride was slightly longer then the one before it and I felt stronger as each day passed.

Now that my cycling has been jump started back into action, I can’t wait to see what adventures await as I roll into summer.


Friday, May 27, 2011

A Longing for (the) Vegas

Last year was not ideal for me it terms of cycling.  It wasn’t the people I rode with since they are all awesome.  It was the style of riding.  I got into cycling primarily because of the social aspect of it.  The miles and hours of riding with friends is beyond appealing and a big part of why I ride.  Somehow, in 2010 that didn’t happen.

Instead, I spent a lot of time on rides that I like to call the “race to regroup”.  This means that the rides were hard and fast to a planned regroup spot.  Then, once everyone arrived, we would take off at a blistering pace to see who could get to next regroup the fastest.  I enjoy doing these rides occasionally but I do not want them to be the norm.  Add to this that I am right in the middle it terms of strength so I spent a lot of time riding solo – behind the faster riders and ahead of the slower ones.

The end result?  I finished the year very fatigued and needing a little break from the bike.  That was the catalyst for bringing running back into my fitness plan this year.  Of course, if I was going to run more, I needed a goal and that’s how I ended up participating in the Windsor Town Green Half Marathon last Sunday.

My original plan was to make sure my running did not interfere with cycling.  However, after getting a pretty nasty cold in February that put my training behind schedule, I was forced to cut way back on cycling in April and May as I played catch up.  How far did I cut back on cycling?  By this time last year I had ridden just over 1,700 miles.  This year I have a grand total of 860.

Surprisingly, there is a huge silver lining to what seems like a dark cloud.  Throughout April and May, I found myself wanting to get on the bike but not having the time.  I would be sitting at my desk thinking about how great it would be to ride after work.  Then, on the way home, I would realize I really needed to get in a run instead.  So, I would get home and cast a glance towards the garage where the bikes were patiently waiting my return.  Then I would put on my running shoes and hit the road.  

This happened on numerous occasions and it started to create a real longing to ride that has been missing for a few months.  I actually found myself getting upset that I couldn’t find the time to ride.  I’m sure at one point I was wondering why the hell I decided to run a half-marathon in the first place.

The Vegas Finally, one day after work I decided “half marathon be damned,” I going out for a ride.  Still concerned about the upcoming run, I decided to take The Vegas (my name for my single speed road bike) so I could do a nice easy ride with a high pedaling cadence.  It was awesome!!!

I did my best bike path pokey as I rolled along.  The longer I rode the more I wanted to ride.  I was reminded of how much I love cycling and it re-ignited a desire to do much more of it in the weeks to come.  I can honestly say that Lee Alderman, the cyclist, is back.

Now, with the half marathon in the bank, I plan on putting in some serious miles on the bike.  I plan on jump starting my “more cycling miles” plan by riding all three days of the Memorial Day Weekend.  Plus, our cycling group has shifted back to those of us who want to ride strong but also want to stay together and ride as a group, which is music to my ears.

All I need to do now is clean the bikes, find my kits, and join the fun.


Monday, May 23, 2011

I am the tortoise!

Yesterday I did something for the first time since 1984.  I participated in a half marathon.  The Windsor Town Green Half Marathon to be exact.  Now, just to prove how statements of fact can be misleading, I did run a half marathon in 2003.  It just happen to come after a 1.2 mile swim and a 56 mile bike ride as I was participating in the Half Vineman triathlon. 

Going into yesterday I was very happy with my form and how I felt.  The route was rolling terrain with only one small hill, which is a great course for me.  I trained well and felt up to the challenge both physically and mentally.  My goal was 2:15:00 although I was secretly harboring the thought of putting in a sub 2-hour effort.  My plan is to run a relaxed, steady pace.  In other words, I would be the tortoise.

I get to the race bright and early and find a good parking spot.  Is this an early omen?  As I am hanging around waiting for the start my biggest concern is what to wear.  I have my tri sleeveless jersey and an ultra lightweight long sleeve shirt.  I’ll spare you the suspense and tell you I decided to go sleeveless (at the last minute).  Plus, my cycling buddy, Jeff, showed up to wish me luck (he also took the photos).

DSCN0929At 7:15 on-the-dot, about 650 of us are off and running.  My biggest concern was starting too fast.  So, I settle into what felt like a good tempo and started watching as numerous people came around me.  That’s when I started my mantra – I am the tortoise!  As I run along, I am paying attention to those passing me.  I anticipate catching some of them before the end with my tortoise-like tempo.  Sure enough, some of these folks are walking before we hit the 3-mile mark. 

I found my rhythm within the first two miles.  I was feeling very good and the 3, 4, and 5 mile markers all caught me by surprise by coming up faster then anticipated.  The small hill was just after the 5 mile mark and I caught a lot of people on this climb simply by keeping my steady pace.  As we came down the hill and start the next roller, a guy who has passed me numerous times only to fade back says “Man, your steady!”  That was all I needed to hear.

DSCN0960 The middle part of the race went exactly as I anticipated.  I found myself starting to look for mile markers at the 9-mile point as each mile started to feel longer then the last.  From the 9 to 11-mile markers I really had to stay strong mentally as I was finally starting to feel the efforts although I still had good form and a nice tempo.  However, once I hit 11-miles I knew the run was in the bank and I was confident of finishing strong. 

Just past 12-miles, another cycling friend, Carmen, appears and rides with me to the end.  I really kicked up the pace for the final half mile and came across the finish line looking and feeling great.  My time?  A very respectable 2:01:53, well within my goal.  And, what about my goal to be the tortoise.  Well, my Garmin is set to cycling so it measures laps in 5-mile increments.  I ran the first 5-miles in46:44 and the next 5 in 47:26.  If you look at MPH then the first 5 miles was 6.4, the second lap was 6.3 and the final 3 miles was 5.9.  I was indeed the tortoise!

In the end, it was a great event.  Although I missed cycling with my friends, it was nice to change things up a bit.  Now that I have this running base, I will keep running a couple of times of week so I can be ready for occasional 10k and I might even consider another half marathon before the end of the year.  But for now, I need to go reacquaint myself with my bike.


Friday, April 22, 2011

(Half) Century Man

Today, I hit the big 5-0!!!  That’s right.  I have now been around for half a century. (How many of you cyclists out there thought the title referred to a cycling event?)  The funny thing is I don’t feel 50.  Mentally, emotionally, and even physically, I feel like I stopped getting older at some point in my early 40’s.  To put it the words of Jimmy Buffett, I’m growing older but not up!

I am sure cycling is a big part of that, especially when you consider I started cycling at the age of 42.  I discovered a passion for riding my bike and that quickly turned into a love of all things cycling.  I love to ride bikes, talk about riding bikes, watch other people ride bikes, and so forth and so on.  It is amazing that something like this could have such a large impact on who I am today.

bday 4 When you start to break it down, it’s pretty easy to figure out.  I feel like a kid when I’m on my bike and that helps me feel young.  The sheer freedom of being able to hop on my bike and simply roll around for hours is exhilarating.  I also tend to act like a kid on my bike as you can guess from the photo.

I am a firm believer that stress and a lack of physical activity has the biggest impact on “aging” and cycling fixes both of those.  It doesn’t matter how stressful the workday was, I can make it all go away by getting on my bike.  Plus, when I am riding with friends we tend to talk about cycling and not work and that helps provide another mental escape from the daily grind.

BDay 1  I think another big part is that I do ride with a lot of people younger then me.  Most of my cycling friends are in their early 30’s or 40’s.  It may seem silly, but hanging with them and participating in their conversations goes a long way to warding off the fuddy-duddy factor so many of us fall into.  Yes, for me, hanging with young people makes me feel young.

Speaking of friends, they have this nasty tendency to want to make you feel better.  They’ll make you laugh when you’re down.  They’ll stand by when times are tough.  And, listen to your stories no matter how many times you’ve told them before.  How could anyone feel old with that kind of positive energy surrounding them on a continual basis.

Bday 2There’s one last thing.  As a fairly dedicated cyclist, I typically ride between 4,000 – 5,000 miles a year.  I have to admit that I get tremendous satisfaction when some 20-something hears this and looks my way with complete admiration.  That or they think I’m crazy.  I am okay with either look (I think I prefer crazy).  Or, when you’re standing around the coffee bar at work saying you rode 125 miles that weekend and they say they didn’t drive that far.  Or even better is when you hear this conversation - “Can you believe Lee is 50?” “Yes, but I wouldn’t want to keep up with him on a bike.”

So there you have it.  Cycling is a big part of why I still feel young and why I am ready to face the next half-century with the same je ne sais quoi that got me to this point.  I can’t wait to see where it takes me.


Monday, April 18, 2011

(Half) Marathon Man

As 2010 came to a close I began to consider my goals for 2011.  You see, I am the type of guy who needs goals.  Otherwise, I will let the comfort of my chair and a good cup of coffee keep me from heading out into the cold to train.  So without the hard-driving internal motivation that so many athletes possess, I have to rely on upcoming events to keep my mojo on track.

From a cycling perspective, it’s pretty easy to find local events to ride so this is not a problem.  Plus, I am always up for riding with friends whether I have a pending goal or not.  However, I have be honest and say I ended last year a little burnt out on cycling and very, very tired.  I was beginning to feel like it was time for a slight change of scenery.

So, I started running again this year.  Running was my exercise of choice many years ago until I broke my ankle trail running in Annadel State Park.  (BTW –This accident led me to road cycling but that’s a story for another day).  My original goal was to use running for a little cross training and to provide a kind of mental break from cycling.

Of course, as I sat in my chair with my coffee and listened to the rain this winter, running became an excuse not to ride on the trainer in my garage, which I detest.  I wouldn’t get on the trainer because I was going to “go for a run”.  I needed a goal if I had any hope of turning this around.

I half-heartedly decided to run a half-marathon.  I’ve participated in hundreds of 10k runs so that didn’t seem long enough to be a good goal.  I say half-heartedly because while I did choose a distance I didn’t actually choose an event so I don’t think that qualifies as a real goal.

That’s when I discovered that about 15 people from work were all running the Windsor Green Half Marathon on May 22nd.  It did not take much convincing for me to jump on board.  Now that I finally have an event, let the training begin.

My original plan was to ensure running didn’t interfere with cycling.  What was I thinking?  With no major cycling events on the horizon running is my main focus right now.  I usually ride between 4,000 – 5,000 miles a year, which translates to 1,000+ miles a quarter.  I finished March with just over 600 miles of pedaling and nearly 100 miles of running. 

As to the running plan, well so far, so good.  It was sidetracked just a bit as I worked my way through a nasty cold in February but otherwise, it’s going smoothly.  I already reached the 7-mile point and with 5 weeks remaining I am confident I will be ready.  The really cool part is running with friends in Annadel again.  I forgot just how beautiful it was up there (running in Annadel will be featured in a future post).

Will I keep running after my half-marathon?  Probably!  However, it will be relegated back down to my secondary activity that helps with a little cross-training.  Still, it will be nice to have that running base just in case another cool opportunity arises in the future.  And when it does, all I’ll have to do is make it a goal and I’ll be ready.


Monday, April 11, 2011

And, he’s back!!!

January 24, 2011.  That was the last time  I posted a blog on Lee’s Life Adventure.  This is definitely the longest unplanned break but as many of you know, life happens!  It’s been a crazy busy year so far but it’s finally starting to return to normal, whatever that is.  Here’s a recap to get you caught up.

alphonse The biggest issue has been work.  As some of you know, I was selected to attend Western CUNA Management School last year (think of a mini-MBA program for credit unions).  This is quite an honor but it also comes with a bit of a price tag.  Between classes, held in July at Pomona College, there is a significant project that must be completed.  How significant?  Well, let’s just say that 250 (or more) hours and 170 pages after starting it, I managed to get it shipped off on March 29th to meet the April 1st deadline for receiving honors or high honors from my reviewer.  Of course, it also has to be damn good to receive to received such accolades.  I am confident it is a respectable effort but won’t know the result until our next class in July.

Snow in the hills on a very cold ride. Now, all that school work might have hindered my blogging but it did not interfere with riding.  No, it was Mother Nature that filled that role.  We had a very cold and wet winter this year and getting out on the bike was a bit of challenge (March was the second wettest month on record).  Still, I’ve already had some great rides with friends and the season is just starting so I know there will be many more. 

From the cycling perspective, perhaps the most interesting thing is my new unofficial team role with Team Revolution presented by Fitness Journal.  Last year, I was one of the B ride leaders however we never really got on track as a group.  This year, there were three of us that took charge as it were and we now have the B rides rolling along nicely.  During this time, I somehow became an unofficial leader.  It’s a role I enjoy so no complaints here.  However, it does mean I’ve spent a fair amount of time creating and leading rides, posting rides through email and on Facebook, and trying to provide post-ride comments on Facebook as well.  All of this was designed to re-energize the B riders and it seems to be working if I do say so myself. 

I am also training for a half-marathon in May but I will save that for another blog. 

So, there’s a quick update on my world.  It is returning to normal so the adventures should start to occur with more frequency.  Hopefully, I will also have the time and energy to write about them.

Until then . . .


Monday, January 24, 2011

Smart riding as the weakest link

I frequently ride with people who are stronger then I am.  This doesn't mean I am a weak rider.  I am just not as strong as the others in my group.  There are all sorts of reasons for this.  Some are younger.  Many of them have been riding for a lot longer then I.  And, others have more time, or more dedication, to train during the week.

For the most part, this isn’t a big deal.  I can hold my own and we have ended many, many rides together with the only difference being I am perhaps more fatigued, which I can live with.  However, over the last two years I have slipped into a bad habit that is making it an issue.  Some of my fellow cyclists ride hard on Saturday and some on Sunday.  I’ve been doing both and it is wearing me out.

I vowed to change that this year and this weekend provided the perfect opportunity to test my resolve.

On Saturday, I rode with Team Revolution presented by Fitness Journal.  There were six of us setting out for a social ride at our B pace.  I knew immediately that I was the weakest link in this group and it would be interesting to see if they stuck to the plan.  Plus, I had gone over the route with Coach Tim and had a plan for riding specific intervals on the small hills we would cover.

The smart riding began before we started rolling when I announced my plans for the hills.  This means they knew I would drop behind as I worked on my drills but I would catch up on the descents.  It worked perfectly!  I was never that far behind them over the top and I never felt the need to over exert myself to keep up.

After some nice rolling hills at a pleasant pace with lots of chit-chat and laughter, we hit a road where I knew a paceline would form.  So, what’s the smart move for the weakest link at this juncture?  That’s right.  I took the front, started the paceline, and controlled the pace.  The secret here is to set a pace you can maintain without killing yourself that is hopefully fast enough for your stronger friends.  If you succeed, they will enjoy the pull and not feel compelled to come around and lift the pace.  It was another smart move that worked out great.

The rest of Saturday’s ride was more of a social affair that offered a few last opportunities for pacelines and hill intervals.  When it was all said and done, I got in a beautiful 52-mile ride that left me feeling perfectly exhausted.  Now, the next smart decision for this weekend would be to ensure Sunday’s ride focused on active recovery versus pushing the pace yet again.

As I sat around drinking coffee with three other friends on Sunday morning, I knew that once again I was the weakest link and there was a good chance this ride would not be as social as it was billed.  Soon, we are off at brisk pace and immediately my heart rate is higher then it should be for a recovery ride.  I should be in zone L2 and instead I am pushing an L4.  I spent the first have of the ride fighting an internal battle with myself.  Should I go hard to stay with them, repeating my mistakes of the past two years, or should I let them go? 

Finally, I made the smart decision for me and let them go.  Then, something amazing happened.  My heart rate came down over 10 beats even though I was pushing the same pace.  I was much more relaxed and really began to enjoy the ride.  I’m not a doctor, but I think that internal battle was stressing me out and once it was removed the stress went away with it and left me to enjoy spending time on the bike.

Was it worth it?  You betcha!  As I sit here typing this blog I am feeling fresh, relaxed and I am very much looking forward to Coach Tim’s SPINN Fitness class tomorrow night.  And, wasn’t that the purpose in the first place?


Monday, January 10, 2011

Flexibility on a cold winter ride

As I spent the week thinking about Saturday’s ride, one thing was crystal clear.  It was going to be very foggy and very cold, at least by Sonoma County standards.  Still, a couple of us brave souls were heading out anyway.  At least it wasn’t raining.

The plan was to head out with Coach Tim and do what he calls “riding with a purpose”.  He is quite good at setting up these early season rides that are designed to build power, strength and endurance in a very calculated way.  In essence, we are going to do his SPINN Fitness Class on the road.

So, I bundle up first thing Saturday and head out to the West County Revolution Bike Shop where we are starting.  And I mean bundled up complete with my thermal jacket!    We meet at the shop but before rolling it’s over to Coffee Catz to try and warm the soul one last time before we hit the road.

There were eight us of rolling along and having a good time chatting as we “warmed” up.  The plan was to practice pace lines with 10-30 second pulls on front followed by some hill work on a couple of small climbs.  The pace line drills worked beautifully until someone flatted.  When I saw him turn the bike upside down I knew we would be there a while

A few minutes later the flat was fixed and on it was on to the hills.  We practiced high cadence drills for spinning and low cadence intervals for power.  As we topped the largest of the small hills we would climb, I noticed that we had split up for the first time.  Those of us on the front began to soft pedal so the others could catch up.

After a few minutes I knew something was wrong.  They should have joined us by now.  Many minutes later we see them coming and learned that one of them cracked his frame and he is not going to make it to the end since we were only half way through the ride at this point.

Here’s where the flexibility part kicks in.  Tim and I decide that Cary will lead the group for the rest of ride on the scheduled route.  I am going to time trial back to my SUV so I can come get Jim and Tim is going to ride with Jim and his cracked frame.  We explain to everyone what’s going on, put the plan into place and off I go.

After only a few minutes I noticed that the group has  decided to skip the rest of the ride and is chasing me.  Cool!  Now, I’ll have help getting to my car.  So, off we go at a spirited pace, which was my max since I am just starting to build my base for this year.  This lasted for about 10 minutes.  Then one of the riders launched an attack and every followed but me.  Remember, I was at my max.  I also needed to ride smart.  I couldn’t afford to blow up and needed to maintain a strong but steady pace.  So I watched them disappear.  A short five minutes later they were out of site and I was riding alone.

As I rolled along I thought to myself, “This is just like 2010 when I start with a group and finish alone!”  This is exactly what I planned on avoiding in 2011.  Oh well, I just keep pedaling.  After a while, I see Carmen coming back my way.  She told me the pace got too high for her as well so she came back and we rode in together.

I got back to the car in great time, loaded the bike and headed out.  I got a text that Jim was at a Starbucks so off I go.  When I get there I learn that his cousin Vince, one of the riders, had his car keys and was one the way.  So, with Jim taken care of I headed for home.

All-in-all it was a great ride.  I did a little pace line work, rode a few small hills and practiced my time trial.  And, all of this was done with purpose.  I know these rides will continue to make me stronger and I can’t wait for the longer, and warmer, rides of Summer.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Looking in both directions

Well, the first ride for 2011 is already in the books.  So is the first run of the year.  The ride was a short 21 mile affair under the threat of rain.  The run was a 3.7 mile torture fest that still has me walking funny as a result of very sore legs since this was first run in over a year.  I’ll let you decide which one of these activities I enjoyed the most.

Jan2 Pic1 As I was riding along, enjoying the beautiful winter day, I couldn’t help but to reflect on the 2010 cycling year.  I was also wondering what excitement 2011 has in store.  I really do enjoy reflecting on what was and what’s to come, so as I slowly rolled along I allowed my mind to go with the flow as well.

In hindsight, 2010 was a very unique year for me.  I was more involved with the cycling community then ever before.  I helped with the Tour of California, I did a lot of work putting together and leading rides for Team Revolution presented by Fitness Journal, I marshalled Levi Leipheimer’s Gran Fondo, and I joined forces with my friend Carmen who is putting together the first Steven Cozza’s Giro Bella Classic starting in 2011.  Yes, it was a very busy year.

The one thing that was slightly off in 2010 was my riding.  Not only did I not get in the number of miles I am used to, they were a different kind of miles.  In 2008, while training for the Terrible Two, I rode 5,707 miles.  In 2009, I was back down to my norm at 4,771 miles (I usually ride just under 5,000 miles a year).  However, in 2010 I only managed to get in 3,617 miles.  This was mostly due to battling a few colds and an exceptionally cold summer but I also struggled to find my mojo in 2010.

The lack of mojo in 2010 can be summed up in one line.  I did not do enough social rides.  Instead, I found myself in full-on hammerfests or rides where the goal seemed to be racing to the next regroup.  The bottom line – I spent a lot miles chasing the group while riding alone which left me with very tired legs and very little desire to join the next ride.

Fortunately, Coach Tim put me on an off-season plan that has completely turned my mojo around.  Perhaps that explains why I was out braving the rain on Sunday versus hanging with my friends in the spin class at the Airport Club.

With all that as a back drop, my plan for 2011 can also be summed up in one line – more social rides.  For me the joy of cycling is rolling along, laughing with friends, and enjoying the feeling of being alive.  I need to do more of that.  Scratch that!  I will be doing more of that in 2011.

IMG_0448Now, on to the grand plans for 2011.  To begin with, I am once again off to France in June to climb Mont Ventoux for the third time.  This time however I will have company on the bike.  Some of my friends are making the trip with me and we will be doing the climb together.  It’s kind of a 50th birthday ride celebration for yours truly.

I am also going to try and do a few events that I always meant to do but never got around to such as the Tour of the Unknown Coast.  There are still a few mountains within easy driving distance, like Atlas Peak, Mount Tamalpais, and Mount Diablo, that I still need to conquer.  Finally, my Gran Fondo Marshall partner Jeff has already informed me we are marshalling the 100 mile route versus the 65 mile route in 2011.

There you have it.  A 2010 cycling year that I am glad to have behind me and a 2011 year full of promise.  As I plan my various rides you can count on one thing.  There will be someone with me laughing and telling stories as we roll along on our next adventure.