Upcoming rides I'm leading:
Saturday, November 19: Three Sisters and Wetlands Park, 36 miles

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Do-it-yourself training ride: Quarry Hills


In discussions with a couple of riders, I've been asked about the best places to get some quick hill training in the Mountain View area. Here is a 15-mile ride that I use for exactly that purpose; it's got about 1,250 feet of climbing, with nearly all of it concentrated in the middle 8 miles of the route.

With all of the hills around here, why do I like this route? It's close to home (and to our usual Mountain View meeting point, which is where I officially start this ride), it's got an easy 3-mile warm-up and cool-down, the hills are challenging but not impossible, and there are a few places where I can bail out if I run short of time or get tired. It's also mildly scenic, especially the first time you do it; if you've never seen the Quarry Lake area, you're in for quite a surprise -- and I won't spoil it for you any more than that.

This is not an easy ride -- at least for me it's not. I did this ride today, and my average speed on the ride was a full 3 mph less than my usual pace these days. Many of the descents on this ride are especially narrow, winding, and steep, and extreme caution is advised.

If you're a novice rider, you probably shouldn't do this ride by yourself the first time you attempt it. But whether you're a newbie or an experienced rider, it's entirely possible that you'll get lost in the maze of tough-to-find turns and winding roads. But don't panic -- if you get lost, just head generally downhill, and you'll eventually make your way to Foothill Expressway, from which you can find your way back.

I've even gone to the trouble of making you a turn-by-turn route sheet in handy ALC-like format. Here it is.

Ride report: Cat-3 Distance Training #2

Go, riders!

What an intrepid group you are. Despite an uncertain weather forecast, 31 riders showed up this morning for our 45-mile ride into the Peninsula hills and the Pulgas Water Temple (pictured at right), marking the western end of the Hetch Hetchy aqueduct. We braved light mist, a few sprinkles, a few minutes of almost-rain, and (depending on your pace) even a few minutes of sunshine. And by my late count, we also braved at least 11 flat tires during the course of the day!

As miserable as today's conditions were at times, this ride was actually good practice for ALC. Many years, the beginning of Day 1 is almost exactly like what we encountered today. The ride from Daly City up to Skyline Blvd. is often chilly and misty, and there's often a light drizzle as we head down the Peninsula. (We'll be riding this part of the Day 1 route later on this season as part of Ride 7 in our set of 10 rides.) Today's conditions certainly weren't my favorite conditions for riding, but it's important to get experience with this type of riding because, sooner or later, on ALC or somewhere else, it'll happen again. (And just think of our ALCers in less temperate climates who deal with snow at this time of year!)

Although we had 31 riders start today's ride, we had two DNFs (cyclingspeak for "did not finish"). Ride leader Ken had two of the forementioned flats in just the first two miles, so he returned to the start and very graciously became a SAG (cyclingspeak for "support and gear") driver for the rest of the day. That became very important when one of our riders fell while cycling on Cañada Road. Fortunately, the rider only had a few scrapes (and a mangled leg warmer), but his bicycle didn't fare quite so well, and he wasn't able to keep riding. Ken brought him back to Mountain View, so we were very fortunate to have Ken's services today. On my longer rides, I will have at least one SAG driver for just such eventualities, and I'm trying to get some drivers for our upcoming "shorter" rides (i.e., less than 100 miles) as well.

After riding in today's conditions, your bike was probably as dirty as mine. If you haven't done so already, take some time to thoroughly clean your bike, including the chain and gears. Water often is acceptable (but not in a high-pressure car wash!), and bike shops sell various types of cleaners that often work well on your bike's components. I use a "citrus-based" cleaner that wipes things down rather easily and also serves as a good chain cleaner.

A few notes from the road:

Today's route traveled roads that are popular with many of the area's high-end cycling and racing teams, and we saw several of those groups today. I'm sure you noticed that they usually don't ride according to the same rules that we do! While many team riders are generally law-abiding, some are not, giving cyclists in general a poor reputation in communities such as Woodside. (We could go on for hours about the pros and cons of large racing teams on rural Bay Area roads, but I digress.) For us, the best strategy usually is to give the team riders a wide berth (they'll usually be passing you, instead of the other way around) and allow yourself plenty of leeway in case one of them does something unexpected -- like nearly crossing the center line, as one of our riders saw happen today.

One thing that disappointed me a bit today was that I didn't hear "CAR BACK!" as much as I would like. In general, you should call this out whenever a vehicle is approaching from behind and you're not riding in a bike lane or on a wide shoulder. Even on city streets with a 25 mph speed limit, "CAR BACK!" is important so that we can co-exist with the other users of the road. If you hear "CAR BACK!" behind you, you should call it forward, all the way to the front of the line. Sometimes you should wait a second or two before calling it forward, depending on how fast the vehicle is moving. Otherwise, the person at the front hears "CAR BACK!" so early that there's a long time before the vehicle actually reaches them, and they don't know when the "CAR" is really "BACK!". And if you didn't figure it out, I put "CAR BACK!" in all caps because you really should use your "outside voice" on this and all other verbal alerts to other riders.

And for those who are wondering about the amount of climbing in today's ride, most of the remaining Cat-3 Distance Training rides don't get much more hilly than this, at least in terms of feet per mile over the entire day. Sure, we'll have some bigger hills -- and Ride 6 to the coast is a very hilly ride -- but all you'll need to do for most of the rides is be able to sustain today's pace over a longer distance.

That leads us gracefully into our next ride. On Saturday, February 7, we'll do a 50-mile ride that will take us to the very same grocery store in Woodside that we went to today. But we'll take a roundabout route: We'll start by going to Santa Clara and then back up the Peninsula through downtown Palo Alto. The first half of the ride will be nearly flat, but all of our climbing (almost as much climbing as we did all day today) will be packed into the second half of the ride. This will be an interesting exercise in learning to pace yourself and, for many of us, forcing yourself to ride at something less than 100% intensity for the first half of the ride so that you have the energy to ride the hills of the second half -- another skill that you'll find very handy to have in June. Details and RSVP are here.

Don't forget to do other training rides in addition to the Cat-3 Distance Training rides. It's time to get in the habit of riding on at least two consecutive days. Depending on where you live, consider the Sunday Cat-2 rides in San Francisco, the East Bay, or Sunnyvale. Cat-3 and stronger riders are always welcome!

Thank you for being part of AIDS/LifeCycle.

Saturday morning weather update

Good morning, riders!

Today's ride is ON.

Although a couple of forecast models continue to say we might get wet, most folks are saying that our part of the Bay Area will be dry until early evening.

Part of our route involves riding down the moderately steep hill on Edgewood Road from the I-280 junction. There's a rocky hillside immediately adjacent to the bike lane, and it's possible that the rain will cause rocks to be in our path. It's easy to quickly build up speed on this hill, so be especially careful when descending Edgewood! Also be careful in shady areas, and watch out for debris such as tree branches and large accumulations of leaves.

It's possible that we'll encounter a few light sprinkles during the ride, so bring a jacket. The good news is that the overcast conditions kept the temperature up overnight, and it's in the low 50s even before sunrise -- but it won't get much warmer than that during the day.

Cat-3 Distance Training #6: San Gregorio and Pescadero (3/21/2009)


Meet time: 7:30 a.m.
Ride-out time: 8:00 a.m.
Meeting place: Three blocks west of the Mountain View Caltrain and VTA station, in the overflow parking lot at the corner of Evelyn Avenue and Franklin Street. (map)
City: Mountain View
Rain policy: Rain cancels
Category: 3 - moderate-fast pace (12-15 mph)
Terrain: 3 - rolling hills with some steep climbs
Miles: 81

Description:
Get ready to climb! Today we're going to the coast via Old La Honda Road, with the long, thrilling descent down Highway 84 to San Gregorio. From there, we'll travel down the coast for a few miles on Highway 1 into Pescadero, and then we'll return to San Gregorio via the hills of Stage Road. From there, it's back up Highway 84 for 14 miles to the summit, with an easy return through Woodside. Total climbing on this ride is about 5,400 feet.

This ride has a 65-mile option that omits the Pescadero loop and reduces the total climbing to about 3,600 feet. Do not attempt the full 81-mile ride unless you already have done a hilly ride of 65 miles or more this season.

Because there is so much climbing on this ride, most riders will probably be closer to the low end of the Cat-3 range than the high end, and that's OK. Limited SAG vehicle support will be available.

After the ride, many of us will be gathering for celebration at a Mexican restaurant near the meeting point. Details will be sent in the Rider's Briefing that you get when you RSVP.

Route sheet for this ride is here.

Be sure to check the Training section of the ALC website for information on how to prepare for a training ride and what you must and should bring.

Leaders: Chris Thomas, Susan Fish, David Gaus, David Goldsmith, Paul Rammer, Kirk Rivera, Antonio Velasco

RSVPs are requested but not required.

Evil Twins in April?


The past two years, I've offered a Quadbuster training ride in the spring. Both years, however, bad things have happened, so the superstitious side of me has decided not to offer the ride this year.

However, in discussions with another training ride leader, an interesting possibility arose: What about a training ride to the Evil Twins? That's the set of hills west of Paso Robles, the beginning of Day 4 of the ride -- the long climb that culminates in the triumph, hustle, and bustle of "Half Way To L.A." (pictured at right, in a behind-the-scenes view you don't usually see in all the pretty photos). At an elevation of 1,762 feet above sea level, it's the highest point on the whole ride, and if the skies are clear, we get a breathtaking view of Morro Bay and the ocean.

Paso Robles is just about equidistant from the Bay Area and Southern California, a drive of about three hours one-way. We'd have an appropriately late start time (perhaps around noon), and the ride is about 35 miles round-trip with about 2,800 feet of total climbing. (It's quite hilly but not extremely steep.) If we rode on a Sunday, that would give folks a chance to drive there the night before, but then you'd have to drive back right after the ride. Also, there are limited services (read "none") along the route, so you would need to bring enough stuff -- including liquids -- to be self-sufficient for the entire ride.

Update: Folks have correctly pointed out that Sunday, April 12, just happens to be Easter, thus making it not the best day to schedule this ride. Saturday the 11th seems to be working for folks, though, so if we go ahead with the ride, this looks like the more likely day.

So I'll put it in your hands. Here's an unscientific, nonbinding poll.

Would you be interested in a training ride from Paso Robles to the top of Evil Twins?
Yes, on a Saturday (April 11?)
Yes, on a Sunday (April 12?)
No
Other (leave comments)
  

Cat-3 Distance Training #5: Coyote Valley (3/7/2009)


Meet time: 8:00 a.m.
Ride-out time: 8:30 a.m.
Meeting place: Three blocks west of the Mountain View Caltrain and VTA station, in the overflow parking lot at the corner of Evelyn Avenue and Franklin Street. (map)
City: Mountain View
Rain policy: Rain cancels
Category: 3 - moderate-fast pace (12-15 mph)
Terrain: 2 - rolling hills
Miles: 76

Description:
This very popular ride is back with a few fun changes this year. We start by taking a moderate route into Saratoga (no Mount Eden) and Los Gatos. From there, we traverse south San Jose before heading around Calero Reservoir and down the Bailey Avenue hill. We return along Santa Teresa Blvd. and then go back through Los Gatos, Saratoga, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Los Altos Hills, and Palo Alto on our way back to Mountain View. This ride has a wide variety of road conditions and traffic levels. Total climbing on this ride is about 2,200 feet with no excessively long climbs.

Route sheet for this ride is here.

Be sure to check the Training section of the ALC website for information on how to prepare for a training ride and what you must and should bring.

Leaders: Chris Thomas, Susan Fish, David Gaus, David Goldsmith, Bill Henry, Maggie Vande Voorde

RSVPs are requested but not required.

Perception is not always reality

Although I write ride reports for all of the training rides that I organize, I also participate in many other training rides throughout the season. This weekend was no exception; I did a 22-mile ride out of Palo Alto on Saturday and a 20-mile ride from Sunnyvale today. (I rode to and from both rides as well, so each one clocked in at just a little more than 30 miles.)

Today's ride in Sunnyvale was the first ride in the South Bay series of Cat-2 (10-12 mph) training rides. In recent years, these rides have acquired a reputation for being somewhat hilly, so I probably shouldn't have been surprised when I looked at the route sheet for today's ride and saw a twisty path through the hilly side streets of Los Altos Hills. I remembered those hills from past rides, and I groaned just a little bit inside. Some of those hills are steep! As in really steep!

So I did the ride with a smile on my face ... and an average speed of about 14.8 mph. Then I came home and mapped the route to see just how hilly it was. And the answer surprised me. In that 20-mile route, the total climbing was just a little bit more than 700 feet. Only 700 feet. We do nearly that much climbing just in a "flat" loop around the South Bay! My upcoming ride this Saturday has nearly three times as much climbing! Yet I don't freak out over those routes. What's the deal?

All of today's hills were very short. But they were indeed steep. Sometimes I could count on momentum to get me as much as halfway up them. The rest of the time, the climbing never lasted for more than about a minute, if even that much. Compare that to the 1.3-mile climb up Highway 84 to Woodside that we did on Saturday's ride: not as steep, but much longer, and probably more tiring. And later on this season, I'll be taking us back to that old nemesis, Old La Honda Road, where a 3.3-mile climb gains more than 1,000 vertical feet.

Yes, today's hills were steep. But they were not long at all. And the strategy for riding a short, steep climb is often very different from riding a longer climb. One thing is for sure, though: The Sunday Cat-2 rides from Sunnyvale will offer plenty of experience in climbing, and I recommend them as a weekly companion to my own Cat-3 Distance Training rides.

Another delay for the Moffett Field trail

From today's Mountain View Voice:
The opening of a long-awaited Bay Trail connection around Moffett Field is being delayed as officials wait for a small piece of it to be transferred from the Cargill Salt Co. to NASA.

... Once completed, the 500-mile trail will encircle the waterfront of San Francisco and San Pablo bays. More than half of the trail has been completed, and the Moffett section would make an important connection from Palo Alto and Mountain View to Sunnyvale through Alviso.

The section would have opened in November 2008, but now will have to wait until sometime this spring, Thompson said.

"The trail exists — we just need to take the gates down," she said.

Another reason why every donation is important

From today's Wall Street Journal:
Hit hard by the recession, many companies have trimmed contributions to employees' 401(k) plans, suspended bonuses and cut back on health-care benefits. Now, a growing number are also taking the ax to their charitable matching gifts and volunteer programs.

Such programs, in which companies match employee contributions -- or donate funds based on the number of hours they volunteer -- have been popular for decades with nonprofit groups, employees and firms themselves, who use it as a recruiting tool and to burnish their image, as well as benefit from tax deductions.

... These changes are coming at a time when charities are already facing hardships due to the distressed economy. ... Donations are going to "mean far more now ... as we see a major increase in people seeking services with less dollars going around," says Stuart Tauber, senior vice president for financial-resources development at the United Jewish Appeal-Federation of New York.

The San Francisco AIDS Foundation is certainly no exception, and I'm proud to be riding in support of their programs and services. But unless I reach my $3,000 minimum fundraising, I won't be riding out on May 31.

Sure, it would be nice for a $1,975 donation -- the amount I still need to reach my minimum -- to show up all at once. But every donation, no matter the size, helps me reach my goal -- and the money goes to supporting the vital work of the foundation.

So if you've been waiting for someone else to do it first, please don't wait ... donate now. Thank you.

Cat-3 Distance Training #4: Sunol (2/21/2009)


Meet time: 8:30 a.m.
Note the earlier meeting time!
Ride-out time: 9:00 a.m.
Meeting place: Three blocks west of the Mountain View Caltrain and VTA station, in the overflow parking lot at the corner of Evelyn Avenue and Franklin Street. (map)
City: Mountain View
Rain policy: Rain cancels
Category: 3 - moderate-fast pace (12-15 mph)
Terrain: 2 - rolling hills
Miles: 63

Description:
For our first metric century of the season, we're going to the quaint East Bay outpost of Sunol. We'll take the easy route through Palo Alto to the Dumbarton Bridge and through Fremont. From there it's up Niles Canyon Road to Sunol, and then back via a short climb into the Mission San Jose area of Fremont, with a return through McCarthy Ranch, San Jose, Santa Clara, and Sunnyvale. Total climbing on this ride is about 1,550 feet.

Sorry, but due to the earlier start time, you no longer can take Caltrain to get to the Cat-3 Distance Training Rides starting with this one -- the trains don't run early enough. (You can still take VTA light rail, though, if you're coming from the south.)

Route sheet for this ride is here.

Be sure to check the Training section of the ALC website for information on how to prepare for a training ride and what you must and should bring.

Leaders: Chris Thomas, Randy Files, Susan Fish, David Gaus, David Goldsmith, Bob Katz

RSVPs are requested but not required.

Ride report: Cat-3 Distance Training #1


Go, riders!

Today's high temperature of 63 degrees in Mountain View tied the all-time record for January 10, and we couldn't have asked for finer weather to begin this year's set of 10 Cat-3 Distance Training Rides. Our group of 28 riders was a good mix of first-year ALCers and veteran riders, and even though some of you have never bicycled 100 miles or more in a single day, that will change soon enough!

We hear a lot about how completing ALC is a physical challenge. But it's also a mental challenge, and for many riders, the mental aspects of the ride can be at least as challenging as the physical ones. For many of us, bicycling to Los Angeles requires 45 hours or more in the saddle, plus all those hours in rest stops, all those hours in camp, and all those hours waiting for burgers in Bradley. With all those hours to think about things, your mind can go off in very interesting and unpredictable directions. One of the main goals of the Cat-3 Distance Training rides is to help you get experience in dealing with what your mind says to you after hours and hours and hours of riding. I can't pretend to know what your mind will say to you, but I can predict with reasonable certainty that it will be something unexpected. It's much easier -- and much safer -- for you to start dealing with this before you're surrounded by 2,500 other cyclists on the way to Los Angeles.

But there still are the physical considerations, and safety is the most important of those considerations. Before today's ride, I mentioned all of the rules that we need to follow on training rides and on the ride in June. The rules are somewhat stringent and are more restrictive than many club rules. But they're there for a reason: to make sure that 2,500 riders of widely varying abilities all can get to Los Angeles safely as a group. So that's why, if you happen to break a rule, a training ride leader will probably tell you about it.

Some rules are broken more commonly than others. One of the big mistakes is not riding single-file. In ALC, we always ride single-file, even in bicycle lanes where state law might allow otherwise. This is particularly important on larger training rides and in June, because there is often someone wanting to pass. But what if you want to have a conversation with another rider? It doesn't work very well shouting back and forth, does it? Nope, it doesn't. That's why it's usually best to save the conversation for the rest stops. Some of you saw me break this very rule once today -- and another training ride leader promptly and correctly called me on it right away. Don't let it happen to you!

Another common violation is going into traffic to pass other cyclists -- especially when those cyclists aren't riding single-file like they should. There was a case on Foothill Expressway today where a rider passed two side-by-side non-ALC riders by going into the main traffic lane as a vehicle was approaching. Fortunately, nothing bad happened, but don't take the chance. If someone is blocking your path, you have two options: Ask them nicely to move ("Trying to pass on your left, please!"), or wait until there's a safe place to pass. In June, you'll often have to wait for an opportunity to pass, so don't let it upset you. Remember: It's a ride, not a race.

Skills and tactics such as those are part of the training that these rides help deliver. Riding in traffic, riding on different types of highways, riding in cities with lots of stop signs ... these are all things that we have to do in June, and that's another reason why our training rides sometimes differ from what you'll find on other club rides. We aren't out here just to see nice scenery or get away from it all; we're here to start experiencing conditions like what we'll be dealing with in June, so that's why we sometimes take an unexpected route.

Today's ride was fairly flat, and we all rode at or above the Cat-3 pace of 12-15 mph. But if you were close to the low end of that range, you might want to work on your training in the upcoming weeks. With extra climbing, our rides will be getting a bit more challenging (the next ride has more than twice as much as today's ride), and the hills tend to slow most of us down. The goal should be to improve your climbing ability so that you don't slow down too much. Fortunately, we're in an area where challenging hills are very close by; if you can't learn to love hills (I never will!), you need to at least learn to peacefully coexist with them. But also remember that there's no requirement that you have to attend all of the Cat-3 rides. If the climbing gets to be too much, the Sunday Cat-2 series in Sunnyvale is a very challenging series in its own right, and many of us will be using those rides as another key part of our training.

Finally, since I've been recovering from whatever's been going around lately, a note about hygiene. Get in the habit of washing your hands every time after you use a toilet on a training ride. Every few years during the ride in June, a nasty case of gastroenteritis makes it way around camp, and it can knock you right out of the ride. Portapotties and toilets are a breeding ground for all sorts of nasties, and your body under stress will be especially susceptible to whatever is lurking on those unclean surfaces. Many riders carry tiny bottles of hand sanitizer to use when there's no sink available. You might want to stop eating before reading this next part: When you use the toilet, always take off your cycling gloves before doing your thing, and don't put them back on until you're all washed up. Ewwww.

What's next? In two weeks, on Saturday, January 24, we'll take a 45-mile ride up the Peninsula as far as the Pulgas Water Temple on Cañada Road. There's a bit more climbing on this ride, so it should be a bit more challenging. And if you're reading this and didn't join us today, it's not too late to start riding with us. Details and RSVP are here.

It's just 20 weeks to Day 0 of the ride! We have a fun season ahead of us, and I look forward to riding with you. Thank you for being part of AIDS/LifeCycle.

Good morning, riders!

We have a fantastic day of riding ahead of us. Temperatures are expected to rise into the 60s, but we'll still be hovering somewhere in the upper 40s at ride-out time, so it's important to cover your knees and probably your legs, too. Knees are much more susceptible to injury in cooler temperatures. If you have them, today is a great day to put on the removable knee or leg warmers.

If you'd like to ride with us today but didn't RSVP, no worries. Just go read the description at the ride page, and if you can, print a copy of the route sheet to bring with you. And if you've never been to our meeting location before, note that we do not actually meet at the Caltrain station; we're in the overflow parking lot three blocks away, on the other side of Castro Street. (That's a common mistake that first-timers on Mountain View rides have made.)

Just think ... we're only 18 weeks away from our 200-kilometer ride!

Part of Stevens Creek Trail temporarily closed

Press release from City of Mountain View
PG&E must perform an emergency repair of a transmission circuit running along Stevens Creek Trail. This circuit was damaged as a result of a fire under PG&E transmission facilities on December 23, 2008.

... The Stevens Creek Trail segment from Crittenden Lane to just north of the Highway 101 undercrossing will be closed on Tuesday to Friday, January 6-9, and Monday through the following Tuesday, January 12-20, 2009.

We're scheduled to ride through here on February 7, so the work should be done by then. But if it's not, we can detour appropriately without causing major disruption to our ride.

And if you're wondering, yes, this is the fire that caused the power line to fall across Highway 101 and on top of a car, closing the freeway for hours.

A bug in RSVPs for this Saturday's ride

Oops! This post originally had the wrong day of the week for this ride. The ride is Saturday, not Sunday. My bad!

If you used the official ALC training calendar to RSVP for this Saturday's Cat-3 Distance Training #1 ride and have not yet received a Rider's Briefing email reply from me, then please RSVP again.

There was a problem with the ALC website that was sending RSVPs for this ride off into the giant bit bucket.

(If you RSVP'd through this website, however, everything should be fine.)

Cat-3 Distance Training #3: Foothills (2/7/2009)



Meet time: 9:30 a.m.
Ride-out time: 10:00 a.m.
Meeting place: Three blocks west of the Mountain View Caltrain and VTA station, in the overflow parking lot at the corner of Evelyn Avenue and Franklin Street. (map)
City: Mountain View
Rain policy: Rain cancels
Category: 3 - moderate-fast pace (12-15 mph)
Terrain: 2 - rolling hills
Miles: 50

Description:
This time, the first half of the ride is flat, so all of the climbing is concentrated in the second half of the ride. (It's a good lesson on pacing yourself!) From Mountain View, we'll go to Santa Clara, then around Moffett Field and Shoreline Park, along the bayshore to Palo Alto, then up Sand Hill and Whiskey Hill to Roberts Market; we return through Portola Valley and the nature preserve. Total climbing on this ride is about 1,700 feet.

Riders from all over Northern California are invited! Southbound Caltrain from San Francisco arrives at 9:14 a.m.

Route sheet for this ride is here.

Be sure to check the Training section of the ALC website for information on how to prepare for a training ride and what you must and should bring.

Leaders: Chris Thomas, Susan Fish, David Goldsmith, Diana Gomez, Maggie Vande Voorde, TJ Zmucki

RSVPs are requested but not required.

Happy new year from Lompoc


Is Lompoc like this year-round? This foggy scene on Highway 1 just south of Lompoc is from this morning, but it just as easily could be the beginning of Day 6 of ALC.

I headed out in the chilly 45-degree fog for a 50-mile ride to Solvang and back. Along the way, I linked up with seven members of the Lompoc Valley Bicycle Club, who happened to be riding as far as Buellton on their regular Friday ride. A nice bunch of folks, and they rode at just the right speed for me.

We took Santa Rosa Road to Buellton, which is one of two "Sideways" bicycle tours in the area, so named because the route passes by many locations used in the film "Sideways." Since, alas, I never saw the film, I didn't fully appreciate the references, but the locals are certainly correct when they say what a nice route Santa Rosa Road is. A few hills, but nothing too horribly bad, and almost no traffic.

After reaching Buellton, I continued onward to the tourist trap village of Solvang, which was its typically jam-packed, tourist-filled, bus-heavy self. I'd never ventured off the main highway before, so I did so on my bike today, but yeah, it looks Danish. I'm over it already.

After having authentic Scandinavian lunch at Subway, I started back on the long slog to Lompoc, pleased that the dreaded headwinds hadn't started up yet.

Oops. About halfway back, after crossing one of the three mini-summits on Highway 246, the winds picked up in grand fashion, and my speed (and enjoyment) dropped considerably. But I made it back at an average speed of 13.2 mph for the whole trip, returning via the entrance to River Park, where ALC spends its fifth night every year.

I had been toying with the idea of going for the 100km today (just 12 more miles), but the wind is still increasing, so I'll resist the temptation to get addicted to the "Metric Century a Month Club" this early in the year. Besides, my upcoming training rides are all metrics or greater starting late next month.