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Saturday, November 19: Three Sisters and Wetlands Park, 36 miles

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Quadrophenia 2014: The rides

Are you ready to climb? Are you an experienced cyclist looking for new challenges to train for ALC 2014? Are you tired of the same old routes? Do you want to eat Quadbuster for breakfast this June? If so, then Quadrophenia is for you!

This season's ALC training rides out of Mountain View are new. Rather than focusing on distance as we've done in previous seasons, we're going to head for some of the steepest climbs on the Peninsula and in the South Bay. My experience has been that training on really steep climbs makes the steep-but-not-as-steep climbs of AIDS/LifeCycle considerably easier. Also, this helps you be ready when the ALC route throws us a surprise with an unexpected steep climb, as happened last year in Santa Cruz and happened a few years ago near Oceano. And if you're a stronger rider who doesn't think there's much to offer in the ALC training rides, then you're especially encouraged to give us a try; these rides will help you get experience in riding according to the ALC rules, which is important for all riders in June, and help you become part of the ALC community.

All of these rides will be officially an ALC Cat-2 pace, which means an average speed of 10-12 mph over an entire route. This should help remove any pressure to climb or descend too fast, and should allow you to focus on your climbing endurance and technique. Also, all of these rides have a 9:30 a.m. meet time, which should help us miss the worst of the winter morning chill ... and which also means that all of these rides will be Caltrain-friendly.

Although there is a "star attraction" to each of these rides, most of them also contain other short but steep climbs. These are not one-hill rides!

We meet every other Saturday starting January 4. Here is the schedule; total climbing is estimated by Ride WIth GPS and is probably a bit higher than what most GPS devices will actually record:

January 4: Westridge, 27 miles: We start with a trip to the traditional Portola Valley loop, but with a twist. Westridge Drive is a 3-mile short cut from Alpine Road to Portola Road and begins with a climb that's similar in difficulty to Quadbuster. On the way back to Mountain View, we'll also climb La Cresta Drive. 1,900 feet.

January 18: The Other Quarry, 31 miles: We're on our way to Saratoga today, but we don't waste any time at the beginning of the day. We start in Los Altos Hills with the very short but intimidating Quinnhill Road. Next, while we're passing through Cupertino, we'll climb into the Parker Ranch area and tackle the scenic Star Ridge and, after that, Sarahills Drive (a favorite from our prelude rides). Then, we're ready for the star attraction: reaching the top of Mount Eden via Quarry Road, which has been blocked off to motorized traffic. After all that climbing, we finish with a pleasant descent in the easier direction through Stevens Canyon. 2,260 feet.

Sunday, February 2: Joaquin, 35 miles: (Yes, Sunday, but just this once.) Today's ride begins with a trip to the Los Altos quarry and a climb up Altamont Road. You might think that would be enough for one day, but noooooo. After that, we'll climb scenic and gentle Alpine Road to the end, where our star attraction awaits: Joaquin Drive, a 0.4 mile monster that quickly gets you high above Portola Valley and ready for the amazing descent down Los Trancos Road. One more piece of excitement awaits on the return route: a climb up the shorter side of Viscaino Drive, only about half as long as Joaquin but just as steep. The good news is that you can easily detour around this climb if you just want to get home. But why would you? 3,650 feet.

February 15: Ring of Fire, 38 miles: The Ring of Fire is one of the legendary rides of the lower Peninsula ... and we're ready to tackle it as only our fourth ride of the season. Five legendary double-digit climbs: Moody Road to Page Mill, then Golden Oak, Los Trancos, Ramona, and reverse Westridge. All that climbing also means a lot of descending, some of it steep, so make sure your brakes are in excellent condition. (If roads are wet on ride day, even if it's not actually raining, we might cancel or ride an alternate route.) 3,750 feet.

March 1: Montebello, 41 miles: We shake things up a bit this time with an extended climb that has a mix of steep parts and more gentle parts. Our route begins with an easy spin to Saratoga; after that, however, it's all climbing as we do the backside of Mount Eden Road on our way to Stevens Canyon and the star attraction: Montebello Road, five and a half miles of climbing on a dead-end road with little traffic and amazing vistas. After we turn around and begin heading back to Mountain View, one more piece of "fun" awaits: a detour into Los Altos Hills via the short and steep Mora Drive. But after all that other climbing, it'll seem like a piece of cake! (Uh-huh. It can easily be skipped if you wish.) 4,000 feet.

March 15: Epic Dead Ends, 46 miles: Some of the most interesting hills in the area are on dead-end roads that are near popular cycling routes, which means that they often don't show up on training rides. This ride gathers five of these hills into one glorious day of backtracking: Ravensbury Avenue and Olive Tree Lane in Los Altos Hills, Stirrup Drive in Palo Alto, Wayside Road in Portola Valley, and Raymundo Drive near Woodside. Haven't heard of these before? That's the idea. Better yet, because they're all dead ends, you can skip as many of them as you want or need. 4,400 feet.

March 29: Midpeninsula Monsters, 53 miles: The area around Belmont, San Carlos, and Redwood City near I-280 has some very challenging climbs to the top of the foothills ... and we'll hit several of them today. Highlights include Crestview Drive, Melendy Drive, Club Drive, and the aptly named High Road. With a gentle spin to and from the hill area, this ride is particularly challenging because almost all of the climbing is concentrated in the middle 25 miles. 4,850 feet.

April 12: Kings Mountain and Alpine, 59 miles: This is our one trip coastside during this season, and it's a beauty. We'll begin with the 4.3 mile climb up Kings Mountain, which really isn't all that steep (at least compared to what we've been through so far). Our reward is the glorious 9-mile descent on Tunitas Creek Road to the coast. After a rest in San Gregorio, we'll head up to La Honda and begin the challenging climb of West Alpine Road. We end with a thrilling descent of Page Mill Road and an even more thrilling descent of Moody Road. 6,900 feet.

On Sierra Road, the Google car catches
some chalk excitement high above San Jose.
April 26: Redwood Gulch and Hicks, 66 miles: Two roads that strike fear into even the most seasoned South Bay cyclist are Redwood Gulch and Hicks Road. Because we're Quadrophenia, we'll do both of them on the same ride. And just for kicks, we've thrown in Kennedy and Shannon in Los Gatos. Because we can. And we will. 5,600 feet.

May 10: Sierra Road, 73 miles: After this glorious season, what's a proper climax? The judges had a few worthy finalists from which to choose, and they've gone with this one: Sierra Road in San Jose, one of the signature climbs from the Tour of California. (Or, as this preview puts it, the "meanest, nastiest climb on the entire Tour of California.") Only 3.7 miles, but almost 2,000 feet in climbing, some of it as steep as anything we've done this season. Of course, all that climbing comes with a great reward: epic views of the Santa Clara Valley and, if skies are clear, perhaps even eastward toward Yosemite. We'll continue our epic day with a northbound ride on Calveras Road (including, yes, the "wall" at the beginning), and then finish with a gentle celebratory ride through Fremont and across the Dumbarton Bridge. You are now more than ready to ride to Los Angeles with style, grace, aplomb, and awesome legs! 4,400 feet.

Important: Just in case you hadn't figured it out already, these rides are not for beginning cyclists. You need to have experience handling your bike on both climbs and descents, and your bike needs to be in excellent condition -- especially including your brakes -- before beginning each ride. I hope to have at least one SAG vehicle on each ride, but SAG service is not guaranteed.

I hope you'll join me for these new and exciting adventures!