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Ride report: Cat-3 Distance Training #2.5 (1/30/2010)

Go, riders!

Life sometimes throws us surprises, and today we had a whole giant heaping big bunch of surprise. On the plus side, we had beautiful sunny skies and seasonably warm temperatures, despite the forecasts of scattered showers. On the minus side, however, we had several incidents during today's ride, and many of the 24 of us who rode today (myself included) have some interesting stories from the road.

Most importantly, we had a crash early in the ride. One rider went down in a solo incident along McClellan Road in front of the school at about mile 7. Fortunately, some nasty bruises and pain appear to be the extent of the injuries, and the rider got a ride home. Also fortunately, because the incident occurred on a popular cycling route, other non-ALC riders were on hand to stay with our rider until help arrived.

The second failure of the day turned out to be mine. As I rode in to Rest Stop 2 in Los Gatos, I noticed that my rear wheel was sticking somewhat seriously. I hadn't noticed anything before, so I'm guessing it happened right there or in the small pothole that I had hit just a little bit earlier on Blossom Hill Road. At first, it looked like my rear wheel had somehow gone seriously out of alignment, but after a few minutes, we discovered something much more serious: One of the spokes had essentially drilled right through the wheel, ripping a hole out the other side!

Needless to say, this made my bicycle unsafe to ride so much as another 6 inches, let alone the 4 miles to the nearest light rail station. I was able to get a ride back to Mountain View, but this was the first time in my five years of ALC training rides, both as a rider and a leader, that mechanical failure prevented me from finishing a ride. Yes, that's somewhat disappointing, but I'm also quite lucky that nothing serious happened while I was riding, and that it occurred in an urban area where I had a relatively easy way back home.

That said, I'll apologize to everyone for not having a SAG (Support And Gear) vehicle on today's ride. I usually try to have one, but because today's ride was rescheduled from last week, many of our usual suspects weren't available. And, wouldn't you know it, the one day that we really, really needed a SAG vehicle, we didn't have one. I can't promise one on every ride, but I'll be redoubling my efforts to get as many rides covered as I can. (Ride leaders: Anyone want to switch from ride to SAG on an upcoming ride, like next week? Let me know.)

Other things happened today as well. We had several flats, most likely because of the wet pavement and (apparently) a lack of recent street-cleaning due to the storms, leading to lots of glass along the shoulders and in bike lanes. And a few folks ended up riding bonus miles after missing a turn. If you're not already doing so, please take a few minutes when possible to study the route sheet before every ride -- along with a map if possible. I'll always send out route sheets in advance, but other rides might not make this information available in advance, so do the best that you can. These rides are plenty long without bonus miles!

The most common thing that happened today, however, was that the ride was simply just too long for a few folks. Between the storms and other life events, it's been a tough season for a lot of us to get into training. Many of us decided to chop a few miles out of the middle and take a shortcut to Rest Stop 2. I commend you for doing so, because that means you were listening to your body and acting appropriately. (I also commend you for letting a ride leader know you were doing this, because we always need to know whenever someone goes off the designated route.)

Don't be discouraged; it's still only January. (OK, not for much longer.) Also, don't forget the Sunday Cat-2 training rides that run every week out of Sunnyvale. You'll find many of the same smiling faces from our rides, and the distances are a little bit shorter (but usually have a few more hills than we do). Tomorrow morning's ride is 25 miles; if you're reading this on Saturday night, it's not too late to RSVP. (If the bike shop somehow gets my wheel rebuilt in the next two hours, I hope to be there.)

A few folks apparently didn't eat enough, and they ran into trouble during the ride. The body can bicycle on stored energy only for about two hours before you run the risk of bonking; you need to eat and drink properly at rest stops to provide enough fuel to make it through the longer rides. And you need to have a good breakfast before riding ... those bagels before the ride aren't just decorative; they are, just like air pumps and tire irons, a tool for you to use, especially if you're showing up on an empty stomach.

There's information about nutrition and hydration on the ALC website; check it out, either for the first time or as a refresher. Better yet, there's a free workshop coming up this Thursday night in San Francisco. "Nutrition for Endurance Cycling" will be presented by the same professional nutritionist who teaches training ride leaders, and you might be surprised at some of what you'll learn. You'll never look at a muffin the same way again. The workshop takes place 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday at the main office of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation on Market Street; details and RSVP are here.

ALC World HQ also wants me to remind you about the refer-a-friend promotion to get more folks signed up for ALC9. Through the end of February, it's a chance for one of you to possibly win a new Cannondale Synapse road bike. Find out more here.

What's next? Weather permitting, we have an interesting and challenging ride scheduled for next Saturday, as I try to get us back on our schedule of riding every other Saturday. It's only a little bit longer (50 miles) and has only a little more climbing (about 2,000 feet), but it's much more challenging. Why? The first half of the ride is nearly flat, and all of the climbing is packed into the second half of the ride -- including some climbs steeper than what we did today. The purpose? To help train you to pace yourself through the easy parts of the ride so that you're not all worn out when you reach the difficult parts. I've offered a version of this ride the past two years, and every time, there's at least one normally strong rider who rides all-out on the flat part but has difficulty in the hills. This year, we're tackling a hill that, as far as I know, never has been part of any ALC training ride: Westridge Drive in Portola Valley. (Experienced cyclists might be familiar with this one.) It's got a climb that's very similar to Quadbuster, so it will be good exposure for first-year riders ... and a good refresher for the rest of us. Details and RSVP are here. If we get rained out next Saturday, we'll try to ride on Saturday, Feb. 13 instead.

Thanks to everyone for staying in good spirits in today's challenging circumstances, and I look forward to riding again with you soon. Thank you for being part of AIDS/LifeCycle.

Today's ride is ON

Good morning, riders!

We will ride today. The rain has ended, although the atmosphere is still a little unstable. This means that we might encounter a stray raindrop or two today, but nothing sustained or heavy.

Roads that don't receive direct sunlight might still be damp, so please remember to use caution on wet pavement -- and control your speed when descending on wet pavement.

Also, although I checked the route again yesterday, conditions can change overnight. So, in the unlikely event that you encounter hazardous conditions while riding today, STOP, back up a bit so you can warn other riders, and alert a ride leader.

See you in Mountain View at 9:30 a.m. Please arrive on time so that we can ride out on schedule.

Watching the weather again (updated Friday night)

Don't let all this rain scare you ... really. The forecasts say that only a few hit-and-miss lingering showers will be around Saturday morning, so anything that we're likely to run into should be short-lived and light. And because this front is moving through so quickly, I'm not expecting any serious issues with flooding or mudslides.

If something changes overnight, I'll let you know here.

Check back here Saturday morning before you head to Mountain View for the latest info. In the meantime, go ahead and RSVP.

Distance Training #5: Calaveras/Sunol (3/6/2010)

Date: Saturday, March 6
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: Heavy rain cancels
Category: 3 - moderate-fast pace (12-15 mph)
Terrain: 3 - rolling hills with some steep climbs
Miles: 70

For a ride this long, there's not a lot of climbing -- only about 2,200 feet total -- but most of that comes in just one grand, steep climb to the top of the hills east of Milpitas up Calaveras Road. The last 0.1 mile before the summit truly will test your legs, but it's also quite OK to walk it.

From our starting point in downtown Mountain View, we'll take a flat route to Milpitas through Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, and San Jose. After a rest stop, we'll tackle that forementioned hill, and then we'll be rewarded with several miles of gently rolling, low-traffic, scenic riding above the Calaveras Reservoir. We'll descend into the quaint town of Sunol for our second rest stop, and then we'll descend through Niles Canyon into Fremont and head westbound across the Dumbarton Bridge for our final return through Menlo Park and Palo Alto.

This ride features a mix of quiet rural roads and busy urban streets, a little bit of everything the Bay Area has to offer and a good sample of the many types of riding you can encounter in just one day during the event in June.

A SAG vehicle will be on this ride to provide minor service if needed.

Leaders: Chris Thomas, Bob Katz, Ally Kemmer, Randy Files, Michael Casas, Ken Plough, Kevin Hunter

RSVPs are requested but not required.

Distance Training #4: Crystal Springs (2/20/2010)

Date: Saturday, February 20
Meet time: 9:00 a.m.
Ride-out time: 9:30 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: Heavy rain cancels
Category: 3 - moderate-fast pace (12-15 mph)
Terrain: 3 - rolling hills with some steep climbs
Miles: 50/60

This time, we head up the Peninsula to the Crystal Springs Reservoir, although we're adding a couple of extra hills along the way. We start by heading up to Foothill College and through the Arastradero Nature Preserve into Portola Valley and Woodside. After that, it's the long but very popular cycling route up Cañada Road to Highway 92, followed by a little bit on lower Skyline Drive to the base of the Sawyer Camp Trail.

We'll head into San Mateo for our second rest stop, and then climb -- and descend -- the Polhemus/Ralston hill. (Check your brakes before the ride!) We'll return via Alameda de las Pulgas all the way down the Peninsula to Menlo Park and then follow Foothill Expressway into Los Altos Hills. 50-mile riders return to Mountain View from here; 60-mile riders continue into Cupertino before heading back on a gentle descent through Sunnyvale.

Total climbing for this ride is about 3,000 feet.

Sorry, but due to the earlier starting time, the Cat-3 Distance Training rides are no longer Caltrain-friendly for the rest of this season.

Leaders: Chris Thomas, Bob Katz, Kathy Sherman, Dennis Soong, Paul Vargas, Ally Kemmer, Randy Files, David Gaus, Michael Casas

RSVPs are requested but not required.

Ride report: Cat-3 Distance Training #2 (1/23/2010)

Go, riders!

I didn't think today's ride was going to happen. When I woke up at 5 a.m., the rain was unexpectedly coming down outside after a dry day had been predicted. But the radar looked mildly encouraging, so I decided to keep an open mind. Then about an hour later, I watched a strong storm cell move through Saratoga and Los Gatos -- right where we'd be doing our most technical climbing and descending of the day, and where my scouting expedition on Friday revealed flooded roads, mudslides, and lots of debris. I knew at that point that our planned route would not be safe today.

So I went with Plan B, a comparable ride along the Peninsula. I quickly mapped out a route and made a bunch of route sheets (more about that later), and I let everyone know that all systems were go. Then, right after people started arriving in downtown Mountain View, the skies opened up again and sent everyone scurrying for cover. But again, the radar again looked encouraging, so we waited ... and at right about 9:30, the rain ended and we started to see the first hints of blue sky.

And for the 22 of us who persevered, we were rewarded with a surprisingly good day of riding. Sure, the roads were a bit wet at first, and some of us went through a few light sprinkles along Foothill Expressway (that seems to be happening a lot this season), but the sun later came out, the roads mostly dried out, and we did our full 45 miles in excellent time. Special super thanks go to Al for his outstanding SAG service today!

If you haven't already cleaned your bicycle, do so now. (Remember, no high-pressure car washes.) And be sure to relubricate your chain! I took a towel to wipe the lube off my chain tonight, and there was none at all to be had.

Thanks to everyone for riding safely today. I saw no egregious rule violation, and everyone took extra caution when needed due to the wet pavement and the various puddles and obstructions we encountered. Be particularly careful when descending on wet pavement; feather your brakes, let up briefly from time to time, and remember that there's no prize for getting to the bottom of the hill first ... only for getting there in one piece.

Because I put today's route together at the last minute, we conquered a hill that was a bit tougher than originally planned. Edgewood Road is a good example of several minor climbs that we'll have on the event in June -- rolling sections with shorter steep parts. Someone asked me how Edgewood compares to Quadbuster. Here's an elevation chart that shows both of them on top of each other, both starting from the same base elevation. (In each case, I'm counting only the actual main climb, not the preliminary rollers.)

So, the good news is that Quadbuster really isn't all that more difficult than what you climbed today. The less-good news, however, is that the small extra steepness really makes a difference ... and that Quadbuster comes near the beginning of your third consecutive day of riding, after you've already gone about 200 miles. Because many riders train toward a goal of two consecutive long days without doing a third before June, that third day of the ride often catches many riders unaware with its difficulty. If your life allows you to do so and you're worried about your ability to ride Every Friendly Inch, scheduling three long consecutive days in April or early May could help you enjoy the ride more in June.

If you paid close attention to your route sheet today, you no doubt found a mistake on it. (A mistake? From Chris!? Say it isn't so.) Well, yes, I made a mistake this morning when I hastily assembled our substitute route. Ride leaders, listen up, because I did one of the things that I tell you to watch out for during ride leader training.

You might have noticed that our leg on Cañada Road was listed about 2.8 miles longer than it really was. Well, what happened was that when I created the route in Bikely, the program added one of those extra loop-de-loops because it didn't like the points I had used to make the turn from Edgewood to Cañada. Instead, it automatically routed the wrong way up Cañada and made a U-turn at the next intersection, 1.4 miles up the road. I failed to catch the extra distance, and the result was a flawed route sheet. My apologies!

Because I know some of you like to keep the route sheets and even use them for solo rides, I've corrected the route sheet and posted the fixed version online here.

What's next? We have an extra ride coming up! Because we didn't get to do our scheduled ride to Los Gatos today, I've rescheduled that ride for next Saturday, Jan. 30, same time, same place. If you can make it, a fun day should be had by all ... if the weather improves. (Right now, it's looking a bit iffy.) If you're interested in this ride, please RSVP again here, regardless of whether you attended today's ride. This helps me know how much stuff to bring. Ride leaders: If I didn't talk with you after the ride today and you'd like to be a TRL on this ride, just drop me a note, and I'll add you to the list.

After that, our next progressively longer ride will be Saturday, Feb. 6. It's only a little bit longer (50 miles) and has only a little more climbing (about 2,000 feet), but it's much more challenging. Why? The first half of the ride is nearly flat, and all of the climbing is packed into the second half of the ride -- including some climbs steeper than what we did today on Edgewood. The purpose? To help train you to pace yourself through the easy parts of the ride so that you're not all worn out when you reach the difficult parts. I've offered a version of this ride the past two years, and every time, there's at least one normally strong rider who rides all-out on the flat part but has difficulty in the hills. This year, we're tackling a hill that, as far as I know, never has been part of any ALC training ride: Westridge Drive in Portola Valley. (Experienced cyclists might be familiar with this one.) It's got a climb that's very similar to Quadbuster, so it will be good exposure for first-year riders ... and a good refresher for the rest of us. Details and RSVP are here.

Don't forget tomorrow's official ALC9 Northern California kickoff party at Mezzanine in San Francisco. The fun starts at 1 p.m., and it looks like it's going to be quite different from kickoff parties of years past. Meet other cyclists, learn about other training rides, find out more about how the San Francisco AIDS Foundation uses the money we raise for them ... and maybe win some fabulous prizes. Details are here.

Thank you for riding today, and thank you for being part of AIDS/LifeCycle.

Today's ride is ON-modified

Good morning, riders!

We will ride today, but we will not ride our original route. Heavy rain is currently falling over Saratoga and Los Gatos, and this creates an unsafe potential for dangerous conditions (mudslides and debris) on the hilly rural roads we would be riding in the area.

I am currently creating a route of about the same distance and same climbing, and we will be heading generally north instead of south. I will bring route sheets for everyone.

Also, I will try to run our originally scheduled ride next Saturday, Jan. 30.

Surveying Saturday's route

I just returned from a midday trip to survey most of tomorrow's route (the interesting parts). In short: I saw no show-stoppers, but extreme caution is advised. We will have a SAG vehicle on our route to provide limited support if needed.

Keep in mind that conditions probably will improve somewhat by tomorrow morning. Here are some of the details as of midday Friday:

Many of the bike lanes have large amounts of various ground cover -- leaves, twigs, and such. There is standing water in a couple of places, especially along Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road. In some places, we probably will need to go into a traffic lane.

On Kennedy Road, water is flowing along our side of the road in several places both climbing and descending, but the main travel surface is mostly OK. Again, there is more debris than usual. And because most of this road does not receive direct sunlight, chances are that parts will continue to be wet tomorrow morning, so please use caution on the descent.

After turning onto Shannon Road, it's clear that this road was only recently reopened after flooding -- the burned-out flares placed across the road are evidence of that. There are some large branches and rocks along the very edge of the road, and there is one place where mud apparently flowed across the road but no longer is doing so. This area could be very slippery tomorrow, and it is on a descent.

The intersection of Hicks and Camden was partially submerged when I passed through, but our travel direction was clear ... and a bicyclist was going through safely while I was there.

There is road work at the corner of Blossom Hill and Santa Cruz/Winchester, and the right lane looks like it still will be closed tomorrow. We will need to merge left into the one available lane while climbing this short but steep hill.

Quito Road is mostly in its normal condition, with nothing special to note.

On Via Roncole just before Prospect, there is a small but bicycle-eating sinkhole that has opened in our travel direction, right where we would normally be riding. It's marked with a barricade, but please be extra careful and watch out for it.

That's the bad stuff I've seen. On the other hand, the creeks are flowing much more strongly than usual, and tomorrow's ride could be very scenic. If you haven't already RSVP'd, please go ahead and do so ... and please be on time tomorrow so that we can ride out on schedule at 10 a.m.

What about Saturday's ride? (Updated Wednesday night)

What a wacky weather week it's been. Although it's not over yet, the forecasts seem to agree at this point that Saturday will be mostly, if not entirely, rain-free. And that means good news for our scheduled ride!

But a few words about the route. Although most of our planned route is urban, I'm particularly concerned about Kennedy and Shannon roads outside Los Gatos. These narrow roads twist their way right next to muddy hillsides, and we're starting to see lots of mudslides. And even if the road isn't blocked, the surface could be muddy and dangerous, especially on the steep descent. I'll be monitoring conditions through the week, and if a ride is looking likely, I plan to visit Los Gatos on Friday to check conditions. Don't be surprised, however, if I have to make some adjustments to the planned route due to closures and/or safety concerns.

Go ahead and RSVP for the ride. And then check back here throughout the week for the latest.

More geeky stats

I got to wondering ... did my new bicycle (purchased in June 2008) make me any faster? Sure seems that way! Let's check the numbers that I've been meticulously logging for more than five years.

Hours on bikeTotal milesAverage mph

So, sad to say and much to my surprise, the answer is no, not significantly. I'm not sure why, either.

Ride report: Cat-3 Distance Training #1 (1/9/2010)

Go, riders!

Today begins the third year of the Cat-3 Distance Training rides, and we had the biggest group ever -- a total of 37 awesome cyclists rode out from Mountain View on our chilly but rain-free 40-mile journey into the hills around Woodside. Special congratulations go to the first-year ALC riders; you're in for an amazing adventure.

And this was a fast group. Most of us were at a Cat-4 (15+ mph) pace today, which got everyone back to Mountain View well before the suggested 3 p.m. cutoff time. You'll find these times on the Distance Training rides this season; these are mostly suggestions to help you refine your time management skills, which are very important to enjoying the event in June. Even if you're a faster rider (or especially if, in some cases), you need to wisely budget your time so that you can enjoy whatever off-the-bicycle diversions you wish -- and there can be a lot of them, ranging from giant cinnamon buns to skinny-dipping in the river.

In June, the rest stop deadlines are real deadlines, and if you miss one -- no matter how fast a rider you are -- you're done for the day at that point, and you are transported to that night's camp. This isn't because ALC is mean; it's because the hundreds of roadies who support us on the ride are volunteers as well, and they all need to close the route in stages and get to camp at the end of the day also. (Have you thanked a roadie lately?)

That said, it's also important during training and in June that you resist the temptation to keep pace with riders who are much stronger than you. Unless you're Ben Armstrong, there will always be someone faster than you on the ride. Cyclists of all skill levels are on the road in our group, and every one of us is equally important to the mission of AIDS/LifeCycle. There's no prize for getting into camp first or second, so develop a pace that you can maintain indefinitely. That's one of the biggest secrets to happiness in June.

Because we are faster riders, we'll often be passing other riders. ALC has strict rules about passing, and these rules also apply on our training rides.

We pass only when it's safe to do so. This means that if we need to go into a traffic lane to pass, we make sure that no vehicles are approaching from behind and won't be approaching until we're done passing. This also means that we don't block or slow traffic as we pass dozens of riders all at once. We give the other rider plenty of warning that we're approaching; we should call "On your left!" before our front wheel passes their rear wheel. (And don't hesitate to be polite when the riding isn't critical ... "Good morning, coming up on your left!" sounds a whole lot nicer.) And on freeways, we pass only when we can do so without ever crossing the white line and entering a traffic lane.

This means that sometimes we have to slow down and wait for a safe moment to pass. (We might even have a wait a minute or longer, especially if we're climbing a narrow road like Highway 92.) That's how it goes sometimes; don't get frustrated or angry. Take the opportunity to introduce yourself to another rider. There are more than 2,000 incredible stories on our road, and there's always a new one for you to hear.

One skill that you need on training rides that you usually don't need in June is skill in reading route sheets. The ride in June is extremely well signed and staffed, but that's not the case with training rides. We don't mark the roads, and we don't post directional arrows, so it's up to you to study the route sheet and anticipate turns and other events so that you don't get lost.

We had a few folks get lost today -- nobody's quite sure what happened, but they got lost enough that they ended up back in Mountain View after the sweeps had returned, something that shouldn't happen. There's no blame or finger-pointing to be had, because stuff happens. But if you're lost -- or even if you think you might be lost -- never hesitate to stop and call any of the ride leaders listed on the route sheet. We can usually figure out where you are and, if you've strayed, get you back on course. Our goal is to avoid extra bonus miles!

What's next? The Cat-3 Distance Training rides continue every other Saturday through May, and we'll always meet at the same location in downtown Mountain View. The meeting times will gradually get earlier (ride #10 has a meet time of 5:15 a.m., yikes!) as our distance increases. Please be sure to attend other ALC training rides, because you need to be riding every weekend in order to get ready for the ride.

In two weeks, on January 23, we'll do a 45-mile ride to Los Gatos and beyond. The total climbing will be about the same as today, but we'll have a couple of bigger hills along the way. Nothing too bad, though. Please join us; details and RSVP are here.

This ride report is posted in my blog after each ride, and I email it to everyone for whom I have a valid address. (If you don't get an email version, it's most likely because I couldn't read what you wrote on the sign-in sheet. It's not because I don't like you!)

Thanks to everyone who made today's ride a wonderful kickoff to our new season, and thank you for being part of AIDS/LifeCycle.

Worried about rain Saturday morning?

Don't be. (Famous last words.)

The forecasts say that any showers should be confined mostly to the North Bay, with at most a 20% chance of light showers on the Peninsula and in the South Bay.

See you Saturday morning! (Please be on time.)

Distance Training #3: Westridge/Altamont (2/6/2010)

Date: Saturday, February 6
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: Heavy rain cancels
Category: 3 - moderate-fast pace (12-15 mph)
Terrain: 3 - rolling hills with some steep climbs
Miles: 50

This is a training ride with a specific message: Pace yourself. Although the first half of this ride is nearly flat, a lot of climbing is packed into the second half, and you'll want to resist the urge to ride all-out during the easy part. This is a skill that will serve you well during the event in June.

We'll begin with a ride down Central Expressway to Santa Clara and then along the shoreline through Baylands Park, past Moffett Field, and into Palo Alto. After we pass Stanford Shopping Center, we'll begin to climb -- slowly at first, but then more steeply as we tackle Westridge Drive in Portola Valley, a hill that's a lot like the infamous Quadbuster. After that, we'll head into Los Altos Hills and climb Elena Road and Taaffe Road to the top of Altamont Road, where an exciting steep descent awaits. And just for some added fun, we'll return to Mountain View via some of the hilly residential streets in the Loyola Corners area.

Total climbing for this ride is about 2,000 feet.

Riders from all over Northern California are invited! Southbound Caltrain from San Francisco arrives at 9:29 a.m.

Leaders: Chris Thomas, Paul Rammer, Larry L'Italien, Bob Katz, Kathy Sherman, Kevin Hunter, Ally Kemmer, Al Esquivel, Ellen Goldstein, Randy Files

RSVPs are requested but not required.

My year in cycling 2009

Updated annually, here's my recap of the past year on my bicycle.


If you're an avid reader of this blog, you already know the stories behind the numbers. Got sick at the height of training season; took it easy after the ride; ramped up earlier than usual this autumn in order to help with Seismic Challenge; finished the year strong.

I pushed myself somewhat too hard to exceed last year's total, and I've been paying for it the past several days with a cold/flu. Again this year, I hope to ride more smartly, but we'll see how that goes.

And I also need to keep working on keeping the riding fun. One big thing is that many of this season's Cat-3 Distance Training rides will be different from last season's ... some different routes, with some surprising new challenges thrown into the mix.

A giant thank you to all of my supporters, both those who gave for ALC8 and those who already have done so for ALC9. If you haven't already done so, please consider a generous gift to help the San Francisco AIDS Foundation during these challenging economic times.