Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Weekend at Petaluma KOA

November 21-24, 2012

We decided to spend Thanksgiving at Petaluma KOA this year in a cabin. They host a Thanksgiving dinner in which they provide the turkey and mashed potatoes while everyone else brings something to pass. It seemed like a nice opportunity to spend the holiday with people since we couldn't be with our families.

The RV area was quite crowded during the weekend. There didn't seem to be as many people in cabins though, which we liked. We walked into the cabin and immediately realized that there wasn't a heater in the cabin. That wouldn't usually be an issue except this time we brought our summer sleeping bags and less coverage for Blue. Eventually we found what we thought was the heater. Though it looked SO strange and was higher up on the ceiling. After a few seconds, we looked at each other and laughed because we realized there was a small flat screen television hanging above the door. Whoa! We have never stayed in a camping cabin with a television before! lol But that meant there really was no heater. Bozo called the office and asked that they bring us some kind of heater and they did end up bringing up a radiant heater with instructions not to have it plugged in while the television is on. AH! So that's why no heaters.

We spent a lot of the weekend lounging in the cabin. Thursday evening we took our bean salad to the main shelter and shared a meal with many families. In particular, we sat with a couple who is temporarily living at the KOA. Levonne has her own blog on that lifestyle as well. Her husband John works in or near Petaluma and they have a dog with them as well.

Petaluma is a city we have driven through a few times on our way to other places and have said that we wanted to check it out. On Friday we went downtown, got some food, put Blue in Cacciatore's stroller then walked around. I think we were both drained because as we were walking around, we certainly weren't as adventurous as we usually are. I haven't had much of a vacation since I started my new job so having 4 days to veg was a big deal. We stopped for BBQ at  Lombardi's BBQ on our way back to the cabin. Then went back to vegging.

Blue enjoyed sitting outside on the porch. The KOA is quite dog friendly so that made things much more enjoyable. Each cabin has a fire pit, picnic table, and grill. The cabins are a little close together so if they were all full, it might have been a somewhat different experience. The parking in front of the cabins was also too small. The back end of our vehicle stuck out. However, overall it was a very good experience.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Casini Ranch II and Goat Rock

Such a short trip only needs one blog post. This covers both Day 1 and Day 2.

Back to Casini Ranch for the weekend. We were planning a camping trip with D&D and trying to get to a slightly more remote location. But Bozo and I were a little worried about taking Blue someplace too far away from a vet. So we compromised and settled on Casini Ranch since it's right on the river and near a town with a vet. D&D have an inflatable kayak that they wanted to try out so that worked for them too.

We met there Saturday afternoon. D&D and I walked along the river a little and then we all hung out at our campsite until after dark enjoying a pretty big fire and some great company. Blue was an awesome little trooper. Of course when it's time for bed she let's everyone know. It got a little cold so we put her in the tent and wrapped her up in her sleeping bag. She was asleep pretty quickly. But a little while later, a little bark came from the tent. Lorrie left the warm fireside and went to investigate only to find Blue still completely wrapped up but reminding up with her little barks that it was bedtime! lol

It was Daylight Savings Time so we lost an hour by springing forward. That'll be worth it with the later sunsets though!

On Sunday, D&D pulled out there inflatable kayak and came by to pick one of us up.... it only holds 3. I was more than happy to let Bozo have the opportunity. I'm still not a big fan of water. Add an easily deflated piece of rubber and I'm even less interested. I'm sure the boat was sea-worthy but someone had to stay with Blue anyway and that sounded like good fun too.

After checking out of the campground, we headed to Goat Rock Beach to wander a little. It was beautiful! There were many signs explaining how dangerous the waves were and to stay well away from the water's edge. We learned later how serious those instructions were when we found out that 2 people has died nearer to San Francisco from one of these "sneaker waves" when one went after their dog that got caught in them and then the other went in after the first person. The dog got out on his own but the people died. Scary stuff!

No dogs were allowed on the beach so after a bit of walking Bozo and I made our way back to D'Azul and headed home. D&D were going to do some more exploring so we said our goodbyes.

It was a good first brief camping trip with new friends. I think we were pretty compatible and definitely all very easy-going. And they totally get our protectiveness of Miss Blue. We'll definitely take another trip with them!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Casini Ranch Camping - Day 3

We went to sleep without finding the keys. And, of course, Blue had a bit more difficult night. If we'd been able to get in the car, we could have gotten more food or possibly just let her sleep in there. This morning we were up early... anxious about the keys. We both went looking again. Nothing. Bozo headed up to the office when they opened at 8am. I began pulling everything we'd gone through about 4 times by then out of the tent. I went to put Bozo's sleeping pad out and there were the keys... under her pillow! lol What a relief.

So I opened up D'Azul's gate so Bozo would see it when she came around the corner. I asked one of the golf cart attendants to radio to the office to let them know I found them and that Bozo could return. She eventually did return and anyone could tell by how she was walking that she was dejected. And then she stopped and I could see her processing the open gate. Then... a big smile. She felt relief too! So she showed up with 2 grocery store coffees and an emergency box of Milk Bones for Blue. Aww! Those would have turned that dog's insides out I'm sure!

With out relief, we began visiting with the rest of the Trailerettes, some of whom were packing up and getting ready to head out. Eventually we started getting things ready to go. I'm not sure if it took us longer with our tent or them longer with all their decorations to pack up! lol

The drive home was very easy! We overrode Paddam and took our own way, which ended up being better than hers by a long shot. So much for electronics being smarter than us! We stopped at an Italian restaurant along the way that Bozo has wanted to stop at each time we've passed. Yummy fisn 'n' Chips!! (I'll find the name of the place later. I can't remember right now.)

A nice weekend of camping with an awesome bunch of women in the coolest camping trailers you will ever see!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Casini Ranch Camping - Day 2

Again... the one loud group. What is with that?? If you are a guy (or a woman with a really low voice) please know that your voice carries. So when it's 1am in a campground with very little in the way of barriers and NO ONE else is making any noise, the people around you WILL hear everything. Whisper! And if you don't know how to whisper... ask someone to help you learn. It's really not that hard. It was so frustrating and my ears hurt after wearing ear plugs or ear buds so I hate doing that. This is how I woke up... grumpy! lol At some point I did put in ear buds and listened to the Relaxation playlist on my iPod. The funniest part was that much of it is water sounds.... and I was on a river unable to hear the natural water sounds.

In the morning we sat next to the river watching all the birds and the sea lions frolicking in and around the water. Blue herons, all different types of duck, egrets, and some black bird that Bozo was thrilled to see.

Because we were camping with a group, we hadn't really thought about what we'd want to do for the day. Being new, we figured we'd choose one of the groups activities and just do that so that we'd get to know people. Turns out they are all independent campers in the same campground. Ha! So after breakfast of eggs with veggie sausage and some yogurt we took off to Duncan Mills, the little village nearest the campground. Very cute little shops and restaurants. Then we drove on toward Monte Rio, Vacation Beach (who wouldn't want to live there??), and Guerneville. All very cute and a little touristy. Beautiful redwoods along the way too.

Back at camp for some reading and relaxing before the Harvest Moon/Halloween party. A good game of Farkle is a great way to relax! Our costume required darkness so we went over for the potluck first and then when it got dark, went back to get dressed. Time was an issue, so we just did Bozo's costume... a stick man. It was awesome! I scotch-taped the glow sticks to her and they stayed just fine. As we were walking back to Chief Trailerette's campsite, I was laughing my butt off because it looked so cool. But Bozo didn't trust me until the entire group of about 25 women started oohing and ahhing at her approach. It was classic and she was the hit of the party!

video


Afterwards, we I lost the keys! That is a nightmare anyway but it's definitely a nightmare when camping and that is the only set you have with you. AND you have an old dog who needs food all the time and her medications. After looking everyplace twice we had been that evening since I last saw them, included the garbage and recycling, we decided to just go to bed and see what we could do in the morning. We knew they were in the campground someplace and were hoping an honest camper would turn them in. Why would anyone keep them anyway??

Friday, October 19, 2012

Casini Ranch Camping - Day 1

I wasn't able to take the entire day off today but I was able to leave a little early so that we could get on the road to avoid putting up the tent in the dark. Paddam, our GPS, has some interesting methods for getting us places at times. We have figured out her weaknesses when heading up toward Bodega Bay and have learned ways to trick her. The drive was pretty uneventful... aside from a major 3-car accident that held up traffic for a little while and then precipitation from fog. Apparently this is different than drizzling rain. The nuances of liquid in various parts of the country! Oh... and fog holds in the heat. So the temperatures stayed pretty warm throughout the evening. Another learning experience for me.

We arrived at Casini Ranch by about 7:15pm. It was dusk so we had to put up the tent quickly to avoid the dark. It didn't happen. The dark came quickly. So here's the scene... this is an RV park mainly and that's who they cater to. We had chosen one of the non-electric sites next to the river... hoping for small crowds and beautiful views. Since it was dark, we couldn't tell about the latter but the crowd was pretty small. The ground was also VERY hard! lol I never even thought about that prospect since we usually park in places that cater to tents.

The reason we stayed at an RV heavy place was the group with whom we were camping... The Trailerettes. They are a Northern California group of women who own or would like to own small vintage camping trailers. You should see how creative these women have gotten with their trailers! And you can... at the any rallies we learned about over the weekend. I grew up around car and motorcycle rallies. Who knew they had them for vintage campers!??

We went over to say hi to the women that were gathered at the Chief Trailerette's (heheh) campsite... hors d'oeuvres and all! We didn't stay long as it was getting a little late and Blue was stuck in the car waiting impatiently for us sleeping. So we jumped into the Queendom and read before hitting the sack.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Blue Follow Up

Bozo took Blue her to her cardiologist (yes, she has one) the day after we got back from Salt Point State Park and she was put on antibiotics. We were worried that it was her heart or her hypertension or who knows. Turned out she had some kind of infection. With the antibiotics completed and an additional medication for her hypertension, she is doing quite well after a couple weeks. Especially for a 13-year-old dog over a year past her heart failure diagnosis and hypertension. She's a toughie!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Salt Point State Park with DD-l - Day 3

As usual, the final day of car camping is mainly about taking things down and getting everything back in the vehicle. We did spend some morning time having breakfast together. Then Natacha and Morgan took off to hike up to the Pygmy Forest. I was content to sit and read for awhile as I had not gotten much chance to do that on this trip.

The noisy people were again noisy. But it was funny because I made the comment at about 1am that they were being quiet and how nice that was. And then they got noisy. Geez! Shoulda kept my mouth shut! I think we all slept pretty well though.

We all set off on our own trips home. Rachel and Natacha made it out first. Morgan followed not long after with plans to take a different long scenic way home. Bozo and I finished up and got the campsite cleaned up better than it was when we got there.

We had lunch in Jenner at Cafe Aquatica. The food was good. Huge sandwiches. But sadly I could not taste the difference between the albacore tuna and the chicken salad sandwich. I think that's a problem! But whichever one I ended up eating was good. Bozo liked hers too. lol

Then it was a beeline home. Blue seemed to be back to not feeling well after having an okay evening. So we got home early in the evening. Got everything put away, had some dinner, and relaxed.

I think it was a pretty successful first time planning in Cali trip for us!!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Salt Point State Park with DD-l - Day 2

Is there some rule that there must be one group of A-holes in every campground that stays up late drinking and being very loud?? I think there must! They were in the Upper Loop and somewhere behind us. I couldn't believe no one near them went and told them to be quiet. 3:00am was the last time I saw so I don't know if they finally passed out or if I fell asleep. But Blue was having a difficult night too. She was up several times whining and needing to go outside.

Needless to say I was not jumping up out of bed with tons of happy energy this morning! Once I'm up, I'm good. But it was difficult getting out of the warm bag. Fortunately we have some fire making tutorials happen so I didn't have to be the one to make it. A benefit of group camping!

It was a nice morning! I loved seeing the differences in how we all prepare food. Natacha and Rachel definitely win the "Creative Cooking" award! For breakfast they had, at home, put oatmeal into glass jars with soy milk and let it set until it was time to eat. They also made hard boiled eggs and shared those with Morgan. I cut up potatoes and cooked them with olive oil before cracking 3 eggs over them for Bozo and me to enjoy.

We relaxed around the fire for much of the morning. It was foggy and cool. Much different than at home! Then they all started playing the game Bonanza, which is about farming, while I got ready for the flower hike Natacha, Morgan, and I were going on with the State Park ranger.

We got a ride from Rachel over to the Visitor Center at Gerstle Campground and the hike started at 1pm. We hiked all along the coast up on cliffs and saw many flowers, including now dormant ones. We also saw seals lounging on the rocks in the water and what is now my favorite plant and reminds me of the Lorax trees, the Sea Palm. They get slammed by wave after wave and pop right back up every time with their lovely leaves all in order. I'm sure there's some message about resilience in there somewhere and is why I like them so much. We got back to the Visitor Center around 4pm and lo and behold, up came the sun! We watched a 10-minute video about the park and then Natacha wanted to hurry back to camp to see if there was enough sun to use their solar cooker! So off we walked. We hiked our first hill of the day and all of us were a little out of breath! lol We had to cross Highway 1 to get to our campground... not an easy feat! But we got across and walked single file along the road for about a half mile to Woodside and then walked along the campground roads to get to our site. More little hills!

None of us realized how long we would be hiking. The ranger kept asking if we were okay continuing. She said we went further than other groups are willing or able to go and ended up at Stump Beach Cove before heading back. There was a couple with us as well so 6 people total. I only took an Odwalla bar with me and Nalgene full of water. The others had also brought small snacks. So we were all quite famished when we get back to the campsite!

Rachel had already pulled out the solar cooker and was getting things started. We weren't sure how long the sun would hold out but it was fun watching them get everything together and then move the solar cooker from place to place as the sun moved. They ended up getting the cheese melted but the miso did not get warm enough. So they had a variation of their planned tortilla dinner and put what wasn't finished cooking into aluminum foil and into the fire to finish for tomorrow. They again got the creativity award! Bozo grilled chicken brats while I made organic mac 'n' cheese. Morgan had mac 'n' cheese also. It's just easy! But I might have been inspired by R&N to get a little more creative for our next trip. Just takes slightly more planning.

The rest of the evening was spent cleaning up and sitting around the fire talking. I was hopeful that the A-holes had either left or were too tired to stay up all night again. I know better than to think that the younguns don't recover enough to do it all over again the next night. But maybe someone said something to them. Who knows!?

Blue slept a lot of the day. We talked about leaving early if she didn't improve and she seemed to perk up a little in the evening. She even barked at Morgan for getting too close. lol So we decided to stay the final night.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Salt Point State Park with DD-l - Day 1

I organized my first camping trip in a long time for a group. My first in California. I did organize a couple in Minnesota but it always ended up being Bozo, me, and Nancy. lol For this one, I organized through dd-l and had about 8 people interested originally. We had 5 people show up. Not too bad for my first effort!

Bozo and I drove up to Salt Point State Park with Emma Blue on Friday morning. I wanted to be sure we got two sites adjacent to each other and close enough that we weren't all separated. Morgan said she would be there around 3pm and Rachel and Natacha would be there in the evening because of work.

The drive was great! Not much traffic at all except over the Hwy 37 causeway. I still don't understand the stoplight they placed at the end of that! But otherwise an easy drive. No cows on the oceanside road this time!

We took out time looking at sites. Though my reservation was for Woodside Upper Loop, the ranger said we could choose a site on either the Upper or the Lower Loop. That worked out well as we found the perfect sites in the Lower Loop. Sites 51 and 53 are basically one large site. They have a U-driveway connecting them and no foliage between them. There seemed enough space for our monstrous tent made more monstrous by the "garage" I purchased as an additional vestibule.

We got everything set up and did a little pouting as this is our first camping trip since Cacciatore passed away. Blue seems a little weak too so we never know when her last one will be.

Then we built a fire, read, and just relaxed. It is very nice to be away! And even more nice to be in cool weather away from the valley heat!

Two O'clock came and went. We started wondering if Morgan was going to make it. We don't know her and didn't have a number for her so there was no way to check. But she did have my number... no service up there though. lol I put signs up at the entrance with our site numbers as well as a sign near the campsite post with a light pointing at it.

Morgan arrived around 8pm after taking a very long scenic route with several stops. It was still light and she has a backpacking tent so it was pretty easy for her to find a little out of the way spot to set up. As we were chatting, Rachel and Natacha arrived about 9am. For them it was a dark tent set up. Bozo stood with them and held a light so they could see what they were doing. But I think they have a very good spot as well. There's is a 4-person tent.

Blue is acting a little strangely. She had a bit of a collapse while trying to poop and then stayed in her puppy tent most of the evening.

Not the most exciting day to blog or read about. But the relaxation and even some time for Bozo and me to be alone was definitely necessary. Some excitement tomorrow maybe!

Saturday, June 09, 2012

AIDS/LifeCycle 11 - Day Seven

I woke up quite early. I guess I'm anxious to get home. Got up, changed, and took down my tent in the dark. The moon was pretty bright so it wasn't too difficult. I was feeling a little stiff last night so I decided to see the chiropractic student that I had seen previously. So after everything was taken care of it got in line just after 5am and got in right away to see Daniel. They are not allowed to crack us in the morning. Probably a good policy! But he stretched out my right side like crazy. Felt VERY uncomfortable while he was doing it but then immediately felt better afterwards. Then on to the last breakfast. It felt good not to be rushed or late for anything.

Met up with Kenny about 6:30am and after pumping tires and checking to see what Chicken Lady left for us on our seats, we were off. More heavy traffic with instructions not to pass. Also a lot of stop lights to deal with. Which I suppose is good because it spread us out some.

At some point before Rest Stop 1 I got a flat. Kenny was in front of me and yelled out, "Was that you?" Unfortunately it was! So I changed the tire and he checked the rim for anything pokey before I put the new tire in. I only have a pump so he used his CO2 cartridge. Slick! I need to start using those! To entertain ourselves we dissed each other as riders passed by. I started it by saying loudly that next time he would have to change his own flat tire. He finished by telling everyone that his lesbian can't change a flat. Hmmph! Guess he won that round!

More little bits of climbing and trying to pass safely until lunch. We found a place on the ground by a soda machine that broke the wind for us and kept us warm. That was good! Fifteen miles left to the finish so we got moving pretty quickly. The finish had been changed so that early riders did not have to wait until everyone else had caught up to go through the finish. So riders just go in when they are ready to go. Kenny and I called our partners from a coffee house on San Vicente and they were both there waiting for us. So on we rode.

There is a pain in the butt little climb just at the very end to remind us who's boss. But there were Tootsie Rolls at the top so that made me happy! (= Then it was a few quick turns to the finish line! Bozo was there with Cindy who she had spent the night with. It was nice to have people waiting for me this time. I remember being a little sad last time that I had no one.

Picked up my Victory shirt, got some photos taken, grabbed some food, then headed to Cindy's for a shower and to relax a little. After a couple hours there we did a quick tour of where I worked and lived in LA several years ago and then it was time for my Victory dinner at Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles! Bozo just didn't get it. Chicken and waffles?? No vegetables?? lol I guess it's an acquired taste.

A drive back up to Ventura from where I had left early this morning and a comfortable room for some much needed rest... with no alarm clock!

Friday, June 08, 2012

AIDS/Life Cycle 11 - Day Six

Lompoc to Ventura

Distance - 84.63
Time - 6.17.20
Avg Speed - 13.4mph
Max Speed - 41.0

Day 6 is always fun with Paradise Ice Cream in Santa Barbara. It also starts to get slightly more dangerous as we spend a good amount of time on Highway 101 with cars zooming past. There are lots of instructions not to pass each other... EVER! But that becomes a little unrealistic, especially when there actually is room for two cyclists. We had a pretty big climb that started almost immediately. But after the climbing was done we had a descent at 7% decline. Whoa! I was braking a good amount of time and still hit 41mpg. The scary part was at the bottom there was an ambulance with EMTs stabilizing 2 riders who had crashed not long before. That night the announcement was that they were still being evaluated in the hospital. Scary!

My main feeling on this day is the excitement at being so near the ocean. The air feels different. The smell is different. Sometimes like fish.. but still. Any fatigue or pain just goes away with such a beautiful view. I rode with Kenny most of the afternoon and into Santa Barbara for ice cream. Neither of us was sure we wanted to have ice cream before riding more but I decided it would digest while I was riding and it wouldn't affect me. Turned out to be true! (=

Bozo was waiting with Blue at the beach in Ventura for us to finish but she needed to leave by 5pm to make dinner with her friend in LA. So we hustled it in to make it by just after 4pm. She had just taken Blue to the car and was walking back to wait when we showed up. Surprise!! We just got to spend a few minutes together before she headed off and I went back to tent life.

After dinner I went and got the photo of my Uncle R for the Candlelight Vigil on the beach. We lit the candles, walked silently to and then sat on the beach, then eventually began taking the candles to the water to put them out. It was quite beautiful!

Then to bed!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

AIDS/LifeCycle 11 - Day Five

Santa Maria to Lompoc

Distance - 41.85
Time - 3.21.41
Avg Speed - 12.4mph
Max Speed - 41.0 mph

RED DRESS DAY!

Is it possible to have surprise climbs?? Yes, it is! I guess it would help if we looked at the elevation profile but I think that was even slightly underestimating. At dinner the night before, apparently they were going over the ride for today and no mention of climbing was made. Well, there were a couple very good climbs I must say.

Team Sacramento intended to ride together for at least part of the day but most of them left while I was getting ready to head out. A text from Kenny said The Misfits were planning to leave later so I headed out on my own. With a crowd. lol First part of the ride was pretty flat and a good warm up on a cold morning. I caught up with Team Sacto at the Rest Stop 1 where we took some photos and did some red dress site seeing. There are some very creative and daring people in this world! I took off with Team Sacto, which is the first time I have actually ridden with any of them. lol On training rides they were always well ahead of me so I mostly rode alone. We did a good job staying together until we got to the first climb. Though there was a head wind and it was safer to stay at the back of the group, I needed to climb faster. So I pulled out and, after recovering from the hit of wind I took, was able to climb on. Bear caught up eventually and we each passed Samantha. Bear stopped at the top and so did Samantha and I. There was some talk about whether this was the top or not... Bear thought yes and Samantha thought no. So far Samantha has been pretty accurate in her memory of the ride from last year so I had to go with her. It was definitely NOT the end of the climb. This first climb just seemed to go on and on. I heard people yelling, singing, talking to themselves, etc. Eventually I started saying out loud, "This is vol-un-tary! This is my choice! I am not in prison!" This helped me to count my pedal strokes and made a couple people laugh, which is always helpful. Eventually made it to the actual top after a couple of false summits. Then a great downhill toward Rest Stop 2. Apparently I was taking a bit too much of the road because a car passenger gave me the finger when they passed by. A little horn toot and I would have moved over but I didn't know they were there. Ah well, they lost about 3 seconds in their drive.

Rest Stop 2 was a Bad Bride theme. Cute! More photos, food, and liquids then Perry and I took off to begin the second climb. This one was a switchback that is apparently supposed to look like a red ribbon as we ride. Of course it never crosses over itself so that's impossible but I'm sure it looks very cool from above! I didn't find this climb nearly as difficult as the first. I believe it was shorter so that was probably part of it. Or possibly I just blocked out the pain. (=

The lunch stop was about 3 miles from the end of the ride for the day. Gotta love that! I grabbed my food and sat in front of the "The Voice" stage and waited to see people I know. John E. showed up and sat with me but then the rest of Team Sacto showed up and sat elsewhere so we moved. "The Voice" was great lunchtime entertainment after which The Misfits got our Red Dress Day photo taken and then headed out for the 3-mile ride home.

Another Motel 6 but this one was quite far from ALC Camp. So we went there so I could shower and change before heading back for the Team Sacto "official" team photo. We got a little lost trying to get back to the park and they were not able to wait for me so I missed out on that photo. Bummer. But we went to the meal tent for dinner and I definitely ate my fair share.

There was a comedian for entertainment tonight, Shawn Pelofsky, who was very funny! With a hotel and a memory foam bed, she became the hottest chick in the place. A long day tomorrow so we didn't stay for the whole show. Back to Motel 6 for some Princess sleeping!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

AIDS/LifeCycle 11 - Day Four

Paso Robles to Santa Maria

Distance - 95.20
Time - 6.50.42
Avg Speed - 13.9mph
Max Speed - 39.5mph

Woke up around 4pm in the KOA after a very solid hard sleep. Bozo said she took Blue out twice during the night and I didn't stir at all. After the massage and chiropractor yesterday then a good sleep, I was feeling ready for this long day! We headed back to ALC Camp in Paso Robles where I went directly to breakfast and had a feast of eggs, oatmeal, potatoes, and yogurt. I love eating a big breakfast and this is a perfect reason to do so!

On the road today... The Evil Twins! Or, "The Evil Bitches" as they are affectionately called. Evil Twin #1 begins at mile 9.9, which is just the right amount of time for a warm up. The incline starts pretty gradually and remains pretty gradual throughout. There is at least one false summit on Evil Twin #1 and I could hear people around me saying, "This is it, we're at the top" know that we were not actually at the top. It can be disheartening to think you are at the top only to begin climbing again so I think it's best for people to keep their mouths. It did affect me at one point when someone said we'd reached the top of ET1 but I could see that after a small descent we would climb a little more. That's when I decided to stop listening to people who say, "We're almost there!" When I'm there... I'm there!

Then came Evil Twin #2. This climb is steeper and longer. But at the top is the Halfway to LA point, which is always very exciting! I spent way too much time at the Halfway point. I had my photo taken with Team Misfit, then solo, then just as I was thinking about leaving, some of Team Sacramento showed up and got in line. So I waited with them for about 30 minutes and got my photo take with them and then alone again. Just took way too long! After all that climbing comes the reward... the lonnnnnng descent. I can't remember how long it was but it was long enough that I was actually getting tired of descending by the end!

Kenny had left the 2nd rest stop by the time I got there so I met up with him at lunch. The rest of the route was mainly rollers, which can also get very tiring. Toward the end of the day, we passed an ambulance that was loading up 1 female ALC rider who'd had an accident. Then a quick turn and a short steep uphill kept us on our toes. I went through some more rollers to the next turn where I stopped to wait for Kenny. Turned out his blood sugar was very low and we were trying to find some Gu or other sugar when Khoa and Aaron rode by as well as some of Team Sacramento. After some Gu, Kenny felt better but after about a mile decided to stop at a convenient store to pick up some sweet tea. Good ol' Texas boy! At the convenient store, we got to talk with some locals about the ride and why we were doing it. That was good! They were very impressed and encouraging!

Rest Stop 4 was Octoberfest, which is always a good time! This is especially true after a head and side wind that threatened to throw us off our bikes! But afterwards, it was a strong tailwind that added much speed to the ride. Another accident along the way and Kenny stopped... he's a nurse. I kept going since they were trying to keep people from stopping and getting in the way. I don't think a nurse can get in the way! (= This stretch took no time at all. But once in Santa Maria, we take another turn into the wind. So... a head wind and a bunch of stop signs. Arrgh! It's tolerable only because we are so close to home. And I was able to get in with a fast group of guys. At the last corner, Bozo was sitting there waiting patiently for me. Blue was back in the car out of the heat and wind. It's such a great feeling to see her when I am finishing! I suppose most people continue and finish the ride before saying hi but I have a habit of stopping right when I get to her or them. lol

Finished the last few yards and checked my bike in. Kenny came in not long after me. Apparently there was a physician at the crash scene so he was able to leave. This would be his night to sleep indoors at Aaron's mother's house while I was on my way to pet friendly Motel 6 for the night. I kinda like this Princess Plan! Bozo already had my bag so all I had to do was grab some food and we were gone!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

AIDS/LifeCycle 11 - Day Three

King City to Paso Robles

Distance - 63.74
Time - 4.24.08
Avg Speed - 14.5mph
Max Speed - 38.0mph

Ahh Quadbuster! Gotta love it! The first part of the ride was pretty uneventful. And then the first rest stop, which means that Quadbuster is not far ahead. This climb is pretty steep at 1500 feet but the kicker is the last bit that inclines even more. This makes is a struggle to keep one's rhythm all the way to the top. But it's really just a matter of just that... rhythm. Doesn't matter how fast or how slow as long as you keep moving. I generally focus about 5 feet in front of me and just count either 1-2 or 1-2-3-4 unless I'm standing and then I count to 8. Some people sing when they are under duress. I heard a lot of singing on this climb. (= Good or bad voices, it helps to take my mind off what I'm doing for a moment. To be honest, the summit was a bit disappointing. There are usually speakers and many people encouraging the riders on. Teammates can stop and cheer on their slower members. But there were some military exercises going on so we could not use the whole lane as in the past. So everyone had to keep moving. Bummer! One tradition did continue. Team Mary FLEW back down the hill to encourage the rest of us up. I like that they do that!

The rest of the ride is pretty much downhill and then flat with some rollers. There were some head and side winds to contend with that were not fun at all. It was a relief to stop at the last Rest Stop, which was the Best Little 4 House in Texas. They did some dancing and passed around a bucket to raise more money for ALC. We got there just as they finished the performance but there are videos and we heard all about it as well. For more about the Rest Stop 4 crew, you can check out their Facebook page.

When we got into camp, Bozo and Blue weren't there. Bummer! This camp is a "Mid-State Fair Fairgrounds" so a lot of the services are actually indoors instead of in tents. I picked up my gear and was setting up my tent when another (male) rider came up and asked if I understand the whole grid concept. I couldn't tell if he was being helpful or a tool. He asked if I'd like some help with the tent and I said, "If you'd like to help, I'd take it." He said, "I don't want to" and walked away. lol Guess I know now that he was being a tool! This is unusual on ALC!

Then Bozo showed up. Yay! She was going to help me put up my tent but I started asking how long of a drive to the KOA where she is staying. I decided it was worth it to go stay with her and be a semi-princess (it's a camping cabin afterall). The time it would take to drive back to camp in the morning would be similar to the time it would take me to break my tent down. So I was IN!

With that choice made, we headed directly to the massage building. I ended up getting Scott, the massage therapist I had met at one of our Team Sacramento meetings so that was cool. Got his card so I could go see him for a proper (longer than 15 minutes) massage. But he worked the kinks out of my shoulders and upper back as well as my calves. Then he suggested I go to chiropractic since I was all loose and let them work on my lower back. Great suggestion!! I did that and also got right in. Daniel did a great job stretching me out and giving me an adjustment. Tomorrow is 97 miles so this was VERY good timing for these services.

By the time I was done there, dinner was open. So off we went to get some food that I would take with me. I ate in the car as we drove to the KOA in Santa Margarita where I was able to get a dismal shower and do some laundry with iron-filled water! lol But... I slept SO hard and well, it was definitely a good choice. Bozo apparently took Blue out twice during the night and both the inside and screen doors are very squeaky. I heard nothing! Very nice!!

Monday, June 04, 2012

AIDS/LifeCycle 11 - Day Two

Santa Cruz to King City

Distance - 47.51 (supposed to be 109.2)
Time - 3.48.40
Avg Speed - 12.4 mph
Max SPeed 31.0 mph

Ahh Day Two! Started out a little chilly with a 30% chance of rain. Yeah right! Well... yeah. Right! Almost as soon as we left, it started to drizzle. I was wearing shorts and a light windbreaker. Not nearly enough clothing for the brisk day. By the time we made it to the second Rest Stop at about 40 miles, it was a full on rain. People were shivering and choosing to stop for the day as it was too dangerous for them to keep going. Good choices I would say! Though wet, I felt pretty good. Maybe my Minnesota blood was kicking in! I was riding with Khoa and Aaron after that Rest Stop and we just put our heads down and rode. The road was pretty good though there was some mud at places since we were in farmland. Lunch was only about 8 miles away and we had been told that it wasn't raining at lunch so I think that motivated us to keep it moving. I did stop at one point to get a photo of the seals along the way. But it was a quick stop. When we got to lunch Khoa was shivering pretty uncontrollably so I ran around and got him a garbage bag then mylar while pushing him to eat his lunch. He and Aaron decided to SAG it since there was no way Khoa could ride safely in his state.

I got my own mylar blanket and went into the port-a-potty to arrange it under my jacket. Then a garbage bag to top off the ensemble and I was ready to go. My hands were cold, my feet were squishing around in my wet shoes, and if you don't already know what a drenched chamois feels like, I hope you never find out! But my core was warm and I was ready to head out. As I was getting on my bike, the moto crew came along and said they were closing the route and not allowing anyone who wasn't already out to leave. Darn! I saw a few people try to sneak past Moto but Moto is on top of their sh*t so as far as I know, no one got out. And I wasn't about to try to do something against instructions and risk being kicked off the ride. So I stood around getting cold. lol

Eventually Hartnell College opened their Student Center for us so we would have some warmth. This turned into a Mylar Fashion Show and lots of skin showing as people shed their wet clothes. Kenny showed up in the building at some point so it was nice to see a familiar face. Buses started showing up to take us to camp, which took about an hour. Along the way, we saw a few lonely souls pedaling away still on the route. I was both jealous of them and feeling sorry for them. I really wanted to be out there doing all the miles but I also knew it was totally miserable. Turned out that about 800 people made the entire route, including most of Team Sacramento! I thought that was VERY cool!!

Camp was at San Lorenzo County Park in King City... and was TOTALLY sunny and dry. Hmmph!

Sunday, June 03, 2012

AIDS/LifeCycle 11 - Day One

Cow Palace in San Francisco to Santa Cruz

Distance - 82.53
Time Riding- 6.10.04
Actual Time w/ Rests - 9.42.35
Avg Speed - 13.3 mph
Max Speed - 45.0 mph

Had a difficult time getting started this morning. Surprise! Eventually we figured out it would be more efficient for Bozo to go to Denny's to get my breakfast instead of planning to sit and eat it there. I just could not get moving.

We did make it to the Cow Palace with plenty of time. I turned in my gear bag. This is always scary the first time as I haven't gotten my system down just yet and it's more likely that I'll forget something imperative. I didn't forget anything and didn't bring anything unneeded. Phew!

Into the Cow Palace, I had wanted to leave some stuff by my bike and pump the tires. But we weren't allowed in until after Opening Ceremonies. So we went into the main area for the ceremony. It was fun, emotional, touching, exciting, and motivating all at the same time. The energy was palpable as people wanted to be in the moment for the ceremony but our minds were also out on the road and we were twitching to get started. They shortened the ceremony from past years apparently and we were soon released to get our bicycles.

Last time I did the ride, we all lined up and went out at the same time. Seemed like a cluster to me! Now they open the doors and let people go when they're ready. It spreads things out on the road a little fast and I think makes it safer as well. I needed to air up my tires so I got out after much of the first rush. That was good because I actually got to see Bozo along the side of the road. I'm not sure I would have if I'd gotten out with the big antsy group.

Lots of people falling in that first bit through the city as they got used to their clips. Mostly at stop lights where they just didn't clip out soon enough. None were injured and they all got up laughing and being teased by their friends. The energy was so good. Lots of stop lights, up and down, around for about 19 miles before the first Rest Stop. I ran into Kenny and Khoa from The Misfits (my unoffical team at ALC 5) at the Rest Stop and we rode much of the day together after that. Lunch was at San Gregorio State Beach again and it was just beautiful. Except the view of the climb we would have right out of lunch. It's not so much the climb but feeling full of food and also being able to see it the entire time we're sitting there that make it seem difficult.

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful and I believe we had a tailwind much of the afternoon. We rolled into the traffic of Santa Cruz, which always seems to be a struggle. I would think they are bike friendly being a beach town but they really aren't. Fortunately we have great Roadies who direct traffic very well!

Being the first time into camp for the ride, it takes some time to figure out the system. Pick up your gear bag. My tentmate had the tent chip so I didn't get a tent right away. But when I got to our spot, there was no tent. So I went back and was given a tent to set up. I ended up with my own tent that night, which was very cool! Especially with my big ass hockey bag in tow! Once the tent was up, it was time for a shower. Off to find the shower trailers. Hey! No wait!! That's very cool! Back to organize the tent and then off to dinner. This is basically the system that works for me and seems pretty similar to others as well.

Dinner, evening program, then bed. I had trouble getting to sleep with no earplugs and lots of snoring around me. Bummer!

Saturday, June 02, 2012

AIDS/LifeCycle 11 - Day Zero

Orientation Day at The Cow Palace in San Francisco.

Last time I did the ride, the push was to get there as early as possible to finish as early as possible. Truth is, it takes about 3 hours regardless of when you go. This time, it was suggested that people go in the afternoon as lines are often shorter at that time. Everyone listened! lol So the lines were still long. But we got funneled directly into a Safety Video and got that out of the way. Then I went to get my tent. I had been promised a tent by a disgruntled former teammate who had no ill feelings toward me (or so I thought). She was hoteling it the entire ride so I would have had my own tent. A couple days before, she backed out and gave it to someone else. Apparently my association with her former team actually did affect her. Anyway, my random tentmate was standing there too so we met briefly. But there are things to be done on Day Zero so I moved on quickly. Bozo was standing in the Registration Line for me so I jumped in there. That took at least an hour. But I ran into Kar from Team Misfits and Kevin and Scott from Team Sacramento during that time. I also got to spend some time gabbing with a couple guys from Team Popular. That's the kind of team name that is just set up for being teased! But they were all so darn cute, I'm sure they didn't care! lol

We got a room at the La Quinta near the San Francisco Airport, which turned out to be a perfect location. Close enough that it was a short drive for the morning. But there was also a 24/7 Denny's right there so I would get a full breakfast. Last year the ALC Sponsored hotel said they would have breakfast available but it was just a bit of fruit and some pastries. NOT good riding food! So Denny's was convenient. And these are the kinds of things I have to think about at this time. Usually something like that wouldn't matter much at all. The other VERY cool thing about this La Quinta was that it was not only pet friendly but there was a separate building for pet owners so we didn't have to worry about those crazy people who don't like animals. That building had also been renovated so it was very nice. Wide screen TV worked for me too! (=

Went for dinner at Di Napoli Pizza at 202 Grand in South San Francisco. Awesome food, surly server.

I spent a little time trying to cram all my stuff into a smaller bag. The hockey bag I bought just for this purpose a few years back turned out to have a "spread" problem. The bag wasn't nearly full but everything seemed to spread out, making the bag look HUGE! And, it was heavy empty. I couldn't get everything into my smaller bag so I'm using the Canada hockey bag. It'll do for this trip but I am definitely getting a different bag. Anyone want to make an offer on what is probably perfect for hockey gear?

To bed about 10pm with a plan to be up by 4am. WHAT???

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Morgan Territory - Training Ride 12

Distance - 12.22 miles
Time - 1.28.19
Average Speed - 8.3mph
Max Speed - 27.5mph

Another quick ride today. Two main goals. One... get my shoes even more set. Two... ride the Morgan Territory Climb faster and with less pain than previously. Both goals were met. Though, of course, the caveat is that the first time I rode Morgan Territory it was a 60-mile ride and I had gone about 40 miles with some previous climbing before getting to Morgan Territory. Bozo came along to SAG for me. I started at the Peet's Coffee in Concord and started out with some climbing right away. Bike lanes were great until I got to Marsh Creek Road. Bozo had stopped by the side of the road with Blue after I had been buzzed by a few cars already. Memorial Day Weekend and all. So I asked her to drive me to Morgan Territory Road where there would be much less traffic. That just felt like the safer decision. I had seen no other cyclists at that point and I wasn't with a group. I'd rather not be a Memorial Day road statistic if I can help it! So I jumped in the car with my helmet on and Bozo drove me up the road about a mile or so. There was VERY little traffic on Morgan Territory Road. It was as steep as I remember with all those fun switchbacks. But it wasn't nearly the same struggle and I definitely went much faster.

Bozo had planned on driving to the top and just waiting for me with Blue. But it was such a pretty area that she would drive a little ways and then wait until she could see me then drive up a ways again. I liked seeing the car, it gave me something to ride toward. She also protected me at one point from a car coming around a corner. They had to go pretty far out to get around her so they had to also slow down, which gave them time to see me sooner. The few cars and motorcycles that went by were mostly very respectful. That was good!

I had to stop twice throughout the ride to adjust my shoes. I think I may have finally gotten them right. And I have to say that the road pedals are definitely more stable than my old mountain biking pedals that I've been using for years. I got the Shimano 105s. The shoes, Giro Solara, are also very comfortable. I like the ratcheting system! Now I just have to be sure everything is lined up the way I need and I'll be good to go. My knees don't like it when things are not lined up so it's pretty important.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Causeway and Final Official TR - Training Ride 11

Distance - 33.71
Time - 2.31.18
Average Speed - 13.3mph
Max Speed - 24.0mph

One week to Day 0. I can't believe it's finally this close! My ALC team wanted to do a short (16-mile) ride to celebrate the end of training season. I've finally gotten my new pedals on my bike and need to get my clips all sorted out. So I rode from home, which added about 18 miles. I finally had the opportunity to ride the Causeway bike trail. I had to make a couple stops to work on my clips and then when I first got onto the Causeway, a semi went by a threw some dirt up at me. I thought to myself, "What? People ride this thing everyday for their commute??" The rest was uneventful and the trail was pretty well maintained so, aside from being right next to traffic, it was pretty good.

Once I got into Samantha's neighborhood I had to give her a call for the last few turns. Google Maps put "Turn Right" with no detail, which later I realized meant I was to turn in to the bike path through a park near her house. I had to make a few adjustments to my pedals so it was good that a couple of the other riders were late.

There were 7 of us riding. We crossed a levee, which I'm starting to learn are generally very windy. Or maybe that's just when I ride them! lol Once we turned off the levee, the wind was mainly helpful so that was fun. We stayed together as a group for that one turn then once we made the next turn, everyone split into their speed categories. It was actually pretty fun to ride with the wind! Then back to Samantha's for some grilling, salads, desserts, and drink. Oh... and the pool. A nice afternoon spent getting to know my teammates a little better. I didn't know any of them when I joined the team and we haven't done much to get to know one another since I'm not generally with them much on the training rides (I'm in the back by myself! ha!) And fundraisers are usually loud and we're trying to raise money so that's not the greatest opportunity either. Point is... this was nice!

So I guess we are officially done with ALC11 training. I do intend to go out again tomorrow but I guess that would be considered "unofficial training!" lol

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Monticello Dam and Cardiac - Training Ride 10

Distance - 33.31
Time - 2.45.00
Avg Speed - 12.1mph
Max Speed - 35.0mph

After the Delta Century, I ended up getting sick and missing a week of training. Not good timing! I also had a very important event at work that I was in charge of so my time and energy were both very limited.

So today I got back out on the bike. I rode from Davis to Winters and then up Highway 128 to the Junction with Hwy 121. On Putah Creek Road into Winters I got to see a Peloton of  Davis Bike Club cyclists. I love the sound of so many bicycles riding past at high speed! The Davis Double Century was happening today but I don't think they were part of that ride because I think they would have been elsewhere by that time of day. The ride up Hwy 128 was pretty standard. Most people made room for me and others did not. I don't know how anyone can get used to being passed so closely by a car. Especially one towing a boat or camper. I also don't know how to get the message across that we are very vulnerable and could actually die if hit by a car/truck mirror let alone the actual car/truck. And most people's lives would be severely impacted if they killed a cyclist for no reason except they were in a hurry or felt entitled to that small space of road.

Bozo was going to follow me so that I could just go as far as possible and then stop without having to worry about riding back home. I kept thinking she would show up at certain times but apparently she left a little later than expected and I was definitely going faster than I expected. So I cruised up to Monticello Dam and then past Cardiac. Then I completed the constant but minimal climb after the Cardiac descent. I felt like I wanted to keep going up toward Napa past Hwy 121 but decided that was probably a good ride after coughing up a lung during the past week. So I hung out at the grocery store and restaurant that has closed down... much to the many people's chagrin who stop there for food and gas. Bozo and Blue eventually showed up and it was back home for a bit of rest for me!

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Delta Century - Training Ride 9

Distance - 96.16 miles > my computer measured differently than everyone elses! /=
Time Riding - 7.02.30
Total Time - 9.38.21
Avg Speed - 13.6 mph
Max Speed - 22.5mph

I needed a Century before ALC. I missed the registration for most of those I had heard about earlier in the year. Earlier in the year when I wasn't sure I would ever be able to complete a Century again in my life. So Friday night I did some searching at the various bicycle clubs around the area. The Stockton Bicycling Club was hosting their annual Delta Century. Flat. No climbing. What's that even mean?? I contacted them by email and found out there was still room. So that was the plan. I took Saturday off from cycling and hung out with Bozo in the morning then we went to "The Hunger Games" in the afternoon with LJ. The only reason this is significant to the ride is that for some reason I totally strayed from usual pre-ride routine. I ate more than my fair share of the large popcorn that we bought. WAY MORE! I drank more than my fair share of the Coke that Bozo and I "shared." Then after the movie we went across the street and shared Veggie Nachos (I ate more than my fair share there too!) and I had a Margarita. A margarita! What?? Then we went home, I got my stuff ready, and went to bed. I did drink a ton of water before I went to sleep. But still.

We woke up easily enough at 4:45am... well, as easily as I am capable of waking at that hour. That's why I get everything ready the night before. I am not "with it" in the morning. All of that went mostly as usual. But then I requested no tortillas for my pre-ride eggs. I generally like the tortilla but before a ride I feel like I'm gagging it down. No big deal except that this was yet another change to my routine and also gave me fewer carbs before the ride. Again, I drank a lot of water. But I was also drinking some Heed Perpetuem when I probably should have just been drinking more water. I'm just not sure where my mind was.

Jessie's Orchard Winery is where the ride started. Very cute! Roosters crowing while they hang out on the wine barrels in the old barn at sunrise. Idyllic! Bozo was dropping me off so we got prime parking. I was having trouble deciding what clothes to wear but knew it would get warm quickly so opted for shorts, short-sleeve jersey, and arm warmers. All set, Bozo took off and I headed to the outhouse. When I parked my bike I realized I had left my bottles in the car. Where is my mind?? Bozo came running over with them. Oh! That's where my mind is! lol Phew! After the bathroom I came out and Bozo was back. But this time it was because parking was really easy and she wanted to watch me ride out.

The exit took us through the vineyard! SO pretty! It was a bit like mountain biking with some gravel-filled  potholes. I liked that!


The rest of the ride is a blur. It was very windy and riding alone was pretty difficult. If you have read my blog in the past, you know that I have a love/hate relationship with the wind. But when I decided to do the Red Ribbon Ride in Minnesota, I knew that I needed to make peace with the wind. And I have. Not that I love it but it didn't mess with my mind nearly as much during this ride.

On another note, my legs felt like CRAP from the very beginning. At about mile 1, yes ONE, I was thinking I didn't know if I could complete this ride if my legs didn't get with the program. They were saying to me something like, "Popcorn? Nachos? Margarita??" and I realized that my will just had to be stronger than their valid argument. So I pedaled. And pedaled. Oh... and pedaled!

I saw beautiful vineyards. Who knew the Delta had vineyards? Honestly, I didn't even know there was a Delta! lol So everything was new to me. We rode along a Slough(?) on both sides, looked like a river to me. At one point the wind was so strong to my side that I was literally leaning to the left into the wind and holding my handlebars so tight my hands began to ache. The gusts would take the handlebar easily to the right if I didn't hang on. I also thought I might have missed a turn at one point. Each ride seems to have those long stretches where I don't see anyone else and I begin to question if I'm in the right place. As we got back on to the regular roads, I began seeing people again. Phew!

The rest stops were well-stocked with foods I tried to eat to make up for the night before. This is an AWFUL feeling! To hope that what I eat now will help me now and also make up for my stupidity the day before. I also tried to release the muscles in my left calf, which had been painful from the beginning. After each rest stop, the pain was just a little less and I began to think that my will was actually winning out! Before the last rest stop, we had to cross the Slough from the island we were on (I didn't know we were on an island!) on a Ferry. That was a relief. I wish it had been a little longer!

The last rest stop left about 20 miles in the ride. At this point I knew I would make it. It might take me forever but I wasn't going to get this far and then stop. After procrastinating, debating drinking a Coke (I didn't), and going to the bathroom twice, I finally got myself back on my bike and out on the road. I told a few people that I'd see them when they pass me and off I went. Sure enough, the same people who had been passing me all day came along. The leader of the 2nd group told me to jump on the train, to which I responded that I would if I could keep up. She said they would drag me! lol So I jumped on. And they did drag me. It was the fastest 20 miles I did all day and it felt great. The benefit of having a group of people to ride with... and a tailwind! I definitely miss having people to ride with in a group!

Back at the Vineyard... Bozo was waiting for me where she had dropped me off. Not that she'd been there all day! lol She took Blue home and hung out there before coming back to Lodi. But we missed the turn. I guess we were just going too darn fast! ha! So we came in from the main entrance and I snuck up on her a little.

A quick meal of pasta, salad, bread, and cookies before heading home. A well-run ride I have to say!

I'm glad to have gotten the Century done before AIDS/LifeCycle. It definitely affirmed that a flat century can be much more brutal than climbing. There are no breaks like those in the descents and it's monotonous. Riding alone, I had a lot of time in my own head... with the wind. But it was definitely an achievement and I'm glad to have done it.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Cantelew - Monticello - Cardiac - Oh My! - Training Ride 8

Distance = 68.89
Time = 5.26.34
Max Speed = 36.5mph
Avg Speed = 12.6mph

We started out from Three Oaks Community Center in Vacaville again. Went the opposite direction from the first time we left from there. There was also a festival happening at the community center so it was tempting to just stay behind and hang out there. As is typical, I don't know exactly where we went but the map is below. What I do know is that we climbed Cantelew, which I've been wanting to do for awhile now. It's another one of those named climbs that make them seem so much worse than they actually are. We stopped at a bar (haha!) before turning toward the climb, which always makes it seem that much worse. Not the bar part... the stopping part. Like you have to stop to prepare yourself for what's about to happen. It ended up being not that big of a deal. As usual. Not that it wasn't difficult. It certainly was. But it was gradual at first and there was actually a slight descent right in the middle. It's the last little portion that I think freaks people out. It's definitely steeper AND it's a switchback. Not many people enjoy a switchback! Maybe my mountain biking history has helped me handle switchbacks comfortably. On this particular switchback, it was easier to stay on the outside even though the inside is the shortest distance. On the inside, once you get past the turn it became even steeper so that some people had to stop. On the outside it remains more gradual. Thankfully no cars came because I was going against traffic. Everyone stopped at the top until we all finished. That was nice and not something we often do on our training/team rides.

There are a few of the faster guys that I usually see at the start and then again at the start of the next ride! lol By the time I finish, they are long gone. But this time I got to hang with them a little more. I liked that! I rode alone much less than usual and I enjoyed that too.

We also stopped a lot! This made the day a lot longer but also more manageable. I think I prefer fewer stops though. One rider's husband was our SAG for the day. He was AWESOME! He hung back a little, then went ahead to be ready for us at the next rest stop. And their cute dog was with him so that helped!



After Cantelew we made our way to Monticello Dam and Cardiac. I've done both those before but I've never continued on past the top of Cardiac. There's a great descent and then a gradual ascent that I didn't expect. I had a moment riding with Kevin where there were no cars and it sounded strangely quiet... very nice!

I got left behind at the end because I went to the bathroom in a fancy white table cloth restaurant. Ha! I caught up to a couple of people and then just hung out with them the rest of the way. By the time we got there, nearly everyone was gone. Many of them are doing one of the Chico Wildflower rides tomorrow so they needed to get a move on.

My only complaint for the day was that it was billed as an 80-mile ride initially and then got changed to 70-miles at the last minute. That's the second time that's happened to me for one reason (my mistake) or another (they changed it). I'm trying to get up to 90-miles and a Century soon, before ALC, so I need those extra 10 or so miles.

Bozo came to pick me up afterwards and we picked up an ice cream from the Ice Cream Man! Perfect ending... with a Drumstick!!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Orinda and Climbing All Over Creation - Training Ride 7

Distance: 74.83
Time: 6.52.32
Average Speed: 10.8 mph
Max Speed: 34.0 mph

Started the day at 5am. That, in and of itself, is a feat for me! I headed south toward San Francisco and met up with a large group of ALCers at the Orinda BART station. Mary, the ride leader described the route... or at least that's what I thought she was doing. But really she was just telling us the turns. There was no indication about the hill climbing I had gotten myself into!

We started out climbing Wildcat Canyon out of Orinda, which was very pretty. I got some beautiful views of "some city" and "some body of water." No time to ask about such things. We headed through Tilden Park, up Grizzly Peak and along Skyline to Redwood, Pinehurst, to Moraga, and back to Starbucks in Orinda where we had the option of calling it a day or going on to the second half of what I now know is "Mary's Adventure!"

The ride was billed as 80 miles. I, however, took a shortcut at one point and knocked off 5 miles. A normal person would be happy about this fact but I was actually quite bummed as I really wanted to hit 80 today. I left the first rest area with a guy who wanted to follow me because I had a ride sheet. That should have been my first clue! But he said he also knows the area pretty well because a friend lives there. Long story short, he convinced me to go one way when I knew that the ride sheet said there was supposed to be a stop light. He seemed so sure so I went with him. I realized it once we got to a corner where we could only turn left but the ride sheet said turn right. Darn! He was very apologetic and I know he meant well. But... DARN!

For those of us who decided to brave the second half, we were in for a long hard HOT day! I don't know what the temperature was all day but there were times I felt my lungs were burning. And not just from riding! lol Anyway, we climbed Pig Farm Hill, which was so short and so steep I felt compelled to yell an expletive when I got to the top. After a brief downhill, it was a gentle climb up Franklin Canyon. After a yummy lunch at Velona's Deli and Market in Crockett, we returned to Orinda via Hercules, Pinole Valley, Castro Ranch, and San Pablo Dam Road.

Sounds pretty innocuous when I'm writing it here. At lunch I talked to a man who has done ALC 15 times. This is his 16th. And he said that this is the hardest day of riding he has ever experienced. After I finished the ride with Kathy, a Training Ride Leader, we were talking about today's ride and she said, "OH! You've never been on a 'Mary's Ride' before?? Well if you can ride with Mary, you can do any part of the ALC!" Good to know!


There were supposed to be 2-3 SAG vehicles but there ended up being only 1, unless someone else joined later in the day. I was actually in front of it all day so I don't really know what they were doing. But they did have water and food. The water I could definitely have used at one point. It was just nice to know that if I decided to call it quits and sat down on the side of the road, someone would have come to get me and Hi-Ho. 

I also have to note that I haven't suddenly gotten into so much better shape than I was before. Though I actually have gotten into better shape. Running and spinning have helped. But the other thing that helped me be successful today was that I took my bike in to have them check out my derailleur and such because I wasn't able to get into the big ring on that last ride.... and then not into the middle ring. I also asked them to just go ahead and do a tune-up. So they replaced all the cables, cable covers, the brake pads, and the chain. I had forgotten what it was supposed to feel like when I shift gears. I had just gotten used to the poor performance.

So it was a pretty incredible experience. I have to admit that much of the time I was climbing toward the end, I was questioning whether I even want to do the ALC this year. I keep going back and forth. Why would I want to be so miserable and why would I want to use so much vacation time to be miserable and spend so much time away from Bozo? It also doesn't help that I haven't even raised $1000 of the $3000 required.

Regardless of what I decide there, this day has shown that I am a tough ass! (=

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Benicia to Morgan Territory - Training Ride 6

Distance = 58 miles
Time = 5.13.19
Avg Speed = 11.1mph
Max Speed = 35mph (while braking like crazy!)

Time to get in some distance. The ride was billed as an 88 mile lollipop loop through Morgan Territory Park. My goal was to hit at least 60 miles as I have not ridden that far this season. We started out around 8am and it was pretty cold so I had arm warmers and a jacket on. I'd forgotten my gloves so a teammate loaned me hers. I have ridden without gloves before and don't mind it but with the cold morning, I was thankful for the loan.

The ride started out with a really quick little downhill, which is always a fun way to get going. Then, of course, it was a slight uphill to get the legs going. We went through an industrial area bobbing garbage and glass all along the way. Is there a rule that industrial areas have to be dirty like that?? Then we headed off on Bridge Bike Path, which took us over I-680. By this time I was well behind the rest of the group. A position I am getting used to!

Passed Connie, Lauren, and Scott on the side of the road as Connie had a flat tire. I'm not surprised with all the crap along the road. It made more sense for me to keep going since I am the slowest in the group rather than to be a 4th person to help with one flat. So off I went. Scott also left and met us at the first rest stop but again it made more sense for me to keep on truckin'.

Along the way my big ring stopped working. It just wouldn't shift up in that gear. Not such a big deal with climbing being the main focus on the day. But at time between the climbs or going downhill, it's nice to have that big ring to keep momentum going. I need to get a tune up before the ride anyway, this just means getting it in there sooner.

After a longish climb and a stop at a Peet's Coffee in Concord, the real climbing began. Connie and Lauren made it to Peet's before we left so the entire group headed out together, which I thought was nice.

There were a few sections of slightly more level road than others but basically, according to the map,  it was about 6-8 miles of climbing with lots of switchbacks that would get steeper the last 15 yards or so. These last few yards gave me an opportunity to stand and climb or there were some of those last inclines that I might not have made. It was very slow going but I stuck with it and rode the entire way. I stopped one time to get a bite of a Clif Bar, I couldn't do it while climbing as slow as I was! lol The good news was that I didn't cramp at all nor did I "pre-cramp." I was just fatigued from it being more climbing than I've done in a long time. That was encouraging! The drink I've been using is Camelbak Elixir. I only have one tablet left and then I'll have to decide if I'm going to stick with that (the tablets are VERY convenient) or go back to Accelerade, which I like very much!

Finally at the top,  I missed the rest stop! Oops! The ride sheet said the rest stop was at the top of the climb and since there was more climbing, I didn't realize I was there. The main problems with that were 1) I was a little low on water and 2) my teammates may have been there waiting for me and the other 2 who were out on the road still. They don't usually wait too long for the slow pokes in the group so that wasn't the biggest worry. The water became more of an issue later as I was going through farm and ranch country with no gas stations or other places to stop. The downhill on the opposite side of the climb was described as "screaming" in the ride description. I'd say that was accurate. My risk-taking has decreased quite a bit so I was braking much of the way down, especially on the blind curves. But I still hit 35mph. I need to find out from my teammates how fast they got up to. Some of those guys are crazy!

I made it to the Starbucks in Danville where Lorrie and Emma Blue were waiting to see how I was doing. I got some water and spent some time debating whether my legs had enough in them to complete the last few miles to hit 60 as indicated by the ride sheet to the Lunch Stop. I decided to give it go and Lorrie planned to hang out a few minutes so she could pass me and see how I was doing. It turned out to be mostly at a slightly downhill angle so I made it to Domenico's Deli in Danville in no time. I ended up getting there before anyone, which made me worry about how long the guys may have waited at the top of the climb for me. They are an easygoing bunch but I hate the idea of holding up their ride because of my mistake!

Meanwhile, Lauren, one of the other women on the ride, bonked hard! She and Connie called the ranger in Morgan Territory (I'm not sure I would have thought of that!) who took them to the Starbucks also. Fortunately they ran into Lorrie and were able to get a ride to the Deli. Most of the guys were there by the time Lorrie brought the other 2 women. We were all glad to be there safe and sound!

I made my "at least" goal and didn't feel like I should push it any further. I was tempted though because I did feel good.... sitting there! lol The good thing about aging is that I actually am wiser about listening to my body. So I ended it there and was very happy with my accomplishment! Lauren also made the smart choice to stop there after bonking so hard. And Connie decided to go along with her. So back to the starting point we went, leaving the boys at the deli to fill their bellies before completing the last 20 miles.

My only achy areas are my quads and my lower back. The quads are easy for me to get in better shape. I need to start making a concerted effort to improve my lower back and upper body in general.

Here's the entire intended route, though I stopped Danville:

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Rancho Cordova to Fair Oaks - Training Ride 5 (sortof)

Distance = 13.2mph
Time = 1.15.19
Avg Speed = 10.5
Max Speed = 21.5 (I have no idea where I would have gone that fast!)

I am in study mode so there isn't much time consuming training happening right now. We met up with Natacha and Rachel to get a little ride in with the goal of having lunch in Fair Oaks at Sunflower Drive-In and Restaurant. We met up at River Bend Park, which used to be called CM Goethe Park but was changed because of Goethe's alleged Nazi history. We rode about 6 miles east on the American River Bike Trail toward Fair Oaks where we had to ride around a little to find the Sunflower Drive-In. I had only been there once before on a training ride and was following the entire way. Fortunately it's a small enough village that we found it pretty quickly. I thought this would be a great place to take N & R because Rachel is vegetarian and they have never had the Nut Burger at Sunflower. Plus, the roaming chickens are very cute to see! After lunch and some good conversation, we headed back to the cars. It took us a little while to find the trail again after having gotten ourselves confused in looking for the restaurant. I was voted to go up and down the hills to check if we were going the right direction so no one else would have to climb as much. That was the extent of my "training" for the day!

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Winter to Dam Cardiac - Training Ride 4

Distance - 26.88
Time - 2.19.05
Average Speed - 11.5mph
Max Speed - 33.5mph

I just needed to get a ride in and wanted to climb. I didn't trust my mind to be totally present for too long because of my thoughts of Tori. So I got a ride to Winters then took the short way out to Hwy 128 where I climbed up to Monticello Dam and then Cardiac. It was a little later in the day than I prefer so there were more cars out than I usually experience. Most were fine. Though a few were very fast and I imagine them being surprised by seeing me there.... even though this is a very popular cycling route. But the rudest person was a motorcyclist. That surprised me the most. He had the big wide handlebars that felt WAY too close when they passed. Which is funny because what did he think would happen to himself if he caught with me with those handlebars?? I know! I know! Front wheel flips to the right and his unhelmeted unretrained large body flies at about 60mph into the falling rock wall next to us. Sounds fun... and well worth the risk! Whatever. I'm definitely grumpy!

Here's some information about the route. Though it looks like my gps didn't catch the end of the ride for some reason. Basically just an out and back.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Tribute to TORI the EXPLORER: 1997-2012

video

It was a dark and rainy early morning in Houston in 1999 when Tori came into my life quite by accident. She was approximately 2 years old. After 13 years of adventures together, she left this life at 2:41am as we held her on a dark and rainy Leap Day morning at the age of 15.

Tori was a peace loving, adventure seeking , gentle soul who gave and received love without effort and made everyone smile who had the joy of meeting her. Despite a dislocated patella, diabetes, one eye, blindness and colitis, she was always ready for the next adventure. As soon as it seemed that we were preparing to leave for anywhere other than work, you could find her sitting facing the door, lying on our shoes, or next to the car outside so we would be sure not to forget her.  How did she always know exactly where the car door was when she was blind??

Tori was the most forgiving and patient being I have ever had the pleasure to meet.  Two and a half years ago, Tori nearly died when she lost her eye in a remote area of Canada. She survived that crazy incident like the stubborn girl she always was and in the process developed an incredible bond with Lorrie that can only come out of a shared trauma. They were soul mates.

She has left a hole in our lives that can only be filled with the incredible memories we have of her and the life lessons only she has been able to teach us. I feel so incredibly blessed that she came into my life and that she was willing to spend 13 years claiming me as her Human!



Saturday, February 25, 2012

Vacaville Winters Loop - Training Ride 3

Distance - 37.31
Time Riding - 2.54.34
Actual Time - 3.38.22 (or a little less because I forgot to stop my watch)
Max Speed - 31.5mph

There were about 12 of us today. We started out from Three Oaks Community Center around 10:30am or so. That seemed really late to me. But then I also don't like getting up too early! lol

I'm starting to get a better picture of the area. From Vacaville we were on Pleasants Valley Rd, which is also the road I turned right on out of Winters during my Training Ride 1. The headwind was against us this direction so that was another great training opportunity. The hills were low rollers. So they rolled but there wasn't a lot of elevation gain for them. There was an "possible stop" at Lake Solano Park that everyone was at when I got there. But when I came out of the bathroom, everyone but one of the ride leaders was gone. That's a weird feeling! I wish I had just kept rolling to Winters, which was only about 3 miles away, for our main rest stop. They would have caught me anyway.

After Winters, the wind was mostly at our backs or not a factor as we headed back toward Vacaville. There were more rollers on this side of the loop. They seemed little higher in elevation... or perhaps I was more tired. Either way, it was a nice ride. Car drivers were mainly courteous. One pickup truck driver actually drove behind me up a hill since he couldn't see what might be coming his way down. I appreciated that one in particular!

During one of the climbs on the way back, I finally heard my heart in my ears! This seems significant to me because it meant that my legs were able to go fast enough to get my heart working a little harder. That's what I'm going for right now. Both the cardio and the muscular need work! (=

Good training ride! It'll feel better when I'm not spending quite so much time alone. But, for now, if I'm going to listen to my body, that's where I am.

Here's the route:

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Folsom Cycling - Training Ride 2

Distance: 34.3 miles
Time Riding: 3.13.04
Time Overall: 4.32.05
Avg: 12.2
Max: 37.5 mph

To see the map of the ride:
Folsom Cycling - Road biking trip - Spot | SpotAdventures

This was my first "Official" AIDS/Life Cycle Training ride with a group, mainly Team Sacramento, and where we had to follow the rules... helmet, stopping at stop signs, using turn signals, etc.

Started at Folsom Bike in Folsom where everything seems to be named "Folsom _______" lol We started out riding along Lake Folsom where there is a huge dam called, guess? Folsom Dam! This was the hillier section of the ride. I prefer to start out with the hills first so this worked for me. I can also tell that I'm doing better regarding wind because there was a head wind going uphill and not one cuss word came out of my mouth. Maybe that was why I needed to live in Minnesota for a little while... get used to flat and wind.

You can see from the map where else we went. Mainly rolling hills after the initial incline. But those were pretty challenging for me at this stage of my training.

In the ride description, it read, "Say Hello to the chickens." I figured that meant we were going rural. Turns out there's a village called Fair Oaks that has chickens just wandering around on the streets. Urban free range? I read a flyer on the window where we ate that indicated the chickens are becoming a problem and that no one is taking care of them. The main problem is their lack of access to water.

In Fair Oaks, we stopped at Sunflower Drive-In Restaurant, which is where we saw most of the chickens. But it's a vegetarian place so at least they aren't serving up the chickens. I had a Peanut Butter Banana and Honey sandwich that I shared with Samantha, one of the ride leaders.


After that there was no major climbing but many more rolling hills. I dropped my chain not long after we left the restaurant so Connie and I got pretty far behind. She did a good job dragging me back up to the group. Good patience on her part!

With about 5 miles left, I started with the pre-cramping. That is a difficult feeling to deal with. One wrong move and there's the cramp. But if I don't push on the pedals hard enough, I won't get anywhere. I used a Gu and kept drinking my Camelbak Elixir, which generally works in those situations. But I just kept pedaling, which miraculously gets me closer to the finish! And that I did.

What I did well: I rode my ride. I was at the back the entire time and way off the back much of the time. But I know my current fitness level and how much I could push myself and I listened to that without letting my ego get involved.

What I'm happy about: Though my legs need quite a bit more work, my cardiovascular fitness is much more advanced than I thought. My heart rate went above "the zone" a few times in the climbs but I didn't hear it in my ears and I didn't feel it trying to beat out of my chest. And when we had a rest stop, I never felt fatigued aside from my legs. Because I was farther back, a couple of the leaders kept asking me how I was doing in that tone that says they can tell I'm in pain. But I always felt really good. So I'm happy about that!

Looking forward to: I'm looking forward to my legs being stronger and continuing to build my fitness so I can rock those climbs!

To work on: I still need to lose some weight to make climbing that much easier. Definitely not going overboard with that but I need to be realistic about getting down to "fightin' weight."

Go Team Sacramento!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

First Cali Hill - Training Ride 1

So I've started training for the AIDS/Life Cycle Charity Ride. And because there is a lot of climbing during that week, I thought it might be a good idea to ride a hill or two before I start the ride in June. So off I went to Monticello Dam and a little beyond to the Marina. It was a great day! Seemed much colder when I started out than it actually was so I quickly took off my jacket. The hill was also a little more manageable than I expected. So a good entre into some climbing for the season. And by season, I'm not sure what I mean since it's still winter in Minnesota and I wouldn't be able to think about cycling at this time usually.

Distance: 26.82
Time: 2.12.07
Max: 32mph
Avg: 12.1mph