Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Stage 11: Marshall (Marconi Center) to San Francisco

You have all heard that San Francisco gets foggy, right?  Well at the start we had a chance to experience it. Walking to the dinner hall this morning for breakfast, there were conversations of whether this was heavy fog or light rain. But we had miles to ride and hills to climb before we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and bring this wonderful ride to an end.

I had ridden portions of this route before and I had remembered it to be hilly, but my muscles reminded me that reality trumps memories. It seems my memories told me that I could fly over each of the peaks like a gazelle. Oh those memories can be so misleading. By the water stop at 20 miles, the idea of going 6 miles out of my way and climb an additional 2,500 feet was crazy, just crazy. Three of the guys I was riding with, Frank, Chris and Philippe stuck to their plan to climb Mt Tam and I continued along the to the lunch stop at 30 miles.

There were 3 climbs that need to be taken. One before lunch and two climbs after lunch, and then make a climb up to the bridge itself. In total the number of feet climbed was 3,900 in 51 miles, a very respectable day of cycling.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Stage 10: Monte Rio to the Marshall (Marconi Center)

Today was a day of options. Originally two different routes were offered, both starting and ending at the same places, but one was labeled "easy" and the other labeled "hilly".  Brooke knows these roads pretty well and suggested changes to both rides, adding two more options to consider and Frank came up with a fifth option that eliminated most of the climbing for the day. So don't say that our rides don't offer choices.


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Stage 8: Fort Bragg to Gaulala

Some days are more memorable than others. Some days you want to just get on the bike and go fast and go far. Some days you want to mix it up a bit and ride in a pack with other riders.

Well today was not one of those days. It was a day to remember your camera and take every opportunity to enjoy the views and take all the photos that your camera memory will allow. As you can see in the photos below, the day started off kinda blah and overcast, but the conditions improved throughout the day with the clouds lifting so that we could enjoy the breathtaking coast. The cliffs plunging to the the ocean, the waves crashing on the rocks. Oh it's all you can wish for on a trip like this. But don't think that the riding is easy on the coast. It's up and down and up and down as you drop down to a river bed then climbing back up. Though not as tough as the Sweetwater climb, it still had many steep ascents throughout the day. Along the way, we pulled into Queenies Roadside Cafe in the town of Elk at about 25 miles into the ride, where I had coffee and a scone.

Lunch was at Manchester State Park, about 38 miles,  where we ate near the beach within view of a lighthouse. Upon leaving lunch, it was decided to head out the Point Arena lighthouse, only 2 1/2 miles out of our way.

By the time we were leaving the lighthouse, a very nice strong tailwind from the Northwest had developed and pushed us along very nicely.

It would be great if all days could be like today.

Happy Biking,


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Stage 7: Cloverdale Fort Bragg

As a ride progresses, you start to get into a rhythm. Time to wake up, time for breakfast, time to start, time for coffee and such.

Today with a 77 mile ride, with no huge climbs it was time to just enjoy the ride and take as much time as necessary. If you take a look at the ride profile below, as we left Cloverdale there was a nice 8% climb for about 10 miles before descending into a small berg call Yorkville at about 12 miles. I spied a small mini mart and was able to wave some other rides in to join me for lattes and pastries.

We hung out for about 30 minutes before heading down the road another 12 miles or so to the lunch stop. We lingered a bit before heading on. But first I detoured back about 1/2 mile to Anderson Valley Brewery. They make a stout that I really enjoy and I wanted to sample it at their tasting room, but when I arrived, I was too early and decided to push on rather than waiting for them open.

The road oscillated all day long as we lost attitude to the ocean, but the total number of feet added to our accumulated feet climbed all day long.

At about 45 miles we reached the Navarro Redwoods State Park is about 10 miles long of beautiful biking through a Redwood forest. Shady and cool made for ideal biking conditions, A very special and unexpected treat.

We emerged from the forest into strong headwinds off the ocean and as we got close to Highway 1, it became so cool that many of the riders needed to put on their jackets. The next stop was in Mendocino, a small tourist town just off Highway 1 where we hung out for quite a while. Long enough to have two cups of coffee and a stop at the local bakery.

Fort Bragg was only 8 miles further north that went pretty quickly. I'm not sure what time we arrived, maybe about 2:30, but the riders that had arrived before us were hanging out in at the motel having drinks and munching chips.

Tomorrow is a day off before heading South for our final 4 days before crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and completing the ride.

Today' Photos

Happy Biking,


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Stage 6: Healdsburg to Cloverdale

Today's ride was pretty short as the crow flies, about 17 miles. But we were riding to the geysers which meant 40 miles and 4000 feet of climbing. The local area is very geologically active and the local geysers have been harnessed for creating power. The road takes you up and around the geysers. The most prominent sign of the power generation are pipes running up and down the hills. Perhaps some of my photos later in the ride caught some of them.

We road out of Healdsburg at about 8AM after breakfast with nice cloud cover to keep things cool. We headed out past the Jimtown general store and on up the hill. The hill started at about 10 miles and kept climbing for about 10 more miles. At times the cycle computer flashed 17% grade, but it was mostly 12-14% with some 6 to 8% thrown in. It was pretty long, but compared yesterday's Sweet Water climb, not nearly as exhausting.

Mike and Colleen Hover was at the top of the climb with drinks, fruits and snacks that would hold us until we got down to Cloverdale. The rest of the ride was mostly downhill, but over some god awful road surface ranging from cracked and broken surface to gravel. We were warned about the conditions this morning, but it really slowed us down getting into Cloverdale.

Upon entering the town we turned left and spied Pick's Drive-in with large signs announcing Root Beer Floats. Rick was buying and I ordered up the large size. It really hit the spot!

Tomorrow will be longer, about 75 miles and additional climbing than today at 4700 feet, but we'll end up on the coast at Fort Bragg. It should be a great day!

Brian Cox

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Stage 5; Headlsberg loop ride, Sweetwater Loop

Ahh Sweetwater... has a lovely name doesn't it? Well the first quarter of this was anything but sweet. This was climb like few that I've done before.

Take a look at the ride profile below, the two pyramid peaks below? Well those represents some very steep climbs. Looking at the computer as I was climbing, sections were 19% and once or twice a bit steeper. With grades this steep, you front wheel begins to lift off the pavement with each stroke. You have to be standing up over your handlebars to keep the wheel on the ground, just hoping that something doesn't go wrong cause with you feet clipped into the pedals, you could fall down to either side and have a painful crash.

One of the nice things about having a Garmin is that you can set the view for the ride profile and judge how much more you need to endure. You just keep saying, another 400 feet, another 300 feet, another 200 feet, another 100 feet and then the climb is done and you meet all your buddies and lie to each other on how much fun it was.... oh this is just a crazy sport....

Brian Cox

Monday, August 3, 2015

Stage 4: Healdsburg / Rockpile Loop

Today's ride was an out  and back that is handy in case you run out of gas and just want to return home. Looking at the map below, you can see that it's a series of climbs and some dips before climbing again. The turn around point is about 28 miles, so the ride profile is pretty symmetrical.

The grade was pretty steep in parts, hitting 17% on occasion then setting in at 15% then relaxing to 13 to 14% grade. All very respectable grades.

We were very fortunate that the temperatures remained in the high 60's and low 70's with low humidity. As fast as you could sweat, a cool breeze would cool you off. Really ideal conditions for this type of climb.

As we came back into town, we were guided to the Bear Republic Brewery where we had burgers and beers after stopping by the local bike shop called, "Spoke Folk Cyclery".

All in all a very nice day to cycle.

Today's Photos

Happy Biking


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Stage 2: Millbrae to Napa

Great day for the start of the trip. We needed to be at the BART station for the 9AM departure to get to the ferry to Vallejo at the north end of the bay, about a ride of an hour.

By the time we all got on our bikes and ready to go, it was about 11AM. As we rode down the Georgia St in Vallejo there was a street fair that we need to navigate our way through as we found our way out of town heading north.

The roads at first was pretty busy at first, but as we continued north the route was able for the most part put us on to residential streets with less traffic.

Lunch was at about the 20 mile mark, which provided a nice break before the file leg up to Mt Veeder that was about a 1000 foot climb with some nice grades. Not as steep or long as Kings Road yesterday, but enough to know that you're working pretty hard. At the top, the road did a U turn that headed back to Napa where we're staying for the night.

Tomorrow we're heading for winery for lunch so the group is looking forward the the ride.

Happy Biking,


Friday, July 31, 2015

Stage 1: Crystal Springs Loop

Today is a warm up loop ride for the trip. Out from out motel in Millbrae, up a steep hill to the Crystal Springs Reservoirs before dropping down to Woodside. After a quick lunch provided at our support van, we started the climb up Kings Mountain Road. At times my bike computer was showing 10% grade and on occasion up to 12%.

At the top, we scooted along Skyline Blvd until we reached Route 92, where a truck and cycle had collided backup up traffic for miles going up and down the route. Being that we were on bikes, we scooted around the traffic and continued on.

A couple more climbs and we were back at the reservoirs and soon were back where we started at the hotel with enough time for a couple of drinks at the nearby Chinese restaurant.  

Tomorrow we'll be taking the BART to the ferry which will take us to the other side of the bay to start the trip.

Today's Photos

Happy Biking,