The Sting

No, not starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Just me, me, me and maybe a bee, perhaps a wasp.


Have you ever been stung by an insect while riding?

The first time this happened to me was in a race on a hot, hot day in Acton, California, which is one set of hills separated from the Mojave Desert. I had my jersey zipped down halfway, and on a fast, curvy descent a bug banged against my chest and got caught inside the jersey. I don’t know what it was, but it got rather irritated as they do and started stinging. Since I was at speed on this curvy downhill, with other racers around me, I needed both hands on the bars, so it was bit of a predicament. I had to brake to the back of the group then start slapping at my chest to stun or flatten the bug. Eventually it stopped and dropped down, then somehow fell out the hem of the jersey. But all the other racers had sped away on the downhill and all the braking overheated my rims, leading to a blowout. End of race.

The second time was in the French Pyrenees. On the way up to the Col d’Aspin there is a small lake in a flat spot just below the Campan-Payolle ski area. It was another hot July day on the road so I had my jersey zipper pulled way down and I was sitting up with my hands off the bars just relaxing as I passed this alpine lake. Suddenly there was a sharp pain on my right side. I grabbed the bars with my left hand and put my right hand to my side. I felt a bump under the jersey and then another sharp pain. Apparently some kind of bug had flown in my open zipper and didn’t care for the aroma, so it started biting or stinging. I slapped a few times then pulled the hem of the jersey away from my side so that the bug could fall out. The pain was pretty intense for a bit, but we started the final climb up the Aspin and I soon was distracted by the pain in my legs. I never did see the bug, but my pal Eric documented the effect later that day. I carried these welts for a week.

French bug bite

French bug bite

The third time was few months ago while I was doing a ride from Templeton over highway Cal 46 towards the ocean south of Cambria. I had started with several strong riders and they were pushing the pace on the long climb over the coast hills and down to Cal 1. They planned on turning north to ride up to Ragged Point and then return, for a 100 mile r/t. I was not in shape for that much, especially at their pace, so I turned around at Cal 1 to head back for a 50 mile r/t. The early pace had taken a lot out of me, and it was another hot day, so while climbing back up Cal 46 to return to Templeton I was feeling more than a bit woozy at times. Luckily the pavement is quite good and the shoulders are wide, so I didn’t have to concentrate on holding a tight line. There were several points when it was all I could do mentally to think about spinning the cranks. At one of those points, in my peripheral vision I noticed something yellow land on my forearm, but I didn’t seem to have the energy to turn my head and look at it. Then I felt a severe pain which got my attention. I looked and saw this bug stinging me, so I brushed it away with my other hand. The pain stayed with me all the way back home, a complement to the pain in the rest of my body.

#4 was this past Thursday while riding with Ted on our way back from a java break in San Miguel. We were rolling south along River Road between fields of alfalfa when I felt something hit my lip. Luckily I had my mouth closed, but my gray goatee caught whatever it was. As I felt it moving, my hand was swinging up immediately to brush it away, but the stinger just started to pierce my lip as I knocked it off. Oooh the pain! But I must have gotten it before any venom got injected. I could feel tingling in my lip for an hour, but it never swelled up.

avoided this!!!

avoided this!!!

#5 happened last Saturday, as I mentioned in the previous post, while I was rolling past Wild Horse Winery on Templeton Road, heading north at about 60 miles into the ride. I felt a sharp pain in my upper groin, so I reached down and felt a bug stuck on the outside of my lycra shorts. I grabbed it and pulled it away, but it got me, and the hurt stayed with me for the rest of the ride. The sting was literally just a couple of inches from my nether bits, so I was lucky, it could have been much more painful!

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A Week in the OTH Life

I count as perhaps the most significant accomplishment in my life being 50% responsible for the raising of a lovely, wise-arsy, tri-lingual daughter who also is a powerhouse drummer in a punk/pop band called “Nancy and the She-Bitches.”

But let’s look at cycling accomplishments, since cycling is the ostensible purpose of this blog.

Yeah, I like cycling a whole lot, enough to expend a fair amount of time and energy riding, planning and leading rides, and also maintaining this blog with the requisite photos and composition. However, while I got my first multi-speed bike at age 14 (Schwinn Varsity), I didn’t start riding seriously until age 33 (only 1 bike later, a barely lighter Fuji Royale), nor did I try my legs at racing until age 40. Late, really late. I quickly found that the cost/benefit ratio was not favorable, so after a decent season of club racing which culminated in winning the Masters A category of the South Bay Wheelmen internal race series, I wisely retired from racing while on top of that particular heap, having earned a nice 4″x6″ wood and brass plaque for my efforts.

The cycling nowadays in my Over-The-Hill phase, and for most of the last 20 years, is mainly about trying to stay healthy and searching for Swami Havenagudtime. By which I mean camaraderie, chai lattes with pastry, and full-bore downhills on long, twisty, well-paved country roads with no traffic or loose dogs. I have been quite successful in this aspect of the sport, pursuing it in several states across the US as well as internationally. Racing, well, following racing, is mostly an afterthought. I did have the opportunity to work as a gofer for pro teams during the Tour of California in 2008 & 2010, which was simultaneously exciting and exhaustion inducing, more about surviving the event than being able to appreciate it in the moment.

I’m only reading about the TdF online, sometimes days after a stage completes. Perhaps the reduced interest follows reduced capability. Can’t argue with that.

Which leads me to the post title. In preparation for a 113 mile ride on July 26 (Steve Hartt Memorial Ride) from San Pedro CA to San Diego, I’m looking at training rides on 5 days over the next 7, so I thought I’d chronical the efforts. The plans are

  • Tuesday: Mike and Alan, the two de facto leaders, both are out of town, so I am running the show. We’ll meet at Dark Nectar coffee in Templeton and head out to the west side vineyards.
  • Wednesday: I have been drafted to take over planning and leadership of the San Luis Obispo Bicycle Club north county “Breakers” ride which leaves from the Courtyard Marriot in Paso Robles and will roll mostly east and north of Paso Robles.
  • Thursday: Again, Mike and Alan, the two de facto leaders, both are out of town, so I am running the show. We’ll meet at J Lohr Winery northeast of Paso Robles and head out to the upper reaches of Hog Canyon where it becomes Monterey County.
  • Saturday: Solo ride for long mileage. I have paid up front for a century ride on July 26 from San Pedro to San Diego with the Peninsula Cycling Club, so I have been stretching out on Saturdays in preparation.
  • Sunday: Mountain biking at Montana de Oro State Park outside of Los Osos with my buddy Larry, who lives in Los Osos. I also invited a fellow blogger, the “Fat, Bearded and Tattooed Cyclist” from San Luis Obispo, so we’ll get his perspective.

Check back, I’ll be updating this posting as the days progress.

Tuesday Results

Light turnout today. Mike #1 is on vacation, Alan and his wife are visiting with their brand new grandchild, Melissa has pesky work requirements, but where are John and Gary? Mike #2 (retired) and Oscar (works nights) joined me at the Dark Nectar start for our standard route through the vineyards on the west side of Templeton and Paso Robles.

We seemed to be in unspoken agreement about not pushing the pace today, perhaps we’ve all lost energy and motivation due to the recent heat wave coupled with the unusual humidity yesterday. I certainly did not mind a bit of back-off. We also did not make our usual regroups at Halter Ranch Winery or the top of Adelaida Road since we were all together anyway. But we can never let an opportunity to blast down the Adelaida descent pass by, so we did some rotations on the front in max gear inches.

Coffee and goodies are our rewards after 30 miles and 2100′ feet.

Wednesday Results

Estrella Road in north San Luis Obispo County, especially the section between Cal 46 and Jardine Road, is simply fabulous for pacelining. Curvy and mostly flat, a few minor inclines for variety, and barely any traffic. Lovely scenery including vineyards, orchards, horse and cattle ranches, and dry stream courses.

Estrella Road

Estrella Road

This is where I got my posterior handed to me in April 2013 by the K-Man krew. I took my turn at the front, popped off and drifted to the back, and as much as I tried, could not grab back on and got shelled, ultimately bonking later that day.

Today was much better.

Earl, Jerry, Kathy and Ken joined me on the SLOBC Breakers ride today from Paso Robles. We rolled out of Paso to the east, finding the southern end of Estrella Road where it reaches Cal 46. The road heads from there generally in a northwest direction towards the town of San Miguel for 12.9 miles with only two stop signs (which we totally ignore since, as I already mentioned, there is barely any traffic). We pacelined the entire road, doing some nice rotations, and Kathy went for a PR on a Strava segment over the second half of the span.

This Strava business, I seem to have a little problem with it. While we were pacelining along Estrella Road, with me on the front and Kathy right on my wheel, she encouraged me to keep the high pace because she was going for a PR on that section. I replied with something like “isn’t that cheating?” She said there are no rules in Strava…

Hmmmm… I’ve never looked at Strava online and maybe I don’t get it, but it seems to me that it’s an infinite set of virtual individual time trials. This is mostly speculation, and you are welcome to correct me, but my thinking is that some stretch of pavement or trail in the real world gets defined by somebody as a course, then any GPS-equipped rider can race the course and upload their results to Strava in a virtual and asynchronous competition with other GPS-equipped riders. Do it anytime you want, day or night. Seems pretty cool if you’re into that sort of competition.

A quick online self-education shows that there is a lot of value in Strava if you are using it for training (and pay the premium fee), but the service is best known for its leader boards, KoM and QoM. With such competition in mind it seems, at least to me, that you ought to be doing it by yourself. That is, nobody pulling you, just like in an old-fashioned ITT with course marshals watching for illegal wheel-sucking. Un rouleur contre le montre. What’s to keep somebody from switching on their GPS device and then grabbing the side mirror of a vehicle for a nice little boost? Nothing, I suppose, if you’re more concerned with winning than ethics.

I tried googling “strava controversy” to see if the subject has been beaten ad nauseum online, but came up empty. The results I got were, in fact, controversial, just not along this line. More like 1) urban Stravites cycling recklessly, 2) digital EPO for fiddling with GPS data, 3) banning LA from Strava, etc, etc.

The closest I got was a BBC.COM interview with Strava CEO Michael Horvath from March 2013:

And it’s also easy to find critics suggesting the software encourages cyclists to jettison trail etiquette in favour of trying to shave seconds off their time.

“We’re certainly not trying to polarise,” Mr Horvath says.

“We can communicate, ‘Don’t be that guy, use good judgment. Remember that there are other people on the trail.’ And I think we spread that message.”

Trail etiquette? Good judgment? In my little leather-bound book of etiquette and judgment there is a page under S that says “Strava sections = ITTs. Thou shalt not employ any motive force beyond your own efforts.”

There also is a page under J that says “stop for java”:

Thursday Results

I have to admit it, sometimes we just look goofy. Check this out:

Martina & me at Villa San Juliette

Martina & me at Villa San Juliette

She looks gorgeous, I look like Mister Bubblehead!

Ted and I rode from J Lohr Winery this morning north to the upper end of Hog Canyon Road, then came back south on Ranchita Canyon Road. Where the road exits Ranchita Canyon, that is where Villa San Juliette Winery is located, and where Martina works. I first met Martina back in 2010 when I was doing a benefit ride from Justin Winery, which is where she worked back then. I reconnected with her earlier this year as described in this post.

Martina said to stop by Villa San Juliette next time we are rolling through the neighborhood and say hi, so today is the day we did so. The picture above is at the fountain out in front of the tasting room. There is a lovely view to the southwest over rolling vineyards to the coast range hills separating the Salinas Valley from the Pacific coast.

After visiting with Martina, we headed to San Miguel for java at the Coffee Station, me for the second day in a row. Must be the way Ashley makes my latte. Our route for today is here, and here are a few pix from the ride:

Saturday Results

I stretched it out even farther today with a 72 miler that took me east out of Templeton to Creston, then southwest to Santa Margarita, back north to Templeton, and then out on the west side to bulk up the miles and climbing.

On the way to Creston I passed by Pomar Junction winery where I had spent a few hours the previous evening sipping merlot and listening to the Blimp Pilots. It was fun hearing them play the Tom Petty song “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” which I have just learned myself. My arrangement is a bit spare in comparison, since it’s just me on acoustic guitar and vocals while they are an electric 5-piece.

I took Cal 229 southeast out of Creston, which now has been added to my favorite route collection. It’s flat for a couple of miles leaving Creston, but then it starts weaving its shaded pavement through a range of hills with gentle climbs and descents. The last drop down to Cal 58 has a series of banked turns where you can (assuming there is no traffic) take nearly a straight line connecting the apex of each turn, just bobbing up and down over the banking.

Before reaching Santa Margarita, I took a detour out to Santa Margarita Lake. The road out to the lake is smooth and wide, with very gentle grades, maybe designed for people hauling their boats. It makes for a nice stretch of time-trialing in the drops. On the way back from the lake I saw occasional riding pals Jarry & Brenda in their red van heading out towards Pozo to do some mountain biking. Along the road I found this shrine to a departed IBEW union fellow, including his Stanley coffee mug and a moto windscreen. Don’t know if he crashed here or maybe it was a favorite route.

on the way to Santa Margarita Lake

on the way to Santa Margarita Lake

In Santa Margarita I stopped at The Porch for latte and scone. While enjoying the shade of the side patio, two women pulled in on their bikes for coffee, so I got to talking with them. Gail and Monica had ridden down from Atascadero, Monica is training to ride in the Tour de Pink (3 days from Paso Robles to Point Mugu) in support of breast cancer survivors. Across the street from The Porch is a very interesting restaurant called The Range. It has a copper clad door and an appealing menu posted on the outside wall. Next time my daughter is visiting I think we’ll be taking a meal here.

On my way back north from Santa Margarita, I wanted to stay off of Camino Real as much as possible, and also not ride through the commercial areas of Atascadero. I was able to map out a route that required only about 3 miles on Camino Real and it took me through some interesting residential areas between Santa Margarita and Atascadero, where you see things that otherwise would be missed.

While rolling along one of these roads, going up a slight incline with a turn to the right, a rider came speeding downhill in the opposite direction. I did not look at his face, but his body and riding position reminded me of Alan Johnson, with whom I ride typically on Tuesdays and Thursdays. That recognition came to me a few seconds later and I looked back, but he was gone a hundred meters down the road and speeding away. I sent him an email later that day and he confirmed that it was him. We seem to think alike regarding bike routes in that both of us like to explore new areas. So it’s not a completely unexpected coincidence that we would see each other in such an out-of-the-way location.

My route then took me north on Rocky Canyon Road on the east side of the Salinas River, which links up to Templeton Road and back to Templeton. While rolling along past Wild Horse Winery I got a stinger on my upper groin area, quite close to some unmentionables. It HURT but a couple of inches to left and it would have been debilitating!

Sunday Results

Larry & Michelle live in Los Osos, in a home with a spectacular view north overlooking the Morry Bay estuary, the hills and mountains of the coast range, and all the way up the coast to Piedras Blancas. It was quite impressive when I walked into their home and took in the views from the living and dining rooms. Their place also is just down the road from Montana de Oro State Park, which has a reputation for some excellent mountain biking. So I contacted Larry earlier in the week and made an appointment for him to show me the trails. I also invited a fellow blogger, the “Fat, Bearded and Tattooed Cyclist“, but he was out of town and unavailable to eat dust with us.

We loaded our bikes in his van and drove into the park, unloaded and got on the trails with a quick downhill to the horse camp. People actually trailer in their horses for riding in the park and can camp here overnight, motorhomes or tents. From the horse camp we headed up, up, and farther up, with the views getting more spacious as we gained elevation.

There are some flat spots, but you have to climb to reach them. The trails range from powder to rock, mostly loose rock and dirt. Larry says the trail conditions are best a few days after a rain in the winter, but right now it’s bone dry and our bikes, as well as our legs, got powder-coated. No matter, it was great fun!

all in a day's work

all in a day’s work

Posted in Central Coast Wine Country, cycling, San Luis Obispo Bicycle Club, South Bay Wheelmen, Tour of California | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

TdF TNNG & WRH on the 4th

Do you think Horner, Talansky and Van Garderen rode their bikes in 4th of July parades when they were kids? Here perhaps is The Next Next Generation of USA TdF racers rolling down Main Street in Templeton CA on the 4th a few days ago.

Before the parade began I wandered through a parking lot full of Corvettes, vintage 1957 to nearly new, but none of the newest Batcave Studio models. I stopped to talk with the owner of the lovely Aztec Gold ’57 model, he claimed it used to belong to William Randolph Hearst, who had a little vacation retreat nearby. His claim is backed up by the original California license plate on the vehicle – “WRH 057″. In those days there were no vanity plates, but if you were WR Hearst my guess is that you could influence someone to provide such a plate. But who knows, perhaps it is a mere coincidence.

More of of the Corvettes

People and their horses

Old vehicles in the parade

More 4th of July thoughts – in a recent AARP Bulletin there was a brief “What I Really Know” contribution from a member named Michael Manning, of Hocksett, New Hampshire. He wrote about how over the course of his life, having come of age during the Vietnam war era, and having witnessed all of the political, economic and foreign policy shenanigans since then, he had gotten cynical about being a citizen of the U.S., which was his right merely by virtue of his birth here. But on the 4th, while he was at a local minor league baseball game, before the game there was an new citizen induction ceremony for 30 people, all ages and races, who had worked their ways from foreign shores, deliberately choosing to become citizens of this country because of the consequent freedoms and opportunities. The moment was very poignant for Mr. Manning, who regained his appreciation for Independence Day.

It’s a nice thought, and it reminded me of how I am coming to appreciate more and more my ability to keep bicycling. I think back to that day 10 years ago speeding down the Col du Cucheron in the French Alps, ignoring the “chausseur deforme'” signs and suddenly going into a tight, blind right-hander with gravel all over the pavement. I was lucky to get away with merely a grade 3 A/C separation and a bit of road rash.

So what I really know is that there is no way I would take that kind of risk nowadays. I still like a fast twisty descent, but I’m only going to push it if I already know the road. Simply being able to go at any speed, and enjoy the ride, not to mention staying healthy, are all far too important to risk through recklessness.

Posted in Central Coast Wine Country, cycling, socializing | 1 Comment

Back in the Day…

From time to time I wander through old photos squirreled away on my laptop. It’s a pleasant diversion, and that really is the key word – diversion. Mostly I’m doing it to avoid things I should be doing around the house, like cleaning up the spare bedroom I’m continuing to use as a staging area nearly 2 1/2 months after moving to my place here in Templeton.

Perhaps if I post them I’ll be able to move on to things I need to do in the here and now. So let’s take a little trip to back in the day…


Doctors Ride

For years I rode too much by myself, only occasionally latching onto some group of riders I might come upon by chance, then never see again. One Saturday morning at around 7am I was rolling past Malaga Cove Plaza in Palos Verdes CA, when I saw a group of riders gathering at the west end of the plaza. It was one of those moments when you consider that if you have free will you can make the choice to join or not to join. Neurologists who claim there is no such thing as free will posit that your response (not really a choice) is based solely on what has gone on in your life up until that point, including your genetic traits and epigenetic influences, and if all of those could be known, the response would be predictable.

Me, well I just thought, “I’ve had enough of riding alone, I want to suck some wheel today.” So I pulled into the plaza, rolled up to a fellow in the group, asked if I could join them, and proceeded to ride with the group for probably 15 years. It was called the Doctors Ride. Shown below is a pic at the start of a ride on a winter morning at the Malaga Cove Plaza Neptune fountain. I count 7 doctors in the group, you’re in good hands…

Doctors Ride February 2004

Doctors Ride February 2004


Track Madness

Before, and after, the 1984 Olympic velodrome in Carson CA, there was the Encino velodrome in the San Fernando Valley. I got briefly enthused about track riding, took classes to get qualified at Encino, and drove out there numerous times to ride with friends and acquaintances from South Bay Wheelmen. I even bought my own KHS Flite track bike from Bill Ron’s Bicycles in Redondo Beach CA, just a couple of blocks from my home at the time.

The pix below are me at Encino (pointing the wrong way on the track), and the SBW Weel Wabbit ladies. (click on either for larger versions)


TdF Training Daze

Back in 2003 and 2004 I went to France for cycling tours in the Pyrenees and Alps. But before the trips there was the training, and the training, and the training… Here are some pix from the training. My riding partners back then included Chuck Watson, multiple state and national racing champion, and Patrick Brady, founder of the Red Kite Prayer, a very successful cycling web site.


Thanksgiving ride

Back in 2008 I put together a Thanksgiving Day ride in Palos Verdes as an alternative to the more well-known holiday ride/shoot-em-up from Manhattan Beach to Mandeville Canyon. It was mostly friends from South Bay Wheelmen, as well as my work colleague Mario Obejas who had just started riding seriously. Nothing against the Mandeville ride, but I’d rather not do it with 300 of my closest friends. You need gallons of chamois butter to squeeze all those riders up and down that narrow strip of pavement. Besides, Palos Verdes is much closer and leaves more time for relaxing with latte and pastry post-ride.

We did a couple of the bigger climbs in PV and ended with brunch at Creme de la Crepe in the Riviera Village section of Redondo Beach.


Posted in cycling, socializing, South Bay Wheelmen | 1 Comment

hot/medium/mild salsa

Memorial Day weekend of 2014 is the 50th anniversary of the Great Western Bicycle Rally being held in Paso Robles, California. This rally quite possibly could be the reason why I live in the central coast wine country now. Let’s see, probably 24 years ago I came to the Mid-State Fairgrounds in Paso Robles for my first GWBR and the rides introduced me to the area. I came for the rally 3 more times and then started coming here independently of the rally for cycling, wine tasting and boating at Lake Nacimiento.

Since I moved to Templeton about 2 months ago, I have gotten plugged into the local cycling community by joining group rides and volunteering to lead rides. Carol and Steve Fleury, owners of Best Bike Zone shop in Paso Robles, are sponsors of the GWBR, and the shop also provides mechanical support for the rally. Carol recruited me to help lead the “salsa” ride on Saturday morning. There are 3 levels for the ride – “hot”, “medium” and “mild”. They all follow the same course but at differing speeds. I volunteered to lead the medium salsa.

Here are the salsa ride leaders at the start, left to right me, Lance (hot) and Brad (mild) (look at all those gray goatees!), along with Chris, who runs the GWBR along with his wife Angie, shown in the second picture.

The route for the ride was from the fairgrounds to the hilly vineyard and agricultural areas north and east of Paso Robles. We also went up Ranchita Canyon, briefly crossing into Monterey County, over a saddle into Hog Canyon, and then back down Hog Canyon and returning to the vineyards. When I reconnoitered the route last week, the temp hit 100, but thankfully the weather gods were not breathing fire today and it stayed relatively cool. (click on any picture to see a slide show of larger images)

About 4/5 into the ride there was a SAG stop at Le Vigne winery where GWBR volunteers provided refreshments, fruit and pastries. Thank you darlings!

SAG break at Le Vigne

SAG break at Le Vigne

Back at the fairground I took the opportunity to check out some of the memorabilia for the rally, including a collection of jerseys and a staff jacket for the late Ralph Boethling, who used to run the rally along with his wife LaVerne. Note on that La Puente AYH jersey the lower left patch – looks like the GWBR was held in Solvang back in 1966. And of course, I had to buy a jersey for myself, not every year can you get a 50th anniversary edition!

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Memory Magic

Twice in the past couple of weeks my memory has transported me back to a specific day in 2010, and even though the sense of smell supposedly is the strongest recollector of memories, in my case it was the sense of sight. And of course it was the sight of a woman in each instance.

Some weeks ago I went to a Rita Hosking concert at Castoro Cellars (which, by the way, has a very enticing music program), produced by SLOfolks, the San Luis Obispo Folk Music Society. Before the concert began I was wandering about the tasting room with wine glass in hand, and got to talking with a woman named Jean who was signing up concert guests to be on the SLOfolks mailing list. I monopolized her time for probably 15 minutes, practicing, as many of my guy friends repeat mantra-like, eyes on the face… eyes on the face. So I got a solid image of her face imprinted in my memory.

Several days later, while out on a bike ride, I was reflecting upon that evening at Castoro. The interesting people with whom I talked, the tasty wine I drank, and the wonderful music. This woman’s face came back to me, and I realized that I had met her before, back in 2010 at a benefit bike ride I did from Justin Winery west of Paso Robles. In fact, I had a picture of her on my laptop from that day. I emailed the picture to the woman who runs SLOfolks and asked her to confirm that my picture was in fact Jean, which she did, and here is Jean holding a bottle that she earned for her fundraising efforts:


I might be an over-the-hill roadie, but the mind still has occasional moments of clarity.

The second time happened today. I rode with the BBZ Express A group from the Dark Nectar coffee shop in Templeton out to the vineyards on the east side of the Salinas River. Robert Nadeau of Nadeau Family Vintners was leading today, so I knew it was going to be painful for me. To say the least… as soon as we got to the bridge over the river at the south end of town Robert put the pedal down a bit. I was second in line and he gapped me immediately since I was not warmed up, so I had to start chasing. I was on the rivet from that moment, through the mile and a half it took to get back on his wheel, and then for the entire first half of the ride. I really did not feel human until well into the second half of the ride and then I started anticipating the pastries that would be at the end of the ride, kindly provided by Tom Jermin, owner of Templeton Feed & Grain across the street from the coffee shop.

As I was digging into my second pastry, I got to talking with a woman named Martina, who had done one of the other rides. Her friend was wearing a Justin cycling jersey, so I mentioned that I had one similar to it. As I was keeping my eyes on her face, Martina said that she used to work at Justin back when I did that benefit ride in 2010. So the next image came back to me – before the ride, me standing with my lecherous arms around two lovely ladies at the winery, Martina being one of them:

me and the ladies

me and the ladies

Here is a group of pictures from the first half of that benefit ride

I did the long route, a metric century from Justin, into Paso Robles, out to the vineyards on the east side of Paso Robles, then back into and through Paso, finally the hills on the west side taking us back to Justin for wine and BBQ. Pictures from the second half and at the BBQ

Posted in Central Coast Wine Country, cycling, socializing | 2 Comments

A Little Dirt Won’t Hurt

Earl has saved my hiney in the past, so that makes me a fan of his rides. Especially when they take me on roads I have wanted to try but have not gotten around to. Most of our rides are on pavement, wandering among the vineyards of north San Luis Obispo county, but Earl put together a special edition today that included a fair amount of dirt. With that in mind I brought my Voodoo mountain bike to the start at the Trader Joe’s employee parking lot in Templeton.

A little clarification is in order regarding Earl saving my hiney. Back in mid-2013, before I relocated to wine country, I was coming here periodically to take care of my house, as in cutting the grass, dusting the window blinds, etc. I’d bring along a bike because, well, that was a significant part of the reason for moving here – the great cycling.

One Saturday morning I drove from Templeton to Atascadero for a ride from the K-Man shop, where I met Earl for the first time. As it turns out, that particular day was not a good day for me on the bike, and it was not a good day for it to not be a good day. These guys were fast and were going 100K over rolling hills through the east side vineyards. I was hurting mid-way through the ride and then I was bonking on the section from San Miguel up the Salinas River valley back to Atascadero. All the other riders motored away, but Earl kindly escorted me back all the way.

In contrast, today was a great day for me on the bike. Not only because I felt good, but the scenery, the weather and the company all were fabulous. We headed through the viney hills west of Templeton and Paso Robles on pavement and reached the first stretch of dirt at the corner of Klau Mine Road and Cypress Mountain Road.

Cypress Mountain Road goes up and over the ridge, coming down into the watershed that drains to the small town of Cambria on the Pacific Ocean. It’s dirt and gravel all the way from Klau Mine Road to the intersection with Santa Rosa Creek Road on the other side. There was a lot of steep up and down, and at one point we had to pass a full-size road grader doing maintenance on the narrow lane.

The view at the top was spectacular, and we met some bovine friends on the descent.

Santa Rosa Creek Road was paved decently, so there was a bit of traffic on it, people enjoying the lovely scenery just like us. At one point we stopped for a break at a driveway that goes up a slope to a hidden estate, and a furry pup came running down to greet us. Seems like this dog knew the drill pretty well since it would pay attention to whomever was digging in a pocket for something, hopefully a treat to share. Earl has met this dog before and today shared a chunk of Clif bar with it.

We crossed state highway 46 onto Old Creek Road and made a rapid descent to the avocado orchards lower down the valley, to where Santa Rita Road meets it. Up we went on Santa Rita for a mile of pavement, then more dirt and gravel. There is an extended and relentless climb here up to the ridge and I was trying to stay with Krissy all the way, but about a kilometer below the ridge I had to back off or crack, so she rode away.

We regrouped at the top, then descended the inland side that drains to the Salinas River. I was the only one with front suspension, so I headed down first and got a gap. But when it flattened out a bit to a gradual downhill, Earl was right there behind me on his semi-cross bike. We stopped to regroup when the pavement resumed, and only 30 seconds later Krissy pulled up. I was quite surprised since she was riding a road bike with only slightly fat tires, so that was impressive downhill handling. Ed and Janet showed up not much later,
also having executed some fancy downhilling on the dirt with their road bikes.

Thanks Earl for putting this together, great fun! The mapping service says it was 48 miles with over 4600′ feet of gain. Click here for the route.

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