Lake Isabella Circuit

Today started out backward. Mario, my Cuban pal who runs on Cuban time, was up and ready to go at 7:00am. He was not known to wake by 7:00am when he was employed, and since he has retired 7:00am typically is a chronological dream realm.

I, on the other hand, was up but not ready to go at all. I used to be at work no later than 7:00am and would be at 7:00am ride starts on weekends. Excuse coming – I had spent most of the previous day taking care of stuff instead of packing for this trip. That included picking up at Best Bike Zone a new set of Mavic OpenPro wheels for my Litespeed bike, along with rim tape and a new chain, and then installing all of those items. Later, I drove to San Luis Obispo to pick up Mario and his bike as he arrived by train from LA. By the time we got back to my place I was too pooped to pack, leaving that for the morning and delaying our departure for a week long trip riding in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California.

The first place we drove to was Kernville, north of the lake. We kitted up, got our bikes ready and started a clockwise loop around the lake. Here is Mario at the start, still wearing those Cat-Ears.

Mario and the velobum wheels

Mario and the velobum wheels

The lake is getting boney dry during this extended drought in California. The Kern River still flows steadily into the lake from the north, and there seems to be a decent amount of ground water for meadows on the east side of the lake where we found cows and llamas grazing, but the lake level is way, way down.

We saw a few boats in the water, but it looks pretty dangerous with old drowned trees that used to be well submerged now visible above the water. The main boat ramp on the south shore looks like an abandoned airstrip since so much of it is above the water line. The dam almost seems redundant. Hopefully winter storms will replenish the snow pack in the mountains as well as the lake level.

Mario has been losing weight steadily since retiring, while riding more, and consequently is getting ferociously strong on the bike. During the last five miles back to Kernville he was putting me in the pain place trying to stay on his wheel. I’m wondering perhaps he was just anxious to get to Kern River Brewing Company for a cold draft to quench his parched throat.

KRBC

KRBC

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The Mystery of the Downtube Shifters

“What are those?” asked Heidi, pointing at the downtube of my bike frame as we were working up the motivation for starting the ride today. When we realized she wasn’t kidding, we all busted out laughing. It was the best laugh of the day. We weren’t laughing at Heidi, we were laughing at ourselves. We’d gotten so old that we had to laugh, either that or else just give up and buy a rocking chair.

Heidi was pointing at the downtube shifters on my old Bringheli frame. She was young enough, and new enough to road cycling, that she had never seen downtube shifters before. I wondered to myself if she’d ever even noticed a nicely lugged steel frame. More likely it’s all been welded aluminum or titanium, bonded carbon fiber, and integrated brake/shift levers. Not like this:

old style

old style


My Bringheli is vintage, circa mid-80’s. Built by Joe Bringheli in Parma, Ohio, with a paint job by Keith Anderson, in Grants Pass, Oregon. I have no idea how a steel bike built in Ohio got painted by someone in Oregon. But then, I’m not the original owner.

I bought this bike used, back in 1997, from a fellow named Ed Taylor. Ed had moved recently from Indiana to Manhattan Beach CA, and brought numerous bikes with him, including the Bringheli. He found one of the groups I was riding with in Palos Verdes (the Doctors Ride), which is where I met him. A few months after joining us he developed an itch for a new Calfee carbon fiber bike. I’ll paraphrase the reaction of his wife – “one bike goes out, another can come in.” Which is how I came to get a sweet deal on a sweet lugged steel frame Bringheli. $350, cash on the barrelhead, no questions asked.

Normally I am riding a Litespeed Vortex, which is no spring chicken either, the frame and fork being about 13 years old. But it’s rock solid and the titanium frame likely will outlast me. Unfortunately I can’t say the same for wheels. It’s out of commission, waiting on a new set of wheels, which is how I came to be riding the Bringheli today. The Bringheli is my backup bike and I have not ridden it for months. Then I take it for a ride with a quick group like today, and remember how comfortable it is, plush yet steady. Here are some additional photos of it below. I added the rack back when I was still working and using the bike to commute. The soft case that straps to the rack carried my clothes and a towel for the showers at work.

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Smog City Cycling

Back in high school, waaaayyyyy back, there was a guy in one of my classes who had this catch-all phrase for real-life stuff that happens outside of the make believe confines of the secondary school classroom. Generally bad stuff. He said “that’s life in the big city.” Nowadays, people say “shit happens.” Same concept, different generation.

This past Sunday, my buddy Mario and I went out on our bikes looking for “life in the big city.” Not the bad stuff, but the interesting stuff that you see at the speed of bike and where a bike can take you. Since we’re talking LA, it’s “life in the smog city”, although several other big cities, like Beijing and Mejico D.F., probably have bested LA on that score. But the reputation remains, as demonstrated by the beer stein shown below.

Smog City stein

Smog City stein

I’m getting ahead of myself, the beer comes later. Let’s start at the start.

In the morning as we were kitting up, Mario suggested that we ride to the inland city of Downey, because a new location of Porto’s Bakery had opened there recently on Firestone Boulevard. Porto’s already is well-known and loved in Glendale and Burbank, Downey ought to be the same. And I am ALL ABOUT latte and pastry mid-ride or after, so no argument from me about the destination.

As we get rolling, check out this picture of Mario at the corner of Western & Carson. What’s that fuzzy stuff in front of his ears? Come on now, it’s not 1970, those can’t be sideburns can they? Mais non! They are Cat-Ears, a made-in-the-U.S.A. product ingeniously designed to reduce wind noise and enhance your hearing while riding. Who could argue with that?

Cat-Ear man on the prowl!

Cat-Ear man on the prowl!


Mario says he won’t ride without them now. Sorry, my goofy-meter gets pegged when I see those things. Besides, I think they make him look not like a cat, but like… Wolverine!
wolverine!

wolverine!

We headed inland from Chez Mario in south Torrance near the beach, and found our way to the LA River, which is one of those unfortunate hydrologic features that have been channelized into a ruler-straight concrete strip, gently dropping inches over miles to the ocean, with barely a bend to be seen. However, we cyclists benefit from having the river strapped in, because a lovely bike path has been created along the top of the concrete bank. No stop signs, no traffic signals, no cars/trucks/buses, just miles and miles of time-trial ready pavement.

Alas, life in the big city found us, even on this isolated bike path. In fact, that very degree of isolation perhaps is the source of how we were found and impacted. The channelized river, and the bike path, encounter bridges for the roads that need to span the river. The bike path dives under these bridges and pops back up on the other side. The larger bridges, for example, the bridge carrying the California Highway 91 freeway, provide a degree of shelter for itinerant homeless folks. Some of these folks drink alcohol. In glass bottles. Some of these folks break bottles, sometimes on the bike path.

As we were diving down under the 91 freeway bridge, I rolled over a spread of broken glass and my rear tire went “pow!” flat right now. We came to a stop under that same freeway, with that well-remembered traffic dirge sounding in my ears. At least we were in the shade on a hot, sunny day. As I was fixing the flat I looked around and noticed a small tent encampment maybe 30 yards away, also under the bridge. I imagined some fellows eyeballing us from inside those tents and making a judgement call on whether or not to get involved.

We pulled off that bike path at Firestone Boulevard and into a used car lot so that Mario could check his genius phone for the address of Porto’s. We found this big boy guarding the sales lot.

Finally! We made it to Porto’s Bakery, where we indulged in guava strudels and coconut maccaroons along with hot drinks, a nice steaming chai latte for me. There was another group of cyclists there, they had ridden north on the San Gabriel River bike path from Long Beach. Word has gotten out, it’s becoming a cycling destination! It was quite crowded, apparently it’s a traditional Sunday Latino post-church stop. But there is a big staff, they keep the product moving and the tables cleaned.

With many more calories onboard we headed back to the river bike path. But first we had to make a stop to see another big boy, this one the real “Big Boy”. Might be the last one in town for all I know. The Big Boys have been vanishing as tastes change, that’s life in the big city.

Then downstream we went, the miniscule downhill grade being totally offset by a headwind coming north from the LA harbor. This is where I let Mario practice his long distance leadouts, at least that’s what I tell him as I’m sitting on his wheel enjoying the pull. As a reward, once we exited the bike path and headed west to Torrance, I suggested that we make another stop at Smog City Brewing. No argument from my pal if there is cold beer to be had…

So in the end, we had a nice clear day for riding in the smog city, and ample refreshment at Porto’s Bakery and Smog City Brewing.

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Out of the Saddle – Piedras Blancas

Generally meaning… climbing out of the saddle or sprinting out of the saddle. Standing on the pedals and opening up that corpus to, hopefully, squeeze just a wee bit more ooomph for however long you can maintain it. Today, however, it’s velo-independent.

Being that I ride so much, I often use the “out of the saddle” phrase to describe some activity that does not involve being IN the saddle. Such as, “I was out of the saddle Sunday afternoon and went to listen to Louie Ortega and Dorian Michael play at Shell Cafe in Pismo” or “After a big ride yesterday I was out of the saddle this morning and walked to the Templeton donut barn for coffee and an apricot scone.”

Last week I was out of the saddle on Thursday and went on a tour of the Piedras Blancas Light Station, sponsored by the Cancer Support Community in Paso Robles CA. “Piedras Blancas” is Spanish for “white rocks”, describing the large rock formations off the coast that are covered in whitish guano droppings from seabirds. I have ridden past the entrance to the light station a few times, but never have toured it, so it seemed a worthwhile trade-off for skipping my normal Thursday group ride. Here are a couple of photos from a ride past the light station back in 2005. (Nine years? It seems like maybe two!)

We met at the office in Paso Robles, then Jamie drove us to the lighthouse over on the coast in the office minivan. It was just me, Jamie and Beverly. Another client had reserved a spot, but had to bow out because she was worn down from a recent chemo treatment. Before arriving at the light station we stopped for lunch at Sebastian’s General Store & Cafe in San Simeon, just down the hill from the famous Hearst Castle, which is a California state park now. The Hearst Ranch (not part of the park) provides grass-fed beef for the cafe, and the Hearst Ranch Winery operates a wine bar on the far side of the room from the cafe. Slurrrp!

Last fall I stopped at Sebastian’s for lunch after riding from Cambria to Ragged Point and back, as described in this post. Here is a pic of Sebastian’s from that day where I met a few folks bike touring down the coast.

Sebastian's at San Simeon

Sebastian’s at San Simeon

After a fine lunch courtesy of the the Cancer Support Community, we headed north a few miles on California Highway 1 to the light station. It was brought online in 1875 to warn ships of the dangerous rocks jutting out from the shoreline here at the south end of Big Sur. Originally it was 100′ tall, but an earthquake damaged some of the upper structure, and those sections were removed due to safety concerns, leaving the remaining tower at 70′ in height. The original lens was taken down and currently is on display in the town of Cambria to the south. Subsequent lights and lenses kept getting smaller and more efficient to the point that the current light is a high-powered halogen bulb no larger than an average thumb from knuckle to tip. It amazes me that such a small bulb can produce such a strong light. Here are some photos of the station buildings and grounds.

Our volunteer tour guide Abel Martinez took us on a thorough and interesting tour. I’m not sure if it was because the weather was so nice, but we got an extra treat of going up to the top outside level of the light station, where the signal light is mounted. Here are some photos from up top.

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The Steve Hartt Ride

Steve Hartt was a friend of mine. Well, maybe he was an acquaintance who was so gregarious and talkative that he seemed like a friend. He and his wife came to my home a few times for parties, and I went to their home for the same. I guess that makes him more than just an acquaintance, but it seems like he had hundreds of similar relationships.

Steve with friend Teresa Steele

Steve with friend Teresa Steele

Steve was a Hermosa Beach CA cop before he retired from work. One time I was riding down The Strand in Hermosa Beach (the bike/ped/skate strip of concrete between homes and the beach sand) and saw a police cruiser slowly rolling along up ahead. Mind you, The Strand normally was not a road for vehicles, it was perhaps 1 & 1/4 lanes wide. But there was the cruiser, slowly rolling along on a lovely and sunny summer afternoon.

I rode up next to the driver’s side of the cruiser, and sure enough, there was Steve behind his shades, taking in the sights at the beach. By that I mean, of course, shapely gals in minimalist swimsuits, doing whatever it is they do. Rollerblading, biking, surfing, walking the dog, displaying their tans. Steve did not hesitate to use the excuse of flying the cop flag in order to put himself in a prime viewing location during his work hours.

I also biked a fair amount with Steve, and I think that is where he made most of his friends/acquaintances, especially after he retired and increased the riding miles. Despite being ten years younger than Steve, I simply could not stay with him if he started pushing the pace. Lots of people could not stay with him, people who were good, strong riders. Being that he had been a cop, he knew thousands of jokes, and would be reciting them to fellow riders while climbing steep ramps, the other riders practically unable to laugh at the jokes because they were sucking wind so badly trying to stay with Steve. I often wondered if there was a dark side to his capabilities.

Despite his strength on the bike, it was riding that eventually did him in. One day after a ride in Palos Verdes CA that ended at the top of a climb near where Steve lived, he started homeward by descending a steep, narrow, curving, paved path through a park area. It was springtime and the brush had grown up alongside the path head-high. You could not see very far ahead due to the curve of the path and the overgrown brush. No doubt Steve was descending pretty fast, that’s just the way he was.

Coming the other way on the path was a pickup truck, driven by a maintenance worker heading to the top of the park to do a job. I found the spot where it happened, it was on one of those curves. Steve went into the front of the truck, bounced off the windshield side pillar and landed in the brush. He was on life support for several days, but was brain-dead, so they pulled the plug.

Steve was such a well-known and charismatic guy that soon afterward a memorial ride was scheduled to take place from south Redondo Beach, into Palos Verdes, and up to the top of the climb where he had been before heading down to his fate. I joined the ride that day and I swear there were a thousand riders, along with a police escort the entire way. Normally they would have been writing tickets for the cyclists.

But that wasn’t “The Steve Hartt Ride”.

In San Pedro CA, where Steve lived, there is a bike shop called the Bike Palace. Back when Steve was still with us, folks from the Bike Palace were running a century+ ride from San Pedro to San Diego, with showers and dinner at the end, along with transport back to the start. I was on one of the first editions, shown below are a couple pictures of Steve from that ride maybe ten years ago.

Since Steve left us, this San Pedro to San Diego ride has become “The Steve Hartt Ride”, the cycling equivalent of having a stretch of highway named after you posthumously. Back in June I signed up to do the ride scheduled for a Saturday in late July, because 1) I had to be in LA the following Monday anyway, 2) I’d be able to ride with a lot of folks I know from that area, 3) it would put me in proximity to perform at an open mike being held in San Pedro on Sunday, and 4) to honor the memory of Steve and all the pain he put me through trying to ride with him.

After training diligently for six weeks prior to the ride, I was able to complete it with only a bit of complaint from my knees in the last 10 miles. I stuck to my strategy of saving myself by sucking wheel as much as possible, and it paid off when I was able to ride away from people on the big climb up to Torrey Pines near the end. Thank you Strand Brewing Company for the keg of cold IPA at the finish.

The Bike Palace folks seem to be procrastinating about posting photos from the ride, so I have just a few that I have cobbled together from other sources.

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The Sting

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

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