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-Dicks.”

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 thermos 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

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This entry was posted in Central Coast Wine Country, cycling, San Luis Obispo Bicycle Club, South Bay Wheelmen, Tour of California and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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