Saturday, May 27, 2023

Storm damage to Santa Cruz Country roads for the Strawberry Fields Forever ride


In my early post on Strawberry Fields and the bad roads, I did not feel that my words did justice to this.  Santa Cruz Country was one of the hardest hit areas of the winter rains, wiping out piers, shorefront shops and roads.  I didn't take pictures as I knew that there was this four-minute video of the damage.  I start the video right at Highland Way (1:21), which was one of the first damaged roads of the ride.

We also rode on Green Valley Road (1:37) and Hazel Dell Road (1:42).  Keep in mind that this video just shows the massive washouts, not the potholes and minor damage which was everywhere.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

There are turkeys on the road!

I did a quick ride on Tuesday as I was recovering from Sunday. My major lesson of the weekend is that while doing lots of hills, I had not been doing the steep (12+% grade) to build my physical strength and peak heart rate. I will now work my way up to doing further distances up South Park Drive, which gets steeper as you go.  You can see my route below; it was an easy ride of less than an hour... just enough to keep the muscles working.

As I rode home, the surprise was the one male and three female turkeys in the middle of the road on Wildcat Canyon Road.  The male was threatened by me and went into full display. I love the wildlife, whether turkeys, rabbits, quail, or coyote, and I see them all regularly. But none are as spectacular as this American classic.


Monday, May 22, 2023

Strawberry Fields Forever Century

I did my last of 5 scheduled group rides yesterday.  It was Strawberry Fields Forever, which went up the Santa Cruz mountains, along the coast and said strawberry fields, and then rumbling through the hilly and potholed mountain roads.  It felt great to be riding in this area again; I used to ride Eureka canyon and San Jose Soquel road many times when I lived in Los Gatos. The day was 103 miles and 6500 vertical feet, with some of it at 15% grade and much of it potholed from the winter rains. I didn't take any pictures of these, as it was al bone-jarring.

I met up with two of my teammates for the AIDS ride.  Evan is in the center and Joe on the right; Peter was at a family wedding and couldn't make it. We'll all be together early Sunday morning for the ride, though.

I did go light on pictures during this ride; I spent a bit too much time taking photos of the scenery the previous weekend. One that I could not pass up was the food at the Gidzich Ranch rest stop, a well-known pie destination.  They had fresh apple pie and apple juice, as you can see below. It was very welcome at mile 82.

They had a wonderful backdrop for photo ops at the ends of the ride.  The pictures speak for themselves in this case. A two hour drive is a long distance to do to get there for 7 AM. I don't think I'll do this ride again,

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Getting ready for AIDS LifeCycle

I just finished my fourth group ride on Saturday. Even if I wasn't the fastest, I got it done  I was not very sore when I awakened the next day. Yes, I could be faster up the hills, but I keep getting better at nutrition and water, and getting prepared for the heat. It takes a while to remember how to do these things after being idle during Covid times.

While I have spent most of my time getting my body ready, I've also been preparing for a week living out of a backpack on the road. Here are a few things I have been doing to get ready:

  • I got tired of having so much junk in my jersey pockets, so I finally bought a small handlebar bag.  It's so much easier than that having bulging pockets and finding things by touch.
  • My Iphone 12 mini battery wore out when I was not in range of a cell tower and would deplete the battery during the day.  My battery was at 10% at the end of the Grizzly Peak ride.  I wanted a charger that I could carry and found it with Clutch, a two-ounce iPhone charger that holds a full day of charge. It'll be one of the things in my new bag.
  • My bike just went in for its tuneup. Nothing major wrong, but I now have new bar tape and front tire that doesn't have a gash in it.
Updated learnings on 5/25
  • Doing Strawberry fields was interesting.  We went along the coast, with much of it on the same route that we'll take on the Santa Cruz to King City on Monday of the AIDS ride.  It gets very misty and lots of mist on the glasses, leaving muck there later when the sub comes out.  I now carry a glasses cleaning cloth so I can clean those glasses.
  • It looks like it will be cold this year, with the highest highs in the upper 70s, especially along the coast.  I will be bringing my kit for leg and arm warmers. In fact, I have been wearing a base layer, arm warmers and a windbreaker for most of this spring.
I still have to get my backpack together and bike clothes for each day, especially day 5, red dress day.  Just to give you a taste, these are the socks that go with the outfit: nothing subtle. 

Sunday, May 14, 2023

I Care Classic, May 13, Fourth of Five

Saturday took me back to a ride that I used to do in Los Gatos. There is a ride called "I Care Classic" that I started doing back in the 2002/3 timeframe.  The accountant that I used back then, Greg Snow, was a Lions member and had told me about the ride all so many years ago; the ride is sponsored by the Almaden Super Lions. 

It originally had a reputation as a flat and easy ride. It started in south San Jose or Morgan Hill, and often was as far south as Hollister or east to San Juan Batista. It was fun to go south of Santa Clara County into new territory. But this year, they stuck to Santa Clara County, with much of it along canyons that I had never entered in 20 years of biking in the area.  You can see them as the little legs on the side of the map below. 

Speaking of those canyons I had never been up before, this is a bend of coyote creek on the road up to Gilroy Hot Springs. It was beautiful.

Near the end of the ride, before the Little Uvas Canyon, was Uvas Reservoir. Like most other reservoirs in California, it was full to the top.  The picture below is from me in front of a boat ramp in a parking areas.

Contrast this with some pictures of the same reservoir in 2014.  It's taken from almost the same place: I was about 15 feet to the right in 2014 and 25 feet inland. The difference in water level is certainly noticeable. The third picture down shows some of the original fences and bridges that went up the road by the creek before it was dammed in 1957.

Just to prove that there are Redwoods on the ride as we went up canyons, here's one of the redwoods along the way.  Yes, I intentionally had the trash cans in the picture so you'd have a sense of scale.

I love seeing the California flora and fauna.  The favorite animals are California quail and rabbits. I've also become "good friends" with the Coyote who live in my nearby park, as well as bobcast down in Los Gatos. My wildflowers are the California poppies, pictured  below, as well as the lupine that are often intermingled. I smile every time I see these in the wild.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Century in my new backyard, the Grizzly Peak Century

I'm lucky enough to live within a mile of Tilden park in the Berkeley Hills. It turns out that the road that goes along the ridge is called Grizzly Peak Boulevard, and it's within a mile of my house.

I had the goal of doing the 100 mile, but it was really tough.  Instead, I cut off 25 miles (I'm not the fastest) and did 75 miles and 7500 vertical feet.  
I'm still very happy with how I did.  Rather than doing a lot of words, I am just going to explain the pictures and let them tell the story.  The picture below was the first rest stop.  They had lots of yummy treats for breakfast as well as water.

The view from there was terrific.  Much better views of Oakland and the docks than I get in Berkeley.

Here are some other scenic pictures of the wildflowers, lupines and poppies. They were better than the flowers on the Chico Wildflower ride.

The GPC is known for great food and they lived up to it.  The last rest stop had all varieties of sliced fruit, strawberries, nut butters and potatoes.  And then a table next to it had hard-boiled eggs, pickles and pickle juice and olives.  People were just relaxing in the shade before taking on the last hills.

I made it to the end, as you can see from the selfie below.  

Here's an idea of the end-ride seating, entertainment and food.  I was impressed that the fare was much healthier than normal rides. Yes, they had rice salads if you wanted, but also grilled vegetables, lentil salad and the like.  The volunteers who prepare the food take over a large kitchen at Contra Costa College, so it is all fresh and wonderful.

The bottom line is that I will do this ride another year.  And I'll be sure to be at the start at the earliest possible time.

Tuesday, May 02, 2023

Chico Wildflower, first time since 2003

The second of my rides was the Chico Wildflower.  I'd done this in 2002: it was my first century with a long drive to it.  

We rode through Paradise, which was destroyed in the 2018 Camp Fire as well as the movie Rebuilding Paradise (this is a for pay movie). I had expected to still see signs of devastation, but there were few signs in the town.  What was there was an absence of a town: driveways to nothing, parking lots for nonexistent stores, a few signs for stores that were gone, such as a Foster Freeze. There were almost no trees left, as what had burnt was taken down and carted off. Some people had rebuilt, and there were a large number of trailer homes parked in front of houses under construction. It was hard to take a picture of the absence of a town, and taking pictures of people rebuilding seemed too much of an intrusion of privacy.

Some things were very noticeable. The roadways were brand new, as everything had to be repaved. All the utility poles were still fresh. But as we got a bit out of town to the west, I saw this view looking across the plain of the butte, which captured the devastation. Since it was "wild lands," they were just letting nature take its course on the burnt tree stumps as far as the eye could see. 

I tried to get wildflower pictures to be in keeping with the name of the ride.  The superbloom had happened a few weeks earlier. so this is about as good as it gets.  [Note that the wildflowers were better in the bay area on other rides I did later.]

The last 30 miles of the ride were through almond orchards.  Here are a few pictures of the trees both up close and a whole orchard

I made it to the end of the ride, feeling good, with 95 miles and 5253 vertical feet under my belt or on my wheels or whatever the right phrase is for biking.

I had a strong sense of nostalgia for the ride as well as this vintage jersey. It was well-supported with great food, but it was also a long drive and some. very sketchy roads, such as Honey Run road up to Paradise. I think I'll treasure the memory and stick to local rides next year