Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Last Training Ride For This ALC Season

On Memorial Day, nephew Bill, and I did a great ride in the Oakland Hills.  This picture is very much like the one of the two of us taken last year, in the same spot, before we headed out for our very first training ride.  The close-up of Bill was taken soon after we started up Old Tunnel Road in Oakland.

The ride took us through some beautiful territory in Redwood Park, aptly named for the majestic redwoods that give a very rural and wild feeling to an area within 4 or so miles of Oakland.  In spots the road was fairly steep and provided a fitting end to the training season.  I'm including the map below even though the little red line does not quite complete the circuit (I forgot to charge the battery so ran out of juice but this gives you a general idea of the route which was about 25 miles.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

OTR...My Default Ride

This was another bad week for weather in Berkeley.  The weather guy on TV says we are in a "March weather pattern" which means the jet stream that ought to be blowing storms to Portland, is sending them to the central coast of California.  Bummer!  In one week, the AIDS LifeCycle Ride begins.  I hope the jet stream has decided to head north by then or we could have a wet and difficult week weather wise.

Last week I packaged up my Garmin bike GPS and sent it back to the factory for repair or replacement.  Fortunately, Kristie, the manager at Mike's Bikes in Berkeley had a spare Garmin that she was willing to loan me.  Bike computers are essential so the rider can know speed, mileage, time riding, and with the Garmin there are several other things one can know, most important to me is pulse rate.  The Garmin also allows maps the ride route so I can share that route via this blog.

I've taken three rides since my last blog but since I was between Garmins, no route maps to share and I didn't bother to take any pictures.  Pictures require stopping and stopping slows one down.  But I thought you might enjoy a few photos from my default ride that takes me from my house up to the top of Grizzly Peak.  It is about a five mile ride up hill and then a quick 5 miles downhill and home.  Once on OTR there is little traffic and some spectacular views of San Francisco and the the bay.  It was a bit hazy on Thursday but you get the idea.  And as you can see from the map, the Garmin is working just fine!  
Memorial to those killed in the Oakland Hills fire of 1991

I still have not figured out how to put pictures exactly where I want them so pardon all the white space, please!

This reminds me of Moses'burning bush

A large spot of color by the roadside
One of many spectacular bay views from OTR

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Thursday Complications On The Bridge to Bridge Ride

The ride on Thursday, May 19, started out from the BART station in Pleasant Hill, not far from Walnut Creek.  It was a warm, sunny day.  There were 9 of us and three rode on ahead of me and five were behind me.  I was riding alone which was not a big problem since I had the ride directions which are quite specific.  I was doing fine until I reached the Zampa Bridge just outside of the small town of Crockett.  The directions to the bike train across the bridge were a bit vague and I took another trail that led me under the bridge instead of to the bridge.  I regrouped and finally found my way to the right bike path and rode across the very ample bike and pedestrian way to Vallejo and headed east off toward the historic town of Benicia. 

At 21.5 miles I was to find Glen Cove Road but it never appeared and I got hopelessly lost.  No one could tell me where this road was located so I just went to the map on my trusty Garmin GPS but it didn't show up there either.  But I found something called the "Bay Trail" and followed that.  Turned out this was the short way to Benicia and I cut off 10 miles from the ride.  Just as I was ready to call the co-ride leader, she called me and said they would meet me in Benicia in about an hour.  This left me with time to explore the town and also visit the historic Episcopal Church in Benicia.  Surprise, surprise, it was unlocked and the doors were wide open to welcome any and all.  Early in California statehood, Benicia was the state capitol and it has mostly preserved its historic downtown buildings.

Four of my fellow riders met up with me.  The rest were delayed by a flat tire.  One other rider and I decided to head out for the Benicia Bridge and BART station in Pleasant Hill as we each had evening commitments.  The new bridge is a lovely structure and we had no problem finding the entrance to the bike and pedestrian trail across the bridge.  On the south side of the bridge there is a complex of petroleum refineries and it was here that disaster struck.  I was riding along minding my own business, when all of a sudden my Garmin GPS popped off my bike and hit the pavement.  I turned around and went back to pick it up.  And this is what I found.

I was bummed but it turned out that it continued to work, giving me all the data it should have.  However the bang on the pavement did confuse it regarding the riding route that day.  I did not ride my bicycle in a straight line in the Pacific Ocean south of the boarder.

All was not lost.  I called Garmin and they will either replace or fix the shattered screen for $50.  Since I think the problem must have been operator error (failing to properly secure the Garmin)...this was a small price to pay.  I went out for a subsequent ride on Friday and the mapping feature seemed to be just fine but it turned out that the Garmin worked some of the time but not all of the time so I decided to send it off to be fixed so I won't have it for the ride after all. Thursday was not my best day of riding but some days are like that.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Biking and Technology…..A Complicated Journey

On May 10, I started out by loading my bicycle in the back of the Escape to make the drive over to the Sports Basement Store located in the Presidio near the Golden Gate Bridge. I’d driven about 5 minutes and was on the freeway headed for the Bay Bridge when I realized I’d forgotten my Garmin GPS. This was a Christmas gift from my family. Designed especially for biking, it gives me all sorts of interesting and useful data. It even creates a map of my ride once I upload the data onto my computer. It tells me my riding speed, maximum speed achieved, cadence (how many revolutions I’m making per minute), the time of day, and most importantly for me, my heart rate.

Last year I did all of my training rides with a much less informative bike computer, one that did not give me information about my heart rate. This year, I know what my maximum heart rate should not exceed and that there is a danger in pushing too far beyond that rate for any extended period of time. Did I exceed that rate in a major way on some of last year’s training rides? Probably but I was ignorant because I did not have access to that sort of data. But this year, I’ve used that heart rate data to pace myself and not over exert my heart. I appreciate this very important biofeedback.

Now I was faced with a dilemma. Ride without my Garmin and be nervous on the strenuous hills about what my heart rate might be, or turn back and risk being late for meeting the training ride group that was meeting by the snack bar on the southwest end of the Golden Gate. I opted for turning back and picking up the Garmin. I made it to the meeting point at the GG just barely in time to hear the “Rules of the ride,” which everyone on the ride has to hear before every ride for reasons of safe conduct and probably the ALC liability insurance.

It turned out to be a great ride and again I was stuck by how much more in shape for riding I am this year as compared to last year. The map of the ride, thanks to my Garmin, is below, along with some other statistics, including my heart rate!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Tough Saturday, April 30

There were 27 of us who arrived by BART or vehicle at 6:45 AM to begin a ride through the valleys and some of the fairly steep hills of northern Contra Costa County.  We began the day with a bit of chatter, being reminded of the safety rules for riding which ALC demands all riders follow to the letter of the law.  This is how every ride begins and you can see from the above picture that everyone pays attention!

We started riding about 7:30 AM and headed out to ride up the hill known at "Papa Bear" on Bear Creek Road.  Then we rode over to "Pig Farm Hill."  Last year on this hill I had to walk part of the way as it is quite steep at the top.  This year I managed to peddle to the top.  The hill is still steep and the pigs are long gone.  Then we headed to Martinez, a lovely town on the shores of the Carquinez Straights of the San Francisco Bay.  After a stop at Starbucks we rode through the seculded Carquinez Straights Park and down Hwy 4  and through the chemical plant complex near Rodeo and then on to Hercules and Pinole, where we visited another Starbucks.  Then we headed southeast on San Pablo Dam Road and passed by the Orinda BART station where we had begun hours before.  I passed BART at around 3:30 or so.  All but 7 or so riders opted to end their ride at that point but I pressed on to do the final loop that took us out to Lafayette and covering the same roads we were on at the start of the day, we peddled back to the Orinda BART station, arriving at 5 PM.   The last three determined riders  of the day!  77 miles and still smiling.