Archive for October, 2007

Henry Coe Hill Climb Race

October 28, 2007 8:11 pm

Today was the Henry Coe Hill Climb race, part of the Winter Series with the San Jose Bicycle Club. I ended up taking first place with the CAT 4 racers and 3rd overall after factoring in the handicap. My time was 37:34, averaging 10.8 mph. My heart rate averaged 169 with a maximum of 176.

This chart shows the climb. Since it is plotted against time instead of distance, the elevation profile should look linear if I am climbing at a constant number of feet per minute. Click to enlarge.

Henry Coe Hill Climb Race 11-28-07

I did much better than I expected. Usually Doug R. climbs faster than I do but I was able to beat both him, Joe F. up the hill. Joseph M. was slightly faster than I was but he was racing CAT 3.

Henry Coe Climb Race 11-28-07 Ranking

Halloween Night Ride

October 26, 2007 9:58 pm

Earlier this week I read this posting of a mountain bike ride with the Night Riders: “Yes, we are having a Halloween Full Moon Night ride this Friday. Bats and howling Coyotes guaranteed. We will however attempt to limit sacrifices to the crash-gods. Meet 7:00pm at Hunting Hollow.”

It sounded like a lot of fun so I decided to join. Maybe it was because I showed up at Witching Hallow, instead of Hunting Hallow, that only one other person showed up, Thom. We waited for about 30 minutes thinking that maybe there might be another brave soul who would venture off into the dark with us during Halloween. But no one else showed so we decided to head out.

As we were climbing I noticed more frogs than I had ever seen before. They were darting back and forth as I made my way up the hill. What could cause all these frogs to cross our path. Then I suddenly saw a BIG frog right in the middle of the road, staring up at me. I had been careful to not run over any of the frogs, but this one was almost tempting me to run over it. Maybe that might release the curse from some prince, or maybe a monster. I decided to make a quick turn and avoid collision.

We had climbed for over an hour when I noticed up the road what look like 2 eyes reflecting back from the spot light on helmet. I stopped and paused to figure out what it might be but it was too dark to see. The full moon was hiding much of it’s face behind clouds, casting a creepy shadow on the earth. I started to ride on and then this creature darted off. It looked like it was flying but I was not sure. Could a bird’s eye shine back like that?

Up around the next bend, I saw it again and as I proceeded it darted off again and this time I was sure it was flying. Then a third time I saw the eyes off in the distance in the middle of the road. Thom said there were two of us and we bigger so we should go ahead. I followed behind him, peaking around his bike, and noticed once again it flew away. Then I remember we had been guaranteed bats on this ride.

I had turned my light on dim to save battery power as we were going up a rather steep section. All of a sudden my handle bars began to sway back and forth, like a divining rod. I nearly went over due to the force. I quickly turned my trusty BR Light on to bright and then my handle bars settled down.

After about 8 miles of climbing we decided that we had enough of the creepy creatures so we headed back down. I was a bit concerned as we approached the area where that flying creature was lurking. As I went around a bend, something flew up right in front of me, almost hitting my face. Thom saw it and can vouch that I am not exaggerating. It was an owl, or a bat, or some creature that only comes out on Halloween.

The air was turning cold but I was not about to stop to put on my jacket. We hammered down the hill and my heart rate only settled down when we reached the cars. It really was a Halloween Ride.

Mercy, Mercy

October 21, 2007 11:31 am

You can tell that fall is in the air. Not the real cool temperatures as some parts of the country, but much still cooler than the long and warm summer we have enjoyed. We decided to go on one of the club rides on our tandem that started in Paicines, about a 25 mile drive from our home. The route took us on a beautiful Panoche road with very little traffic. Panoche Rd. was originally a stage coach route used by many of the early California pioneers in particular those people that were doing business with the nearby, New Idria (Quicksilver) mine.

Jime and Eric take off but we are able to hange with them on the tandem for awhile.


The first 10 miles is mostly flat, with some rollers, then there is about 7 miles of climbing, nothing real steep but it all adds up. Then it is down to the valley and a strong tail wind that took us at speeds in excess of 30 mph to the Panoche Inn. This Inn is about the only thing out in this area. No fall colors to see, unless the sagebrush can be counted.

A check of the flag at the Inn showed the strong tail wind we had enjoyed so far.

Panoche Inn

With 27 miles already in, we had the option to ride out to New Idria or Mercey Hot Springs. I rode the New Idria route in August and the road is real rough. The group we were with decided on the later option so we headed out the 8 miles to Mercey Hot Springs. The Hot Springs was known about by native Indians and was shown to a man “John N. Merci” who acquired the land for the purpose of raising sheep. Merci, who had his name changed to “Mercy” to be more Americanized, sold the property in 1912 to Frederick Bourn, a San Francisco based real estate developer who is responsible for the construction of many of the building still existing today and now being renovated by the current owners.

Ann and Franz at Mercey Hot Springs

Some of the guys from the south county that I ride with for both road and mountain bikes were with us so Ann took this photo of our group. Where is Chuck?

Jim, Kley, Franz, Doug and Eric at Mercey Hot Springs

Paul, my team mate for the Furance Creek 508 was also there.

Franz and Paul

We then headed back to the Panoche Inn were be bought lunch.

Panoche Inn

It is an interesting Inn inside. There must be about a thousand one dollar bills that people have signed and pinned to the wall and ceiling.

Inside Panoche Inn

The strong tailwind we had enjoyed on the way out meant a strong headwind returning. Going into a headwind on the tandem is not quite as hard as on a single bike because you have the power of two to fight against the wind but the wind drag of only one person.

We ended up with 71 miles by the time we finished. It was a very nice ride.

Mountain Biking at Harvey Bear Ranch

October 18, 2007 7:40 pm

It was suppose to be raining this afternoon but the skies were sunny and the temperature was quite warm. I decided to do the mountain bike ride I often do on Thursdays at the Harvey Bear Ranch. The start location is very close by, only a 15 minute drive from our house to San Martin. There are lot of great trails to ride. We have moved the start time for the ride to 4:30 pm since the days are getting shorter. That means not as many people can make it since it is a bit early for some that work for a living. Today it was just Jim and I that showed up. We had a easy ride and spent much of the time talking about lights.

Franz at Harvey Bera Ranch

The subject of lights came up because I had ridden the night right last night up Henry Coe.

Night Riding – Lights

October 17, 2007 10:09 pm

We usually climb Henry Coe each Wednesday evening, starting at 5:15 pm. Now that the days are getting shorter, than means we need to use lights to come back down the hill. It was rather warm today so Jim emailed me and suggested we ride earlier. I called and said I could do a 4 pm start. Jim, Doug and myself all met on Dunne Ave. at the bottom of the climb. The next race in the Winter Series is going to be a hill climb up Henry Coe, so wanted to get some benchmark.

Doug is a very good climber, faster than I am. We rode together during much of the climb but he went ahead toward the end. Using the start/end locations that the San Jose Bicycle club uses for a 6.77 mile hill climb, my first time was 42:17, with an average heart rate of 158 and a maximum of 170 (while chasing Doug at the end). Here is the heart rate curve (click it to enlarge).

HR Curve up Henry Coe on 10-17-07

I never went into the red zone, except at the very end, but was pushing close to my lactage threshold. I think I can possibly take enough time off in a race to break 40 minutes. I timed the second climb and it took 45:40, with an average heart rate of 153. However for this time I stopped at the regular regroup location and waited for the rest of the riders so it is not quite an accurate measurement.

It was geting dark before we reach the summit (my second time) and the temperature was dropping, as expected. At the top I added more clothes and waited for the rest of the riders. Jim and Doug had decided to not go up a second time becasue they did not bring lights, as I had done.

We all seem to have much better lights than last year and during the decent the road was lit up like a car was driving down. Kley has a BR light as I do. Todd was borrowing a light from Chuck because the one he ordered had not yet arrived. Both Chuck and Todd were having problems with the mounting of their lights because they were trying to attach them to the aerobars. My BR LIght worked great. I am really sold on the new LED technology. Todd has ordered a HID light so I am curious to see how much brighter it is. I like the LED light design because it can be more robust and it is easy to have different power settings to achieve extended battery life on a charge. I am quite happy with the BR light I bought.

Time Trial Blow Out

8:15 am

Last Sunday I did the first race of the Winter Series with the San Jose Bicycle racing club. It was a 15.6 mile time trial. I was ranked as a CAT 4. I was doing well all the way down Santa Teresa, and was even passing the riders ahead of me as we climbed up Willow Springs. Some were shouting “upgrade” to me, indicating that I should be moved to CAT 3 or something, but they didn’t know my own skill is hill climbing.

On the way back on Oak Glen I was down in the aero bars when I suddenly came up to a big and deep pot hole in the middle of the road. There was no time to avoid it show I hit it directly. I looked down at my tires and didn’t see any blow out but figured that I would get a leak because I had hit it so hard. Sure enough within a minute my front tire was flat so I had to stop and do a quick change. That took me at least 5 minutes, but would have been longer if I had not had a CO2 inflater with me.

I ended up with a time of 0:53:39.35, and with the 5:30 handicap for CAT 4, that gave me time of 48:09:35. Jim W came in 10th place at 0:45:51.76, or with a handicapped time of 0:40:21.76, so he did much better than me, even accounting for time to change the tube. I was near the bottom with my time, but assuming 5 minutes for the flat, I still would have been in the bottom half. I am not very good at time trials. Joseph had a strong 9th place finish.

Here is a picture of Jim after the race with his carbon wheels.  With those wheels, his bike is super light.

Jim W. after Time Trial

Furnace Creek 508 Video

October 16, 2007 7:31 pm

I completed this video of our Furnace Creek 508 adventure. Click the play button to view it.

Racing the 508 – Stages 1 and 2

October 12, 2007 12:00 pm

This is a recap of the Furnace Creek 508 race. Franz and Paul on a two man relay team. with the team totem “Prairie Dog”. Russ and Sheila were our crew. We all drove down together to Santa Clarita on Friday, October 5th and had our vehicle and bikes inspected.

Vehicle Inspection

We made our way over to the race start on Saturday morning. The race started from the front of the Hilton Garden in Santa Clarita. Our team is shown below, Paul, Franz (ready to ride) and our crew Russ and Sheila.

Team Prairie Dog

Franz started at 9 am with a police escort through the streets of Santa Clairta. This stage involved 83 miles with over 6,000 feet of climbing, as shown by the profile below. The route took us through Majave to California City.

Stage 1 Elevation Profile

This image gives you a better feel of the route.

3D Map of Start to California City

Franz on Stage 1

Franz on route to California City

The van went ahead and Paul got ready to ride when Franz arrived at 1:54 pm.

Sheila pumping up Paul's Tires

Franz averaged 17 mph. He briefly passed Joe. from the Nutcracker team, towards the end, but Joe would have nothing with that so Joe went ahead and came in one minute before Franz

Franz and Joe Congratulating Each Other

Paul then next took the baton for Stage 2.

Paul taking the baton

Paul had a 70 mile route, with 4200 feet of climbing as shown with this profile.

California City to Trona Profile

Paul made good time on his route, averaging 17.0 mph.

Paul on Stage 1

We stop just before Trona because at 6 pm, we had to change to night time rules and follow the rider. We came to the time station at 6:02 pm. Since we were in night time rules, Franz had all his bike clothes and shoes on and ready to role so we were able to make a quick switch over at Trona. During the night the rider can not go ahead of the van. Franz then took off toward Furnace Creek for Stage 3 about two minutes after Paul arrived. See the next blog entry for Stages 3 and 4.

Racing the 508 – Stages 3 and 4

11:00 am

This is a continuation of the race recap for the Furnace Creek 508. The hand off for the start of Stage 3 occurred at Trona, at 6:02 pm and Franz started the toughest and longest stage of the race. Ahead was riding mostly in the dark for 99 miles with 7,500 feet of climbing. The race started out without too much climbing as shown by this elevation profile. Initially Franz felt strong and passed several riders. Pacing during the night time rules was a bit complicated because the support vehicles needed to stay behind their rider.

Trona to Furnace Creek Elevation Profile

By the time of the first climb it was totally dark and Franz could see the lights ahead of a caravan of support vehicles, all following their rider. Unlike the daytime where the various support vehicles would leapfrog the riders and stop and cheer on all the riders, it became dark and lonely. Having a headwind and cool temperatures only made it harder. After the gradual descent in Panamint Valley, Franz made a stop to get more clothes on. The crew offered to put on the outside music using the iPod that Franz had brought along with his own selection. One of the first songs to come over the speaker was “Against the Wind”. That was very appropriate. The music helped a lot and it was fun ridding in the dark, passing some of the riders on the climbs with the vehicle behind you playing your music.

Franz in Panamint Valley

After a right turn, with increased headwind, the climb up Townes Pass started. Franz went up the climb with his double crankset, which was a mistake and should have switched to his other bike with lower gearing. He was also feeling the effects of the 83 mile stage earlier in the day and could not get his heart rate up above 145 whereas he can usually drive it to 165 for a sustained climb. Fatigue was really coming into the picture as Franz would need to frequently stand while pedalling to get some power to the pedals.

At about 3,500 foot elevation Franz made an stop to get even more clothes on because the temperature was now in the high 40’s. The crew offered to get his other bike down from the top of the van, but Franz decided to slug it out since there was only another 1,500 feet to go.

Franz stopping for more clothes

He finally made it to the summit and was too cold to stop with the temperature now 46 degrees. Having already put on the clothes needed for the descent, Franz rolled right down Townes Pass. It was still a strong headwind so it made going down a bit tricky but Franz had a very good BR light that illuminated up the road well, even when the support vehicle was dropping back on the curves. It was a 5,000 foot drop to Death Valley.

Once on the valley flow the temperatures were getting much better, around 70 degrees and it was now a cross wind as Franz headed to Furnace Creek. With over an hour left to bike Franz took another break and drank a coke and ate a donut. It was a long stage he felt. He could now see the lights of the caravan of support vehicles bending toward the right, which meant the cross wind would turn into a tail wind. He finally made it to Furnace Creek 1:19 am.

Everyone was now taking a break and Paul was getting ready to ride. He left at 1:39 am and was not enjoying the benefits of the strong tail wind that Franz had enjoyed for the last part of Stage 3. Paul was riding strong, moving along well over 20 mph.

Paul riding to Shoshone

After a fast and flat long section, Paul hit the climb up Jubilee Pass and the winds were no longer a tail wind.

Furnace Creek to Shoshone Elevation Profile

It was a long climb up, and even after reaching the summit of Jubilee Pass, there was only a short descent before the climb began up Salsberry Pass.

Furnace Creek to Shoshone 3D

It was then a descent to Shoshone where Paul arrive at 6:43 am. Since the night time driving rules applied until 7:00, Franz had to make a quick switch at Shoshone to get ready to head toward Baker. See the next blog entry for stages 5 and 6.

Racing the 508 – Stages 5 and 6

10:00 am

Franz, Russ and Sheila took turns getting a little sleep as Paul was finishing Stage 4. With some rest, Franz was feeling much better as he started Stage 5. It was still not yet 7 am as Paul pulled into Shoshone so Franz made a quick switch to get ready to bike and started to bike at 6:45 am. The plan was for the support vehicle to follow for the required 15 minutes, then to switch to a leap frog method.

Franz was now enjoying sunny skies but still cool weather.

Franz on route to Baker

It was a slight downhill and a nice tail wind, allowing full speed ahead.

Franz biking to Baker

The route was 56 miles with only 2100 feet of climbing, much easier than the first two stages Franz had ridden. The way the stages are placed, the A rider does most of his riding up front on the first day and then it shifts to the B rider on the second day. That was all fine with Franz. Not only was this stage less climbing, there was more descent than climbing as shown by this profile.

Shoshone to Baker Elevation Profile

The last 15 miles into Baker with flat and fast with a nice tail wind, allowing speeds over 25 mph. Franz ended the stage with an average speed of nearly 20 mph. He pulled into Baker at 9:32 am.

Franz Aproaching Baker

Paul then started stage 6 to Kelso, which was a short 34 miles but had 3000 feet of climbing with an end point higher than the start as shown here.

Baker to Kelso Profile

Franz and crew at stopped in Baker to buy Franz a hamburger (he had a craving for one) and a milkshake for Paul (he a craving for one). We finally caught up with Paul who had moved out fast.

Paul on stage 6

Paul stopped to enjoy his milkshake.

Paul enjoying milkshake

Paul reached the summit and had a nice descent to arrive at Kelso, arriving at 12:16 pm. When we pulled up we saw the support vehicle of Team Monticore. Franz was now checking on his iPhone to see the race standings on the 508 website and we realized that we were now in 2nd place after Monticore. So be sure to reach the next blog entry about Stage 7 and 8.