Archive for the 'Cycling Group Rides' category

Riding the Georgia Gaps

April 14, 2013 3:27 pm

One of the great places to ride when visiting Atlanta is what is often referred to as “The Gaps”.  It is a series of mountain passes about 60 miles from Atlanta.  I am not sure how many there are but I know one century ride does 6 gaps.  On Saturday our son John, took me out to do 4 of the gaps, actually 5 gaps since the first one we did in reverse to get back to the start.  We were joined by 3 of John’s friends.  I had ridden a couple of the gaps before but for me, I had only ridden one of the five we did.


It was over an hour drive to tIMG_0336he start location, near Turner’s corner cafe.  We had planned to start around 8:30 am but got a later start since it was difficult for some of the riders to find the start.  That was okay with me since it was still rather cool, and the extra half hour let things warm up.

Within a mile of the start we started climbing up Neils.  It is not steep but it was 8 miles from the start by the time we reached the summit.  I was glad that everyone agreed to wait at the summits for all the riders. I took quite a bit longer than some of the riders.  Still I finished Neels much better than the last time I did it in a few years ago when I was on a beta blocker medication.

I descended slower than the younger riders but they waited at all the intersections where we changed course.  As usual I had to keep my heart rate up high while on the flats trying to stay connected, which meant I did not get the time to recover as much as others.  Nevertheless it was a honor to be riding with much younger riders who were great cyclists.

The next two gaps were easier, but then we reached Hogpen, which was some climb.  It was about a 2,000 foot climb, but what made it hard was the steeper grade that seemed to go on an on without the typical short break you get on most climbs.  I really enjoyed the climb but was glad to reach the summit to see John, who had waited almost 15 minutes for me to make it up.

After descending down the other side of Hogpen we biked for awhile and made a stop at a country store before the final climb.  Then it was up the backside of Neels, which was not nearly as difficult as the front side.  I grabbed a photo of the other riders at the top.



There was some kind of store at that summit and I saw a rather interesting tree.  It had hundreds of shoes tied in the branches.  I guess that people hiking the Appalachian trail would put their worn out shoes into the branches.


The rest of the ride was mostly down hill for 8 miles back to the car.  What a great day in the saddle.  We all went out together for lunch and I really enjoyed the burrito after the hard ride.  When I got home I see that I really had suffered once again, trying to keep up with John and his friends.  I spent more than half of the ride in zone 4, and over 10% in zone 5.   Yes, it was truly an Epic Ride.


Fast and Fun

July 16, 2011 8:00 pm

Although we are on our third visit to our Utah home this year, today was only the 2nd time we were able to ride with the Utah  Velo Club.  The prior two visits were geared around something other than the weather so we did not do much biking.  But today it was going to be sunny and looked like a great day for a bike ride.   The Utah Velo club rides are fast so we decided to take the tandem.  We have not been on the tandem much in the past year so we took it out for a 15 mile spin yesterday, and today we met the club ride at 8:00 am.  We finished the 55 mile ride before noon, because we were averaging 17.1 mph.  It has been awhile since we biked so fast.

The route headed out to Springville then up Hobble Creek Canyon.  Upon return home, I got on my single bike and biked up South Fork with a couple of the guys on the Utah Velo ride for a total of 80 miles.  It was great weather, a fun route, and a fast pace.

Cold Day in June

June 12, 2011 9:31 pm

It has been an unusual spring, I guess because it has not really been spring but more like March weather going on for month after month.  The weather was finally starting to get better this past week. Anne and I started to bike sometimes in short sleeves, sometimes with our arm warmers.  However that meant we left to go bike around 11:30 am, after the typical California overcast has burned off and the sun has started to warm up things.

We have been biking quite a bit this past week, trying to get ready for the Sierra to the Sea bicycle tour, which we are on the staff for.  After 5 consecutive days of biking through Friday, it was time for Anne to take a day off and do some recovery, but I wanted to still bike.  I checked out the ACTC club rides and the only one that looked interesting was the Long Distance Training ride.  It was 110 miles and about 7,300 feet of climbing.  I was not too worried about the climbing but I had not biked over 100 miles so far this year.  Nevertheless I decided to give it a try.

The ride started at 7:30 am, at the Lexington School, which is up the the canyon from San Jose.  About 12 riders showed up.  Despite the forecast of overcast until afternoon, the sun was shining early in the morning and the temperature was already up to 60.  It seemed just taking arm warmers and a vest would be sufficient.

We start at about 750 feet elevation first going up the Old Santa Cruz Highway, not really a highway, but a wonderful back-road with little traffic.

Photo by Lane Parker

I was riding with Lane Parker.  We were suppose to take the shortcut up Mt. Charlie but we missed it, but soon got back on course.  We rode along Summit road, then up Bear Creek to Skyline.   Even after reaching Skyline you have a lot more climbing until you reach Castle Rock at over 3,100 feet.  With all the climbing I was plenty warm enough.  Then it was some descent and rollers along Skyline.  As we were approaching the intersection of Highway 9, it started to get very foggy, and there was so much humidity in the air that I could not see out of my glasses, left only to look over the top rim.  The road was wet in sections from the fog and the temperature was dropping.  As the temperature plunged to the mid 40’s it was too cold for my liking, especially how I was dressed.

The route was headed to Highway 84, then down to the coast, and back along Highway 1 to Santa Cruz.  I could see the coast from some parts of Skyline and it looked very cold down there, even though it was already June 11th.  Lane started to take about heading inland instead and it took no effort to convince me to join him.  When we reached Page Mill Road, we decided that was a good road to take back down to the valley.

I was shivering as I started the descend but could feel the temperate increase as we went back closer to sea level.  We rode together along Foothill and made our way back to Saratoga.  Lane had ridden from home but I needed to get back up to the car, so I decided the best way would be to take Highway 9 back up to Skyline, then backtrack the course taken earlier in the morning back to the car.  So when we reached Saratoga I said goodbye to Lane as he snapped another photo.

Photo by Lane Parker

The climb up Highway 9 is not real steep, but it is a long climb, about 3,000 feet of climbing counting the section on Skyline up to Castle Rock.  I had setup a KOM section on Highway 9 from Pierce to Skyline, which people can record their times on my Ultra Cycling Website.  I had done that section in under 35 minutes in 2008.  But today I was climbing like as slug, my usual now days.  I barely made the climb in under 50 minutes!

By the time I ended back at the car I had biked 74 miles and climbed 7,700 feet.  It turned out to be the right amount and a fun ride.


Mt. Hamiltion Challenge in Reverse

March 22, 2009 8:25 pm

One of the annual events is the Mt. Hamilton Challenge that goes up Mt. Hamilton, down to the junction, over to Livermore and then back through Calevaras.  There was a long distance training club ride yesterday that did this route in reverse, which has some tougher climbs.  The ride started at 7:30 am and initially I was going to suggest to Gary that we start later, as we often do, and try to catch the rest of the group.  The forecast was for rain later in the day so it seemed better to start with the rest of the riders and finish earlier

It was still dark when I stopped at Gary’s house to pick him up.  After a drive up to San Jose, we arrived just in time.  It was getting light now and the temperature was not too bad, warmer than last Saturday.  We had enjoyed wonderful weather on Friday but I knew this day would be much cooler.  Ann was not able to join so I was on my single bike, which was too bad because there were two other tandems, Russ & Sheila and Barley & Susan.

Most of the group was together as we started to climb up Calaveras.

Russ and Sheila

Russ and Sheila

It was not long before five of us went ahead of the rest of the riders and the two tandems.  After climbing the “wall” we started through the rollers along the Calaveras Canyon.  Our group now was down to four including myself, Gary, Brian and Vince.  Brian was taking pictures of us from the back while riding which was amazing considering we were moving rather quickly.

Vince, Franz, Gary on Calaveras

Vince, Franz, Gary on Calaveras

Then Brian went ahead, to get a front shot!  Not sure how he did it because I thought we were cruising right along.


Franz and Gary

At least I thought we were moving along and was surprised that we were suddenly passed by Barley and Susan, who were making a very fast pace through the rollers.

Barley and Susan

Barley and Susan

I raced to jump on their wheel thinking I should be able to hold on with all these curves.  I know I have to slow down when cornering on the tandem, but Barley has a lot more courage than I do.  I was starting to slip off the back.  Gary went around me and was able to connect with the tandem.  By now Brian had dropped off the back and we were soon joined by Guy.  The three of us were trying to connect with the tandem before the descent but that last climb was just not long enough so they were over the top and headed down fast.  Three of us, myself, Vince and Guy, worked together as we were headed to Sunol, trying to close the gap but never seeming to make any progress.  Gary was riding in the tandem draft, RESTING!

It was not until we finally hit some traffic lights that we joined up.  We road together through Livermore and before heading to Mines Road three riders stopped to get water.  I was afraid to stop so I was the only one that followed Barley and Susan as they continued on.  On the way up Mines Road, Gary and Vince finally caught us but we did not see Guy again that day.  I was so glad to be climbing up Mines road because my heart rate was now much lower than it was on those flat sections and rollers.

We all stopped at the Junction Cafe for maybe 10 minutes, just enough time to eat something small and get water, then it was off toward Mt. Hamilton.  I was feeling fatigued at this point but was able to keep reasonably close to the rest of the group.  Except for Gary, I caught everyone on the last climb before the descent down to Isabel Creek.  I was so happy we had finally hit the backside of Mt. Hamilton.  I know that sounds strange, but for me I like climbing and it is much easier for me to keep with the fast riders when we are climbing, especially that wickedly fast tandem of Barley and Susan.

I decided to time myself up the backside, although I knew it would not be that fast since it was well into a long ride and I was not going to be racing up.  At the top I did a split and found my time was 46:30.  I waited there for awhile, wondering how far the others were behind, but no one was coming up.  It was a chance to put on my jacket and eat some more food.  It was cold so I decided to head back down the hill about a quarter of a mile to see where everyone was and then I saw Barley and Susan down below coming around a corner.  I waited for them and climbed up to the summit and along the flat to the Observatory where Gary was waiting.  The tandem didn’t stop but headed straight down, even though Susan was in short sleeves and it was now 48 degrees!

Gary and I started down the hill but I never descend as fast as he does, so soon he was out of sight.  About 3 miles down the hill I suddenly got a massive cramp in my right leg and had to stop for a short while. I was wondering if I was going to be able to get out of the pedal with the cramp, but managed somehow.  I was surprised to get cramping in such cool weather and when I was going down the hill.  After a couple of minutes I was feeling good enough to go on and was okay the rest of the ride.  Gary was waiting at the bottom of Mt. Hamilton and Barley and Susan had already gone on.  The weather was starting to look more threatening so we headed the 7 miles to the car.  At 2:30 pm, it started to rain.  Gee why could it not wait until 3:00 pm like the forecast.  We got wet enough but were glad it was at the end of the ride and only for 20 minutes.  I was glad when we finally reached the car and got the bike inside my minivan.  Gary and I headed into Erik’s Cafe and Gary bought me a sandwich.  That sure tasted great.

When I got home I went to the King of the Mountain Page to see how fast I climbed up the backside of Mt. Hamilton before and found my best time last year of 46:53, 53 seconds slower than I just did on this long ride.  Then I noticed our time up on the tandem last year was 49:45.  That must be a mistake.  Even thought that ride was up the front and just down to Isabel Creek, how could we climb up so fast.  I opened up the data file I had downloaded from my Polar heart rate monitor and saw this graph of that ride last May.  Yes, I had taken my heart rate well into the red zone at times climbing the backside.


I then checked the splits where I would have recorded our climb time and sure enough we had done it in 49:45 over 4.6 miles as I had put on the KOM page.  I am not sure how we did it that fast.  Since we were in the 60-64 age group, that record might stand for awhile.


Slowest Stromboli Mauler Ever

October 22, 2008 5:54 am

On Monday I had to be on a clear liquid only diet and then Tuesday morning I had to have my colonoscopy, a privledge of turning 60 years old.  They tell you not to drive for 24 hours since they give you something for the procedure.  But they didn’t say anything about not biking for 24 hours.  I felt fine to do the Stromboli Mauler.  This is the last Metcalf Mauler ride of the season with a shorted ride and a party afterwards (eating stromboli).  We took the tandem and did the ride.  We were not the last ones up the hill, but it was on the slow side.

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Truckin’ On a Tandem Up Metcalf

July 17, 2008 7:45 pm

We decided to do the Metcalf Mauler today from the trail head in Morgan Hill. That gives us about 10 miles of riding to the offical start of the ride in San Jose, and total ride of 46 miles. All the way up we had a stiff head wind but the temperature was pleasant.

Once the ride started we were now headed south on Santa Teresa. With the tail wind, we zipped by all the fast riders, who jumped on our wheel, as we took the speed up to 30 mph for the section to Bailey Ave. We all took Bailey over to Malech where we once again had the headwind. At Metcalf we turned right for the 1,000 feet climb.

There are markings at the start of the climb and at the top where we often keep track of our time to see how well we do. Today we set a new personal tandem record, making the climb in 17 minutes and 30 seconds. That is faster than many of the riders in today’s group. I guess we just were inspired by all the watching of the Tour de France and wanted to go out and climb some hills. Both of us took our heart rate up in the high 160’s for part of the climb. Ann’s heart rate when into the high 160’s at one point. Here is the data from Franz’ heart rate monitor. You can see he averaged 168 bpm with a maximum of 172. Also note the split time was 17:30. That measured section has an average grade of 10% so it is rather steep.

Franz was clearing in the “red zone” for most of the climb (the portion between the split No. 1 and No. 2) on this graph.

Here are the same charts from two weeks earlier when Franz did the same climb on his single bike. Then he did the climb in 14:31 and had a slightly higher average heart rate of 175, maximum of 177.

Using our combined weight, the weight of our tandem, and our time, we can calculate our combined power input:

Power required to overcome gravitational resistance: 390 watts.
Power required to overcome rolling resistance: 18 watts.
Power required to overcome aerodynamic resistance: 4 watts.
Total power required: 412 watts (about 3.5 watts per kg).

From the July 1st cimb on a single bike, we can calculate for Franz that he puts out 266 watts on that climb (4.2 watts per kg). Accounting for the difference in heart rate between July 1st and July 15th, we can estimate he was putting out 250 watts on July 15th tandem climb. Therefore Ann was averaging 160 watts (3 watts per kg). Very impressive! On her single bike she would be able to do the climb in about 20 minutes with that power input. Of course we come back to reality when we watch the Tour de France where they have some of the professional cyclists wired and you can see how many watts they are putting out on their climbs. In any case, we claim the age group record for climbing Metcalf on a Tandem.

While descending on the backside our chain came off the crank so we had to stop and get it back on. We were able to catch some of the riders before the next regroup. Then it was for a fast descent down San Felipe.

After the ride we had a nice ride back to the car along the bike trail, aided with a nice tailwind. It was a very fun ride.

Taste of the Death Ride

July 1, 2008 9:26 pm

I didn’t try to get into the Death Ride this year but was planning to do the Climb to Kaiser. With the high fuel costs and other things I lost interest in doing CTK and decided to try to do something equivalent with a club ride. There was a long distance training ride posted for Saturday, June 28th, led by Dave Zajac, that looked just right. ACTC is special amongst bike clubs because of the weekly rides that are often over 100 miles with a lot of climbing.

The group met at the Park N Ride in Los Gatos for a 7:30 start. Brian C. grabbed a quick picture before we departed.


I moved out to the front for the gradual ascent along highway 9 from the parking lot. Suddenly David H. went whizzing by. So fast so soon? I pushed on and was able to catch him as the road leveled off and where his pace also leveled off. But that was enough to leave the rest of the riders behind so the two of us rode together until Russ S. met up with us on Foothill. The three of us climbed Page Mill for our first climb of the day. After reaching the top of Page Mill, David went his own way so Russ and I rode together for the rest of the ride.

When our family lived in Japan we noticed that they never sold things like tableware in groups of four but always in groups of five. We later learned why. In Japan the numbers 4 and 9 are considered unlucky. The number four is pronounced “Shi“. The word for death in Japanese is “Shin“, which sounds similar. So the thought came to me if I wanted something like the Death Ride we needed to do four of something and what better thing to do than climb four billy goats that had a rating of “6”, the most difficult rating. Page Mill is only rated a “5” so that would not count towards this goal.

Our first two rating “6” climbs were on the route, Jamison Creek followed by Alba. Jamison Creek was no problem but when we hit Alba that was a different story. I had brought my bike with a double crank and the climb up Alba with a 39/27 was killing me (appropriate for our taste of death ride). After descending back down Jamison Creek, we did the climb up China Grade. That gave us three “6’s”. At the beginning of the ride I had thought about doing Bolhman at the end to get the climbing on the ride that would be similar to doing the Death Ride. But the climb up Alba gave me second thoughts. I have climbed Bolhman before with my double but that was when I was a bit more fresh. Russ and I discussed it and each was hoping the other would bring some reason into the decision. So we took the easy way out (if there is such a thing on such a ride) and climbed Sanborn for our fourth “6” rated billy goat. I think that is the first time for me to do four “6’s” on one ride. I am sure others in the club may have done even more.

I ended up with 113 miles and 12,500 feet of climbing. The Death Ride is about 12 miles longer and another 2,000 feet of climbing so I would call this a taste of death ride. No drive to Markleville was needed and no entry fee required. Where else, other than ACTC, can you do such a club ride?

This shows the profile for the ride and the 6 billy goats we did. Click to enlarge.


April 13, 2008 8:29 pm

Because of our trip to San Diego last week, I needed to get in a good long training ride today, especially considering the Devil Mountain Double is coming up in 2 weeks. There was no scheduled ride that had both the miles and the feet of climbing that I wanted so I ended up combing parts of one ride with another. At 5:30 am, I started biking in the dark (and a bit cold) to meet up with the Tierra Bella worker’s ride. They were doing the 200K route. Initially I was just going to do that ride but it was too short on miles (only 122) and the climbs were not tough enough for what I wanted. But I rode with them up Uvas, then down Bailey and back to Morgan Hill. The timing worked out great because I arrived in Morgan Hill just on time for a Nightriders ride that started at 8:00 from there. We planned to do a triple crown ride and four other riders joined me for that.

We biked up the bike path, then climbed Metcalf. After going down the backside and then San Felipe, we made our way over to Quimby for our second major climb. It was now getting much warmer and I could feel the heat as we were nearing the top of Quimby. Quimby is a very steep hill and with only a double crankshaft, I was really torquing my leg muscles. Doug and I got to the top quick enough to have time to go down the East side and climb back up to the summit. Two of the guys had done a mega mountain bike ride the day before and it was too much for one of them, who headed back after reaching the summit. The four of us then descended down the East side and then up Mt. Hamilton Road to the summit. It was getting very hot now.

Only two days earlier I had climbed Mt. Hamilton with John, but today it seemed much more difficult. I was glad to reach the summit where we had a break for awhile. Since the summit is over 4,000 feet, the temperature there was pleasant, but still warm.

As we descended back down, we could feel the heat and as we climbed back up the East side of Quimby it was getting into the 90’s. We were lucky to have a tail wind on the way back, but I couldn’t seem to keep hydrated enough. Drinking hot water is not something I am anxious to do. By the time we got back to Morgan Hill I was very tired. Chuck gave us something to eat at his house and then I jumped back on the bike to return home. I ended up with 138 miles total and over 10,000 feet of climbing. In many ways I felt worse than after the recent Solvang Double Century. I guess it was the heat, which hit the mid 90’s during the later part of the ride.

Henry Coe Hill Climb

March 21, 2008 7:41 am

Yesterday in the morning I rode on the tandem with Ann for about 36 miles. I needed to get in more riding since I am in double century training so as soon as I returned home I jumped on my single bike and headed up to the trail head in Morgan Hill to catch the Henry Coe ride. I had stuff headwinds all the way up for the 15 miles so I spend much of the time in the aero bars.

Several people showed up for the ride, including Jim W. and Doug R. I was a bit weak since I climbed Henry Coe twice yesterday and this was my fourth climb up the hill this week. But I pushed hard, trying to keep ahead of the other guys. Doug was running circles around me, however.

This chart shows the part of the climb that is timed for the San Jose Bicycle club race. Look for the splits 1 and 2, which mark the start and end points. I included the table with the splits. The chart is plotted against time so the elevation change should look linear if I am climbing at a constant number of feet per minute. It took me 43:30, which was about 5 minutes slower than I did in the real race condition. Even so I had to keep my heart rate up to average 160. This first chart show yesterday’s climb (click charts to enlarge).

Henry Coe Hill Climb 3-21-08

This next chart is from last October when I did the race over the same course. Look for the split No. 1 which was the end of the race. My actual race time was recorded as 37:34, although my watch showed slightly less. During the race I had to average 169 on my heart rate, quite a bit higher than today’s climb.  Click chart to enlarge.

Henry Coe Hill Climb Race 11-28-07

I was very tired when I got home yesterday.

One Hail of a Ride

March 15, 2008 5:40 pm

Today was one of the long distance training rides with the bike club. Since the route came down south near the end, I planned to bike to the start. But that meant biking in the dark. I got up a 5 am and looked outside to see if it was raining, as the forecast showed. Nope, it was dry as a bone and when I looked up into the night sky it looked like patchy clouds.

I jumped on the bike at 6:15 am (sunrise was 7:18 am today). I met Gary F. on route and we headed up Santa Teresa. I thought I was so smart getting in the stretch from Gilroy to San Jose while it was dry. At least until we were approaching Bailey where we had quite a downpour. I realized that I would have wet and cold feet for the whole ride.

On Coleman Ave., Gary had a flat so I rode ahead and met the riders that were just coming up Meridian to let them know. We circled back to pickup Gary and headed on the route. Opps, Gary had another flat on Shannon. He decided to head back home so I gave him one of my tubes. He was the smart one, I think.

The weather cleared and as we started to climb Highway 9. It became sunny with blue skies. I thought I had brought too many clothes with me and was way over dressed for what looked then like a fine day. David had already gone ahead so it was now just four of us, Joe F, Peter, Kley and myself. By the time we reached the summit the temperature was now down to 40 degrees, but it was still sunny.

We headed up Skyline and I watched the temperature drop to 36 degrees and it started to get cloudy again. The descent down was super cold. I realized I had under dressed. Then on Summit we had a hail storm. My own thought was just to try to make it to the Summit Store. But by the time we got there it was sunny again.

On the way down Soquel San Jose it started to rain again but by the time we reached Soquel it had stopped. We finally made it to Corralitos where we were going to eat lunch. I was starved, having biked nearly 90 miles by that point. After we ate, we all decided to take the “short” option and after doing Hazel Dell we went up Mt. Madonna. Hey, I don’t remember it being that steep. Since we had wet roads for the past few hours we figured going down Redwood Retreat would be too muddy but when we reached the summit it was dry so that is how we made our way down. It was now dry and sunny (my wife told me it never did rain in Gilroy today). I rode a bit with the other 3 and as they headed back to the start before I biked home. I ended up with 112 miles total.  That brings me to 2600 miles so far this year.  That is a lot for the middle of March. This chart shows the comparision with prior years in terms of accumulated miles cycling.

Accumulated Cycling Miles as of 3-16-08