Monday, August 27, 2007

Itsy Bitsy Spider

Saturday, The Boyfriend and I did Hicks (South) again which includes going through New Almaden.

The most exciting part of the ride besides admiring The Boyfriend was the tarantula I spotted in the road. You know it's coming -- yes, the spider probably crawled along Hicks faster than I did. Sigh.

The effect of virtually no rainy season. We could see ducks wading in mud.

He's probably thinking, "Great, I'm stuck with her for the next 7 miles." :)

Monday, August 20, 2007

In Wine Country

The Boyfriend and I spent the weekend biking in the Napa Valley. Saturday we biked along Big Canyon Road which is in Middletown, Lake Country. We drove through Calistoga to get there. Beautiful country. The 30 mile route we rode is one done by Gary Erickson, Clif Bar founder. I learned about this ride in Weekend Sherpa.

Back at our cottage in St. Helena, The Boyfriend discovered a snake in the bathroom. Between the two of us, we managed to sweep it up with a broom into a brown paper bag and toss it into the vineyard. See, no snakes were harmed in the making of this blog....

Sunday, we left early (as in we watched the sunrise) to drive to Yountville for the Tour of Napa which begins at the Veterans Home.

On the way there, we saw lots and lots of hot air balloons either already in the sky or just about to leave the ground. What a magnificant sight! This year, we both did the Metric ride. We started off together riding through vineyards and gentle rolling hills but he left me after the first rest stop. This is a lovely tour with its lake views, the stretch along the Silverado trail and its wineries, and the awesome descent. The tour takes you past Litto's Hubcap Ranch, right before Aetna Springs Road. I surprised The Boyfriend when we ran into one another at the second rest stop. He didn't expect to see me again until the end. The food is wonderful too -- chunks of grilled tofu! Last year, I joked a lot with men and women but this year, much like Marin, the flirting and fun conversation didn't happen. So I had many conversations with myself because you know, I'm so fascinating. :)

Last year, while I did have a cold and I almost froze my buns off for the first 25 miles (it was a cold foggy start), I finished the 65 mile tour in 5 hours with 12.8 mph average speed. This year, my stats were considerably better with a finish time of 4 hr 38 m and 14.1 mph average speed. Descents were the same at 35 mph. The Boyfriend finished an hour earlier with an avg. speed of 17 mph. He amazed me more so when he drove to the Napa Valley Roasting Company Saturday morning to get me a cup of coffee while I slept in.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Tour de Max

The Boyfriend and I did the Tour de Max, a benefit ride that involves 7,000 feet of climbing. The route we did (and one The Boyfriend often does by himself) is just about 70 miles:

Menlo Park -->Sand Hill Road -->Alpine -->Arastradero -->Page Mill Road -->Alpine -->Pescadero Road-->Stage Road -->Hwy 1--> Tunitas Creek -->Kings Mtn. -->Woodside -->Menlo Park.

We did this ride last year and it was the first time I climbed Page Mill Road as well as done any serious climbing. The Boyfriend was kind enough to accompany me to the first rest stop on Arastradero before leaving me. No doubt he was relieved to leave me as I whined all the way. It was early and it was cold and I was hungry.

I had no difficulty climbing Page Mill other than my feet fell asleep and I had to stop to shake the numbness out of them. I was jumping up and down when the SAG people stopped thinking I needed assistance. I must have looked silly or even frightening like I was having a seizure.

I met a woman on Page Mill who said that she was delighted to see another female on the ride. I counted about 10 altogether though there may have been more. I said, "Estrogen rules honey" to which she said, "Oh, I love that. May I borrow it?" I think she may have been going through menopause and that got me thinking: a pause from men. You know, not a bad idea, sometimes.

By the time I arrived at the second rest stop somewhere on Page Mill, I was ready to do the entire ride. The road to Pescadero involves exciting scenic descents and some rollers in the redwoods. It was rather chilly in parts. You know, I've visited or lived in a lot of beautiful cities -- Paris, Munich, Brussels, Florence, Rome to name a few, but I think my two favorite towns in the whole wide world are Pescadero and Alviso.

As I approached the rest stop in Pescadero, the guys clapped. Most people were riding with buddies or coupled up with a partner. Very few of us were alone. I liked the attention! This year, unlike last year, I didn't do much joking or flirting with people. I mostly stared at the road while climbing or looked at people's legs. Leaving the area, you go along Stage which starts out like the photo below.

The top photo is of Stage as well; I biked for awhile with a woman. This year, unlike last year, I was always surrounded by other bikers. The last climb involved Tunitas Creek (photo below). I borrowed the photos from some guy's Flickr set.

It's a hard climb and it seems to go on and on. And then suddenly you're out of the woods and flying down Kings Mtn and almost home again (where once again, a few guys cheered me on). By the time I got to Woodside, my avg. mph was 10.0. By the time I returned to Menlo Park, I got it up to 10.4 avg. mph. Last year, I finished with an avg. mph of 10.2. However, this year, I felt much stronger. The ride took me 6 hours 15 minutes. The man and woman who had parked next to my car and who had started out with us, finished a few minutes after me. The Boyfriend finished in 5 hours 15 minutes (though he did lose some time by being chivalrous - escorting me at the start). The tour organizers plan to post photos of this year's tour; so, I may add another post. Next up - a biking weekend in Napa.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Bambi and Brie

Friday night, The Boyfriend and I were enveloped in fog as we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge. It was like a living breathing mist, atmospheric like you expect in a juicy horror film, that swirled all around us; fierce winds with poor visibility until we entered Sausalito on our way to San Rafael.

Saturday, we headed off to do our 3rd Marin Century; actually, the Metric for me and the Mt. Tam century for him. Above, I have posted photos of me capturing each year along with a great shot of Big Rock below which greets riders after the first climb.

The Metric involves 3,830 feet of climbing and the Tam route includes 7,800 feet of climbing. The ride is varied with rolling hills, gentle and steep climbs, grasslands, redwood forests, ranches and pastures full of horses, cows and goats. The Boyfriend's ride was much more scenic than mine since his involved Mt. Tam.

This year, I had to brake for wild turkeys crossing the road and a really dumb deer, so dumb that I had to get off my bike and tell Bambi to move if she wanted to live a long life.

Prior to the start, we were waiting in line to use the restroom when we met a woman biking alone. I asked her to ride with me and surprisingly, I had to leave her after the first climb because she wasn't fast enough for me. Too bad as I enjoy the social aspect of bike tours. This year, I was high on gatorade and Powergels with the occasional slice of Brie, potato chips, figs and nectarines available at the rest stops (very nice volunteers and great food; Thank you). I was determined, focused and ready to to ride hard and fast.

Part of my ride involved biking in fog. Not the pretty romantic kind but more the dense kind. Along the way, I kept meeting men; some rode with me and others chatted about this and that at rest stops. I also met a woman who was wearing a jersey that I had thought about wearing that day, too. We discussed the sad state of women's cycling clothes. You see, women, in case you haven't noticed, happen to have curves and we come in different sizes. Some people thought it odd that The Boyfriend and I don't ride together. Hello, he's much stronger than me and a better cyclist. It reminded me of something I just don't get: men joining their women on shopping trips to the mall. Why I ask you? Most men look incredibly bored.

Anyway, after the tour, The Boyfriend listened as I said, "And then I met this guy ... and then there was this other man, and next, I met this guy and ...." He was probably thinking, "Let's see, you ate Brie and met men. Did you do any biking?" I set a goal this year, hoping to do 15 mph average for the 60 mile route. Last year, I did 12.6 mph. At this year's event, with only 10 miles to go and my average being 13.2 mph, I floored it and ended the tour with an average of 13.6 mph. So yes, I think I did some biking. As for The Boyfriend, he arrived about an hour after I had finished. Pretty impressive given that he did 40 miles more than me!

Next week, we're off to do the Tour de Max.