Sunday, May 29, 2011

Doing It in Del Puerto Canyon

Yesterday, The Boyfriend took me to the outskirts of that fine metropolis otherwise known as Patterson in Stanislaus County to do a ride in Del Puerto Canyon.

Oh my Gosh, it was a frigging spectacular ride with ever changing scenery. And a lot of wildlife, including The Boyfriend. We encountered deer, cows, quail and turkey vultures. We had to skirt around cows walking on the road like they owned it.

After eating at the cafe junction along with other cyclists and motorcylists who were playing horseshoe, I parted ways with The Boyfriend. He went on to do the backside of Mountain Hamilton, thus, doing an out and back of 88 miles! I, still suffering from a lingering cold, decided to turn around, thus, doing 50 miles.

I know what you're thinking -- with The BF out of the picture and away, it was time for me to play! Well, not so today. However, being alone did bring out the chivalry in the male cyclists I ran into on the way back to Patterson.

Neither of us realized that we were climbing the whole way to the junction (probably 4% - 8% grade); thus the return was a breeze.

The weather changed with dark clouds quickly taking over the blue sky. The temperature began to drop and a wind kicked in. I was relieved when The Boyfriend finished because shortly afterwards on the way home, a horrendous blinding rainstorm hit many parts of the Bay Area. Next time we do this ride, I'm going to aim for cycling to the bridge (13 miles past the junction). I'll say it again -- Del Puerto Canyon is frigging beautiful.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Fired Up on Figueroa Mountain

Sunday May 22nd

Today, we tackled Figueroa Mountain, one heck of a climb, and a favorite of locals as well as pro cycling teams of past (Discovery, Lance Armstrong, etc). We were still ill, as in, we had no idea that the body can produce as much mucus as we have. Just call me slime machine, okay.

We biked through the lovely town of Los Olivos and onto Fugueroa Mtn Road, passing the entrance to Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch. It only takes 6 miles to climb 3200 feet. It is stunning. I am dying from dizziness. The Boyfriend persuaded me to go as far as the ranger station, where he deposited me as he continued onwards and up. Wait, did you say, Ranger Station, as in firemen? Oh alrighty, if you insist. And believe me, they were fine, demonstrating the power of their hoses.... The BF climbed another 1,000 feet before coming back for me, probably realizing his error in leaving me with firemen .... We managed to do 41 miles.

Later, we got in the car and drove the entire mountain loop. Oh my Gosh. I could barely hold it together in the car with all the twists and turns and sheer drops. Naturally The BF wants to return and bike it again one day. Naturally, I will somehow find myself unavailable that day ....

Monday was a complete wash out for me. I managed to do the time trial circuit before returning to the hotel, too sick to do much else. The BF completed a 50 mile loop. What a man. We ate at The Hitching Post, another restaurant featured in the film Sideways. And that closed our holiday.

Lompoc Loop

Saturday May 21th

With the time trial behind us, we shoot off for a 55 mile loop in Lompoc. Beautiful ride we've done before. Except -- nasal mucus. Isn't is romantic. The joys of being sick. Still, we get in the ride and have a great meal at AJ Spurs, a restaurant featured in the film Sideways. I wish I had brought the camera to shoot the stuffed life size bison in the entrance way and the dead animals on the wall. No kidding. We watch highlights of Stage 7, seeing Chris Horner and Levi Leipheimer holding hands as they cross the finish line atop Mt. Baldy. A class act that should go down in the history of sports, yes. And we're thinking -- we've got to do Mt Baldy! Well, The BF is thinking he wants to do it, while I'm thinking of getting out of it ....

In Solvang for Stage 6

Friday May 20th

The BF and I bike into Solvang and before our eyes is the Shack's big truck with Levi Leipheimer's and Chris Horner's time trial bikes. What a sight. We press forward and I smile and wave to tour directors, media people, police officers, pro cyclists warming up. I told a Jelly Belly cyclist that I loved his jelly bellies (I do, I do; delicious beans). The BF is completely embarrassed by my behavior. We find the perfect spot to watch -- the hill about half way through the circuit.

First up are the amateurs. We cheer them on. Next up, the women!!! Go Kristin Armstrong. And then the men. The excitement! The helicopter hovering. The cars. The motorcycles. Seeing them all up close. Oh my gosh, there's Levi!

And the man -- Chris Horner! What a day. It was a thrill to see it live.

Buellton and The Boyfriend

Thursday, May 19

Lookey where The Boyfriend took me -- the same motel featured in the film Sideways! Our room is exactly like the one in the movie, from the wallpaper to the bedspread.

We're here in Buellton to watch the Amgen Tour of California TT taking place tomorrow in Solvang. Already, we've seen Amgen TOC vehicles arriving.

The Santa Ynez Valley is a cycling mecca; we had a memorable biking holiday in 2008 ; we're both sick but who cares because tomorrow is Stage 6 of the TOC!!!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Grizzly Peaked

Today I did my first big ride of the season -- the Grizzly Peak Century (though I did the 73 mile route). This is a spectacular ride, perhaps my favorite of all the bike tours I've done. The East Bay is beautiful, full of scenic quiet backroads, green hills, and vistas to blow your mind. 900+ cyclists participated, making the GB an intimate event. It was a challenging route, with almost 6,000 ft of climbing for my ride.

We began in Moraga with a route that took us into the Oakland Hills, Tilden, Briones, Pinole, Martinez, Orinda, many canyons, and on and on. Lots of climbing and lots of fantastic descents. Thank you to the organizers and volunteers.

The Boyfriend was away in Europe. I was on my own. What to do, what to do .... really I had no intention of meeting men, flirting with them, as is my custom. But alas, I seem to invite attention, anyway. I share two highlights. First, at the start in Moraga, taking out my bike from the car, a quite handsome cyclist who had parked behind me:

He: You're like Mary Poppins!
Me: Huh?
He: The way you took out your bike, as though you were flying. Quite magical.
Me: Sigh.

Next up, a stop at a vista called Inspiration Point. A male cyclist was looking at the view.

Me: What's so inspirational here?
He: Nothing until you came along.

Me at mile 61. I was peaked from all the male attention and I suppose the climbing as well in very warm weather began to wear me down. I was quite pleased with my performance given I don't do anything in particular in preparation, other than, show up.

Just the Stats:

73 miles

6 hrs. 28 min

11.2 avg mph

35.5 mph descent