Saturday, August 29, 2015

It was Steamy

Whoa, what a workout today doing Donny and Joan's club ride.  Guess who came along!   The Boyfriend, James Porter, Laurent (such a sweetie and very kind), Jim, and several other men.  All those men, let me tell you, it was steamy.

Oh alrighty, it was steamy because the weather was incredibly weird.  We were rained on, we were misted upon, the winds came and died, it was never cold and it certainly reminded me of East Coast weather.

We began the ride in Woodside. I felt the cool sensation of wetness and mugginess as we climbed Edgewood and Crestview and continued on to do Tartan Trail, Skyline and a bit of Highway 280.  I didn't have it today to climb all of Crestview but I gave it my best shot and I hung on, never being too far behind all those strong men throughout the entire ride.  Finally we made it to Sweeney Ridge and the sun came out, affording us views!  As you can see though, we had a lot of clouds, too.

You can't tell but boy did I and my bike get dirty from the rain.  I haven't been that dirty since, wait, wait for it, last weekend with The Boyfriend....

I recently did Sweeney Ridge with Miss P. and once again it was delightful.  It was new for The BF.  He enjoyed it.  Our last climb was another doozie, Bunker Hill and Polhemus before getting on the Ralston trail over to Canada Road (haven't done that one in awhile).   Doing all the climbs today was really challenging for me but worth it especially because of the company.  I feel blessed to be part of a great bike club.  But now, I think I'm going to pass out from exhaustion....

Just the Stats:

51.5 miles
4948 feet of climbing
31.5 mph on descending
10 avg mph
5 hr. 5 minutes.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Cayucos and Cambria

Sunday, August 23rd

Yesterday, The Boyfriend and I left Arroyo Grande after finishing the Central Coast Classique ride to go to Cambria, our next destination and the last leg of our weekend getaway.  Yay, no need to get up at the crack of dawn for Sunday's bike ride.  However:

The BF:  Time to do some climbing on Dry Creek and Santa Rosa Creek roads!
Me:  Why, why must you torture me?  Why can't we just ...
The BF:  Do not even think of trying to seduce me into staying in bed all day.
Me:  I was going to say, "Why can't we just go antiquing."
The BF:  Right, like this is something you do.  Ha ha, you make me laugh.

Last time we were here, around the time of the Amgen TOC, the weather was off, rather chilly and raining.  This time, we had super weather.  We decided to nix the fun descent of Hwy 46, well, I should say, The BF decided to make our ride harder by doing Santa Rosa Creek (in reverse, and thus, truthfully not as difficult) instead.  Above, entering Cayucos, a lovely small beach town and home to the Brown Butter Cookie Company as I learned from a billboard sign on Hwy. 1.  Not that The BF allowed me the opportunity to indulge.  We did fortify ourselves with a delicious bacon quiche at the local coffee shop, thus, preparing ourselves for the two climbs.  We're pretty sure we saw some pros cycling along Hwy 1 but not sure which team.

Me, wearing my Central Coast Classique jersey on Dry Creek somewhere.  This is an 8 mile or so climb that has a few nasty bits.  It is also exposed and not recommended in extreme heat.  Motorcyclists sped past and gave me the high five.  Yay.  Take that Mister Boyfriend.  No doubt they would have given me a brown butter cookie ....

The BF on a section of Santa Rosa Creek. 

Me on a section of Santa Rosa Creek.  I did poop out on one climb.  Omg, the flies were swarming and I sweated profusely but I won't share that "glam shot."  We managed to do 44 miles in about 4 hours and 20 minutes (my time).  In the evening, we went to a pub in Cambria and ate a fine meal of calamari and steak for my stud.  Alas, our trip came to an end.  On Monday, as we entered Gilroy around 11am,  we encountered traffic, thus leaving behind the idyllic Central Coast, and reminding me of how congested our area has become.  Oh well.  That's what vacations are for, right, to get away, and that we did.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Central Coast Classique

Saturday, August 22nd

In a blissful state, in a bed at the Arroyo Grande Best Western, dreaming no doubt of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and other delectable goodies of the male persuasion, I was rudely awakened at 5:30am with:

The Boyfriend:  Time to wake up!
Me:  Why.  Why must you torture me I said in my best Greta Garbo voice.
The BF:  Don't even think of trying to seduce me to remain in bed.
Me:  Don't worry about that happening Mister.  You're on my shit list.
The BF:  You're such a lovely morning person, a delight to be with.
Me:  Don't think I don't hear your sarcasm, Mister.

Alas, I rolled out of bed remembering that this Best Western had good coffee in its lobby.  In the wee early hours of the morn, still dark, we noticed other cars in the parking lot with bike racks and said hello to cyclists who were here to do the Central Coast Classique, a bike ride, new for us, that tours through San Luis Obispo County along the coast, through vineyards, horse farms, and Lopez Lake. 

We registered Friday evening and I bought the jersey.  This event raises money for law enforcement and other charities.  It is also quite small, perhaps 250 or so riders with courses that proved pleasant and scenic but not hilly or challenging (except for one short steep climb).  That was a nice change.

This was probably the sweetest send off I've encountered on a bike tour -- singing the National Anthem along with the four guards.  Justin McCarthy shot a video of the start.  I'm in a green jacket.  And we're off.

It was a fast start, at least for me, cycling at a speed of 15-18 mph until the first rest stop in Avila Beach.  It was neat to bike on a road parallel to 101 and to go through Pismo Beach as well.  If you've ever driven on 101, you'll know that you drive along a stretch of nothingness and then poof, Pismo and Avila Beaches surprise you with their beauty.  It took a long time for the sun to appear.  The BF and I stayed together for the ride, enjoying the scenery and taking in a new ride. 

Eventually we came upon Lopez Lake.  We also passed vineyard in Edna Valley, as well as the Varian Arabians on Corbett Canyon Road, a series of gentle rolling hills.  Omg, those horses were hung and that's all I'm going to say....

Lookey, it's The BF.  By this time, I had forgiven him for waking me at 5:30am in the morning ...

We opted to do the 100K not the 100 mile because both of us had been a bit under the weather.  When we returned to the start, an announcer said, "Here comes Christine who just completed the 100 miler."  I was so embarrassed.  We ate a delicious post ride meal and met a couple who moved from Chico to Paso Robles.  This tour was a lovely gentle ride, the volunteers were swell and highly recommended.  I'm glad we did it.  Time to move on to our next destination -- Cambria -- another adventure to share. 

Just the Stats:

66 miles
5 hr. 10 min
34 mph on a descent
12.8 avg mph

Monday, August 24, 2015

Road Trip with The Boyfriend, finally

Friday, August 21st

This blog post is a prologue to a wonderful weekend.  Getting together with The Boyfriend the last several months has proved to be problematic.  So many things  have prevented us from finding time to be together.  He was meant to come with Miss P and I to Mt. Shasta but a health issue curtailed his participation. Above, a photo of the best coffee in Cambria, the Cambria Coffee Roasting Company.  Already, I jump ahead because we're not in Cambria yet.

So, finally, a long weekend in which we would do something new, the Central Coast Classique in Arroyo Grande and a stop over in Cambria for a favorite ride.  Here we are in Morro Bay area having a coffee with a sunflower.  Again, the sequence of events is out of order and as I care to unfold the story.

And here we are in Cayucos having a coffee, again, out of sequence as for how time transpired.

Returning to the beginning, we left the Bay Area to travel to Arroyo Grande, near Pismo Beach, staying at the Best Western.  No, that's not the Best Western, but, the Santa Manuela Schoolhouse.  I wish I had taken photos of the interior, unbelievable, a schoolhouse from 1901 era.  We're here in Arroyo Grande, a lovely city with an adorable downtown.  I didn't have my camera to take a photo of the swinging bridge we crossed with the roosters walking in the parking lot.  Tomorrow, we do the Central Coast Classique. I can't wait.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Out With the Animals

Another club ride with Donny and Joan as our leaders for climbing Mt. Hamilton.  The ambitious ones (that would not be me) did Mt. Hamilton and continued to do the backside to the junction, returned and some even did Kincaid.  Miss P and I started at 8am.  Weather was delightful.  No photos but I saw turkeys, a dead snake, a dead squirrel, a firetruck, and two coyotes.  One coyote stood in the middle of the road and stared at me.  I wanted to take a photo but then I wondered if he was thinking that I'd make a juicy lunch for him.  Like the big bad wolf and Little Red Riding Hood....  No doubt I'd be a tasty treat.  I was tired today but I sauntered on, and while I did not break any records, I surprised myself by not struggling with the last bit of the climb as I usually do. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Two Chicks Cruising on a Catamaran

Monday, August 3rd

Before heading home, Miss P and I decided to check out Lake Shasta Caverns

"Your Lake Shasta Caverns adventure begins with a ride across the crystal blue waters of Shasta Lake on a 65 foot catamaran. As you cross the McCloud arm of Shasta Lake, the boat captain will talk about the lake, the geography and some facts about the area. You will soon arrive on the east shore just below the limestone North Gray Rocks."  Neato peato, we're taking a cruise.  Sadly, see all the dirt, well, that should be submerged in water. Such photos should be on the front page of our newspapers, and then perhaps, we'd have a better understanding and visual representation of our drought in California.

After arriving, a bus (much like Heart Castle, if you've ever done that) took us 800 feet above the lake.  "You will be surrounded by crystal beauty 250 million years in the making! As you turn each corner, a different surprise awaits you in the form of unique and stunning calcite formations!"  You got that right.  It was spectacular.  Do a search or visit the website noted above for much more spectacular photos.

It was an experience. We saw bats, too.  Miss P. and I were pleased that we took the time to see this incredible sight.  Our tour guide was delightful. 

Again, everywhere you see dirt should be water.  We stopped at the gift shop.  I bought a rock magnet for my fridge.  A nice reminder of annother fabulous road trip with Miss P.  Time to head home.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Mt Shasta Century

Sunday, August 2

We awoke to cooler temperatures and cloudy skies (from burning fires in the east and a changing weather pattern).  Miss P. figured out a route that would shave some miles off the Mt. Shasta Century to save our legs for climbing Mt. Shasta.  She did this last year as well when we did the Fall River Mills century.  I've never done a full century, don't really care if I ever do. I'm out there to see the world and have fun with friends, firemen, and anyone else I happen to meet along the way. 

Guess who we ran into as we started out -- Dick and Donna Matthews!  They too were doing a modified route, saving Mt. Shasta for the following day.  We later learned that lots of other cyclists also change up the route to suit their needs and only 100-150 people actually climb Mt. Shasta.  Another reason we shortened the route was because we feared soaring temperatures.  That didn't happen, though as the day wore on, we did feel the heaviness of humidity, like you might experience on the East Coast.  As you can see from the photos, the sky was not at all blue.  Fall River Mills Century offers more interesting scenery in my opinion but it doesn't have Mt. Shasta!

The above photo captures some of the first climb we did, about 10 miles or so.  It reminded me of Mammoth Lakes in the Eastern Sierras.  We encountered a woman with her huskies, training for dog sledding.  She also gives massages as we later learned at the lunch stop.  Fun and easy descent, actually much of the route had great long descents, the best being Mt. Shasta.

The volunteers at each stop were wonderful, as was the food.  At the lunch stop, I met a guy, actually I met quite a few -- friendly cyclists decked out in jerseys that gave us thought for future centuries, where was I, oh yes, a guy from SDSU.  Naturally I let him know I was from SJSU.  Leaving the lunch stop, we encountered the same group of cyclists over and over as we began the climb to Mt. Shasta.  We saw lots of cyclists earlier but as we approached Mt. Shasta, the crowd thinned out.

Mt Shasta is like Mt. Hamilton.  It looms ahead and teases you.  In this case, for 13 miles.  We began in rain.  Yes, little raindrops became bigger and annoying raindrops.  We sauntered on.  I listened to some guy tell me about his kidney stone health issues.  He bowed out.  We were on own again.  The rain stayed with us for maybe a half hour and then the sky slowly got a bit bluer.  It's not a difficult climb (for those of used to biking in the Bay Area) but it is a long climb, and it can wear you down.  Beautiful trees and a glimpse of a deer here and there broke up the monotony as well as the nice looking cyclists of the male persuasion....

At some point, maybe around 6,000 feet (we started at 3590), I left Miss P. and joined other cyclists as we climbed and climbed.  We saw signs telling us what elevation we were at but after Bunny Flat (6950), I don't remember seeing any more signs.  I felt strong and full of myself and every time I got just a bit whiny, I yelled at myself to stop being a baby and keep going.  And that I did, until I reached the end at Old Ski Bowl (7,730 feet) where others cheered me for finishing.  Like the guy from SDSU.  I clapped when Miss P.  arrived.  The descent was a blast, non technical, smooth and fast.  We met up again with Dick and Donna, Carol and Tom for dinner at the park.  We did it.  We kicked ass.  And tomorrow, we have one more adventure before heading home.

Just the stats:

78.6 miles
34 max descent
9.9 avg mph
7 hr. 53 min. 
Didn't do 10,500 feet of climbing but somewhere in the ballpark....

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Let's Hike

Saturday, August 1

Ah, what to do, what to do.  Last night, Miss P and I came up with a plan for Saturday.  We decided to tackle Heart Lake and Castle Lake in the morning and then do the McCloud River Falls trail in the afternoon, all in all, hiking 8.5 miles.  Our strategy was to beat the heat.

Goodness gracious, it was more technical that we expected.  Boy am I glad I brought along my walking poles; they were needed as we navigated a rocky terrain.  First up, after passing the stunning Castle Lake, was a hike to Lower Castle Lake.   This turned out to be sort of dud.  We scrambled through a not so clear path and our legs got a few scratches.  Miss P.'s app said our 4.5 mile climb included 1400 feet of climbing. 

We sauntered on, meeting other friendly hikers, including a wedding party.  We witnessed their ceremony.  Sweet but at the same time, a bit crazy in my book. Thanks to Miss A. for recommending that we do Heart Lake.

More of Castle Lake.  Just stunning, you know, worth the sweat and pain.  We returned to Mt. Shasta to the hippy Berryvale market and shared a turkey pesto wrap. Next up, McCloud River Falls trail.  We pack it in, knowing that we may never return and we must see and do as much as possible.

Last year, we did Burney Falls.  Nothing compares.  But, we were determined to explore the 4 mile McCloud River Falls trail.  As you can see, this is the place to beat the heat.  We regretted that we had not brought along our bathing suits.  Might I add that I enjoyed looking at the shirtless studly men with rippling abs....I have no shame admitting that I appreciate a well chiseled physique of the male persuasion.....

This hike included a lower falls, a middle falls, and an upper falls.  Here we are in the middle.  Delightful though it did not rage as loudly as Burney did last year.  We watched adventurous young men dive into the water. 

The last fall.  We were feeling the heat.  Along came a strange group of people, looking like a tribe from Peru.  They were odd enough to freak us out and boy we suddenly had energy to scuttle along.  Some female hikers came tumbling down the path and one tripped, so, I grabbed her but the sheer velocity almost took us both over a cliff.  So sorry, but, I did not intend to plummet to my death, so, I escaped that little episode.  Returning to our car, it registering 113 degrees.  It was not that hot, but, it was certainly hot.  We found ourselves covered in dust and grime, even down to our toes.  We enjoyed a nice meal at the Black Bear Diner, which by the way, was the first locale for this chain, opening its doors many years ago here in Mt. Shasta.  We accomplished a lot today, saw much, met many interesting characters.  Time to turn in for tomorrow's Mt. Shasta Century. I love our adventures.  I am blessed.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Road Trip to Mt. Shasta

Friday, July 31st

We're going up the country
We're going to some place where we've never been before
We're going to leave the city, got to get away
We're going to Mt. Shasta to play
(lines altered but based upon Going Up the Country by Canned Heat)

Yay, yay, yah, Miss P and I are off on another road trip!  The Boyfriend was invited but an illness prevented him from coming along.

We were joined by our favorite friend, Miss Navigator (voice guided GPS navigation from Google).  She steered us nicely, avoiding traffic jams and getting us to our destination -- Mt. Shasta Inn and Suites, within walking distance to downtown restaurants and Seven Suns Coffee and Cafe.

Photo of Seven Suns (from their Facebook page) where I got my coffee each morning.  A 3 minute walk.

Like last year, when Miss P and I went to Fall River Mills, we planned to pack in as much as possible, seeing the sights, doing hikes (great resource), and of course, the Mt. Shasta Century.  Miss A. chimed in and suggested a hike to do.

And like last year, we encountered soaring temperatures (my car registered 108 - 113 degrees) and fires to the east of us. We saw smoky skies. After unpacking, we walked around downtown, discovering that it seems to be haven for Grateful Dead types or hippies, crystals, tattoos, and more.  The city of Mt. Shasta is in Siskiyou County with its mountain looming above at 14, 179 feet.  Much to do in this area.   For dinner, we stopped in at Casa Ramos and then turned in for the night.   Tomorrow, our first adventure awaits.