Sunday, February 27, 2011

Morgan Territory (from the backside or frontside?) in the snowstorm that never came-2011

(2/26/2011) Morgan Territory from Livermore-w/ Jack and Collin, 90 miles.

One of the great things in college is having the time to be up on all new music. Life seems to be continually filled with friends bringing over cheap beer, some funny cigarette that you shared, and a few LP's (ask your parents what they are.)Album art on LP's was a great bonus--made up for the skips and pops you don't hear on CD's or MP3's, and were able to take the seeds out of tobacco on double albums. Someone always hear of a new band at their college and wanted to be the first to introduced everyone to music (Zappa, extended cuts of The Doors) that wasn't being played on top 40 radio.

Then you leave college and people are locked into their jobs and the free flow of music information (pre Net') stalls out. I remember when the first Tower Pulse came out and didn't recognize half the bands. And a little snootyness slipped in--at the listening stations the whiny guys from Seattle or teen girls crowing about relationships didn't come close to the great 60's and early 70's music (OK, I easily forget about Seals and Crofts)

One of the great things about bike rides is that I can get a song in my head and it can play over and over at key moments. On long downhills Pattis Smith's "Dancing Barefoot" calms me down, on long uphills The Doors "When the Music's Over" is perfect. Took last year to yelling "hit me" from James Brown's Payback on every steep hairpin. But truthfully, all the songs I have stuck in my head are the same ones I have burned in different combos on 80% of the CD's I listen to while commuting, or the ones on MP3 where I have the studio version plus 6 different live versions and 3 covers. Back to my original lament-apart from Senagal music and Rusted Root, I haven't listened to much new since college.

Until now. Finally sick of my CD's, or hearing the Eagles ad naseum on commercial radio. I was trying to find a good Internet Radio when Musician Stephen (first friend who turned 60) told me about PANDORA--where you create your own radio station. You "seed" the station with songs/ artists you like and it plays old and NEW MUSIC, with the new music being similar to what you seed the station with. IT IS GREAT. 10% of the time I can't figure out why they are playing a song--but when I thumb down it I never have t hear it again. 40% is OK music, much new. And 50% is GREAT--either stuff I already like or lots of new gems. One morning I went into the shower thinking I should seed PANODORA with Neil Young--when I came out it was playing "Heart of Gold" covered by Johnny Cash, which I had never heard. How freaky is that.

In 3 sucessive weeks I've had 3 NEW anthems for the week. Very different. "Echo Beach" was perfect for a long ride and motoring. I love the song--later I found out PANDORA says its very similar to 'Dancing Barefoot," I don't see the similarity but what do I know. I dislike coutry (except for Johnny Cash,) but Lucinda Williams "Are You Down" is something I played over and over all week--she has the strange vocal quaility Patti Smith had at CBGB's when she almost lost her voice but belted out my favorite live version of "Dancing Barefoot." It is to slow for hard cycling--though would have it running through my head when I drifted to the back of the pack. And then "Paper Tigers" is a super hyped song--perfect for attack after attack.

All this going on when we went out for a ride waiting for the GREAT CALIFORNIA SNOWSTORM that never happened. It was FN cold (29 at wake up, 39 at the start of the ride, Het Volk weather) and the Club decided to avoid the scheduled ride--the East Bay Hills that are well shaded and might provide black ice. So we took a flat ride out to Sunol whereas Collin checked his IPHONE APP and saw that rainbows with pots o gold were forming uptop Morgan Territory, so he, Jack and I went up Morgan from the sunny, wide open, but windy Livermore side. (Dave thought we would become frozen food and didn't believe the pot o gold-rainbow app so he went to Mt. Diablo to freeze.

Collin's app was wrong again, no pot o gold, no rainbow (Jack disappointed) but it was sunny on the climb and very little wind for the downhill. ("Echo Beach" playing over and over in my head on the downhill.) Funny, on the climb Collin and I bs'ing the whole way up and I was surprised when we were suddenly on "The Wall." On the way back (probably to "Are You Down," I just stopped and pulled off my jacket and heavy gloves--it was actually to fn warm.

Next week a short (200k) brevet and week after OPENING DAY--the Diablo Cyclist 120 mile ride up Mines Road. Enough of winter, I need spring--now.

(Had to do this post in HTML--so it looks crappier than usual)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

George Bush-Richard Nixon Day Weekend-2011

(February 19 & 20) Sunday, Walnut Creek to Patterson Pass, 90 miles, w/ Jack and Dr. Dave. Monday, Walnut Creek to Calaveras, 80 miles, w/ Jack, Collin and Andy.

Looking forward to the three days off for the Bush-Nixon holiday extended weekend--and after it hit 70 degrees the week before was looking forward to two WARM cycling days followed by a day off to kick around and do something else. Buddha prays that he doesn't run into any turkeys this year wearing silver disco cycling shoes. Both seen during walk around San Francisco--I'd buy ONE of these.

The ghosts of Bush-Nixon had other plans--a severe rainstorm hit the Bay Area all day on Saturday--cold temperatures put snow on all the high elevations like Mt. Diablo. So I reversed plans and took a long walk from Chinatown to the Mission in San Francisco decked out in full raingear w/o an umbrella.

Super Joe can't get any faster on a bike (a few years back 2nd on Eastern Sierra Double) so he's now tooling around in a helicopter--where he took photos of Mt. Diablo summit after the snowstorm.

The Saturday ride was supposed to be Altamont (think Rolling Stones), which usually means Patterson Pass--a nice long easy climb albeit two steep sections. Oh yeah--easy when the wind isn't blowing, which you can tell by the wind farms surrounding it isn't often. So though Sunday is usually a short/ easy ride after breakfast with the Club, it only made sense to do Saturday's ride on Sunday.
Only problem with Sunday is that even though it was sunny, it was cold every time we were moving except on the Patterson Climb. I don't think I ever rode 90 miles with glove liners on all day (except for 1/2 the Patterson Climb.) When we got to Altamont the wind was howling but I was psyched to do the Patterson Pass Climb--and on the "beer truck" (steel GT w/ rack and brevet bag.) Dr. Dave and Jack didn't want me to get lost on the return trip so they accompanied me. Felt good at the end of the ride-on a warm day Mt. Diablo junction would have been included but it was fn cold and every tourist was on Mt. Diablo checking out the snow.

Dr. Dave and Brian--our 'bent team. Dave still happy as he doesn't know he's doing Patterson Pass yet, and Brian happy as he knows better.

Snow capped Mt. Diablo from Danville.

Its sunny but cold at breakfast.
Wind farm next to Altamont, at the base of Patterson Pass. Infamous Rolling Stones venue nearby. The farm valley in the distance.

3rd in our series of GREAT CLIMBING RECUMBENT Posters. Dr. Dave on Patterson Pass.

Jack reaches the Patterson Pass Summit.

The next day was overcast and cold, and I was sore from the day before. First Jack, Collin and I convinced ourselves that we'd only go on a flat ride to Sunol. However, once in Sunol the sun broke through so the gentle climb to Calavaras with no traffic controls became promising. But there still is a climb, and still 80 miles all told, and another ride on the "beer truck" with glove liners stayed on all day.

I've hated the Hammergel grenade weighing down my back pocket for years--especially when I only use 1/4 or so on a Century. I also don't like bringing a silver foil Hammer packet--"should I open it now," "should I finish it but I don't really want to," "I want more than what is in the packet," "what should I do with the finished packet-stick it in my shorts pants leg," "Oh look, a cyclist threw another silver foil Hammer packet on the ground." The Gotube bottles with an old style Hammer grenade cap are perfect--in photo above I'm carrying the small one which holds about 1.25x shots. Meanwhile, Collin thinks the Hammer grenade is to small, and he has what looks like an IHOP Boysenberry Syrup Container filled with Hammergel.

At the end of Calavaras we go down "The Wall" and as a bonus climb back up the short but steep section. Here Collin, straight from having a stack of pancakes with his Hammer syrup climbs "the Wall" before our return trip. Collin wanted to do Patterson Pass but we knew that Dr. Dave would be disappointed if he missed it so we agreed to wait until Dave is on the ride.
Found out that Collin joined the Diablo Cyclists after he took a ride with another local club and said they were cliquish and acted like assholes (same thing Sacto Doug said about this big club @6 years ago.) Then a friend told Collin about the Diablo Cyclists, saying the DC rep was "they ride heavy steel bikes and like to do hills."

Monday, February 14, 2011

Early Season Great Club Rides-2011

The bonus mile group expanding the regular Diablo Cyclist routes--but also dropping like flies. Dr. Dave, Ward and Christine all on the 15 day injured reserved list. My ankle has been killing me since before Thanksgiving--mostly aggravated while walking, just tender when cycling until "FUCK"-I have to clip out. Reversed all my cleats for an easier release angle. Now mid February and was the first time it didn't hurt on any weekend ride. This is good news as I just signed up for Alta Apina 8 and Mt. Tam-my two feature events of the year, and Devil Mountain Double as a training ride for Alta Alpina. Some fn training ride.

A side of Mt Diablo the Diablo Cyclists rarely see--from the agricultural fields to the Northeast. To save time on some Sundays instead of riding with the Club I take the fixed gear and loop to Los Vaquaros--1/2 the ride is subdivision ugly and 1/2 is in the agriculture belt. Unlike central country where there are cyclists everywhere, this area is really desolate. This is the transition spot from ag land to subdivisions.

Ward and I psyched re our new rides. I have my hybrid all ready to go for the grueling 3 miles to Peets Coffee--now with a chainring guard so I wouldn't catch my pants leg and Shimano V brakes so I wouldn't roll into the drive thru window (oh, that's Buck Bucks.)

Meanwhile Ward got a new Parlee and Pegoretti, and the best he can say to describe the differences in the bikes are "one is white and one is black."

One favorite club ride is Morgan Territory, a nice off the beaten path climb. First order of business is to get away on the rollers from the tandem so we wouldn't hear Captain Know It All or have snot balls blown back into the paceline. Then we just kept our bonus group together for the climb that features hairpins that kick up nicely. Above Brian, Ward and Christine working on their suntan at the top of Morgan. After the wind strewn curvy downhill a few of us split off to ride out and do the Palamoras climb. All told about 90 miles.

The guys were real nice--when I was in Flordia they decided to do Sierra Road--a climb I hate. Its a steady and steep gruel up. Above-Dr. Dave does it on the 'bent. (Ward-o-photo)

Another great club ride is the Peet's Coffee ride where no one goes into Peet's but the bakery next door over the hills in Berkeley. To get there we go over 4 easy to medium hills (The Pig and the Three Bears) where there usually is a club sprint out to the two rest stops. Here Brian is enjoying the February weather at the first regroup after the Pig Climb. Today will have lots of climbing but little wind--last week was flatter but with a stout wind all day everyone was dead by the end of the day.

Collin, one of our new bonus mile guys, rode over the Bears with me and he was making fun of riders now decked out in full Cervelo kits. We met up with Stephen after a furious Bears ride (he smartly came in from the other way)--and sure enought there was someone with a full Cervelo kit right behind him. From here we climb up to Tilden Park.

Numerous ways to get out of Tilden Park and ride the ridgeline above Berkeley-Oakland. Before being exiled to Hawaii Mike had found a 20% climb out of the park. In his honor some of us did the Muir de Mike, named after the man himself (above.)

Maybe this is called the Peets Ride as some folks sit on the bench in front of Peets, as Mike and Christine demonstrate.

After a climb back to Skyline Collin spotted one guy weaving and a woman walking her bike up a dead end street, and he made a command decision that we had to do it--aptly named "Diablo Way-" aka "the Muri de Collin"

Collin and Matt on the top of Diablo Way.

Stephen, Jack, June and I did some bonus miles into Castro Valley and then Jack and I finished going up to the ranger station of Mt. Diablo. As noted earlier this ride had much more climbing than last week** but last week's steady crosswind/ headwind made that ride much more brutal. last week hit Mt. Diablo at mile 80, this week at mile 70. Last week put in a huge effort, was strung out at the end, and had gotten in a few minutes before my compatriots--this week rode an ez pace bsing pace with Jack. Shocked when watch said this week's ez pace was 20 seconds faster. Shows what we do at the beginning of a ride really impacts later on.
**Peets Ride has 4500' climbing in 50 miles--and apart from our adding the two short but 20% Muirs, the bonus group also did Redwood, Crow Canyon and Norris Canyon before hitting Mt. Diablo for our 85 mile ride.
First great quote of the year, when we all join in with a gigantic teenage racing team coming back on the flats the next day. A yellow light in the distance--will be solid red when we hit it--the teenagers go through the light as we all stop except for Jeannie who was mid pack, and disappears with teenage pelaton down the road. Mike chirps in "that just became "The Cougar Ride" I almost fell off the bike.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Trip to Florida-2011

(February 2011) Trip To South Florida

Off to South Florida to visit mom--wonderful going down there now with weather +20 warmer than California (and +60 of Boston, NYC, Chicago); just that little bump in temperature with the humidity makes it so nice and warm--even into the evening.

Mom lives in a strange place, a self imposed ghetto--whole neighborhoods from NYC picked up and moved down to the same place. Click here to see article The daily over/ under is 25 that you'll hear something positive about "Jewish" ("we saw a nice JEWISH doctor," or "he has a Yiddish Kup," (clever head)), or about Israel...its kind of like an Apple computer user who keeps telling you how great their computer is while they have 6% of the market.

Unfortunately every time I visit a big reminder that more and more people are no longer with us. When I go there I remember my dad and grandma finally enjoying a stress free lifestyle. Also remember my little kids in the pool under the watchful eyes of the condo commandos making sure they didn't dive, splash, or play with a beach ball. (How did my kids get so old so fast.)

While calling everyone who lives there "the old people" I feel old also. Lots of NY delis--where a sandwich just has meat piled on Rye Bread and comes with huge sour pickles--not a California deli where 1 slice of meat, 1 slice of cheese, some sprouts, and sliced avocado comes with a tiny nondescript pickle wedge. I actually lost weight while down there eating at the deli almost every night--but I just had a few yogurts during the day. But back to feeling old--when I went to my favorite deli years ago they'd pipe in Yiddish music, Frank Sinatra, Swing Jazz--old people music. This time playing, one night "Light My Fire," the next night "Riders on the Storm." Shit, my music has become oldies.

This is a deli sandwich! (And its the small size)

Edward Hopper shot of "The Club."

Big Judged art show with lots of good stuff. This one reminded me that my dad didn't care for modern art--but he did like an exhibit we saw years ago with figures that looked like ordinary people.Birds on Miami Beach--oh damn got in too much background--hope its not distracting..Bike and trailer near Miami Beach. They are building a new ballpark for the Marlins at the site of the torn down Orange Bowl--which is in a neighborhood near but not within walking distance of downtown Miami. Hard to locate a stadium in the area-half the fan base lives in the north counties and wouldn't drive to Miami to see a game.
The Dodgers are gone.