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SPINNING YARNS (Ride Reports)

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  • Saturday, May 13, 2017 8:12 PM | Anonymous

    In 2007, Marc Moons led the inaugural edition of the Fearsome Five. Eleven years later, this iconic ride still brings out a solid group of tough riders. Marc and Rita are visiting friends and family in Belgium, and I was recruited to organize the event in their absence.

    Twenty one riders turned out for this year’s edition of the Fearsome Five. For some people, completing three or four of the climbs was enough for the day. Others had their eyes on the big prize – seven riders finished all five peaks!

    Special thanks to Paul McKenzie, who set up a much needed water and snack stop at the base of Pine Mountain and still managed to bag three peaks this year.

    Here are the results:

    First Time Finishers, and recipients of the coveted Fearsome Five beer mug:

    Sam Addison – this young rider set a blistering pace from the very beginning of the day. A flat tire on Ida Clayton’s rough pavement slowed him down a bit, but he still finished strong. Sam is on a mission this year!

    Doug Schrock – Doug chose a good day to earn his beer mug; not too hot, just a little windy. He kept a steady pace throughout the long day.

    Tayler Hockett – not a member of SRCC (yet), Tayler has had his eye on the Fearsome Five for a few years. He showed up with a mountain bike cassette on his road bike – a great choice for the tough climbs on this ride!

    Returning Champions:

    Doug McKenzie – Doug completed the Fearsome Five in 2010, then took a long hiatus in order to pursue his musical career. He joined us again this year, and was finally awarded his beer mug.

    Miguel Sanchez – Miguel must have stayed up late on Friday night, or just figured he could ride fast enough to catch the leaders even if he did start an hour late! This was Miguel’s fifth Fearsome Five finish.

    Carl Sanders – in training for ultra-distance events this year, Carl flew up (and down) the mountains for his fourth Fearsome Five finish.

    Sarah Schroer – as substitute ride leader, there was no way Sarah could stop short of finishing all five peaks this year. This was her sixth Fearsome Five finish.

    Four Peakers:

    Jay Abraham

    Firouzeh Attwood

    Nicki Boyd

    Karl Burkhauser

    Don Graham

    Greg Goto

    David Levinger

    Hunt Moore

    Three (Plus) Peakers:

    Joyce Chang and daughter Juliet Daniel

    Scott Duncan

    Kris Jones

    Paul McKenzie

    Robert Thompson

  • Monday, May 01, 2017 8:24 PM | Joyce Chang

    The Devil Made Me Do It

    Back in 1999 when I finished the TT, I had heard about the DMD, but it never occurred to me to attempt it.  Since it comes so early in the year, it seemed daunting to train for it, and I also was afraid of night riding.  For slower riders like me, the shorter days in April would necessitate some night riding for a hard double century like DMD.

    How things have changed!  I equipped myself several years ago with a 1400-lumen Exposure Race handlebar-mounted light, a Light and Motion headlamp, a backup handlebar-mounted Cateye that can also strap onto my helmet, a 75-lumen taillight, and a motley assortment of reflective items.  A few years ago, I had ridden a couple of double centuries in the autumn, and I became comfortable with night riding.

    Sherry Adams agreed to shepherd me on my maiden DMD voyage.  Sherry being Sherry met me at the corner of Deer Park and Silverado Trail in St Helena on the Friday afternoon before the DMD after a day of working (and riding her bike) somewhere near Howell Mountain.  Sherry showed up with all her necessary gear for the weekend stowed in her rando bag.  Incidentally, just my stash of electronics alone (lights, cords, transformers, spare batteries, Garmin, etc.) could have filled her rando bag.  I loaded her bike onto my car rack and off we went to the Marriott San Ramon.

    Weather forecast for the DMD was favorable: mild winds and highs around 79 degrees.  Our 5AM mass start meant that riders would need their lights for about an hour in the morning. The faster riders could start at 6AM, no lights needed.  The Quackcyclists modified this year’s course to eliminate the portion along Morgan Territory Road and the return on infamous Sierra Road, due to road closures from the rainy winter.  As a result of the route change, the course dropped 8 miles and eliminated about 3000’ of climbing: DMD Lite.  Only 86 riders came to ride this year’s course.  For me, the drop in climbing was a bonus: the only way I could ever complete this ride is the year when they dumbed it down.  I’m hoping they don’t sell a 2017 jersey with an asterisk next to the ride stats.

    A beautiful sunrise emerged from behind the silhouette of Mt. Diablo on what would be a perfect day for the ride.  Other than high winds at the top of Diablo, the remainder of the course was relatively calm and cool.  Veteran DMD riders commented on how comfortable the morning was on Mt Diablo; usually folks shivered down the Mt Diablo descent.

    After the out-and-back on Diablo, we meandered along the flatlands of Livermore suburbia towards Altamont Pass.  A local rider came upon our small group of DMD riders and wanted to verify what our event tags meant.  He asked us if we really were riding 200 miles in a day.  After I confirmed this, he muttered something about his being an underachiever, using some self-deprecating term of “genetic garbage.”  I’m glad we made his day!  He peeled off as we approached Altamont Pass.  Who would’ve known that just north of Interstate 580, a quiet frontage road ran parallel to the freeway over a cul and down into the next valley?  We climbed with Manny D from Union City. Two other guys we rode with, Travis and a guy whose top tube was too short for him we dubbed Short Stem, were rather humorless.  (Rider names were written below the rider number.) They pretty much ignored Sherry and me, despite several overtures to engage them. 

    I was relieved to arrive at the next rest stop (mile 64), as I worried about not having eaten enough at the previous rest stop at the top of Diablo.  A local Filipino cycling club, headed by Jerry, the elder of the Filipino cycling group, manned this rest station.  He and his buddies checked our bikes for us while we helped ourselves to fruit, bagels, PB&J, Hammer nutrition and bars.  Throughout the day, Jerry and his Filipino crew leapfrogged us to the following rest stop and offered us yummy homemade Filipino food: stir-fried noodles, fried rice and chicken adobo.

    Normally, riders would be climbing the exposed Patterson Pass climb much later in the day, but by eliminating Morgan Territory Road, we approached the summit before noon.  Next was the 91-mile out-and-back up to Mt. Hamilton.  Along Mines Road, we passed somebody Sherry knew from the Silver State 508, another humorless one we dubbed “Big Hair.”   Sherry managed to get only one word out of Big Hair.  Mines Road seemed to continue for an uphill eternity until we reached the Junction Cafe rest stop.

    Sherry and I unexpectedly ran into speedy Carl Sanders at The Junction.  Sherry correctly deduced that the only way this could’ve happened was that Carl was on his return leg through the rest stop, whereas we were on our outbound leg to Mt. Hamilton!   We rode 18 miles to arrive at the top of Mt Hamilton: an 8-mile stretch of uneven terrain preceding the true climb, 5 miles of gentle climbing, and a final 5 miles of serious climbing to summit at 4185’.

    The top of Mt. Hamilton provided terrific views of the Bay Area, but we didn’t linger long since there was no food here.  During our return leg from Mt. Hamilton to The Junction rest stop, Sherry commented to me that she thought we would finish around midnight; I had been hoping for 10:30.  In her matter-of-fact way, she said that I burnt up a lot of time at the rest stops, so far using up 1 hr, 20 minutes of time off the bike.  Her prediction was that if I continued such inefficient behavior at rest stops, we might finish even later than midnight.  Well that lit a fire under my ass!  I swear that I wasted a good 5-10 minutes at each rest stop just waiting for dudes to do their business in the single porta-potty that each rest stop had.  Not my fault...waaah!

    Along Mines Road we picked up Andrew, a San Franciscan with a British accent.  We descended down Mines Road in the dusk, still having enough ambient light to feel comfortable descending briskly.   At the Mines Road rest stop (mile 165), I choked down a Cup o’ Noodles while Sherry patiently waited.  Then it was onward to the next rest stop in 21 miles.  When you’re tired and not thrilled about riding late into the night, what to do?  Laugh and gossip!  Sherry wins Shepherd of the Year: she always pulled, pacing me perfectly.  She hardly needed to work when climbing at my speed so she belted out some songs:  Rolling on the River, Say hey, we’re the Monkeys (even laconic Andrew chimed in), Good Day Sunshine.  We laughed at our social faux pas (Is that guy’s name really Dung?  I’ve been calling him that the entire ride!), and poked fun at Short Stem, Big Hair, Team Travis and Genetic Garbage.  After the final rest stop at mile 186 and just a little climb up Norris Canyon, we rolled in at 11:15. 

    Total ride time: 16 hr 15 min.  Time off the bike 2 hours.

  • Sunday, April 30, 2017 9:06 PM | Anonymous

    Sunday’s Four Hill Ride was a journey for the adventurous cyclist, including as it did roads with abysmal pavement, roads without pavement, and pavement rarely traveled during SRCC rides. Seven riders accepted the day’s challenge, and two additional riders accompanied the group part of the way, then turned in a smaller arc as the rest of us launched ourselves north toward Lake County.

    The weather was mild at the 8am start, with no need for knee warmers or jackets. As the day progressed, the temperature climbed toward 80 degrees, a bit warm for riders habituated by a long winter to cool and cloudy rather than warm and sunny.

    Conditions were chatty as the group climbed Hill #1, Geysers Road. We safely negotiated the crumbling asphalt on the northern side of the ridge, then hit the wind on Interstate 101. Fortunately, a few strong riders took the lead and broke trail for the rest of us.

    Hill #2 required more concentration. This was Old Toll Road, an almost traffic-free road which climbs east over the ridge between Hopland and Kelseyville. After crossing a minefield of potholes in the first few miles, we reached the relative smoothness of gravel for the rest of the way up and down.

    The Hopland Grade was Hill #3 and featured very nice pavement, but by this time it was early afternoon and we were climbing in the lee of the ridge, with no breeze to cool us down. Water bottles were empty by the time we reached the top of the ridge and descended toward Hopland.

    After refueling, we headed toward Hill #4. Mountain House Road was the smallest climb of the day, but by no means the least painful, as our tired legs could attest.

    Reaching civilization again in Cloverdale, we were pushed along smooth pavement by a stiff tailwind. This made for a fast trip back to Healdsburg, where beer and burgers at the Bear Republic awaited us.

    The adventure was a great success thanks to a well-matched group of competent and friendly cyclists whose spirits never flagged, even if their bodies wanted to!

    The route can be viewed here: Four Hill Ride on RWGPS

  • Saturday, April 15, 2017 8:44 AM | Dennis Prior

    We had 20 people show up for this challenging ride.  We ended up with 57 miles and 8500' of elevation for the day.  Congratulations to Robina and Karen as this was the most elevation they have ever done in one ride and there might have been a few more in the group also.  We had three guests.   Jens from Calistoga, Lorenzo brought Martin from the bay area, and Phil and Christine brought Don from Colorado.  

    As usual we rode at our social pace and the group spread out once in the hills but never to far apart for the most part.  Quite a few folks hadn't had the privilege of going the opposite direction on Hauser Bridge and that is quite a climb right after the bridge starting up the hill towards Tin Barn and King Ridge I think the gamins were clicking in around 19%.  At the intersection of Tin Barn and Hauser our Garmins were reading 20 miles and a little over 4,000' of elevation. We then headed out Tin Barn to Skaggs after a brief regroup and got to enjoy those wonderful descents down Skaggs to the coast. We had a great lunch break at Stewards Point and a wonderful tail wind as we went the twelve miles down the coast to Timber Cove Rd.  We broke up into 4 group of 5 for pace lines so the cars could easily get by us on HWY 1 and Jens pulled the first group the whole way(he is quite a strong rider and rode down to our level throughout the day).  The climb up Timber Cove was a bit of work with two different sections one at the bottom and one at the top at around 19% as we have gone down Timber Cove a number of times on our way to climb Ft. Ross Rd. from the coast.

    After we finished the climb up Timber Cove about 1/2 the group regrouped at Seaview right at the intersection of Timber Cove and Seaview and mentioned the tough climbs we had in for the day so far and decided to just spin/grind our way back into Cazadero.  Jens showed back up and checked in on the back group and gave Karen a salt tab as she was struggling on the ride and low and behold she caught her second wind and took off with Chris Jones never to be seen at the back of the pack again that day! :-.

    I think Steve Piazzo got the most distance of the day as he rode from his house in Occidental and probably had around 90 miles yesterday.  We had a few others riding in from Monte Rio and Duncan Mills.

    Afterwards 10 of us had dinner(it was around 4'30 when we finished the ride) at Northwoods lodge and a well deserved beer.  Christine said that ride was as tough if not tougher than a lot of the climbs she has done in the Alps.  I haven't ever been to the Alps but I don't doubt that we have that type of climbing here in Sonoma County.


    Enjoy the day,

    Dennis


  • Sunday, March 19, 2017 8:40 AM | Dennis Prior

    We had 18 folks show up for this ride on roads that is not very often ridden especially 128 out of Cloverdale and Mountain House rd.  When we left Geyserville and headed up to Cloverdale there was a stiff head wind and everyone seemed at peace with just taking their time  and chatting their way up to Cloverdale so the whole group stayed together and then we broke into 4 groups of 4-5 cylclists in each group  riding up 128 so the cars could get safely pass us thereby making it safe for us.  We all regrouped at Mountain House Rd. and then headed down he hills to Hopland at a very relaxed pace as the road is a bit chewed up from the rough winter with one small section completely gravel at this point but if you hit that going down hill at a good clip it would have ended badly for someone.  So being most of us are of a certain age where we no longer bounce when we hit the pavement we decided to go with caution.  Mountain House Road is a beautiful road to ride this time of year.  With all the hills green and creeks running and the lovely oaks its a tough scenic road to beat.  Also we noticed there were no grape vines on this road as well which made it unique to this area.  We all made it to Hopland safe and sound with only one flat had a break at the pizzarea there in town and then headed back the way we came and regrouped at the intersection again and split into groups of 4-5 and headed on down 128 to Cloverdale and regrouped at Plank for a potty break and then pedaled on back into Geyserville and this time with the wind at our backs the pace picked up considerably as no one wanted to waste that cheap speed!  

  • Saturday, March 18, 2017 7:23 PM | Anonymous

    The weather was just about perfect for this annual springtime century ride, and a relatively large group of 16 riders showed up at the start of the event. In addition to several of the usual suspects, there were some new faces in the group, including a carload of visitors from Pleasanton. Although everyone climbed and descended the big hills at their own pace, the group was quite well matched and moved along nicely -- that's important on such a long, hard day!

    Spring Mountain was the first hill, approached from the west on bumpy St Helena Road. Howell Mountain was the second climb, which was very peaceful as it is currently (and perhaps for the long term) closed to traffic due to weather damage. Then came a long section of rollers out to Lake Beryessa, beautiful right now with the water level reaching green grass along the shores. After a smooth ride along Hwy 128, we returned to the Napa Valley and had a lunch stop in Yountville. Finally, we approached the third climb up the eastern slope of Trinity Mountain.

    The last leg of the journey brought us back to Santa Rosa via Warm Springs Road and Oakmont, where we checked out the newly constructed trail which connects Stonebridge Road to Channel Drive, bypassing private property in order to reach the narrow bridge past the old water treatment plant. Note that this trail is not yet open for use as the crushed rock surface still needs to cure.

    Route is here: Three Hill Ride on RWGPS

  • Sunday, March 05, 2017 9:58 PM | Anonymous

    Sunday's weather kept many cyclists at home, warm and dry and with clean bikes. But half a dozen hardy souls weren't deterred by the forecast and showed up for the Two Hill Ride at Howarth Park. This was the second in a series of three rides of increasing difficulty, geared to improving fitness early in the year. The route was 66 miles with about 4700 feet of climbing. MAP

    It was 45 degrees at 9am, not too cold, but rain started to fall as we set off, so rain jackets were unpacked immediately. That early shower stopped after about 30 minutes, by which time we were riding up St Helena Road. As the road climbed into the narrowing canyon, the temperature dropped into the low 30s, and no one stopped to take off layers. The sun came out intermittently, and we saw some warmer temperatures in the Napa Valley as we rode south along Silverado Trail, but repeated rain showers kept the jackets on. After a lunch stop in Yountville, we continued south to the outskirts of Napa before looping back to the north on Dry Creek Road. Here we were briefly pelted by hail, which collected along the edges of the road. The temperature began to fall again as we climbed up wet and slippery pavement to reach the summit of Trinity Road. On the western slope of the ridge, the sun shone through the clouds and raised steam from the road. Now the wind was picking up, and the flags warned of a strong headwind for the final stretch into Santa Rosa. After passing through Glen Ellen, half of the group split from the route and headed home to Petaluma over Sonoma Mountain Road, exchanging windy flats for an extra hill, while the Santa Rosa contingent battled their way north-west to Howarth Park.

    All in all, a dramatic weather day but still enjoyed by those with the right gear and mindset.
  • Friday, March 03, 2017 9:30 PM | Dennis Prior

    We had 20 riders show up for our first trip over King Ridge for 2017 and the road was in pretty good shape except for a few places where there were some slide outs, but everyone seemed to navigate them safely.  We had three folks make their maiden voyage over King Ridge and a group of 4 added some miles and hills by going out tin barn to Skaggs and then going down Hwy 1 to Ft. Ross and then taking that back into Cazadero and a group of 2 others added even more miles once they got to Skaggs and decided to turn right and head down the Rancheria Wall and then climb back up it and then continue on Skaggs to the coast and  after climbing Ft. Ross from the coast were they began to  work their way back to Monte Rio where they started in order to get some more miles.  David Livinger is building up steam for the Terrible Two and is trying to get Karl Burkhauser to join him!  Either way they are off to a good start.

    It's nice to see everything green and the creeks full of water.

  • Sunday, January 29, 2017 7:46 PM | Anonymous
    After weeks of heavy rain and grey skies, we've all been enjoying the current series of clear, calm days. At last, a chance to ride your bike without having to hose it down afterwards! It was with this sentiment that eight riders set off from Howarth Park on Sunday morning on the first in a series of winter/spring rides. This route is the shortest and easiest of the series, and is known as the One Hill Ride.


    After differences of opinion regarding the number of hills on the 2016 version of this ride (which went over Sonoma Mountain Road to reach Cavedale, the "real" hill), I decided to revert to the traditional route for the event this year. This route takes riders over Spring Mountain from west to east, then cruises (or hammers) north along Silverado Trail and Hwy 128 to Chalk Hill Road before turning south again toward Santa Rosa. If one looks at the elevation profile for this route, it's easy to see the "one hill" that the route is named for. There were no complaints filed during or after the ride this time :)


    In short, we enjoyed the great weather, the sound of rushing water in the creeks and the views of green hills and vineyards turning yellow with early mustard. Thanks to the group of friendly, competent riders who turned out for this ride. Let's hope for similar weather for next month's Two Hill Ride!
  • Tuesday, November 15, 2016 8:31 PM | Dennis Prior

    We had a beautiful day for a ride up Pine Mountain last Friday on Veterans day.  We had 21 folks show up for this great ride with about 6-7 of them doing this for the first time.  Everyone mad it to the start of the dirt on the road and then we all met up at Plank coffee for treats and refreshements.  We cruised back over Dutcher Creek and Canyon back into Geyserville where some of the folks went to Diavola for lunch.  I had to go to work!  :-(. Next time.  Here is a picture of the group less Charlie Williams the photographer.


    Enjoy the day,

    Dennis

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