31 January 2011

Ride Log

Friday: California One Youth and Beauty Brigade
I wrote up a little cue sheet based off some local knowledge and made my way over to Highway 1. I didn't mind the brutal wind because I was too busy looking out over the water (not taking pictures). I turned around in Davenport and proceeded to skip the best part of the loop, trusting blindly to the poor set of directions affixed to my handlebars. I could only retrace my steps and eventually with some frustration got back to the house. I am cursed with a poor sense of direction and abysmal navigational skills. My only hope when in new towns is to blindly foray into the wilderness until I develop some sense of place. Chrissy's commuter bike was perfect for that.

If I had taken pictures they would of course have looked like this.

Saturday: The SC Hustle
Ah, a Saturday morning group ride! Legend has it this one has been going on for thirty years. I arrived early and explained to a woman who races for Vanderkitten (yes, I was secretly excited) that I was a noob. She and everyone within earshot seemed very worried for my well-being because there were sprint points along the ride (duh) and I wasn't familiar with the area. "You do have a cell phone, right?" is code for: "When you get dropped, you can find your own way back, right?" Fair enough. Seventy people showed for the ride and I swam along in the sea of roadies listening to their absurd chatter: "I won this sprint last week." "Hold your line!" "So this clown wasn't doing ANY work, so I told him to either get the f@#$ off the front or help us pull in the break." "I've been on the rollers for three months getting ready for the so-and-so race." "I was the third person to buy Di2 and the president of Shimano called me..." (Yeah, really.) Anyhoo, after some tepid sprints (nothing is hard when you're sitting in a paceline the size of an eighteen-wheeler) we rolled into Watsonville. The sixty-milers took off for the mountains, which were wreathed in clouds; they beckoned to me. But I only had one bottle and didn't trust my own fitness, so I took the easy way out. Alas.

A rainbow over San Lorenzo River (or, more accurately, a rainbow over the part of town where the prostitutes live).

Sunday: Arana Gulch
Off-and-on drizzle hindered me from conquering Highway 1 so I returned the road bike to Beth and went for a little run down to the harbor. This was definitely one of those DAMN, NO CAMERA outings. I followed a tiny meandering dirt path behind the harbor and found myself in a wide open meadow ringed with trees. The sky was dramatic as the rain evaporated and the sun fought its way out, and there was no sign that this lush green space was in the middle of a city.

Monday: Wow
I'm up in Walnut Creek now, and I borrowed my aunt's (teeny tiny) Litespeed for some more exploring. I started in Orinda and in barely fifteen minutes I'd escaped the bonds of upper middle class suburbia and was meandering through dank wooded tunnels. Then the road turned up and climbed to Redwood Regional Park. It was a gradual, winding scenic climb like the backside of 215. I was way happy, and the descent down the other side was not bad either. Chastened by my pitiful previous attempts to make loops, I opted for an out and back, which more than quenched my need for scenery.
The reservoir. Fyi, Oakland: I spit in it.
Not really.

Yay uphill!

Tomorrow: Mount Diablo! (Dramatic music)

27 January 2011

I'm Never Going Home

In all honesty this trip to Cali was impromptu and I forgot to get excited about it until I was on the plane. I had no expectations and figured even if it was a forgettable week I would at least get in some good face time with the west coast family.
Apparently low expectations beget fabulous trips. Or maybe it's just the combination of A-MAZ-ING weather and incredibly welcoming friends and family. Wandering the streets in shorts and sandals, reading on the beach, and riding bikes in short sleeves has got me dreading the return trip.
My wonderful cousin Chrissy treated me to breakfast at Cafe Brasil, where they serve coffee that's like the nectar of the gods. I had some nummy poached eggs over avocado and baguette.

I asked my friend Beth if I could maybepossiblyperhaps borrow a mountain bike, to save the money and worry of shipping or renting a bike. Um...she came through IN SPADES. Today I got to ride a carbon Trance up and down a mountain. We went out early while it was still chilly (and by that I mean fifty degrees...) and met up with a group of six other awesome, fast women to ride for a couple hours. We pinned it up a long dirt road climb then descended forever on marvelous snaky singletrack through the redwoods. The five inch bike made for some durn good riding.
And as if that wasn't enough, Beth then lent me her titanium road bike for the rest of the week. I don't believe there has ever been a better time and place for some solitary wandering road rides. I think I'll go explore Highway 1 tomorrow.
This might have been called Sand Point. Right before the sick-ass descent of West...ridge? I think.

Plunder from the farmers' market. Last night we made salad with sauteed rainbow chard, kalamata olive croutons, and roasted root veggies.

I don't even like beaches. But I like this one. And it's two blocks from the house.

19 January 2011

This Is One of Those Things Words Can't Express

The cycling world just lost one of its most promising, talented, and friendliest stars. Carla Swart was a truly amazing individual and I can't believe she's gone.

18 January 2011

One is Silver and the Other's Gold

I made a bike purchase this week, purportedly in the effort to streamline my fleet, but really just to experience that *rush* again.
It's a Stevens cross bike but will function mostly as a road bike; Rimmer, St Marie, and T Cowie all rocked cantilevers on the road, so why can't I? The candy cane bike (for which I admittedly never held deep feelings) must depart the quiver to make room for this new arrow, but I'm holding onto the Redline, because it's a lovely lovely bike, a great commuter, and very dear to my heart.

I took the still-unnamed beauty on a short ride today and was quite happy with the experience. I seem doomed never to break the 20 pound barrier but I can't muster the energy to care; the geometry feels racey and it quite possibly descends waymorebetter than the Allez (although that may have been because I haven't taken off the cross tires yet). The Cane Creek cantis are a delight, and the Sram Apex group is snappy and feels more expensive than it is. (The jury is out on the double tap shifters though. I struggled a bit with the long throw. Methinks some adjustment is in order.) It also came with full Thomson bits and who doesn't love some dirty south bling? The wheel situation is still in flux, but as long as it rolls I can't complain.

It was just blue and white but...I couldn't resist imposing an Uhmerica color scheme on this German steed.

So there's a fresh-outta-the-box review, colored by excitement and by no means comprehensive. But on the other hand, I've owned the baby dinosaur for almost a year now and it deserves more praise than I've thought to give it.

Dear Specialized (and Sycamore Cycles):
I love my Era more than life itself.
K thanx bai

Also, loving the XX crank. A compact makes a durn lot of sense for mountain biking, and this crank is CRAZAY stiff. So stiff that even I notice it. And I cannot say often enough or with enough breathless emotion that my I9 Ultralites freaking rock. I would get in a bar fight over these wheels, if some hapless patron dared to claim another wheel was superior. This baby dino "review" may seem a fit of gratuitous eulogizin', but my point is more that I've now spec'ed my mountain bike EXACTLY as I want it and couldn't imagine it being any better.

I can't ride it so I take pictures of it. Sigh.

17 January 2011


cool stuff that has happened in '11 so far:
-the saint and i hiked up to big rock on new year's eve and ate chocolate pecan pie at midnight.
-i've only had to work three or four days a week.
-a posse of us went down to ride at paris mountain. new favorite south kack trail system, fo sho!
-cross country skiing. fun and tiring, although i am totally shite at it. yep:

-new decemberists album!
-new cross bike!