So yes, I got my butt out there and achieved both of these nice round numbers by 10:30 this morning. Not bad for the old fart Father Tortuga.
I didn't really have any cycling "goals" this year other than completing the Belgian Waffle Ride in northern San Diego County. That was achieved in the first half of the year. ➤ Then Strava took over, egging me on to show some "results" as often as I could for myself and my small audience on Strava. ➤ Then another local Strava user mentioned that he was going for 5,000 miles before the end of the year. That was late November. I looked at my YTD mileage and figured I could reach 5,000 too, despite upcoming family time and travel. ➤ Then—just yesterday, as I was checking to see exactly how many miles I needed to ride to ride today to hit my "goal" before the end of the year tonight—I also noticed I was within spitting distance (1,600 feet) of achieving another round number... 300,000 vertical feet of climbing. It's not quite outer space (which starts at about another 27,000 feet higher than that), but it's a nice new "goal" for this morning, which also had possible (50% chance) rain in the forecast.
So yes, I got my butt out there and achieved both of these nice round numbers by 10:30 this morning. Not bad for the old fart Father Tortuga.
This blog entry presents a taste of the Cycling Curmudgeon™ style of writing pervasive in my older blog at LaJollaVelo.com. I'm older and grumpier now, so I don't think I've lost my touch in that area. I'll briefly present guidelines for new and experienced fans of cycling, then share my experiences—related to these two guidelines—that make me yell out loud at my TV or computer...because, of course, the amount of spectator yelling is the ultimate measure of how exciting any sport really is. I know several experienced cyclists who have been bike racing fans for years who still break these rules, so I'm not too concerned that I'm sharing something you already know.
Let's start with the spoiler. This is the act of sharing information about any show or event that others do NOT want to know yet. Some people are living real lives in real time that may require the recording and LATER viewing of a show or event. This is especially common in the cycling world because most of the events occur in Europe on European time. So when we Americans go out for a club ride in the morning, those of us who do not suffer from insomnia or extreme obsession with the sport have not yet seen that day's race.
To make things worse, there are so many new ways for people to spoil the surprise for everyone else: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and for cyclists...Strava. Strava tracks our mileage for us and adds a "social" aspect to tracking and sharing runs and rides, allowing you to comment within your day's ride narrative about that "awesome victory by Peter Sagan" that morning, for example. In a face-to-face situation, I can politely tell the person who's about to share the day's race result to STFU. Unfortunately, on Strava or Twitter, I've read the result before I can stop. I can't unread it. That's when the "yelling out loud" starts....cursing at the phone/computer and my friend who just ruined the surprise "awesome sprint" finish to a race that I would have MUCH rather watched without already knowing who won.
Now you know rule #1: Don't talk about race results of the day on social media. And if you're "live" with your friends on the road or at the coffee shop, start your exciting monologue about the day's race with the question, "Have you all seen today's race?" and LISTEN to the answers. If your buddies haven't seen the race, just stop at something like, "Check it out...it was great."
Moving on to rule #2... If you're lucky enough to be at a live bike race, give the athletes some room to do their jobs, even if the course marshals or Gendarmes aren't forcing you to step back. You're going to underestimate the riders' speed, and you don't necessarily know which part of the road they will want to ride on. Getting in the way or having your camera strap catch their handlebars can cause a terrible crash. So why not get off the road (Rule #2) and watch from the curb? The riders are sure to stay off the curb unless one of the witless members of the motorcade bumps them off the road. The photo above and this article from Richard Williams of the Guardian help illustrate this rule. As you can guess, my loudest yelling at the TV comes when there's an awesome sprint ("go! go! go!"), a horrible crash ("oh no!"), or a herd of selfish, idiotic fans that feel like they have to be part of the race by getting further and further into the road ("get out of the way!), sometimes rationalizing this stupid idea by claiming some other moron on the road was blocking their view. (Tip: Tell that other moron to get TF off the road.)
Two rules should be plenty for my rudimentary blog for people with short attention spans about being a good cycling spectator. But for sh*ts & giggles I'll also mention Rule #3 because—as we've seen from the results of the 2016 presidential election—people are stupid and selfish. Rule #3 reads as follows: "Do not bring smoke bombs to bike races." WTF? Do we really need to say that? Yes. Thankfully some of the race organizers are banning them, but just like the 3-foot law (aka the "Three Feet for Safety Act") in California, you might never actually see it enforced. Well here we go...I'm yelling at the idiots waving smoke bombs on my TV again ("shove that god**m thing up your a**!"). Ah, what a great sport. ∎
🔥 Change of plans: I'm definitely NOT driving all the way up to the Crater Lake Century, which is still slated to take place on August 18, 2018. This was going to be my first big road trip since Katie and I took our underutilized (but awesome) Sprinter cargo van on a camping & cycling journey through Nevada and Utah in 2010. That's a long time to go between multi-state road trips, so my sadness and disappointment feel pretty profound at the moment. I shall limit my whining about this predicament because the reason for the cancellation of this trip—at least in its original form—is that California and Oregon are on fire. Firefighters are risking their lives, some people are losing their lives, and many people are losing their homes to these blazes.
When the fires initially broke out, I thought I would shift my focus from cycling to relief efforts along the way. But the Red Cross refused my application to volunteer because my home address is too far from where they need help. I've also canceled my lame ($0 raised) goFundMe campaign intended to supplement my own contributions to help assist fire victims. Now, instead of hands-on volunteering and direct relief fund distribution, I'm reverting to our usual means of helping: making a donation, which I encourage everyone to do. The Red Cross will direct the funds exactly to where you want them to go.
✚ American Red Cross
The smoke in Oregon at the site of the planned "century" ride is just the icing on the disaster-cake of a trip this was starting to look like. My northbound route to Oregon, mostly using coastal California Highway 101, has a couple fires near/around it (Mendocino Complex). And my southbound return path along Interstate 5 with a planned detour to Sequoia National Park has its own set of fires still burning, as shown on the fire incident map below. Maybe August 2018 is not the best time for a big road trip? Sometimes I have a hard time giving things up, and this is no exception. I'm looking for a compromise—finding new places to ride that aren't covered in smoke—but we'll still have to play this by ear.
Meanwhile, back home on the ranch, we're still in the thick of a Caribbean-style hot & humid weather pattern that is so unlike the California weather I once knew. The LOW barely got below 80°F last night, but as they say, "It's not the heat, it's the humidity." OK, no whining about this or the "running toilet issue" one of our tenants brought up yesterday. (I do wish our tenants were at least as handy as I am.)
Right. Repeat after me, "I'm all about gratitude." I'm alive and well. My family is alive and well. Our house is not burning, and I installed a mini-split air conditioner (yes, on my very own!) a couple years ago so Katie and I slept comfortably last night. I hope you did, too.
Earlier this year, a friend visiting from Colorado to enjoy the Belgian Waffle Ride with me mentioned that the Crater Lake Century is on his bucket list but he couldn't do it this year because of a schedule conflict. After seeing Crater Lake several times from commercial flights overhead, I've wanted to get there to see it up close, so I added that ride to my list. Now that I've retired and turning 60 this year, I don't delay my bucket list items. Whether or not you share lanes with distracted and irrational drivers, you never know when your number is up, so why wait?
Sometimes my timing isn't so good. Like when I asked my wife to marry me. Bad timing, wrong approach. But hey, we're still together, married, happy and in love almost 42 years after our first date on August 19, 1976.
Well, it looks like my timing on "which year to ride the Crater Lake Century" could not be worse. I got an email a few days ago from Zach Gilmour (the ride organizer and owner of Zach's Bikes) explaining how the ride could potentially be canceled due to fire hazards and air quality. For me, it's not just the fires near Crater Lake that are a factor. You see, I'm DRIVING up there (leaving San Diego on the 13th) and planning to do some rides along the way. I plan to take a somewhat coastal route on the way there, then an inland path on the way back. And guess what...there are quite a few fires along the way, all in various stages of growth or containment. As I type this, the Mendocino Complex fire has just become the second-largest in California history. The Carr/Redding fire has destroyed so much and killed so many, but the air might be clear enough for me to stick to my camping plans in areas like Shasta Lake because it's already 45% contained and I'm not going to be in that area until August 19th.
Suffice to say I'm rethinking my ride plans. I have limited time (need to be in Santa Barbara for a family wedding by the 24th), but I have resources. I have money, a big-ass Sprinter cargo van, and plans to go near some pretty devastated areas. My heart compels me to look into ways I might be able to directly help victims of the fires. Most people have insurance, but most people also have totally inadequate savings to help them through tough times, like when they're waiting for the insurance company to shell out some money. Maybe a stranger showing up in their burned-out neighborhood with food, drinks, and a little cash to help them through the day might be a sight for sore, smoke-singed eyes? I don't know. I like to leave a positive emotional footprint, and that's more important than how many miles I ride on this trip. We'll see how this unfolds.
A century—biker parlance for a 100-mile ride—would normally be something I'd train for and mark on my calendar after I register to participate in it. But somehow I totally forgot that I signed up for my first San Diego Century "SDC" for several weeks after I registered. I guess my focus on April's Belgian Waffle Ride sidelined any thoughts or training concerns about this particular ride. Imagine my surprise when I got an email reminding me that I was all signed up...barely a week before the ride.
The fact that I've also signed up for the Crater Lake Century in August made me wonder, "What if I get all the way up to Crater Lake in Oregon only to discover I simply can't ride a century anymore? I better make sure I can still do this nonsense on my own turf." Then—using my special brand of bent logic—I also thought, "It's nearly impossible to forget things you need for your bike ride if you start from home, so let's do that." True, a packing list would also take care of that concern, but I was on a roll. (I also like the environmentally-friendly idea of NOT taking a car to the start of a bike ride.) So yeah, why not ride to the starting line in Encinitas. What's another 30 miles?
So at 4 am yesterday morning I got up to have breakfast and ride to the start. I could have gotten three more hours of sleep before helping other SDBC ride leaders corral the hundreds of cyclists who show up for the regular SDBC Saturday ride. That would have involved pedaling 83 fewer miles than I rode yesterday in the SDC. I could have just not shown up, but I'm even less fond of DNS (did not start) than I am of DNF (did not finish). Fortunately, I didn't sleep in.
If you just ride your bike around by yourself just for fun and don't use Strava, you probably don't know the nicknames for all the local hill climbs that cyclists create and share for routine navigational communication. For example, SDBC's D2 ride (halfway between too fast and too slow) climbs the "Three Witches" every Saturday. I don't know where the name came from, but I know I've climbed them many times. They're very kind & manageable climbs, so I'm not sure why they got called "witches."
This weekend I learned another hill climb moniker: The Purple Monster. This 1.7-mile segment of the 8-mile climb [from Interstate 15 to California Highway 67] up Scripps Poway Parkway is a beast, for sure. but a relatively tame one compared to other local climbs...like the one up South Grade Road on Palomar Mountain (unrelenting 8%) or the menacing 1.3-mile combination of Hidden Valley Road and Via Capri (peaking at 18%) going up Mt. Soledad, right around the corner from our home. I've ridden the Purple Beast a few times without knowing it. I've also ridden it considerably faster than I rode it yesterday, despite yesterday's climb being a chip-timed, uphill "time trial" (TT) this time around. Why? Because I was younger once upon a time. Going uphill, I'm about HALF as fast as I once was. All my "PRs" (personal records) on the Purple Monster and other climbs were set long before the days of GPS and bike computers...and before I added another 20 pounds to my "frame." Now I'm a slower, older man and it seems every motion is being monitored, measured and timed in some way. I couldn't pretend to care about that yesterday. I made an effort to stay especially slow during yesterday's so-called time trial to help make sure I would finish the century and the extra 30 bonus miles. I know very well that if I ride over 50 miles in a day and I really push the pace, my back can give me problems and my leg muscles can cramp.
Contrary to yesterday's "slow and steady" century theme, I made an effort to keep the average speed of my previous century above 15 miles per hour. (In my youthful heydays, 20 mph was reasonable.) Nowadays, even 15 isn't so easy for this nonathletic 60+ rider anymore, especially when a lot of traffic lights, hills and rest stops get in the mix. That's fine. Yesterday's snail pace was a smashing success for me, with an average speed under 14 mph and me ending up in the slower half of all "racers" in the Purple Monster TT. The biggest challenge was knowing I was being timed while resisting the urge to go faster. Then again, knowing I'd be "pack fodder" either way made it somewhat easier to just chill. "Lose the battle and win the war," right? Overall, yesterday was a success because I kept the rubber side down, made it through the day without cramps or backaches, and I woke up this morning feeling fine. Yeah, my legs still got a little sore after 132 miles and my butt hurt from being in the saddle for over 9 hours, but hey, I did it. Unfortunately I felt too tired to join Chris Horner for a pizza and beer event at Holland Cycles.
This ride was not a cake-walk, but I now have confidence that if I keep my training at a reasonable level for the next couple months, I'll have no problem with the Crater Lake Century. I'll also seek out some interesting CA/OR rides along my drive up there and back.
It's amazing and wonderful to be alive with self-consciousness and the physical ability to do stuff like this. I know this doesn't go on forever, which makes me appreciate it all even more. After a shower and dinner I enjoyed some mindless late-night talk shows on the DVR with a few beers and and a little [uplifting!] Candy Jack, so I finished my day feeling absolutely no pain and I slept like a baby.
After a brief remodeling detour to Marina del Rey, I got back to San Diego in time for a remarkably unprofitable poker game last night. Penniless but free, I've finally posted photos I took of last weekend's SoCal bike racing scene. The weather was perfect. The photos are not, as I explain below.
San Diego Bicycle Club "SDBC" was well-represented at SDBC's Barrio Logan Grand Prix "BLGP" on Saturday. I was happy to donate $500 in cash prizes c/o CyclingSalvation.com to all the Junior race winners. Saturday was my first day using a new camera I bought a couple days prior. I stupidly assumed it could take good sports photos on the "auto" setting thanks to new, high-ISO sensor technology. That was a BAD NERD assumption. Lesson learned. I still need to use high shutter speeds (≤ 0.002 seconds) in the shutter-priority "Tv" mode. I was in the Barrio all day and missed only one podium. It wasn't until I got home and saw the pictures on the computer that I learned the ugly camera mode lesson. I did my best to sharpen and enhance the photos, and I hope some of the racers will enjoy viewing and saving their favorites.
Here (▼below▼) is the link to the 2018 Barrio Logan Grand Prix photos on Flickr:
Both the Barrio Logan and Dana Point races included a 60+ category, which means "I couldah been a contendah." But I know better. I'm old, and fortunately I'm slow for my age (palmarès: 0). Also, I've never had any interest in experiencing a fifth concussion. Even as a spectator without a speck of riding all day, I was tired after a long day of fresh air and cold beer down in the Barrio. (Uh, did I mention how old I am?) So I slept in on Sunday then drove up to Dana Point after breakfast to find a cappuccino and watch some bike racing.
I was excited to see the Dana Point Grand Prix "DPGP" because I had never been to it before. I obviously arrived long after the racing had started. It wasn't my intention to be there the whole day like I do for SDBC's criterium in San Diego. I just wanted to see some of the racing and test my new camera (the amazing Canon EOS 80D) using a more appropriate setting.
Sunday's photos did come out better than Saturday's did, but I'll never be good enough to take photography on as a "day job." The bright sun allowed me to use shutter speeds shorter than a thousandth of a second, which resulted in many "less blurry pictures" compared to those I took all day on Saturday. But—being the senile old fart I am—I screwed up all the finish line photos of the women's pro/1/2 race because I had temporarily set the shutter speed much slower (for lower ISO, greater depth of field on some comparatively "still" shots) and forgot to dial up the shutter speed again for the final lap. Argh! Sorry, ladies!
SDBC once again had great representation in the races at Dana Point, with our Dutch club member, 747 pilot, and YouTube Star Jasper Verkuijl taking 2nd place in his Cat-2 heat (just ahead of former SDBC racer Juan Cisneros). When SDBC's race team manager Wells Wang encouraged Jasper to try his legs in the pro/1/2 race before flying back to Europe, Jasper registered and took 9th place in that race! (Congrats, Jasper & team!)
Here (▼below▼) is the link to my Dana Point Grand Prix "limited set" of photos on Flickr:
Here's a link to more DPGP race photos and podium results.
The field for the women's race was amazing. SDBC's women's team had the privilege of racing with Coryn Rivera, a local (but world-famous!) pro racer from Team Sunweb. The surprise victory went to 16-year-old Megan Jastrab, pulling off an upset on Junior gearing! (Ah, youth!)
You're welcomed to use and share any of my photos linked above. If you'd like a photo without the watermark to use in your own publication, contact me (Dan) here and I'll email it to you after doing a little "post-production" enhancement, which is hard to take time to do on all of these.
There's always good fun, food & drink...and plenty of spectator room at these races, so if you haven't been to one already, look them up and mark your calendar for next year. In the meantime, happy riding! I hope to see you out on the road.
This coming weekend (April 28th & 29th) presents two of the finest road racing events in Southern California...the Barrio Logan Grand Prix (BLGP) in San Diego, then the Dana Point Grand Prix (DPGP) in—you guessed it—Dana Point. These criteriums "crits" bring the local racing scene back onto hard concrete and asphalt after the epic Belgian Waffle Ride (BWR) dragged about a thousand racers on and off the road all over northern San Diego County two weeks ago.
▶ BWR photos on Flickr here. ◀
I participated in the BWR wafer RIDE. Some people race it with all their might, but it is called a "ride" and I can't really say I raced it. My purpose was to finish it with no crashes and no cramping. I enjoyed the rest stops and scenery. I feared for my noggin during the sandy, rocky, off-road portions because this one day presented more dirt-riding than I've done in the nine years since I almost killed myself in a mountain biking accident in 2009. I wasn't on a mountain bike in the Belgian Waffle Ride, but my Specialized Diverge—with its stock, chubby 38 mm tires and subtle suspension in the seatpost and steerer—made the dirty journey possible without destroying my 60-year-old back. I was so glad to get back on solid pavement after every dirt section, and I'm relieved I survived the ride unscathed. It was quite an experience, but that's now checked off my bucket list. (Next: Crater Lake Century this summer!)
If I was a capable, strong bike racer unafraid of experiencing a fifth concussion, I would participate in the great races this coming weekend: BLGP on Saturday and DPGP on Sunday. They both have a 60+ category, which you cannot say about every amateur road racing event. Since I'm slow and crits are dangerous, I'll take photos and watch instead of race. As a big San Diego Bicycle Club (SDBC) supporter, I've been photographing the BLGP for years. I've also been providing prizes for winners of the Juniors racers. I'm a fan of road bike racing across the board, but I'm especially supportive of women and children who want to participate. As things are in the USA, support for their racing dreams is nominal at best.
This will be my first time ever going to watch the DPGP and I'm excited to see it. Dana Point is a beautiful community, and our YouTube celebrity SDBC member from The Netherlands, Jasper Verkuijl (who also happens to be a Boeing 747 pilot for KLM) will be working with SDBC's amazing elite team to try to pull off a win.
Look for photos posted here from both races by this time next week. I hope to see you out there!
Once upon a time I raised several thousand dollars for a charity in the name of my late, great friend Steven Flack who was suffering from leukemia. I was younger then. I was on Facebook then with hundreds of friends...some of them real friends and family. I was still working, so I had those business contacts, too. I had more energy for everything, including fundraising.
Boy, have times changed. Now I can't stomach the idea of asking friends and family to donate. Since I'm officially retired (early, I guess, since I turn 60 this year), I don't feel right asking people —who are still working hard to make ends meet—to help me with a charity drive associated with a race I'm doing April 15th.
BUT, if you've found your way to this blog post (perhaps with my help?) and have some spare change for a tax-deductible donation to a charity called the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), please consider making a donation today. They can't accept donations related to this event after April 14, 2018. As of this writing I have raised $0.00! I'll match any and all donations made by April 10
LINK to Pledge Page:
T HANK YOU!
Bike Radar published an article today about another church of cycling. It's not the one I've visited and written about near Lake Como in Italy. In keeping with our "Spring Classics" location on the calendar, this one is in Belgium. Read more here:
Meanwhile, back here in San Diego, spring weather is finally arriving. This will hopefully make my final attempt at fitness more enjoyable as we head for the Belgian Waffle Ride in North County San Diego on April 15th.
Several years ago a fairly competitive friend of mine was urging me to get into Strava. I was less than enthusiastic about the idea. I was perfectly happy with my miles being tracked for me on Garmin Connect. I didn't need the world to know where/when I ride or how much slower I'm getting with age. But I'm starting to use Strava regularly now. There is a [faint] social aspect to it, which I guess is healthy and potentially [mildly] entertaining. But more importantly—as my drive to tackle long and challenging rides fades with age—I find that Strava is a good little whip to make me do the miles I should be doing. With others seeing WHETHER I'm riding or not, it's almost like having a coach egg me on to get some miles in.
I say "should be doing" because I've signed up to complete (not race) the Belgian Waffle Ride's "Wafer" this year after hearing for years how "fun" the BWR is. Just to complete this all-terrain ride, I need to ramp up my game a good bit. One way of doing that is to have a modest circle of other cyclists observe what I'm up to on the bike. The Strava segments that get posted by the time my bike's Garmin GPS gets within range of our home's Wi-Fi network fortunately don't include the sound of my whining for the last 24 miles of my 54-mile ride yesterday. The segment just shows that I did it. For a 60+ rider who's way out of shape...that's a START.
From this start I need to keep going. If I do a 50-60 mile ride three times a week, my cycling fitness should improve dramatically. But I need some patting on my fat, sweaty head to keep me going, and that's where Strava's KUDOS come in. Just a few kudos go a long way. Maybe I should get my non-cycling wife a Strava account so she can give me kudos for every ride. She does politely ask how my ride was every time. When I say, "cold, long, painful," her sympathy and conversation doesn't add one thumbs-up to my kudos...but I do appreciate it.
As I start to get to know Strava better I'll tinker around with its features and maybe even upgrade to Premium someday. This morning I discovered that I can post pictures from my PC, so I've added a couple here.
I don't know why these don't show up on by profile background, but I can't quite pretend to care about that yet. I'm on Strava. I'm trying to ride more. One mile at a time.