Month: April 2020

Weekend Update – Two Alps Passes, The Deathride and Fishing

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I had some news that I wanted to pass on. And, since I’m an old school SNL guy I thought I’d go with the “Weekend Update” reference (Aykroyd was the best anchor, IMHO).

Ebbett’s Pass and Monitor Pass

From our FB post this past Wednesday: “Yesterday afternoon I had an email exchange with David Griffith, one of our Supervisors here in Alpine Co., and he told me that yesterday morning “the Board of Supervisors approved a letter requesting that CalTrans *not* open Monitor or Ebbetts Pass until May 15th. Should perceived danger from covid-19 recede it may open sooner. I was assured that it only applies to motorized vehicles so walkers, hikers and cyclists etc. should be exempt.” It should be safe to go past the gates on Monitor a/o today he said, but there is still snow plowing being done on Ebbetts, so walking, hiking and cycling is discouraged there – for now.”

David was kind enough to ping me yesterday to say the signs that prohibit pedestrians, bicyclists and motor-driven cycles (moped? e-bike?) had been removed.

Signage at Wolf Creek Road on April 21st. The gate is open as of today, though.

Monitor Junction, where highways 4 and 89 intersect, is north of Wolf Creek Road (the above image) and the gates there ARE CLOSED. However, the “peds, cyclists and mdc prohibited” signs are no where to be seen! Just like David said. So, you can ride both of those roads if you wish. Of course, you’re assuming the risk – flat or have a mechanical and depending on where you are it could be a long walk. As for a true emergency? No cell service much past town so if you don’t have a sat-phone or a buddy…

Nonetheless, I partook today, along with other riders and hikers, and road part way up Hwy. 4 (aka Ebbett’s Pass) and part way up Hwy. 89 from the Junction (aka Monitor Pass). Wasn’t into the Full Monty (yeah, another old-school reference but I won’t expand – Google it!) today so just did sections of each. Still, got about 3000′ of climbing in! The roads are in good shape, btw, with not too many rocks, no run-off and no snow.

If you do decide to come up to Markleeville keep in mind that public facilities are still closed, BUT Alps Haus, the J. Marklee Toll Station, and Stonefly are doing take-out so you can grab some grub! Oh, and so is the General Store (open, that is).

Deathride Resurgence

If you’ve signed up then you’re probably already aware…we (the Alpine Co. Chamber of Commerce and our Ride Director) decided to cancel this year’s ride. Postponing it was discussed but based on the fact that many other rides that have done that already, and therefore the ride saturation that may occur in the fall will be heavy, and because of the logistics of ordering merch. (had to do it now for July and push it back to July if we did a Sept. ride) that was not an option. We also wanted to be considerate of our community and didn’t want to inundate our little town and surrounds with thousands of people just after we recovered from the pandemic (if we had/have). So next year is the year of resurgence! Hopefully in many, many ways.

This years’ ride was canceled but the Resurgence Tour will occur on July 17th, 2021!

Fishing Season Postponed for Alpine, Inyo and Mono Counties

Our Chamber posted this up on its FB page this week:

We have received a lot of inquiries about the fishing opener, originally scheduled to kick off this weekend. Due to COVID-19 precautions and the limited resources in our small Eastern Sierra communities, the season opener has been delayed. β€œAfter talking with the county representatives, we agreed this was a necessary step toward being responsive to local needs in this public health emergency,” said CDFW Director Bonham. Read the full press release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife here: https://bit.ly/2KuMi64. Fishing is at the heart of Alpine County, and we are looking forward to the opener as much as our visitors.”

Looks like we’ll have to wait until as late as the end of May, depending…But, as it turns out, the delay is not such a bad thing since the water (at least on the East & West Carson) is moving too fast and looks too much like chocolate milk.

Looking downstream at the East Fork of the Carson from Monitor Junction.

So, there you have it – our little weekend update.

Now get out and get some and be sure to do it safely and with the proper distance, k?

Social Distancing Racing in the California Alps

American Lady

I hope this post finds you all staying healthy, safe and sane during these turbulent times. A special tip of the hat, by the way, to our front-line warriors who are helping many of our fellow citizens survive. At the same time, condolences go out to the families and friends of those who have lost loved ones due to the covid-19 pandemic. As I write these words, and so again take stock of the current state we’re in, I still can’t help feeling like Alice, or perhaps Dorothy. But, this ain’t Wonderland and it sure as hell ain’t Oz. Pardon the ain’ts – dramatic effect… Those stories, too, were more like dreams. This? This is a nightmare…and on so many levels. So, like you I suspect, I try to keep my mind focused on other things and live as normally as I can. Quick break while I sanitize my keyboard…πŸ€“

Social Distancing Road Race Series

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest, by the way. No doubt many, if not all of you, are feeling the same way. That brings me to the main subject of this post: racing in this era of social distancing. For me, cycling has become even more important right now – it’s one of the things (probably the main thing) that’s helping me keep my mind off the nightmare. And, thanks to Alta Alpina Cycling Club I’ve got some racing options! AACC did us all of us locals a solid and morphed at least the first three (3) races of the season into virtual rides. Now I’ve never raced before but I’ve been training hard for organized rides that have now been canceled or postponed. So why not put some of that energy towards racing, eh? Especially, since it’s little less intimidating in this format. So, I jumped on in.

Race #1 – Fredricksburg Prologue (Time Trial)

The race director sends an email the weekend before the race and everyone has the entire week to complete the course, as many times as they wish, with results recorded on Strava (click on the link to see the segment). I took my first whack at it on Tuesday of last week and so was able to compare my numbers a bit to other racers/members. I knew I had some work to do to get into the top 10, which was my goal. So last Sunday I got my soigneur (aka my wife, Pat) to join me. Actually, she offered. Pretty sweet. She parked her fine-self next to the truck, read the paper and sipped on some coffee and off I went for a short warm up…

The course is only about 8 miles long so it was full-gas the entire time. Thanks to the live segments feature (try it if you haven’t) on Strava I was able to see my goal time, as well as my carrot’s best time, displayed on my computer. I was kicking ass on the way out – behind my goal (which was okay, it was a big hairy audacious goal after all) but ahead of my carrot. That all changed at the turnaround. I started losing time even though I had a bit of a tailwind. I put too much into the first-half of the course; I should have paced myself better. Oh, well, I said to my solo-self, only about 10 more minutes of pain.

The view from Foothill Road – can’t beat the location.

As I approached the finish, feeling and looking like many of the big dawgs I’ve seen on the TDF over the years, with snot pouring out of my nose and so much sweat on my glasses that I could barely see, I was cooked. As it should be, right? After a few minutes of gasping and hacking I was able to function again and actually speak to my wife, instead of just grunt. That spiked hot chocolate went down well as I reveled in my new PR. And, I ended up with a 9th place overall. I’ll take it!

Race #2 – AACC (Alta Alpina Cycling Club) Diamond Valley Clockwise (Time Trial)

Here’s a link to the course/segment, which I just road yesterday. While the course was really “designed” for a true road race, again this was a solo effort for each of us. I had done the route last year and so was anxious to see how (if?) I had improved. I needed some additional miles so I decided to do three (3) laps; if I did well on the first one then I’d take it easy on the next two (2) I figured. ‘Twas a beautiful morning and I was stoked that I didn’t need a vest or knickers. I wore my 2017 Deathride Finisher’s Jersey as I knew it would make me ride faster (it’s my version of the yellow jersey, you know?) and it did help. I shaved 3 1/2 minutes from my previous best time! Yowza! Still, not enough to beat the strong riders who have yet to ride the course. Right now I’m sitting in 5th position but I’m pretty darn sure that won’t hold. May have to give it another whirl this weekend but at this point I don’t think I’ll improve my time much so perhaps I’ll just ride Monitor or Ebbett’s instead.

Stay tuned! More Updates to Follow

I do have some news about Monitor and Ebbett’s, two (2) of our three (3) passes that we here at California Alps Cycling ride regularly, as well as some information about the upcoming fishing season and the Deathride. Stay tuned for that post. You can, in the meantime though, check our Facebook page for information on the former.

Happy riding and stay safe and healthy!

What’s a Good Saddle for Riding in the California Alps?

I am talking about this type of saddle:

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA

Not this type:

Although they are pretty nice, and do have some features that may translate well on the bike ;-).

As it turns out, here in Markleeville, and surrounds — we’ve got mountain cattle that graze in the meadows near town and just down the road in the Carson Valley you can get some of the best grass-fed beef around — you’re likely to see both saddle types!

Now I’m salivating a bit thinking about a nice rib-eye so let me get down to business on this gear review thing before a puddle forms.

Okay, okay..if you’re truly needing a saddle-saddle, here’s the link to Natural Horsemans Saddles (especially for you and your lovely wife, Chris). Okay, onward…

Fi’zi:k or Specialized?

Of course you’ve got many more choices than just those two (2) brands but this was the question I had to answer. I’ve been a loyal Fi’zi:k saddle user for many years. I really like the Aliante R3 Open (for snake – good back flexibility) and have the same saddle on both my Emonda and my Domane. Today however, I can say (er, write), “used to have the same saddle…”

I recently switched to the Specialized Power saddle and I’m really happy I did. Here’s why:

  1. There is a lot less pressure on my “taint,” especially when I’m in the drops.
  2. I get no numbness at all, even when riding on the trainer for long periods of time.
  3. When I sit back down after standing and pedaling, my butt feels like it’s docking on that friggin’ thing! Talk about a perfect fit…
  4. For descending (tons of up means lots of down) it’s a lot more comfortable in the drops and it just feels more natural.
  5. When climbing, or riding on flat roads, not having that standard nose length also works. I thought I might notice “no there, there” but not so; it just feels RIGHT.
  6. Did I tell you that it’s amazingly comfortable?

Here’s some specific details as to what I put on which bike, and the rides I’ve done.

Emonda = S-Works Power 143mm. Carbon Rails.

I did need to order oval ears for the seatmast because the rails on this saddle are oval, not round. Keep that in mind if you decide to get this, or a similar, model.

Red ears add a nice touch, especially on a red bike.

I first used it on March 29th and have done a total of four (4) rides, all outside, including a 1/2 century ride on April 2nd, adding up to about 128 miles. Again, no issues. No chafing, no numbness and oh so comfy in the drops.

Domane = Power Pro Elaston 143mm. Ti rails.

Didn’t snap a photo of this one…There were standard rails on this saddle so no need to change out the existing seatmast ears. I use the Domane on my trainer and as my gravel bike so I opted for a bit more padding for this saddle, and I read something recently (Velonews? Bicycling? Can’t remember…) that suggested the Elaston for gravel riding. Now I haven’t done a gravel ride with it yet but yesterday I road the Alpe d’Huez Finale on FulGaz (first ride on the Elaston). 1:43:02 total on the bike – mostly seated. Again, no issues and most importantly I didn’t notice that sore spot I used to hit on my right sit-bone when I went back to a seated position. You might say (I did say) the Pro’s wings made things much more bearable.

Integrated/Attachable Seat Pack

The Fi’zi:k Aliante does come with such a thing but it’s a pain in the arse to get on and off (in and out of?) the saddle: you’ve got to hold up the clip to slide it in the slot and sometimes I need a tool of some sort to do that. Same for out; kind of a hassle.

The Power also comes with a mount. Specialized calls it “SWAT compatible” and it’s much more user friendly than Fi’zi:k’s; just attach a bracket to the seat with the provided bolts and the pack itself (I went with the small Stormproof Seat Pack) then slides in and out of the bracket. A really good design!

The Verdict

I feel like I have to get some more miles in before I’m totally sold (had over 8000 miles on the R3 that was on the Domane) but in all my years of cycling and mountain biking, and recently, gravel riding, I’ve NEVER installed a saddle that didn’t need tweaking and that didn’t cause any minor problems early on. Until now, that is. Now I’ve got two (2) of ’em! So, even after a relatively short test period I would highly recommend the Power or Power Pro. If you haven’t gone short, you’ve got to check it out!

And, if you want to do a bit more research, here’s a couple more resources: First, a good post by Outdoor Gear Lab; I found it helpful and it touches on some of the finer points of this saddle that I didn’t. And here’s another from road.cc, again with some additional data that matta.

Let’s Kick Some Passes Asses!

So, whether it’s with a new saddle, an existing saddle, on a bike or on a horse. Or perhaps none of the above (maybe you’re a runner, or a hiker, or a snowshoer or a skier) let’s get out there! With the proper distancing, of course. And hand-washing. And masks if necessary. Whatever it takes, right?

Whenever and however you go, though, please be safe and stay healthy!