Category: 1/2 centuries or centuries

A Tale of Two Towns – One on the California Coast, One in the California Alps

It’s been over two (2) years since I’ve been able to ride near the ocean so when I had an opportunity to head to Petaluma for a company BBQ last Friday I brought my bike so I could go for a pedal the next day. I’m lucky enough to work from home but I do make the pilgrimage to our corporate offices several times a year. In this case, not for a board room style meeting, or meetings, but instead for some fresh (and BBQed) oysters, burgers, good beer and great conversation. What a deal!

The next morning it was off to the little town of Marshall, including a trip down memory lane and up the iconic Marshall Wall.

From Petaluma to Marshall, down to Pt. Reyes Station and back past Nicasio Reservoir.

Back in 1998 I did the “Aids Ride”, now called the Aids/LifeCycle, and rode from San Francisco to Los Angeles over the course of a week. I raised some ducats for the cause as well. While training for that event I was introduced to this area north of The City (that’s what natives call San Francisco – don’t call it Frisco, k?). I’ve done a few rides in the area since but it had been quite awhile so I was pretty excited to ride “the wall” (that’s it in the profile above – at the 20 mile mark), and sniff Tomales Bay. The kelp, the sea (er, bay), the oyster farms…All combine for a wonderfully briny sensory experience. Add some fog to the start of the ride and I was in heaven. What a great morning on the bike! Made it back to the hotel in time to pack up, take a quick shower and get out of dodge so I could get home for cocktail time! Below are some images of that first adventure of the weekend, and here’s a little video to check out (including a few more pix) .

Some good grub and conversation awaited me at the Chalet (as we call it – hey we’re in the Alps after all!) thanks to my Mom and wife, and after an evening of story telling it was off to bed so I could get some rest before the next day’s adventure.

This time (no offense coastal hills) I was off to do a “real mountain” and I was curious to see what kind of shape the road was in.

I decided to milk it a little and went for a late morning start so I could let it warm up a bit. We’d been getting some thunderstorms recently (and still are) so I didn’t want to get caught on the pass too late in the day, though. Based on the weather forecast I thought I could squeak in my ride after the temps rose but before any chippy weather showed up. It didn’t quite work out the way I had planned, though. Read on.

From Markleeville to the start of the pass is fairly passe’ (ooh, like that pun). The real climbing starts at about mile 11 (from Markleeville, not Monitor Junction), with a pitch of about 10-12% just before Raymond Meadow Creek and the 7000′ mark. I had a great view looking south and could see some fairly ominous clouds forming. I kept telling myself that I could just bail if things got too hairy but I really wanted to get up the pass; it had just opened and I felt it was my duty!

I was excited to see Kinney Reservoir (images 6, 7 and 9 above) but when I came up over the rise, expecting to see a blue alpine lake and the reflection of the surrounding mountains and sky, I was instead greeted by an ice-rink! WTF? The lake was still frozen?! Now the temp had dropped significantly since I started but it was still a very manageable 55 degrees, and so I was surprised yet again, this time by the amount of snow still on the pass. Notice the snowbanks? Many of them were still covering signage and trailheads. In fact, because of that snowy obscurement I arrived at the top faster than I thought I would – I didn’t have those visual cues that I was used to.

I quickly ate a snack at the pass because it appeared that the weather was indeed coming in. Had I blown it and left too late? Would I be caught in a deluge, or worse yet see some lightning? So after an expeditious message to the wife (thanks to my Garmin inReach Mini, a bad-ass piece of equipment, btw) I headed back down the mountain. There was still some gravel and other detritus on the road so I was cautious on the descent and for the first few miles I got lucky – no rain. That changed though as I got to about the 7500′ mark. Down it came. At those speeds, raindrops sting! Thankfully it did let up so I wasn’t too spongy when I got to the homestead.

What a fantastic way to cap off my week! Here’s a few stats from the weekend:

Miles ridden: 90.6
Feet climbed: 7169
Hours on the bike: ~6

I’m hoping you’ve had, or will have, similar weekends of wonder. If you have, or do, and would like to share them by posting up your own adventure on our blog, let me know!

Ride safe and let’s kick some passes’ asses! this summer!

L’Etape California – A Good Yet Hard Day on the Bike

A few of us California Alps Cycling members had signed up but we lost a couple, one to injury and one because he became a new daddy last year and so has not been able to put in the miles.

So, it was just Scott Keno and I representing C.A.C. a week ago Sunday (the ride/race took place on October 28th). I made the trek east from Markleeville and Scott made the trip north from Clovis. We met up Saturday at the Expo where we picked up our bib numbers, timing chips, t-shirts and schwag bag. John and Diana Velez, two hard-core local riders, and friends of Scott’s (and now friends of mine) also came by the Expo, along with their standard poodle, Studly (what a cool dog).

An image of Mark with a dog licking his ear.
Studly introducing himself to me, while his Mom, Diana, looks on approvingly.

We spent a bit of time checking out the gear at the Assos truck where John, and the Assos boyz, turned me on to some cool bibs (I bought the Equipe and wore them on the ride the next day – man were they commmmffffyyyy).  The five (5) of us then bailed from the festival, but not before checking out some TDF history at the Expo’s museum (mouse over the images and the captions will pop-up. Dig that wool jersey!),

and headed out for some pub grub and a few cervezas. Later that night, we met up with a couple more friends for some good eats at the Corner Tavern and Grill.

After dinner it was time to get the gear ready, put the chips and numbers on the bikes and our jerseys and get some rest.

The day of the ride started well. Nice weather – not too cold – and so we didn’t have to wear “the warmers.” I did, though, add a light base under my jersey and wore a neck thingy too. You’d think that since I live in the Sierra that I wouldn’t be such a cold-whimp, but alas, that’s not the case.

A couple pix from the start – That’s Scott doing “the Kilroy” and me chatting with another rider in that image on the right.

We took off with an escort (always cool) about 8:00 a.m. and after just a short bit of flat roads, the climbing started. For those of us doing the 90 mile ride, we had about 8000′ of climbing to look forward to and we did about 7000′ of that in the first 50 miles! As is the usual for L’Etape, the course was a difficult and challenging one but hey, as we’ve all heard, if it was easy, anyone could do it!

Three riders smiling for the camera.

This was my third L’Etape and I had a goal of placing in the top 200 riders, a ride time of 6 (six) hours and an elapsed time of under 8 (eight) hours. I felt pretty good about hitting those goals since I was peaking fitness-wise and I had a really strong rider to pull me (and push me, if you get my drift) around the course. And John met us early on and rode with us for part of the course too (that’s him in the middle of the above pic.).

Rider pointing to his location on the elevation profile of L'Etape California.
Yup, I was there.

For those of you who haven’t done a L’Etape before then you’re probably not aware that the TDF organization does a bit of timing on certain sections (KOMs) and on this particular ride there were three (3). Now this big boy is never in the top of those standings but it’s always fun to compare myself to others. Scott is a big boy too (not as big as I but not your “typical” rider) but we climb fairly well and always enjoy the looks we get when we pass smaller riders while climbing.

Anyway, as it turns out I was 221st out of 394th on the climbs (cumulatively), 27th (out of 38) in my age group (55-59) and for the “classic challenge” (.3 miles at 12% average but let me tell you there were some 18-20% pitches in there!) I came in 99th out of 207 riders! Overall, I finished 165th so really stoked about that! There were 295 participants on the 90 mile course so I’m pretty happy with that. Time on the bike = 6:14:20 (almost hit my 6 hour goal) and elapsed time was 7:08:01.  Click here to see my official results, and click here to see Scott’s. Note: he would have had some much better results if he wasn’t letting me suck his wheel all day long. Well, I did do one good pull towards the end of the ride. Thanks Scott for taking care of me. You are the man!

L'Etape Course Map and Profiles
The course map and my elevation, speed and HR profiles for the day.

Hopefully I didn’t bore you with too many stats and such. I was just trying to give all of you, especially those of you who haven’t participated in such an event, a good sense of the day. I’ll leave you with one last picture…

Me and Scott after finishing the 2018 L'Etape.
All smiles now that we have our finisher’s medals, which (GOOD IDEA) also double as bottle openers.

And bid you all a happy Monday and remind you to challenge yourself and ride safe.

Now Let’s Kick Some Passes’ Asses!™

Fall Colors and Blue Lakes – A Great Birthday Present!

Last Saturday, my bud and fellow member Chris joined me for my “55 on my 55th” ride out to Blue Lakes. My wife and I had driven part of the road but when we were there the gate was closed so we couldn’t make it back to the actual lakes. So, when Chris suggested we do something different for my b-day, I thought “yeah, Blue Lakes would be good.

It was one of those rare days when the stars align and everything comes together. Don’t get me wrong, for the most part any day on the bike is a good day. This day, however, was particulary awesome. The sky was clear and oh so blue, the fall colors

Self-portait in Hope Valley - Blue Lakes Road.
Beauty fall day on Blue Lakes Road.

were a colorin’ (yeah, could have used some more reds, I agree), the wind wasn’t bad, and the temperature wasn’t too cold. We did wait until for dust-off until 10 a.m. to give things a chance to warm up. Low 20’s at HQ early in the morn’ but by the time we left we had a balmy 40 degrees or so.

We started the day climbing out of Markleeville — which is the usual for me since either direction I choose is “up” — north towards Woodfords. From there, it was up Carson Pass and into Hope Valley and then a left turn put us on Blue Lakes Road. Traffic was the usual up Carson but once we got to Blue Lakes Road it died out significantly. It was at that point that the day turned from good to amazing.

Yellow and orange aspens seem to glow in the sunlight.
The fall colors were rocking. The wind was just a bit of a breeze. The cars had taken a hiatus and it was just a picture perfect day.

We did intermission at Lower Blue Lake 1d8wt4c9QayssZaX1U5z4g(just about 28 miles from our starting point) and from there it was just a couple of minor bumps before the long downhill to Woodfords. We were so looking forward to lunch at Sorenson’s Resort (and beer…maybe a couple of beers) but they were packed so no dice there. Tried Hope Valley Cafe but it was cookies only (even with beer that didn’t quite do it for us). The third try was the charm, though and we landed at Mad Dog Cafe in Woodfords for some beers and paninis (The Pioneer for Chris and the Turkey Pesto for me). Lip-smackin’ good those paninis were. And the beer was cold and well…it was beer so happy we were. There is no try, there is only do…Sorry, I have a place in my mind where I go time to time (great Tom Petty song, that one).

Anyway, those six (6) miles from Woodfords to Markleeville were made just that much more pleasant because of our full stomachs (burp) and those IPAs (belch). Okay, I hear those of you who have ridden those bumps before groaning now but really, it WAS much more pleasant!

I’ll leave you with a few stats and a link to my Relive video.

Distance: 55.4 miles
Elevation gain: 4511 feet
Time on the bike: 4:00:35
Average speed: 13.8 mph
Eleven (11) Cat 4s and two (2) Cat 2s
Relive video: Click here.

Hamming it up in Hope Valley
Not sure what I was doing here. Just high from from those endorphins I guess.

For those of you on Strava, login and check out the full ride here.  Make the trek soon or you’ll miss what’s left of the colors and the not too chilly weather.

Remember, you can check out the weather and air quality here in the heart of the California Alps right on this site.

See you soon and feel free to contact me if you’d like any suggestions or need any help.

Now Let’s Kick Some Passes Asses!™

 

 

 

Tour of the California Alps (a.k.a. the Deathride) Metrics

Happy Friday-eve to you! I hope you’re looking forward to some labor this weekend. I’ve got some work to do on the homestead and will certainly get in a ride or two. Fall is fast approaching here in the California Alps and then we’ll be dealing with that white stuff so if you can schedule a Sierra adventure now’s the time!

Anyway, as I wrote several posts ago, I’d provide some D.R. numbers as soon I could and here they are!

Drum roll please.

An image of the word analytics on a chalkboard with colored pencils underneath.
Photo by Timur Saglambilek on Pexels.com

2018 2017
Registrants 2443 2448
Riders 1698 1728
Five-pass finishers 1045 1050
First timers 876 1021
Hospital trips 1 4

 

As you can see, the numbers are pretty close to last year’s, with the particulary notable exception of first-time riders and that very welcome 75% decline in hospital transports.

I had a conversation with Teresa Burkhauser, Director of the Alpine County Chamber of Commerce, a couple weeks prior to the Deathride. She was concerned about the continual decline in numbers and we were brainstorming some ideas. Some of these are hers and some are mine. For your consideration, loyal reader:

  1. Promote the 1-pass, 2-pass, 3-pass, 4-pass and 5-pass approach. I.E. There is no shame in finishing just 1, 2 etc. passes. Are some riders were thinking it’s all or nothing?
  2. Since there are more events now overall, that is likely having an effect on the D.R. numbers. Riders can find comporable events closer to their homes and so don’t need to travel as far to get that Deathride “bang.” You think?
  3. Add timed sections or KOMs. Riders would need transponders of some sort but IMHO this would add some motivation and bragging rights. Perhaps give out medals or trophies, too?An image of the sleeveless men's jersey from the 2018 Deathride.
  4. Charge more and make it more of a Gran Fondo type of event with mass starts, timed sections or KOMs (see #3 above) and really good food?
  5. Host a camp for first timers or inexperienced riders (I mentioned this in that post awhile back)? I talked with quite a few riders on the Friday before the ride and many of them were not aware of things like: starting early (and with lights) if you’re doing all five passes; using a sack-back to carry your cold weather gear for the descents; and bringing your own food so you’re body isn’t  shocked by strange input.
  6. A gear drop.  Full disclosure…We’re (California Alps Cycling, that is) thinking of doing that next year since we have done it for our posse a couple times. What would be a fair price do you think?

Do you have any suggestions? Comment on this post or send me an email.

  • Want to check out the D.R. site? Click here.
  • Need some D.R. schwag? Click here.
  • Want some California Alps schwag? Stay tuned for our store grand opening! We’ll have tees (men’s & women’s), stickers, and soon, those jerseys, bibs and wind-vests.
  • Want to become a member of California Alps Cycling? Click here.

See you next year! Deathride on!

 

The Monday, er Tuesday, After

Happy Tuesday morning Deathriders! I hope you are doing well, not too sore and brimming with fluids now that you’ve had a couple days to rest and recuperate. We hosted eight (8) riders here at California Alps Cycling . That number includes me – I don’t know, can you host yourself?

Anyway, our tally is as follows:

  1. Five (5) Five-pass Tour finishers including one first timer, Mr. James Hurst
  2. Three (3) Three-pass Tour finishers (myself included)
  3. Funny…Five Five-passers and Three three-passers. Go figure!
  4. Two (2) of our legacy members, Scott Keno and Shane Trotter, were some of the first to sign the board at the top of Carson and the boyz also earned some cups – check out their Strava profiles (see the CAC membership page) if you’re so inclined
  5. Congrats to all!

How did you do? Share your comments on this post and let us know!

Click here to check out our photo gallery including a bunch of pix I took during the day. By the way, if you’d like to share some of your images, send ’em to me via email. Note: images sent our way are ours to use as we see fit (we won’t photoshop ’em or do anything too crazy, honest).

Why are we up so early?
Why are we up so early?

A few other things to mention:

  1. We’ve received seven (7) membership requests (thank you!) and as soon as we’re done processing ’em we’ll add you to our CAC membership page. If you’d like to be a member, we’d love to have you join too!
  2. For those of you who pre-ordered jerseys, bibs or full kits, we’ll let you know when they’re in and get them shipped your way promptly thereafter.
  3. We’ll be getting our merchandise catalog on the site soon. We had quite a few riders interested in our “Let’s Kick Some Passes’ Asses!™” signs and so we plan on offering those for sale as well. Alas, one of them was taken home by someone without permission. Hopefully it brings back good memories and they don’t use it as a frisbee or sumfin.
  4. Later in the week, or early next, we’ll get some of that “data that matta” from the Alpine Chamber and CalTrans add publish a post.
  5. Interested in a Deathride cycling camp or clinic? Good, because next year we’re going to offer one! We talked to so many neophyte riders and we have so many experienced ones here at C.A.C. so we thought: “why not put them together?”

A big shout out to all of the amazing volunteers, motos, medics, CHP officers, CalTransers and anyone else who pitched in to keep us safe and happy. THANK YOU!

Th6pY1dQQN+VYJWeWqBrQw

Last, but certainly not least, we want to thank you for stopping by our booth and being a part of one of the greatest cycling events on the planet! See you soon. Ride safely!

– Mark

Genoa 1/2 Century

One of my favorite things to do here in the CA Alps is to visit the little town of Genoa. It has a dusty, musty, rusty ol’ watering hole, named after the town, and it’s the oldest bar in Nevada; a few great restaurants/cafes, some antiquing and a nice little park, Mormon Station, for picnicing. It’s definitely worth some time and the bloody marys, and the cold beer, at the Genoa Bar can make for a nice little diversion – not necessarily on the bike but hey, to each his/her own, I guess. I’ve been known to partake in a beer or two during a ride. Haven’t tried a “BM” yet but I think I may just have to get that a whirl.

Okay, to make it an even better day, ride to Genoa! From CAC HQ here in Markleeville, it’s 55 miles and about 3000 feet of climbing. And, if you time it right (head out early a.m., NLT 9) so you’re coming back with the wind. Even then, no promises. The wind gets to whipping out in Carson Valley, especially in the area in and around “the mesa.”

So that’s my route, on this somewhat chilly February day. From CAC HQ, up to Woodfords, Diamond Valley, Foothill, yada, yada, yada. Click here for my ride profile etc. (thanks Strava) and you’ll see what I did for your fine-self. OK?

Here’s me, at the midpoint (last year…it was a bit warmer),
getting my bear-claw groove going at the
Genoa Country Store.

As I mentioned, part of this ride includes Diamond Valley, Foothill Rd. and Emigrant Trail. You can add or deduct all or part for a shorter, or less hilly, or both, version of the ride. Diamond Valley, where Snowshoe Thompson (see my December 2017 post) lived, is a fun little diversion, but can be windy (windy’s somewhat redundant here in the Eastern Sierra, I’ve learned). Emigrant Trail, especially coming from Genoa, is a nice little kicker and if you haven’t done the ride from Markleeville to Woodfords than you’ll learn that those little rollers aren’t so little.

The altitude in Markleeville is about 5600′ and it’s about 4500′ in Genoa. Temps can vary, as always, depending on time of year but I’ve found that the typical weather apps are pretty good. Wind is generally stronger in the afternoon and generally comes from the West or Northwest. It can scream down those eastern faces so BOLO (be on the lookout) there. In the summertime, thunderstorms can develop quickly and drop a shitload of water in a short time so heads up there as well.

My lawyer told me I need to tell you this too: Please check to make sure that any trails, roads, hikes etc. that you use are suited to your skill set. CAC is not responsible for any injuries.  Any information provided on this website is subject to change and CAC is not responsible for the accuracy of that information.