Category: covid-19

The Social Distancing Racing Season Comes to a Smoky End

This morning I got a little glimpse into what Smoke Eaters did, or in some cases still do, when I tackled the last race of the season, the Diamond Valley Road Race. When I got home my wife crinkled – or wrinkled, you choose – her nose at the smell that permeated my clothes, helmet, you name it.

To my credit, for what that’s worth (I’m a knucklehead) I did check the AQI before I left. It was in the green here at HQ and in Alpine Village (where the race started) so even though it was showing over 150 in Diamond Valley I went for it. I thought the wind might be blowing east based on those two green readings but that was not the case; it was coming in from all directions.

I should have called for extraction but you know how that goes – I was committed, or more aptly put,
should be (committed that is)!

Some Background

The season started on April 19th and due to the pandemic the first few races of the Alta Alpina Cycling Club’s (AACC) COVID-19 Social Distancing Race Series were slotted to be time trials. We had hoped, as many of you likely did in April, that we’d be so over this by now. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and so all of the remaining races (twenty in all) were done as time trials. Click here, by the way, if you’d like to read my initial post of April 23rd on this subject.

On my way home after the Fredricksburg TT (August 27th). Had a really good race!

I should point out that the racing season doesn’t really end until this Sunday, and perhaps it will be extended if the smoke continues to be an issue. I was a minute slower today than I was back in April, maybe because of the smoke, or maybe for another reason…See the “What I learned” section below for more on that. Nonetheless, I could race the course again as I have until at least Sunday, but there are still many more racers to go, many of whom are FAST. So, right now I’m not too motivated to put that on my calendar; in addition to looking for work-work, I’m also doing the FulGaz French Tour (more on that next week), so this professional cyclist (as my brother from another mother calls me) is a bit busy.

What I’ve Learned

  • For a nervous, have no clue what I’m doing first-time racer, this format was perfect!
  • I was able to ride against the clock, as opposed to other, more-experienced racers, and so was less intimidated.
  • I still had to race every week and so preparation, including rest, nutrition and hydration, was very necessary. BTW, I still need more practice on the prep. part.
  • I have a tendency to go too fast and hard on the out-leg. I’ve really only been able to keep those horses in the gate for one race, the week 15 Foothill TT, and on that day I was 27″ behind at the turn but made up 42″ on the return leg. That discipline helped me beat my previous PR by 15 seconds!
  • I have to think more strategically/tactically: One rider re-did the Luther TT a few days after he and I raced to a tie. He smoked me on his re-do and so earned more points for that second effort.
  • I still need to cogitate more creatively. E.G., should I ride in the a.m., afternoon, or evening since weather and wind conditions do change? I’ve been paying more attention to what the big dawgs do so that next year…
  • It was so fun and engaging, even riding solo!
    • Seeing how others did, what they did and when they did it was cool (and helpful).
    • Bragging rights (I did beat my nemesis ONCE) are part of the equation.

Here’s some other images from some of my races. Sorry but no snot-dripping, coughing up a lung, sweat soaked Mark photos. You’re welcome!

Looking forward to the official points totals and hoping I’m still in the Top 10. So honored to be put in the A group for my first year of racing and am planning on being even better next year.

The totals a/o week 17. And I only missed one race!

Thank you to my fellow members of the Alta Alpina Cycling Club for helping me take my riding to another level!

Big thanks too, to the first responders who are out there on the front lines right now trying to keep us all safe from this uber-crazy year of wildfires.

Looking forward to a superior – and fingers crossed, a smokeless, no masks or social distancing required – racing season, next year.

The Ghost Ride Cometh to the California Alps

Last Saturday, July 11th, was Deathride Day. For many of us it’s an annual holiday but this year, due to the pandemic, there was no holiday. 😢

Like many other organizations that had to regroup for their road, gravel or MTB events, we had to make that call, too.

We is not California Alps Cycling, by the way. Full disclosure, or for your edification, depending, as it can be a bit confusing and we’ve had people ask us when they could register for the DR.

The Deathride (the DR) is also known as the Tour of the California Alps. And of course we are known as California Alps Cycling (CAC). So it’s understandable that there may be some confused looks on your fine faces.

The Deathride, however, is owned and operated by the Alpine Co. Chamber of Commerce (based here in Markleeville, coincidentally and to add to the confusion, just like CAC). Mark Schwartz – (that would be me) your intrepid blogger (weird wearing both the 1st person and 3rd person hats) and founder of California Alps Cycling, is a member of the Chamber board.

Lucky him (me) as it’s an awesome and solemn duty (not kidding) to be a part of such an historical event. Let’s be fully clear in that respect too. It’s a group effort, with many volunteers, community, county and state agencies, and many moving parts and balls to juggle. Most of the heavy lifting, however, is done by the Chamber’s Executive Director, Becky DeForest-Hanson, and Curtis Fong, our ride director, and his team at Bike the West.

Alright, that’s better. Let’s get on with the big announcement…Drum roll please!

The Ghost Ride – Tour of the California Alps COVID-19 Edition is here!

From the Ghost Ride Facebook page:

Tour the California Alps by bicycle! This COVID-19 edition of the Death Ride is done on your time, at your pace. Come visit Alpine County to do the ride or experience it remotely via FulGaz, high-quality virtual rides from anywhere in the world! Once you are finished, upload your results to Strava. We’re all in this together – let’s see how many people we can collectively get over the 5 passes!

It’s going to be a scary good time. I know, I know. Cheap pun. Couldn’t help it.

You sharp-eyed readers probably noticed the reference to FulGaz and you know that we’ve (yup, really me so should be an “I’ve”) written about that company/product quite a bit. In last week’s post that Mark guy mentioned that we’re (we/I were/was referring to the Chamber we, not the CAC we – isn’t this fun?) putting together a DR library.

So far three (3) climbs have been filmed: Monitor West, Monitor East and Ebbetts North. Ebbetts South (from Hermit Valley) is scheduled to be filmed tomorrow and Carson Pass, the final climb of the DR, will be filmed next week. Monitor West has been tested. Again, lucky Mark (me), he (I) gets to film them and then test them in the pain cave – a double whammy certainly but it’s oh so cool to be able to really pay attention to the scenery, and what scenery it is. You are going to love it!

Now it’s likely that these virtual climbs won’t be available until August (one reason why the Ghost Ride goes into August) but we (FulGaz and me, uh, Mark) are all giving it our best efforts to get them posted for public consumption ASAP.

So for those of you who can participate here in Alpine Co., you don’t have to wait. For those of you who can’t make the trip out to the heart of the Sierra though, stay tuned.

You’ll have your chance to suffer virtually. Or would that be virtually suffer?

Okay, you’re right…you’ll literally suffer, you’ll just be doing it in the privacy of your own virtual world. Huh? That’s incorrect – it’s a real world, you’re just riding virtually. Wait! You’re really riding but that’s not you on the screen. Okay, this makes our collective brain(s) hurt.

Let’s just say this:

However you do it, do it well and Let’s Kick Some Passes’ Asses!

And while we’re at it, let’s kick that viruses’ ass too, k?