Tag: featured

Training for the Deathride? Here’s the Number One Thing You Should Do

CLIMB! And, climb some more. And when you think you’ve done enough climbing, do even more. Here in the California Alps climbing is pretty much par for the course; head out the door and you’re on some sort of incline (or decline).

Yesterday, I had the pleasure (and pain) of riding up the west side of Monitor Pass (this view is from just above Heenan Lake) and was reminded that there is no subsitute for climbing if you’re training for a ride with lots of elevation gain.

SURE, I’ve been training hard, with lots of paincave sessions, including HIIT, V02 max, and more, and some of those sessions focus on things such as building endurance, “rocking the rollers” and sweet-spot training (SST); yet I realized while “out on course” that even though my strain is up significantly from the previous week, I’m just not climbing enough.

THIS past week, including yesterday’s adventure, I rode about 116 miles with almost 11,000 feet of elevation gain.

THE DeathrideTour of the California Alps does that in one day, though, and while yesterday’s ride was 36 miles with over 4000 of climbing, I asked myself could I do that three or four more times.

The short answer = NO. At least not yesterday. 🙁

As you can see by my happy, yet very sweaty mug, that first big pitch was hard.

MONITOR east, Ebbetts north and south (or west and east depending on your preference), and Pacific Grade (twice) would still be yet to come on July 17th. Yowza, there is work to be done!

THANKFULLY, we’ve all got more time. IMHO, and based on previous experience, right about now (3-4 mos. out) is when you should start ramping 😉 up your training. And it’s not just about the climbing… Your secondary focus should be on time spent in the saddle.

IF you are going to tackle the entire ride, you’re looking at a full day on your steed.

BACK in 2017, when I finished all of the climbs, I was on the bike for about ten (10) hours and my elapsed time was twelve (12) hours!

VENTURING on a velocipede for that amount of time takes a serious toll on the bod., and takes some getting used to, so don’t skimp. And, if you’re not already thinking about it, be sure to address your future nutrition needs by practicing what, and how much, you eat and drink.

EXPERIMENTING with new bars, gels or drink mixes the day of is a recipe for disaster!

So Now What?

WELL, for me that means heeding my own advice and hitting those hills and mountains more often, and taking on longer rides. I would guess that applies to you as well.

ANOTHER aspect of training that I’m working on is the gear. You may have noticed that I was wearing an USWE hydration pack. Amazing piece of equipment by the way – pretty darn comfy and it DOES NOT move. I am not planning on wearing it for the Deathride but I am going to have it on for May’s Paydirt here in the Pine Nuts. And, yes, sharp-eyed reader, Roscoe is a gravel bike. So it was a double-duty deed, if you will, yesterday – got some climbing in and did it on the bike I’ll be riding in May, with the gear and grub I’ll be hauling.

I’m thinking a 50-60 mile ride on dirt will be a similar experience to a century on the road and so I see some benefits to training for Pete Stetina’s ride now, while also keeping that next big day in July, in mind.

NEED some other ideas? Search “climbing” on this blog for myriad posts on the subject. If you’re a neophyte I’d especially call your attention to this post as well as this one.

The snow is melting and the rivers and creeks are rising and getting chocolately. This is the East Fork of the Carson near Monitor Junction.

AFTER all, spring has sprung so it’s time to get cracking!

WE’RE looking forward to riding with you in July (or sooner perhaps), and the community is getting ready for your visit.

BE sure to make those reservations early, by the way. There are fewer resources around due to last year’s Tamarack Fire.

RIDE on, be safe, and climb, climb, climb!

What? I Can’t Just Ride My Bike?

I’VE been wrenching on my own bikes for years and am comfortable doing the basic, and some higher-level repairs and maintenance myself. Those more difficult repairs…Different story.

I’M hesitant to mess with the Di2 on the Emonda so I leave that to Wizard Jay at Big Daddy’s. Hydraulic brakes? Haven’t tackled those either but I’ve got the bleed kit now. Sheepish grin. Read on…

New cables and housing on the bikes with internal cable routing? Nope, not yet.

AS Toph would say, though, it’s all on YouTube, Mark, so check for videos before you do anything. He’s gifted, though. Me, I got a “C” in wood shop.

STILL, with patience and deliberation over the years, and lots of practice, I’ve done a lot of things that others might have to pay for. And I know that if I get to the point where I’m stuck, or if I screw anything up, I’ve always got Jay.

RECENTLY, though, I’ve gotten a couple of wake up calls and so I thought I’d share in the hopes that you don’t do what I do (uh, did), and just ride your bike.

Yup, Maintenance is Required

Got some sweet new bottle cages for Blue for Christmas (thanks to my nephew, Bret) and thought one morning before a ride that I’d just switch out those cages really quick so I can flaunt the bling-bling.

WHOA, that bolt came off way to easily. Sure enough, just the bolt-head came off; the rest of the f*$%#n bolt was still in the frame. There was some sticking out, though, so I grabbed some needle-nose pliers. No dice. Not enough gription.

OKAY, you’re up Mr. Dremel. I cut a nice slot in the top of the bolt but no dice with that either. That bolt was just too corroded; it wouldn’t budge. Eventually, the edges of the slot I had cut “stripped away” and there was no more bite to be had by the ‘driver.

GRABBED a different bike for that ride and took Blue into Jay. He drilled it out. Not something I know how to do and not sure I would have done it anyway on that frame. Better left for the pro…

NOTE to self (and good advice for you as well, mayhaps): grease and check those bottle cage bolts regularly, especially if you ride in weather or post-weather, if you will. Spray from snowy, slushy roads was the culprit in my case I theorized since I don’t ride much in the rain or snow itself.

So, I’m Reading the Recent Issue of Bicycling

AND there’s this great side-column, “Maintenance Minute – Presented by ParkTool” and a nice list of basic things to look for when inspecting your bike. Some of the items on this list include:

  • Chains – Check wear with every lubrication. Use a chain-checker regularly, says Jay.
  • Brake Pads – Disc: Replace at <1mm pad thickness. Rim: Replace when worn to wear line.
  • Hydraulic Brake Fluid – Replace every ~5K miles.
  • Cassettes – Typically replace with every third chain.

I do a good job keeping my eye on my chain nowadays. This since Jay gave me ca-ca when I took the bike in for excess chain noise. Have you checked your chain lately? No, Jay, I just ride my bike. It was way past worn, as it turns out. I hung my head in shame.

BRAKE pads? I can honestly say I’m good at that one. Ride discs and have pads handy, and have done quite a few pad swaps over the years. But…I never really did think about a specific thickness at which they should be changed. I just went by feel, you know? Not the best plan though so I took off the wheels and removed the pads and measured them. 2mm all around. Thank you bike gods. That can wait.

BRAKE fluid? Well like I wrote at the beginning of this post – it’s on my list. And honestly I bought the kit before I read the article. Still, Blue has ten-thousand on him so I need to get on that obviously.

CASSETTES – I’ve never really paid attention to those. Mostly, in my defense, because up until the last few years I haven’t ridden enough miles to make it an issue. I eventually got around to it. So, cringe, let me check the cassettes on the KICKR and Blue.

HOLY chain wear Batman! Not good. I’ve never seen such ridges.

THIS pic from Blue’s rear wheel. The cassette on the trainer was a bit worse.

THANKFULLY, I had a cassette handy so I was able to change out the one on the KICKR. It wasn’t the right size for the Emonda. I ordered one of those though, and I will soon change out that cassette (and the chain). I checked, Jay, it’s at about 75% wear.

I’M experiencing better shifting on the trainer. No surprise. And, I’m looking forward to that “new drivetrain experience” on Blue very soon.

HOW about you? Any funny maintenance stories?

ARE you going to check your chain, cassette or brake pads now? No worries, that’s what I did. If it wasn’t for someone at Bicycling having the presence of mind to slap that little sidebar in there I probably would have gone awhile and could possible have experienced some mechanical issues. Likely in the worst possible place, too, like eight (8) miles behind the gate on Monitor Pass or something. Wait…is there a good place for a mechanical?

IN any case, don’t be like me, okay? Ask yourself, “What would Jay do?”

BY the way, we hope to see you at the Ride & Walk 4 Art next weekend!

COME on by & say hi, and if you show me your new cassette, chain or brake pads, I’ll give you a tee!

Sightseeing From Your Pain Cave – And a Shared Experience

RECENTLY, Mrs. California Alps Cycling has taken a shine to my KICKR and the Fulgaz account connected thereto, and has been doing some sightseeing in preparation for this year’s Tour de France.

WHILE she’s been jumping on the trainer here and there for a few weeks, it hasn’t been until recently that she has really become aware of a benefit of riding in the pain cave she hadn’t paid attention to before: sightseeing!

SURE we get to see some amazing scenery here where we ride (as I suspect you do too), as witnessed by the image at the top of this post, but to be able to ride inside and not just watch sports, or cooking shows, or your avatar, or all of those avatars in front of you for that matter, is a game-changer.

INSTEAD, you get some fascinating glimpses of other parts of the world, and the people in them going about their daily lives.

Rode this one the other day as a cool down. After a harder, longer ride on Zwift.
Later that day, at my recommendation, Mrs. CAC road part of it.

FOR my wife, it’s been an almost transcendent experience.

SHE now looks forward to getting on the bike and checking out a new locale. It also has given her renewed motivation; some days she saves the ride for later and then resumes it the next day so she can get farther into the course or conquer that little roller that she didn’t have the poop to conquer the previous day.

FOR me, though, it’s always been about the workouts. As you know, I’ve spent countless hours on the trainer, in that pain-cave, either on Zwift or Fulgaz, getting my groove on.

Icicles outside? Riding inside!

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed the scenery, whether it be real or virtual, and the air guitar sessions are pretty righteous, but until until my wife started sharing her perspective (e.g. the interesting buidlings, the pretty flowers, the people walking nearby), I’d never thought of it as a way to sightsee.

THAT shared experience is perhaps that best ROI, though. We’ve been enjoying recounting our adventures with each other. She doesn’t glaze over quite so easily when I start talking watts and rollers and I have a renewed sense of appreciation of my surroundings, albeit virtual ones, and even find myself craning my neck to see things on the screen I wouldn’t normally notice.

I’VE even caught myself waving to the locals and other cyclists!

Next Steps?

WE’RE going to get my “other-half” and fellow tourist her own Fulgaz account and she’s already talking about budgeting for her own trainer so we don’t have to switch bikes so often.

EVEN better, we’ll be able to ride some of the routes together! Fulgaz does have a group ride option!

Kudos for us at the end of that Pingvallavatn ride.

SO, if someone you know needs a little incentive, or you just want to share more of what you love, maybe you need to show them some love and go on a little day trip together somewhere in France, or Africa, or Australia.

YOU choose!

Thinking of Riding Around Lake Tahoe? Here’s What You Should Know

IT’S been just over a year since I originally “penned” this post about riding around Lake Tahoe, one of the most beautiful lakes, and landscapes, in the world. If it’s not on your bucket list, it should be.

ESPECIALLY now, perhaps. Tourism-based communities, like So. Lake Tahoe, and Markleeville, and Kirkwood and many, many others affected by wildfires, would certainly appreciate your patronage, and you’ve got a bit more time before the snow flies. So take advantage, get some Tahoe time in, after you check out our tips, of course. Be sure to stop by Markleeville too. The aspens are popping and the riding on, or to Monitor Pass, or Ebbett’s Pass, is amazing right now.

BE sure, though, to check our AQI before you come up since the smoke has somewhat unpredictable.

SO read on, and yes, I’ll still send you (except you, ‘Toph, as you won it last year) a t-shirt!

Lake Tahoe is the largest Alpine Lake in North America, and is the second deepest lake in the United States. The lake is 22 miles long, 12 miles wide and about 72 miles around, with an average depth of 1000 feet! It’s one big ‘ol lake and last Friday one of my riding buddies and I tackled it by bike in the counter-clockwise direction.

The first person, by the way, to name the deepest lake in the U.S. by commenting on our Facebook page, will receive a CA Alps Cycling t-shirt.

Never having ridden around the lake before I wasn’t sure what to expect. Yes I had driven it by car but I never really thought about what it would be like by bike, other than amazingly beautiful and scenic.

Well, as Gomer Pyle would have said: “Surprise, surprise, surprise!”

Image courtesy of imgflip.com

While it was a beautiful day and the lake seemed a deeper blue than normal, as did the sky (perhaps due to the lack of smoke we had become used to over the last several weeks) it was quite the eye-opener to actually ride it.

Here’s What I Learned

  • There ain’t a whole lot of room on the shoulder(s). In fact in some sections of road there ain’t any!
  • Many sections of road are in a state of disrepair with some nasty bits of asphalt (or lack thereof) ready to surprise you. Yeah, our roads in CA could use some work, I know that. Still…
  • There’s more traffic than I expected. I was thinking it wouldn’t be too bad on a Friday, during the late morning into the afternoon, but I was wrong.
  • Can you say tourists? This was somewhat of a “doh!” moment certainly and I mention it in order to point out that tourists are doing their job – gawking. They are not looking out for cyclists and in some instances I noticed they weren’t even looking out for themselves.
  • Okay, you’re right…it’s not just tourists that don’t pay attention.
  • There are a huge amount of hiking trails to be found in and around and that generates more traffic and more pedestrians.
  • Many people park on the side of the road either for convenience or due to necessity and that means cyclists need to BOLO for doors!

Take a look at this ~8 minute video to get a sense of what I’m “talking” about. This clip starts just after D.L. Bliss State Park and ends just past Emerald Bay. You can catch a glimpse of Fannette Island and I should also mention that there is some “blue language” (hey, that’s appropriate!) about 2/3 of the way through the clip. Color commentary…

A little glimpse into what you’ll experience when you do the Lake.

Some Other Tidbits

  • We road it counter-clockwise as I mentioned early on in this post. Why? We thought it safer; you’re on the mountain side not on the lake side (there are some steep drop-offs) so if something goes amiss you won’t have to try and rappel (or get help rappelling) back up.
  • Plan on somewhere around four (4) hours to complete the loop. Sure, some will be faster and some will be slower. We took the slow-boat approach and so it took us about 4.5 hours.
  • There is about 4000′ of climbing over the course of the approximately 72 miles of riding. Mostly rollers but there are a couple decent climbs – one from D.L. Bliss State Park towards Emerald Bay (some of this section can be seen on the above video clip) and another from Cave Rock up to the Highway 50/28 intersection.
  • There are hosted event options (next year) such as America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride and Tour de Tahoe. Check out Bike the West for those.
  • There are a lot of good grinds around the lake. We stopped at Sonney’s BBQ Shack near Emerald Bay and had the most AMAZING turkey clubs we’ve EVER HAD. I kid you not.

So as I told my family and some friends post-ride, you have to be on your game to do this ride. Unless you stop for the sights I suggest you keep your eye on the ball as there isn’t a lot of wiggle room for boo-boos.

My lawyer would want me to tell you that California Alps Cycling IS NOT responsible for anything that might occur if you decide to ride it yourself. You assume all risk and should realize that cycling, especially in high-traffic areas, is inherently dangerous.

So, with that said, if you do decide to partake in one of the most scenic, and high-on-most-cyclist’s-bucket-lists, rides in the world, be wary, have fun, stop for some grub and take some time to look around (off the bike).

I’ll BOLO for your report!