Family Bicycling

January 28, 2013

Mei’s first solo ride

Filed under: Family Cycling — ttoshi @ 5:38 am


Mei doesn’t get to ride much on her own because her daddy drags her around on the tandem. However, we finally got out to train on the local bike path and she got the hang of going uphill on her own. Here she is on her first solo ride.

November 12, 2012

Monthly family rides with the Grizzly Peak Cyclists

Filed under: Family Cycling — ttoshi @ 5:51 am


A few families have been pretty good about riding together one weekend a month on a family club ride. Today we had a spectacular day and rode along the bike path to the end of the paved section from Inspiration point in Tilden park. The kids got to run around at the midpoint of the ride. I rode the tandem with my daughter and my son is now riding his own bike during these family rides.

June 7, 2012

Santa Rosa 600k brevet ride report

Filed under: Solo Adventures — ttoshi @ 4:10 am

This 600k represents my conclusion of the “Super Randonneur” brevet series, which consists of a 200k, 300k, 400k and 600k ride.

I completed the San Francisco Randonneur 400k in late April, which gave me a little over a month to train for the 600k. I also planned on using my new brevet bike, which is a Rivendell A Homer Hilsen bike, as well as using an SP Dynamo hub, Rivet Pearl saddle, and Pacenti Pari Moto 38 mm tires. The SP PV-8 Dynamo hub is supposedly as or more efficient than the venerable Schmidt dynohub, but costs about half the price. I did have some concerns about the Pari Moto 38mm 650b tires because some people claimed it flatted every 25 miles, while others rode thousands of miles without flats. I decided to go for it, but added plenty of tubes and spare tires in the drop bags in the event of multiple flats or tire problems. The Rivet Pearl saddle felt very comfortable right from the start, and although it wasn’t fully broken in, I did feel pretty dialed into my position on my bike. All in all, I got about 150 miles on my new setup, so I would over double my total miles on my new bike on a single ride. That was a pretty daunting thought!

Bike is ready, is the rider ready?

Much of my training was done with my kids, and my big ride in May was the Grizzly Peak Cyclists metric century, which I did with my daughter: Other than that ride, I stuck to my usual regimen of trainer rides and got in the occasional ride with my new bike along the Pinehurst/Wildcat/Grizzly/Skyline loop and a few rides up Tunnel Rd. with my family triplet bike, which I rode with my son and daughter.

The day before the event, I dropped my daughter off at pre-school, and as I was going back to the car, my left foot hit a crack in the sidewalk, and then my right foot hit the same crack and I went flying down head first. I managed to get my hands in front of my chest and the impact fell on my hands, which thumped into my chest and knocked the breath out of my lungs. I imagine I was experiencing what it is like to experience an asthma attack because I was wheezing trying to suck air into my lungs, and I was stumbling trying to get up off the sidewalk. I sat down by the side of the sidewalk taking stock of what happened and was hoping my ride wasn’t ruined by the fall. I had trouble squeezing both my right and left hand, although my right hand seemed worse. After I got to work, I applied an ice pack to my right hand and it seemed as if squeezing a brake would be okay, so I was hopeful that I would still be able to do the ride.

What did I learn from the crazy mishap a day before the big ride? First thing is that you can get hurt doing something as simple as walking down the street. I realize there are dangers with riding big events, but in the big picture, keeping fit and healthy is better in the long run for me than trying to avoid risk and potentially being overweight and getting high blood pressure etc…

The second thing the mishap can do is to remind me to keep changing my hand position and avoid numbness/circulation problems etc… I noticed that on my new bike, even on some short rides, my circulation was being cut off a little bit on my left hand, so I definitely wanted to keep an eye on that.

I made it through the day icing my hand, and then I drove to Santa Rosa to stay in the hotel the night before the ride. As I was driving up, I hit Friday evening getaway traffic, and it was basically a standstill through Petaluma. Since I’m no longer used to suffering through commute traffic, I was probably tense gripping the steering wheel with my left hand, and then I noticed that my left hand was hurting pretty badly and it hurt to open and close my hand. I focused hard to lightly grip the steering wheel as I crawled on to the hotel. Now I was icing both hands, and I popped an Aleve right before I went to bed, hoping that I’d be ready to ride.

Fortune smiled on me and didn’t want me to end before I started. My hands felt fine after the rest and I would take care of them as I rode.

My goal for the morning was to make it with a group to the Hopland grade, which is an 8-mile climb to the summit. I would go slowly at my own pace up the climb and then meet up with others afterwards if I could.

At the start I met Peg as well as Bassem and Metin, who also rode Rivendell bikes. Deb and Phil were friendly faces from previous rides, including the DMD, which we finished late at night after an epic day for me and my buddy Randy I also recognized Linda because I met her when she was attempting her 50th double century!

Early morning sun, Photo credit: Bassem Youssef

Bassem’s Rambouillet on left, Metin’s Romulus far right, Picture credit: Bassem Youssef

We rolled out of the hotel and the pace was pretty reasonable at the start. Robert Choi, who is famous for completing the Terrible Two at the front every year was off the front of our group pretty quickly with another rider. We had a good group of riders that stayed pretty together through Cloverdale, but Bassem wanted to get more water so and Metin and Bassem dropped off. The pace started to pick up, and by the time we reached the 101, I think we were down to 6 riders.

At this point Robert Buntrock moved to the front and really laid down the hammer. I was starting to suffer when we were flying uphill into the headwind at 22 mph. I was just hanging on waiting for the 101 to end. There is a reason that Robert finishes all the rides I do at least 5 hours faster than me. I had no business being in that group, but I managed to make it to the first stop in Hopland, where I had no intention of following anyone else at that point.

In expectation of the temperature rising significantly, I pulled off the extra layers and brought out my bare bones camelback and filed it with some water. A couple of locals told us to watch out for the grooves in the road up the Hopland grade. Grrr, boy they weren’t kidding about the road! The road was ground down and ready for repaving. Of course, it wasn’t repaved, so it was pretty annoying on the way up, but of course we were going slowly on the way up. Hah, just wait for the descent on this road!!! Of course, I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Nasty surface on the Hopland Grade: Photo Credit: Bassem Youssef

In Lakeport it is pretty darn hot, and I ask a hot dog stand if he has bottles of water. He says no, but the guy says there’s water being sold over by what looks to be a mini flea market. I buy a couple of ice cold bottles, which makes me feel much better.

I’m putting along Scott Valley Rd where there’s a stiff headwind, and Peg comes along and kindly offers to pull me, and we work well as a team. It was nice to swap pulls and get some rest from the wind. We get to CA-20, and it starts out with a nasty section with about 2 feet of shoulder next to a rumble strip and the cars are flying by at about 60 mph. It was nice that there was a tailwind, but the bad thing is that Peg was clearly stronger than me, and I wasn’t getting as much rest when I was drafting. I managed to keep up the pace ok, and we made it through the 27-mile stretch pretty quickly. However, there was a climb coming up on Sulphur Creek Rd. I told Peg I was going to rest and take it easy on the hill. After the next stop, I continued on my own to recover some more while I ate on my bike. I passed Metin and Bassem when Matin had the first of his flats (a screw). I then passed Peg who had a flat too. I was just lucky not to get a flat and continued on to the Pope Valley staffed rest stop.

The Pope Valley stop was great. I had a great smoothie and turkey wrap sandwich. There were several 200k riders who were happy to be done for the day, while I tried not to think about being done for the day yet, since I still had about 60 miles to go before my sleep rest. There were a bunch of us here. I remember seeing Michael, Clyde, Aaron, Phil and Deb, Bassem and Metin, and Peg and Linda.

On the next leg, I went off on my own trying to gain time to get more sleep. Of course, in situations like that, the opposite usually happens, and sure enough, I speed down a descent too quickly and miss a turn. I descend another two miles before I realize that I’m off course, and I start hammering back up the hill. I put in some extra effort trying to catch up to everyone and trying not to be alone and the last one on the course. On this leg I see Robert Choi and another rider on their return leg. A little later I see Robert Buntrock and Gintautas, and I think the last person I saw was Tim. I continue on to Winters and at the halfway point, I see all of the same suspects from Pope Valley there. Luckily I hadn’t missed the bus back home yet.

Metin, Clyde, Phil, Deb, Michael and I leave together to march back to Pope Valley and Clyde is suffering from a bad stomach and drops back. Cardiac spreads us out a little, and Deb and Matin catch Michael and head off, while I decide to not try to keep up and go at my own slow pace. Phil passes by wondering if I’m ok, since I’m going pretty slowly, and decide I’m feeling good enough to ride with him. We catch up to Metin and Deb who are taking a quick rest stop. We ride back to Pope Valley and are greeted to some great Heart music–I never knew they did covers of Elton John and Led Zeppelin! The food was also top notch. The tortellini, chicken and tri tip were perfect. Bassem, Peg and Linda make it in, and I decide to hit the sack. We were going to wake up at 4:30, which gave us about 3 hours of Zzs.

I panic at the sound of my alarm going off and wrest myself out of my sleeping bag. Three hours may not sound like much, but I felt so much better than when I initially went to sleep. Tim is stoking the campfire flames and I got some

Refreshed? after 3 hours sleep, Photo credit: Bassem Youssef

warmth in my bones. Aaron heads off at his own pace, Bassem, Metin and I head off together, and Tim flies by off to get some McDonalds food. Deb and Phil are close behind. Things are pretty mellow as we make our way back to Clearlake. There are a couple of hills but they aren’t bad. Peg meets us in Clearlake after she woke from her hotel stay in Middletown.

We get lost in Clearlake and Peg and Tim are close behind. We all continue on for a bit until we all decide we are lost. Along the way we get some bonus potholed 15% pitches on the road. We finally get on track, and I’m happy to hear that Metin and Bassem want to take a rest on top of the Sulpher Bank climb because that gives me the opportunity to do the climb super slowly and enjoy the scenery.

Fast cars, small shoulders and rumble strips, Photo credit: Bassem Youssef

Now we get to the worst sections of the ride in bunches. We have 27 miles of rumble-strip shoulders and super fast cars on Highway 20. Metin, Bassem and I decide that it would be best to break it up with 1 mile rotations–9 pulls and we should be done. We manage to get to about 3 miles from the end, and I finish my pull and pull out of the shoulder, but up ahead are a couple of big rocks in the shoulder that Bassem gets around but Metin unfortunately hits one with both tires and flats them both! I check my bag for boots, but then realize that as I changed saddlebags before the ride, my toolkit never made it in my saddlebag! I have plenty of tubes in the event of flats, but I don’t even have tire levers! I was fortunate that I didn’t have any flats or mechanicals.

Metin manages to boot his tire with duct tape and we continue on to the staffed rest stop in Lakeport. The boiled eggs really hit the spot for me, and I am looking forward to getting away from highway 20. On Scotts Valley Rd., one of Metin’s patches fails on his tube and we stop to replace the tube. Right now we are all mentally and physically preparing for the climb up the Hopland Grade. The first pitch up the Hopland grade gets pretty steep ~10%, but the second climb is not as steep and we eventually make it to the top.

Metin and I are ready to rumble (down Hopland grade), Photo credit: Bassem Youssef

The descent of the Hopland grade was worse than anything else on the ride combined. I was glad to have 38mm wide tires, and my ride was surely more comfortable than most of the other riders. However, I probably would have needed motorcycle tires to avoid feeling jarred by the 10 miles of rumble-strip road. When we finally reached Hopland, we met Tim, Deb, Phil and Peg at the little market. I was able to eat most of a chicken salad sandwich and we all left together to tackle the last horrible section of road on the debris-filled 101 shoulder.

Phil had a flat just before we left Hopland, and Tim got a fish hook in his tire on the 101. Tim was being everyone’s savior by doing big pulls and pulling us together if the pack broke apart. We were very grateful for his company and his willingness to hang out with us slowpokes! I was feeling ok, but I wasn’t able to eat too much due to a sour stomach and some acid reflux. Peg gave me some Tums and Deb gave me a Prilosec and I was starting to feel better. We made our way to Geyserville and had a break at the grocery where we

Chocolate and ice cream tastes way better than Raspberry Hammer gel, Photo credit: Bassem Youssef

had some ice cream bars. The chocolate ice cream bar helped fuel me up too.

We slogged through the final miles, and I was super happy to be a 600k finisher. The food and beer at the finish was great. I especially want to thank Peg, Bassem, Metin, Deb, Phil and Tim for their great company and help with the ride. I want to thank the SRCC for the amazing support and especially Bob who was at almost every supported stop along the ride. I wonder if he slept at all?


My new A Homer Hilsen Rivendell bike was awesome. The Rivet Pearl saddle was great, and my butt felt better than after the 400k. The Pari Motos didn’t have a single flat despite all of the debris all over the road. The SP PV-8 dynamo hub performed flawlessly.

I felt pretty good after the 600k and could have continued to ride, although another 600k is impossible to imagine though! However the one thing giving me pause is the sour stomach. I had almost two V-8s at every control, but that didn’t seem to be setting it off. It was the raspberry Hammer gel that was giving me the most problems. Has anyone else had a reaction to Hammer gel? I wonder if the chocolate Hammer gel would be okay. I switched away from chocolate because it was much thicker than the other gels, but if it doesn’t cause sour stomach I would be much happier! Thanks for any advice! I am definitely still motivated to try PBP someday…

May 8, 2012

GPC-metric century 2012

Filed under: Family Adventure — ttoshi @ 5:23 am


A beautiful morning on Grizzly Peak Blvd, Credit: West World Images


My son Tomo participated in the GPC century three times while he was in a trailer, so now it was my daughter Mei’s turn to experience the fun. The tandem creates a new challenge compared to the trailer, since the kids are much bigger now, but at the same time, they also have the opportunity to contribute with their pedaling, and we now ride right next to each other and have conversations, so it’s much more fun.

Tomo has done some adventures on the tandem too at the San Francisco Randonneurs 115k Populaire ride The GPC-“metric” century is not quite as long ~75 miles , but it is the toughest ride I’ve done on the tandem due to the over 5700 feet of climbing.

Mei was extremely excited to do the ride because I told her there were hundreds of riders on the GPC “team” and we had 4 bike parties (aka rest stops) where we can eat lots of good food and see a bunch of our “teammates”. She quickly recognized our team riders by the wrist bands as they passed us on the road.

We opted to do the car-free start. The good thing about the car free start is that we can time the ride so that we get to the registration relatively early, allowing us to be farther out on the course than if we started at the regular start. The bad thing about the car free start is that we’d have to do a tough climb up Pinehurst to finish our ride.

We ended up leaving the house around 7 AM and did our bonus climbing up Saroni/Glencourt/Arrowhead up to Snake Blvd and Skyline. Mei was wondering where our team was, and I told her that they were sure to catch up to us as we worked our way along Skyline and Grizzly Peak. Sure enough, a handful of people passed us, but on our descent of Grizzly Peak, we managed to keep up with pretty much everyone.

Mei kept asking when we were going to get to the first bike party, and when finally we did make it there, she was quickly greeted by Sherie, who we rode with on our earlier adventures up McEwen. Esta and Andrew were also there helping out. I also saw David and Emily and met some more super nice people, including Kevin, who kindly snapped a photo of us, and another friendly rider who gave Mei some footwarmers to warm up her legs. We got our wrist bands, socks and patches, and Mei was excited to eat the banana bread that I promised her. The cantaloupe was delicious and I brought a large ziploc along and filled it with fruit and a smaller bag for dry snacks like cookies. I had a handlebar bag for easy access, so we could eat as we rode without too much difficulty.

Getting ready to leave Island Rest Stop, aka Bike Party #1, Credit: Kevin Shimamoto


I had one bottle with several scoops of Perpetuem, but after that ran out, my plan was to just eat the wonderful food on the ride. The one other thing I took was a couple of bags of GU Chomps at the first rest stop. Mei already knows about these because they are a special treat as we ride, and today we had a new flavor: blueberry pomegranate. What’s not to like about gummy candies that are disguised as exercise nutrition?

The next stretch to the Port Costa rest stop was one of the flatter parts of the ride, and that’s where the tandem really can speed along. We cruised down to San Pablo Dam Road, and a huge paceline going over 20 mph passed us by, and Mei got super excited and was standing up and stomping on the pedals. With this encouragement from Mei, I caught the end of the paceline and rode with them until the descent to Castro Ranch Rd. The riders in the paceline were actually riding really smoothly and I although I kept my distance, since my handling is slower on the tandem, the pack was big enough that I was still getting a good draft. I figured I was going to pay later on for the extra effort I put into this little jaunt, but Mei and I were having so much fun, so c’est la vie.

The next stretch of the ride Mei and I did on the 3 Small Walls century prep ride, so we knew what to expect as we were going to the next bike party. We saw Phil Morton as well as many of the other people we saw earlier at the Island rest stop. It was starting to warm up as we got to the Island rest stop and Stan was taking a bunch of pictures (thanks Stan!) and I also saw Jim and Gaston–some of the grizzled veterans of the Century Prep series! We had plenty of food and ate more fruit and lots of bananas. Liz and David Block were volunteering here too, and I’ll bet that none of the Grizzlies thought that the swings at the dilapidated playground would be a welcome bonus for the location, since Mei was probably the only one who would appreciate it! I started filling up my bottles with some of the GU drink, since it was getting hot and I’m sure I could use some extra electrolytes. I’m not really sure how caloric the drink is, but I like the fact that it didn’t cause my teeth to get all yucky like Gatorade.


We made it to Port Costa, aka Bike Party #2, Credit: Stan G


We don’t need jackets anymore! Credit: Stan G.

Hanging out with Gaston, Credit: Stan G.

The riding to the next rest stop is surely the most difficult stretch of the metric century. We have to suffer up McEwen, try not to burn out on the rollers as we go to Pig Farm, and then we have to climb Papa Bear before the stop. Phew, it was getting hotter, and as we were on Reliez Valley, Mei got super hungry. Luckily I had provisions in my ziploc, and Mei ate a huge slice of watermelon, two slices of cantaloupe, two Berkeley Bowl fig bars (my emergency extras), and about 4 GU chomps. She was working hard on the climb up McEwen and that must have made her really hungry! I still had more backup emergency bars and more GU Chomps, but luckily she was satisfied!

We continued on, and Papa Bear was quite hot, and we had to stop in the shade a time or two to cool off. We finally made it to the Briones stop and we saw Rob Hawks, who we also saw earlier as we pulled into the Island rest stop. There were plenty of Grizzlies abound including Mark H., Mark A., Ernesto, Mike and Dolores. James and his son, who is the same age as Mei were also there, and Mei had fun playing around. I also saw a father and her daughter. This was a tandem team that Tomo and I saw when we did the ride in 2008. Now, the daughter was riding her own bike and both of them were still riding together. I hope Mei and I will continue to ride together like that too!!

Full of potatoes and ready to roll on, Credit: Richard H.

One real bonus of the Briones rest stop is their special potatoes. I was really looking forward to them and ate literally 15 or so of the seasoned potatoes. The starch is great fuel and the yummy oil, rosemary and salt were good bonuses! We stayed at this rest stop for quite a long time, but finally we decided to head on.

Mama bear and Baby bear were the last real challenges before the final bike party, and Mei and I named a few more hills including Brother bear and Sister bear. Sure, I was tired, and as I rode along Moraga Way I was kinda sleepy, but my legs were in decent shape and on the scale of 1 to 10, I was probably still a 6, which is not too bad.

Literally on the last mile before Campolindo, Mei started nodding off. I kept talking to her to keep her awake, and we parked the bike, and then we sat on the stairs in the shade. Mei closed her eyes and rested for maybe 5-10 minutes, and then she said, “I’m hungry!” We were served some wonderful food at the “lunch stop” (thanks Ivan and crew!), and I was very happy to see Michael, Cree and especially Nancy, who was recovering well from her injury. In fact, she got a recumbent bike, since she couldn’t yet ride the upright bicycle!

Amazingly, Mei was completely recovered, and in fact she was now super strong on the return ride home. It’s amazing what a power nap and a bunch of good food will do for the body! Pinehurst (also commonly known by cyclists as Pinehurt) is a bear at the end of the hill, but Mei knew it was our last hill and she said, “This is easy!” as she really powered the bike up using her “Super Speed”. She told me that we made it home because she climbed the hill at the end–I bet she was contributing 50% at the last stretch–no joke! After the final climb before our descent down Shepherd Canyon to our house, Mei asked me (for real!), “Can I ride my own bike now, after we get home?” I had to say, “No, sorry, daddy needs a nap!”

Many thanks to all of the GPC volunteers and new friends for a wonderful ride and a wonderful day!

April 25, 2012

SF Randonneurs 400k ride report

Filed under: Solo Adventures — ttoshi @ 4:42 am

This 400k ride represents the third ride of 4 rides in a randonneur series (200k, 300k, 400k, 600k). The 400k would be the longest ride of my life, so it would surely be a challenge! Training time has always been an issue for me, but this year I’m getting a little more than my usual (mostly) trainer only fare. I’m prepping to ride the GPC metric century with my daughter on the tandem, so in the last month, we did a couple of 40ish mile hilly rides as well as some triplet rides with my son and daughter. All told, I probably got 140 miles of rubber on the road since the 300k, and I did my usual twice a week or so trainer rides after the kids go to bed.

The one development on my trainer rides is that my legs felt fit enough to do some all-out intervals, so I cut back on my movie watching and went back to the ~30 minute suffer-fests. All told, I probably peaked 2 weeks before the ride, which is before I took a week off the bike on Spring break with the kids, but hopefully I maintained enough fitness to do the ride. For the SFR brevets, they aren’t the hilliest of rides and I haven’t encountered rain, so finishing simply meant survive the hills and ride strong on the flats. That strategy was the same one I would take for the 400k.

Rambouillet ready for the brevet

Morning in Sausalito, Photo credit: Jack Holmgren

Of the GPC/SFR folks, Kirk Hastings and Rob Hawks were at the start (and Rob at the finish, although on an earlier

Sausalito at daybreak, Photo credit: Jack Holmgren

shift than my return). I saw Bruce Marchant at the start, but not much on the ride. I was very fortunate to have the company of Jack Holmgren and his buddy Kevin for probably 3/4 of the ride, but I’m getting ahead of myself. As we started the ride, we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge into Sausalito, and I rode with Jack for what I thought was just before he took off like a rabbit (he finished the 300k a few hours ahead of me). However, he and Kevin were recovering from a big Fleche event, and Jack was busy taking pictures, so as the ride progressed down Nicasio Valley, I was very fortunate to ride with Jack as he pulled me up to a big group of riders. I talked to Carlos Duque and reminded him that he took a great picture of Tomo and me on our first brevet as we finished the SFR populaire a couple of years ago. That was still one of my best rides ever!


Morning in Nicasio, Photo credit: Jack Holmgren

Early morning pack, Photo credit: Jack Holmgren



I was able to stay with this pack of riders all the way to the first control in Bodega. At Bodega I bought 2 V-8s and chugged them as I was in line and a big bottle of water to refill my bottles (with Perpetuem) and part of my camelback that was empty until then. I knew that there were two big hills on this ride: Joy Rd. (or perhaps more aptly “Joyless Rd.” as someone commented to me) and HWY 128 and Black Mountain Rd. I took it easy on Joy Rd. where parts of that were really steep (over 15%?) then rode on and off with a couple riders till I got to the second Safeway control where I had more water and gatorade. It was really starting to heat up and after a couple of turns off River Rd. I got confused and went for a couple of miles and thought I was off course and turned around. Luckily Gabe and a couple more riders came by relatively soon and I was more or less able to keep up with them for a little while, and we took a water break at an air conditioned bar. There was a super nice bartender who filled up all of our water bottles and we got cooled off before continuing on.

I was going super slow in the heat and Roland rode past, although he also had some issues with hot foot later, but passed me while I rested in the shade and ate a couple boiled eggs that I brought with me. I finally made it to Cloverdale where I saw Jack and Kevin getting ready to leave and I got some more Gatorade and water and I got to talk to Gabe, Ian, Brian and one other rider (I’m sorry I missed your name!).

It look idyllic, but it was over 100 degrees on this climb! Photo credit: Jack Holmgren


At this point, I was riding pretty slowly in the heat, so I went off on my own, figuring that the others would easily catch up. Just before HWY 128, I ran into Kevin and Jack who were doing some derailer adjustments. I rode with them for a little while until I was nearing heat exhaustion and decided to slow down and try to cool down. For the rest of the climb I took it slowly and rested at nice shady and breezy locations.


I managed to make it to Hopland without completely withering and bought a clammato (should have bought 2!), gatorade and slice of pizza (yum!). I took off, and Eric Larsen and I went to find our way, but managed to get lost when the road we were supposed to turn on had a different name (Old River Rd., I think).


Resting before Geyserville, Photo credit: Jack Holmgren

The lucky thing was, as Eric and I retraced our route, we ran into Jack and Kevin, who also seemed to miss the turn too. Lucky for us we were 4 strong as Kevin organized our 0.5 mi pulls down HWY 101 to get us efficiently past any dangers on that road. We made it back to Geyserville, at which point there were a bunch of us, including Ian, Gabe, Brian and gang and we teamed up to go to Petaluma. For some reason, nobody wanted any bonus hills on the Geysers so we continued down 128 and climbed a hill, but on the descent, Brian flatted(–those Grand Bois tires), so we all stopped and rested. Just as the flat was fixed, Kitty, Eric and another rider came along and we all continued our way to Petaluma.


At this point, the paceline speed varied depending upon how badly the rider in front wanted to get to Petaluma, so we lost a few riders, but in the end we did all manage to get to the Petaluma Safeway, where I got some hot chicken fingers and more water for perpetuem.

Speeding through Jimtown, Photo credit: Jack Holmgren



The end was within range, so Jack and Kevin kindly waited for me while I finished my preparations and we took off for the final leg. All in all, I was actually in pretty good shape. The heat was gone and it was starting to even get a bit chilly, but with the decreasing temperature, my strength returned. My butt hurt like crazy and I was getting sleepy tired, but luckily my legs still had enough energy to ride, and Kevin was expertly pacing us through the hills and flats. –I was extremely fortunate to have ridden with these super experienced veterans of 1200k events! We basically counted down the hills until we made it back to the finish.

The GG bridge was shrouded in mist and while it was a nice view, it wasn’t so nice on the bridge. My glasses misted up and I just followed Kevin’s tail light hoping that I wouldn’t crash on the last mile of the ride.

Finishing in the Golden Gate mist, Photo credit: Jack Holmgren

At the end, Sterling and another great volunteer helped us out and got us warm fluids and sustenance. I rested and caffeined up before my drive home. My finish time was 21:39 or so, and my original goal was 22-23 hours, assuming I rode alone. I had a ton of help and despite the heat, I still finished with a good time, so I am very pleased with the outcome of the ride. As I was leaving, Brian Chun followed by several others from the Petaluma gang showed up, including Gabe, Brian, Ian and company. Thankfully my butt recovered after a few hours of sleep, and I am having amnesia over the pain of the heat, so it looks like I will make an attempt to do a 600k next. Thanks to all the volunteers and friends both new and old for making it a great ride!



April 16, 2012

Mei and Dad on the Century South Loop

Filed under: Family Adventure — ttoshi @ 1:37 am

Mei and I are training to ride for the GPC century metric loop and today we tackled the century south loop, even though we won’t ride it for the big day.

We rode from home in Oakland and went through Montclair and up BBR–if you haven’t done that it is gorgeous and a great way to get to Skyline from Montclair. It is Burdeck-Butters-Robinson or maybe Butters-Burdeck-Robinson. Either way, it’s secluded and beautiful. You can enter the route by a little bike path right by the freeway exit at Mountain and Joaquin Miller. It’s much nicer than the ride up Joaquin Miller.

We started a little before 9 AM, so we got a head start on the GPC folks, since we didn’t have to go up Pinehurst and Redwood Rd. It was cold and overcast when we started, and Mei kept wondering where the Grizzly team was. I told her it might be a while before they caught up, and she got interested because the route takes us past the zoo. Mei was a little cold, but surprisingly she didn’t want to get a hot cocoa at Starbucks and we continued on after a little trail mix break.

I told her we would take a lunch break at Lake Chabot, and the sun was coming out so that was a great break as we ate at a sunny picnic table.

After the lunch break, she wanted to play in a playground, and I knew there is a nice one right as you turn onto Quail Rd. She quickly made friends with a couple of kids there and she made several cookies out of sand, which I of course had to sample ;) .

As we left, it was great timing because a bunch of folks from the century prep ride came along and that always gets her excited and motivated to stomp on the pedals and keep up for as long as we can as she smiles and waves to all of the riders. I especially wanted Michael to give a special message to Nancy because we miss her and want her to get better quickly! Also a get well to Holly and Ann who couldn’t lead today due to injuries!

We chugged our way up Redwood Rd. and I was feeling pretty tired. We took a break at the start of Pinehurst as Brian, Janet and another rider passed by and we continued on Pinehurst back home.

It was a brutal ride up Pinehurst that was made tolerable by Mei’s amazing energy at the end of the ride. Right at the top of Pinehurts I was really suffering, but she was excited to finish the hill and demanded that we do super speed, so we sprinted (in slow motion) up to the top and had an easy descent down Shepherd Canyon back home. Thanks to all the ride leaders and fill-ins. It looks like everyone was having a good day.

April 2, 2012

Tandem training ride: Century Prep 4: McEwen and Pig Farm

Filed under: Family Adventure — ttoshi @ 6:42 am

Mei and I are training to do the Grizzly Peak Metric Century. Tomo has done the GPC ride 3 times, so it’s only fair that Mei gets to experience it too!

It’s been raining every weekend for the past couple of weeks, so my training intensity hasn’t been as high as I would like it, but today the weather was beautiful and we had to go out and ride!

This century prep ride goes up the steepest hill on the Grizzly Peak Metric Century, which is McEwen. It also goes up Pig Farm Hill, which has a great name!

Mei had a great time–we even got to stop for an ice cream cone, so what’s not to love about that?

Here we are after McEwen and a bit of food. Thanks to Josh for the great picture!

Wife gets a Rivendell Betty Foy

Filed under: Gear Review — ttoshi @ 6:31 am

Yonchu wants to ride with us, but was not comfortable with her road bike, so we visited the friendly folks at Rivendell Bicycle and she took a test ride on the Betty Foy and was sold on it. We just recently picked up the bicycle and took a nice family ride on it with the kids.

San Francisco Randonneurs 300k Ride Report

Filed under: Solo Adventures — ttoshi @ 6:24 am

Well, this is ride two (300k) of the San Francisco Randonneurs
Ride Series. I did the 200k last month and the 400k and 600k are to
follow if I dare. My work colleagues wonder why I do crazy stuff like
this. It’s mostly because I love to ride my bicycle, but I also like
to have tangible goals to work toward so I can keep motivated and do
some exercise. With two young kids and their activities like baseball
practice, violin practice, swimming lessons etc., and my normal work
and life routines, I have to work hard to fit in time for training and
I joked that after my 200k, in preparation for the 300k, I rode
zero miles on the road with my single bike. While that was true,what
I didn’t say is that I did ride with my son and daughter during the
weekends and put in a good 70 miles the last month on the tandem and
triplet, including an inaugural run up Wildcat Canyon with the kids,
where we saw Melarie and Mike et al as well as a bunch of Grizzlies on
the Century Prep Warm Up Ride. Other than that, I did do at least two
spin sessions a week on my bike trainer. Last year I did very high
intensity intervals and about 30-40 minute sessions. This year, my
legs didn’t feel up to those intervals because of a slight knee pain
here or there, I’m too tired that night or my dog ate my homework.
However, I had to do something, so I did longer workouts and watched
some movies. OK, so this form of training was great because I was able
to get some lengthy riding time in on the trainer and watch some good
movies that I got for free from the library.
(*Start digression)
I don’t have Netflix, but I did rediscover the library. San
Francisco Public Library allows you to reserve movies, which is
awesome. It also now allows 3 week rental terms and you can renew the
movies provided nobody else has reserved those movies (In contrast,
Oakland has 1 week rentals and no reservations). For which movies to
watch, I used a great site called Criticker lets you
rank some movies that you watched and it will make recommendations for
you based upon how you rated your watched movies. The more movies you
rate, the better the recommendations and it will match your taste to
other people with similar tastes and you can look at their favorite
lists for ideas. For the most part it is spot on in terms of
recommendations. Here are five of my recommendations from my Top ten
list before we go back to cycling: Seven Samurai (my best movie ever),
Princess Bride (offbeat classic), 12 Angry Men (Henry Fonda, wow a
great Criticker recommendation), GATTACA (Real science fiction–No
guns or aliens in this one), My Neighbor Totoro (my daughter Mei was
named after this perfect family movie, and in Japan there was a huge
spike in that name :) .
(*End digression)
Brevets are self-supported rides. You should carry enough stuff
to get by and know how to fix things should you break down. In order
to become more self-sufficient, I wanted to build up my own bike.
After the death of a fellow rider on Grizzly Peak road as his tire got
stuck in a crack and thrown into incoming traffic, I decided to buy a
frame that allows wider tires to at least help stabilize my ride and
decrease the odds of losing control by using wider, lower pressure
tires. As a side benefit, I get a super comfortable ride that
incidentally is not necessarily slower due to the wider tire. Anyhow,
I saw a Rivendell Rambouillet frame on sale on a bike list and I
purchased it. I had the headset installed by a bike shop and then
built up the rest of the bike myself. For the 300k, I put on my front
wheel with a generator hub that I hand built and used my hand-built
rear wheel as well. If something broke down, then I would have only
myself to blame!
For this ride, my good buddy Randy was not available and I had to
plan on doing it alone. My plan was to spend as little time as
possible off the bike and eat on the bike and stay on the go. My best
time on the Davis Double was 14:30, and this ride is a little shorter
and maybe similarly hilly, so I thought that 15:00 was pretty
reasonable if I managed to keep my rest stops short. I started the
day volunteering for the sign-in. I always try to give back to
volunteer organizations I participate in when I can. Sign-in is easy,
except for the fact you need to wake up a little earlier, but you get
primo parking, which is a perk! Anyhow, fellow GPC-er Bill Monson and
I checked in the riders for the N-Z group and I saw the usual crew of
GPC riders, including Mark A., Mark H., Nancy Yu, Andrew, Eric, Bruce
M. and Rob Hawks.
The ride went well and I took it easy on the hills and kept a
strong pace on the flats. Rich Fisher kindly volunteered at a secret
control and I continued on to Petaluma basically on my own. I stopped
in the Safeway and picked up a can of almonds which I stuffed into my
front bag and some water and continued on my way. With me, I brought 3
bottles of hammer gel and 2 water bottles with Perpetuem, along with 4
baggies full of Perpetuem to refill along the way. I also brought 5
emergency boiled eggs for extra protein and a big bag of Berkeley bowl
fig bars if I ran out of Hammer carbs. All I needed along the way was
additional protein and salt. After quickly leaving the Safeway, I met
Bubba from El Cerrito, who was also riding a Rivendell, and Mack from
Fairfield. Mack was super strong and pulled me most of the way to
Healdsburg. Along the way, I ran into two guys on carbon fiber bikes
and I think one didn’t even have a saddlebag! I was presciently
thinking, so much for self-supported! My bike and provisions probably
weighed 15 lbs more than his bike. Anyhow, they were super nice and
joking about their lack of provisions and one of them said they want a
nice touring bike like mine. We were riding for a little while and I
thought one of the guy’s rear derailleur might have broken, but what
ended up happening was his chain broke and put his derailleur in a
funny angle. Lucky for them, a guy riding with us had a 10-spd master
link and a huge pannier and lots of other stuff I’m sure (despite all
the extras, he was stronger and faster than me!). The carbon fiber guy
had an 11-spd bike, but I guess the master link still worked (It’s a
wonder that Campy didn’t force it to be incompatible :) . After this,
Roland, Mack and I cruised to the next Safeway stop where I got a
chicken breast, corn dog, V-8 and more water.
The corn dog tasted great and I kept the chicken for later. We
passed a bunch of wineries on our way to Guerneville and we held out
our arms wanting to get some wine passed to us, but they thought we
were waving to them. They probably knew it was a self-supported ride
and didn’t want to help us. Anyhow, there were quite a few little
rollers in this section, and a bunch of people including my new buddy
Mack passed me on this short hill. I had no intention of catching
them, but there was a big downhill and turn onto a road perfect for
pacelining and luckily joined the group. We held it mostly together
until we got to Highway 1. Luckily the wind wasn’t bad and I soloed it
to Bodega Bay where I got another corn dog, 2 V-8s and another water.
Every challenging ride will have a section where you feel like
you’re quite stupid and you’re wondering why you are out there and
unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) on this ride there are no sag
wagons to take you home. I felt this way on a relatively steep (my
computer said 11%) section on the way to Tomales Bay. I had a good 5
hours in the bank, and even if I walked up all the remaining hills on
the way home, I would probably still make it on time, but that thought
didn’t make me feel any better. What I’ve learned is that when I feel
like that, there’s nothing better than a bottle of hammer gel. I
probably downed a good 600-700 calories right there, and wow, in about
15-20 minutes, I felt like new.
I made it to Marshall, where the store was officially closed, but
still open for business and I bought a diet pepsi for caffeine for
later. I stuffed that in my handlebar bag and continued on. I didn’t
need any more water since I was close enough to home and had a good
full bottle (and diet pepsi) for liquid and probably another 1000
calories of hammer gel if needed. Life was good and I was thinking
that hey, things are going well, when all of a sudden I heard a pssst.
Yeah, a rear flat. Luckily it was easy to fix and although I didn’t
find the cause, it also didn’t repuncture, so that was good! I
navigated my way back to Sausalito on my own while downing my Pepsi
and teamed up in Sausalito with two others for the finish. I finished
at 8:53 PM, in 14:53 total time, which matched my goal, so things went
well. The bike did great and I was super comfortable in my $15 700x32c
Panaracer Pasela tires. Overall, it was a great ride thanks to the
volunteers and my new found friends. I ended the day with 3/4 of a
bottle of Hammer gel, 4/5 of a chicken breast, 4 boiled eggs, 3/4 of a
Perpetuem baggy and a full bag of fig bars. After this good
experience, I will try the 400k, and will probably continue to carry
the extra 3 lbs of food. Better safe than sorry right?—hmm…

Triplet training

Filed under: Family Adventure — ttoshi @ 6:05 am

The kids have really been enjoying the triplet bike, and we have been riding it weekly. I’ve been training for a brevet series (200k, 300k, 400k and 600k rides), and one of my best ways is to take the kids out for a nice bike ride on the triplet.

We really love GPC club rides because there are a bunch of riders for the kids to interact with and we have fun trying to keep up with “our team”.

On March 11th, we tackled our most challenging hill on the triplet and we rode from El Cerrito del Norte BART to San Pablo Dam Rd. up Wildcat Canyon (tough!) and back down to the start. The actual ride started in Berkeley, so it was actually good that we got a head start and the rest of the club caught up to us as we were resting at Inspiration Point in Tilden park.

The kids had a great time and my legs had plenty of training on the hills!

Thanks to Ken Karda for the image!


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