Friday, May 19, 2017

Out and about on the bike -- Together!

This last week, Chad and I got out for not one, but two rides together.  Most unusual, given that I usually ride during the week and he rides on the weekend. (that whole divide and conquer thing that parents have to do...)

No pictures from the first ride, but suffice it to say it was a 50+ mile ride up and around the ridge above the South Bay.

Gorgeous weather, entertaining people (it was organized by the folks who did our bike tour in France a few years back, and they still remember a much younger Nim dancing in front of the castle!),  and a nice route with views out to the ocean.  I'm reminded that we need to do another European tour with them one of these years...

A couple of days later, the Tour of California had a local stage finish, and Chad was lucky enough to be able to take the day off to ride and spectate with me.  We drove down to South San Jose, and took the scenic route down to Morgan Hill, around the reservoir, and back up steep Metcalf Road to the finish line area to spectate.

I wasn't sure how many people would be at the finish area and wanted to get a good spot to watch from, so we carried a picnic lunch up in handlebar bags and went up early.  After doing a loop around the reservoir in the wind and climbing up Metcalf (steep!!), we were definitely ready for our sandwiches, cherries, and sparkling wine.
(Isn't the small can of sparkling Trader Joe's wine cute?)

In retrospect, we could have just gotten a burrito at the taco truck up there, but the moral victory goes to those who are self-sufficient :)  We did concede principle enough to treat ourselves to iced coffees from the Peet's truck, however, and then went to find a warm sunny spot from which to spectate.

I've watched a stage finish here before, so knew to climb up the hill to a point where you can be out of the crowd, look down on the finish line, and still be able to see the big screen on which they show the race footage as it happens so you have something to watch while you wait/nap in the sunshine.  It is always distinctly odd to watch pro racers ride roads with which you are familiar -- "That looks like the back of Hamilton, but they are going way too fast to be climbing, right???"  The pros ride up these hills two to three times faster than I do.

There were a few other jolly folks who also watched from our perch on the hill,

including a bona fide cowboy

and a healthy-looking coyote.

No, please don't eat our bikes...

You can always tell when the racers are approaching because the helicopters start swirling above.

Zoom!  The riders zip by, and all the team cars get to the top, bristling with expensive bikes.

We noticed while watching the the podium ceremony that the coverage was lagging reality by a few seconds.  It's sort of funny to have the big screen right next to the actual happenings, but does help people see.

After the festivities ended, we picked our way down to the road and rode back down.  The endeavor was made more entertaining by the fact that shortly after we started down, all the racers came zipping down from behind us on their way back to the team buses parked at the bottom.  Even in relaxed race-is-over mode, they descend unbelievably fast.  Very entertaining to try to identify people by their jerseys and race numbers.  
(I just tried to maintain a predictable line and stay out of the way over to the right while they all passed going jaw-droppingly fast.)

After we got home, Chad looked at the footage of the race online and and was amused to note that you can see us in our green and red jackets behind the results (between the flags and times in the chart.)  All in all, a fine afternoon!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Coast Ride

I took a nice loop ride of about 70 miles over to the coast yesterday in the warm springtime sunshine.

Good old Old San Pedro Mountain Road has survived the rainy winter...mostly.  I was glad to be riding the Vaya with bigger tires on a few sections.  Other sections were quite nice, with many little wildflowers.

One of my favorite lunch spots, near where the first dirt section spits you out onto Highway 1.

The view along Highway 1 near Pacifica was spectacular, without any fog.

I worked my way down the coast on a combination of side roads and coastal bike trail, which led to the discovery of a new cafe just south of Pillar Point.  Naturally I had to stop.  Mmmmmm....  One of the other customers admired my bike, asked where I was riding, and was suitably impressed by the answer.

Thus fortified, I rode a bit more of the coastal trail, and was mildly entertained by the unexpected mud on the dirt section just south of Half Moon Bay.  Riding on mud feels a lot like riding on the sand we rode last week, except that it makes entertaining squelchy noises.

Then it was time to head inland, toward the Purisima Canyon trail.  I had originally planned on going up Tunitas Creek Road (paved), but since my bike and I were already a bit muddy and I was in a jolly mood, I decided to take the dirt route.

Somehow, I didn't think about the fact that if there is unexpected mud on the beach bluff there will be unexpected deep slippery gloopy mud x 1000 next to the creek under the redwood canopy...

Here we leave the realm of Type 1 fun -- what any normal person would consider fun -- into Type 2 fun -- that horribly miserable fun that totally sucks while you are doing it but seems awfully jolly in retrospect...

As I headed up the trail, it became clear that there was mud.  Lots of mud.

And downed trees.  Seven in all.  Some of them were tricky to climb over with a heavy bike and slippery muddy bike shoes.

Those problems in and of themselves weren't so bad, but then you add the gradient.  1600 feet in about 4 miles, with evil stairsteps in the 15% grade range.  Even with big knobby tires traction is an issue in the mud when it gets that steep.  I eventually gave up and walked most of the last two miles of the climb, with brief bits where I was briefly optimistic enough to try to ride again, only to have all my energy sucked into the endless spinning of tires in steep mud.  I would have been better off without that optimism.  Oh foolish person....why do you try to ride??

I finally made it to the top about an hour behind schedule, covered in mud.  Note that there was no falling -- all the mud including the stuff on my neck was kicked up by the wheels while I vainly tried to pedal up the Sisyphean hill.  Mud even managed to sog its way through and into my bike shorts.  Ick.

Mud in the shadow of redwoods.

I haphazardly wobbled my tired self down Kings Mountain Road and back to where I had left the truck in at the start of the ride, feeling a bit woozy, only to discover that I had parked right along the edge of what becomes the Portola Valley Farmers' Market on Thursday afternoons (hmmm...*that's* what those mysterious orange cones with the radish posters on them signified...).  Just picture me as the scary wrecked mud monster arriving in the middle of that, in a community that is affluent even by Silicon Valley standards.  Hee hee hee hee!  I stopped to briefly chat with another cyclist who was curious enough to ask where I had ridden, loaded up my bike, made my escape, and pondered the weirdness of small muscle fibers firing in my legs all the way home.

Playing in the Wonderland of Rocks

How can you not like an area named "The Wonderland of Rocks"?  This region is located near Indian Cove; we explored a bit of it by heading up the wash that leads into Rattlesnake Canyon.  There's no official trail here -- you just get to poke around and play :)

Boulders on the approach hint at the fun to come.

We started in a sandy wash.  Even there, there were a few hints of water.

Such improbable boulder positioning.

It was bright out, so kiddo kept averting her eyes, but she was clearly having fun.

Monkey face!

Clever monkey finds shade.

There was a nice little slot canyon with running water to play in.

There were also quite a few plants blooming even among the rocks.

And frogs doing unmentionable things.  Nim was amused that they could hop around and swim while also otherwise occupied.

We like the rocks.  I also have to admit a partiality for hikes without real trails.

And that's all for this vacation!  Stay tuned for this summer's trip:  The Tour of the Cascade Volcanoes.  Planning now in process :)

Hiking amidst the artifacts

In addition to the crazy vegetation and desert scenery, there are also quite a number of human artifacts leftover from the ranching and mining days in the area.  We took several short hikes to poke around and see what we could find.

An unusually amusing sign defacement.

A surprising oasis behind the dam.

Kid, with funny rental van in the background.

The area around the Wall Street mill was littered with old cars and equipment, in addition to the old stamp mill.

Chad's always good at providing explanations.

Car parts sometime look like they have faces.

 Critters and flowers abounded too.  A common western fence lizard.

Less common for us to see was the horned desert lizard.

Nice cactus bloom with adjacent Dudleya

And of course, lots of Joshua trees.

Old buildings are fun

and make good picture frames.

 The Desert Queen Mine is one of many in the park.

Chad enjoyed peering in.  Fencing is abundant to prevent further exploration.

A thingie to play with!

Maybe its most useful function today.

Can you tell we had fun?