Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Ride Every Road: Sunnyvale

Once I started this project, the OCD kicked in and I knew i was going to finish. It was just a matter of how quickly I could finish. However, I kept finding myself wondering: "Why am I doing this?"

I think the initial seed was hearing about my co-worker Jen's walking every street in Berkeley, CA project. Impressive, but not for me. Some time later, Richard of Cyclelicious fame, posted about his plan to ride every road in Santa Cruz. Interesting, but no thanks. Then I saw Bret Lobree's Ride All of San Francisco project. Full-on crazy, no way I'm doing that.

Fast forward a few months, and I'm looking to do an easy, flat, recovery ride near home. That was the day I was hooked.

Initially, my plan was to just chip away at the goal starting by varying my bike commute across town. I picked up roads along my usual routes to and from work. The parts of Sunnyvale farther North and East took some dedicated rides.

My rules were that I would ride any road I legally could, plus any bike paths. I would skip townhouses, apartment complexes, driveways, and parking lots. My rule of thumb was if the street name ended in "Terrace," I would skip it. Initially I was ignoring trailer parks as well, but somewhere along the line, trailer parks became fair game. 

Progress was slow. Eventually I resorted to dedicated sorties every weekend to new regions of Sunnyvale. Here is the result:

The only roads that I know I missed are behind the locked (and guarded) gates of Lockheed Martin in North Sunnyvale. So unless someone can get me a visitor's pass to bike around the Lockheed campus, that part of the map will stay dark.

From my years of riding in the area, I'm already close to completing Los Altos Hills (see my Strava Heatmap) so I might do that next.

Thanks to Jonathan O'Keeffe for his excellent multiple ride mapping utility.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spring Classic 2014

After Last years sunny and dirt free Spring Classic 2013 I had to give this ride another go. This year there was dirt, steep climbs, and dirty steep climbs.

Ran with two Garmins. The new 510 for data and my old 500 because it can do turn by turn directions with a .tcx file. The turn by turn directions were both a blessing and a curse. The 500 was constantly beeping "off course" and "course found." I did manage to stumble into a screen that only showed distances to the next few turns instead of the useless map screen. This was a big help.

I managed to stay on course the whole way, with a little help from the Garmin and a ton of help of my fellow riders. Big shout out to Kari (or maybe another SuperPro rider) and the other rider who shouted at me to turn onto Grabtown gulch trail. Thankfully I was riding with Patrick who new the trails in Big Basin to make the correct turn onto Johansen trail.

The trails were steep, a little muddy, and beautiful. They required plenty of walking, and I made a point of riding a much as possible, even if it was stupid slow. Riding was faster thank walking. This ride would have been nearly impossible without mountain bike shoes.

Again my Challenge Biancha Strada tires were perfect. Virtually no speed penalty on the flat pavement, only a marginal weight penalty, and they had a wide enough footprint to handle the mud and trails. More traction would have been welcome, but it was enough. The tires were clearly superior to those riding 700x25c road tires.

Check Point 2 had virtually no food when I got there. I took the last banana and the last peanut butter pretzel. Or about 120 calories. This was not good. Plenty of coke, but that just fucks me up. I should have stopped in La Honda for food, but I was doing 30+mph and by the time thought seriously about it, it was too late. The ride to CP3 was a slow one. I ate all of my emergency food: two caffeinated gels (190 calories and about 4 cups of coffee worth of caffeine) and rode as slow as possible and hopes of burning fat, not carbs.

About this time the powermeter stopped registering. Same thing happened during the tainthammer. Last month I assumed the battery in the powertap was dead, but as it turns out it wasn't. So this day, I rebooted the Garmin 510 and I had a power reading again. Woot!

Finally arrived at at CP4. They had food: toasted cheese sandwitches. I just stood there in a non-verbal state eating toasted cheese after toasted cheese, and drank half a can of beer ( for the electrolytes ) until I felt some strength come back. While I was waiting there was some talk about bailing out and getting into the broom wagon. I considered riding out to HW 1 and taking the flat route to the finish.

Then Patrick rolled into CP4. I knew then I was going to finish the whole route. Patrick knew the trails so at least I wouldn't get lost in the woods. We only had a little confusion about directions on Johansen trail, and made all the correct turns. Patrick got a flat right at the RR cars and had it quickly patched. Seemed like we were at the next check point in no time.

CP5 had French fries. These were GOOD. I needed the salt. Another half can of beer (for the electrolytes) and some ammusing banter with the drunk aid station worker and we were ready to ride to the finish.

At this point there was only about 4 miles of climbing and then it was all downhill, and that was mostly true. The uphill was Jamison Creek Rd, and that was a bear of a climb. Putting that climb at mile 99 in a 115 mile ride? Just Psycho. Then 15 miles of rollers and a nice decent into Santa Cruz.

Finished at the Ibis factory where there was cold beer and some hot food.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Tainthammer 2014

When you sign up for a ride called the Tainthammer, you might have an idea of what you're in for:
A 133 blast of base miles across unpaved farm roads and the roughest roads we could find in the California Central Valley. Less than 400 ft of climbing in the entire 133 miles.

Rough roads were an understatement. Road conditions varied from pavement, busted up pavement, packed dirt, gravel, wash boarded dirt road, sand, mud, badly wash boarded and muddy, soupy mud, and quagmire. There were the occasional farm dogs that gave chase.  There was even a rattle snake curled up in the middle of the road. I thought I hallucinated the rattler until several other riders said they saw it too.

From my Strava ride report:
Most physically demanding ride, ever.
Powertap stopped working around mile 90. Heart rate monitor got stuck on on 120 bpm shortly thereafter. I wonder if the Garmin's ANT+ got wedged.
Rode with the lead group at until just past the first aid station and then found myself in the gutter at 200% FTP and threw in the towel and dropped back. Rode the rest of the way with Ammon and soon there after added Alan. Without them I would have been easily tempted to shortcut the course. As it is we made one minor wrong turn and ended up in Los Banos adding a few extra miles.
Speedplay pedals were a really, really, *really* bad idea. I ended up wasting a lot of time trying to get mud, sand, rocks, and manure out of the cleats. Miles of not being able to click in and times when I could not click out. When you're teetering in 3" deep mud and you can't get out of you cleats, you find that little extra to keep going.
Plenty of farm dogs gave chase. Most were just being "playful" but there were a couple close calls.
I am absolutely amazed at Murphy Mack's ability to find that many miles of totally crap roads. An absolutely diabolical course

Post mortem:

Front fork
Mud clogged cassette
Would I do it again? Maybe. With mountain bike pedals and no front fender it would be tempting. The fun factor is there. However the cost in bike parts was very high. This ride destroyed the drivetrain on my bike.