Month: June 2004

Riding in Marin

Moving to the City did one big thing for me: it gave me a social life.

Sounds odd, doesn’t it? What kind of difference could that be? And yet, I find that people up here are more approachable than down there, especially when it comes to cycling.

I will ride on my own, and all of a sudden someone else will be by my side and chat. At first I thought of it as an isolated event, but then I realized it happens pretty much all the time: if someone is riding at close to your pace and doesn’t have anything else to do, (usually) he (and rarely she) will chat.

Contrast that with the Peninsula, where I spent an awful two years meeting all of one person. That quite doesn’t feel right. I can recall an infinite number of climbs of Old La Honda, Page Mill Road, Congress Springs Road, Kings Mountain Road with people that would climb at close to my pace and no interaction at all. I would greet them sometimes, but they wouldn’t respond. I would nod my head to people on Foothill, Alpine, Canada – no response.

I am glad I am here now. Cycling on the Peninsula can be spectacular, and Spectrum is a lot of fun. I won’t miss the uncommunicative people, though. I mean, if your hobby consists of sitting on a cycle for five hours, how could you not chat with the guy or gal that is right in front or behind you most of that time?

Garmin ForeRunner 201

I just ordered a ForeRunner unit to replace my Polar HRM. It is supposed to arrive tomorrow, and I am all excited. I always thought that GPS is the way to go for cycling, because it doesn’t require modifications to the bike, is more precise, and it gives you a better indication of location.

For a while I was toying with the idea of using my Zaurus SL-5500 as a bike computer. I have a GPS receiver, and it would have been great to write the software that goes with it. It would indeed have been quite easy to do, since the connectivity with the GPS unit is a problem already solved and there is no problem with decyphering the output.

Some time later is was clear that the battery life of the Zaurus is just not good enough for the application. I get maybe a continuous five hours from the Zaurus on a good day, and I tend to spend more than that time when I am on my bike.

Now I will have to find a way to integrate the new data with my training software. That shouldn’t be much of a problem. Additionally, it would be great if I could generate real maps given satellite pictures!

Alpine Loop (via Mt. Tam)

Again, another ride that is worth doing. Especially under the circumstances.

I was riding out around 10a on Memorial Day. A very warm and nice day, with a lot of people around. A nasty and annoying guy had placed himself right in front of me, and resisted all attempts to pass him in the crowd by either pushing me to the side or accelerating to get in front of me and then falling behind because he had lost all energy.

All of a sudden another guy comes up and passes, and this is the last straw. The fat guy races after him, passes him just in time for the other guy to turn left onto Mill Valley road. Of course fatso’s totally out of breath, and I easily outpace him.

In Mill Valley, I turn into Camino Alto. At some point towards the middle of the road, the fast guy hits me and follows me. We follow each other down the hill, then into Corte Madera and finally onto the Sir Francis Drake Blvs bike route.

We get to Fairfax, and he is checking me out. He must think I have something interesting in mind. He has been in front of me for a while, when I turn left onto Bolinas Road. He makes a strange gesture while he goes straight, and I wave good-bye.

There you are, I am not far on Bolinas, when he comes up behind me. I push harder, he pushes harder, and we start chatting about the day, the ride. He usually follows the PRE route and returns on the other side of the mountains. It’s his day off, after a century the day before.

He continues along those lines, telling me how much his leg hurts. We go up, climb down to the reservoir. Then I stop and eat a bar, and we decide to go up. He outpaces me easily on the way to the top of the hill. I tell him to turn left, not to go down to Bolinas.

The road to Mt. Tam is a little too much for him, and he has a convenient call from his real estate agent right when the nicest climb is waiting to chew him out. I go forward, wait for him at the intersection that turns left to the mountain. He joins me and we go down jointly to Mill Valley.

We will stop in Sausalito for a snack, then cross the bridge. Riding with JC was a lot of fun, and I think if I continue riding in the North Bay, I could actually make friends. In the South Bay, it felt completely impossible.

Point Reyes Express Try 1

So it was time to try it out. Point Reyes Express is the North Bay equivalent of the Spectrum ride, and I just felt I had to try it out.

The route is fairly simple, but much harder than Spectrum. Basically you can join either from the city (leaving at about 8:00a from the bridge) or in San Anselmo at the Coffee Roasters. The group is much more friendly than at Spectrum, but the guys are better equipped for the much longer and much tougher ride.

Of course I started chatting with someone. This time it was George, a really excellent rider who introduced me to the concept of PRE. We biked next to each other, and we were both in a slow mode.

As we got to San Anselmo, I was surprised at the bikers and bikes I got to see. No club affiliation (unlike the cliqueish groups at Spectrum), just banter and chatter and people telling each other about their Giro experience.

We left in a slow pace, out of town on side roads, trying to avoid as much as possible the traffic on Sir Francis Drake Blvd. Then we got to the first grade, and the pack started churning out the winners.

I made it to the top with the pack. We split into three groups, and I managed to join the second group, which then managed in turn to reach the first group, and we all turned into Nicasio Valley Road as a single entity. As I saw an infinite hill looming, I decided to step down and return. After all, I had no idea of how to pace myself, and I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t be in anyone’s way when I crashed and burned.

Today I’ll try it again!