AIDS Lifecycle - Ride to end AIDS

   facebook   twitter   YouTube

Welcome to My AIDS/LifeCycle Homepage

Calaveras Reservoir 4-17-12
Calaveras Reservoir 4-17-12

Donate to support Robert!

We're on our way

88 percent of goal achieved.

Goal: $7,500.00
Achieved: $6,625.00

Once again, I'm Riding to End AIDS

From June 3-9, 2012, for the thirteenth time since my first ride in 1999, I'll be riding my bicycle from San Francisco to Los Angeles to make a world of difference in the lives of people living with HIV and AIDS.

Help me support AIDS/LifeCycle by giving what you can, some may consider the number 13 to be unlucky, but with your help ALC 11 can be my "lucky 13."

It never fails to amaze me that I can manage to ride a bike 545 miles in the course of a week, up and over some very challenging hills, with headwinds, tailwinds, crosswinds (and sometimes even no wind at all. But that's pretty rare). Yet I keep doing it because I must. HIV continues to take a toll in San Francisco, in California, throughout the nation and around the world. The money our ride raises supports services for those living with HIV. It also helps run programs designed to prevent new infections. The cause is worthwhile and I'm ready to do my part.

As of November 1, 2011, the Stop AIDS Project became a program of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. The Stop AIDS Project has been in existence since 1984. With this change the Foundation has one more opportunity to directly fund prevention services.

We'll keep riding until AIDS and HIV are a thing of the past.

My Personal Web Log


ALC 11 Recap--Day Three
You know I'd swear I had already posted this but it doesn't seem to be here.
I think Mother Nature used Day Three (and subsequent days) to atone for what she did to us on Day Two. We were greeted with crystal clear skies and a refreshing breeze. In fact, to the extent that there was any strong wind, it served to push us UP Quadbuster.
Because of Monday's mess, I was in a similar position to many folks. I had not parked my bike the night before so I didn't know where it might be. As bikes arrived, they were scanned; so was the row they were placed in. At breakfast there were directories circulating showing where each bike was supposed to be. It seemed like it wouldn't be a problem; I'd somehow ended up in Row 3, one of the Positive Pedaler rows (however did they know; I was not riding with a flag this year). After the usual dawdling I showed up at bike parking knowing it would take a bit of time since I would need to pump up my tires and probably clean things up a bit. That's where the problem started. There wasn't a Row 3. I began questioning the bike parking folks. They would turn pale. "Oh. THAT row. Wait here." I'm still not sure what happened; there was some discussion later in the week about Positive Pedalers not parking their bikes in the Pos Peds section; bike parking not wanting to reserve unneeded rows. I don't know if that was the issue or not. Eventually my bike was located in Row 36. I was the one who found it. Yeah, it was kind of dirty. I went over to the bike techs. I got some of the crud off (most of it wound up on my hands; it took four days to get all of the gunk off of my thumb). I got my tires inflated and headed out at about 8 a.m. Fortunately Day Three is a fairly short one.
I've never been a fan of Quadbuster; I really envy the guys who climb it, turn around, climb it again, turn around and climb it again, urging on the other riders. I have enough energy to climb each hill once per day. And Quadbuster has always been a tough one for me. Not far from the top, trundling along at 3 miles per hour, I began to consider getting off and walking. At that point I thought about all of the people not lucky enough to be able to ride, all of the friends I'd lost. They kept me going to the top. It was not a day to spend time up there; a military operation was taking place and we'd been told to keep going. I snapped a couple of pictures and went on my way.
I got my chain cleaned and re-lubed at Rest Stop 2. A mile or so beyond I began chatting with a fellow by the name of Josh. We ran into each other repeatedly over the next few days but somehow I never did manage to get his contact info. Anyway, we had fun talking. I told him what was ahead of him on Day Three, which was nothing but fun. There is fun at Rest Stop 3 (which is before lunch, rather than after it). Pleyto Country Store is a favorite place of mine. I always get some ice cream and usually a Dr Pepper. I exercised restraint (ice cream only). There's another brief climb after Rest Stop 3, which is followed by a nice downhill. After meandering through vineyards and miscellaneous other farmlands we reach Highway 101. This is our first stretch of freeway riding and has usually been unpleasant. Fortunately this year things were better; the shoulder had been repaved and, apart from the first few feet, the horrible bumps and cracks were gone. We stay on 101 only briefly here because the first exit is the town of Bradley where we are always welcomed warmly. Bradley has a barbeque for us; they sell souvenirs. The money they raise helps fund some of their school programs (ALC is about ten times the size of the town). This year we improved their covers by well over $10,000. And the double cheeseburger is so much more fun than the official ALC lunch. I met up with my friend Andrew who was riding with Cyclist Rep Russ Mendevil's cousin Tommy and a couple of other guys, including a very attractive young man named Ryan who a) works with a friend of mine, b) had previously dated another first-time rider I'm familiar with and c) likes to take his shirt off. We were joined by Edna. There were pictures. It was fun. We all got going. I waited while they caught up with me just before we returned to Highway 101. Once again we are on freeway only briefly before exiting at San Miguel for the always-fun Rest Stop 4. Not long after we left the freeway there was a very loud noise. Someone (Tommy I believe) had gotten a flat. I turned around to ride back and discovered just how much of a tailwind we'd been benefiting from. The tire got fixed and we were on our way once again.
The theme at Rest Stop 4 this day was "Best Little FOUR House in Texas." (Get it?) Rest Stop Four on Day Three is at Mission San Miguel Arcangel; originally constructed by the Spanish. It was very badly damaged by the 2003 earthquake. Once again, ALCers chip in by collecting money to help pay for repairs. I was only in the chapel once, on my first ride. It's very, very pretty. I don't normally give money to the Catholic Church but I make an exception here. The friars are so welcoming, particularly given the raciness of what invariably happens in their courtyard. I understand we gave them some $6,000 this year.
The final stretch to camp is on back roads and is usually pretty quick. I made it to camp not particularly early. And in Paso Robles I'm a princess. I had time for a quick dip in the jacuzzi; then it was time to walk back to camp. Andrew and I barely made it back in time for the Training Ride Leader photo.
Day Three is the day when Positive Pedalers are recognized. The keynote speaker was Kari Samuels' mom, Susan, who is both positive and a cancer survivor. She's simultaneously an amazing woman and a typical Jewish mother from Philly. In fact she reminds me of nothing so much as a twenty-year younger version of my own mom.
Also on Day Three Positive Pedalers recognizes someone by giving them the "Stand Up" Award. I received this one a few years ago. This year's recipient was David Duncan who has given so much to Positive Pedalers over the years and to the ALC community...not just on the ride in San Francisco but in Portland as well. It was announced that the award would, in the future, be named for him. He absolutely deserves this honor.
Once the award ceremony was over it was time to head back to the motel, to sleep in a real bed.

by Robert Katz on Thu, Jun 21, 2012 @ 11:21 AM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

ALC 11 Recap--Day Two
Monday morning's weather was cloudy yet balmy. In fact there was a bit of humidity distinct from the fog we're used to early in the day.
I checked the weather map on my phone before packing up. "It's not gonna rain down here" says I. And packed left the raingear in my bag. This turned out to be a big mistake.
Getting out of Santa Cruz is always somewhat of a challenge. We had been warned last year that we needed to follow the rules very strictly. Even with a slight change to the route out of town the result was a massive backup and slow going. This year we were promised that things would be different and we'd be routed out of town in another way, adding a couple of miles to the day but keeping the backups to a minimum. The change was certainly for the better. I'm not sure it actually got us out any earlier but it was certainly less frustrating. The route opened fifteen minutes earlier and even I managed to leave about half an hour earlier than I had on ALC 10.
The gloom continued; Rest Stop One was not foggy but the sky was definitely gray. We all knew that there was a change in weather coming. We could not have anticipated how that would play out.
No sooner had I left RS 1 than I began to feel just a slight sprinkle. I didn't think it was any big deal. A large semi pulling out of a blind intersection right in front of me didn't make me feel secure but it was just one of those things. We continued on in our usual manner, riding through farmlands, some of them bounded by bumpy, dirt-filled roads, heading in the general direction of Watsonville and Castroville beyond with thoughts of deep-fried artichokes egging us on.
As things progressed the rain became more noticeable. At one intersection we were warned to slow down; a couple of riders had skidded off the road in the mud. I kept telling myself that the rain would stop any moment. It did not. The temperature dropped; the wind picked up. At least I didn't arrive at the artichoke stop so late as to have to pass it by, which happened last year. There was the usual line. There was an added feature as well: some folks sported impromptu raingear fashioned from trash bags. These were being handed out by the folks at Pezzini Farms. The rain was heavy enough that everyone sought out space under cover to eat. I was shivering. I nabbed a trash bag from the good folks at the store. One of them suggested a cup of hot tea. I'm not generally a tea-drinker but it did sound like a good idea. David Duncan, in his role as a ride staff person, showed up and let us know that the caboose was not far behind us and that we should try to make it to Rest Stop 2 if we possibly could. Despite my continued shivering I decided to go for it. Immediately beyond the artichoke stop is a right turn which some folks miss each year. There is moto crew stationed there to let people know. I took one look at them, checked in with myself, and decided I'd had enough. I probably ought to have stayed where I was and been swept from there but I didn't want to turn around so I waited with moto for a sweep to arrive that had room for an additional bike and rider. That moto guys let me use their motors to stay warm. After about fifteen minutes I was rescued by Brendan Rome and his "Project Runway" van.
A couple of miles down the road several sweep vans had pulled over, as they all tried to figure out how they could accommodate the large group of riders who were stopped. A safety vehicle also pulled up and was immediately mired in the mud; we could see the front wheels spinning. Finally everyone got sorted out and we rode to Rest Stop Two, all of us wrapped in mylar blankets.
Upon arriving at Rest Stop Two we were informed that the route was being closed ahead of us. The typical drill would have been to drop off our bikes and wait for the SAG bus but there were so many people to be picked up that riders were being loaded into the backs of trucks. As I was about to climb into one the word went out that a nearby church was making itself available to us. We all trooped down the street a couple of blocks and were greeted with central heating and indoor plumbing!
There was a bit of indecision as to who ought to be bused on first--those who were feeling the most chilled or those who had warmed up. I think that in the end the decision was that those least in need of medical attention should be the first to head out. I wound up on the second bus; apparently I missed out on pizza. Sue Walia was our SAG bus captain. She greeted everyone with new mylar blankets and took our lunch orders (veggie or non-veggie; water or gatorade). The scene at lunch was amazing. There were several hundred bikes in the bike parking area but virtually all of the riders had been sent across the street to a community college student union. We picked up our lunches and headed for Highway 101. What was kind of amusing was that there seemed to be little, if any, rain much south of Salinas. Not a few of us were kicking ourselves for not having gotten going earlier, particularly when we began to see riders on the freeway on the final stretch from Greenfield to King City. They all looked dry and in fact the folks at the front were able to enjoy skinny-dipping, at the one-lane bridge, in mild weather. Most of the others who finished got rained and/or hailed on and had been buffeted by high winds.
The luck of the draw meant that I arrived at camp relatively early, perhaps 3:45 or so. Needless to say Gabe was already there. The tent was set up and our gear bags were inside to keep it from blowing away. It still nearly did.
All told only 800 riders out of 2,200 managed to finish Day Two. The rest were bused in from Rest Stop 3, Lunch, or Rest Stop 2. The last bus pulled in at about 8:30; the final load of bikes arrived at around 1 a.m. It wasn't a ride; it was an experience.

by Robert Katz on Wed, Jun 20, 2012 @ 12:03 PM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

ALC 11 Recap--Day One
Mark Botello got to stay with John and me over Friday and Saturday nights. Ken and Will picked us up promptly at 5 a.m. and we were whisked to the Cow Palace. I'd originally asked to be part of Opening Ceremonies but the need to be there by 5 made me change my mind since Ken and Will were already driving down from Sebastopol. I've been part of Opening Ceremonies before; maybe I'll do it again. It really is more important for first-timers to have an opportunity.
Things were a bit on the gray side when we arrived and when we rode out. My pictures indicate that the sky was still gray as late as 7:30. But by the time we reached Rest Stop 1, in Hillsborough, it was bright and sunny and things stayed that way for the remainder of the day. Breaking with tradition slightly I stopped for a bit at the top of Highway 92 to take some pictures and say hello to some friends before heading down the slightly scary descent to Half Moon Bay.
Once on Highway One we stayed there all day, except for the last couple of miles into camp. In contrast to last year it was a breezy and mild day, so much so that some of us took our lunches to the edge of the bluff overlooking San Gregorio State Beach. The only drawback was that there were tons of little critters in the grass (they were kind of annoying). The ride from lunch to camp is always fun (well, with the exception of last year when the bad weather gave us a headwind). The tailwind amped my maximum speed up to 48.6 mph. Despite the boost I was feeling a bit tired and weak; I made a couple of unauthorized stops just to regain my energy. The result was that I didn't arrive in Santa Cruz until after 5 p.m. That seemed to be the story of the week for me; never getting in as early as I'd have liked. Ah well, it's too late to do anything about it and I really need to work on not dawdling so much next year.
I had not really met my tentmate, other than very briefly at Orientation, until I arrived in Santa Cruz, though I certainly knew who he was. Gabe turned out to be a terrific guy. He always managed to get in before me, get to bed before me, be ready to leave before me, and yet he stuck around to help strike the tent every morning...even on Monday morning.
We'd been warned about a "slight" possibility of a shower overnight or early the next day but I think most of us were looking forward to a long but fund Day Two... (famous last words)

by Robert Katz on Wed, Jun 20, 2012 @ 11:35 AM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

ALC 11 Recap--Orientation
Now that I've gotten the statistics and photo links out of my system I can concentrate on a rundown of the actual ride (before I forget what happened).
Orientation is the process we all must get through before we can ride. It takes a few hours the day before. But before Orientation there are less formal events. Friday night included at least two, but I only attended one--the Positive Pedalers pasta-feed. There was also a rowdier event hosted by Team Popular at the Outlook on Market Street. I witnessed some of the fallout. (giggle)
On Saturday morning we arrive with out bikes, which go into bike parking. We feel naked without them ("Don't worry baby. I'll be back for you tomorrow morning!") and proceed to wait in our first line--the Safety Video line. We cannot do anything else until we've viewed the Safety Video. But that's okay because you know it's really ALC-time when you're told that you have to watch the whole thing or go outside, get back in line and start over. The Safety Video really IS important, particularly for folks from out of town or who have not done official training rides (and therefore have not heard the official Safety Speech delivered every weekend morning). It only takes one person, breaking one rule or one law, to anger one community, and the entire ride would be in jeopardy.
I got to reconnect with old friends who I hadn't seen since Day Seven of ALC 10. I got to meet new people. Folks get to show off their clever ALC haircuts. I was seated next to a guy who had "SF==>LA" sculpted along the back of his head.
I also received a certain amount of buzz for having been included in an article in the current issue of Instinct Magazine.
After the Safety Video's over we receive our orange bracelets proving we've seen it and proceed to check in. I was lucky. When I got to the check-in line it was only about 15 minutes long. It got longer during the day, reaching a crescendo at about 1 p.m. I'm not sure what the wait time was at that point but it must have been close to an hour.
We pick up incentives that we've earned, buy some swag from the Camp Store, put our numbers on our bikes and head for home/home-away-from-home to finish packing, grab dinner and get to bed early.

by Robert Katz on Wed, Jun 20, 2012 @ 9:33 AM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

ALC 11 Recap--The Summary
ALC 11 is history. It took me a while to get things together but I'm finished now, though not every day's photos have yet been posted to Facebook (they ARE all on Flickr).
To give a quick rundown, this was a good ride, though the weather problems of Day Two kept me from riding every mile. While the Day Two weather was bad; things were the opposite on all of the other days.
Here's a summary of stats by day along with links to the corresponding photo sets. I'll try and do day-by-day synopses in separate posts.
Photos from the Friday night Positive Pedalers pasta feed are at:
Photos from Orientation are at:
Day One
Ride Time: 5:47:49
Mileage: 84.92
Average speed: 14.6 mph
Maximum speed: 48.6 mph
Day One photos:
Day Two
Ride Time: 2:45:54
Mileage: 35.10
Average speed: 12.6 mph
Maximum speed: 29.4 mph
Day Two photos:
Day Three
Ride Time: 4:15:14
Mileage: 66.53
Average speed: 15.6 mph
Maximum speed: 36.4 mph
Day Three photos:
Day Four
Ride Time: 6:18:08
Mileage: 97.55
Average speed: 15.4 mph
Maximum speed: 42.3 mph
Day Four photos:
Day Five
Ride Time: 3:14:00
Mileage: 42.8
Average speed: 13.2 mph
Maximum speed: 40.6 mph
Day Five photos:
Day Six
Ride Time: 5:50:14
Mileage: 86.77
Average speed: 14.8 mph
Maximum speed: 38.8 mph
Day Six photos:
Day Seven
Ride Time: 4:24:54
Mileage: 62.20
Average speed: 14.0 mph
Maximum speed: 37.4 mph
Day Seven photos:
Photos from Bike Retrieval (Monday and Tuesday combined):

by Robert Katz on Tue, Jun 19, 2012 @ 4:06 PM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

The Grand Finale: The Jon Pon Two-Day Ride
Last weekend I conclude my training for ALC 11 with the Jon Pon Two-Day Ride. Unlike the three-day ride for Positive Pedalers two weeks earlier this one was more like a typical couple of days of riding, complete with rest stops and sleeping in a tent overnight.
There were other differences as well:
We met at 6 a.m for a 7 a.m. ride-out.
There were no horrible headwinds.
We rode long distances back-to-back.
Also for the first time I was NOT a training ride leader on this ride, meaning that I wasn't one of the last people to arrive in Duncans Mills.
The weather in Sausalito was crystal clear early Saturday morning. Our total compliment included about 150 riders plus four moto, rest stop crew, sweeps and a gear truck. We stopped in Fairfax, in Nicasio and at the Cheese Factory. Instead of torturing ourselves with Wilson Hill we continued from the Cheese Factory up and over Red Hill all the way down to Petuluma where we had lunch in Lucchesi Park (the only downside: about 1/4 mile of dirt path to and from lunch. I don't like riding on dirt.)
After lunch we retraced our route to downtown, then turned right and headed for Bodega Avenue which becomes Valley Ford Road, so there were no turns for about 15 miles. While we couldn't avoid headwinds entirely the wind was nothing like what it had been a couple of weeks ago. After a fuel stop in Valley Ford and another at the Wild Flour Bakery the final stretch included the climb to Occidental and the downhill towards the Russian River.
Rather than turning east to Guerneville we turned west in Monte Rio and followed the river to Casini Ranch in Duncans Mills. I got in at about 4 p.m. which was a nice change. I had not found a tentmate prior to the ride but as I was looking for my gear, one of the guys who's done the CAT 2 rides mentioned that he didn't have a tentmate either so it all worked out.
There were snacks waiting for us before dinner. And then there was a delicious dinner, served by several volunteer Pos Peds and prepared ably (as in the past) by Carol Hyman.
After announcements, including some "what we could do better" and "how training ride leaders always lie" discussions, there was some socializing but everyone was pretty much in the sack by about 8:30.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 5:23:18
Mileage: 75.49
Average speed: 13.9 mph
Maximum speed: 34.4 mph
Photos for Day 1 are at:
Sunday morning was just as glorious as Saturday had been. It seemed to me as though we headed out more quickly than we had in prior years but maybe it's just my imagination.
Our route took us out River Road to Highway One, then through Sonoma State Beach and into Bodega Bay. Our roadies provided us snacks at a casual rest stop there and we continued on along Highway One, passing through Valley Ford and then turning right and continuing all the way to Point Reyes Station. Of course there HAD to be a stop in Tomales for baked goods and (for me) limeade. Along with some of my friends there was once again an unofficial stop at the Marshall Store for oysters and then the official lunch stop in Point Reyes Station. Once we were there we intersected with the Sunday CAT 2 ride which had done Marshall Wall.
As we had the other week we doubled back and rode through Samuel P. Taylor Park to Lagunitas. This time there was only a brief stop there (long enough to encounter the CAT 2 ride as well as some renegade riders). Several of us decided to stop in Fairfax, not at the Coffee Roastery or at Scoops but at the burger place on Sir Francis Drake Blvd for milk shakes (or malteds). There's nothing like a milk shake to perk you up. I'd started to flag a bit and the milk shake definitely helped, though unfortunately the boost didn't last long enough to carry me to the top of Camino Alto, which seemed like a bit of a slog. Then again, riding with several guys, all of whom were somewhat to considerably younger than me, probably didn't help. Still I finished and had a great time. I did, I must confess, feel kind of like a trainwreck the following day.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 5:19:03
Mileage: 75.87
Average speed: 14.2 mph
Maximum speed: 40.0 mph
Photos are at:
And that's that. My total training consisted of 1815 miles (more or less) over 148 hours of riding. I definitely feel like I'm slowing down a bit and I always worry that I'll struggle on ride. But the energy of 2,000 other riders is bound to help me out.
No riding for me from now until Day One. I brought my bike in to have the bar tape replaced and the drive train cleaned and everything's good to go for next Sunday.

by Robert Katz on Sun, May 27, 2012 @ 10:59 AM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

A three-loop ride in Marin
As of now I have only one more weekend of training left: the upcoming Jonathan Pon Two-Day Ride to Duncan's Mill and back. Last weekend I added 84 miles to my total of training miles on what was really a rather pleasant day.
Julie Brown had requested training ride leader help for her ride from Mike's Bikes, and since it meant avoiding the Golden Gate Bridge I decided to sacrifice ten miles of training for a good deal of stress reduction. Otherwise I'd have been on Andrew Sweeney's Petaluma Ride out of the city; I asked Andrew for permission first.
Julie described the ride as including "every loop in Marin" and I suppose that's a pretty good way of putting it. We began with some morning chill (another good reason to have avoided the bridge, which was completely socked in when I drove over to Marin) but things soon warmed up nicely. The first loop consisted of a slight variation on the reverse Tiburon Loop; instead of heading directly to Tiburon Blvd we cut off the Sausalito Bike Path at the midway point, cut across the marshes and into the Strawberry neighborhood before picking up the remainder of the route into Tiburon. Since it was relatively early we didn't stop but continued along Paradise Drive and back to the foot of Camino Alto Hill, where we turned north. Our first stop was at Woodland Market on the Larkspur/Ross boundary.
The second loop was China Camp State Park; this one also included a stop, at Andy's Market in San Rafael. I picked up a sandwich to eat later on. The next step was to climb Lucas Valley Road to Big Rock. Our third stop was at Big Rock Deli; they're nice folks there but their service can be a bit sluggish so it made sense to have purchased my sandwich elsewhere. I did give them some business by getting chips and a drink so I wouldn't feel too guilty. Last time I had climbed Lucas Valley Road there was a godawful headwind. That wasn't the case this time. It was quite pleasant. I stopped and took pictures at the top before continuing on down the other side to Nicasio Valley Road for loop number three around Nicasio Reservoir. Our final stop was on the far end, in Lagunitas. Finally we rode back up and over White's Hill; there was no official stop in Fairfax but I did come to a momentary halt so I could say hello to some of the Petaluma ride folks who'd been chowing down on ice cream. Weather turned chilly on the final few miles up and over Camino Alto, once again making me quite happy I had NOT ridden across the Golden Gate Bridge.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 6:19:09
Mileage: 84.03
Average speed: 13.2 mph
Maximum speed: 36.6 mph (there was heavy traffic descending White's Hill)
Photos, including a brief video of a vintage hand-cranked phonograph at Lagunitas, are on Facebook and at:
As of this writing it's only (eeeeeek!) 18 days until Day One!

by Robert Katz on Wed, May 16, 2012 @ 10:39 AM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

The Positive Pedalers Three Day Ride
This is probably the high point of my training season...three days in a row of riding. We start out by riding from Sausalito to Guerneville on Friday, do a quick ride to Healdsburg and back to Guerneville on Saturday, and return to Sausalito on Sunday. There are always surprises (occasionally not good ones, such as a couple of years back when the final leg got rained on). In between there is plenty of time to relax and socialize, to meet new members and to reconnect with old friends I haven't seen for a bit.
Friday's ride got off to a rousing start. This year we had an especially large compliment of riders and non-riders from Southern California. Some were new to me while others are veterans who I know quite well. The only fly in Friday's ointment (and it could have been worse; Thursday saw some rain) was the unremitting headwinds, even in places we don't normally experience them. As for the places we generally see them, they were certainly there, only a bit worse than usual, or so it seemed. On the other hand it wasn't cold so even while lunching in the wind in Valley Ford it was sunny and reasonably comfortable. And once we turned inland the wind went away and it warmed up appreciably. Either because of the wind, or because we left a bit later than usual, or because I dawdled more than I normally do, or because I'm getting older or...just because...I didn't arrive in Guerneville until about 5 p.m. There was just about enough time to get showered and changed before dinner. From Friday night onward, the weather was about as nice as anyone could possible expect or demand.
All of our meals were catered this year so we didn't have to leave the comfort of The Woods Resort in order to eat, even for breakfast. Although Sunday's breakfast was next door at what used to be known as the Russian River Resort and is now called "R3" we all trooped over and were fed well. Everything else was on-site other than Saturday's lunch which, for those who chose the optional second-day ride, took place at the Oakville Grocery in downtown Healdsburg. A few guys did something we haven't attempted in a number of years--getting to Healdsburg by way of Sweetwater Road (north of Guerneville). This involves a rather laborious climb followed by a steep downhill on a poorly paved road that is shaded in such a way as to make tough to see what lies ahead. I really don't know why those guys did that; I did it once some years ago and had absolutely no inclination to repeat it. Riding River Road and West Side Road all the way to Healdsburg seems perfectly fine to me.
Some high points of the weekend: my friend Mike owns a home in Guernewood Park, just a few minutes west of Guerneville. I'd never seen his place before and, in fact, I'd never been on any of the side roads along the way there. He joined us for dinner on Saturday night and provided a tour for me and for his part-time city roommate Chuck.
On Sunday I spent most of the day riding with Gabo Rocha and Tomas Kocon. We decided to stop at the Marshall Store along Bodega Bay for oysters...half a dozen raw, half a dozen grilled. Absolute deliciousness! And then we stopped to eat again in Point Reyes Station. At two points we decided to deviate from the normal return route. After leaving Lagunitas we turned off of Sir Francis Drake Blvd and traveled on San Geronimo Road, which parallels Sir Francis Drake before returning to the main road east of Woodacre. On the final stretch, the three of us climbed Chatham Road, a side road starting in Corte Madera that runs up the same hill as Camino Alto but is narrow, winding, and lightly traveled (to be honest I'm not quite sure why we did it; it didn't save any time and seemed a bit tougher than the normal way but...whatever, it was an interesting change of pace). Both Gabo and Tomas are a bit faster riders than I am; keeping up with them proved to be a, let's just say I was absolutely wiped out by the time I got home. Maybe I'm just getting old. And to be honest increasing my weekend mileage from 108 to 180 was perhaps not the wisest thing I could have done, but there were all sorts of reasons and excuses for not doing more serious back to back riding this year.
I have not yet uploaded any pictures to Facebook and only the first day's photos are on Flickr thus far but they will appear. So I'll add the links later on.
Weekend totals:
Ride time: 5:36:18
Mileage: 73.54
Average speed: 13.1 mph
Maximum speed: 37.5 mph
Ride time: 2:20:50
Mileage: 36.31
Average speed: 15.4 mph
Maximum speed: 29.2 mph
Ride time: 4:56:52
Mileage: 73.14
Average speed: 14.7 mph
Maximum speed: 41.0 mph
Day One photos on Flickr at:
Day Two photos on Flickr at:
Day Three photos on Flickr at:
And they're now all on Facebook.

by Robert Katz on Mon, May 07, 2012 @ 3:28 PM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

An easy Sunday ride
I am truly behind in my training efforts. By this point I've typically done several weekends of back-to-back riding but thus far this year there's been only one...and that barely counted.
So once again I headed south, this time to Stafford Park in Redwood City, where Terri Meier has thoughtfully created a series of mellow "recovery rides" for people who are going long on Saturdays. Once again the weather was warm and beautiful. And the starting time was so reasonable that I accidentally showed up 30 minutes early.
There was, in truth, just a wee bit of climbing to start us off--northbound on Alameda de las Pulgas. In fact it was getting to be annoying. Once again we were retracing one of Chris Thomas's routes. This time however the climbing came to an end very quickly once we reached Belmont, where we turned eastward and headed down Ralston Avenue, crossing Highway 101. From here on it was mainly bayside bike paths, almost all in Foster City. Hardly an uphill in sight!
It's really nice finishing a ride at noon. And to make it even sweeter, an ice cream truck showed up shortly after we finished. There's nothing better than following a ride on a warm day with ice cream! And I got two decent rides in on the same weekend, AND totaled 108 miles for the weekend. Which is a good thing, since next weekend I'm ramping up to 180 miles!

Today's totals:
Ride time: 1:57:29
Mileage: 26.53
Average speed: 13.5 mph
Maximum speed: 27.5 mph
Photos are again on Facebook and at:

by Robert Katz on Tue, May 01, 2012 @ 10:51 AM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

Saturday South Bay Blaze--Calaveras
With the demolition of Doyle Drive progressing (and given my increasing distaste for biking across the Golden Gate Bridge) I decided to go south this weekend...on Saturday AND on Sunday.
Unlike last weekend it was warm but not excessive. Temperatures mid-day were near 80 degrees and there wasn't excessive wind. It was a nice and refreshing change of pace.
Saturday's ride was the finale in Jamie Pereira's South Bay Blaze series which is based in Sunnyvale. I'd ridden from this location before (Mary Avenue and Fremont Avenue) but it's been a couple of years). Getting there was certainly easy and took but a few minutes more than getting to Mountain View. Nice group of people too. Some I knew from Chris Thomas's rides, others I knew from ...well...from forever, and some were folks I hadn't met before.
The day's route took us directly up Foothill Expressway, through the Stanford campus and right down University Avenue (where we had our first stop). University continues to Highway 84, and crosses the bay on the Dumbarton Bridge. Rather than turning left as we'd done last Saturday, we turned right on Thornton Avenue but we still ended up on Alvarado-Niles Road. Again continuing straight on, we were on Niles Canyon Road, which is a fun stretch even though there's limited shoulder and heavy traffic. Our lunch stop was in Sunol.
After lunch we headed briefly northbound before doubling back and returning to Sunol again (I think this was done simply to add a few miles). We rode north on one side of the railroad tracks, and south on the other side. Or something. Anyway, a left turn took us onward to Calaveras Road for a 2.8 mile climb with a grade of perhaps 5%. I'd done this same climb three weeks earlier on one of the CAT 3 rides; it's amazing how much easier it seemed today given that we hadn't previously climbed two other hills. I took my time and shot some pictures at the top.
I already knew that, upon reaching the summit there is a seven-mile stretch of rollers--nothing to taxing, but lots of hairpin turns. I spent most of this portion of the ride (and in fact most of the rest of the ride) with Eric Hubbs and Radfield Justice, neither of whom had been up this way previously. They kept waiting for the downhill to begin. I knew when it was coming; they didn't. I probably had more fun than they did.
Anyway, the downhill DID indeed appear. The first part is a bit on the steep side; the rest is just plain fun. We continued down into Milpitas for our final stop of the day, and then directly back to Sunnyvale.
Totals for the day:
Ride time: 5:29:17
Mileage: 81.16
Average speed: 14.7 mph
Maximum speed: 32.0 mph
Photos are on Facebook and at

by Robert Katz on Tue, May 01, 2012 @ 10:43 AM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

Day on the Ride
For Day on the Ride, I was NOT riding (I don't think I could have managed it after Saturday's ordeal). Julie Brown asked me to be one of the official photographers for the event. I had a great time.
I started the day by picking up first-time rider Ramesh in the Castro, then driving to Mike's Bikes in San Rafael. We got there right about sunrise. There was lots of milling about and socializing. I did a bit of shopping too; I got my first flat tire on the new bike shortly after crossing the Dumbarton Bridge so I had to buy more tubes (just to be on the safe side).
After stretching, route description, speeches by Foundation director Neil Giuliano and ride director Greg Sroda, as well as a welcoming speech from the head of the Marin Bicycle Coalition and a talk on safety from a local CHP officer, we heard the official Safety Speech and were on our way.
The route went west through San Rafael to San Anselmo and then out towards White's Hill and Nicasio Valley Road. I stopped for a bit at the San Rafael/San Anselmo boundary and again near the top of White's Hill before proceeding to the first official rest stop at the Nicasio Valley Cheese Factory, which was staffed by Positive Pedalers and supporters.
Before heading out in the morning I grabbed my floor pump; I figured it might be useful. Sure enough, after leaving the rest stop I came across someone with a flat tire directly opposite Nicasio Reservoir. I help him and his friend out, took a few more pictures, and then headed up and over "Alpe du Fromage" and past the Marin Cheese Factory, turned left on Hicks Valley Road and climbed up Wilson Hill. I ended up getting some very nice pictures of riders as they reached the top (one way or the other). The route continued down the hill, onto Chilleno Valley Road and Western Avenue and then onto Windsor Road to D Street, taking us to our lunch stop at McNear Park.
Instead of heading directly up Red Hill on D Street we used the Marin Century route, climbing I Street, then turning northwest on San Antonio Road before hitting Red Hill Road for the long, gradual climb.
My next stopping point was the intersection of Red Hill Road/Point Reyes-Petaluma Road and Novato Blvd. The turn seemed like an ideal photo location and once again that turned out very nicely.
The final rest stop was at Stafford Park on the outskirts of Novato. More pictures there, then back on the road. A portion of the return route was on bike path along Highway 101. Since there wasn't a side road for me to follow along, I took Highway 101 for a brief spell before returning to the route at Marinwood and then heading back, again tracing the Marin Century route to the back of Northgate Mall and finally along Las Gallinas and Lincoln Avenue, back to Mike's Bikes for a pasta dinner. There were lots and lots and lots of pictures. On Facebook they broke down into six sets; I was able to reduce them to three on Flickr...
Part 1 (up to White's Hill):
Part 2 (Rest Stop One and Wilson Hill):
Part 3 (Lunch to the end):

by Robert Katz on Fri, Apr 27, 2012 @ 4:00 PM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

A very hot century
Last weekend was busy. On Saturday I completed my first century ride of the year; Sunday saw the annual "Day on the Ride" for which I was asked to serve as one of the official photographers.
Saturday was a hot one, particularly in the South Bay where I was riding. I'd done this route at least three times previously; this time it was challenging because of the heat.
The route took us through the Peninsula foothills, then across the Dumbarton Bridge and through the adjacent flatlands to Alvarado-Niles Road, south to Mission Boulevard, into Milpitas and then along the eastern side of San Jose, as far south as Evergreen Valley. We then climbed Silver Creek Road and descended the far side, crossing Highway 101 and Monterey Highway before swinging north along Santa Teresa, west to Los Gatos, and finally back to Mountain View by way of Highway 9, Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road, Prospect and Stelling Avenues, McClellan Avenue, Foothill Expressway and Miramonte/Shoreline Blvd.
Officially the high temperature in San Jose was 91 degrees. All evidence indicated that temperatures at the south end of city were actually considerably higher. One of our riders was using a Garmin that showed an ambient temperature of 101 at our third rest stop (Yerba Buena and San Felipe). We all did what we could to stay cool and hydrated but it was a struggle. When I reached the top of Silver Creek Road, Frank Adair was waiting for one of us to come along. He was very concerned about the heat and his ability to finish the day's ride. We spent the next 25 or so miles riding together. At one point we stopped at a gas station and bought some bottled water (the water in our own water bottles went from half ice to almost too warm to drink rather quickly). We kept our pace down and we both finished but it was definitely an ordeal. I cannot recall the last time I finished a ride at 7 p.m., but that was the reality of the day...11 hours from start to finish.
Stats for the day:
Ride time: 6:58:05
Mileage: 100.42
Average speed: 14.3 mph (not bad, all things considered)
Maximum speed: 42.1 mph
Photos are on Facebook and at:

by Robert Katz on Fri, Apr 27, 2012 @ 3:44 PM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

Back-to-Back Rides, in the City and then to Petaluma
Last weekend I finally got it together to do back-to-back rides for the first time this spring (what took me so long?). Saturday was a quickie, inside the city...from home, downtown along my commute route, past my office then down to the Embarcadero and around the waterfront to the Marina, past Sports Basement, under the bridge, down 25th Avenue and back home with a side-trip to Mikes Bikes to schedule my pre-ride tuneup.
Sunday was another of those mornings on which the pedestrian portion of the Golden Gate Bridge was scheduled for closure for an event. As a result we needed to be on the bridge before 6:30 even though sunrise wasn't until 6:35. We gathered in pitch darkness and headed off as soon as it was light enough to see where we were going. One advantage: things were certainly quiet on the bridge (I stopped and took a couple of pictures of Fort Baker).
The route subsequently took us through Fairfax, up White's Hill and Nicasio Valley Road, to Point Reyes-Petaluma Road, and up "Alpe du Fromage" for our FIRST stop at the Cheese Factory. We then headed for everyone's favorite hill...Wilson Hill. Each climb gets me a better sense of how I'll be able to handle the challenges of the actual ride on my new bike. I can't say it was easy getting up the hill but I definitely managed. I finally found myself at the very front of the group, along with Ramesh. We continued along into downtown Petaluma and our lunch stop at the Apple Box coffee shop.
I'd been getting an indication all morning that at least one of the batteries for my computer was starting to go so, following lunch, I headed off route a couple of blocks to Mike's Bikes in Petaluma to have them change the batteries. Both Beau and Deyon had had to bring their bikes there for various reasons; Beau broke his chain almost immediately upon setting out from Sports Basement while Deyon was riding a temporary wheel that was giving her grief. So I was in good company.
Deyon and I left Mike's and headed directly for D Street. D Street becomes Red Hill Road and (eventually) Point Reyes-Petaluma Road. The only problem is that there is mile after mile of climbing. Fortunately it was a very nice day without excessive wind or warm or cold temperatures. The climb brought us back to the Cheese Factory a second time.
I departed there with Iliana and several others, mainly a group of very young men and women almost all of them first-timers. Back up the hill we went, and onto Nicasio Valley Road once more. After a stop at Rancho Nicasio we headed out together. I looked down at the top of the descent towards Sir Francis Drake Blvd to see I was going about 8 mph. As I approached the bottom I looked down to check my speed again computer was gone! So from this point on I have no record of my mileage, riding time, average or maximum speed or anything else. I did check the stats while the battery was being replaced because I was informed that the swap would wipe out all of my data.
Fine. We stopped in Fairfax again, this time for ice cream. After all there's nothing like ice cream to make everything better. And then on to the final stretch.
As I began my ride down the Sausalito Bike Path I kept hearing an odd noise which I assumed was the sound of one of the tube valves hitting the rim. It turns out I was mistaken. Just as I was passing Mike's Bikes in Sausalito my rear bottle cage fell off, taking with it the frame pump. I got a little scrape on my leg. At that point I figured it was a sign that I should stop riding for the day. Luckily our sweep driver Jen Reese was there (and I mean RIGHT there; she was facing me at the point where I stopped). It's not as though I was thrilled with the thought of riding back across the bridge anyway. So instead of 92 miles I got in 84 or so.
Once I got back to my car I loaded everything up and headed to Mike's on Howard Street. Luckily there was no problem with the screws holding the bottle cage on; just to be on the safe side they reinstalled it using longer screws...and told me I really ought to check things every now and then to make sure they were secure.
Tamara, the store manager, told me she'd just upgraded to a Garmin and had the same computer I'd lost at home. I was able to stop in on Tuesday to pick it up. So while there were losses and inconveniences, at least I didn't have the expense of buying a new computer.
Totals for Saturday and part of Sunday:
Ride time: 1:22:43
Mileage: 16.64
Average speed: 12.0 mph
Maximum speed: 26.9 mph
Sunday as far as Petaluma:
Ride time: 3:29:25
Mileage: 46.47
Average speed: 13.9 mph
Maximum speed: 32.4 mph
Estimated from there to the end of my ride:
Ride time: 2:48:36
Mileage: 38
Average speed: 13.5 mph
Maximum speed: 40 mph (I was doing a pretty good clip coming down White's Hill)
Photos for both days are on Facebook and at:

by Robert Katz on Fri, Apr 20, 2012 @ 10:01 AM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

Distance Training Ride #7 - Palomares and Calaveras
After a few weeks of dubious weather, last Saturday presented us with perfect riding conditions--mild temperatures and (mostly) no wind.
Because I had to be in Berkeley by 6 p.m. I chose not to be a training ride leader on this 90-mile ride. The ride consisted of a good deal of flat riding with two major climbs in the middle. After departing Mountain View we headed south along Central Expressway and then east to Milpitas. Our first stop was on Mission Blvd, opposite Ohlone College. We continued northbound and turned east on Niles Canyon Road for a couple of miles and then began our first big climb--Palomares Road. I'd ridden this one only once, several years ago. The climb was long but not steep and was followed by a very pleasant downhill; to be honest it felt easier this time than the first time I did it. We headed west to Castro Valley for our lunch stop and then turned around to climb Dublin Grade, a climb not considered worthy of mention (it's really pretty easy). This took us to Pleasanton where we headed south along the lovely Foothill Road, leaving suburbia for some relatively undeveloped areas. I've always liked this stretch of riding. Foothill brought us to the town of Sunol, which is the eastern terminus of the Niles Canyon Railway. I've been to Sunol many times but today's ride marked the first time I was able to see the steam train that runs on weekends. It completely made my day!
After stopping we continued east and then south on Calaveras Road for our second big climb. The route sheet indicated a 2.8 mile climb. It didn't mention that the ascent would be followed by seven miles of rolling hills, some of them fairly challenging though brief.
After the end of the rollers we began a our very intense (20%) descent back to Milpitas. From Milpitas we returned pretty much the way we'd come, though the underpasses we'd ridden in the morning certainly seemed more inclined in the afternoon (and there was a certain amount of headwind as well, though nothing even remotely resembling what had been presented on my recent CAT 2 rides!)
Totals for the day:
Ride time: 6:13:48
Mileage: 90.09
Average speed: 14.4 mph
Maximum speed: 38.1 mph
Photos are on Facebook and at:
In addition there was a photographer sitting on the side of the road at the top of Calaveras shooting pictures of cyclists. The picture he took of me (and fellow rider Ben) turned out quite well and I may just consider purchasing a copy from him. UPDATE, 4/12/12: I DID indeed purchase the photo. It was posted on Facebook to glowing reviews so I've now placed an edited version here on my fundraising page, with apologies to Ben for cutting him out of the picture. It's an extremely flattering picture. And if that raises a bit more money for me, I really have to go with it.

by Robert Katz on Mon, Apr 09, 2012 @ 5:00 PM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

A Late Training Update--CAT 2 Ride #12, Point Reyes Station
Here it is already a week--and one training ride--later and I see I neglected to post an update on last Sunday's ride to Point Reyes Station.
Once again it was chilly and windy so I decided, once again, to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge rather than take my chances on the weather and the afternoon pedestrian traffic. This time I felt as though driving all the way to Mike's Bikes would shave too much off of my route so instead I only went as far as the parking lot on the north end of the bridge (not the Vista Point lot but the one on the opposite side of Highway 101 that the normal bike route passes through.
Things started off somewhat inauspiciously. I hopped on my bike, climbed the little hill to Conzelman Road and began heading down the other side. The moment I hit my brakes my handlebars swung down. I managed to get myself stopped before rolling into oncoming traffic; I didn't realize at first what the problem was so after getting the bars back in the correct position (and unsticking my locked rear wheel) I proceeded onto the Sausalito Lateral. My attempt to stop at the stop sign beyond, before continuing downhill, was unavailing and I soon found myself riding down the hill with no brakes! Fortunately I was able to use the uphill to come to a stop. Lee Hawn and Deyon Jonson were nice enough to come to my assistance. We discovered that the previous Sunday's bike fit had concluded with a couple of the bolts keeping the bar in place had not quite been tightened enough. After fixing the problem (thank goodness for my multi-tool!) I was somewhat warily back underway and the remainder of the day passed with no other mechanical problems.
As had been the case a couple of weeks earlier there was a rather stiff headwind outbound, particularly on the Sausalito Bike Path. Things did improve enough that I was able to make my way into Fairfax and then up and over White's Hill. From there our route continued through Lagunitas and into Samuel P. Taylor Park. Because there had been heavy rain during the previous day and overnight the roads were in somewhat problematic condition. During the course of the day there were no fewer than 25 flat tires among our group as a result. There were a couple of falls, though fortunately nothing serious. After the ride through the park we continued up Olema Hill, up Highway One and into Point Reyes Station, which was our lunch stop.
Shortly after I arrived Kate Hellenga rode in; she and I had met previously on the Headlands Ride where we gushed over our new and virtually identical bikes. While we were eating, a third random ride came along with another one. It was a veritable convention of Wilier Triestinas!
The remainder of the route took us on one of my favorite stretches--Point Reyes-Petaluma Road along the north side of Nicasio Reservoir and then down Nicasio Valley Road. I just love it there!
The remainder of the route was back by way of White's Hill and Fairfax. I felt as though I had earned my way by making myself ride back up the Sausalito Lateral before calling it quits. I missed only seven of the 74 scheduled miles.
Totals for the day:
Ride time: 5:05:23
Mileage: 67.7
Average speed: 13.2 mph
Maximum speed: 37.9 mph
Photos are on Facebook and at:

by Robert Katz on Sat, Apr 07, 2012 @ 11:46 PM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

The Expo Ride, the Expo and a Fundraising Milestone
Last Saturday was a washout. Rainy all day (and even more so at night). The forecast was questionable for Sunday morning but a fair number of us remained optimistic that this year's Expo rides would turn out better than last year. Last year the longer ride was canceled outright because of rain and the shorter one was very short indeed--perhaps five miles--due to road conditions. Oh, and I had a cold and couldn't ride.
No cold for me this time around and though the forecast was dubious and the ground was damp, about thirty of us (half training ride leaders) showed up at the San Francisco County Fair Building promptly at 8 a.m. for the longer of the two scheduled rides.
Our route took us first north to the Presidio, then out to Ocean Beach. We passed the Cliff House and the western end of Golden Gate Park. The Great Highway was closed due to blowing and but we'd been routed to the frontage road in any case. We continued south along Skyline Drive into Daly City, following a portion of the actual Day 1 route but before we got to the interchange with Highway 1 we turned west toward the ocean, into a residential part of Pacifica where, incidentally, virtually none of us actually knew where we were going.
One of our riders disappeared; we had both car sweep and motorcycle crew looking for him unsuccessfully (it turned out he had turned around). The remainder of the route took us to a waterfront area in Pacifica I had no idea even existed. We were greeted by ALC veteran Mel Condos with hugs and banana bread. At one time Mel hosted a potluck and a ride from her home nearby so those of us who'd been around for a while knew (and besides the route was crafted by the notorious Chris Thomas) that we'd be climbing a fairly steep hill--up Sharp Park Road. After some of this year's early climbs it wasn't all that bad.
Before the summit we entered Skyline College (and climbed just a bit more), using the campus as our turn-around point. From there we headed back north making a loop around Lake Merced just to add some miles before returning to Golden Gate Park.
As usual there were exhibits at the Expo. I got a quick--and much needed--bike fit. There were drawings for prizes. As usual I didn't win one of them. The important thing was that we all got to ride, there was no rain (other than the occasional brief sprinkle) and some of the new riders got to learn about life on the road and in camp. And go shopping. Which is important.
And as of today (Tuesday) I have reached just over 50% of my fundraising goal.
Ride stats:
Ride time: 3:15:49
Mileage: 39.45
Average speed: 12.0 mph
Maximum speed: 36.5 mph
Photos are on Facebook and at:

by Robert Katz on Tue, Mar 27, 2012 @ 3:00 PM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

Sunday CAT 2 Ride #11--Lucas Valley
Yet another tough ride. I've done this one before. Not that it's normally easy but Sunday's ride was made more difficult by chilly temperatures and very strong headwinds (25 mph with higher gusts throughout the day). Because of the wind I did not feel comfortable riding across the Golden Gate Bridge so, following the Safety Speech, I got back in the car and drove to Mike's Bikes, picking up the route from there. It lopped 15 miles off but with the wind it felt as though I'd done the entire seventy miles.
We repeated our trip through China Camp State Park of a couple of weeks ago, including the stop at Andy's market. Instead of turning back into San Rafael however, this time we headed north past Northgate Mall to Lucas Valley Road.
Our lunch stop was at Big Rock Deli; siting meant that the deli itself sheltered us from the wind while we were eating but as soon as we got back on our bikes we were into the wind again. Lucas Valley Road is not nearly as tough a climb as was last week's Metcalf Road, but the wind didn't help at all. In addition it rather ruined what is normally a very pleasant downhill, past the entrance to Skywalker Ranch and LucasFilms.
Our route brought us up Nicasio Valley Road just a little bit, to Rancho Nicasio, from whence we turned around and headed south (now assisted by the wind. Hurray!) and back by way of White's Hill and Sir Francis Drake Blvd. I've now descended White's Hill on the new bike without having climbed it. Weird...
Anyway while we didn't hit any serious rain, during our stop in Fairfax there was a brief burst of hail...more amusing than anything else, though I'd not have wanted to be riding in it. The wind was generally favorable the rest of the way back to Sausalito, where I said my goodbyes and got back into the car. While foot and bike traffic was relatively light on the Golden Gate Bridge, some of my friends noted it was quite windy still so I'm glad I made the decision I made.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 4:11:00
Mileage: 55.12 (actually a bit more; there were once again brief and inexplicable computer issues)
Average speed: 13.1 mph
Maximum speed: 37.0 mph
Pictures are on Facebook and at

by Robert Katz on Tue, Mar 20, 2012 @ 3:43 PM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

South Bay Distance Ride #5, Metcalf Road
...or as my friend Bob McDiarmid called it, "Sadism on a Saddle."
This week's ride ramped up to seventy miles. I've done seventy miles before (though not during the current training year) so that shouldn't be a problem, right? Oh wait...this is a Chris Thomas ride we're talking about so there's bound to be a catch of some sort.
Here's the catch: most of the ride was flat, or virtually flat. What wasn't flat however was truly mindboggling.
We set out southbound on Foothill Expressway, turning left at McClellan Road, heading towards Cupertino, Saratoga and Los Gatos. I somewhat foolishly volunteered to sweep the first portion of the route, meaning I (along with co-sweep Wendy McCall) were the last two to ride out.
After our first rest stop we continued out bound on a route we've previously done inbound. This took us to Bernal Plaza in South San Jose where we had our lunch stop.
A tricky maneuver brought us back across Bernal Road to Monterey Highway and where we headed southbound for a bit at the very edge of the developed area of San Jose.
THEN we turned left onto Metcalf Road and climbed. And climbed. And climbed. It was steep and it was grueling. According to the plotted map Chris had helpfully created for us online in advance, at points the incline reached 23%, which is far greater than any climb on ALC. The hill itself was 1.7 miles long. I ALMOST made it all the way. I stopped three times and two of those times I was able to get started again thanks to picking my stopping points strategically (where I could ride across the road to regain momentum). By my third stop I was too tired to be able to hoist myself back on the saddle again so I walked (probably a bit less than a quarter mile). Finally near the summit the incline mellowed out a bit and I was able to start pedaling once again. Chris had promised us some unique scenery and in that respect the climb was worth it. Rolling hills with cattle; views of Mount Hamilton. At the summit there is a park for off-road motorcycling; one of the amenities was a much-needed bathroom.
From the summit we descended into some lovely rural areas (amazing that they exist less than ten miles from downtown San Jose); I took some terrific pictures. There was a second climb which, after the initial torture, was barely noticeable, followed by a good five miles of downhill, taking us back to the Evergreen Valley neighborhood of San Jose. The remainder of the route was once again nearly flat, though by now there were noticeable tailwinds (which had not been mentioned in any of the weather forecasts). Some folks complained about them; personally I found them annoying rather than brutal. We rode up Capitol Avenue to where it turned first into Great Mall Parkway and then into Tasman Drive, onto Great America Parkway and then back to Mountain View by way of Central Expressway. Because of our relatively late start (this was the final ride in the series to ride out at 10 a.m.) I did not finish until about 5:15. But finish I most certainly did.
Totals for the day:
Ride time: 4:53:40
Mileage: 70.03 (I gained about .4 extra miles chasing down a couple of folks who missed a turn)
Average speed: 14.2 mph (not bad considering the big climb)
Maximum speed: 32.4 mph
Photos on Facebook and at

by Robert Katz on Sun, Mar 11, 2012 @ 10:19 PM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

Another Sunday CAT 2 Ride. And some minor bike problems.
So last Sunday was a lovely day. Since I've been alternating between South Bay CAT 3 rides and San Francisco CAT 2 rides it was time to head across the bridge once more. Today's ride was to China Camp State Park, north of San Rafael. I've ridden portions of this route before but, truth be told, only from Julie Brown's house at the very end of the training season. This was the real deal.
I noticed early on (actually I'd begun noticing it last weekend) that I was having difficulty shifting gears. Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge things only got worse--I could not stay on my big chainring unless I pedaled continually. Somewhere in downtown Sausalito I hopped of the bike and took a closer look, to find that the front derailleur cage was sitting on top of my big gear. No wonder it was making such a racket!
Unfortunately it was only a bit after 9 a.m. and Mikes Bikes doesn't open until 10 on Sunday morning. Fortunately some of the sales folks were sitting at the door. One of them nicely inquired if I had a multi-tool (which I did) and, observing that the shifter cable was loose, very quickly corrected the problem. I found out only later that he ought not to have done what he did. I just hope the guy isn't in too much trouble.
From here on out things went very nicely. Once into San Anselmo we turned right towards downtown San Rafael where we picked up San Pedro Road. There are no places to buy food in China Camp State Park so we stopped at Andy's Market, not far from the park entrance. I picked up a half sandwich and a soda. Lunch was at China Camp Village overlooking the water. It was quite lovely. I took lots of pictures.
San Pedro Road continues around the peninsula, then doubles back towards the west, passing in front of the historic Marin Civic Center. Here's where it got a bit more challenging: my previous experiences with China Camp have been 18-mile training season finales. Instead of heading back to Julie Brown's for a potluck we headed back towards the city and then did a full Paradise Loop. Not bad really; I maintained a very nice pace. There was a SECOND lunch stop at Shark's Deli before we returned to Sausalito and the bridge.
Nice days have their downsides--the foot and bike traffic on the bridge was awful. I find it very nerve-wracking to deal with enormous numbers of pedestrians, tourists on bikes going both directions and hot-shot serious riders who ride as though they are the only ones around. I ended up walking part of the bridge. It did slow me down but it also brought my blood pressure down.
I decided I'd stop off at Mikes on Howard Street so they could make sure everything was good on the bike; discovering in the process that I was due for a 90-day checkup on the bike (even though it's not been quite ninety days, the mileage makes it appropriate). My final error for the day was not stopping to write my stats down before loading the bike in the car as I normally do at the end of a ride. As I was unloading at Mike's the bike fell over and my computer erased the day's data. I had a pretty good idea as to my average speed, the distance, and maximum but the stats I entered on my spreadsheet and below are estimates.
By the way, the bike is fine and even more so now that it's gotten an official check-up.
Daily stats:
Ride time: 4:50:46
Mileage: 63
Average speed: 13.0 mph
Maximum speed: 35.4 mph
(all the above being educated guesses of course)
There are some lovely pictures at

by Robert Katz on Thu, Mar 08, 2012 @ 4:16 PM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

Another South Bay Ride and More Fundraising
Last Saturday was the fourth in Chris Thomas' Distance Training series. He promised us that we'd have no more climbing than we'd had two weeks earlier but over an additional ten miles. He was correct there though he did conveniently leave out some minor details.
Unfortunately we rode on Saturday, which was cool and blustery, rather than on Friday which was mild. From Mountain View we headed directly to Foothill Expressway, which becomes Junipero Serra, Santa Cruz Avenue and finally Alameda de las Pulgas. The latter continues as far north as San Mateo, dead-ending at Crystal Springs Road. So the first portion of our ride was relatively flat, with a stop in Redwood City just north of Edgewood Road. Despite the headwind most of us made a pretty good pace.
Immediately after the stop is where it got interesting. Chris had warned us that there would be a climb followed by a downhill with lots of stops. He forgot to mention that there'd be stop signs UP the hill as well. I am not a big fan of stopping while going uphill. And the climb is not gentle either. Once to the top though we meandered along, crossing Highway 92, then turning onto Crystal Springs Road. Here I experienced a bit of nostalgia since the AIDS Ride route used to cover this stretch. Where Crystal Springs Road and Polhemus Road diverge, we continued along Polhemus, which is a bit of a climb though nothing compared to Alameda de las Pulgas. Here is where (as promised) we were riding a portion of the ALC Day 1 route. After crossing Highway 92 again we turned onto the bike path that parallels 92 and continued down to Canada Road where we turned south. I stopped to take some pictures.
Rather than heading directly into Woodside we turned off before Woodside Road, riding a bit of Kings Mountain Road and then riding past the Roberts Market in Woodside. We'd been warned earlier that someone had scattered tacks on Kings Mountain Road. Fortunately I was able to avoid them all; unfortunately some of my fellow-riders were not. Past Roberts Market we turned south on Whiskey Hill Road then west on Sand Hill, continuing onto Portola Road and stopping at the OTHER Roberts Market in Portola Valley.
Unlike our previous foolish effort we then proceeded directly back DOWNHILL on Alpine Road to Santa Cruz Avenue and retraced our outbound route back to Mountain View. Ten more miles, completed in about ten more minutes, and with a much better average speed.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 3:58:52
Mileage: 59.03
Average speed: 14.7 mph (I gained almost a full mile per hour on the final 20 miles)
Maximum speed: 35.6 mph
Photos are on Facebook and at:
Meanwhile I've crossed one fundraising threshold. I began Friday morning with $2,700 in my account. I'm now at $3,420.
On Friday morning I published a diary on Daily Kos, recounting my experiences training for California AIDS Ride 6 (my first ride) in 1999. If you're interested, you can read it by following this link:
Thanks to the many generous folks who donated as a result of that posting.

by Robert Katz on Mon, Feb 27, 2012 @ 4:37 PM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

The Headlands Ride
Last Sunday's CAT 2 series ride (yeah, I'm behind in my blogging again) involved a significant jump in mileage and in hills.
I've done this one a quite a few times in the past; I often jinx it. On more than one occasion, grey skies have turned to rain. It was pretty gloomy on Sunday morning and I was worried; there was, in truth, a chance of showers in the forecast and the local radar looked questionable. But since I was listed as an official training ride leader, off I headed to Sports Basement.
We had a good turnout; after all it's kind of fun climbing the Marin Headlands. Looks tougher than it really is. Some of my favorite folks were there; there was also a woman I had not previously met; she had just picked up here Wilier Gran Turismo (in the contrasting color scheme from mine) and was doing her debut ride on it. The crew from Sonoma County showed up, reporting that they'd seen no signs of rain at all on their drive down Highway 101. Off we went and...sure enough they were right. It didn't rain. The sun even came out!
For those who don't know, the climb to the top of the Headlands can be followed by two choices: either you turn around or you keep going. If you keep going it's scary steep. I don't like that one; I've done it a few times and I'm not inclined to do it again. Some folks did it, including a couple of TRL's. Instead I turned around, rode downhill as far as the saddle about halfway back to the bottom, then turned left through the brand-new roundabout and continued descending. At the bottom the official route called for a left turn and a ride out to Fort Cronkhite and Rodeo Beach before you turn around and head back towards Sausalito (through the infamous one-way tunnel). Some people went to Cronkhite; others didn't. People seemed to be riding every which way. I did my part and rode the official route. Then I headed back to the tunnel and Sausalito.
I noticed several people at Mikes Bikes looking lost. I let them know they were on the right path and to keep going. We were doing a Paradise Loop, counterclockwise. I got started again; somewhere along the way I happened to look down. Apparently only ridden six miles. What really happened is that I'd re-set my computer (or it flipped out going through the tunnel; a couple of other people said they experienced something similar). So whatever miles, maximum speed and time I'd accumulated climbing the Headlands was lost. Argh!
Anyway despite that the remainder of the ride (excepting, of course, the return trip across the GG Bridge) proved to be enjoyable. I rode with Alic and a couple of other people including his friend John who was only on his second training ride. After lunch we headed out; John was following us. Then he wasn't. We waited. No John. Alic texted him; I have no idea how he got there but he was now waiting around at Mikes Bikes. Alic decided NOT to humor me; he took off up Camino Alto like a rocket. I did manage to catch up with him. John didn't wait for us at Mikes; he headed back for the did we. It was a fun day despite the loss of data.
So for the day, my official distance (computer not withstanding) was 45.5 miles. Time, average speed and maximum speed will remain a mystery.
There are pictures of course; they're at

by Robert Katz on Fri, Feb 24, 2012 @ 5:07 PM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

A Hill I Couldn't Climb
It took many years but I've finally (thanks to Chris Thomas) found a hill I couldn't make it all the way to the top of.
Last Saturday's ride was another of Chris's CAT 3 Distance Training Rides out of Mountain View (the first, in fact to be posted with a CAT 3 pace). We'd done a similar ride last year and it was pretty tough back then, involving the rather formidable climb Westridge Road in Los Altos. This year Chris decided to be even more fiendish.
The ride commenced with a good bit of flat riding, down Central Expressway to Sunnyvale and looping back up to Palo Alto. From there we proceeded up the Bryant Street Bike Parkway to Sand Hill Road and then left to Alpine for the first of our two big climbs--the aforementioned Westridge. I made it up that one, huffing and puffing. And then back down to Portola Road, riding it in the counterclockwise direction to Portola Valley.
After stopping for lunch at Robert's Market we turned RIGHT, not left, back onto Alpine Road and climbed to just before the top...where we turned left onto Joaquin Road. It was only .4 miles long but the incline was two percent steeper than the infamous Halcyon Hill which we did on Day 4 of ALC 8. I made it halfway up before surrendering. One of our sweep drivers told me she was having difficulty getting her CAR up the hill!
From there it was downhill; the first part was steep and winding (not exactly my idea of a good time) but it soon opened up to a nice two-lane downhill at about 17%, taking us once again to Alpine, then onto Arastradero Road, through the Nature Preserve. We weren't through climbing yet (Chris, what were you trying to do to us???) since we had to ascend the second portion of Arastradero Road, then turn right onto Purissima Road, onto Elena Road (more climbing) and right onto Taafe Road in Los Altos Hills, another tough slog I recall from last year. Finally the tough climbing was over (but not all of it). I spent this portion of the ride with Bob McDiarmid and Per Knudsgaard. We managed to miss a turn, doubled back to be greeted by another brief hill, after which we ascended Fairway Drive and Loyola Drive in the opposite direction from the way we rode it two weeks earlier...then finally back to Miramonte and back to the end. Per felt we were entitled to a reward for all of our efforts so we went for gelato on Castro Street in downtown Mountain View.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 3:45:38
Mileage: 50.19 (with about 1/2 mile of "bonus")
Average speed: 13.2 mph
Maximum speed: 40.0 mph
I couldn't dawdle too long since I had to be at the training ride leader pot luck at Angelo's house in the Western Addition. The party is always fun; there were speeches by Julie Brown and Russ Mendivil and plenty of awesomely delicious food.
Photos from the potluck:

by Robert Katz on Sat, Feb 18, 2012 @ 10:55 PM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

Sunday CAT 2 Ride #4--Tiburon Loop
Yet again there was great weather for riding (though it was a bit chilly first thing in the morning). Today's ride was the absolute staple of AIDS/LifeCycle (and California AIDS Ride) training rides--the Tiburon Loop...across the bridge, through Sausalito, up and over Camino Alto to Corte Madera, then on to Paradise Drive, around the Tiburon Peninsula to downtown Tiburon where we stopped at Shark's Deli to eat. One thing that made the ride a bit different was that the west side of the Golden Gate Bridge, which normally accommodates cyclists exclusively, is closed due to construction, meaning that cyclists and pedestrians have to share the east side of the bridge. This sounds like a bad thing but, at least on this particular day, turned out almost to be an advantage. People (and cyclists especially) were more than usually well-behaved.
During the day's ride I encountered not just one but TWO groups of renegade riders...that is, people training for ALC who were not on an organized training ride but were instead riding with friends. Group number two was having lunch in Tiburon when we arrived so I got to spend a bit of time with them.
There was one unfortunate incident during the day which apparently took place a couple of minutes behind me. Shortly after I arrived in Tiburon one of my fellow-riders informed me that another cyclist had been hit by a car on the last section of Paradise Drive. As soon as he told me this piece of bad news I started hearing sirens, followed by emergency vehicles. To make matters worse, several of our riders witnessed the accident as it happened. Consensus seemed to be that the driver was entirely at fault, since he overtook the cyclist and then made an immediate right turn. The rider (not one of ours, not that that matters; it's never a good thing when someone is hit by a car) will apparently be okay; she was able to stand up on her own though of course she was injured and her bike was damaged. This is a reminder of how important it is to always be paying attention and that there are inherent risks to any sort of outdoor activity.
Despite the accident the remainder of the ride was really rather fun. I was riding with my friend Andrew and a first-time cyclist named Alic who I'd previously met a couple of weeks ago on the occasion of our rain-canceled ride. Alic is a really nice guy and is going to be a first-rate cyclist. Andrew remarked that he was having no difficulty at all maintaining a Cat 3 pace. He also likes climbing hills which is definitely a plus on AIDS/LifeCycle.
Today's stats:
Ride time: 2:39:27
Mileage: 37.33
Average speed: 14.0 mph
Maximum speed: 35.6 mph
Photos are at:

by Robert Katz on Mon, Feb 06, 2012 @ 9:59 PM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

South Bay Distance Training Ride #2
As often happens I neglected to update my training blog promptly and now I have to rely on memory because it's been more than a week since last Saturday's ride.
The second ride in this series was also the final one at the Cat 2 pace; from now on the average pace will be increasing to Cat 3 (13 to 16 mph). For our second ride we headed off in an entirely different direction--southwest through Sunnyvale, Cupertino and Saratoga to Los Gatos, where we had our first rest stop. The first 14 miles were virtually flat; then there was one hill, not long before we stopped to regroup.
At this point Bob McDiarmid and I took over sweep duties, just in time to carry the back of the pack up and over the most significant climbs of the day--Kennedy Road and Shannon Road. The uphills and downhills combined to form the first of two circles; we actually ended up approaching the foot of Kennedy Road a second time before continuing on back towards Los Gatos and Saratoga. I was supposed to hand over the sweep responsibilities to Kevin Hunter but Kevin asked if I would swap for him. He definitely owes me!
The final portion of our route took us back to Cupertino, then around Los Altos Country Club. I'd ridden almost all of these roads before but never in this direction. Once again we made a complete circle, ending up back where we started, just off of Foothill Expressway and Loyola Avenue. The final leg of our route took us back to Mountain View...just Dan, Radfield and myself as the final three to complete the day.
We certainly have been lucky with weather up to now as it was quite a lovely and mild day with little in the way of annoying headwinds.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 3:34:46
Distance: 46.43 miles
Average speed: 12.9 mph
Maximum speed: 30.3 mph
Photos are at:

by Robert Katz on Mon, Feb 06, 2012 @ 9:34 PM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

The Kickoff Party and a Canceled Ride
Last weekend saw the annual Kickoff Party. These parties are always a great deal of fun; there are giveaways and speeches and you also get to meet first-time riders. Once again I was asked...well, I volunteered be one of the official event photographers. And once again the theme was "Red Dress Day in January." I did my best to document the festivities. The results are on my own Facebook page as well as AIDS/LifeCycle's official Facebook page. They also appear here:
The following morning I was scheduled to help lead number three in the Sunday CAT 2 Series out of Sports Basement in the Presidio. Unfortunately, rain began to fall just as we were gathering. We received reports that there was steady rain falling in Marin County and, what's even worse, that a portion of the Sausalito Bike Path was flooded. The training ride leaders put our heads together and concluded that it conditions wouldn't be safe for riding, so we canceled and rescheduled the same ride for this coming Sunday.
Still, it wouldn't be complete without some pictures.
I'm now within $350 of the minimum fundraising amount, thanks to Mom's usual very generous donation and a contribution from my cousin Mark.
There's still plenty of fundraising and training left to do and the ride is a mere four months and a few days away.

by Robert Katz on Fri, Jan 27, 2012 @ 9:46 AM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

Last Day of Mild Weather, First Long Ride
All good things must come to an end; the weather's now turned cold and wet. Fortunately I managed to catch the tail end of the unseasonably mild spell last Saturday.
For the past several years, Chris Thomas has coordinated a series of rides on alternate Saturdays for those who are a bit more advanced when it comes to cycling. The first couple of rides is in the Category 2 range, meaning an average speed of 10 to 12 miles per hour while all the others are Cat 2: 13 to 16 mph. The rides all start in Mountain View, begin at 42 miles and culminate in a double metric century (that's 120 miles!). I'm not quite ambitious enough to do that one but I did ride my longest day ever last spring on this series--111 miles.
Ride number one took us from downtown Mountain View, past Foothill College, along Elena Avenue to Purissima Road, through the Arastradero Preserve, up Alpine Road, down Portola to and past Highway 84, along a short stretch of King Mountain Road and then into Woodside where we stopped for lunch at Roberts Market. From there we headed north, along Canada Road (sorry, I don't have a tilde at my disposal here) to Edgewood, up and over the hill and then down. We then followed Avenida de las Pulgas until it becomes Santa Cruz Avenue; then Junipero Serra and Foothill Expressway and back to our starting point by way of Miramonte. A few small climbs but lots of flat, smooth roads. We had a record turnout for the series of 53 cyclists. Everyone had a great time.
I also did my longest ride thus far on the new bike, and reached my highest speed...almost 41 mph coming down Edgewood (and I wasn't even trying!).
Stats for the day:
Ride time: 2:46:05
Mileage: 42.27
Average speed: 15.2 mph
Maximum speed: 40.8 mph
As usual there are pictures on Facebook and at
Up next is this Saturday's Kick-Off Party, followed by another in the Cat 2 series out of Sports Basement.

by Robert Katz on Thu, Jan 19, 2012 @ 10:46 PM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

First OFFICIAL ride of the year
Yesterday marked the start of the Sunday San Francisco CAT 2 series, a tradition now going back to 2004 or so.
The weather was lovely; I decided to lengthen the ride by riding to and from Sports Basement, going up the bike route on Polk Street to avoid the aggravation of Van Ness Avenue.
Turnout was substantial...many of them apparently last-minute as Beau had not brought sufficient sign-out sheets (fortunately he had enough waivers, which are more important). The official route was 22 miles, over the bridge, into Mill Valley and back. There were some unexpected visitors, not riding with us officially, and some who were...a couple of friends considering doing ALC for the first time.
Despite my concerns, the high tide, which coincided with the time we were due to pass through there, did NOT cover the Sausalito bike path. It's been a problem in previous years; I suppose the dry weather kept the water level down just a bit.
Overall the day was great, marred by two incidents. The smaller one affected me. Heading back across the bridge is always stressful on nice days and this one was particularly busy because of the weather. There is a point at the north end of the bridge that is constricted (for no reason I can discern). In my attempt to avoid an on-coming group of bike tourists I scraped along the chain-link fence. Nothing more serious than road-rash on my knuckles; I also had to get my handlebars re-centered.
The second incident did not really happen on our ride but was far more serious. As we were checking out, Phillip and Barry showed up; they were on a casual ride around the city and dropped in to say hello. I got a picture of them. Unfortunatly, about ten minutes later, Phillip was hit by a car...he suffered a couple of broken ribs and various other rather significant injuries, though he expects a complete recovery. If you are reading this, please send some healing energy his way.
Not knowing any of the latter had happened I headed for home with a stop at Mike's Bikes so they could make sure I'd gotten everything put back in order. Apparently I was quite successful.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 2:31:05
Mileage: 31.39
Average speed: 12.4 mph
Maximum speed: 36.4 mph
Photos for non-Facebook types:

by Robert Katz on Mon, Jan 09, 2012 @ 12:42 PM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

First Ride of the New Year
I was busy the morning of New Years Eve and there were no rides scheduled for New Years Day or the day after. So, since my trainer was away and I wasn't going to hit the gym on Monday, I was able to set up a casual ride with John Davis and Bob Kovacs. We met at the far end of the Golden Gate Bridge (because we could) and did a slightly-modified Tiburon Loop, deviating to take the bike paths north of the malls in Corte Madera and riding them down to the intersection of San Clemente and Paradise before returning to the road. We also met at the relatively civilized hour of 10:30. It was fun. I took a couple of pictures just to make it official.
Day's totals:
Ride Time: 2:16:18
Miles: 32.38
Average speed: 14.1 mph
Maximum speed: 34.6 mph
Photos are at: and on Facebook.

by Robert Katz on Mon, Jan 09, 2012 @ 12:31 PM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

My New Bike Arrives and I Get to Ride Again
Just in time for the holiday weekend too. Mike's Bikes called me last Friday--as I was on my way over there to see what was happening--to let me know that my new bike had come in and was ready to go. Yay!!!!
I picked it up, rode it home, snapped a couple of pictures of it while it's still in pristine condition and made ready for at least one ride over Christmas weekend. Terri had scheduled an easy 22-miler out of Redwood City with a very friendly (9:15 a.m.) meeting time. I was there. We rode down Alameda de las Pulgas to Alpine Road, then did the Alpine-Portola-Mountain Home loop to Woodside for a stop at the Woodside Bakery. From there we headed up Canada (sorry I don't have a tilde) Road to Edgewood Road, up and over Highway 280, back to Avenida de las Pulgas and then back to Stafford Park. It was a very easy ride with only a couple of very gradual climbs.
I decided I needed to try out a bit more climbing so I did a brief ride on my on Sunday. Starting out at Mike's Bikes in Sausalito I rode up and over Camino Alto and then out Paradise Drive as far as Trestle Glen before turning back. I skipped crossing the bridge and--since I was riding by myself with nobody to keep an eye on my precious new baby and since most most places were closed anyway--I skipped going into Tiburon for a food stop. It was essentially a continuous 15-mile ride. I passed some ALCers along the way of course. This was a bit of a shakedown ride--what feels funky, how does it feel to ride with a double instead of a triple, does anything need adjusting?
I went back to Mike's on Monday to have the seat height and position adjusted. So far I'm loving it.
Saturday stats:
Ride time: 1:31:15
Mileage: 22.7
Average speed: 14.9 mph
Maximum speed: 36.3 mph
Festive photos:
Sunday stats:
Ride time: 1:00:32
Mileage: 15.14
Average speed: 14.9 mph
Maximum speed: 32.9 mph
Artsy photos:
Unless I get in a ride on New Years Day, I suspect I won't be riding again until the "official" start of the training season, the first full weekend of January.

by Robert Katz on Tue, Dec 27, 2011 @ 11:06 AM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

Fall Rides and Bike Drama
I see that I've been less than assiduous in keeping up with the training blog. Following the Kickoff Ride I managed to get in a ride pretty much every weekend.
I participated in one of the Fall Hall series rides on October 30; out to Fairfax and then back by way of Paradise Drive and Trestle Glenn. In November I mainly was involved with a series put together by fellow-ride-leader Kevin Ho called "In Rest Stops We Trust." There was a bit of confusion as to the starting point of the first ride. As a result I ended up getting some extra miles by going from Golden Gate Park to the Presidio and then back. The ride otherwise remained in the city with stops, both out and back, the latter concluding with fried chicken and waffles. Subsequent rides in the series started at Sports Basement; these consisted of a Tiburon "out-and-back" ride, a weekend of rain-outs and and then, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, by a more-or-less conventional Tiburon Loop.
I signed up to help lead the now-traditional ride for World AIDS Day. Because the actual day, December 1, was mid-week, the ride was scheduled for Sunday, December 4; coincidentally the anniversary of my late partner Mario's death.
While heading to Golden Gate Park to begin the ride I had to hustle to avoid being hit by an errant driver. The result was that I ran into a curb. I was okay; unfortunately my bike was not. The frame was cracked in multiple places and is unsalvageable. Luckily I was not far from home so I turned around, walked back, changed clothes, grabbed my "good" camera, got in the car and returned to the Park in time to volunteer my services as an additional sweep vehicle and take lots of pictures.
When the ride was over, Buz Miller referred me to the manager of Mike's Bikes in SOMA. I went directly there and began the process of shopping for a new bike which should arrive in the next couple of days. Still, the month of December has been a complete washout in terms of training, which is unfortunate.
Here are the stats for the four rides I did up to December 4:
Ride time: 3:22:15
Mileage: 42.18
Average speed: 12.4 mph
Maximum speed: 37.0 mph
Ride time: 3:05:27
Mileage: 38.1
Average speed: 12.3 mph
Maximum speed: 25.6 mph
Ride time: 2:26:54
Mileage: 30.13
Average speed: 12.3 mph
Maximum speed: 36.3 mph
Ride time: 2:43:16
Mileage: 37.26
Average speed: 13.6 mph
Maximum speed: 34.3 mph
The World AIDS Day Ride was 31 miles long to commemorate 31 years since the beginning of the epidemic and went through various San Francisco neighborhoods affected by the AIDS epidemic.
I look forward to my new bike and a new year of riding.

by Robert Katz on Sun, Dec 18, 2011 @ 9:49 PM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

The Kickoff Ride
Although there have been training rides on the schedule since mid-summer, training for ALC 11 "officially" began today with the Kick-off Ride. There were two ride options and a clinic for beginning riders. There were give-aways (as usual, I didn't win any of the prizes). There was fog, clouds, sun, wind, hills, veterans, newbies, food and fun. I was a training ride leader on the longer ride (I need the miles at this point), a basic Tiburon Loop that began and finished with a slight change in route--for the better in my opinion. We rode out to the end of Old Mason Street in the Presidio and climbed the hill that leads to and from Fort Point. No stop signs on the uphill. It was great! That still left the bridge to deal with of course. There wasn't that much traffic heading out in the morning, but on the way back to the city it was wall-to-wall in both directions. The tourists were generally well-behaved but some of the hot-shot cyclists (not ours) didn't seem to want to wait for the slower folks in front of them and blew past whenever there was an opening...or even if they only THOUGHT there was an opening. One of our riders said that someone passed so close he could feel the other guy's jersey brush his arm!
Despite the traffic, there were no serious incidents. We were introduced to the new director of ALC, Greg Sroda. Greg's a great guy and a veteran of the ride. For the past few years he had been captain of the famous--or infamous--Rest Stop 4. I almost didn't recognize him out of an outrageous costume!
I took plenty of pictures as usual, though many of my indoor photos didn't turn out especially well. Some of them were so bad I couldn't post them. I hope I didn't let Julie down.
Now that I've gotten going again, I SHOULD be riding every week from now on.
Today's stats:
Ride time: 2:56:24
Mileage: 37.69 (my computer cut out briefly; it should have been 38)
Average speed: 12.8 mph
Maximum speed: 32.8 mph
Photos are will be appearing on Facebook in a few minutes; they're already on Flickr at:

by Robert Katz on Sun, Oct 16, 2011 @ 12:00 AM

 Permanent Link   No Comments 

A couple of summer rides
I kind of took it easy this summer. For the past couple of years I'd been a training ride leader for Seismic Challenge and rode at least every other weekend, beginning at the end of July. This summer was rather a busy one and not only didn't I think I'd be able to do as much riding, I wasn't even able to make the training ride leader certification classes for Seismic. Instead I did other stuff.
I did manage to get back on my bike in mid-August. For some reason (perhaps because several of my friends were newly certified ALC training ride leaders and I wanted to support them as they made their debut), I chose a rather challenging ride to get me re-started. We began at Mike's Bikes in Sausalito, headed first for the Cheese Factory, then to Point Reyes Station, and finally up and over Olema Hill. In other words, I went from nothing to most of the big hills in Marin County. Remind me not to do that again! I finished--I even had a good time--but my legs were fried when I got home.
Totals for that day were:
Ride time: 5:05:42
Mileage: 65.6
Average speed: 12.8 mph
Maximum speed: 39.6 mph
I didn't take that many pictures, but they're at
Four weeks later was the annual "Thank You Ride and BBQ." I still wasn't certified as a training ride leader but I did ride. The ride was a quickie from Crissy Field, through the Presidio, along the beach, around Lake Merced, and back through Golden Gate Park. The important thing of course was the food (and getting the official ALC 11 teeshirt).
Totals for that ride:
Ride time: 2:36:56
Mileage: 32.27 (I rode to and from home)
Average speed: 13.8 mph
Maximum speed: 36.8 mph
I took more pictures; see them at:
Now I'm certified as a training ride leader again and the official Kickoff Ride is October 15. It's about time I get in gear with riding and with fundraising. Away we go....

by Robert Katz on Thu, Oct 06, 2011 @ 7:10 PM

 Permanent Link   No Comments