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As Long as There's a Need, I'll Keep on Riding

At the very end of ALC 11 (thank you Stevo Rood for this awesome picture)
At the very end of ALC 11 (thank you Stevo Rood for this awesome picture)

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98 percent of goal achieved.
Goal: $7,500.00
Achieved: $7,353.01
Thanks to my generous sponsors

I'm Riding to End AIDS

From June 2-8, 2013, I'm bicycling from San Francisco to Los Angeles in AIDS/LifeCycle, covering 545 miles in seven days, 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. We'll keep riding until AIDS and HIV are a thing of the past.

ALC 12 will be ride number 14 for me...three California AIDS Rides and every AIDS/LifeCycle with the exception of #1 (I took the year off to go to the Gay Games in Sydney). I also drove a sweep vehicle in the 2001 Canada-US AIDS Vaccine Ride.

Why do I keep riding? Many reasons. I've been HIV-positive for over 30 years and have lost far too many friends and loved ones. Since I'm still around I take this to mean I have work to do and I can think of no better way to acknowledge my continued good fortune--and honor the memory of those dear to me--than to continue riding and raising money for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. December 4, 2012 marked 20 years since I lost my partner Mario Luna to AIDS. December 5 marked 32 years since the day on which I most likely contracted HIV.

Every 9 1/2 minutes, someone in the US is infected with HIV. This is a sad truth. There is of course nothing to prevent a specific individual from making a specific poor decision. But what we CAN do is help to fund programs aimed at awareness and prevention so that, perhaps, 9 1/2 minutes becomes ten minutes...or fifteen minutes...or longer. And we can help to fund programs designed to provide services to those who are already infected and who are limited means and personal resources. The San Francisco AIDS Foundation does all of this and more.

Every dollar I raise...every dollar you donate...gets us closer to our goal of world without AIDS. Please click the link to your right and give what you can.

My Personal Web Log


Thanks and a Brief Synopsis of ALC 12
I'm planning to do a separate blog entry for each day of the ride but for now I want to thank every single one of the people who donated to support me (or who simply supported me emotionally). In financial terms, despite my worries this was my second most successful year of fundraising since I started riding...$7,203.01!!!
Here are links to the Flickr albums for this year (excluding the pictures for post ride bike retrieval which are still in the camera).
Setting Up the Cow Palace, before Orientation:
The Positive Pedalers Friday Evening Spaghetti Dinner:
Day One:
Day Two:
Day Three:
Day Four:
Day Five:
Day Six:
Day Seven:
Here are the ride stats:
Day One
Ride Time:5:38:05
Mileage: 84.91
Average speed: 14.9 mph
Maximum speed: 46.4 mph
Day Two
Ride Time: 6:57:34
Mileage: 106.04 (I skipped Rest Stop Four)
Average speed: 15.2 mph
Maximum speed: 40.3 mph
Day Three
Ride Time: 3:25:04
Mileage: 41.88 (I skipped the last 23 miles due to minor medical issues)
Average speed: 12.2 mph
Maximum speed: 34.4 mph
Day Four
Before lunch is an estimate; there were computer problems
Ride Time: 3:33:44
Mileage: 49.87 (per route sheet)
Average speed: 14.0 mph (+/-)
Maximum speed: 40 mph (+/-)
After lunch (actual):
Ride time: 3:09:46 (total of 6:43:30)
Mileage: 47.83 (total of 97.60)
Average speed after lunch: 15.0 mph
Maximum speed after lunch: 35.1 mph
Day Five
Ride time: 3:17:11
Mileage: 42.28
Average speed: 12.8 mph
Maximum speed: 39.8 mph
Day Six
Ride Time: 6:05:15
Mileage: 88.54
Average speed: 14.5 mph
Maximum speed: 38.5 mph
Day Seven
Ride Time: 4:18:05
Mileage: 62.56
Average speed: 14.5 mph
Maximum speed: 37.0 mph
Ride Time: 39:08:06
Mileage: 523.91
Average speed: 13.39 mph
Maximum speed: 46.4 mph

by Robert Katz on Fri, Jun 14, 2013 @ 8:08 PM

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The Jon Pon Two-Day Ride--the Training Finale
The Jon Pon Two-Day Ride is named for Positive Pedalers co-founder Jonathan Pon who passed away at the end of 2001. Before there was a Jon Pon Ride, there was a Jon Pon Century which moved around the Bay Area (sometimes Marin; sometimes the East Bay). At one time this particular multi-day event was put on as a benefit for the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, as well as to serve as training for the California AIDS Ride, but subsequent to the end of the original AIDS Ride the two-day ride disappeared until ALC staff approached the board of Positive Pedalers in 2006 and asked us to revive it. We were fortunate to obtain the original contact list and planning details from the previous organizer and the Jon Pon Ride has been a great success ever since (even if the weather has been bad, which it was--once).
This time around the Jon Pon Ride also served as the close-out for most folks' training, coming only two weeks before the beginning of ALC. Also this time around our route was completely different from what it typically is due to it taking place at the same time as the Amgen Tour of California, a very prestigious cycling race. So...instead of riding north through Petaluma and then heading westward to Valley Ford and inland to Freestone and up Bohemian Highway, we stayed on or along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard all the way to Olema and then rode up Highway One to Jenner. There were good things about this...and not so good things.
Highway One is very pretty but the prevailing wind along the coast is from the north and the wind increases as the day goes on. While there are no long climbs on Highway One, some of them are steeper northbound than they southbound. In other words, a two-fer. First the wind, and then the climbs. We were served a very nice lunch in the town of Tomales (just before the wind got really annoying). Once past Valley Ford we were on roads most of us weren't familiar with, climbing hills we were more used to ascending in the opposite direction. By the time we reached Bodega Bay is was gusty and chilly to the point where several people got swept because they were afraid of being blown from their bikes. No turn ever felt as good as that turn off of Highway One and onto River Road!
Because of the early start, and despite the challenging wind conditions, we generally seemed to arrive in camp (Cassini Ranch in Duncans Mills) earlier than usual. So early in fact that some of us even stopped for a snack in Duncans Mills itself, less than a mile from our final destination.
As usual we were helped by an enormous group of volunteers who staffed "mobile rest stops," provided moto safety and instructions at critical turns, and fed us delicious meals in camp.
Having ridden the coast on the first day of the ride it made sense for us to head inland for the return trip. Our route took us up Bohemian Highway (chilly but sunny this time instead of rainy and breezy as it had been two weeks ago), through Occidental and down to Freestone and Valley Ford. With the Amgen Tour heading our way we had a time limit--we needed to be off of Highway One before 8:30. So instead of heading south along the coast we remained on Valley Ford-Petaluma Road. In this instance at least, we were doing a portion of the route in the "easy" direction! Still there was a climb just before Petaluma that seemed tougher in the southbound direction.
In keeping with an accidental AIDS/LifeCycle tradition, lunch, which took place in Petaluma's McNear Park, was followed by a good substantial climb up Red Hill (also known as Point Reyes-Petaluma Road or Red Hill Road or D Street). Did I mention that we exchanged Saturday's coastal chill for inland heat? Yes, it was hot...well into the 80's which is warmer than most of us are used to. The entirety of the climb from Petaluma to the top of Red Hill is about seven miles; it was broken into two parts, with the first portion using I Street until it ends at San Antonio Road (which parallels San Antonio Creek, which marks the boundary between Sonoma County and Marin County). The final four miles are pretty tough with lots of switchbacks and false summits. You definitely have a sense of accomplishment after climbing Red Hill!
From there we descend towards the Cheese Factory but we don't stop there; instead we turn left onto Novato Boulevard, with a stop at Stafford Lake Park. Just for variety another event was taking place there--the state finals for high school mountain biking competition. We almost weren't allowed to use the facility but I think they took pity on us.
We headed into Novato and then towards San Rafael; our final stop was at Northgate Mall. It was still quite warm. Most of us stopped not only for the official refreshments but to visit the Peets Coffee at the mall. Here we experienced some unexpected and unpleasant excitement--one of our bikes was stolen! I don't recall this ever having happened on a training ride or on the actual ride. Not good; not good at all. The story had a happy ending; one of our riders saw the bike being wheeled off and set out after the perpetrator. The police were called and the bike was restored to its rightful owner.
And so we were done. I was exhausted. And now 1,972 miles later, I'm done training for AIDS/LifeCycle 12. If I'm not ready by now, I don't think there's anything I can do about it.
Day One Ride Time: 5:41:02
Mileage: 74.66
Average speed: 13.1 mph
Maximum speed: 35.6 mph
Day Two Ride Time: 5:50:11
Mileage: 77.81
Average speed: 13.2 mph
Maximum speed: 37.2 mph
Pictures are not yet on Facebook (that's a chore for tomorrow) but are on Flickr.
Day One:
Day Two:

by Robert Katz on Tue, May 21, 2013 @ 3:38 PM

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First of All, A Big THANK YOU!
I always, always worry about raising money, even more so than I worry about having trained enough. At the beginning of May my total stood at a bit under $5,000; two weeks later it has grown to over $6,600, thanks to the generosity of so many people, some of whom I have never actually met!
When I crossed the line past $6,300 this morning I also passed another milestone: since my first ride in 1999 I have raised over $80,000. I realize that this year's top fundraiser has raised that much in the past eleven months but I...well, my family and friends are not wealthy so for me, raising $80,000 over 14 years is still a big deal.

by Robert Katz on Tue, May 21, 2013 @ 2:56 PM

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The Positive Pedalers Three-Day Ride
For as long as I've been riding I've looked forward to this weekend--three days worth of cycling with the group of people I have an enormous affinity with, the Positive Pedalers. I became a member of Pos Peds at the very same time as I signed up for my first ride. This particular event is a milestone as well since it is the sole opportunity I get during the training year to ride three days in a row prior to the actual Ride itself.
So last Friday morning about 35 of us, plus several sweep drivers and one person in charge of hauling our gear, met up behind Mike's Bikes in Sausalito. It was a lovely, mild day that soon turned warm and we were loving it. Our route took us to Fairfax, up White's Hill and Nicasio Valley Road and then up the hill often referred to as "Alpe du Fromage" since the climb takes us to the Cheese Factory. From the proprietor of the general store at Rancho Nicasio I learned that the "official" name of the hill is actually Dolcini Hill, after the family that owns the land around it.
Up and over that hill and down into far northern Marin; we stop to freshen up and have a snack at the Cheese Factory before tackling the very challenging Wilson Hill--not an easy climb and even tougher on a hot day. But we all (as far as I know) managed to get to the top and then down the far side, turning right on Chilleno Valley Road, which is one of the prettiest stretches of riding I know of. Last year on this day we encountered intense headwinds here and on Valley Ford-Petaluma Road. The winds were certainly not absent by any means but they were more than manageable on this time. In fact the breeze actually provided a bit of refreshment and some cooling prior to our lunch stop in the town of Valley Ford.
After lunch we turned back inland and the warmth returned. We'd gotten off to a slightly late start so those of us not incredibly fast skipped the final customary stop at the Wild Flour Bakery in Freestone and headed directly up the last climb to Occidental, then seven miles of gradual downhill to Monte Rio and up River Road to Guerneville, our destination. I got in at about 4:30 or so, as did my roommate for the weekend and tentmate-to-be Terry B. A quick shower, a little time by the pool, a nice dinner catered by Big Bottom Market (no laughing; the town of Guerneville was originally named Big Bottom and I don't think there were any gay men in the area in the 1870's who'd have made that sort of joke) and MOST of us retired for the evening.
Day One Statistics:
Ride time: 5:14:24
Mileage: 73.46
Average speed: 12.9 mph
Maximum speed: 36.7 mph
Day Two dawned equally pleasant. This day features a short ride through the vineyards along West Side Road to Healdsburg, with lunch in the town square and then a brisk return in plenty of time to relax for the afternoon before dinner. We'd been joined by several people who had not been able to ride up with us on Friday and a couple of the sweep drivers took the opportunity to do a little riding of their own. Once again it was warm; we found ourselves sharing the road on the outbound portion of the trip with riders who were doing the Wine Country Century and lunch coincided with Cinco de Mayo festivities in the plaza.
I actually spent a good part of the afternoon catching up with one of my friends, a ride veteran of many years and one of my cycling idols. There were some surprise guests for dinner; the food was delicious again and once again, when it was done MOST of us retired for the evening (as for others, let us just say that what happens in Guerneville STAYS in Guerneville).
Daily stats:
Ride time: 2:21:43
Mileage: 36.36
Average speed: 15.4 mph
Maximum speed: 30.0 mph
And now we come to the final day. Overnight the fog had come in as predicted. In fact it was fairly gloomy when we headed over to R3 (formerly known as the Russian River Resort) for breakfast. And gloomy it stayed. Our route began by reversing the Day One trip, as far as Valley Ford. This time we DID stop at the Wild Flour Bakery. On the way however we encountered something we had not been expecting and really didn't want: rain (or at any rate a heavy drizzle just hard enough to be irksome). Although it stopped by the time we arrived at the Wild Flour it turned out to be a portent of coming attractions.
From Valley Ford our route turned south on Highway One instead of back the way we'd come up. After a series of climbs we were in Tomales, home of the Tomales Bakery, which features the wonderful and delicious gorgonzola twists and mint limeade. Yummy!!!! And then things got really tough. The next 25 miles, from Tomales to our lunch stop in Point Reyes Station, typically provides a fairly reliable tailwind as we skirt the edge of Tomales Bay. Not this time though. A weather system off the coast resulted in some pretty stiff headwinds. And, to make matters worse, the "not-rain" came back once again; I could see it across Tomales Bay. It probably rained for no more than 20 minutes but that definitely was less than what I'd consider a good time. The road was not wet to the point of being slick but visibility was curtailed and the wind did us no favors. At one or two points it was actually on the scary side. The effect was of having to climb a hill ALL THE WAY to lunch. Not really my idea of a good time.
Fortunately the rain let up before we could be tempted to give up and be swept. And to make things better, we intersected (as is often the case) with the Sunday CAT 2 ride out of the city, which we more or less paralleled the rest of the way back to Sausalito.
Having done not nearly as much back-to-back riding earlier this season, the weekend definitely took a toll on me; I was pretty tired and sore when I got home. Still it was one of those weekends I wouldn't trade for anything.
Final day's totals:
Ride time: 5:32:09
Mileage: 72.54
Average speed: 13.0 mph
Maximum speed: 39.5 mph
So I bumped my mileage for the weekend up from 114 two weeks earlier to about 180. No wonder I was tired!
After having taken so many pictures on Day on the Ride I decided to slack off a bit, for me at least. There are pictures though, as follows:
Day One:
Day Two:
Day Three:
All will be appearing on Facebook when I have a chance to post them there.

by Robert Katz on Wed, May 08, 2013 @ 10:51 PM

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Day on the Ride
Last Saturday was the annual Northern California Day on the Ride, which is intended to give riders, both first-timers and the experienced ones, an opportunity to experience what it's like on a typical day of AIDS/LifeCycle. This includes a good deal of riding (with hills of course), themed rest stops, an official lunch stop and the inevitable porta-potties.
Last year I was invited by ride staff to take the day off from training and spend my time serving as one of two "official" photographers. That seemed to go well last year so I was invited back again and I must say it was a fun experience for me.
This year's route was (almost) completely different. After years of riding south from the city or north from San Rafael we returned to our previous starting point at Sports Basement in the Presidio for a 65-mile loop through Marin County. There were some changes to our standard riding scheme; construction just north of the bridge required riders to take a detour through Fort Baker. Once through Sausalito we were asked to avoid the climb up and over Camino Alto and instead used Horse Hill, which runs along the side of Highway 101. Beyond there we turned towards the standard route to Fairfax with a rest stop, staffed as usual by volunteers from Positive Pedalers, and then up White's Hill to West Marin. The route continued north along Nicasio Valley Road to Lucas Valley Road, climbing (the easier direction) to Big Rock and then descending to Marinwood where we had our lunch stop at Marinwood Park, a new location for us. Once back underway we headed south along Las Gallinas Avenue, around Northgate Mall and then into downtown San Rafael, and finally back the way we'd come, with a final rest stop behind Mike's Bikes in San Rafael. The ride concluded with a spaghetti feast at Sports Basement.
After the preliminaries, I staked out a number of vantage points along the route for pictures--along Lincoln Boulevard in the Presidio, on the far side of the Golden Gate Bridge, downtown Sausalito, Lomita Avenue (the road leading to Horse Hill), the summit of White's Hill, the turn onto Lucas Valley Road, Big Rock, the downhill stretch of Las Gallinas and the foot of the bridge again.
Somehow I managed to rack up no less than 1,050 pictures between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m.; I whittled that down to just under 900 and posted them on Facebook and Flickr. Hopefully I did a good job of representing the day's activities.
You can check out the results by going to

by Robert Katz on Tue, Apr 30, 2013 @ 3:43 PM

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Distance Training Ride #9 - Gilroy
In a sense I don't know why I did this ride. By mid-day the day before it was pretty obvious I was coming down with a cold. The day's projected mileage was longer than any day of AIDS/LifeCycle. It was a Chris Thomas ride so it was clearly going to be challenging. And the last time I'd done a similar version of this particular ride we'd been hit by brutal headwinds on the return.
On the other hand, I'd committed to being a training ride leader and it was definitely too late to find a substitute. In the past I've ridden while at least somewhat sick (though that would of course have been Day 7 of the ride which is only about 60-miles long and doesn't normally include headwinds). The weather forecast was superb if slightly on the warm side and no brutal headwinds were predicted. And ultimately I did it because I wanted to and because it would be my longest ride ever, even if only by a couple of miles.
So I was in bed at 8:30 Friday evening and up at 4 a.m. to get ready. Andrew picked me up; we dropped his dogs off at his parents' home on the way down (they're only a few miles from Mountain View and right off of Highway 101) and we arrived, a couple of minutes late and with the sun only barely starting to come up. Our riding time was in fact calculated to be right at sunrise.
The first forty miles of our route were a breeze, both literally and figuratively...down Central Freeway, into downtown San Jose and then onto Monterey Highway, which we stayed on for 25 miles. Our first rest stop was at The Plant shopping Center; those of us who arrived early were a bit confused as to where exactly in the mall the Starbucks was located. We rode around for a bit and some of us wound up at Krispy Creme (for a bit of guilty pleasure) before we found the intended spot. From there of course the route sheet included no instructions until our second stop in Morgan Hill. I found myself dispensing ibuprofen.
We stayed on Monterey Highway another five miles for another five miles before taking a turn to the east. And that's where the easy part of the ride ended. It was certainly not brutally windy but there was just enough of a breeze to make the going a bit slow...and on top of that the cold was beginning to take a toll on me.
THEN we began the tough part of the ride. The long climb on Roop Road and Gilroy Hot Springs Road was certainly no more difficult than others we'd done (in fact we had passed the infamous Metcalf Road on our way south) but given my condition it seemed seriously unpleasant and in truth it was not exactly easy either. There were a couple of cattle guards beyond the summit; since I don't like those things, I dismounted and walked around the first one. The second cattle guard was located right at the beginning of Caņada Road where we had a very minimal rest stop (toilets not included) in the woods. After a bit more climbing we began a steep descent into Gilroy. Before we started our descent we encountered a group of three riders out on their own. One of them was a woman, 78 years old, who mentioned to us that when she had turned 74 she'd done a 74-mile ride to mark the occasion. So much for my complaints about feeling old!
The descent was fairly steep and winding and the road was a bit on the bumpy side so I had to keep my speed down a bit but it was nice to stop climbing; the last little bit of uphill had been a struggle. At the bottom of the hill we found ourselves southeast of downtown Gilroy. Our lunch stop was in on the western fringe of downtown. The last couple of miles I really was beginning to feel not so great and I was very happy to be off the bike for lunch (at mile 64). It did seem sort of amusing to have ridden 64 miles by just a bit after noon.
From this point on we began our return trip though Gilroy, San Martin and Morgan Hill. And by this point I was most definitely struggling. Although the headwind was nowhere near as brutal was what we'd had two years ago it was definitely still around and I was definitely feeling it. We had a second water stop on the east side of Chesbro Reservoir, between Morgan Hill and San Jose. It was HOT! By this time the road we were on had become Oak Glen Road, then Uvas Road and then McKean Road, so I was riding some roads I was familiar with but in the opposite direction I was used to riding them. Our last rest stop, at mile 90, was at the intersection of Almaden Expressway and Camden Avenue. I hit Baskin-Robbins because I had damned well earned some ice cream.
A bit more climbing on Camden Avenue and Blossom Hill Road, through Los Gatos and up and over Highway 9 and finally the rest of the route was flat and the headwind was gone. And so it was done...114.47 miles of riding. Andrew and I went out for Vietnamese food before heading home.
Totals for the day:
Ride time: 7:59:54
Mileage: 114.47
Average speed: 14.2 mph
Maximum speed: 29.8 mph
Photos are on Facebook and at

by Robert Katz on Sun, Apr 21, 2013 @ 4:18 PM

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A Challenging Climb Up Marshall Wall
If last Saturday's ride was challenging due to its length, this Saturday's was challenging because of the climbing and the wind. Officially the amount of climbing last week was just over 3,000 feet, though different people reported (using their Garmin's or iPhone software of one sort of another) as much as 1,000 feet more, it was still less than we experienced on a ride 20 miles shorter. There was no official amount of climbing for the day but a figure in excess of 5,000 feet was provided before we set out.
This was one of those rides that seemed to take on nearly every big climb in Marin County with the possible exception of Mount Tam. We DID climb the Marshall Wall, a hill that intimidates many people. I'd done this one a few times in the past; I even did it in the opposite direction (certainly the tougher one) last summer on the Marin Century.
The weather forecast had predicted a windy day; climbing White's Hill early on didn't give us a preview, as it sometimes does but once in San Geronimo Valley, it ought to have been obvious that the day would be challenging. The biggest problem was that things were such that greater elevations equated to higher winds, and the ridge east of Marshall is a fairly high one. From the lowest point to the top it's about a 500 foot climb over the course of just over two miles. I knew this, having done it previously and I figured it would be relatively unchallenging, particularly after having done it in the more challenging direction back in August.
Let's backtrack a bit. The odd thing about this particular series of rides from Mike's Bikes in Sausalito is that it seems to get an entirely different group of riders every week. A few weeks ago we were joined by members of New Bear Republic; this time it was a significant group of members from my team, Team Gratitude, showing off their new, very festive kits. We also had with us SFAF executive director Neil Giuliano and ALC staffer Amar Puri who is coordinating training rides this year.
My sweep assignment for the day was the third section of the route, from the Cheese Factory to Marshall on the far side of the Wall. Before we got there, one of my teammates learned an important lesson: tires wear out. His rear tire was so trashed that he kept getting flat tires; it was unrideable. Fortunately our facilitator happened to have packed a spare tire that day. The experts gathered around outside of the Cheese Factory and Daniel was on his way once again. I took it easy during this part of the route since I knew I had one relatively slow rider who I'd be sweeping.
Off of the Cheese Factory there are three options (besides turning around): continue on and eventually get to Petaluma, turn right on Novato Boulevard or turn left onto Hicks Valley Road. Hicks Valley Road ends at a "t" intersection which provides two choices: turn right and immediately begin climbing Wilson Hill or turn left towards the Wall. It's a good six or seven miles between the left turn and the start of climbing and the scenery is very pretty. Since I didn't want to be riding directly behind the slowest rider all that way I made frequent stops to take pictures. I caught up with her just after the beginning of the climb, which is the steepest part. I've certainly done steeper--but not into a 40 mph headwind or crosswind. As I came up behind her I told I would stop and wait for her; soon after that I began to feel as though my options were to get off and walk or else be blown off of my bike. I chose the former. Beyond the initial climb it's really not that bad and had it not been for the wind I'd likely have been able to just keep riding but this day was especially bad. The wind made it difficult even to put back on the layers I'd shed earlier in the day; in fact I had intended to lean my bike against a fence while I did this but the wind was so strong I simply could not get my bike up to the fence. I laid it down instead. Once the last rider had caught up with me I got underway again, this time back on my bike; I found a spot to wait for her that was sheltered from the wind and also had some terrific views--hence more photo opportunities, mainly of Tomales Bay but also of Mount Tam in the distance.
The downhill is short and steep; the wind continued to make it a bit challenging; by moderating my speed I was able to keep from feeling out of control. Once on Highway One there was some payback in the form of a tailwind that gave us a boost all the way back. The remainder of the ride consisted of a lunch stop in Point Reyes Station, followed by Olema Hill which, after Marshall Wall, really seemed like a piece of cake (the tailwind didn't hurt). We were given the option of staying on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, which I took all the way to Lagunitas. It really isn't that bumpy except on either side of the entrance to Samuel P Taylor Park. And the remainder of the ride was relatively unproblematic; I even managed a higher speed down White's Hill than I'd done two weeks ago. As far as I know there weren't any adverse incidents on the remainder of the ride and everyone seemed to feel that they'd accomplished something, which of course they had.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 6:12:44
Mileage: 79.95
Average speed: 12.8
Maximum speed: 42.1 mph
Photos are on Facebook and at

by Robert Katz on Sun, Apr 21, 2013 @ 2:42 PM

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A Century and a Fundraiser
The century first: South Bay Distance Training Ride #8. We did precisely this route a bit less than a year ago. It was hot. It was INCREDIBLY hot. Temperatures in Evergreen Valley (at the south end of San Jose) peaked at nearly 100 degrees. This year was very different. Things were pleasantly cool, almost perfect for cycling in fact. There was a very brief sprinkle just to keep us on our toes but apart from that and the usual annoying afternoon headwinds the weather couldn't have been better. Still it isn't as though riding 100 miles is ever all that easy no matter what. And this year's century fell two weeks earlier than last year's, which probably accounts for the relatively low turnout.
As usual we convened in Mountain View. My friend Terry came along for this; it was only his sixth training ride and his very first 100-mile ride but he was determined and, in fact, seemed to thoroughly enjoy himself.
Our route took us through the foothills of the coastal mountains, through the Arastradero Preserve, before we headed to the Dumbarton Bridge. On the far side of the bridge we turned north in the direction of Union City. I'm not sure what brought this about but from this point onwards there seemed to be an unending supply of broken glass along our route. I managed to find it not just once but TWICE within the space of a mile. Fortunately we had our own SAG driver to help out, as well as the SAG driver from another ALC training ride.
I began my sweep duties in Mission San Jose, opposite Ohlone College. From there our route took us up some hills, then down, into Milpitas and then along the east side of San Jose. At one point our SAG driver informed me that another rider--his husband in fact, who I was supposed to be following in my role as sweep--had gotten off track and was actually behind me. This gave me a short but somewhat welcome chance to rest. Once he caught up with continued to our third rest stop which was more or less designated as lunch.
Just like lunch on Day One of ALC, lunch this day was followed immediately by a climb. First we ascended Yerba Buena Road and then, after a short downhill and another short flat section, the only serious climb of the day, up Silver Creek Valley Road. This particular hill is not really all that bad, in fact it's no tougher than White's Hill and a bit shorter. There is however a traffic light in the middle. Careful timing allows you to arrive when the light is green, which I appreciate as someone who's not terribly good at getting started on a grade.
Once at the top there is a reward (assuming you avoided yet another patch of broken glass). The downhill is significant and is also well-paved. In fact we were cautioned to be aware of the speed limit since police can and do ticket cyclists there. I didn't achieve it but I suspect some folks came close and I did manage a respectable 40+ miles per hour.
The next segment of the ride has come to be referred to as the Santa Teresa Slog as we ride Santa Teresa Road for a number of boring, headwind infested miles before turning more westerly towards Los Gatos. This is the point at which the ride becomes challenging.
Our final stop in Los Gatos provides an opportunity to recharge the batteries. The last 17 miles are by way of Highway 9, Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road, Prospect/Snelling, McLellan Road, Foothill Expressway, Miramonte and Shoreline. Having left at 8 a.m., I finished at about 5:30 or so.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 7:11:04
Mileage: 101.39
Average speed: 14.1 mph
Maximum speed: 40.6 mph
Pictures are on Facebook and at
The following day, Sunday, some of my Team Gratitude teammates had a fundraiser. We set up two bikes on trainers next to AT&T Park; three members took turns spinning while the rest of us took turns carrying buckets to collect money. It turned out to be a fun day.
For a couple of pictures and a brief video go to:

by Robert Katz on Fri, Apr 12, 2013 @ 4:14 PM

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Mike's Bikes, Lucas Valley, Point Reyes Station and Olema Hill
Last Saturday's ride, though not as long as the one I did the previous weekend, presented its own set of challenges.
Unlike the ride from Mike's Bikes two weeks ago our group was very small, probably owing to the questionable weather forecast. In addition, we found out only a couple of days in advance that we were going to have to change the route to exclude China Camp, which was the site of the Marin County Marathon and therefore closed to traffic. So instead we began with a reverse Tiburon Loop, crossing the flats off of the bike path and riding through a portion of the Strawberry neighborhood.
The next portion of the route took us past the Villages of Corte Madera Mall and across Highway 101 (by footbridge and on foot), back around and underneath the freeway and into Larkspur Landing and then through the Cal-Park Tunnel. Having gotten lost trying to find the tunnel entrance a few weeks earlier I at least was able to show the back of the ride which way to go. From the far end of the tunnel we continued on through San Rafael towards Lucas Valley Road with a stop at Big Rock Deli.
Because there was a threat of rain, I'd arrived at the ride dressed in complete rain gear; at certain points during the day the sun came out. It got got VERY warm. Lucas Valley Road is not the easiest of climbs so before heading for it I took off the rain pants, the rain slicker and the arm and leg warmers (I was so certain it would rain I hadn't bothered to apply sunscreen; it's a wonder I didn't end up with a burn!). I guess I must be getting into better shape because the climb, while a bit challenging, didn't seem all that bad to me.
Of course because I'd removed the rain gear, on the descent it began to rain, if only just a bit and for a few minutes. I kept putting off the decision whether or not to stop and put the rain gear back on; by the time I arrived at Nicasio Ranch the sun was out once again.
At Nicasio we intersected with the CAT 2 ride out of the city as we've done on prior weeks. Nicasio and Point Reyes Station really seem to be rider central! Point Reyes Station was our next stop, where we had had lunch.
The final segment of the route had us continuing down Highway 1 to Olema and climbing the hill on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard known colloquially as "Olema Hill." It's about a mile long; at one time I found it quite intimidating. Now? Not so much. I was riding with a pair of first year riders, spending some time encouraging them up the and some time making sure they didn't get lost.
Over the hill and down it, we headed into Samuel P Taylor Park and then into Lagunitas. I was feeling a bit concerned about the time. It was past three p.m. and I had to be in Berkeley between 6 and 7. The women I was riding with assured me they knew the rest of the route; and to help things out even more, as I was about to leave one of the other training ride leaders appeared. I set out as fast as I could and kept a pretty intense pace for the remainder of the ride. Once I was on my way I noticed the clouds gathering again; by the time I arrived at the foot of Camino Alto things were looking fairly ominous. I made it to the top in 7 1/2 minutes; kept on going downhill, slowing down to let some turkeys cross the road (I really should have stopped to take pictures but I was afraid the rain would catch me). I finished without incident; some of the riders who'd gotten ahead while I was on sweep duty were still parked at Mike's at the end. The rain finally did arrive not long after I got home.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 5:50:52
Mileage: 75.38
Average speed: 12.8 mph
Maximum speed: 41.2 mph (thank you White's Hill!)
Pictures are on Facebook and at:

by Robert Katz on Thu, Apr 04, 2013 @ 11:48 PM

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Distance Training Ride #7 - Palomares and Calaveras
This ride ramped things up once again. Our relatively small group (perhaps some folks weren't ready for an 8 a.m. start?) met up as usual and were greeted by unusually pleasant weather. We headed for the Dumbarton Bridge, where we encountered the first of two unexpected situations. It appears that portions of the bike and pedestrian path at either end of the bridge are being upgraded; however there were no warnings. At the east end of the bridge the pavement just stopped, to be replaced by semi-graded dirt and followed by a bit of pavement work that ended with a big bump (and resulted in a flat tire). From here we proceeded to our first stop, adjacent to the Union City BART station. We then continued down Alvarado-Niles Road. As I approached the intersection of Mission Boulevard and Niles Canyon Road I could see there was a problem. A police car was blocking the road and cars were turning around. All of our other cyclists were sitting just off the road waiting. There had been a serious accident at the far end of Niles Canyon. Fortunately our intrepid facilitator Chris had a detour planned out; he was just about to explain it to us when we were allowed to proceed. Two miles down Niles Canyon we turned left for the first climb of the day--4.7 miles up Palomares Road. The climb isn't that steep but it is long and can be tiring. Although I didn't actually need to stop I did stop once to take a picture of a house I'd seen on my previous climbs up Palomares. The next four miles were pretty much all downhill, taking us to Palo Verde Road and then onto Dublin Grade. Dublin Grade is a fairly long climb as well but is quite gentle and is once again followed by a downhill, taking us to Foothill Boulevard by Stone Ridge Mall. We turned south on Foothill and continued for a couple of miles before turning into a residential section of Pleasanton. Most of us had never ridden through this neighborhood previously. Our rest stop was at a mall only recently opened (but very busy) where we had multiple lunch choices. From here I began riding with a group of guys, south to Sunol, and then onto Calaveras Road for our third and final climb. Once again the climb is not that hard but it is long (a bit under three miles). And once you're at the top there are continuous rolling hills and sharp curves for the next seven miles or so; at times these seemed tougher than the actual ascent. Everyone stopped once or twice to take pictures; the view of Calaveras Reservoir is really nice once get past the construction area. Then there is the descent, which starts off quite steep but becomes simply fun, taking us down into Milpitas at the speed limit. Our final stop was followed by fifteen miles of mostly flat riding. I discovered at this point that I'd pushed myself a bit too hard and the other guys left me behind not just once but twice. They took a wrong turn, came up behind me and rode with me once again before dropping me on Central Expressway, where I was REALLY lagging. Still I finished the ride only a couple of minutes behind them so I wasn't doing all that bad. It was just a long ride.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 6:20:00
Mileage: 87.72
Average speed: 13.7 mph
Maximum speed: 35.2 mph
Photos are on Facebook and at

by Robert Katz on Sun, Mar 24, 2013 @ 10:32 PM

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Mike's Bikes to Point Reyes Station
This was a fun ride from beginning to end. I arrived a bit on the early side; took a couple of photos of the houseboats and waited while everyone else showed up. Animals seemed to be the day's theme. I swept the first portion of the ride so I took it easy, especially at the beginning. There was a pair of ducks wading off the bike path so I got a few pictures of them. While climbing Camino Alto we were halted for a moment while a pair of wild turkeys crossed the road. A pair of pugs was sitting outside of Fat Angel Bakery. And the ranks of our ride were swelled by a large number of bears (on bicycles).
The route took us to Fairfax, up White's Hill, through Lagunitas and into Samuel P Taylor Park, then up Olema Hill and Highway 1 into Point Reyes Station for lunch.
One the return portion we climbed Highway 1 to Point Reyes-Petaluma Road and continued around Nicasio Reservoir; our final stop was at Nicasio Ranch. On this portion of the route we saw the CAT 2 ride from the city going the opposite direction. There were quite a few renegades stopped at Nicasio Ranch when I arrived and a couple more stopped at Mike's when we finished. It was a bit chilly and foggy early on but once the fog burned off it was a beautiful day, perfect for riding.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 4:27:56
Mileage: 58.84
Average speed: 13.1 mph
Maximum speed: 40.1 mph
Photos are on Facebook and at

by Robert Katz on Sun, Mar 24, 2013 @ 3:56 PM

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Distance Training Ride #6 - Mountain View to Pacifica and Back
You'd think that adding ten miles and 2000 feet of climbing would make for a tougher ride, wouldn't you? But no; after the challenging ride of two weeks ago, last Saturday's CAT 3 ride seemed almost easy.
It was certainly a nice day for a ride; I was a bit surprised by the relatively low turnout (only 23 riders); I guess other people were other places, doing other rides. I volunteered to sweep the first portion of the ride, up Foothill Expressway and Woodside Road to Roberts Market. So I was more than a bit surprised when several of the faster riders showed up BEHIND me. I'm not sure what they did exactly but whatever it was, it gave them an added mile and made the difference. But no matter. Once done with sweeping I was pretty much free, other than to make sure that my fellow-riders were safe and following the rules.
The remainder of the route was somewhat interesting in that it covered portions of the Day 1 route in BOTH directions. From Roberts we headed north along Caņada Road to the Ralston Bike Path (one of my fellow training ride leaders, immediately after I reminded her not to miss the turn, did precisely that) and UP across I-280 to Polhemus Road, then DOWN Polhemus, across CA-92 to Crystal Springs Road and up to Crystal Springs Dam. If I have my choice as to whether to go up or down Polhemus, I'd go with down. From Crystal Springs Dam we continued north on Sawyer Camp Trail and then onto Skyline Boulevard and onto the bike-friendly part of 280 until Skyline diverged once again. There are some annoying little climbs on Skyline that nobody bothers to mention.
We continued north to Hickey Blvd, meaning we were actually in Daly City and PRACTICALLY in San Francisco, before heading towards the water by way of Skyline DRIVE (which to make matters worse runs parallel to Skyline Blvd at some points) and then south along the water to our lunch stop.
After lunch we considered south, paralleling Highway 1 until we reached Sharp Park Road, a lengthy but really not that difficult climb, back to Skyline Blvd. For the next several miles we were back on the Day 1 route, including I-280 again, past the site of Rest Stop 1, down the nice hill on the west side of 280, a left on Crystal Springs Road and back UP Polhemus. Our final official stop was part of the way up Polhemus where there is a Safeway and a Starbucks just before the point where Polhemus becomes annoying. Continuing across Highway 92 this time, Polhemus becomes Ralston Avenue which climbs a bit further and then provides a very satisfying descent into Belmont where we returned to Alameda de las Pulgas, Santa Cruz Avenue, Junipero Serra and Foothill and back the way we were supposed to head out until we got back to Mountain View again. No surprise that despite the additional miles and climbing I finished two hours earlier than I had two weeks before. And then...burritos.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 5:52:08
Mileage: 76.79
Average speed: 13.0 mph
Maximum speed: 39.5 mph
Photos are on Facebook and at

by Robert Katz on Wed, Mar 13, 2013 @ 3:45 PM

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China Camp and Woodacre
Last Saturday's ride was more or less a repeat of one we'd done last fall. Returning to Mike's Bikes once again (this time early enough to score parking there), we rode out, climbed Camino Alto and continued into San Anselmo before heading towards China Camp (there was a stop at Andy's Market). It was a chilly but sunny day once again; our group was fairly robust this time. I was the sweep from Andy's to lunch but I had the pleasant company of Steve Burton, Ray Grimsinger and Dan England all the way around China Camp. As we were passing the Marin Civic Center on the far side of the loop I saw another rider in the distance who I took to be ours. This turned out to be a correct guess. He'd gotten lost and so I rode herd on him all the way back to San Anselmo and then on to Fairfax where we had our second break. By this point, along with a couple of ALC renegades we also encountered some of the people on the CAT 2 ride out of the city. We climbed White's Hill as we'd done a couple of weeks earlier (how did I manage to be the one sweeping up White's on two consecutive rides?) and turned off of Sir Francis Drake Blvd into Woodacre for lunch. We encountered most of the CAT 1 ride there and it was a very nice, social experience.
For our own ride the remainder of the trip was uneventful; in fact the pace was sufficiently relaxed that I had time to stop and take pictures along the way. Unfortunately there was an accident on the descent of White's Hill involving one of the CAT 1 riders. I was told to continue on; I'm hoping that the rider is alright. It's never a good thing to take a spill on White's Hill.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 3:49:24
Mileage: 45.82 (I may have lost a mile somewhere)
Average speed: 11.9 mph
Maximum speed: 37.9 mph
Photos on Flickr and at

by Robert Katz on Sun, Mar 10, 2013 @ 10:03 PM

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A Tough Ride Out of Mountain View
If the prior week's ride from Sausalito was an easy back-in-the saddle experience, the following week's ride was quite the opposite, as anyone who knows about Chris Thomas's "Distance Training Ride Series" will be able to tell you. He calls them "challenging," others have referred to them instead as "sadism on a saddle."
Along with the other challenges, the fact that I'd missed the previous ride in the series meant that I was making a big step up in distance...from 50 to just over 70. And while the prior rides had all be classified at CAT 2 (10-12 mph average speed), this one like the remainder of the series was classified at the higher CAT 3 (13-16 mph).
Our route took us south from Mountain View down Foothill Expressway to Stevens Canyon Road. We've covered the same ground in the past in order to get to Coyote Valley at the south end of San Jose. This time there was a new twist: instead of going the flow and climbing Mount Eden Road (not easy but certainly doable) we stayed on Stevens Canyon Road through the canyon itself. The canyon wall goes ever higher; at the top is State Highway 9. To get to Highway 9 we turned left onto Redwood Gulch Road, which is an evil and hateful thing, having an average grade of about 10% with portions close to double that along its 1.4 mile length. At least it was pretty! After about half a mile I gave up and walked pretty much the rest of the way. I'm sure I wasn't alone. After a couple of last year's humbling experiences with what we refer to as "cross-training" I decided I no longer had anything to prove which made the walking part far easier to bear. At points I was going as fast on foot as some people were traveling on their bikes.
The downhill on Highway 9 was pleasant and not really intense; the speed limit is only 30 mph and it's not really safe to go faster due to the numerous sharp turns that have posted limits of 15 and 20 miles per hour. This stretch took us into the town of Saratoga where we had our first rest stop. From Saratoga we continued on Highway 9 into Los Gatos and then into San Jose. There is a nice downhill or two along the way; the challenge here is that the next rest stop was nearly 30 miles away at Bernal Plaza. By that point we'd climbed and descended a couple of hills and ridden McLean Road past the lovely Calero Reservoir. Then a left turn onto Bailey Road, a relatively brief second serious climb (brief because McLean is generally uphill all the way) and then DOWN. Fun! Though someone apparently took a spill on this particular downhill. My understanding is that they were okay.
But fun has to end sometime. As forecast there was a moderate but persistent headwind once we turned northwards on Santa Teresa Blvd towards our lunch stop in fact the wind was strong enough to make me feel just a bit unstable on the downhill side of Bailey Road. The headwind continued until we diverted more towards the west, with our final stop in Los Gatos. Chris must be getting soft I suppose; with a couple of brief exceptions the rest of the route was relatively flat.
Because I was still recuperating and because, let's face it, I tend to dawdle, I'd volunteered to sweep the final leg of the ride. The folks I was sweeping are not bad riders though they are a trifle slow on the uphills (the final climb was the return portion of Highway 9 to Saratoga). I was the absolute last person back, beating sunset by only ten minutes.
The daily stats:
Ride time: 5:29:54
Mileage: 71.04
Average speed: 12.8 mph
Maximum speed: 36.0 mph
Photos are on Facebook and at

by Robert Katz on Sun, Mar 10, 2013 @ 9:52 PM

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Playing Catchup on Training, Part 2
I see I've fallen further behind than I'd thought. The last training ride I've covered here was a month ago...though I did at least mention the fact that lost a week's worth of training to a chest cold.
So let's get right on it, shall we?
My first ride back was a nice, easy one (if you discount the fact that I'd not climbed White's Hill since last fall) on Saturday, February 16. We apparently picked a very popular day. By 8:45 the parking area behind Mike's Bikes was completely full and those of us who'd driven over had to seek parking elsewhere. There were only ten of us in all when we set out for Lagunitas a bit late (because of the parking issue). Several other rides (Team In Training; Velogirls) had filled the parking area. The Saturday CAT 1 and CAT 2 rides from the city passed by as we prepping and there were numerous other folks out enjoying some really superb late-winter weather.
Not much to say really other than that we all had fun, particularly when interacting with the people who were on other rides, mainly in Fairfax (one of the CAT 1 riders accidentally followed us to Lagunitas). Apart from a couple of moderate climbs it really was the ideal way for me to resume my training.
Totals for this ride:
Ride Time: 2:56:31
Mileage: 36.93
Average speed: 12.5 mph
Maximum speed: 37.9 mph
Photos, the few that I took, are on Facebook and at:

by Robert Katz on Sun, Mar 10, 2013 @ 9:32 PM

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Another 50-mile ride...
followed by a week out of commission.
Not having ridden on Saturday I of course needed to ride on Sunday instead. After considering my options I decided to be brave and ride across the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time this year, also doing a Sunday CAT 2 ride for the first time in the series.
We had several visitors who'd driven up from LA for the Expo and stayed around to ride with us. I was not an official training ride leader but served as a sort of unofficial guide to the out-of-towners who mainly didn't really know their way around.
I had a minor incident on my way to the bridge--I dropped my chain on the incline. I don't recall that having happened on my "new" bike previously. I suppose you could call it a break-in event. While it certainly wasn't warm it was a nice day. I added to my mileage by riding to and from home instead of driving. Our route took us through Sausalito, over Camino Alto and into Fairfax for lunch. After turning around we returned by way of Paradise Drive and Trestle Glenn instead of surmounting the hill a second time (of course we still had to climb the Sausalito Lateral). Since it was Superbowl Sunday I suspect the bike traffic on the bridge was lighter than usual which was fine with me.
Daily stats:
Ride time: 3:59:03
Mileage: 51.16
Average speed: 12.8 mph
Maximum speed: 35.2 mph
Photos archives:
I'd started coughing that afternoon; assumed it was an allergic reaction to all of the dust in the air. I was wrong; by the middle of the week I was down with a nasty chest cold which kept me from riding last weekend. So now I get to make up for it. Tomorrow should be a nice day for a ride; it'll only be 40 miles but at least I won't have to cross the bridge.

by Robert Katz on Fri, Feb 15, 2013 @ 8:17 PM

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The Kickoff Party and Ride Expo
Saturday February 2 was the Kickoff Party and Ride Expo. There were a couple of short training rides on the schedule but none connected with the actual event. Apparently it was decided that the Kickoff Party didn't work as a separate event so it was combined with the Expo which provides marketing opportunities to some of the rides sponsors and partners and includes a workshop on packing for the ride, both in the midst of Golden Gate Park. There was also food and giveaways. I was asked to photograph so of course I did.
Here are the pictures:

by Robert Katz on Fri, Feb 15, 2013 @ 8:08 PM

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Playing Catchup
I see I've fallen behind here and after missing a weekend of riding I'll soon have a new ride to talk about so I'd better get this up-to-date.
Three weeks ago (1/26) was #3 in the series of South Bay rides. Unlike the first two this one was really about distance rather than climbing; in fact over 50 miles we climbed just a bit more than 500 feet! That didn't necessarily make for an easy ride of course, though not because of the terrain.
The day began sunny in San Francisco after rain the previous evening. Driving down Highway 101 I assumed that the dark cloud we saw ahead of us was merely fog. It turned out to be a bit more than that--a light drizzle that began only as we arrived in Mountain View. Fortunately things cleared up as we were going through the preliminaries and the sun was shining as we set out. Our route took us parallel to Highway 101, up to and over the Dumbarton Bridge and then south and east to Mission San Jose in Fremont. At our first stop not that far past the bridge we were greeted by a pair of Mormon missionaries (poor guys; I hope we didn't traumatize them too much). The second stop, opposite Ohlone College on Mission Boulevard, took longer than expected--for me at any rate. Because I had the misfortune to get in the line at Subway right behind the college basketball team. All of them ordered foot-long sandwiches, all toasted and with plenty of toppings. I was really hungry or I might have considered delaying my lunch.
We covered a bit of new ground to complete the loop around the bottom of the bay. In fact we really DID ride along the bottom of the bay, through the town of Alviso. Once we turned towards the west we had some headwind, not the brutal kind, but sufficient to be just a bit aggravating. As for Alviso well...the change in scenery was nice but it isn't that interesting really (no offense to anyone who lives there).
After we were done a group of us went out for Mexican food in downtown Mountain View. Despite the wind it was a fun day.
Daily totals:
Ride time: 3:20:53
Mileage: 51.51 (some of us missed a turn and got a bonus mile)
Average speed: 15.3 mph
Maximum speed: 36.5 mph
Photo archive:

by Robert Katz on Fri, Feb 15, 2013 @ 8:05 PM

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The next ride--easier, shorter, warmer
After last Saturday's ride I was ready for something a bit more mellow. Since the South Bay series is now going bi-weekly I'll be alternating between those rides and others...mainly out of Mike's Bikes in Sausalito (so I can continue to avoid the Golden Gate Bridge as much as possible).
This weekend's ride was a route I had not previously done, and though I'd ridden substantial portions of it at either end, the parts I wasn't familiar with made up a good part of the day. Some was pleasant, some was...confusing.
Mild weather was predicted but things nonetheless started out on chilly side; still it didn't take long for the temperature to rise.
Following the usual route we climbed Camino Alto and passed through Larkspur but turned at Bon Air Road and then again along what I think is the mouth of San Anselmo Creek, through Greenbrae and into Larkspur Landing. Here's where things got confusing. We were supposed to cross Sir Francis Drake Boulevard opposite the Larkspur Ferry dock, pass through the mall on the far side and then go through the Cal-Park Tunnel (a converted railroad tunnel consisting of a dedicated paved path). Unfortunately I got completely lost trying to find the tunnel entrance and gained some extra miles. Not unpleasant, just...confusing.
Once through the tunnel I found myself on the south end of San Rafael; I had to double-check the route map and my phone; eventually I got myself oriented once again. Since our ride was small and there were people in front of me and behind me, I was on my own most of the time. That didn't help. Or else it did--at least I didn't lead anyone else astray.
The remainder of the ride took us up the Lincoln Hill Bike Path (more like a highway for bicycles) which I'd ridden southbound before but never northbound. Our turn-around point and lunch stop was at Panera Bakery in Northgate Mall. After that we retraced our steps. Since I was now in the company of most of the riders there was no more worry about getting lost. There weren't any bad incidents of any sort, though one of my fellow training ride leaders managed to rack up both of the day's flat tires.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 2:31:43
Mileage: 29.33 (about a mile extra)
Average speed: 11.2 mph
Maximum speed: 31.4 mph
I've yet to download any of the pictures. Once again there were not all that many but they'll appear sooner or later.

by Robert Katz on Sun, Jan 20, 2013 @ 4:08 PM

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A VERY Chilly Ride
A bit tardy since I've already completed a subsequent ride but...comprehensiveness is important, right?
Ride Number Two of the South Bay Distance Training Series was described as "easier than last week's with the same amount of climbing over a longer distance." Which didn't mean there wasn't plenty of climbing. And--for the Bay Area at least--it was cold, though sunny and in fact really not unpleasant despite the chilly temperatures. And despite the chilly temperatures we had as many riders this week as last week--35.
To mix things up, this week's ride went south instead of north. From Mountain View we headed south through Cupertino and Saratoga (atypically for most of these rides a good portion of the route consisted of traveling the same roads in both directions), hopped onto Highway 9 into Los Gatos for our first stop. Once in Los Gatos we took care of the biggest climbs--Shannon Road, followed by Kennedy Road. The turn from one to the other was tricky, a sharp, hidden right turn followed by a brief but very steep uphill. Because I wasn't prepared for the turn I ended up walking the first 20 feet; a fellow-rider had lost dropped his chain trying to make the transition so I stopped to help him anyway and thus it turned out to be for the best. One road took us out of downtown Los Gatos while the other dumped us perhaps a half mile away from where we'd started climbing. We returned to Highway 9 again but turned off onto Quito Road, which we'd ridden on many previous occasions but not in this direction. Then we turned off onto some residential streets which had brief but, let us say, bracing climbs and downhills before returning to Saratoga, where we had our lunch stop.
After lunch we continued our return to Mountain View, by way of Prospect, Stelling, McClellan and Foothill. But we turned off once again, onto Cristo Rey Drive, taking us up a a couple more hills, eventually returning us to Loyola Road and around the Los Altos Golf and Country Club in the opposite direction we'd circled it last week...but still with the requisite climbs. Our return was back along other roads we've often traveled but in a direction we're not accustomed to.
This week we covered 45 miles; on our next ride, in two weeks, we've been promised an easy fifty-miler with very little climbing, which I am looking forward to, followed by something already described as sufficiently challenging that walking a portion of the hills is almost expected. I'll be praying for rain. Not really of course.
Today's stats:
Ride time: 3:26:29
Mileage: 45.08
Average speed: 13.0 mph
Maximum speed: 33.3 mph

by Robert Katz on Sun, Jan 20, 2013 @ 3:51 PM

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Ending one year; starting another
The week surrounding New Year's Eve was actually relatively productive in terms of training.
After not riding for a couple of weeks, I got the road bike cleaned up (well almost; I keep finding little bits of crud I overlooked) and took it out for a spin on Sunday, 12/30. Nothing terribly adventurous; did my commute route, continued along Folsom all the way to Embarcadero and returned by way of 2nd Street and Howard. On the way home I stopped off at Mike's Bikes to say hello. Computer hadn't been tracking cadence; they fixed it...for now. I'm sure that laying the bike down in the back of the car is sufficient to throw things out of line once again.
There were no pictures but I did get in a bit under five miles. Totals as follows:
Ride time: 0:25:37
Mileage: 4.88
Average speed: 11.2 mph
Maximum speed: 21.2 mph
New Year's Day was a bit more ambitious, and this one was an official training ride (organized, as usual, by Julie Brown). When I say it was a bit more ambitious I mean a BIT more...officially 15 whole miles from the north parking lot of the Golden Gate Bridge into Mill Valley and back. Weather was sufficiently brisk as to be noticeable. The biggest challenge was that the parking lot was completely full (surprising for early on New Year's Day) and some of us had to drive part of the way up the Headlands to find parking. So the resulting ride was just a bit more challenging and a bit longer. The Depot Cafe in Mill Valley was closed for the holiday but we managed to find alternate food facilities across the street. And we had a couple of visitors as well. Starting and finishing up the Headlands gave me some extra photo opportunities too.
Totals for the day:
Ride time: 1:12:39
Mileage: 15.83
Average speed: 13.0 mph
Maximum speed: 32.0 mph
Photos are on Facebook and at:
Finally, on Saturday, we began the training season in earnest with the kick-off of Chris Thomas's South Bay Distance Training Series out of Mountain View. There was quite a turnout--35 riders altogether. This was supposed to be an easy ride but when you're on one of Chris's rides's relative. Continuing road construction on Junipero Serra will force us to use alternate routes on northbound rides well into March, starting with this one. So we began by using the Bryant Bike Boulevard through Palo Alto and then headed up Sand Hill Road to Santa Cruz Avenue and then north by way of Alameda de las Pulgas. No Chris Thomas ride would be complete without a challenge. Today's was a climb up Jefferson Avenue and Farm Hill Boulevard. We'd descended Jefferson several times in the past but climbing was a new experience. The summit consisted of Canada College (sorry; no tilde).
I may have been the only one to recall our last "official" trip to that spot: Day on the Ride for CAR 8, in 2001, but at least we did the short climb that time!
From the summit we descended to Canada Road, continued south and approached Roberts Market in Woodside by way of King Mountain Road. Following the lunch stop we did the Portola-Alpine Loop, rode through the Arastradero Preserve and along the side of Highway 280 and then...we climbed a couple more hills, concluding with a loop around the Los Gatos Golf and Country Club before returning to Mountain View. Did I mention that it was chilly in the morning and that rain was in the forecast? The chill was noteworthy (though tomorrow will apparently be colder) and the weather deteriorated throughout the day. But everyone finished up, with the last person arriving minutes ahead of the rain.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 3:09:13
Mileage: 39.73
Average speed: 12.5 mph
Maximum speed: 32.2 mph
The Flickr photos are at:
As I've waited all week to do an update I can now say that the next training ride will be tomorrow...another South Bay event. The Distance Training Series is normally every other week but the first two rides were scheduled back-to-back.

by Robert Katz on Fri, Jan 11, 2013 @ 4:15 PM

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December Training Rides, the Good and the Ugly
Following the rain out of the World AIDS Day Ride, next scheduled outing was on Saturday, 12/8, once again out of Mike's Bikes in Sausalito.
We'd originally been scheduled to ride sixty miles, including a trip up and over Olema Hill to Point Reyes Station, but because of the gap in rides we collectively decided to clip ten miles off of the route, skipping the climb while turning around at the end of the path that runs through Samuel P Taylor Park to the intersection of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and Platform Bridge Road. This still left us with close to fifty miles, which isn't a bad ride for early December. Weather was brisk but sunny; our group was relatively compact. Naturally a couple of folks had to show up fashionably late and then go their own way.
One of the upsides of this ride was that I discovered that a substantial portion of Sir Francis Drake Blvd, between Lagunitas and the park entrance, had been repaved. The improvement was remarkable. Now there's only about a half mile of choppy road left, which hopefully will be fixed once the bad weather is past.
The recent rains meant that there were still wet spots and significant amounts of leaf fall in some spots, particularly within the park. This led to a somewhat exciting moment for me: Our official turnaround point was on the bike path just before it passes under Sir Francis Drake. I slowed down, hit the brakes and put my foot down; my foot skidded on the wet pavement and I landed on my posterior. There was no damage other than to my dignity, though the rear blinker on my bike came apart (perhaps contributing to its subsequent demise this past weekend). Lunch was in Lagunitas on the way back.
One of our riders was a very enthusiastic first-timer who'd ridden over from the city and was intent on clocking 80 miles that day. Ah to be young and enthusiastic!
Ride stats:
Ride time: 3:45:32
Mileage: 48.48
Average speed: 12.8 mph
Maximum speed: 36.5 mph (it was sufficiently damp that there was no point in pushing it descending White's Hill).
Photos, what few there are, are on Facebook and at:
Last weekend was a bit different. The weather was even chillier. There was rain in the forecast, which was not supposed to start until late afternoon. We'd be finished by then--or so we thought. Turnout was even smaller for this one than for last week. We decided to limit our ride once again, planning a counter-clockwise loop around Nicasio Reservoir, again cutting about ten miles from the posted distance but still increasing by about 10% from last Saturday's ride.
Once at Nicasio Ranch one of our riders decided she didn't trust the way things were looking and turned around. This was a very wise move and we really should have followed her example.
Rain started as we reached the far end of Nicasio Valley Road, by which point there was little we could do but keep going. The result was 30 miles of wet riding. We pretty much stayed together. My suggestion was that we stay on Sir Francis Drake rather than use the bike path. Not too much traffic and probably less leaf fall on the road. One of our riders did a low-speed spill, skinning his knuckles but otherwise not being hurt. We took care of things when we reached Lagunitas Market. He's a trouper and is going to be a great addition to our community.
It turns out that the Market makes delicious soups, one of which (a chicken-curry thing) was ideal for a day like Saturday. I had a great deal of concern about descending White's Hill in the rain. After cautioning our resident newbie it turned out that I was the scaredy-cat of the group. Rain actually stopped briefly at about the time we reached the hill but the road was still very wet and I really didn't want to take any chances. The same applied to Camino Alto. By the time I reached the top I just wanted to be finished so I kept going and basically didn't stop until I reached my car...which I was VERY happy to see.
Although I was not wearing rain pants and had foolishly forgotten my full-finger gloves, I stayed amazingly dry and warm overall. Most of what I'd been wearing was absolutely filthy by the time I finished riding. I threw everything into the wash and, greatly to my surprise, everything came out clean.
My bike is a sight. I will clean it over the next few days as I have no plans for a ride before New Years Day.
Here are the stats from last Saturday:
Ride time: 4:21:54
Mileage: 53.33
Average speed: 12.1 mph
Maximum speed: 34.5 mph
All three pictures are at:
The rear blinker did give up the ghost; perhaps due to the amount of grit that got into the on/off switch. This is an easy and inexpensive item to replace so I'm not too worried.
So this concludes the training schedule for 2012. I look forward to lots of spring rides, preferably without too many rainouts.

by Robert Katz on Mon, Dec 17, 2012 @ 4:28 PM

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Training Rides, Updated
One downside of going on vacation is that you lose track of things.
There was the Kickoff Ride, then one weekend off after it, then a ride in late September. Then I was sick/went to the Castro Street Fair. And then I was gone for two weekends, having fun in the Northeast before Sandy ruined it.
And now I'm playing catch-up with training, fundraising and documentation.
Ride #1, Mike's Bikes to Tiburon, Out and Back.
This one was on 9/29. I was very pleased that Julie Brown set up a Fall ride series starting from Mike's Bikes in Sausalito. Keeps me off the Golden Gate Bridge (well, on a bike at least).
The ride was #2 in the series...up the bike path to the sewage treatment facility, then across the preserve to the Strawberry neighborhood, around and up and down to Tiburon Blvd, then along the waterfront to downtown Tiburon, where we stopped for lunch. After dining we continued along Paradise Drive and looped around the malls in Corte Madera. Our second stop was at Peets Coffee, off of Tamalpais Drive. And from there, up Horse Hill, by the side of Highway 101, skirting the big climbs (I didn't see any horses; I DID make a wrong turn), and finally back to Mike's.
Daily Totals:
Ride time: 2:02:09
Mileage: 25.71
Average speed: 12.6 mph
Maximum speed: 26.9 mph
Next ride, #6 of the series (I missed 1, 3, 4 and 5) was a bit longer and took place on 10/27. That's four weeks off the bike! We increased our mileage just a bit. Another warm, sunny day. This ride took us to China Camp and included climbs over Camino Alto in both directions. Because it was an absolutely awesome day there were tons of folks out on the road. We ran into numerous other ALCers riding on their own; we even ran into a couple of Cyclist Reps!
Stats for this one:
Ride time: 2:51:06
Mileage: 35.79
Average speed: 12.5 mph
Maximum speed: 27.1 mph
Next ride, on 11/3, was a bit more ambitious. For some of our rather intimate crew this was the first chance to climb a somewhat formidable hill. We headed for Fairfax, stopped at Fat Angel Bakery, and then climbed White's Hill, continuing on to Lagunitas where we had lunch at the Deli and General Store and then turned around. All of the newbies made it up the hill and back down without any difficulty. And once again the weather was gorgeous.
Stats for this one:
Ride time: 2:53:43
Mileage: 36.36
Average speed: 12.5 mph
Maximum speed: 38.2 mph
And finally, last Saturday, the weather caught up with us. After riding in 70-degree weather for the past few weeks, it got real. It was CHILLY when we started out. Several people bailed because they were concerned about the possibility of rain. (It didn't rain) Or maybe they didn't want to ride in the cold.
Again this one was more ambitious than the last one. We added only four miles but we also added two more climbs--up Nicasio Valley Road to Nicasio Ranch. We had to climb each hill both directions. I definitely felt it in my knees afterwards; nothing serious but they were definitely tight and not all that happy. And I DID stretch enough. Really.
I also discovered that there is actually a food menu at the General Store in Nicasio Ranch. I had clam chowder. Yum!
Once again, our new riders were total troupers. Not even a flat tire in the whole group!
Ride time: 3:21:21
Mileage: 40.91
Average speed: 12.1 mph
Maximum speed: 40.3 mph (first time over 40 mph since ALC 11!)
So now I've caught up with everything. Except fundraising. That's my next project. Weather looks a bit iffy for this coming weekend but we'll see.

by Robert Katz on Wed, Nov 14, 2012 @ 3:30 PM

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The Kickoff Ride
Although we've been having training rides since mid-August, the "official" start of training was actually last Sunday with the Kickoff Ride. There were three options: a Tiburon Loop, officially 37 miles; a quick jaunt to Mill Valley, officially 22 miles, and a beginner's clinic followed by a very brief ride of 8 miles. I opted to be a training ride leader on the Tiburon Loop. We were advised that there would be no parking available at Sports Basement so I got some extra miles by biking to and from home. This actually did turn out to be a good idea as there were other events going on in and around Crissy Field. In fact as I rode my bike down Bay Street and Marina Blvd, barriers were being set up to divert car traffic for a half-marathon (which fortunately did not involve partial bridge closure).
As usual it was quite chilly when we all gathered behind Sports Basement and, also as usual for this event, the majority of riders on the longer ride were veterans. That's not to say we didn't have some first-timers. We were privileged to have among our group the ride's executive director, Greg Sroda, as well as Neil Giuliano, head of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. It was a particularly sweet day for Neil; he'd injured himself last spring while working out and had not been allowed to ride much during ALC 11 (I think he managed to miss ALL of Day Two). He'd finally been cleared to ride again just a couple of weeks earlier. Neil's a nice guy; it's always fun to have him along.
Once we crossed the bridge the weather improved; I stopped just before the top of Camino Alto because there was a deer grazing by the side of the road, evidently unfazed by the cars and cyclists passing by only a few feet away from him (or her). I got some nice pictures of the deer as well as of our riders; I also got some pictures of riders that didn't turn out so well (and were therefore discarded).
Apart from the always-irksome return trip across the bridge, which always raises my blood pressure, there were no crashes or accidents on our ride. Apparently there was one on the Mill Valley ride; our sweep driver Terri was commandeered to help transport the rider who was not seriously hurt.
Following the ride there was a get-together inside Sports Basement which included food and some give-aways. As usual, my ticket was not picked. And then I pedaled home with about 9 "bonus miles" to my credit.
As I was leaving Sports Basement, Julie Brown informed me that nobody other than me had taken any pictures; she asked me if I'd post them ASAP. When I'd left home there had been no internet service. Upon my return I discovered that it was not the provider's fault, but the fault of a leaking somethinging-or-other in our building that had damaged our ISP's gear there. So I was able to get everything edited and uploaded.
Totals for the day:
Ride time: 3:43:40
Mileage: 46.61
Average speed: 12.4 mph
Maximum speed: 31.9 mph
Photos are at:

by Robert Katz on Fri, Sep 21, 2012 @ 4:41 PM

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Yes, I've been training
Last Saturday saw another training ride. One of the easiest I've ever done.
There were only seven of us, including four training ride leaders. Two of the leaders were second-year riders and first-time TRL's whose partners have signed up for their first ALC and who were part of Saturday's group.
There was James and Tim, Jim and Roy, Les, Carol and myself.
We started out in Sunnyvale where James and Tim live, headed for Foothill Expressway, up Foothill to Junipero Serra, Santa Cruz Avenue, and Alameda de las Pulgas. Just before we'd have become obliged to climb hills we turned towards the bay, stopping in Redwood City for lunch at a popular deli. Almost all of the remainder of our ride was along bayfront trail. So our 42 miles included a grand total of 786 feet of climbing.
The weather was picture-perfect and I doubt anyone was particularly sore when we were finished.
Carol and I took off riding northbound but for the most part we all rode together. For that reason I didn't stop to take pictures of scenery along the way. There are a few which I've yet to post to Flickr or Facebook but I'll update this entry when I get that taken care of.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 3:07:41
Mileage: 42.69 miles
Average speed: 13.6 mph
Maximum speed: 25.0 mph (there is a downside to the lack of climbing: no downhills)
This coming weekend will include the official ALC Kickoff Ride.
Update: Here are the pictures...all five of them:

by Robert Katz on Tue, Sep 11, 2012 @ 4:14 PM

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Last ALC 11 Event; First Official ALC 12 Ride
I was lazy last weekend, I admit it. I'm currently resting on my laurels.
The weekend before last was the annual Thank You Ride and BBQ which sort of "officially" marks the end of AIDS/LifeCycle 11. I didn't do that day's ride to Mill Valley but I dusted off the road bike and pedaled down to Crissy Field to take part in the BBQ...and of course to take some pictures, which are here:
The ride picked up one of my photos to use on their Facebook page, which is always flattering.
The following day was the Sunday CAT 2 Series Reunion which for all intents and purposes served as the first official training ride for ALC 12 (even though the Kickoff Ride is in September). I got over myself, rode to Sports Basement and even (gasp!) over the Golden Gate Bridge and back. The group was relatively small, probably owing to the previous day's ride; mostly veterans but one very enthusiastic newbie. Our route consisted of a reverse Tiburon Loop with a slight variation: Rather than jog back onto the Sausalito Bike Path at the end of Camino Alto we stayed on Camino Alto all the way to its end at Miller Avenue and continued to Tam Junction where we stopped for a very healthy lunch Cafe Del Sole.
This was actually my first time crossing the bridge since the west side had re-opened. I was quite pleased to see that the southern approach had been re-graded and actual lanes created. On the other hand, nothing can be done about the weekend tourist traffic which remains hair-raising.
Totals for Saturday:
Ride Time: 0:44:12
Mileage: 8.29
Average speed: 11.2 mph
Maximum speed: 25.5 mph
Totals for Sunday:
Ride time: 3:46:59
Mileage: 46.22
Average speed: 12.1 mph
Maximum speed: 32.4 mph
Photos from Sunday are at:

by Robert Katz on Mon, Aug 27, 2012 @ 1:58 PM

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The Marin Century and Summer Ride Pictures
This past weekend I did no riding; instead I was once again certified as a training ride leader. After my first year of riding (very successful) I figured I owed it to the next crop of newbies to pay it forward, so I've been a training ride leader every year since 1999.
The weekend before last was the ride I'd used those July rides to prep for--the Marin Century.
I've done the Marin Century a few times before. The first time I tried it was in 2001 when I signed up for and completed the full 100-mile ride, complete with my first time up the dreaded Marshall Wall. In subsequent years I figured I had nothing to prove and did the metric century version instead. Possibly because I did not get to do an actual 100-mile ride during ALC I decided to once again sign up for the full century. I'd done before; what could possibly go wrong?
In a sense, nothing really DID go wrong; I was upright at the beginning and I was upright at the end, 103 miles later. In the middle, was an exercise in humility. In fairness to myself the route had been made more challenging. And I am eleven years older than I was in 2001. Still...I don't really like having to walk even a portion of a hill. But that's what I did. Three times. Two of the hills were entirely new to me; the third one was the aforementioned Marshall Wall (which I've ridden a couple of times in the interim). The difference was the direction. In previous years I've ridden it from east to west. The west end of it is a steep downhill letting out at Highway 1. I'd always thought that I would not want to do it in the the other direction but that was what I bit off.
After my experiences last month, it was probably just as well that Saturday, August 4 was an unusually cool and gloomy day. In the heat of July I shudder to think how things might have gone.
There is no disgrace in walking hills; we call it "cross-training." Still, I don't really want to do it if I don't have to. But I had to. Fortunately I was not alone in walking those hills and, also fortunately, several of my friends were there for the ride.
The stats:
Ride time: 7:40:03
Mileage: 102.97
Average speed: 13.4 mph
Maximum speed: 37.2 mph
Photos are at:
Photos for my July 1 ride:
Photos for my July 22 ride:
And now it's time for ALC 12 training to start for real.

by Robert Katz on Mon, Aug 13, 2012 @ 4:56 PM

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Some Summer Rides
So here it is, the first week of August. I took some time off from riding following ALC 11 but decided to sign up for the Marin Century, which takes place tomorrow.
Looking back at the past few summers it seems that I have pretty much sat out all of July. Not this year!
I didn't completely knock myself out but I managed to clock three rides in July. On July 1 I took myself out and rode 35 miles on my own from Mike's Bikes in Sausalito to China Camp and back. The following Saturday I met up with friends at the far end of the Golden Gate Bridge; we rode to Point Reyes Station and returned via Olema Hill. Two weeks later we rode up to the Cheese Factory, also from the north end of the bridge (I REALLY don't like biking across the bridge any more!). So I'm already ahead of last year's training miles.
Following the Marin Century I will be taking part in training ride leader re-certification...then the ALC 11 Thank You Ride and BBQ and then...well, we'll see. I HAVE been lazy about downloading pictures (they're on my computer, ready for posting so they'll be here eventually. Perhaps I'll provide just the links in a separate post, along with any pictures I take on tomorrow's Marin Century.
Here are my totals for July:
Ride time: 2:39:18
Mileage: 35.23
Average speed: 13.2 mph
Maximum speed: 28.7 mph
Ride time: 4:58:04
Mileage: 67.15
Average speed: 13.4 mph
Maximum speed: 38.4 mph
Ride time: 4:45:17
Mileage: 62.42
Average speed: 13.1 mph
Maximum speed: 39.1 mph

by Robert Katz on Fri, Aug 03, 2012 @ 12:56 PM

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