AIDS Lifecycle - Ride to end AIDS

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ALC 7, Quadbuster
ALC 7, Quadbuster

Here's how I'm doing so far

101 percent of goal achieved.

Goal: $7,000.00
Achieved: $7,054.51

$6,, wait...$7,004.51!!!!!!

At 5:30 p.m. on Friday night I thought my fundraising was done for the year and that I'd finish at 89% of my (admittedly generous) goal. Little did I know I was going to receive a call while I was at Orientation, leading to an enormously generous donation which has now put me over the top by $4.51.! Thank you so much to you (you know who you are) and to each and every one of my donors from the bottom of my heart. Clearly I could not have done that without your help and support. This amount of funds raised also represents my second or third most successful fundraising year, and that's not something I can easily disparage.

Particularly in light of the funding cuts AIDS services that Governor Schwartzenegger announced this week, each dollar is even more precious now than it might have been previously. It will help to keep people housed and fed, provide IV drug users with possibility of finding their way to recovery and reduce the transmission of HIV through shared needles, provide education to communities of all sorts that are at increased risk from HIV infection and illness, and educate people throughout the world about the seriousness of this disease and about they ways they can protect themselves from its ravages, all in a non-judgemental manner.

My pledge today is twofold:

First of all, I will strive to ride as safely and as conscientiously as I can, and to arrive alive and well in Los Angeles next Saturday.

Secondly, but perhaps most important, I pledge to ride until there's no need to do so anymore. And then I'll ride again in celebration.

My AIDS/LifeCycle Blog


Day 7 and Closing Ceremonies
Clearly I was coming down with something. I woke up in the middle of the night coughing uncontrollably. Somehow the coughing stopped and I was able to get back to sleep, and when I awoke in the morning I was a bit hoarse but actually not feeling bad. The loss of a day's riding actually was an asset. I'd pretty much packed up the night before so there was little for me to do but get dressed and check out of the hotel (Paul was still getting it together). Since I had to pass bike parking on my way to the gear trucks, I stopped in to locate my bike. The techs were surprisingly not very busy so I dropped the bike off for a little maintenance, dumped my bag and headed for breakfast. In keeping with tradition, overnight a bird had been through bike parking and had laid an egg on each and every seat. The eggs contained a message of love and praise from Chicken Lady, along with a mint. By the time I was finished with breakfast my bike was ready to be ridden again, and the chain no longer squeaked.
I often hit the road on Day Seven feeling tired and irritable...but apparently I'd gotten that out of my system in Santa Cruz. Instead, I felt truly excited to back on the bike and I just FLEW! My legs weren't even sore! On Day Seven, the route opens at half an hour early so that everyone gets into LA in time for closing ceremonies. I didn't get underway especially early (a bit after 7 in fact) but that didn't matter. I just kept pedaling. Of course it doesn't hurt that the first portion of the route (to Rest Stop 1 which is at Point Mugu) is virtually flat and on straight roads with wide shoulders. Even after that, there are no significant climbs at all until we get close to lunch. I made terrific time and had lots of fun taking pictures of friends at both of the pre-lunch rest stops. There are points where the views are so spectacular that it's impossible to resist the urge to stop and take pictures of the coastline. It's no wonder everyone with money wants a place in Malibu.
Lunch was at Malibu Bluffs, a space we'd used for the first time last year. It sits above the Pacific with views in both directions along the coast. It's also opposite Pepperdine University. I resisted the urge to flip the entire school off (based on their support for Prop 8) and restricted myself to socializing, lunching, and getting hold of John and Roberto so we could coordinate meeting and dinner plans. Edna was disappointed with the fact that Roberto would not be able to make closing ceremonies due to an emergency dental appointment.
As I was getting ready to head out the word went around that CHP was holding everyone at lunch. We'd seen a helicopter go past us a few minutes earlier which apparently was being used to transport an accident victim. It's not clear whether there was a car accident and a bike accident, or two bike accidents (one of them involving an ALC rider and the other not) but in any case, shortly after the route re-opened it was shut down again for the second accident. We were being released in groups of twelve (or was it twenty? there was disagreement on that) at thirty-second intervals. Some said we could not pass on PCH, others said we could pass but could not go into the traffic lane. Either of these would have been difficult to enforce in any case, since at some points it was impossible NOT to go into traffic because of parked cars, and at other points there were huge gaps between riders because someone was simply not a fast rider. I tried my best to do the right thing and occasionally I got impatient but made every effort to ride responsibly either way. Hopefully nobody was permanently vexed with me.
Fortunately for me, the last big downhill, just beyond lunch, was pretty much wide-open and I was able to get over the 40-mile-per-hour mark one last time.
Finally we exited PCH and entered the bike path in Will Rogers State Beach. Once I got back on my bike I decided to head directly for the VA hospital since John had left me a message saying he was going to be there at about 1 pm and it was already past 2. I always get a bit choked up climbing the last short hill in Santa Monica that takes us to the beginning of San Vicente Blvd and this time was no exception. But I kept pedaling when I reached the top and continued passing just about everyone for the final couple of miles.
There was a slight change to the very end of the route this time; I'm not sure exactly how things varied. Rather than turning left of of San Vicente, which would be very dangerous and/or time-consuming, we always turn right and cross back over. I think we skipped a couple of turns and made the cross-over a bit sooner than we'd previously done. I liked the change since the final climb to the road we use to enter the hospital grounds was not as steep this time.
I made the final left turn, blowing my whistle and ringing my bell. John was right there at the turn into bike parking. It was wonderful to see him as it always is. The ride was done.
When I got to the entrance to the parking area, I checked my computer. My average speed was 17.0 mph. I've never done a single day of riding that fast ever, for as long as I've been keeping track.
Stats for today:
Ride time: 3 hours, 37 minutes
Mileage: 61.89
Average speed: 17.0 mph
Maximum speed: 41.1 mph
Totals for the ride:
Time: 31 hours, 28 minutes
Mileage: 478.67
Average speed: 15.21 mph
Maximum speed: 41.5 mph
After parking my bike, the plan had been to rendezvous with Ric Uggen who had been carrying my award in his van and have John put it in his backpack. I'd expected to be finished riding by 1 or so but instead I arrived while the rehearsal for Closing Ceremonies was going on. We kept picking spots to meet that didn't exist and eventually I gave up. I figured that we'd intersect sooner or later. A few minutes before it was time to assemble for ride-in, I got a call from Nathan. John and Ric had run into each other by chance. So it all worked out after I stopped trying to control the process.
There were changes again in the process for getting into Closing Ceremonies. As with most of the changes in the past couple of years, this one seemed to me to be an improvement. People had been complaining for years that they ended up standing in sun waiting to ride the last few hundred yards; also since we'd been at the VA Hospital, there were numerous complaints that the folks in the rear of the crowd couldn't hear the PA system. So the whole thing was rotated 90 degrees, giving us a wide but shallow area, and we rode around and approached the area of closing ceremonies from the back (as it were) which not only gave us a different perspective but allowed us to ride a bit faster.
So overall this year's ride was an adventure. A near-fatal accident, a canceled day. Rain. Changes to the route that were good and not so good (I suspect that better weather might have made Day 5 easier to negotiate). I didn't get a single flat and I made my fastest single day of riding ever even though my highest speeds weren't that high. Illness near the end though not nearly as bad as I'd experienced two years ago (though I'm still coughing more than a week after the end of the ride).
I did not experience the emotional highs and lows that I've grown accustomed to over the years. At certain points I felt some concern that I was becoming jaded or over it (I was especially worried about this on Monday morning). I didn't have any huge fits of weeping as has sometimes happened in the past; we did not climb "Ant Hill" in Vandenburg AFB this year, which is where I'd experienced these things most acutely before; perhaps that explains it. But I don't suppose it's healthy to expect the same experience year after year, varying only in some details. The fact is that this year's ride was truly unique. It is what it was supposed to be. And of course I'll be back next year.
Pictures from Day 7 and Closing Ceremonies are at:

by Robert Katz on Mon, Jun 15, 2009 @ 10:27 PM

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Day 6
I fell asleep Thursday night and was awakened by somebody's alarm; thinking that I must have slept awfully well, I checked the time. It was 2:30 a.m. It couldn't have been more than a minute later than I heard the unmistakable sound of...rain! Falling on the tent. It stopped after a few minutes, then started up again, this time harder than before, and it kept going.
My attempts at getting back to sleep were pretty much in vain so the upshot was that I was awake very early. I got things packed up. I'd foolishly left my bag open and while virtually everything in it was contained in ziploc bags, moisture did manage to get into places where it didn't belong. Also I'd left my Day 5 clothes scattered around. Some were dry, others were in puddles. It was NOT going to be a fun morning.
On top of that, when I finally gave up on sleep and decided to get I realized that I'd been wheezing more than a bit.
I decided to dress for riding...including rain pants and rain jacket...just in case, but I then contemplated the four-mile downhill where Highway 1 joins Highway 101 entering Gaviota Pass. This section of road is dangerous when it's dry and we're constantly being warned about it. Trying to descend it in rain sounded like a guaranteed disaster. Although I was dressed for riding, the combination of lack of sleep, evidence that I was probably coming down with something unpleasant, and the thought of riding a treacherous road in rain made me decide that today would be a good day to sit it out.
I headed to breakfast in light rain and kicked around the possibility of changing my mind. I'd inflated my tires the night before and I kept my options open for a bit longer but in the end I concluded that riding that day would not be wise. I packed my water bottles and dropped my bag off at the gear truck which pretty much clinched things. I couldn't change my mind any longer after that. I had been informed that because a substantial number of riders had decided to SAG that day, people were going to be held in the massage tent. But when I went there I didn't see any signs. The majority of folks were getting ready to ride out.
I decided I might as well take some pictures so I headed for bike parking. Riders were lined up across camp. There had been a car accident in Gaviota Pass and CHP was holding riders at Rest Stop One (before the downhill). Time passed; the rain stopped and in fact it became sunny and quite pleasant. Further south however it was quite a different story. There was heavy rain from just a few miles down Highway 1 all the way to LA, which was experiencing thunderstorms (of all things!). Eight o'clock passed, then 8:15, and then 8:30. Normally everyone who's riding must be on the road by 8:30 but they were still being held. A few minutes later it was announced: for the first time ever, going all the way back to CAR 1, the day's ride was being canceled. CHP normally closes one lane of a two-lane bridge south of Rest Stop 2 for us. They'd decided to revoke the lane-closure permit so we had no choice but to give up riding. as there is simply no other way to get to Ventura. In fact, they probably did us a favor by keeping us away from the downhill and the slippery highway roads. I heard later on in the day that one smartass decided to sneak through and was noticed by CHP, who contacted the ride staff and asked them (more or less) "What part of 'your ride is canceled for today' do you not understand?!?" The fellow was tracked down, booted off of the ride and permanently banned for jeopardizing the future of the event.
Everyone else was given the chance of waiting for the buses to get to Rest Stop 1 and riding them the rest of the way to Ventura, or turning around and heading back to camp to catch a bus there. Some people, knowing it would take quite some time to get everyone on a bus, detoured into downtown Lompoc for a late breakfast or an early lunch and riders continued to trickle back into camp for a good three hours or more after the route was officially shut down.
ALC brought in several additional buses and a rider who worked for the school district in Santa Barbara was able to rustle up some school buses as well...shades of the Jonathan Pon ride! The gear trucks were hurried down to Ventura and unloaded so they could be turned around and used for bike transport. There is always a plan for these things and it did kick in but getting nearly 3,000 people off the road and to the next campsite without riding is fairly time-consuming; the drive from Lompoc to Ventura normally takes a bit over an hour. Buses of course take longer and road conditions were far from ideal. Sooner or later though, everyone did make it to Ventura. Some people contacted friends in the area who ferried them down with (or without) their bikes; a bunch of folks hired limos or taxis. I actually got very lucky. Originally I'd asked David Duncan if he could take me with him in the Positive Pedalers truck. Stefano had been helping out at our tent and since there was room for only one passenger, it was only fair that he be given the seat. It later developed though that the ride asked for the truck and, in return, gave him the use of Leslie Smith's rental car. He happened upon me while I was waiting in line for a bus and the three of us, along with Nathan and Jose (who I basically picked out of the bus line because he was the first Pos Ped I saw) had a car ride to Ventura instead.
Once I got to Ventura I grabbed my gear bag, thanking my lucky stars that I'd decided to book a hotel room that night. I headed to the room, showered, changed, and took everything out of the bag that was wet; then I headed back for camp. I stopped into bike parking to see if my bike had come in (since I'd been intending to have the chain cleaned that day anyway). It hadn't arrived so I pitched in helping unload bikes from the gear trucks as they arrived, hoping my bike would show. Eventually I went to dinner, got my claim check from McCollisters for bike shipping back home and went to Shabbat services with Ron Lezel and Eric Kamm who'd driven up from LA for the day. Eric had also been helping out with unloading bikes.
After services I returned to bike parking. Still no bike for me. I helped out with another load or two of bikes and gave up at around 8:30 or so. Apparently my bike was on the very last truck and it arrived close to midnight.
The final piece of logistics involved helping people find their bikes. Normally this is not a problem since people park their bikes when they arrive at camp but on this day, things were different. Luckily, each frame number is bar-coded and once all of the bikes had arrived in camp they were scanned and their location was noted. Riders arriving at breakfast the next morning found printed directories showing where their bikes were. The ALC folks think of everything!
I headed back to my hotel and turned in for the night; there was no more rain and the forecast for Saturday was decent.
No ride stats but I did take pictures, which are posted at:

by Robert Katz on Mon, Jun 15, 2009 @ 9:37 PM

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Day 5
Day 5 is Red Dress Day. For the past few years...actually for as long as I've been riding...whatever else we've done, this day's route has included a rest stop in the town of Casmalia, southwest of Santa Maria. This year we weren't able to have a rest stop in Casmalia so the route changed significantly. Instead of riding in circles through Santa Maria, we instead headed south along Foxen Canyon Road, then through Los Olivos, Solvang, and Buellton and then westward to Lompoc.
Parts of this route had been included on some of the earliest AIDS Rides but by the time I arrived on the scene in 1999 they were but a memory for the veterans.
There was of course the fashion extravaganza of Red Dress Day with everything from the beautiful to Yeah...we'll go with that. Anyway there are plenty of pictures.
The first two rest stops were at wineries along Foxen Canyon; the second on beyond a fairly substantial climb. Both of them were quite attractive locations. At Rest Stop 2 some of the folks from Casmalia had set up a table; apparently they want us back next year. It's nice to be popular.
The official lunch stop was in Solvang but I decided to opt for an in-town lunch. As I was wandering up and down the street, who should come along but Susan and Patrick; together we found a nice little place to eat that featured some authentic Scandinavian cuisine. I had an open-face rolled pork sandwich. Not kosher but very tasty.
Solvang is a bit on the kitschy side but is does have a certain kind of charm. Being there reminded me that the only other time I had been in Solvang was 20 years fact exactly 20 years ago...when Mario and I took a trip down the coast and stayed with a friend of his in Santa Ynez. I didn't have quite the same reaction to returning to Solvang as I've had in the past when we've ridden past Summerland Beach in Santa Barbara (a place where Mario and I had gone swimming on the same trip). Still the memories did resurface in a bittersweet way.
After lunch (and a brief visit to the official lunch stop to restock the water and Powerade) we headed westward. The direct route to Lompoc would have been on Highway 246 but instead we veered south through Buellton and spent the next twenty or so miles on Santa Rosa Road which I believe is part of the Solvang Century route. The road was a bit rough and the combination of headwinds and some unannounced climbs (short but annoying) made the last part of the ride pretty exhausting. Still there were numerous points that gave out on spectacular views. We eventually ended up on Highway 1 south of Lompoc so we actually rode north a bit on the road we normally take southbound on Day 6 (but that's another story).
For the past few years Day Five has been a very short day; this year we rode 66 miles or so and I didn't get to camp especially early, though arriving at 3 p.m. is not exactly terrible. I was able to schedule a massage when I arrived and much to my amazement there were no long lines at the showers so I didn't really need to rush to make my appointment.
Following the massage was the Positive Pedalers picture, followed by a pizza party. I returned to the tent for a bit and then went back for an official dinner. Returning back to the tent (which I had to myself that night) I couldn't help notice what a beautiful night is was. The sky was crystal-clear, the temperature was mild, and there was very little wind. It seemed as though Friday would be a nice day indeed. How foolish of me to make such an assumption.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 5 hours
Mileage: 69.44
Average speed: 13.8 mph
Maximum speed: 33.0 mph

by Robert Katz on Mon, Jun 15, 2009 @ 8:59 PM

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Day 4
Day 4 once again dawned a bit gloomy with a damp wind, though weather conditions improved a bit once we were under way.
Like Day 3, Day 4 has some distinctions. First of there is another substantial climb, known as "Evil Twins." I've always found these far less daunting than Quadbuster; the climb is longer but is far more gradual and there are stretches of downhill between the twins. Immediately after Evil Twins is the half-way point of the ride where folks traditionally pose with their bikes in front of a banner. And immediately after the halfway point there is six- or seven-mile long descent that takes us to Highway One, a bit north of Morrow Bay.
There was some sun at the halfway point but dense fog took over as soon as the descent began (again, see pictures). This led for a very atmospheric downhill, but things at Rest Stop 2 were on the gloomy side. It's my custom to stop for lunch in the town of Cayucos, shortly after Rest Stop 2. I'd run into Hunter Brown at the rest stop and let him know of this little secret, which he'd missed out on last year. So, continuing on my new practice of riding with a friend, the two of us headed into town for lunch at Skippers Diner. Clam chowder and fish and chips. Yum!
We continued to ride together until we got to the official lunch stop just west of San Luis Obispo. Shortly after we left the coast the sun appeared once again and the temperature climbed. The result was that many of the guys chose to work on their tans while enjoying lunch. I would be lying if I said I was oblivious to all of the eye-candy.
Anyway, following lunch I was back on the bike, this time on my own. We had a short stretch of road through a National Guard installation where we were forbidden to take pictures or even to stop except in an emergency. Once through there we were a local bike route that took us towards the south side of the City of San Luis Obispo where we again picked up a tailwind. I was feeling very good and made excellent time from this point until Rest Stop 3 which had a cowboy/ranch hand theme this year. The ranch hands were quite attractive and there were ample reasons to take pictures. There's one of me with two of them.
I returned to my bike to discover that it had either fallen or been knocked over in bike parking computer had been re-set! It took me a while to get over my annoyance and to remember that while there's nothing wrong with tracking my performance, at the end of the day it's all just numbers. And the numbers are not nearly as important (if they really matter at all) as is the work that AIDS/LifeCycle accomplishes for its beneficiaries.
Shortly after Rest Stop 3 the route returns once again to the coast, passing through Pismo Beach, Grover Beach and Oceano (the former site of the Day 4 camp site during the AIDS Ride days). I'd assumed we would be returning to the old route instead of avoiding the hill along Highway One known to some as "Pismo B@%&h" which we'd avoided last year to nobody's dismay. This particular hill is marked by heavy traffic, a winding climb and the complete absence of shoulder, making it rather scary. But instead, we turned right off of Highway One and headed for a different hill that had been included on some of the early AIDS Rides (but had been dropped by the time I arrived on the scene). This one is a short one known variously as Halcyon Hill (since it's on Halcyon Avenue) or more pointedly as "Agony Grade." Only three blocks long, it's incredibly steep. A young guy had been riding behind me for a ways, far enough for safety but close enough so we could have somewhat of a conversation. I heard him say he was going to attack the hill so I moved over to let him pass me as he began spinning to get to the top. I wasn't going to try anything like that, instead going for my usual gradual approach. I got a certain amount of satisfaction in passing him about 2/3 of the way up the climb. Of course it wasn't easy and it took me several minutes to completely catch my breath as I continued on down Highway One towards Guadalupe and Rest Stop 4.
Rest Stop Four today was a See's Candy Store, complete with the white uniforms. It was quite a hoot given that everyone was in drag. From what I understand the guys had scored a coup in getting permission to use the uniforms which are normally only worn in stores by See's employees.
After sampling some sweets and refueling with some healthier stuff I hit the road once more this time with Isaac and Chad who I very seldom have ridden with before even on training rides. The final stretch of road from Guadalupe to Santa Maria is eastbound, which results in a substantial tailwind, and I made very good time into camp, though it was still on the far side of 5:30 by the time I arrived. Every year I intend to get in sooner and every year I fail.
I decided that this year, Santa Maria's where I would sign up for next year and I took care of this piece of business before retiring for the night.
Today's totals are in two parts:
Estimated time and mileage to Rest Stop 3:
Ride time: 4 hours, 6 minutes
Mileage (per the route sheet): 61.2 miles
Average speed, more or less from memory: 15.0 mph
Maximum speed: 39.9 mph
Actual time and mileage from Rest Stop 3 to camp:
Time: 2 hours 6 minutes
Mileage: 32.82
Average speed: 15.6 mph
For some reason I didn't bother to record the maximum speed along this stretch; I believe it was around 38 mph. In any case it was less than the 39.9 which I did recall from earlier.
Totals time and miles:
Time: 6 hours 12 minutes
Mileage: 94.02
Average speed: 15.2 mph more or less
Photos are at:

by Robert Katz on Fri, Jun 12, 2009 @ 11:17 PM

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Day 3
Day 3 is of course marked by Quadbuster, which many consider the hardest hill of the week. It actually involves less climbing than does the climb over the top of Highway 92 on Day One but it comes after two days of riding and is quite steep in many sections. This year, as was the case last year, the challenge is mitigated by a route change that eliminates the ride south to Highway 198 and rolling lead-up climbs on Jolon Road. Instead we head directly across the Salinas River and underneath Highway 101, onto the road which comprises Quadbuster. Our first rest stop is at the base of the climb; the second one is a few miles past the downhill side at the edge of Fort Hunter Leggett.
Every year I wonder if I'll have the energy to go back down and climb the hill again. Mike Murphy and Tom Kunze tried to talk me into doing just that. But just as I always think of doing it, by the time I get to the summit I realize that I just don't have the energy for any such thing and keep going.

While I was at Rest Stop 3, enjoying a soda and some ice cream, I had an interesting conversation with Lonnie Payne. Lonnie was chair of the board of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation in 2000, the year I did my second ride. He gave the kickoff speech at Opening Ceremonies that year. This year in his role as chair of the board of directors of the Pangaea International AIDS Foundation (SFAF's international subsidiary) he again delivered the kickoff speech.
Lonnie asked me how much money I'd raised in the course of my rides. I had recently calculated that, over ten rides, I'd raised a bit over $50,000. He went on to ask me how long I'd been a training ride leader. My answer was that I began leading training rides prior to CAR 7 which was Lonnie's first ride. He noted that I had been a leader on some of the rides he was on (Do I recall this? Not really; I didn't really know Lonnie back then). His point was that, apart from the fundraising I'd done directly, by virtue of serving as a training ride leader for the past nine years my efforts had helped others to raise far more than just $50,000. This was quite a compliment, particularly coming from an individual I truly and deeply respect.
We received our first portent of things to come. Following Rest Stop 3 there is a downhill that leads us eventually to our first stretch of riding on Highway 101. It had been sunny between the two rest stops but the skies began to cloud up and, on the downhill we felt a few drops of rain. There wasn't anything substantial, but the temperature was uncharacteristically cool in Bradley. Not only that but we could see evidence of rain showers in the distance which resulted in some rather spectacular sky pictures.
As always the town of Bradley turns out to greet us with a barbeque. The use the sales proceeds to fund some of their school programs. As the ride comprises a group some twenty times the town's population of 120 we do a good job of helping them out. I understand that we contributed about $11,000 to their programs this year.
While it was cool for Bradley, it was far from chilly. Gabo's husband Stephan was in charge of one of the SAG buses this year and he invited me to have lunch in the air-conditioned comfort of the bus with Gabo and himself. Gabo and I hit the road together again and continued on south of Bradley towards San Miguel. We proceeded onto our second stretch of freeway riding. Particularly after Sunday's accident (and the admonishment we'd received that evening resulting from CHP observing some truly unacceptable riding behavior) we knew we needed to follow the rules on the freeway, which consist of staying out of the the traffic lanes and passing only when safe. Unfortunately, one rider in particular seemed to be unclear on the concept. His behavior became so egregious in fact that he literally scared one woman off the shoulder. Gabo and I were so incensed with his behavior that we followed him into Rest Stop 4 where we were able to see his frame number and report him to a staff person.
San Miguel is the place where the Rest Stop 4 guys stage their most elaborate themes. Just when you think they can't outdo themselves, they prove you wrong. This year's theme was "TransAm Airlines" complete with enormous wigs, flight attendant uniforms and some and an incredibly choreographed dance number.
Out of Rest Stop 4 we took a different route, returning to Highway 101 (after a steep one-block climb) and heading directly into Paso Robles rather than taking the back roads. A good portion of this section is not freeway and strangely enough, the shoulder is in better shape here than it is on the limited-access sections.
Immediately after I exited Highway 101 and entered the main streets of Paso Robles it began to rain. The shower was a brief one but enough to get wet the streets down. Apparently one of the earlier showers I'd seen in the distance had caught a group of riders along Highway 101 and thoroughly drenched them. This gave me one more reason to be glad I'd decided to stay at the Holiday Inn that night...just in case.
I'd decided to start the habit of removing the computer from my bike when I parked it for the day. Somehow in the process I managed to re-set it so, while I recall my average and maximum speeds, the time and mileage totals which follow are estimates.
Ride time approximately 4 hours 34 minutes
Miles 63.40 (I'm pretty sure this is correct or if not, it's off by less than a mile)
Average speed: 13.9 mph
Maximum speed: 34.5 mph
I checked in to find Sergio already installed in the room. Bill Henry came over to use the jacuzzi and the pool before heading back to camp for dinner. I showered and did the same. Before I left the room I decided to check my voicemail and discovered a rather odd message from Beau. It seemed that John Hershey was going to be otherwise occupied that evening. Paso Robles is the place where the board of Positive Pedalers takes the stage and has all of our members stand up to be acknowledged, and furthermore, Paso Robles is where the Positive Pedalers "Stand Up" award is presented. So the board wanted to be sure there was someone with a camera available to document things and would I please be sure to be there in front of the stage in time for that portion of the program with my camera? I of course had intended to bring the camera anyway but I made sure I was up front in time. This despite the fact that the training ride leader picture was scheduled for almost the same time.
The program ran a bit late and the board was finally introduced after 8 p.m. At that point, Ric Uggen (sometimes known as "Ginger Brewlay") last year's winner of the Stand Up Award came to the stage to introduce this year's winner. He began to describe this individual's accomplishments...multi-year rider, training ride on and so forth. And then Ric said "and he's well-known for the weather forecasts he posts on the AIDS/LifeCycle Discussion Forum." At that point I must have turned any number of shades of red. I know I held my head in my hands...he was talking about...ME!
Even now I can't quite grasp the fact that I've received this honor. It doesn't seem as though I've done anything special to deserve it. But the board felt otherwise. So there we have it. Unlike Ric last year, I can't say I was speechless, but since the program was running late...I didn't get to make a speech (probably just as well).
I must say how impressed I am that the board managed to keep the whole process of the award a secret from me even though I'm on the board's Yahoo group. After all, I certainly knew of the decision to give the award to Ric last year. Very well-done guys!
At that point there wasn't much more I could do. I did stay around for the beginning of the Roadie Talent Show. Some of the guys were quite fetching. But it was time for bed so I headed back to the hotel.
Photos from this day include one of my award, courtesy of John Hershey. They're at:

by Robert Katz on Fri, Jun 12, 2009 @ 10:35 PM

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Day 2
Just about every year there is some point during the ride when I find myself thinking "Why am I doing this? Do I really want to be here? I'm never going to wear myself out this way again." Fortunately this always passes. Still, I'm not used to it happening the morning of Day Two but that's where I was after breakfast. Maybe it was the continuing gloomy weather or...well the bad news I'd received on Sunday evening, or just the legacy of not slept well Saturday night, even though I did get far more sleep Sunday night. Anyway, it finally dispelled shortly before I hit the road. Perhaps it's just as well I got it out of my system early.
Day Two is the longest day of the ride; the terrain is fortunately mostly flat and there is ample opportunity to fly along quickly, especially after lunch. This particular day marked the first of several on which I did something I'm not accustomed to, but which I thoroughly enjoy. For whatever reason I usually find myself a lone rider on the road in the sense that I don't normally ride with anyone else...though of course I'm sharing the road with a couple thousand of my closest friends.
As usual, I'd not hit the road precisely at 6:30 and therefore had gotten caught in Santa Cruz's surprisingly heavy morning traffic.
I found myself at Rest Stop One with a bit under an hour before the stop closed. Gabo left the stop shortly after me. He caught up with me and somehow or other we began riding together. We just found a groove with one or the other of us leading (mostly me). We were feeling so disinclined to lose the groove that we kept going across the bridge in Moss Landing where numerous riders had stopped to photograph seals and otters frolicking in the slough and past the artichoke stop, all the way to Rest Stop 2 where of course we were running short of liquids and in need of snacks. We hit the road together again, though Gabo charged ahead of me before lunch. I got to spend lunch with any number of nice folks, some new acquaintances and others old friends. The rest of the day flew by. I hit my highest speed of the entire ride just after Rest Stop 3 and just before the first stretch on which we normally experience strong crosswinds. Those winds were non-existent but seemed just a bit subdued compared with prior years. At today's Rest Stop 4, a/k/a "Cellblock 4" I submitted to a thorough patdown from the mean officers (see pictures).
It somehow didn't exactly seem like punishment.
I was informed by a couple of guys who normally are far stronger than I am that I flew by them on the final stretch east of Greenfield before we turn south and have the wind at our back nearly all the way to camp. I got in at 6 p.m. or so, which is certainly better than last year and with the shorter shower lines I finished all my chores early enough to enjoy things just a bit.
While waiting for the showers I struck up a conversation with a fellow named John (I think; it's all beginning to be a blur). John, definitely heterosexual, used to race when he was younger and had been accustomed to shaving his legs and other areas as a result. I had no idea racers shaved other parts of their bodies. The conversation took an interesting turn, which is probably not appropriate for this blog. In general terms it revolved around some benefits of shaving that I had not considered. Only on ALC could I imagine having such a conversation with a straight guy!
Despite the reduced stress of today compared with last year's Day 2 I still got out of dinner after 9 p.m. and headed directly to bed.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 6 hours 42 minutes
Mileage: 107.35
Average speed: 16.0 mph
Maximum speed: 41.5 mph
Photos are at:

by Robert Katz on Fri, Jun 12, 2009 @ 9:55 PM

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Day 1
Somehow or other I managed to fall asleep during the night. But in keeping with tradition, I got perhaps four hours of sleep, if that. I woke up before I thought I needed to, yet still managed to end up panicked about being ready in time. Also in keeping with tradition, Ken and Will drove in from Sebastopol to take me to the Cow Palace. We stopped along the way to pick up Jacky, who'd posted on the discussion forum that she was in need of a ride. It worked out well; she was staying just a few blocks from me.
As usual, there was a swirl of activity at the Cow Palace. Since I have no good way of storing my shades, I had them on even though it was basically still dark. This made finding my way around much more interesting. Somehow I managed to find the correct gear truck (Truck I this year; it's a novelty being in the middle) and then made my way into the building for some food, socializing and photography and stopped to put the Positive Pedalers flag on my bike, along with my water bottles.
By luck I was at the doors to the auditorium as they were opened to let us in so I got a couple of nice pictures of the room as it was filling up. Opening Ceremonies is always moving.
I made my way to my bike, got everything together and got to the front of the line for ride-out just in time. At 6:45 or so we were given the go-ahead and hit the street under gray skies with a brisk southwesterly wind. Not more than 50 feet up Geneva Avenue I heard a loud bang...first flat of the ride (fortunately not mine but it set Nathan back a bit).
I never manage to maintain my spot near the front for very long; for some reason I feel compelled to stop at the water stop along Skyline Drive and once I was back on the road I was in the midst of the pack, riding through the dense fog that is almost guaranteed on this portion of the route.
Things stayed generally gray for quite some time. The normal tailwinds following lunch were not really there so I didn't get the boost I'm accustomed to until I was at Rest Stop 4, nearly all the way to Santa that point the sun also appeared and it was actually warm in camp. The Rest Stop 4 theme was "2009 Wrestling Championships." The Rest Stop 4 crew certainly did show off their singlets to great advantage and...well, there's a picture of me sandwiched between Jon Garrison and another very attractive young man whose name I don't know. Life was good. I arrived at camp at about 3 p.m., an hour later than I did last year but still by no means shabby.
Day 1 totals:
Riding time: 5 hours 23 minutes
Mileage: 82.57
Average speed: 15.3 mph
Maximum speed: 40.1 mph
Photos are at:
Tentmate Paul was well behind me so I got the tent set up and took a shower. I was pleased to see the return of our old shower trucks. While not as nice as the ones we had last year, they included more stalls so the shower lines were far shorter throughout the ride and I was dressed and ready for dinner by 4:30 which meant I had time for a second helping at 7:30 or so.
Somewhere around this time I was at the Positive Pedalers booth when I received some very bad news. I believe it was David Duncan who informed me that Peter LaVoie's brother David had taken a very bad fall early in the day, suffering severe facial injuries with bleeding around his brain. He'd been taken to SF General Hospital's trauma center in a coma. As of today (Friday) he's just beginning to regain consciousness but he has a long journey before he heals. If you're reading this, please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. David's injury is by far the worst I know of during either CAR or ALC.

by Robert Katz on Fri, Jun 12, 2009 @ 9:29 PM

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It's Friday afternoon, a week after ALC ended. While I haven't yet uploaded all of my pictures, it's probably best that I begin my recap of the ride before I forget everything about the event. So here goes, starting with Orientation. This'll be brief since there isn't that much to say about it.
I fetched tentmate Paul and his bike and off we went to the Cow Palace. Actually that was a process in itself. It seems Paul had never removed the front wheel from his bike before (which we needed to do in order to put it on the roof of my car). The upshot was that by the time we got the wheel off we were so filthy that I felt the need to into his home (actually the Franciscan friary) and wash up.
Anyway, we got down there, parked our bikes, the socializing started and I headed off with the rest of the Pos Peds board to view the safety video. This is usually mandatory before anything else but this year, because online tent assignment had been implemented folks were actually permitted to take care of this in person prior to viewing the safety video. Nonetheless we mainly held off, simply because the intention was for as many Pos Peds as possible to arrive at tent assignment together in order to tent with each other.
To save money (a big theme for this year) last year's safety video was recycled. Nothing wrong with this at all, but every person in the video who was riding last year and gave their rider number of course gave the wrong number.
Safety video taken care of we headed back to check in, and then back to the Pos Peds table where I as usual was put in charge of picture taking while others handled merchandise. I also picked up my incentive jersey at the camp store.
Things proceeded apace; as noted above in the main text I received a call from my friend Mike at about 12:45 or so. He wanted to know if it was too late for him to sponsor me and I assured him it was not. He single-handedly increased my fundraising total by 11% and brought me to $4 over my goal for this year.
During the afternoon pictures were taken. I got ready to leave at 3:30 or so and headed back to bike parking to put the number on my bike. On the way I ran into Peter LaVoie who arrived with his brother David. This turned out to be my only chance to meet David, unfortunately. I did get a picture of the two of them which is included in the photo set on Flickr.
After taking care of the bike, I headed home, finished packing, had dinner in the Castro with John and headed for bed. I burned a CD of the day's pictures for David Duncan to display at the Pos Peds tent during the ride...and managed to leave it on the dining room table Sunday morning. Oh well.... John brought it with him to LA and David now has it for future events.
Today's photos are at:

by Robert Katz on Fri, Jun 12, 2009 @ 2:29 PM

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Okay, I did ONE MORE ride
I said a couple of weeks ago that my training was done for the year. And truly that's what I thought. But the fact is I missed my road bike.
Today was marked by the annual "end-of-training-season" ride and potluck at Julie Brown's home in San Anselmo. Generally I just show up for the potluck, which is, itself, loads of fun. I don't bother with the ride because...well, just because. Because I don't want to risk an injury so close to Day 1, because whatever ride is scheduled doesn't interest me, because I'm too damn lazy. However, I discovered the other day that today's ride was to China Camp, which I've never been to because I was doing a different ride, or because this year's China Camp ride got rained out (or I was sick, or both, I don't recall at this point). I'd heard it was very pretty, and it was just an eighteen-miler. So I decided to show up.
Sunday's weather was so gloomy that a chance to go to Marin and maybe see the sun was too good to pass up. The day did not disappoint in any manner whatsoever. The sun came out, it was cool but pleasant, there wasn't much wind and, as advertised, the China Camp route was really pretty. The route took us through downtown San Rafael and eastward along San Pedro Road, tracking the edge of the peninsula on which China Camp is located before looping around and passing the Marin Civic Center. It was mostly flat but there were one or two brief but surprisingly challenging climbs, especially on Los Ranchitos Road (which becomes Lincoln Avenue and returns us to downtown San Rafael). It then returns the way it came. I was the second person back to Julie's. Yay!
There was good company and great food. Sergio and I stopped at Andronico's before we arrived at Julie's home; other folks were far more ambitious, cooking up tasty treats. And of course there were deserts, and of course there was the pleasure of sitting in Julie and Mike's back yard in the sun.
So I added another eighteen miles to my training total. It was fun.
Today's stats:
Ride time: 1 hour, 13 minutes
Distance: 18.13 miles
Average speed: 13.8 mph
Maximum speed: 29.0 mph
There will be pictures. And here they are:

by Robert Katz on Mon, May 25, 2009 @ 5:26 PM

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Training Ride Summary
From September through May I rode 1351.91 miles (give or take) over 97 hours, 7 minutes (also give or take...due to computer problems). I did 28 training rides. My average speed was 13.9 mph, my top speed, recorded on both 4/18 and 5/10, was 40.8 mph. I'm ready for ALC.

by Robert Katz on Tue, May 12, 2009 @ 11:28 AM

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Training Ends, Fundraising Continues
This past weekend marked the end of my training season. Oh, I'll be on my bike just a bit; first of all I'll still be riding to work every day and I still need to drop in at American Cyclery, as requested, so they can make sure all the work they've done on my bike doesn't require any further adjustments before May 31. But as for training rides...this past weekend was the conclusion and I really enjoyed it.
After the Jonathan Pon ride, Positive Pedalers hosts an additional three-day ride strictly for members and a few invited guests. Rather than camping we sleep in real beds. It's been the high point of my training season since 1999.
In contrast to the miserable weather that cut the Jon Pon ride short, this past weekend saw superb weather for riding.
Thirty of us met behind Mike's Bikes in Sausalito at a reasonable hour (about 8 a.m.), just as Julie Brown's weekly ride was getting going (so there are some pictures from that ride in the Day One photo set). This year we had several folks from Southern California, and one even came all the way from Phoenix! Young Alex (a/k/a "Fez") showed up from UC Davis wearing one of the jerseys I'd sent him last winter.
We headed to Fairfax, then up Nicasio Valley Road to Nicasio and beyond. I managed to get some nice action shots of riders along Nicasio Valley Road as well as photos of a pelican and a view of the reservior. Nicasio Valley Road continues to be one of my favorite spots to ride.
From there we surmounted "Alpe de Fromage" and stopped at the Cheese Factory for snacks, scenery and more pictures. From that point, we diverged from the Jon Pon route; instead of continuing into downtown Sausalito we turned left on Hicks Valley Road and then onto Wilson Hill Road where we climbed the infamous Wilson Hill. It's certainly steep but in truth it's not that long, well under a mile in fact (it just seems longer).
Following a quick descent we headed northeast until we came to Chileno Valley Road. Along with Nicasio Valley Road this is one of my all time favorites. The road is lined with farms, there are hills along either side and the scenery is truly spectacular. When weather's nice, there's a headwind, which proved to be the case this time, but it wasn't a brutal one. Shortly before the end of Chileno Valley there is a brisk and bracing downhill which is just the right pitch for me to thoroughly enjoy.
From there we continued eastward, hooking up with Valley Ford Road and riding (into the wind once more, but again it wasn't really too bad) into Valley Ford where we stopped for lunch. Officially the stop is at the deli and general store but some of us decided to head for the Route One Diner instead. Not so healthy but so much fun.
From there, a quick hop to Freestone, home of the Wild Four Bakery and up the last hill to Occidental. Then down to River Road where we turned left and continued into Guerneville, where we arrived at The Woods resort just before 4 p.m.
Time to change, clean up and relax by the pool, followed by dinner the Mexican restaurant down the street. And finally, a quick trip to the Russian River Resort for a soak in the hot tub (the only thing The Woods lacks).
In years past we'd stayed at the RRR but due to a scheduling error, they were booked when we'd firmed up the dates so The Woods became our choice (the conflicting event at the RRR wound up being canceled).
Totals for Day One:
Ride time: 4 hours, 57 minutes
Mileage: 73.91
Average speed: 14.8 mph
Maximum speed: 40.8 mph (on Chileno Valley Road)
Day One photos are at:
Saturday dawned mainly clear with some mist and, as per tradition, we headed to Pat's diner for breakfast. Our Saturday schedule included a mellow 36 (or so) mile ride to Healdsburg and back. A couple of late arrivals joined us after breakfast and we headed out in the rapidly warming sun.
Upon arriving in Healdsburg we discovered that the central square where we typically stop was to be the site of a local celebration. I managed to ride in circle for a bit before realizing that I'd passed the guys who'd arrived ahead of me right by! As usual we grabbed sandwiches and headed back in small groups, the earliest leaving before noon, the latest arrival back in Guerneville returning after 3 p.m. It was warm enough on the return trip for me to actually ride shirtless. Hopefully I didn't scare any of the horses or cows along the road!
There was plenty of time to socialize before the planned barbeque. Some folks had friends coming specifically for dinner and, in other cases, familiar faces appeared quite by surprise.
Dinner was great, all those who had planned the weekend were thanked, and we once more headed for bed. I ended up letting Mark Botello share my room with me for the night (no backstory here). He and I had some very nice conversations throughout the day and evening. I also had a good chat with my ALC 6 tentmate Paul, who I THINK I will be tenting with again this time around.
Day Two's stats:
Ride time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Mileage: 36.62
Average speed: 16.9 mph
Maximum speed: 31.8 mph
For pictures, go to:
Day Three dawned as pretty as Day Two. After breakfast we packed up, loaded up the gear cars and set out up River Road. Southbound on Bohemian Highway, up and over to the Wild Four Bakery where we had yummy scones and the coffee drinkers had their coffee (hot chocolate for me!). Once past Valley Ford we turned south, continuing along Highway One to the town of Tomales for another bakery stop. Peter LaVoie asked me to take some pictures of him on his bike, which I was happy to do.
South of Tomales we ride through one of the tributaries of Tomales Bay. It's very pretty but I'm usually not interested in stopping to take in the scenery. However, I came upon Alex, who had a flat tire and was in need of some assistance. We got him back on the road, I rode off and realized a couple of minutes later that something was missing...I'd left my pump lying on the ground! In the time it took for me to retrieve it I was passed by the last riders in our group but by this time it didn't seem worth it to rush so I took a few pictures; one of which in particular turned out very nicely indeed. I did manage to catch up with the end of the group after a few minutes.
Our lunch stop was Point Reyes Station where, as usual, we intersected with the regular CAT 2 ride during lunch. Mark managed to get lost and Brendan needed to fetch him from downtown Petaluma; he rejoined us there feeling just a bit embarrassed.
While it was a bit brisk along the coast, once we were inland the temperature rose once again. I chose NOT to ride topless this time--no point in causing a scandal after all. My descent down White's Hill was a complete success--meaning that I broke 40 mph near the bottom. As usual we stopped in Fairfax again for a snack, and as is usual for me when the weather's good I treated myself to ice cream. As I was about to depart who should turn up but that ALC institution Ben Armstrong. Ben chose to take the year off from being a training ride leader and coordinating the CAT 2 series so he was out on his own.
All good things must come to an end; I completed the final ten miles without incident; I even managed to make it over Camino Alto without feeling completely fried. We got our stuff, I loaded up the car with Chuck's bike and gear, as well as my own, and the ride was complete.
Day Three totals:
Ride time: 4 hours, 35 minutes
Mileage: 73.15
Average speed: 15.9 mph
Maximum speed: 40.7 mph
Photos are at:
Over three days, I rode for 11 hours and 42 minutes, covered 183.77 miles and averaged 15.7 mph. Not too bad at all!
No more training rides until Day One of ALC but although I have crossed the $5,000 threshold, there's still more money to be raised. So if you're going to sponsor me and haven't done so yet...well...what are you waiting for?
Do it today.

by Robert Katz on Mon, May 11, 2009 @ 11:46 PM

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Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!
So after stressing about this all year long, sending out messages, giving out forms, pestering people right and left, posting stuff on Facebook, I went in and checked my totals a moment ago...$5,025.01!!!!!!
I now can claim to have met this fundraising threshold each year since AIDS/LifeCycle 3 and, come May 31, I'll have the jersey to prove it. Not that I'm setting any records; last time I checked this year's top fundraiser was up to over $22,000. I'd love to know how he does it.
Yes, I fully intend to thank each and every one of my donors (those who've given already and those who have not done so yet but will be following up over the next couple of know who you are). While it is easy to rest on the assurance that I've made the minimum, and that I've gotten to the $5k mark, my goal remains $7,000. This is not an ego thing for me...obviously, as there are many who have and will raise far more money than I can hope to generate. What's important to keep in mind though is that the effectiveness of AIDS/LifeCycle as a method for raising funds increases with each dollar generated. In round numbers, it costs between $800 and $1,000 per participant to produce this event, so the more money we raise the better off everyone is.
I still have no idea whether or not I'll actually make it to $7,000 but I'm going to keep on trying.

by Robert Katz on Wed, May 06, 2009 @ 11:54 AM

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Things don't always go as expected
Last weekend was the annual Jonathan Pon Memorial Ride, named in honor of the co-founder of Positive Pedalers.
Pos Peds used to have a Jonathan Pon Century late in April (generally though not always the first century on the training ride calendar). And, back in the old days, there was a two-day ride to Duncans Mills (Duncan Mills? Duncan's Mill? anyway...) on the Russian River put on as both a training ride for the California AIDS Ride and as a fundraiser for the Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Meanwhile Positive Pedalers has a three-day ride meant strictly for our own members, generally two or three weeks before the ride.
Several years ago Pos Peds were approached and asked if we'd be willing to open our weekend event to everyone. This proved to be impractical for a variety of reasons, not least of which being that we DON'T camp out. However, we were able to bring back the old two-day ride with help and support from AIDS/LifeCycle.
It's usually timed to be the weekend following Day on the Ride, with the assumption that weather would be good. That has of course not always worked out (one year it needed to be postponed for two weeks).
The weather forecasts for this past weekend were inconsistent--some predicted heavy rain, other predicted none at all. And of course the likelihood of rain increases as one goes further north. So...based on final forecasts and a check of radar we decided early Saturday morning that we'd go ahead. Ninety of us met at the business park underneath the Highway 101 overpass, on the boundary between Sausalito and Mill Valley, at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning, under threatening skies. I had been selected as a training ride leader for Saturday, pulling sweep duty for the final leg of the ride up north.
I got off to a quick start, but things sort of went weird from that point. Somewhere along Magnolia Avenue in Larkspur, I hit a large bump and one of my water bottles went flying. By the time I managed to retrieve it, a good number of riders had passed me by. I then decided it might not be a bad idea to don the raingear so I stopped again, losing a bit more time. On the other hand this turned out to be a very wise choice since rain began falling almost immediately after I got back on my bike. While it did not rain heavily (for the most part) it did kind of put a damper on things.
Lunch, in downtown Petaluma, had to be served under tents and in the gazebo in the center of the park (name of which escapes me), so we were protected from the wetness. One upside of the bad weather was that the normal headwinds which normally plague us along Valley Ford-Petaluma Road mostly were absent.
Upon arriving in Valley Ford, I had to stop and wait for the final riders to arrive. When the weather's good, one often feels colder while riding than while standing around in the sun. This day however, it was the opposite. Fortunately, sweep driver Virgil had a blanket in the back of his truck which he let my co-sweep Erik and me share. There are pictures. It was kind of cute.
The last rider finally arrived...with a flat tire. We got that fixed, headed out, Erik then got a flat. By the time we reached the Wild Flour Bakery in Freestone, everyone else was long gone. Wilfredo informed us that Marjorie would be swept and that Erik and I had an hour to get to camp in order to avoid the same fate. Somehow we managed to make it in just after 5:10 pm. The rain of course then stopped.
Despite the wet weather there were surprisingly few unpleasant incidents. My friend Brad discovered upon descending Camino Alto that it's a bad idea to dismount the bike while its moving. He ended up with a nasty raspberry on his butt. I took a picture but could not, in good conscience, post it anywhere (someone else apparently had no such compunctions). Another rider, unclear on directions, stopped to make an inquiry, fell over and scratched his face up just a bit, but mainly bruised his dignity. Not surprisingly at all, there were more flat tires than usual (it's harder to see potential perils to tire integrity when the road is wet). But other than that, everyone seemed to arrive without a problem.
A lovely dinner, prepared by Carol Hyman, her husband Jerry and Pos Peds Rich and Paul was served. I headed off to shower, took some additional pictures and retired for the night to my sleeping spot in the gear truck. This worked out for me on previous rides and proved to be a major blessing.
Sometime around 3 a.m., it began to rain...hard. I mean HARD! I don't think it rained this hard in the Bay Area all winter long! Around 5 or so, I heard someone approach Wilfredo who was also sleeping in the gear truck and tell him that there was no way we'd be riding in this weather.
Beau Thomson, co-chair of Pos Peds, had agonized about whether or not the event should have been postponed, before deciding that the first day would happen. And he had the same challenge early Sunday morning. What to do? Then it occurred to him..."I'm a school bus dispatcher!" Drivers were called and two buses headed up from San Francisco. Most bikes were loaded onto the gear truck with a few more on sweep captain Paul Duncan's car.
Paul Rammer and Raybel Ramos, two of the fastest riders, decided they were going to ride anyway, on the theory that they couldn't possibly get any wetter than they already were.
Needless to say, no sooner had the gear truck left Cassini Ranch when the rain stopped and the sun appeared faintly behind the clouds. Paul and Raybel may just have had the right idea, but of course it was too late for the rest of us. So we waited for the buses to arrive, boarded them, and treated the whole thing as an adventure.
We managed to catch up with the back end of the rain just as we arrived back in Sausalito, where Tracey and Hunter (who'd ridden in with Paul) were there to greet us. All of the bikes had been unloaded and lined up and gear was offloaded from the buses as we got our bikes to our cars.
It wasn't the weekend we were expecting but we had a good time anyway.
Stats from Saturday:
Ride time: 5 hours, 12 minutes
Miles: 72.27
Average speed: 13.8 mph
Maximum speed (reduced because of the wet roads): 30.5 mph
Saturday pictures are at:
Sunday pictures are at:
There are also three Facebook albums (two for Saturday, one for Sunday)

by Robert Katz on Mon, May 04, 2009 @ 12:28 PM

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A much-delayed new entry
It's now Thursday evening. At this late date, I'm still going to write about this past weekend.
The easy part to write about was Saturday--Day on the Ride. By tradition, the board of Positive Pedalers, and others who've volunteered to do so, take the day off from riding and instead work at Rest Stop 1 in Fairfax. So that's what I did. In fact it permitted me to sleep in just a bit; show-up time for Day on the Ride was 5:30 a.m.; for Rest Stop 1--7:30 a.m. End of story. In addition to that, my bike was in the shop getting the wheels rebuilt and the computer replaced. So I had no bike to do DOTR on.
Anyway, it was fun. Lots of socializing and helping folks out...setting up and breaking down the rest stop, slicking bananas and oranges, mixing up Powerade and handing out snacks. And taking pictures (more of that than anything else actually). I brought the "good" camera and took tons of pictures. There were over 180, of which about 170 or so eventually got posted.
No stats for the day of course (well there is one...the bike work cost $450).
Most importantly, the pictures are here:
The ride for Sunday was Alpine Dam (or as it's sometimes known "Dam Tam" since it crosses the dam and climbs the west side of Mount Tam...and for other reasons as well.) Although not long, it's considered a very challenging ride...52 miles with 7600 feet of climbing. I recall doing most of this ride a couple of times in 2001, albeit in the opposite direction, and being very intimidated by it. Did it again a couple of years ago and again last year.
Meeting time was a fairly civilized (for this time of year) 7:15 p.m. with ride-out at 8. There was a CAT 3 ride meeting simultaneously with ours but riding out sooner. It was a pleasantly cool day and earlier forecasts of high winds didn't pan out, fortunately. In fact there was very little to complain about at all. Because the lunch stop was in the middle of nowhere, we had to stop in Fairfax and buy sandwiches. Lunch was on the dam; and of course one could hardly ask for a more beautiful lunch spot. It the middle of nowhere in west Marin, basically due east of Stinson Beach, but there is literally not a single residence for at least ten miles of the route.
After lunch, we do the SERIOUS climbing up Bolinas-Fairfax Road to its summit. Then we turn left onto Ridgecrest Boulevard where we encounter the "Seven Sisters," a group of small, steep climbs that are in the open and afford phenomenal views in various directions. The sisters are sometimes called other things but for whatever reason, they didn't seem all that tough today.
After the last of the sisters we passed the parking lot at the base of the summit of Mount Tam itself and began do descend, first along Pan Toll Road, then Panoramic Highway, and then on Highway 1 into Mill Valley. From there the route continued up Miller Avenue where there is a sharp U-turn onto the Sausalito Bike Path and then up the hill and back across the Golden Gate Bridge. I was amazingly untired when I finished. I'm not sure what happened.
Got home at 3pm on Sunday. Had to upload pictures...first to Facebook then to Flickr (don't ask why). Flickr was annoying. While I was doing that I had to get ready for a business trip...departure early Monday morning. Flickr was not particularly cooperative and, as a result I didn't have a chance to do this blog entry before going to bed. Then I took off on my business trip. Internet access was limited to my cell phone so there was simply no way I was going to try and do this entry until I returned home.
Stats from my brand-new computer...are incomplete! Apparently it re-sets after a certain period of inactivity. Or else I did that myself by accident.
But I do have the following.
Max speed: 35.3 mph
Average speed: 12.9 mph (not surprising given all the climbing)
Total miles on the odometer is 52.4; I believe all but approximately .05 miles were from Sunday's ride.
Which means that ride time would be 4 hours, 4 minutes.
Not as many pictures since I was too busy riding. But they're at:

Last week I dropped off $80 worth of pledges, some of which were in the form of cash that I converted into two separate entries; they don't yet show in my total. With the additional pledge I received while I was away I'm now at $4835.01. While I was not, for legal reasons, able to do much formal fundraising at the event I attended, I was able to give pledge forms to two of my colleagues, at least one of whom I think will happily sponsor me. There's still more fundraising to do and this weekend I'll be away on the Jonathan Pon Ride (unless the weather cancels it; right now there's a threat of significant rain). But I'm only $164.99 away from the $5k mark. So life is good.

by Robert Katz on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 @ 6:48 PM

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First Century of the Year
and probably the only one until Day 2. At least I THINK I did a fact I probably did more than a century because I missed a turn. But since my computer crapped out, I don't really know for sure. But more on that later.
The weather forecast was perfect...sunny and warm. I had to be in Mountain View at 6:15 to meet with Chris and the other TRL's, so I was up and out of bed at 4:30 a.m, almost like Day 1. There were 29 of use in total, many of whom I did not know (Chris noted that the some of the people who showed up were not regulars on his rides). Two people in fact were doing their first official training ride.
Because we wanted to make sure that everyone finished by 7 p.m., we took great pains to be on the road promptly at 7 a.m. as advertised. It was still chilly, and rather foggy, when we started; in fact the fog didn't really clear until we'd had our first stop for the day and crossed the Dumbarton Bridge. After that though it was sunny and gloriously warm.
Our route took us through Mountain View and Palo Alto, over the Dumbarton Bridge, through Union City (past the BART station) and Fremont. From there we headed along Mission Blvd, with a lunch stop opposite Oholone College. At one point I had a great view of Mount Hamilton, with Mission Blvd at the base. Unfortunately the picture I took did not come out very well (I posted it anyway). I stopped to help Brian and Young-gi fix a flat. Neither of them had had much experience doing so before so I actually felt like an expert.
After lunch, we continued south from lunch through Milpitas to East San Jose. I was now the sweep. One of our riders discovered that she had a flat, immediately after everyone else but she, her friend and I had left. She was also a rather slow rider...not bad on the flats but (due to some physical limitations) very slow on any upgrade. By the time we passed through Evergreen Valley, down White Road/San Felipe to Yerba Buena Road, then onto Silver Creek Valley Road, where we hit our third rest stop, we were behind nearly everyone. I took off to see who I could catch up with. Our biggest climb was further along Silver Creek Valley Road and was followed by a wonderful downhill. I hit 40.8 mph. At least, that's what my computer said at the time.
We turned left onto Hellyer Road, then onto Silicon Valley Road/Bernal Road, then onto Santa Teresa...a road we'd covered a few weeks ago on the Coyote Valley ride. For some reason I have always found the end of the Santa Clara Valley Light Rail to be fascinating. So I stopped and took pictures of it (go figure).
Shortly afterwards, I caught up with Brian and Young-gi...another flat. They were out of tubes and had to patch a tire, which puts them ahead of me. I suppose I'm just too lazy, and anyway my previous attempt at patching a tube did not turn out successfully. They'd lost their route sheets so I led them into our next rest stop, in Los Gatos. Some of the other riders were still there but pretty much everyone pulled out while I refueled. I hit the road. At one point I noticed that my top speed had now become 54 mph. Huh?
Shortly after turning onto Foothill Expressway, my computer stopped working. Then it went haywire. First no speed, then high speed, then no speed. My max speed for the day had suddenly increased to 248 mph. I somehow doubt I managed to go that fast.
I'd noticed earlier that we were running about a mile short of the posted distances, and I was worrying that I would be cheated out of a full century. I managed to solve that problem...I became so vexed with the computer that I forgot to turn off of Foothill Expressway and found myself at El Monte Blvd, about 1.8 miles up from where I should have turned to head back to our starting point. So...that problem was solved. Unfortunately I don't know exactly how far I rode, nor do I have exact ride time or average speed, so today's figures (other than the maximum speed which I'd checked right after it happened) are all estimates. The bike is now at American Cyclery where I was going to take it anyway to get my wheels re-built. They'll be installing a new computer at the same time.
As near as I can figure things ran like this:
Ride time: 7 hours, 24 minutes
Miles: 103
Average speed: 14.3 mph
Maximum speed: 40.8 mph
Photos are at:

by Robert Katz on Sun, Apr 19, 2009 @ 2:06 PM

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2 Days, 128 Miles...and another fundraising threshold
It's been quite the week. So much going on that it's Tuesday evening and I'm only now able to write about this past weekend's training...and that on borrowed time, since I ought to be in bed.
I definitely upped my mileage; more than I'd thought previously. Unless, that is, I've mis-read my previous posts. Since I was scheduled to be an 82-miler on Sunday, I was very pleased to see a fairly short ride on the schedule for Saturday. The Cyclist Representatives (a/k/a Cycle Buddies, a/k/a the folks who ALC hires to support us riders as we go through a year of fundraising and training) were leading a ride from Sports Basement to Fairfax--just 37 miles, an easy pace, and a mellow starting time (8:30 to meet, 9:15 to ride out). Riding to and from Sports Basement added approximately nine miles to the total. Sun was out, weather was pleasant, and a longer ride was in the process of starting as I rolled in. I got some pictures of the "Bride of CAT 2" folks heading out and then Hillary, Jo and Russ took a medium-sized group of us over the Golden Gate Bridge. I stopped to take some pictures on the new-ish bike path along Lincoln, and again at the spot beneath the main parking area that the tourists love so much, since it gives a terrific view of the bridge.
I'd just picked up my bike from American Cyclery following the annual pre-ride tune-up. I'm going to have to bring it back in again in a week or two; seven years of riding has taken a toll on my wheels and they will need to be "re-laced." I'm not entirely sure what that means exactly, but apparently the spoke system has reached the end of its life and needs to be replaced; otherwise it will no longer be possible to "true" the wheels if they get out of whack.
The battery I'd purchased three or so years ago for my "new" (not really so new anymore) computer finally came in handy as the old one finally gave up the ghost somewhere short of Mike's Bikes in Sausalito. So the totals I've got below are perhaps half a mile short of my actual time and distance.
Nonetheless, I had fun; there were some vets and some newbies. And I was home by about 1:30 or so--time for lunch, a bath and grocery shopping.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 3 hours, 27 minutes
Miles: 45.68 (or maybe 46 or 46.25)
Average speed: 13.2 mph
Maximum speed: 37.0 mph
Photos on flickr at:
I fortunately headed for bed very early Saturday night because, once again, the meet time for Sunday's ride was so early that it was barely light out when I left the house. This day's ride was only a few miles longer than last Sunday's but included some additional climbing. The group was relatively small, owing, no doubt, to the fact that it was Easter Sunday. But there were probably between 30 and 40 of us altogether...not all of whom finished up.
Once again, I managed to get a couple of interesting pictures...of the still fairly well-lit moon and of the bridge once again. And since this was a Positive Pedalers sponsored ride, there were plenty of friends (both Pos Peds and supporters of Pos Peds) and people who just wanted a challenging ride. Which we got.
This week's ride somewhat resembled last week's, however, instead of climbing Olema Hill going west, we turned north, rode up Nicasio Valley Road, along the reservoir, then turned right and headed for the Cheese Factory...climbing the infamous "Alpe du Fromage" (not sure who named that hill but the reference of course should be obvious...the hill leading to the Cheese Factory, which is a somewhat challenging climb).
After stopping at the Cheese Factory--which was closed for Easter, we turned around and headed for Point Reyes Station for the standard lunch at the market (which fortunately was NOT closed for Easter).
At this point, Joseph pulled me aside and indicated a concern. One rider had been riding with NO HELMET!!!!! He thought he'd left it in Fairfax or at the Cheese Factory. Regardless of where it had gone astray, this is about as big a no-no as one can possibly do on an AIDS/LifeCycle training ride. We had to insist that he wait to be picked up and transported either back to the city or to the nearest open bike store (which was in Fairfax). Eventually Joseph was able to contact Julie Brown, who we'd seen early in the morning. Julie drove to Point Reyes Station, picked up the miscreant, and watched while he bought another helmet in Fairfax, after which he was on his way. He was VERY embarrassed. And I'm sure he was even more embarrassed when he discovered his helmet sitting in his car when he returned to Sports Basement. How it was that nobody noticed him riding with no helmet for 45 miles is still somewhat of a mystery. I suppose we're now so used to seeing our riders properly equipped that it doesn't even register when they forget something that important.
Anyways...Joseph didn't require me to wait around; as ride facilitator it was his job to wait until the situation was resolved. I continued on the route, down Highway 1 and then left in Olema...up Olema Hill in the opposite direction from last Sunday. This had always struck me as the more difficult climb, but I still seemed to have a decent amount of energy that point anyway.
I arrived in Lagunitas to find some of the faster riders snacking at the deli there. And Buz and Beau were with my friend John was not really up to doing the entire the three of them rode to the Cheese Factory and then into Lagunitas for lunch.
From Lagunitas our route continued eastward, as usual, over and down White's Hill, back into Fairfax, and along the Marin Bike Way southwards. Shortly before reaching Camino Alto, I began to run out of juice. The climb was a real slog, as was the subsequent climb out of Sausalito. And as usual, the Bridge was crowded with bike tourists.
One particularly annoying thing I observed was some fellow with his child...both on was riding BESIDE his child with his hand on the kid's shoulder, basically blocking traffic. I'm hoping one of the bike patrol folks saw him and gave him a ticket since this was not only dangerous but unbelievably inconsiderate behavior.
While I often like to increase my miles by riding and to and from Sports Basement, on this occasion I was truly glad to have driven over as I don't think I could have gone another mile. I was also able to give my friend Gabo a lift home (he was equally exhausted) and were able to catch up a bit.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 5 hours, 52 minutes
Miles: 81.86
Average speed: 13.9 mph
Maximum speed: 40.5 mph (breaking 40 while descending White's Hill means it was a successful ride in my book).
Photos at:

by Robert Katz on Tue, Apr 14, 2009 @ 10:50 PM

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A spin around town and a GREAT ride to Point Reyes Station
Although I didn't get to do quite as much riding this weekend as I did last weekend, this weekend was definitely fun.
John will be out of town visiting his family beginning this coming Thursday so I wanted to spend at least some time with him this weekend. I had to fix the flat I'd picked up at the very end of last Sunday's ride and take my bike over to American Cyclery so I could schedule my pre-ride tuneup. So I didn't have a chance to head out for a full-length ride. I hit the road promptly at 1:30 in the afternoon.
After they'd checked out my bike (it won't be too terribly expensive this year), I figured I might as well make the trip worthwhile. So I headed into the park, past the deYoung Museum and the Academy of Sciences for a quick Merced Loop. Great Highway was closed to cars between the south side of the park and Sloat Blvd, which made things a bit more fun than they usually stopping for lights and things (don't tell anyone).
It wasn't a long ride but I did get a decent amount of mileage, all things considered. And since I don't really like doing long rides solo, this one worked out very nicely. I even took a few pictures.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 1 hour, 42 minutes
Miles: 23.88
Average speed: 13.9 mph
Maximum speed: 30.2 mph
Photos are at:
Sunday's ride was far more ambitious; in fact it was (by a very small margin) my longest ride of the season thus far.
Our route took us through Fairfax, up White's Hill and into West Marin, then into Samuel P. Taylor Park and up Olema Hill to Highway 1 and into Point Reyes Station. Come to think of it, this was the ride I'd been leading when I fell at the park entrance back in 2006 (I always get just a bit apprehensive entering the park even now).
Due to the early meeting time (about fifteen minutes prior to sunrise) I had to drive to Sports Basement since I was signed up as a training ride leader and couldn't arrive at the last minute. But the weather could not have been nicer and there were plenty of friends riding with me. Okay, we did have a bit of a headwind during the afternoon and it WAS a bit on the chilly side early on but nothing too terrible and the afternoon was quite balmy. We had a good turnout and it was crystal clear as we headed for the bridge. With the terrific early morning lighting I couldn't resist stopping to take a couple of pictures of the Marin Headlands from the bridge.
Apart from having to fight the wind just a bit in the afternoon, I can't think of a single thing that went wrong during the day. After last Sunday's ride, this one seemed, if not exactly easy, at least entirely doable without too horribly much effort. In fact, the only bummer of the whole weekend was that I ended up riding 99 miles this weekend; I'd sort of wanted to break 100. But in the end it was perhaps just as well I had to drive to the starting point, since I was pretty bushed by the time I returned to Sports Basement. I can do more miles next weekend and the weekend after.
Upon returning home I discovered that I'm now 55% of the way towards my fundraising goal. While I'm still apprehensive about actually reaching $7k once again but I'm not nearly as pessimistic about breaking $5,000 as I was even a month ago.
Today's stats:
Ride time: 5 hours, 26 minutes
Mileage: 75.06
Average speed: 13.7 mph
Maximum speed: 40.6 mph (descending White's Hill of course)
Photos are at:

by Robert Katz on Sun, Apr 05, 2009 @ 8:37 PM

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Ride, Expo...INTENSE Ride
This weekend, for a change, the weather was reasonably nice. Which is just as well since the annual Ride Expo was scheduled for Saturday. The Expo includes two training rides, clinics for first-timers, and booths set up by some of the businesses that support the ride.
I volunteered to lead the shorter ride, to Mill Valley, which was the smaller and more intimate of the two, with about 40 or so riders. There were no incidents of note during the training ride, though of course as usual the Golden Gate Bridge was packed with tourists on bikes...and had fogged over a bit, which made the return trip a bit hairy. I actually arrived in Golden Gate Park just as the longer ride was heading out, which gave me the opportunity to take pictures of some of the riders...quite a few did not come out well for one reason or another, but there were some nice shots.
I enjoyed the expo; which was, for me, mainly about connecting with friends who'd done the longer ride, socializing with various and sundry folks, taking pictures and, as usual, NOT winning one of the prizes.
Stats for Saturday:
Ride time: 2 hours, 54 minutes
Distance (including the trip to and from GG Park): 35.32 miles
Average speed: 12.1 mph
Maximum speed: 35.4 mph
Pictures are located at:
Saturday's ride was easy...Sunday's was quite another matter. The Category 2 ride out of the city needed to meet at the unreasonable hour of 5:45 due to a special event that closed the Golden Gate Bridge to bikes between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. There was absolutely no way I was going to get up early enough to be there and ride out practically in the dark!
Instead, I opted for the East Bay Cat 2 ride which met at a far more civilized hour (though still too early to get to Orinda by BART). The ride was listed as a "level 4" which meant there would be a great deal of steep climbing. And there was!
The ride commenced with a portion of the "Three Bears" loop...north on San Pablo Dam Road, east on Castro Ranch Road, south on Alhambra Valley Road and then west on Bear Creek Road. The "bears are the very large hills that occupy a good portion of Bear Valley Road. After "Mama" and a "baby" bear, we turned left onto Happy Valley Road...NOT so happy if you ask me! It was an incredibly steep climb, followed by a treacherous winding downhill. The trip was difficulty was somewhat mitigated by some terrific views just beyond the crest and after the initial steep descent, the downhill turned into a rather pleasant one. Happy Valley took us to downtown Lafayette, where we stopped at a Starbucks.
As I arrived, I saw some emergency vehicles headed in the other direction and shortly thereafter I heard that they were heading up Happy Valley Road where one of our riders had fallen. My intuition told me it would be one of my friends. Unfortunately I was correct, right down to who it would be. My friend Alfred who's a relatively inexperienced cyclist, thought a car was going to make a u-turn in front of him. He hit his brakes and slid across the road. Luckily he didn't break anything though he was quite bruised and fortunately another friend was there to accompany him to the ER and take care of him afterwards.
Because Alfred had gotten to the start of the ride courtesy of my other friend Andrew, who'd arrived at, and departed from, Starbucks before me, I hammered to catch up with him so I could let him know what was going on. The workout was kind of nice but in the long run I probably ought to have held back just a bit. Because after leaving Lafayette, we continued through Walnut Creek and Alamo to Danville, where we stopped to refuel, in order to begin climbing most of the way up Mount Diablo. I'm not quite sure how high up we were when we stopped to eat the sandwiches we'd bought but the climb was six miles...fortunately not as steep as Happy Valley Road but it certainly does add up. And because the ride is winding, and the speed limit is only 20 mph, the downhill was kind of taxing. My hands were numb by the time I reached the bottom. Again the view was nice though I didn't have that much time to take pictures (unfortunately).
After returning to Danville, we headed back towards Walnut Creek up Danville Road; several folks were ahead of me and one was behind me. Suddenly I heard this enormous BANG; the fellow in back of me had a blowout. I stopped to help him and we discovered that his tire had a huge rip in it. We patched it temporarily with a folded dollar bill but a few miles later it blew out again. Luckily for him, we were within a block or so of a bike store, as his tire was now completely shredded. I continued on my own, through Lafayette. It was now so late that I considered just hopping on BART and riding one stop to Orinda but I suppose ego and the idea of having a 100-mile-plus weekend got the best of me. So I continued onwards to Moraga and up Moraga Way.
By the afternoon the wind had picked up considerably, blowing mostly from the northwest, and it seemed as though every uphill stretch was into the wind. Not fun! About a mile from the end of the ride I encountered a large field of broken glass (does someone go out every weekend and plant glass in bike lanes?).
I thought I'd successfully avoided the glass but as I approached the Orinda BART station things felt...not quite right. Coming up the ramp to the parking lot, I looked down. Sure enough, my front tire was flat. It was now almost 5 p.m., and I was afraid John would begin to wonder what had happened to me, so I walked the final block or so of the ride. Luckily (and surprisingly) there wasn't much traffic into San Francisco so I was able to return home by about 6 p.m., totally spent. And with a project to work on during the week...namely, fixing the @$@#$@# flat tire!
Sunday stats:
Ride time: 5 hours, 38 minutes
Distance: 73.71 miles
Average speed: 13.1 mph (not bad considering all of the climbing)
Maximum speed: 38.6 mph
Photos at:

by Robert Katz on Mon, Mar 30, 2009 @ 9:44 PM

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Two rain-outs and other setbacks
I haven't really ridden in two weeks. It seems longer. Two Thursdays ago, I hurt my back while working out. Last Sunday (3/15) we gathered at Sports Basement in a heavy drizzle, having lost an hour's sleep to Daylight Saving Time. After hearing from some folks that it was raining harder in Marin, we decided to cancel the rain. By the time we were all back home the sun had come out.
Today...the forecast was iffy and besides the threat of rain we had some very strong winds to deal with. In the interest of safety we decided to give people the option of driving across the bridge before heading out; which about 2/3 of us chose to do. While the sun was out when we arrived in the parking lot on the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge, the streets were quite wet. Riding through Sausalito we were greeted with a lovely double rainbow...behind which were black, black clouds. Shortly after I stopped to take a picture of the rainbow, the skies opened up. I decided I'd head for the Highway 101 overpass to wait things out. I called Beau, who told me that the riders behind me and a handful of others had not only gotten wet--they'd gotten hailed on and all but the most diehard decided to stop at Cafe Trieste in Sausalito to dry off and have a bite to eat. I and the fellow who I shared the overpass with decided to join them.
We sat, we ate, we chatted. The sun came out but it was still windy. So while a few other folks decided to do a brisk, unofficial Tiburon Loop, the rest of us headed for our cars. I figured that, given my back was still far less than 100%, it was the wisest course of action for me. At least we got a few miles of riding in.
Totals for 3/22:
Ride time: 49 minutes
Miles: 10.3
Average speed: 12.5 mph
Maximum speed: 29.8 mph

by Robert Katz on Sun, Mar 22, 2009 @ 3:43 PM

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A BIG jump in mileage
My goodness am I annoyed. I spent a good 20 minutes writing this entry, only to have it disappear for some reason.
I'll summarize:
Saturday's ride was my longest to date. After no riding last weekend, I was anxious to be on the road again. So even though I was scheduled to lead a ride on Sunday, and even though I slept really badly Friday night, I decided to take a chance and headed for Mountain View for another Category 3 ride. Weather was good, there was good company, fun conversation and some nice scenery, and I did just fine. The only bummer of the day was Susan Fish's showing up on crutches. It's not clear what's wrong with her knee or how it got that way, but we're all hoping she heals up and is able to ride again soon.
This was a repeat of a ride I did last year, from Mountain View to Coyote Valley, only without the nasty, chilly headwinds that made the return trip total torture.
Saturday's totals:
Ride time: 4 hours, 53 minutes
Mileage: 75.01
Average speed: 15.3 mph
Maximum speed: 41.5 mph
Pictures at:
I was so sleep-deprived Saturday night that I actually managed to sleep fairly decently, in spite of the time change. I'd given myself the option of turning around in Fairfax and doing only a forty-mile ride. In fact, quite a few people did this, probably because of the lack of recent training opportunities. But I was feeling so good I decided to go the whole way, climbing up White's Hill and continuing on to Lagunitas, which made the ride twelve miles longer.
I had fun, kept a decent pace, nothing bad happened during the day and John and I still managed to get our errands done, even though I arrived home significantly later than I'd originally intended to.
The best thing was that I increased my maximum miles for the week from 62 to 127. And I can still move my legs (and my butt isn't too terribly sore either).
All in all it was a very successful weekend.
Sunday totals:
Ride time: 3 hours, 57 minutes
Mileage: 52.15
Average speed: 13.1 mph
Maximum speed: 38.3 mph
Pictures at:
(Both days pics will be appearing on Facebook as well)

by Robert Katz on Sun, Mar 08, 2009 @ 9:00 PM

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Thanks, Mom!!!!!
My mom just put me over the fundraising minimum. Now I can begin worrying about hitting $5k.

by Robert Katz on Fri, Mar 06, 2009 @ 4:30 PM

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Training, a Party, and a Fundraising Update
First it wouldn't rain in California. Then it wouldn't stop. Following last week's downpours, somehow or other I managed to squeeze in a ride this past Saturday before the skies opened up once again.
The forecast for late Saturday was not looking too promising but there was actually sun visible on Saturday morning when 33 of us gathered at the Mountain View Caltrain station for #4 in Chris Thomas' series of CAT 3 (semi-fast) training rides.
Adam started the day off by spraying me with dirty water from his bike pump (he'd left it out in the rain overnight). Things settled down after that and we headed out through East Palo Alto, past IKEA (numerous jokes were cracked about buying bookshelves), across the Dumbarton Bridge into Fremont for the inevitable Starbucks stop. From there we headed north and east through historic Niles, and onto Niles Canyon Road. Along Niles Canyon Road to Sunol where we regrouped and turned around. I love stopping in this little town, almost entirely surrounded by urban sprawl but somehow nearly untouched. The town itself appears to consist mainly of two rail lines (Union Pacific and a tourist train that runs through the canyon), a few houses, and a general store. Somehow we missed feeling a small quake that hit about ten minutes before I arrived (and Bill Henry left) Sunol.
Strange but true: I've probably ridden eastbound along Niles Canyon Road 50 times or more. Westbound? Not until Saturday. I think I like the westbound direction better; it's gradually downhill for six miles. I could have done without the cars passing just at those points where the shoulder disappeared.
Things began to look a bit gloomy by the time I arrived at our lunch stop opposite Ohlone College but the weather cooperated for the rest of our ride. We left at 9 a.m. and pretty much everyone was finished on our metric century by 2:45 or so.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 3 hours, 59 minutes
Distance: 62.45 miles
Average speed: 15.6 mph
Maximum speed: 35.5 mph
Because I finished early, I was able to make it to the annual Training Ride Leader's Potluck at Angelo Pagano's beautiful house in the Western Addition. The house is known officially as the Yehudi Menuhin House because Menuhin was born there and gave his first recital at the tender age of six years old.
While it was mostly an upbeat event, we were informed of an unfortunate incident that took place on another training ride that day. One of our training ride leaders, Michael Cook, fell at the very beginning of the the ride leaving from Sports Basement. He was stopping for a stop sign and was for some reason unable to unclip; then his handlebars swung unexpectedly to one side. Although he was not going fast at all, he managed to fall just the wrong way and shattered his jaw. Goes to show that no matter how careful you are, things can happen over which you have no control. Hopefully Michael will be back in one piece well before the ride starts. Meanwhile...he gets to lose weight.
Pictures from the potluck are at:
Being off my bike for two weeks because of the rain gave me some time to catch up on fundraising, which I've been unusually stressed out about this year (even for me, and I ALWAYS worry about it). I sent out well over 350 fundraising requests using Facebook and have so far increased my fundraising total by a bit of $1,000. I think this means I don't have to be too concerned about hitting the minimum; now I can obsess over reaching $5k!

by Robert Katz on Mon, Feb 23, 2009 @ 5:46 PM

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Bonus Miles
So that title--what does it mean? It means that I rode some extra accident. Yesterday's ride was supposed to be a 50-mile CAT 3 ride out of Mountain View; the third in Chris Thomas' series, leading up to a 120-miler in mid-May (which I won't do; I don't really need to do 120 miles thanks!).
The weather cleared up just in time--and just long enough--for us to have a lovely day for riding. We started out by heading south towards Santa Clara, past the entrance for Great America, then along the bay northwards until we reached Palo Alto. That concluded the flat portion of our riding; once we reached Sand Hill Road we began climbing, crossing Highway 280 and turning right on Whiskey Hill Road, then we headed to Roberts Market in Woodside for lunch. That's where it got...interesting. After the food was done, I headed out with Adam and a couple of other guys along Mountain Home Road. The route directions were not that confusing, assuming you already knew where you were going. After doubling back a couple of times we headed in what we thought was the right direction, only to find ourselves, once again, at Roberts Market!
Fortunately; the sweeps, including Chris, had arrived there and we were escorted along the proper route the rest of the way through the Los Altos Hills, Portola, Alpine, Arastradero, along side Highway 280, under it, then under it again, eventually descending back towards Foothill Expressway and then down Miramonte and back to our starting point. Props to Adam who, I think unintentionally, completed his longest ride ever! And we still finished up at a reasonable time.
Today's totals:
Riding time: 3 hours, 39 minutes
Average speed: 15.4 mph
Maximum speed: 35.5 mph
Miles: 56.67 (rather than the intended 50.5)
Photos are at:

by Robert Katz on Sun, Feb 08, 2009 @ 4:39 PM

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Finally able to ride again
After being out of commission for three weeks, I was finally able to get out and ride today on the third CAT 2 series ride. This one consisted of a straight shot over the bridge, through Sausalito with a quick stop at Mike's Bikes, then onto the bike path, along Tiburon Blvd, onto bike path again and straight into beautiful downtown Tiburon where we took over Shark's Deli. After feeding our faces for a bit, we continued around Paradise Drive to Trestle Glen, across the Tiburon Peninsula and back to Tiburon Blvd, thence back to the bridge and back to Sports Basement.
We had quite a collection of riders today, some very old vets (my friend and mentor John Spallone signed up for his first ride since CAR 7) and some very new folks (my friend Alfred on his first official training ride--borrowed bike and helmet and everything and he still kicked butt). I didn't get an actual count of riders but it seemed like at least twice as many as
the thirty official RSVP's.
The weather was superb and I just HAD to stop along the Tiburon Bike Path to take some shots of the Bay and the City.
The only real downside to today was that for some reason I didn't sleep well last night. I got to bed nice and early but just couldn't stay asleep. Perhaps I was just anxious after being out of action for a while. It didn't bother me all that much while I was riding but once I got home I definitely felt it. And I've discovered that the less sleep I get the more I cough. So I was pretty much forced to take it easy this evening. But I didn't have any problems while riding and, since I couldn't cadge a ride home from anyone, I rode all the way home, adding nine more miles to the official total.
Totals for today:
Ride time: 3 hours, 4 minutes
Miles: 42.95
Average speed: 13.9 mph (14.1 at the end of the official ride)
Maximum speed: 37.7 mph (on the downhill side of Trestle Glen which is a really nice little descent).
Today's photos are on Facebook and Flickr. The Flickr link is:
Now that I've finished with this blog entry I really need to get in gear with the fundraising (and with uploading the pics to Facebook).

by Robert Katz on Sun, Feb 01, 2009 @ 9:50 PM

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The week in a (long) nutshell
It's been a busy week. Mom had surgery on her wrists Monday evening, and after some talk about her going directly home, was transferred to a nursing home on Thursday for additional rehab, in order to make sure she can actually take care of herself. All the anxiety about Mom's situation has definitely interfered with my fundraising; unfortunately it's probably also affected my health. I've been feeling just a bit "off" for a good couple of weeks--maybe even more than that. And certainly there are things going around at this time of year. Still, I thought I was pretty much over whatever it was had been affecting me.
Saturday marked the beginning of Chris Thomas' Category 3 rides, and I've volunteered to be a training ride leader for several of them. I wasn't feeling at all badly when I woke up in the morning and loaded up the car. The slight chill in the air at ride time gave way to gloriously pleasant weather by early afternoon. We rode down Central Freeway (which is not really a freeway), through a bit of Sunnyvale, and then, after a stop to refuel, up Foothill Expressway, which is always fun.
I certainly had plenty of energy as reflected in my stats for the day; the only minor embarrassment was that I misinterpreted the cue sheet and led Adam past one of our re-group points. Since we had only ten miles to go there seemed to be little point in turning around and anyway, how else would I be able to catch up with Bill Henry? And we lost less than half a mile anyway.
Stats for Saturday:
Ride time: 2 hours, 34 minutes
Distance: 39.15 miles
Average speed: 15.2 mph (and the last few miles were slow)
Maximum speed: 33.7 mph
By the time I'd returned home I was beginning to wonder if I was entirely alright but I didn't really give it that much thought. I chalked it up to the fast riding. Saturday night however I did not sleep well at all and something was definitely up. It sounded weird when I exhaled and the combination of all the noise I was making and my overall restlessness caused me to banish myself from the bedroom to the living room sofa, just so I wouldn't keep John awake with me.
Needless to say I was feeling less than superb by Sunday morning but I'd been looking forward to the Kickoff Party and I attributed most of my physical discomfort to sleep loss. As anticipated, the party was fun; there were lots of friends to socialize with. It seemed as though every time I turned around I encountered one more friend who either had signed up for ALC already or was signing up at the party (when, incidentally, San Francisco rider registration was due to close).
I finally got to meet Alex, a first-time rider who is a student at UC Davis. Back in December I'd sent Alex a bunch of my old cycling gear just so he'd have something decent to ride in. As a special treat, Brendan Patrick had flown up from LA and was, in fact, shepherding young Alex around. Alex has been doing all of his training so far on an old clunker and us folks at Pos Peds, led by Brendan, had determined to get him a new bike. We managed to collect 29 raffle tickets for Alex and we were SURE he'd win a bike but...nope. No bike. Fortunately, former board member Peter LaVoie believes that his bike would work for Alex. So...problem solved.
I took a boatload of pictures, posted both on Flickr at:
They're also on Facebook.
By Sunday night I felt truly dreadful, and even worse on Monday morning. So as of now, I'm out sick from work and we'll see what happens. If I don't feel appreciably better by Tuesday, a trip to the doctor would seem to be in order and I am more than a bit concerned that I'll have to miss out on the Cat 2 series kickoff ride this coming Sunday. This would be a real bummer since I'm supposed to be representing Pos Peds and besides...I'm the facilitating ride leader! I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed that things will get better between now and then.

by Robert Katz on Mon, Jan 12, 2009 @ 8:10 PM

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A Cold Start to the New Year
The first Sunday of January was the coldest day of winter; so cold, in fact, that there was ice on the puddles behind Mike's Bikes Sausalito as 21 brave riders gathered to begin our first training ride of the year (I suppose I shouldn't assume; perhaps some people had already done a ride this year, but I know I hadn't!). I've posted photographic evidence of the ice if you want to see it. I know some of my friends from back east would be less than thrilled but, take my word for it; icy puddles in and around San Francisco are a once- or twice- a winter thing here.
This ride, the final in a preliminary set sponsored by Positive Pedalers in preparation for the upcoming CAT 2 series, was a short one--an abbreviated version of the classic Tiburon Loop, starting out on the north side of the Bay Bridge. We all had to pedal to keep warm. In the mix were numerous veterans as well as some first-timers, including my friends Andrew and David who were doing their first official ALC training ride, after some casual rides around the city.
I managed to get to the top of Camino Alto before everyone, except of course for Bill Henry who was nice enough to descend and climb at least part-way back again for my benefit, just to be included in the photos. And of course I couldn't wait for EVERYONE to show up; I needed to ride just in order to stay warm!
While at Sharks Deli in Tiburon, we were joined by the CAT 1 ride out of Sports Basement. My friend Charles seemed to be having a hard time, poor guy! And to make it worse for him, I couldn't resist taking a picture of him looking less than thrilled with his first ALC training ride experience.
Nonetheless there weren't any untoward incidents (there was one flat tire) and everyone arrived back at Mike's Bikes safe and sound.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 1 hours, 42 minutes
Distance: 22.55 miles
Average speed: 13.2 mph
Maximum speed: 27.9 mph
Photos are posted at:

by Robert Katz on Mon, Jan 05, 2009 @ 11:14 PM

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A Rain-out followed by a fun ride last training ride took place on December 7th. The following weekend was a washout. I was scheduled to lead a ride on 12/21 with Wilfredo, Bill and Sue, out of Orinda BART. The weather forecast called for rain beginning mid-day but it was supposed to be dry early on. Since the official policy is that we ride if it isn't raining, I rode my bike to Civic Center and dutifully boarded BART. As soon as we emerged from the ground and stopped at West Oakland, I could tell that the rain had already started. Bill was waiting in Orinda to tell anybody who showed up that the ride was being cancelled. Wilfredo and I re-boarded BART with the two guys who'd actually RSVP'd for the ride. One of them was heading for Berkeley while the other one, a first-time rider by the name of Jake, was headed back to the city. We rode the block to Fox Plaza; stopped at Starbucks for coffee and whatnot and then each of us headed for home in the pouring rain. No stats for the day; my entire ride consisted of about 2 miles total. There are two pictures that are combined with the ones from today's ride.
I was not scheduled to lead any rides this weekend and had the choice of either riding across the Golden Gate Bridge with the pedestrians in freezing cold on Friday, doing a 30-mile CAT 1 ride on Saturday out of Union City or showing up for Chris Thomas's 46-miler out of Mountain View on Sunday. The latter ride was my first choice but some of the weather forecasts seemed to indicate a rainy Sunday so I sent RSVP's to both Russ and Chris and, in fact, told Chris I was not going to show. The prospect of either BARTing or driving all the way to Union City in order to do a 30-miler just didn't excite me and the weather forecast for Sunday suddenly improved. So I stayed home on Saturday and hoped for the best. I was not disappointed.
It was gorgeous on Sunday morning. By this time last year I'd already done several of Chris's Mountain View rides but this year things have been different. It was quite nice to head down there and see Chris along with David, TJ, Adam, Antonio, Lynn, Dan and a variety of new and returning folks. Our route took us north to Palo Alto, over the Dumbarton Bridge, into Newark and then around the south end of the bay, returning past Great America and up Central Freeway back to Mountain View.
Not being a TRL I was free to push myself--which I did. After the morning chill the temperature finally moderated and it turned out to be quite a lovely day. The only down side to the ride was that there were no actual lunch stops; instead we had breaks at two different Starbucks. Man cannot live, or ride, on sugar alone. Combine that with having been off the saddle for several weekends and having last ridden this distance 7 of ALC 7, and not having slept very well, things began to catch up with me. Chris likewise noticed himself flagging towards the end. I decided to head for home after finishing instead of going out for something in Mountain View. Still, it was an overall splendid day.
Ride time: 3 hours, 00 minutes, 51 seconds
Miles: 45.98
Average speed: 15.2 mph
Maximum speed: 30.8 mph
Photos for both rides are posted at:

by Robert Katz on Sun, Dec 28, 2008 @ 10:26 PM

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A Chilly Ride to Lake Merced
Today was another in the Positive Pedalers pre-CAT 2-Series "Get Acquainted" Rides. This one was a repeat of one we'd done a few weeks ago in beautiful, warm weather. Today was entirely different. It was foggy and chilly when I set out. I had to wear my full leg-warmers, my ear warmers and my brand new shoe covers to keep the chill off. Would have been better still if I'd worn full-fingered gloves instead of my normal ones but of course by the time I'd figured this out, it was rather too late.
Several people who'd RSVP'd were apparently scared off by the chill; I suppose we've all been spoiled by the relatively mild so far this season. So we were down to our training ride leaders, a couple of newbies and a couple of veterans, including a woman who'd last ridden on CAR 7.
The ride out from Sports Basement isn't as easy as it seems, since there is a rather stiff climb along Lincoln Blvd through the Presidio and under the Golden Gate Bridge. There is another climb along Clement Street in the Outer Richmond that isn't really all that steep but is nothing to sneeze at either. One of our newbie riders struggled with the climb; meanwhile our intrepid leader Beau managed to break his chain on the initial climb and had to go back to his car. He decided to provide car sweep for a portion of the route.
The plan was to stop at Java Beach Cafe on the way back; since the one at the end of Judah Street is so crowded, I suggested we consider stopping at the other location, at Sloat Blvd and 45th Avenue. Several folks decided we should stop there BEFORE our loop around Lake Merced instead of afterwards, so that's what we did. Meanwhile, the ride had broken up into several distinct sections, none of them all that large and we finished that way. Beau was dismissed so he could take his bike to Mikes Bikes for a new chain.
I finished up with the first set of riders (apart from two guys who both had to turn around after the lunch stop and my friend Chuck who needed to go home due to an emergency); I'm not sure exactly when everyone finished up; I needed to go into Sports Basement briefly before heading home because I'd lost a bar-end and I don't like riding with open ends on my bars. The remaining riders were still out when I started for home, with Rich and Buz sweeping our most challenged rider. Still, nobody had any real problems and everyone seemed to have a nice time.
I got home in time for lunch and discovered a new pledge in my totals (thanks, Joe!).
Today's totals:
Ride time: 2 hours, 43 minutes
Miles: 31.40
Average speed: 11.5 mph
Maximum speed: 33.8 mph
Photos (not many really) are at:

by Robert Katz on Sun, Dec 07, 2008 @ 6:05 PM

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The World AIDS Day Ride
About fifty of us met in Golden Gate Park at 7:30 on a beautiful Sunday morning for the annual World AIDS Day ride. This year we rode 28 miles, to symbolize 28 years of the epidemic. Before riding out, and after out normal stretching, route description and safety speech, we all held hands and spoke the names of those we had lost.
Because there was another much larger event scheduled to begin shortly after us, we needed to be on the road on time and our original plan of riding a loop within the park before heading north had to be scrapped. Instead, we rode past the turnoff to Mill Valley, to the end of the Sausalito Bike Path, then turned around and came back, made another U-turn and headed for the Depot Cafe.
Clearly the weather was in our favor; it was practically summer-like for most of the ride with clear blue skies and no hint of fog. The only downside of the unseasonably warm weather was a rather strong headwind crossing to the Golden Gate Bridge heading north. On the other hand, that strong headwind turned into a tailwind on the return trip and because he'd headed out quite early, there were relatively few tourists heading northbound while we were riding to the south.
I got quite trigger-happy with the camera and took nearly 100 pictures; for a change, I actually ended up in a couple of them.
After the ride ended; I was given a pair of ears for my helmet so I could "officially" become part of Team BEAR. GRRRRRRRRRRR. Several of us wound up having lunch at Crepevine in the Castro afterwards; so besides taking the time to commemorate this important event, there was ample social time as well.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 2 hours, 24 minutes
Miles: 31.9
Average speed: 13.2 mph
Maximum speed: 32.5 mph
Photo link:

by Robert Katz on Sun, Nov 30, 2008 @ 6:59 PM

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A fun ride to Fairfax
Not being scheduled to lead a ride this past weekend, I had a choice of two rides out of Sports Basement on Saturday. Last time, I did the Fall Crawl Cat 1 ride to Tiburon. They were going back to Tiburon again and while I like the place, I figured a different destination, a faster, Cat 2 pace and a slightly later start might be nice. I had a discount coupon from SB and a couple of things I needed to pick up there so, overcoming my guilt for driving to an in-town destination, I threw my bike on the car and headed over.
I managed to intercept the Fall Crawl folks just as they were getting ready to roll so I got some nice pictures of them, and then headed over to where Kevin Ho's Northward Ho! ride was meeting up.
Up and over the bridge; it was a cool clear morning and I decided to another thing I normally refrain from--I stopped along the bridge railing and shot a few pictures of the Marin Headlands and the bridge tower. Continuing onward, I found myself near the north end of the Sausalito Bike Path where there was a flock of geese camped out. One of the pictures I took of them turned out REALLY nice; it's the main pic for this week's set.
We ran into a couple of renegade rides--first in beautiful downtown Ross, and then in Fairfax. So it was a truly social day, as can be seen by the pictures.
The ride was successful, I took plenty of pictures, found what I needed at Sports Basement, and got home in time for a late lunch.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 2 hours, 46 minutes
Miles: 37.45
Average speed: 13.4 mph
Maximum speed: 36.5 mph
Pictures are posted at:
And now I'm on Facebook too! (Gee, another way to waste time! How fun.)

by Robert Katz on Mon, Nov 24, 2008 @ 10:13 AM

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A beautiful ride to the beach
This morning's ride took about fifteen of us from Sports Basement in Crissy Field, under the Golden Gate Bridge, through the Richmond District, out past the Cliff House, down the coast, around Lake Merced and back through Golden Gate Park, with a stop at Java Beach Cafe.
The weather was absolutely gorgeous. It was sunny and warm; there was a slight headwind from the northeast, which of course accounted the warm weather. Plenty of eye candy in the form of surfers; we did our best not to become too distracted.
This was sponsored as a Positive Pedalers "get-acquainted" ride. We had four matching jerseys in the group as well as one other Pos Peds jersey, so it was mandatory that we had a group photo taken when we regrouped at Sloat Blvd and Great Highway.
There were two minor mishaps:
First, my friend John's girlfriend Dimitra became ill and they had to turn around before we'd even gone five miles (fortunately John lives not too far from where they had to stop). I understand that she's now okay; it wasn't really clear what the problem was but I hope it doesn't get in the way of her continued training.
One of our riders, a young man by the name of Adam, was using clipless pedals for the very first time. He seemed to do okay but of course such a thing would not be complete without him falling over once. This didn't happen until we were nearly finished riding. He and his bike were okay, but when we got back to Sports Basement he discovered that the screws had come out of his cleat, the cleat had attached itself to his pedal, and he simply could NOT get the thing detached. In the process of trying to extract the cleat he knocked his bike seat out of line.
Fortunately, the good folks at Sports Basement were able to remove his cleat from his pedal and get it back on his shoe, and return his saddle to its proper position. Adam was nice enough to give me a lift home. It's not that I'd have had a problem riding home but it really isn't all that much fun riding up and over Russian Hill along Polk Street. There truly is no payoff for it and since it's way early in the training season, I didn't need the miles.
Today's photos are at:
And today's totals are:
Ride time: 2 hours 18 minutes
Miles: 26.80
Average speed: 11.8 mph
Maximum speed: 32.8 mph

by Robert Katz on Sun, Nov 16, 2008 @ 9:16 PM

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CAT 1 "Fall Crawl" ride
Yesterday's ride was one of those "get going before the weather ruins it" ones. Given how early in the training season it is, I was surprised at the early meeting time (8:15 a.m.) but as it turned out, this was actually a good thing, as the weather forecast was decidedly questionable.
When I arrived at Sports Basement it was a bit on the cloudy side but not unpleasantly cold or windy. There were about fifteen of us; a nice-sized group with a combination of experienced riders and first-timers. The posted pace of the ride was slow (Category 1 means an average speed of 10 mph or less). And I showed up strictly as a rider rather than a leader, so I was free to proceed at my own speed. All of the way out I was paced by a young man by the name of Noah (in the photos, he's the guy with the hole in his glove). Although we did get out front of the group periodically, nobody was really notably slow so he had some good social time once we arrived at Sharks Deli in Tiburon.
By the time I headed out I was beginning to get just a bit anxious about the weather. So even though I stopped a couple of times on the way back to shoot pictures, once I reached the Sausalito Bike Path I decided it was time to make tracks for home. Rather than returning to Sports Basement, I chose to head through the Presidio and Golden Gate Park, then down the Panhandle. There was a good deal of fog between the Presidio and the Panhandle, so much so that I had to stop a couple of times to clear my glasses. But other than that it was a pleasant enough ride with no accidents.
Today's stats:
Ride time: 2 hours, 49 minutes
Miles: 40.6
Average speed: 14.2 mph
Maximum speed: 36.5 mph
Pictures are at:

by Robert Katz on Sun, Nov 09, 2008 @ 2:15 PM

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The Cowbirds Ride
This past Sunday was the third annual ride and potluck out of John and Ted's home in Bodega Bay. The first time out there were three of us: John, Beau, and myself. Last year we had an ample turnout but the weather turned south unexpectedly and most folks turned back after about ten miles--though the three or four who continued on were the only ones who didn't get rained on.
This time around, we started out with wet roads and a significant chance of showers, but things started out well and only got better as the day progressed. Wet roads did put a damper on a few folks' experience. It's tough to see glass and other enemies of tire integrity on a wet road and a couple of people were thwarted by shredded tires or repetitive flats. The majority of us however were able to avoid the hazards. All but a very few of us did all of the entire tough route, which took us from Bodega Bay, down Highway 1 to Bodega Highway, through the town of Bodega (famous as the setting for the movie "The Birds), then into Freestone, where we stopped for sticky buns and scones at the Wild Flower Bakery. From there we proceeded up Bohemian Highway to Occidental and turned left on Coleman Valley Road, where we began to climb...and climb...and climb. Eventually we reached the summit and when we got there...the sun came out!
The climb was followed by some rolling hills through a cattle ranch (hence the "Cow" part of the event) and then a somewhat hair-raising descent back to Highway 1. The intersection of Coleman Valley Road and Highway 1 features a bluff that overlooks the coast in both directions and provides some amazing views.
Finally we all returned to John and Ted's for food; some of us also spent some time in the hot tub. A splendid time was had by all!
And I ended up with over 80 pictures.
Here they are:
On the drive home I was able to drop in for a brief visit with my friends Ken and Will, who live in Sebastopol. I got home at 6pm, right after dark on the first day after the switch back from Daylight Savings Time. The only downside for me personally was that all the climbing left my hamstrings and glutes a bit sore, and braking on the downhill (a bit too steep for me to really enjoy) taxed my forearms just a bit. But overall it was a terrific day.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 2 hours, 6 minutes
Distance: 28.25 miles
Average speed: 13.7 mph
Maximum speed: 39.0 mph

by Robert Katz on Tue, Nov 04, 2008 @ 9:29 AM

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Fun Kickoff Ride, Embarassing Ending
The official kickoff of the training season was this past Saturday. As usual, I signed up to be a training ride leader; this year I opted for the shorter, 20-mile ride to Mill Valley. Riders were plentiful, weather was absolutely perfect, with pleasant temperatures and lots of sun.
Any number of folks I know were along for their very first official training ride, and it was quite fun to see them on the road.
My friend Jon was lucky enough to win the day's raffled bike--his second of the year (he also won one from a store). Jon and I rode back to the Panhandle together with the estimable Brother Jonathan, who was afraid of getting lost in the Presidio. I dropped Jon off, Jonathan headed for the home of the brothers on Dolores Park, and I headed for home--and managed to fall over about 25 feet from the front door. Fortunately I wasn't going very fast so, aside from a scraped knee, the principal damage was to my ego. I should have known better, having done this particular move before, but I took the curb cut at too shallow an angle (in order to avoid hitting one of my neighbors) so, instead of hopping up on the curb, my front wheel bounced off the curb and down I went. Some nice gentleman returned the bar-end that popped out and I skulked to the door and upstairs to clean my knee and take a bath.
Today's pictures:

Today's totals:
Ride time: 2 hours 50 minutes
Miles: 32.84
Average speed: 11.5 mph
Maximum speed: 33.1 mph

by Robert Katz on Mon, Oct 27, 2008 @ 12:09 PM

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Thank You Ride and BBQ
Couldn't have asked for a nicer day for a ride...give or take the occasional patch of fog.
I got recertified as a Training Ride Leader just in time to help out with the 40-mile Tiburon Loop. We had something over 100 RSVP's for the long ride and Julie asked us in our class if anyone else would be willing to sign on. So I did.
It was nice in the Mission when I headed out; I still wore my brand new knee warmers, just in case; probably a good thing, since the Golden Gate Bridge was almost invisible when I arrived at Crissy Field. But by the time we rode out, the fog was definitely diminishing and once I got across the bridge, the knee warmers came off.
Talk about the dangers of success--I was accompanied for the first part of the day by one of my donors, who's going to be riding this year. So I'll have to remove him from the mailing list and find somebody new to replace him with. I don't want to hit up anyone who's participating in ALC for a pledge; we all work hard enough already.
High points of the day:
1. Somewhere along Paradise Drive I heard rustling in the bushes along the road; a young buck suddenly appeared in front of me, ran along the road for a few yards, then darted back into the brush.
2. Meeting and lunching with all the returning riders and roadies.
Low point of the day: the return trip over the Golden Gate Bridge. There was wall-to-wall bike traffic both ways and, with the huge number of tourists, it was downright scary. A large group simply stopped around the southern pillar of the bridge, completely blocking traffic. To top it off, one bright light hotshot insisted on speeding through the crowd as though the road was empty, nearly running into me and a number of oncoming riders of rental bikes who probably were scared senseless. I certainly was! Maybe this will be the year when I lay off of crossing the bridge altogether (well, mostly; I know I'm gonna wind up doing it once in a while but at this point, the less the better).
I took some nice pictures during the day, including one of Carol and Jerry with their lovely new tandem. They're right here at:
Stats of the day:
Miles: 43.61
Ride time: 3 hours, 5 minutes
Maximum speed: 36.4 mph
Average speed: 14.1 mph

by Robert Katz on Mon, Sep 29, 2008 @ 3:48 PM

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Another Year Begins...
...and I'm off to a fast start. I'm not sure how I feel about the new website, since I can't insert pictures in the text, nor put in links to my photos (I DO ride in order to take pictures after all).
But things are moving ahead. Much to my surprise, I've already received my first pledge, completely unsolicited! Thanks, Jonathan, for getting me started.
Training Ride Leader Recertification comes around for me next Thursday; the ALC 7 Thank You Ride and BBQ is next Saturday, and the official start of training is late October. I've been pretty much of a slug this summer so I need a little kick in the pants to get me back on the bike.

by Robert Katz on Wed, Sep 17, 2008 @ 5:08 PM

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