AIDS Lifecycle - Ride to end AIDS

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ALC 7, Quadbuster
ALC 7, Quadbuster

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90 percent of goal achieved.

Goal: $7,500.00
Achieved: $6,732.00

AIDS/LifeCycle 10 will kick off on the morning of June 5th, 2011. Perhaps it is fortuitous and perhaps it is intentional, but that date will mark the thirtieth anniversary of the first news article to mention what is now called AIDS. It's no wonder that registration for ALC 10 has far surpassed registration for ALC 9. I will be joining at least 2,500 other cyclists and hundreds of support volunteers, who we call "roadies" on a week-long journey from San Francisco to Los Angeles. This year's ride will be an important milestone--important, yet sad.

It is widely agreed that some 33 million people throughout the world currently live with HIV; some 20 million worldwide have died of this disease over the past 30 years. Over a million Americans are infected; at least 20% have no idea that they are. In California there are currently well over 150,000 individuals - male, female, gay, straight, black, white, Asian, Native American, adults and children - who live with this disease. At least 27,000 San Franciscans are HIV-infected and many of them rely on the services provided by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. It saddens me no end to know that among those statistics I can count over 160 friends, neighbors, co-workers and acquaintances who have died from AIDS, including two partners. I have many, many friends who continue to live with HIV; some are doing well while others are struggling to survive.

I have now been HIV-positive for thirty years. I'm reasonably certain that I was infected with HIV in December of 1980 and am certain that I became infected prior to May of 1981. I turn 60 just ten days before Day 1 of AIDS/LifeCycle 10. In other words, I've now been positive for over half my life.

The year 2010 marked the fifteenth anniversary of Positive Pedalers, the group of cyclists of which I have been a proud member since I began training for my first AIDS Ride. Ceremonies acknowledging the continued work and success of Positive Pedalers took place on April 30, 2010 at various locations, including San Francisco City Hall. I was pleased and proud to take part in that ceremony. By living out and proud with HIV, I hope to be able to dispel the stigma that continues to surround this disease.

Some things have simply not changed since last year. The recent economic downturn continues almost unabated; in so doing, it continues to affect the availability of AIDS-related services in San Francisco and elsewhere in California and throughout the United States. State budget cuts continue to have a disproportionate effect on the poor and the disempowered who must rely either on publicly funded services, or on the programs of non-profits that likewise rely on state and/or federal funding for a significant portion of their revenue.

New Leaf, an organization which for many years had been a major source of support for those within San Francisco's LGBT community who are dealing with issues of substance abuse, closed its doors last fall. The San Francisco AIDS Foundation is among the groups that will be filling the gap left by New Leaf's departure; this makes AIDS/LifeCycle even more important.

Since my first AIDS Ride in 1999, I've participated every year with the exception of 2002. In 2001, in addition to riding in California AIDS Ride 8, I drove a sweep van in the Canada-US AIDS Vaccine Ride, from Montreal to Portland, ME. ALC 10 will be my thirteenth AIDS charity bike ride. Up to this point I have raised in excess of $60,000--this is the merest fraction of what is needed, yet every dollar counts.

Every dollar you donate will help to mitigate the effects of the current economy and of the budget cuts that have impacted anyone who is unable to obtain private medical insurance and health care. Your donations will help to keep people housed and fed, provide IV drug users with the 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 the ways they can protect themselves from its ravages, all in a non-judgmental manner. AIDS/LifeCycle is the single largest source of revenue for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. The money raised by AIDS/LifeCycle comprises a significant portion of the Foundation's annual budget.

I raised just over $7,000 for AIDS/LifeCycle 8 and just a bit less than that for AIDS/LifeCycle 9. In the coming year, I intend to raise $7,500 for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. With your help I can reach that goal.

I'm going to continue the pledge I made when I commenced fundraising for AIDS/LifeCycle 9:

  • First of all I pledge to keep my family and my friends close to my heart. I promise to honor all those who I've lost through the years.
  • Secondly, I pledge to keep everyone who reads this page updated on my training and fundraising progress.
  • Third, between now and the end of ALC 9 I will strive to ride as safely and as conscientiously as I can, on training rides, as a commuter, and most certainly during AIDS/LifeCycle itself, and to arrive alive and well in Los Angeles.
  • Finally, I pledge to ride as long as I'm able and as long as there's a need to do so anymore. And then, if I still can, I'll ride again in celebration.

My Personal Web Log


The Ride Retrospective Part 2
I really don't like getting into any campsite at 6:30 but, despite riding in a car provided by personal trainer Scott Herman, that's what happened anyway. Once again, I had to rush to shower and have dinner. My poor tentmate fared no better than I did; he got in even later than me!
Day 3 is when we climb Quadbuster, which to me is the most challenging hill of the ride. The route was shortened a couple of years ago, which resulted in skipping some rough roads, some pretty scenery and an iconic bridge, as well as a couple of preliminary climbs.
There is something meditative about the portion of the route from here to our next encounter with Highway 101. While descending the far side of Quadbuster I ran across a couple of guys wearing Team Instinct kits. I'd been aware that a fellow named Jeff Katz was a team member (he is an editor of Instinct Magazine) so I asked the first person in the relevant kit whether he was that person. No, he replied but he's just ahead in the next rest stop. When we arrived a few minutes later, Jeff was pointed out to me and I discovered that, in fact, he and I had already met and had several conversations, beginning at Orientation. Such is the way on ALC...everyone's on a first-name basis right away.
The remainder of the day is mainly fun with some unpleasant patches. The latter consists of two portions of the route on Highway 101. What makes these problematic is not being on freeway but the condition of the shoulder. The first section was repaved during the winter; the final portion was so unpleasant that on of our Pos Peds who rides a recumbent said he couldn't cope with the bumping (he decided in the end that he might as well grit his teeth and get it over with since getting swept when you're riding a recumbent and are on freeway can be challenging).
The best part of the day is of course the barbeque at lunch in Bradley. The red ribbons decorating the bridge outside of town was almost certainly the emotional high point of the week, at least for me.
After lunch I discovered I had a flat; rather than change it myself I took my bike to the bike techs who discovered that the tape lining my tire was deteriorated, which would undoubtedly have led to more flats. They took care of everything at a total cost of $7. And they cleaned and lubed my chain.
The show at Rest Stop 4 in Mission San Miguel never disappoints. See the photos for the pertinent pictures.
Once again I arrived in camp later than I am comfortable with but since I was playing princess for the evening I didn't mind all that much. It took some doing but I eventually met up with my friend Andrew who was sharing the room with me; we had dinner, watched the Pos Peds portion of the program and then headed back to the lovely Motel if a relatively long walk from camp. Next year I'll make the travel arrangements earlier.
When we returned to camp the next morning I was confronted with round two of the excessive attention; I'd been profiled in the morning's Daily Spin. For the next three days people came up to me to thank me for my story and to wish me a belated happy birthday. It was very sweet if somewhat overwhelming.
Day 4: Day of Evil Twins, two trips to the coast, more bike problems and some tummy trouble (not serious). The second of the two "big" climbs is Evil Twins, which to me is at least triplets, and is also not nearly as difficult as Quadbuster even if the climb is far longer. It's never nearly as steep. The summit of Evil Twins does mark the highest elevation of the week but-more importantly-a few hundred yards beyond the summit is the half-way point in the ride. There's a place to pull over to have one's picture taken. On a clear day you can see Morro Bay, which makes for a rather spectacular backdrop. This year it was rather cloudy.
I took some pictures and then got down to the serious business of a seven-mile downhill. Always fun, though somewhat less so than usual because the headwind was significant (I failed to break 40 miles per hour) and there was construction which caused some of us to have to stop briefly. At the bottom of the hill we're once again in Highway One and shortly thereafter we return to the coast, though briefly. Just past our second rest stop is the town of Cayucos where I usually have lunch at a lovely dinner called Skippers. Unfortunately, Skippers was closed for renovation and I couldn't find any other place that seemed inviting. So I kept going. We shortly afterwards turn inland once again, paralleling Highway One before returning to it for several miles. We then exit on the north side of San Luis Obispo for our lunch stop. I probably got more good pictures during lunch than I had at the half-way point. San Luis Obispo is a fairly large city; our next rest stop is just at the far end of town.
When I arrived there I was not feeling great. This is not unusual for me; typically at some point during the week I experience some degree of tummy trouble. Normally it clears up by mid-morning. This time it decided to hang on a bit longer. I was able to keep riding; I just wasn't feeling that great. Fortunately the medical folks came through with some anti-nausea medication and the remainder of the week proceeded with no further distress "down there." The same could not quite be said for my bike computer which continued to cut out occasionally. The bike techs put a strap on the main sensor which seemed to solve the problem (until Day 7 when it resurfaced) but it became pretty evident that a replacement is in my future.
No matter what I do, the end of this day never comes early and it never comes easily. After returning to the coast at Pismo Beach we turn inland again, avoiding either of two fairly unpleasant climbs by detouring off of Highway One behind a hill and riding through the town of Arroyo Grande. There's still climbing involved but it's more gradual and less brutal.
The next ten or so miles is along Highway One again; mainly fairly quick with the occasional short climb. We then descend once more, definitively passing from Northern to Southern California in the process.
After the final rest stop in Guadalupe we turn eastward. This is always a fun portion of the route since the road is flat, there aren't many stops, and a tailwind is pretty much guaranteed to carry us into Santa Maria for the night.
As usual I arrived relatively late (close to 6:30) though once again my tentmate was behind me. I didn't make it to dinner until after 8 p.m. but fortunately Edna and Rich were in the food line with me; we got to have dinner together.
Day Five is Red Dress Day. The past two years has seen the mileage increased on this day; I suspect there were too many complaints about the route which took us through Solvang. That part was fine but the final 20 miles was horrible, mainly because of the prevailing wind which didn't fail to blow in our faces. And apparently Solvang wasn't ready to deal with a couple of thousand cyclists in outlandish costumes.
So we returned to our previous route and mileage, though the first few miles saw us riding through new portions of Santa Maria. This was not the way it had been described earlier this spring by my "usually reliable sources." The one negative is that we are STILL unable to return to the town of Casmalia for Rest Stop 2; I've heard that the town is more than willing to welcome us back but the school district isn't. It was rather sad riding past the turn-off to the town without stopping--and what made it worse was that the town, and it's accompanying rest stop, served to give us a break between two major climbs. So instead we had to do one right after the other. NOT FUN!
Our new rest stop was at a golf course buried within Vandenberg Air Force Base; it was really rather pretty, if somewhat cramped. The high point of the stop turned out to be a group of SF AIDS Foundation staff riding dressed up to look like LA Gay and Lesbian Center head Lorri Jean. Lorri loved the joke.

by Robert Katz on Mon, Jun 27, 2011 @ 12:51 PM

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The Ride Retrospective - Part 1
Typically I do a blog entry for each day of ALC (including separate ones for pre- and post-ride events) but in the interest of saving time--and because it's now two weeks after the end of ALC 10--I'm going to do a consolidated one.
Statistics first, day-by-day, with accompanying Flickr links:
Day 1 Stats:
Ride time: 6:19:49
Mileage: 84.3
Average speed: 13.3 mph
Maximum speed: 37.6 mph
Flickr photo set:
Day 2 Stats:
Ride time: 5:40:05
Mileage: 79.08 (I did not ride the final 28 miles)
Average speed: 13.9 mph
Maximum speed: 41.3 mph
Flickr photo set:
Day 3 Stats:
Ride time: 4:36:16
Mileage: 65.59
Average speed: 14.2 mph
Maximum speed: 36.0 mph
Flickr photo set:
Day 4 Stats:
Ride time: 6:22:01
Mileage: 96.09
Average speed: 15.0 mph
Maximum speed: 37.9 mph
Flickr photo set:
Day 5 Stats:
Ride time: 3:03:07*
Mileage: 41.0
Average speed: 13.4 mph
Maximum speed: 37.1 mph
Flickr photo set:
*My computer re-set itself at the second rest stop; average speed is from the remainder of the day with all the other stats apart from maximum speed computed based on that and assuming the route sheet was correct with respect to total mileage.
Day 6 Stats:
Ride time: 5:46:09
Mileage: 88.08
Average speed: 15.2 mph
Maximum speed: 41.1 mph
Flickr photo set:
Day 7 Stats:
Ride time: 3:54:05
Mileage: 61.59
Average speed: 15.7 mph
Maximum speed: 39.7 mph
Flickr photo set:
Ride time: 37:13:34
Mileage: 515.73 (total for route: 543)
Average speed: 13.85 mph
Maximum speed: 41.3 mph on Day 2
On to the details (with links to some additional photo sets)...
During the time leading up to Orientation, like most folks my attention was mainly on the weather. We normally don't have to worry about the weather so much other than to know how warm or cold it's likely to be. Significant rain in California is very unusual in June.
This year was not normal. About ten days prior to Day 1, the long-range forecasts began discussing a chance of rain; as the time grew nearer, the forecasts only became more extreme.
By the time Thursday rolled around, there were predictions of record-breaking rainfall, with rain continuing right through Day 2.
After a very successful pre-ride spaghetti feed for Positive Pedalers and friends (photos here: the rains started.
Orientation typically begins with folks lining up behind the Cow Palace to drop their bikes off and once again cuing up adjacent to the east building to view the Safety Video. It was pouring down rain on Saturday morning though; so the lines were moved indoors, though we had to make a dash between buildings to get into the room where the video was being shown. Apart from the video, Julie Brown was there in person to remind us of the importance of safety this year. We'd been put on notice by the Santa Cruz division of CHP that if we didn't behave properly, they'd recommend to the city that we not be allowe to ride through next year. We don't want that. The warnings (as it turned out) paid off handsomely as this was by far the safest ride we'd experienced in many years.
Because Day 1 coincided with the 30th anniversary of the first reported cases of AIDS, a special event was planned during the day of Orientation. We were to don red teeshirts and form an enormous "30" outside of the Cow Palace, with the zero being replaced by a red AIDS ribbon. As the time approached we showed up to receive our shirts; somehow, miraculously, the rain stopped about five minutes before we were due to head outdoors. There were even patches of blue sky in evidence and the resulting picture appears quite dramatically on ALC's Facebook page.
As usual I took many pictures, which may be found here:
Throughout the evening, there were text-message updates. There were even contingency plans announced: in the event of heavy morning rain, riding would be canceled and Opening Ceremonies would be delayed until 9:30. Of course the final decision wouldn't be announced until 4 a.m. so we all had to make it an early night anyway. And fortunately the morning of Day 1 dawned cloudy, but rain-free.
The highlight of Day 1's Opening Ceremonies was a video greeting and proclamation from President Obama.
Once Opening Ceremonies had concluded, we all (dressed for rain, just in case) headed for our bikes and rode out promptly, as scheduled, at 6:30. The sun poked out periodically through the morning but it did cloud up towards noon. There wasn't any rain but, due to the off-shore storm, the tailwind we normally expect after lunch was replaced by a headwind that persisted for the next 20 or so miles. This made for somewhat slow going, which was exacerbated by construction on Highway One at Pescadero. There was one-way traffic (including for bikes) that caused the first of many traffic back-ups we'd experience through the week. I can normally expect to arrive at our campsite in Santa Cruz sometime between 2 and 4 p.m. This year I came in promptly at 5:30. Got in, got the tent set up, got showered (no lines!), got food (long lines!) and got to bed. We did get a bit of rain overnight, just enough to provide some noise on the tent but nothing serious.
Day 2 was a struggle for me. Although it's the longest day of the ride, it's intrinsically a somewhat easy day because it's relatively flat. The big challenge however was getting started and, once on the road, getting out of downtown Santa Cruz.
The local CHP office had put us on notice that unless we really behaved, they'd recommend that the city not grant us permission to ride through next year (this despite the fact that the city itself, citizens and government both, seem to really like us). With that in mind we were desperate to behave. The route out of town added some bike path which may have seemed like a good idea. Unfortunately, getting onto the path, which started only three blocks from camp, involved crossing a major street we'd formerly turned right onto. The result was almost bike traffic backed up clear back to camp (where riders were only permitted out in small groups). The congestion continued mile after mile. Rest Stop 1 was kept open almost an hour longer than normal because so many people took so long to get there and things continued that way through much of the day. There was a brief respite for me at lunch (I stopped hearing calls of "This rest stop will close in ____ minutes!") but by then the pattern was set.
We took a somewhat different route out of Salinas this year than last; Rest Stop 3 was in a rather pretty park in downtown Gonzalez rather than at a dusty winery in the midst of nowhere. Getting there still involved country roads and tailwinds. I spent some time riding with my friend Gabo before he took off with someone speedier than me.
We ultimately returned to our old route in time to get to Mission Soledad, home of the Water Stop and the Otter Pop Stop (complete with dancing bears--the two-legged variety). This year, Cookie Lady, who normally sets up at about mile 90, was moved into this stop.
My late departure in the morning meant that by the time I arrived, the otter pops were nearly gone, the bears had stopped dancing, the DJ was packing up and the calls to clear out were already in the air. I decided I'd had enough and skipped the final 28 miles of riding, though I DID see the new and improved route anyway. We missed the rolling hills of Metz Road; instead, following Rest Stop 4 in Greenfield, the route doubled back a bit and, after some rollers, took us onto Highway 101.

by Robert Katz on Fri, Jun 24, 2011 @ 2:10 PM

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The very end of training
Today's ride was my final training ride before AIDS/LifeCycle begins. It wasn't a tough one, in fact it was done mainly as an excuse to eat.
We started and finished at Julie Brown's home, rode through downtown San Rafael, past China Camp State Park and the Marin Civic Center, and back, a grand total of 18 miles (according to my computer). Then we ate. It was wonderful.
This coming Saturday is Orientation, which consists of watching the Safety Video, signing the ALC Code of Conduct, getting our tent assignments and buying official ALC stuff, attaching our participant numbers to our bikes, going home to finish packing (those of us who are local; the folks from out of town will already have accomplished that and will be having dinner before retiring to their hotel and motel rooms or the homes of local friends and family).
Most of us will be up at 4 o'clock the next morning. Our bags will be completely packed and we'll head to the Cow Palace where, in the dark (and hopefully NOT in rain; I'm worried about the forecast right now) we'll drop them in front of the gear trucks before going inside for Opening Ceremonies. There will be solemnity and frivolity, tears and cheers. Then we'll begin our ride.
As of now I've raised $6,372. Since the end of July I've spent 149.5 hours riding 1837 miles. I've awakened early at least once almost every weekend. I've watched first-timers go from fearful to fierce. I've fought wind, rain, cold (and, on very rare occasions excessive warmth) and I'm ready to go.
I will be sending out messages of thanks to everyone who has donated but let this message represent a general thanks to everyone who has donated on my behalf or who has even just dropped by.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 1:17:40
Mileage: 18.07
Average speed: 13.9 mph
Maximum speed: 28.1 mph
Photos are on Facebook and at:

by Robert Katz on Mon, May 30, 2011 @ 8:10 PM

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The Jon Pon Two-Day Ride
The Jon Pon Ride is named after Positive Pedalers co-founder Jonathan Pon. It originated during the AIDS Ride days as a fundraiser for the Pediatric AIDS Fund; Positive Pedalers was asked to revive it a few years back as a way to get folks ready for back-to-back rides that involved camping out, to serve as a preview of the actual ride.
We met bright (okay not so bright) and early at the north end of Sausalito, where the bike path goes underneath Highway 101. There was lots of process--since it was an official AIDS/LifeCycle training ride everyone needed to sign the usual waiver and since Positive Pedalers was co-sponsoring there was an additional waiver.
Other than the usual (of late) blustery winds in the afternoon we could not have picked a better weekend for this ride...a great improvement over two years ago when we rode one direction in rain and were rained out on the return portion. I had made a special request to Julie Brown to NOT have to sweep the final leg of the the first day since I had done so the past two years. Instead I was given the task of sweeping from the top of White's Hill to end of Nicasio Valley Road. I had fun riding with my co-sweep Imee.
Unlike the three-day ride we continued past the Cheese Factory on Point Reyes-Petaluma Road all the way up to the top of Red Hill and down into Petaluma. You can tell where the country road ends and the city street begins by the potholes. I hit the first one rather hard and shook my back up just a bit.
Apparently we were shut out of our usual lunch spot at the intersection of D Street and Petaluma Boulevard South and had to continue on to the end of D Street, make a couple of turns, ride on a bike path that was part gravel, cross under Highway 101 and then...well do all sorts of stuff. The park we were in was nice but there seemed to be some confusion as to which rest rooms (if any) we were allowed to use. Riding on gravel makes me very nervous--so much so that I stopped short and gave myself some battle-wounds (see the very last picture).
Once out of lunch we returned through downtown Petaluma and picked up Bodega Avenue, which becomes Valley Ford Road. Just like two weeks earlier it was very windy and the wind was coming from the wrong direction. Also just like two weeks earlier, as soon as we were past Valley Ford things improved greatly. In fact it was actually nicer for the final leg of the ride than it had been on the three-day ride...mile temperature and not that much wind. My original tentmate for the weekend had to back out and I arrived at Cassini Ranch without knowing who my tentmate would be. However since I rode the final stretch with Michael Schirmer, we ended up tenting together which turned out quite well.
It seemed odd not to be served a dinner prepared by Carol Hyman but the evening's food was quite good anyway.
Day 1 totals:
Ride time: 5:54:54
Mileage: 75.74
Average speed: 12.8 mph
Maximum speed: 37.5 mph
I'll put the photo links at the end.
Day two dawned foggy but the sun soon re-appeared. Michael got his initiation into the whole set-up, break-down, gear and tent drop-off ritual. I didn't have any sweep duties for the second day though I was still a training ride leader for the day.
The return route is really fun since it takes us out River Road to Jenner, across the mouth of the Russian River and then along Highway 1 for over forty miles, all the way to Point Reyes Station. There's a nice downhill north of Valley Ford that is not part of the Three-Day Ride route but is part of this, where I hit my maximum speed for the weekend. And after Valley Ford we roll and roll and roll. There is the obligatory stop in Tomales; there were no more gorgonzola twists left when I got there but the pesto twist was nearly as good. And--to wash it down--limeade. Yummy!
Once into Point Reyes Station we intersected (as we often do) with the weekend's CAT 2 ride. Those poor folks had to climb Marshall Wall into the wind! And some of them will be doing it again tomorrow. I couldn't imagine!
Lunch was at the market; they provided us with a sandwich, salad, drink and a cookie. The wind had picked up to the point where it was getting chilly and I had to tell one of my fellow riders to get to some shelter; I was afraid she'd end up with hypothermia!
After lunch we returned the usual way. The CAT 2 folks rode south and climbed Olema Hill (gluttons for punishment) and rejoined us at Samuel P. Taylor Park. So we got to spend a good deal of time with them.
There was one unfortunate incident on White's Hill. I never like hearing sirens when I'm riding, especially when I'm anywhere near a large hill like that one. I apparently missed the actual accident but one of the folks on the CAT 2 ride tried to pass another rider on the downhill without calling out. They came in contact with each other; both went down and skidded along some gravel. Somehow they were both able to avoid going to the hospital but at least one bike was damaged (there is a picture of the front wheel in the photos). It was fortunate that we were able to dispatch one of our SAG drivers to pick the riders up. I got to see the final results once I'd returned to Sausalito and they weren't pretty. There are reasons why we have rules on our rides.
Once again, after riding I headed for the city and did grocery shopping on the way home, meeting John at Safeway.
And apart from a quick ride this coming Monday I am done with training and ready to roll.
Day two totals:
Riding time: 5:02:01
Mileage: 76.19
Average speed: 15.1 mph (thank goodness for tailwinds!)
Maximum speed: 41.6 miles per hour
The photos are on Facebook and at: (Day One) and (Day Two)
Since the end of July I've ridden 1,818 miles in the course of 147.5 hours.
Now it's time to get ready to get ready and in a bit over a week the great adventure will start.

by Robert Katz on Fri, May 27, 2011 @ 2:52 PM

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The Positive Pedalers Three-Day Ride
Each year Positive Pedalers has organized a three-day ride in advance of AIDS/LifeCycle to give members and friends a chance to do some bonding and also to provide an opportunity for serious back-to-back riding.
We had a good turnout of about 35 people, including three who came up from LA. Our route took us from behind Mike's Bikes in Sausalito, through the towns of Marin to Fairfax (one hill), and then up White's Hill (second hill), Nicasio Valley Road (third hill) and Point Reyes-Petaluma Road (fourth hill)to the Cheese Factory where we were joined by one additional rider.
After stopping for refreshments and a rather amusing encounter with a small boy who thought we looked funny, we continued up Point Reyes-Petaluma Road to Hicks Valley Road in order to climb Wilson Hill (fifth hill) and then descend to Chilleno Valley Road where, instead of hills we experienced some "lovely" headwinds. We got a respite from the wind for a couple of miles by turning east. THEN we struck out towards the northwest once more along Valley Ford-Petaluma Road where the headwind was TRULY annoying. A couple of folks decided to pack it in at that point and were driven the rest of the way. Too bad for them, since they missed the great improvement that took place a mere hundred yards of the Valley Ford General Store (our lunch stop) where we turned inland. The temperature rose at least ten degrees within a mile or so and of course we were no longer riding into the wind. No ride through the area is complete without a stop at Wild Flour Bakery in Freestone.
From Freestone we climbed one last hill (number six) to Occidental, descended to Monte Rio, crossed the Russian River and headed east on River Road to our destination of Guerneville, where we checked in and relaxed by the pool. Some of the local members of Positive Pedalers prepared a pasta dinner for us.
Day One Totals:
Ride time: 5:10:04
Mileage: 73.7
Average speed: 14.2 mph
Maximum speed: 39.0 mph
Photo postings on Facebook are forthcoming; meanwhile those few diehards without a Facebook account can view them at
Our second day of riding was quite easy. After breakfasting at Pat's in downtown Guerneville, we headed for Healdsburg--a simple out-and-back ride with only one relatively small hill. To make it interesting, the day's ride coincided with the Wine Country Century. Apparently there were some ALCers in the mix, though I didn't see any of them. One of our riders (who arrived by car late Friday evening) was a bit confused and had to wait for one of us veterans to point him in the right direction...the Wine Country Century doesn't go through Healdsburg.
Our member Greg lives in Healdsburg, as does his mom, who joined us for lunch in honor of Mother's Day.
I was not feeling particularly energetic on the return trip, which was aggravated by a return to headwinds. My lack of energy shows in my relatively low average speed as compared to the past couple of years. Since the ride was so short there was plenty of time to relax and even out the tanlines before dinner, which was once again provided by our local non-riding members. There is an outdoor fireplace at The Woods, which some of us used to make S'Mores following dinner.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 2:25:21
Mileage: 36.49
Average speed: 15.0 mph
Maximum speed: 29.0 mph
Flickr photos are at
Late Saturday afternoon the wind picked up and the clouds rolled in. We were a bit concerned that we'd see a repeat of last year's Day Three washout; fortunately whatever bad weather was around blew threw overnight and we were greeted by chilly temperatures but clear skies for the return trip. It was still plenty windy but at least this time it was mainly at our backs. The return ride diverges from the northbound one just past Valley Ford; we stay on Highway One and continue along it all the way to Point Reyes Station, following a stop at the Wild Flour Bakery and another one in Tomales where I met a woman who had lived in the same block in Jackson Heights where I had prior to my departure from New York City in 1980. Because of this winter's wet weather the lagoon just south of Tomales was unusually pretty; despite the wind I had to stop and take a few pictures of the greenery.
After lunch in Point Reyes Station we used the customary return route along Point Reyes-Petaluma Road, Platform Bridge Road, the path in Samuel P. Taylor Park, then back along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, down White's Hill and into Fairfax for a final stop. At this point we encountered some of the people who were riding the day's CAT 2 ride to and from Petaluma.
The rest of the return trip proceeded without any mishap. From there it got interesting since I had to drop off a passenger, pick up John, do grocery shopping, and then make dinner for Mom. Somehow I managed to get everything accomplished.
It was a fun weekend; I rode about 185 miles in total and I now feel ready to do AIDS/LifeCycle. I'll be taking this coming weekend off; the final weekend of real training will consist of the two-day Jon Pon Ride.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 4:42:05
Mileage: 72.77
Average speed: 15.4 mph
Maximum speed: 40.4 mph
Flickr photos are at

by Robert Katz on Tue, May 10, 2011 @ 3:34 PM

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My longest day of riding--111.62 miles!
Oh and...I crossed the $5,000 threshold today.
But last Saturday I crossed a threshold of a different sort. Until then my longest ride had been one year's Day 2 which can vary from 105 to just over 107 miles (I also did 107 miles one year on the Tour de Palm Springs).
Many of the training rides, at least in Northern California, are more difficult than any single day on the actual ride. For example, many of the training rides on the CAT 2 series have more climbing than any day on the ride, as did the CAT 3 ride I did a few weeks ago.
Saturday's ride took us from Mountain View to Gilroy by way of Foothill Expressway, down to Cupertino, Saratoga and Los Gatos, then into San Jose. We'd done this particular route any number of times before; in order to accomodate the additional mileage, most of the intervening climbs were eliminated. Our first rest stop wasn't until mile 23. We headed down Almaden Expressway to McKean Road and continued to the point where it becomes Uvas Road. This very pretty stretch takes us west of Morgan Hill and into the outskirts of Gilroy. Our second stop was at the side of Chesbro Reservoir, only nine miles before our lunch stop at the far end of our route. We rode through downtown Gilroy and then headed back north along the rural roads east of Highway 101 and then into Morgan Hill. From there, Monterey Road took us to Bernal Plaza at the south end of San Jose and we then returned by way of Santa Teresa, Coleman, Blossom Hill Road into Los Gatos and then north (rather than back by way of Highway 9). There were some short climbs in Los Gatos but most of the return route was equally as flat.
There were certain high and low points and some serious challenges. The first high point occurred long before I even got to Mountain View. Heading out from home as dawn was breaking, the sky was crystal clear. There was just a bit of crescent moon, and beneath the moon was Venus. Too bad I was driving on freeway; I'd have loved to get a picture.
Shortly after departing bright and early at 7 a.m. I noticed that my computer was once again not working properly. I thought I'd fixed the problem last week but it continued to malfunction on and off. In addition one of our riders had a flat tire just a couple of miles into the ride and I stopped to help him. I did my best to catch up with the other riders but I also kept stopping to try and get the computer to work. I did finally get it fixed. One of the nice things about Chris Thomas's rides is that his route sheets are very accurate. It finally occurred to me after I reached the first rest stop that I could re-set the mileage by simply turning the pedals so that the mileage on the computer corresponded to what the route sheet said. It's a somewhat tedious process so I spread it out over a couple of stops. A testament to Chris: at the end my computer read only .12 miles different from the route sheet.
In his post-ride wrap-up Chris noted that we had a great 55-mile ride, the only problem being that we then had another 55 miles to go. Everyone seemed to be going very fast early on. The reason? Tailwinds. Serious tailwinds. Even with all of the stopping, I managed to cover the first portion of the ride in just over four hours. One of the stops included encountering my friend and donor Jonathan Racine who was riding north on Uvas Road as we were riding south. My average speed over the first half of the ride was almost 17 miles per hour.
All good things have to come to an end; from Gilroy I had sweep duty. In a sense this might have been a good thing; while two of us were helping our slowest rider we were going only about ten miles per hour; if I'd been riding faster, I'd have been fighting the wind harder. Which is what happened along the next stretch.
Things were during the portion of our ride on Monterey Road. I was going barely 12 or 13 miles per hour into a 25-mile-per-hour wind. One of my fellow leaders was struggling so badly she had to ride behind me (we were good; we followed the rule requiring one bike length between each person. Didn't we? Didn't we? Yes we did).
Once back into San Jose our route turned away from the wind, which really wasn't much of an issue for the remainder of the day, other than it having worn many of us out. A good 1/3 of the riders weren't able to complete the entire route; fortunately we had no less than four SAG vehicles to help out those who'd taken on more than they could handle. As for me, I pretty much just toughed it out for the sake of being able to say I'd done it. I didn't finish riding until almost 6:30. That can happen on some of the longest days of ALC but it's probably been ten years since I finished a training ride that late. Nonetheless, finish it I did and I'm quite proud of myself.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 7:55:24
Mileage: 111.62
Average speed: 14.0 mph
Maximum speed: 42.6 mph
Photos are on Facebook and at
Today, thanks to Charlie's donation I have reached $5,031 in pledges. It's 34 days until ALC and I'm 2/3 of the way to my goal.

by Robert Katz on Mon, May 02, 2011 @ 8:41 PM

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An abbreviated CAT 2 Ride
For the past I don't know how many years, Day on the Ride has been followed by the Alpine Dam ride as part of the CAT 2 series. Normally it would have been my only ride of the weekend but, since I rode on DOTR, it was intended to provide me with my first weekend of real back-to-back rides as well as a boost in maximum miles.
Instead, last Sunday turned out to be the rainy season's last gasp (let's hope!). There was a rather limited turnout at Sports Basement when I arrived. It was drizzling hard enough that we had to hold all of the preliminary activities in the shelter of the store's loading dock. I started out feeling less than energetic and in fact was one of the last people to arrive in the continuing on-and-off mist. The roads were sufficiently wet that the contacts for my bike computer got so dirty that they stopped registering speed and distance. I lost about 1.75 miles before I figured out what was wrong and cleaned things off.
Once we'd all arrived in Fairfax, the training ride leaders held a powwow. The route to Alpine Dam is quite rural; there are steep hills, no services and not much cellphone coverage. We had no idea what road conditions would be like so the decision was made to officially cancel the rest of the ride. I was kind of relieved actually; I wasn't sure how I felt about doing all that climbing, especially in the rain, especially given how low-energy I was feeling. I was even less looking forward to what I normally love--a ten-mile downhill. On a nice day, all the climbing is worth it because nothing much beats lunch atop Alpine Dam or the views from along Ridgecrest Drive. Doing a ten-mile downhill in wet weather however seemed less than appealing.
The upshot was that most of us turned around. Naturally, once we'd committed to returning to the city, the sun came out though it remained rather gloomy-looking over Mount Tamalpais. In addition the wind really picked up, particularly as we were crossing back over the bridge. I was just as happy to be done early.
The day's stats:
Ride time:3:05:54 (appoximately)
Mileage: 37.75 (approximately)
Average speed: 11.7 mph
Maximum speed: 25.3 mph
So for the weekend I increased from 100 miles last weekend to 102 this weekend.
But TOMORROW, I'll be riding 111 miles!
Photos, of which there were very few, are on Facebook and at

by Robert Katz on Fri, Apr 29, 2011 @ 4:58 PM

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Day on the Ride
Okay, I'm once again a bit tardy. It's now Friday; Day on the Ride was last Saturday and I'm only now getting around to producing a training blog entry, which will still be incomplete because the statistics are at home and I'm not. But bear with me here...
I last rode on Day on the Ride in 2001; since then, I've sat the day out and instead have worked with my fellow Positive Pedalars at one (or two) of the day's rest stops. And I've taken beaucoup pictures too. This year I decided that I was behind on training and really really needed to ride. It was actually a refreshing change of pace.
To make it sweeter, the route neither crossed the Golden Gate Bridge this year nor did it duplicate last year's, which many people seemed to find quite challenging. Instead the ride started at Mike's Bikes in San Rafael. Even the start time was later than usual, though I had to get up early anyway just to be on-time. In fact I woke up at about the same time as I'll be awakening on June 5th (and, for that matter, at the same time as I will need to be up tomorrow morning in order to be in Mountain View by 6:15 for the longest ride I'm ever likely to do). I also had a passenger, who set his alarm on his phone...and then turned the volume off. He still managed to impress me by waking up and being ready to roll in fifteen minutes. I could never do such a thing.
From San Rafael we headed towards San Anselmo where we picked up the normal Marin ALC training ride route through Fairfax, up White's Hill, then up Nicasio Valley Road. Instead of stopping at the center of Nicasio, our rest stop, staffed by Pos Peds in cowboy gear (or as animals), was located at the Nicasio Cheese Company. Somehow I managed to get a quick start at ride-out and was among the first ten or fifteen people to arrive at this stop. Things couldnt' last; I dawdled a bit and was more in the thick of things from that point on.
The overall route followed major portions of the Marin Century routes, both past and present. We continued north to Point Reyes-Petaluma Road, up "Alpe du Fromage" and past the Cheese Factory to Hicks Valley Road where we turned left and headed for the infamous Wilson Hill. Up and over we went; then into Petaluma. We cut across through a subdivision back onto Point Reyes-Petaluma Road (or D Street as it's called within Petaluma) and then to...ummmm...that one park where the Marin Century has their lunch stop. From there we turned back, heading out I Street to San Antonio Road before returning once again to Point Reyes-Petaluma Road to climb Red Hill. We overlapped the outbound route just a bit before turning onto Novato Boulevard, which at that point is merely a two-lane country road.
The third rest stop was at Stafford Lake, just outside of Novato which I don't recall having been at when the Marin Century took this route back in 2001. What a lovely little park!
The remainder of the route took us into downtown Novato, then along side Highway 101. The last few miles were encumbered by a moderate headwind but...that's life I suppose.
I thought I'd be returning well ahead of my friend and passenger Michael but, in fact, he arrived about 30 seconds after I did. We had our helping of pasta, and then we were done for the day at an altogether reasonable hour.
Ride time: 4:31:56
Mileage: 64.24
Average speed: 14.1 mph
Maximum speed: 39.7 mph

Photos are on Facebook and at

by Robert Katz on Fri, Apr 29, 2011 @ 4:47 PM

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Distance Training Ride #8: South Bay Century
Yesterday was my first 100-mile ride of the year--another of Chris Thomas's Category 3 (relatively fast) rides. Chris had promised us two weeks ago that this week's ride would have no more climbing than the previous (let us say "very challenging") ride, and spread over more miles. In fact it seemed to include less climbing, and most of it was gradual.
As the rides get longer, we need to show up earlier and earlier. Chris noted that this ride was the last for which he'd have bagels available for us to eat, since the final two rides would be starting too early for him to be able to pick up a supply. matter. Free bagels are nice but they aren't required; we ARE supposed to take care of ourselves when we ride.
Once again I did not have sweep duties this week--probably because I showed up a few minutes late and the slots had all been spoken for. Not intentional at all! Just because this ride wasn't as challenging as the 90-miler didn't mean it was easy; there were enough things to deal with. The primary one was that in my haste to get going I had forgotten my shades and, what is even more important, my rear-view mirror. It strikes me as amazing that I managed to ride for several years without a mirror and even was faintly contemptuous of folks who used them. Once I began riding with a mirror I forgot what it was like to not have one. Fortunately I was able to borrow a pair of sunglasses from another training ride leader. I don't know if they looked silly sitting on top of my regular glasses but they did provide some protection. I'm also not sure if it was the combination of the shades and my regular glasses or if the peripheral vision in my left eye has gotten poorer as I've aged but it was very difficult for keep track of what was going on in back of me. This presented some problems in passing other riders and even bigger problems when it came to making left turns across busy roads. I probably spent more time riding with others than I generally do, just so I'd have someone to watch out for traffic coming up behind. That's a responsibility I normally assume. Good thing that we look out for each other.
The route took us north, through the Arastradero Preserve, then eastbound on Alpine Road which becomes Santa Cruz Avenue in Palo Alto, north again to Menlo Park and then to and across the Dumbarton Bridge. From there we headed to Union City, turning south on Alvarado-Niles Road to where it intersects with Mission Blvd, and down to Ohlone College where we had our "first" lunch stop. From there we proceeded to Milpitas and then to the east side of San Jose, as far as the south end of Evergreen Valley.
Chris altered the route slightly from prior years when we'd done it and the changes were overall for the better. There was some confusion about a couple of the turns (Chris ended up directing traffic at one spot) though this was NOT the reason why a couple of my friends ended up riding six extra miles. They made a wrong turn early on. One of them had never done a 100-mile ride before yet he seemed to be doing fine, even at the end.
We had lunch at a new spot, since the market we used to use had gone out of business since last year, and then did the same climb we've done each of the prior two years, followed by the same downhill. At this point we picked up a headwind which continued for the final 30 or so miles. It wasn't particularly strong--just enough to slow us down a bit. Whether I was feeling cautious or due to the headwind, I failed to hit 40 miles per hour on this hill for the first time (just barely; I should have paid some attention to my speed and pushed a bit harder).
The ride overall was in a sense uneventful. Nobody had any problems more dire than a few flat tires. We observed a certain amount of bad driving in the form of drivers not treating bikes as vehicles, or even as though we existed. At our final rest stop, someone decided to back out of a parking space and nearly ran me over. I had to scream my head off to get his or her attention; the rear of the car came within a foot or so of me and for some reason I was too scared to do anything but continue in a straight line. Fortunately nothing bad happened but it certainly got my heart-rate up a bit.
I finally got to work on my "biker tan" a bit, at least on my arms. In fact it's just the slightest bit prickly at the moment. But otherwise it was a great ride. I took Sunday off; next weekend I'm scheduled for 65 miles on Saturday and 51 on Sunday which will be a jump but will give me my first REAL day of back-to-back riding for the year.
Saturday's totals:
Ride time: 6:39:36
Mileage: 100.63
Average speed: 15.1 mph
Maximum speed: 39.9 mph
Photos are on Facebook and at

by Robert Katz on Sun, Apr 17, 2011 @ 10:02 PM

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Finally, a week of back-to-back rides
During my earlier years of riding, I'd have long since started doing back-to-back rides by this point in the training season. I'd actually begun to be just a bit obsessed with the idea that I was terribly far behind. And then I looked at my training log for last year and realized that things really aren't as bad as all that, in fact I've actually logged more miles since the end of last July than I had up to this point a year ago. Still, it's a good idea for me to beginning riding more and the past weekend saw some progress.
On Saturday, I drove up to the town of Windsor, in Sonoma County, to do another of Robert and Greg's CAT 2 rides. Just like the last time, it was quite chilly when I arrived, but things improved considerably rather quickly. For one thing the sun was out and, for another, it's April, not December. Saturday's ride took us west from the center of Windsor to East Side Road, then across the Russian River, doubling back on West Side Road until just before we arrived in Healdsburg. From there we continued onward, picking up Dry Creek Road on the north side of town and continuing until we reached Sonoma Lake. I was riding with a woman by the name of Rochelle who, like me, was somewhat hazy on the geography. As it turned out we continued on about a mile past where we ought to have turned around, and climbed an extra hill. In time the rest of the group (with the exception of Greg and Robert who we never did see again) caught up. After a quick break we headed south briefly to Dutcher Creek Road, which turns east, then north and becomes Cloverdale Blvd. Once in Cloverdale we crossed under Highway 101 and rode Asti Road south to Geyserville, where we stopped for lunch. We then proceeded along Highway 128 through Alexander Valley, similar to a route we'd ridden last August.
While crossing the Russian River just east of Geyserville, my rear-view mirror fell off; it was nearly crushed under a tour bus but somehow survived. Since I was on the bridge I stopped to take a couple of pictures and then got going again. Before long I was once again in front with Rochelle. The route took us past Jimtown Store and then south; we turned off of 128 and onto Chalk Hill Road, which took us up and over Chalk Hill. This isn't an easy climb but after last week's adventure it didn't seem to terribly bad. Once down the far side of the hill we were at the south end of Windsor. When we returned, both Rochelle and I showed just under 70 miles, so we went around the block to round things up nicely.
One thing I will say is that all the riding made me very hungry. I needed to buy more tubes and stopped at the recently-opened Mike's Bikes in downtown Petaluma; I was so hungry by then that I had to get another lunch! What with that stop, and stopping for gas, and absolutely horrible traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge, I didn't get home until almost three hours after I'd left Windsor. It might have been quicker if I'd biked all the way!
Today's totals:
Ride time: 4:28:54
Mileage: 70.26
Average speed: 15.6 mph (faster than last week's CAT 3 ride!)
Maximum speed: 35.9 mph
On Sunday, I headed out after lunch for a quick spin through Golden Gate Park and out to the beach, down Great Highway and around Lake Merced. Most of Great Highway was closed to traffic for Sunday Streets, which slowed things down considerably on the outbound stretch. Instead of returning the same way I'd come, I cut through the hills in the Outer Sunset and stopped at American Cyclery to schedule my pre-ride tune-up. When I reached home I'd clocked just under 21 miles. I'd wanted to do a bit more but at least I added a mile in total from last weekend.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 1:39:16
Mileage: 20.73
Average speed: 12.5 mph
Maximum speed: 25.5 mph
Photos are on Facebook and at
I'm now at $4,080 raised with 55 days until ALC starts. I'd love to make my goal but, if I can't make that, I'd at least like to raise $5,000. At this point I typically start fundraising at work but as of last Friday we didn't know if we'd keep getting paid, so I held off (Congress came through at the last minute but goodness only knows what's happened to funding for HIV/AIDS services with the compromise that was reached).
I'll just have to keep asking, and asking, and asking...

by Robert Katz on Mon, Apr 11, 2011 @ 11:58 PM

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Back on the Road with a Vengeance
After two weekends of illness and rain, I was finally back on the road yesterday. I sure did pick a humdinger ride for my return!
Yesterday's event was #7 in Chris Thomas's "Distance Training Series" rides. It replicated a portion of last year's Seismic Challenge Day 1 route, giving full meaning to the "Challenge" part of Seismic Challenge, a 90-miler with two unbelievable climbs.
The first 30-plus miles were virtually flat--north from Mountain View to Menlo Park, over the Dumbarton Bridge to our first rest stop in Fremont, then back through Union City, up Alvarado-Niles Road. We turned east and rode a bit of neighborhood streets before turning onto the aptly-named Harder Road, which enters the Cal State University East Bay campus and then turns upwards. The route map indicated it as a .7 mile steep climb and it fulfilled the description. The ascent was in two sections, with a break in between, and the first section being the steeper (probably close to 15% if not more). I had to stop at the half-way point and catch my breath--not for the last time during the day either.
From the top of that climb we rode through the campus, underneath the student union building and out the west exit; short downhill, sharp turn to a stop sign...and then the beginning of the SECOND steep climb on Hayward Blvd. The total climb of three miles was broken after the first mile by our first lunch stop (the ride was so challenging that two lunches were needed). In this case the beginning was (or seemed to be) the easier part. After the break it just seemed to get tougher! I stopped once again, somewhere near the top. There was a bit of a respite with some rollers, followed by a downhill that was too steep to be enjoyable, taking us to Castro Valley Blvd where we turned, and climbed yet again, along the Dublin Grade. This one was actually pretty mellow by comparison (and was at least something I'm familiar with). The downhill took us out to Dublin where we turned south on Foothill Blvd and headed to Sunol.
From Sunol we headed back to the west on Niles Canyon Road. I usually enjoy riding this section, particularly westbound (which is generally a gradual downhill). The fun was tempered a bit by headwinds and some rather heavy traffic; there are many spots along Niles Canyon where there's no shoulder and the traffic is moving at 50 mph. Niles Canyon is State Highway 84; it's quite a busy thoroughfare.
Once at the end of Niles Canyon we headed south on Mission Blvd, towards the second lunch stop. There's nothing wrong with Mission Blvd, but this particular portion includes a section of uphill that appears to be flat; so you struggle without understanding why.
The final leg of the ride took us around the bottom of the bay through San Jose (past lots of large high tech facilities). By this point, I realized that I'd pulled a calf muscle. It wasn't a serious injury but it didn't make the last part of the route any easier, especially considering that the final eight miles were into a moderate but persistent headwind.
Somehow or other I managed to finish it--all 90 miles (the route sheet said 89.7 but my computer says I broke 90).
I now see how far behind my training is. At this point in the year I should be starting to do back-to-back rides, but there was simply no way for me to do another ride after this one. Maybe next weekend....
Today's totals:
Ride time: 6:19:39
Mileage: 90.35
Average speed: 14.2 mph
Maximum speed: 38.7 mph
Photos are on Facebook and at

by Robert Katz on Sun, Apr 03, 2011 @ 1:44 PM

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A Tardy Update
Thanks to a combination of horrid weather and a cold, I didn't do any riding this past weekend. Which gives me the opportunity fix an oversight--I got around to writing up my previous weekend's ride.
Thanks to this head cold (which is now starting to improve, fortunately), it's already somewhat of a blur but I'll do my best to recap. I'd already regretted my decision to sign up as a leader for a ride taking place the morning after Daylight Savings Time started but perhaps that turned into a blessing of sorts. The weather forecast was right there on the cusp, predicting rain at some point but not right away. As we gathered behind Sports Basement for Number 7 in the Sunday CAT 2 series of rides, the sky was gray but not immediately ominous. Turnout was fairly decent though not huge; I suspect some people stayed home because they didn't want to be caught out in bad weather.
The ride was a watershed in this particular series in that it was the first one of more than fifty miles and the first to ascend into West Marin, up the infamous White's Hill.
In view of the forecast I decided that my best bet was not to dawdle too much at rest stops, which turned out to be a very wise strategy. There were a couple of preliminary sprinkles, including one as I was on the return leg of the Camino Alto descent but both instances proved to be false alarms and I made it back (one of the first to do so) still dry. Shortly before I got back into the car (yes I drove, just to be on the safe side), I turned around to look across the Golden Gate where I could see the rain beginning; I really have no idea why I didn't shoot a picture of it. In any case, by the time I was behind the wheel the rain had started in earnest so I really lucked out. Quite a few riders got dampened before they were finished for the day.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 3:51:54
Mileage: 52.10
Average speed: 13.4 mph
Maximum speed: 37.4 mph
Flickr photo set link:
This coming weekend will include the ride expo, which in turn includes a choice of 20- or 40-mile rides. I've signed up to help lead the longer one; I'm hoping that both my health and the weather will cooperate. Meanwhile I really must send out some more fundraising appeals.

by Robert Katz on Mon, Mar 21, 2011 @ 3:19 PM

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Longest Ride of the Year
Last Saturday was my longest ride of the year--70 miles in the South Bay as part of the CAT 3 Distance Training Series.
We've done this route before (apparently with some minor variations over the years, but nothing seemed unfamiliar to me this time around).
Following two weekends of very chilly weather, Saturday was a wonderful change for the better. Although it began clouding up late in the day, for the most part it was sunny, mild and not terribly windy. That latter is very important--the first year I covered this particular route, it was chilly, with brutal headwinds almost all the way back from the furthest point.
We headed south along Foothill Blvd, into Stevens Canyon and over the top of Eden Canyon Road, then downhill on Pierce into Saratoga, into Los Gatos, up and over Blossom Hill Road and Camden Road, down Alamden to the end, along McKean Road past Calero Reservoir, and back by way of Bailey Road, Santa Teresa, Coleman, Camden, Blossom Hill, Santa Cruz, back up Highway 9 and Saratoga Sunnyvale Road, Prospect/Stelling, McLellan and back up Foothill.
Despite all the mileage, I was actually feeling reasonably good when I was finished. I passed another milestone as well--I hit 40 miles per hour for the first time since the fall run-up.
A few people--including my friend Andrew--managed to get completely lost. Nobody saw him after our first rest stop. When I returned to Mountain View he was already back. I really don't have any idea where he went, but somehow he managed to cover seventy miles.
I'm now just about 1/3 of the way towards my fundraising goal. A couple of pledges came in over the weekend; one had been solicited, the other was completely unexpected. Still, the easy part of the job is over and I really need to buckle down and start asking people for donations.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 4:47:38
Mileage: 70.63
Average speed: 14.7 mph
Maximum speed: 40.4 mph
Photos are on Facebook and at

by Robert Katz on Mon, Mar 07, 2011 @ 9:24 PM

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Another Chilly Ride
The week's been so hectic that it's taken me until Friday afternoon to do a write-up of last Sunday's ride.
Not quite a cold as last Sunday, but not exactly toasty. After last Saturday's very cold weather and last Sunday's face pain, I was a bit apprehensive about the day's ride. On the upside however, the roads were dry, which meant that my bike didn't get any dirtier.
Today's ride was from Sports Basement to Fairfax returning by way of Paradise Drive and Trestle Glen.
This was my first chance to ride with the new shoes and saddle. It took a while to get used to the fact that Lorri had raised my seat post up a bit. We'll see how that goes; I may need to lower it just a touch so I don't put too much strain on my neck. Now I know why she asked me if my helmet had a visor--I wouldn't have been able to see through it.
Despite the usual vexations of dealing with bridge traffic on the way back--complicated as well by the evident start of work on the bridge that will make the bike lane even more of a pain going forward--it was a very pleasant ride. I celebrated by getting a new pair of cycling shorts at Sports Basement when I was finished.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 3:14:14
Mileage: 42.27 miles
Average speed: 13.0 mph
Maximum speed: 34.8 mph
As usual, the day's photos are available for viewing at: and on Facebook.
This Saturday will see an increase in mileage to 70; hopefully the weather will hold up and so will I.

by Robert Katz on Fri, Mar 04, 2011 @ 3:21 PM

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A chilly Tiburon Loop and a bike fit
I'd originally planned to take this past weekend off from riding. In fact my true original plan had been to perhaps drive down to LA, ride there, and surprise some friends. That plan fell by the wayside long ago for a variety of reasons, and as it turns out the weather would not have been much better in LA than it was here in the Bay Area. Still, I was thinking of just sitting it out this weekend until I checked the long-range forecasts for the next two weekends. Which aren't looking that great at all. Meanwhile there was a call out for additional training ride leaders for Sunday morning's ride. So after working out (including three sets of squats) on Saturday, I volunteered to help out with Sunday's ride.
It certainly poured on Saturday; the rain stopped mid-evening but the streets were still wet on Sunday morning and it was COLD! There was snow at the top of Mt Tam (I've got pictures) as well as on the higher peaks in the Bay Area. Still it was crystal clear on Sunday morning. We had a good turnout despite the chilly weather. I drove to Sports Basement since I also had a birthday party to go to later on and I wanted to be able to get home and changed quickly following the ride.
During the first part of the ride the cold kind of got to me; sometimes when it's chilly my face starts to hurt. I'm not sure why that happens, but it isn't especially pleasant. Fortunately, once I hit the far end of Camino Alto the pain subsided and didn't return. The air was still sufficiently unstable that, on the return trip there was a period of a couple of minutes when there was the unmistakable sound and feel of raindrops but it never turned into anything significant and the skies cleared once again shortly afterward.
There were a couple of people on their first training ride which is always fun. One of them was a bit unclear as to how to head back to the Golden Gate Bridge; he nearly ended up in car traffic but was able to rescue himself.
Today (Monday) I finally accomplished a task that I'd been wanting to. I bought my first pair of serious cycling shoes after my first ride, so I've been wearing them since 1999. They were getting quite beat up. The saddle on my bike was likewise getting rather old; in fact the leather was beginning to crack in a couple of places. During training ride leader re-certification, back in August, I'd spoken to Lorri Lee Lown (who assisted during the process) about replacing my shoes and saddle and concurrently updating my bike fit.
I bought the shoes a couple of weeks ago and they had been just sitting in the box begging to be worn but I've been riding long enough to know that you can't just slap them on and go for a ride of any distance. They cleats need to be positioned properly and I don't know how to do that for myself. Today was the day; I'd scheduled my appointment with Lorri right after I bought the shoes; she also re-sells Specialized saddles. Lorri was a first-time rider during my first year as a training ride leader (1999-2000) and now she's become a cycling coach and bike fitter! During the fit process we discovered that my entire seat post had sunk from where it was originally supposed to have been. We got that fixed, got the cleats properly placed, she sold me a very nice new saddle, and, since she'd promised to cut a good deal for training ride leaders, the entire thing wound up costing me considerably less than I'd expected it to, which is always nice.
Hopefully I'll be able to get out and use the new gear before they gather dust. Hopefully the weather will not be too terrible next week, particularly on Sunday when I'm supposed to be helping to lead another CAT 2 ride.
Totals for yesterday's ride:
Ride time: 2:27:21 (shorter than last week because I didn't ride to and from Sports Basement)
Mileage: 37.88 (same)
Average speed: 12.8 mph
Maximum speed: 35.1 mph
There were plenty of nice pictures; they're on Flickr at: and will be posted on Facebook very, very soon.

by Robert Katz on Mon, Feb 21, 2011 @ 9:56 PM

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Ahead of the rain...
Last Sunday was the last day of a long stretch of beautiful weather; not nearly as warm as it had been but the sun was out and that's what counted.
I have been doing my best to avoid riding across the Golden Gate Bridge (by volunteering to lead rides out of Mountain View) but I really could not leave the Sunday CAT 2 series totally behind. This past Sunday was the first of four rides in that series I'll be helping out with and no doubt I'll do some others on the off-weeks. This assumes, of course, that the now-resumed rain stops again at some point.
Last Sunday's ride was an easy one. We started at Sports Basement in the Presidio, crossed the bridge, rode through Sausalito and then headed directly for Sharks Deli in Tiburon. There were, I believe, close to eighty of us on the ride; not surprising considering how many folks are signed up for ALC this year. Some very nice first-timers turned out as well as the usual cast of veterans.
From Sharks we headed out to the tip of the peninsula and then around the back, along Paradise Drive, crossing over at Trestle Glen, taking that up and over and across the Tiburon Peninsula back to the bike path and then back to the city. Because it was a good ten to fifteen degrees cooler on Sunday than it had been on Saturday, bike traffic on the bridge wasn't too terrible. There were no major incidents on the ride that I'm aware of. There WAS one minor mishap early on, involving one of my fellow Positive Pedalers. As he was climbing towards the bridge on the way out, his chain broke and damaged his derailleur so he had to turn around and free-wheel it back to Sports Basement. At least he didn't have to go uphill.
When I log in to post here, I see it's now all of 107 days until ALC. Time truly seems to be flying and I need to start the serious part of my fundraising. I'm about a quarter of the way to my goal so I guess I had better get serious.
Totals for last Sunday:
Ride time: 3:15:18
Mileage (including to and from Sports Basement): 42.25
Average speed: 12.9 mph
Maximum speed: 35.2 mph
Photos, as usual, are on Facebook and at:

by Robert Katz on Thu, Feb 17, 2011 @ 10:13 PM

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A truly intense ride on a stunning day
Hills. Hills. Hills. Did I mention hills?
Last Saturday was the day on which the Distance Training Series went from CAT 2 to CAT 3. I'm not quite sure exactly why Chris chose to make this particular ride the transitional one but that's the way it worked out. He certainly provided fair warning that there'd be challenges and he was quite right.
The first portion of the ride was flat--down Central Expressway from Mountain View to Santa Clara, then back up to Palo Alto. Because of the great weather (who'd expect temperatures close to 80 degrees on the first weekend in February?) we had an enormous turnout that completely overwhelmed the small Starbucks at the corner of Middlefield Road and Colorado Avenue.
We next headed across Palo Alto to Sand Hill Road, which then took us to Alpine Road. Which then took us to the first and most intense climb of the day, up Westfield Drive. The first part of the climb was the most challenging; Chris later sent out a comparison between it and Quadbuster. Quadbuster's longer but Westfield is steeper. One person actually got sick (probably a combination of the intense climb and mild dehydration brought on by the warm weather). It was certainly pretty at the top with lots of very pricey homes.
After descending we headed to Roberts Market in Portola Valley for lunch; then through the Arastradero Reserve on on to Purissima Road, with a couple more short climbs. After that it seemed as though ever time we turned a corner we climbed another hill. First there was Elena Road in the opposite direction from what we've been used to, which involves a good deal of ascent. At the top of Elena we turned right and climbed more. There was a descent, followed by another turn and another climb, then another turn and another least it seemed that way. According to the route sheet there were officially five significant climbs, the longest of which was just under a mile. From there there was no way to go but down, back to the end (though even then there was a turn with a small hill, which I forgot to downshift for and had to turn back on not once but TWICE!). Finally we were down in the flats once again and back to our starting point.
I don't think I've averaged such a low speed on a CAT 3 ride as I did today. Fortunately the scenery and the company made it worthwhile.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 3:32:21
Mileage: 49.27
Average speed: 13.9 mph
Maximum speed: 32.4 mph
As usual, pictures (there were quite a few) are on Facebook and at

by Robert Katz on Mon, Feb 07, 2011 @ 10:42 PM

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The Training Ride Leader Potluck
It's now become a tradition to have a potluck for training ride leaders at the home of Angelo Pagano. Angelo's home is both beautiful and historic, having been one of the the childhood residences of violinist Yehudi Menuhin.
We had a great turnout; several non-ride-leaders served as kitchen staff. There was tons of food and a great deal of fun. I took plenty of pictures, posted, as usual, on Facebook and at:

by Robert Katz on Sun, Jan 30, 2011 @ 4:59 PM

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Distance Training Ride #2: Some Hills
Weather wasn't nearly was toasty yesterday as it was last weekend; the winter heatwave faded out just a couple of days too soon. Still, it wasn't at all a bad day for a ride overall.
There was obviously great enthusiasm for this particular series because we had a record number of riders turn out for it: over forty plus two SAG drivers.
Our mileage increased by about ten percent from the first one in the series. We headed out Shoreline and Miramonte, directly to Foothill Expressway, where we turned southbound. Beyond Highway 280 we turned east on McClellan Avenue, then onto Stelling. We stayed on Stelling (now called Prospect) to Lawrence Expressway and turned south again; Lawrence becomes Quito Road and heads toward Highway 9. We didn't take it all the way there; instead we turned off and did a bit of climbing. Our first stop was on Blossom Hill Road in Los Gatos. We evidently were a pretty fast group; I was one of the first people to arrive and one of the last ones out!
After the first stop we turned southbound and did our big climb for the day, on Kennedy Road. Our two-mile climb then descended and by a series of turns we ended up heading back onto Blossom Hill Road, back into downtown Los Gatos. From there we headed up north along Highway 9 back towards Saratoga for our second stop.
Several of the people who'd headed out of our first stop before I did ended up riding in behind me; somehow they'd all managed to make various wrong turns.
During the course of the early afternoon, the clouds had gotten heavier; there were rumors of sprinkles up ahead. We continued along side streets, probably just for a change of pace and an extra mile or two, since we ultimately ended up back on Stelling heading north. We hit the first of several brief showers, at which point, the group I was with really started hammering; thanks to the flat road (and probably a bit of headwind) we were virtually at the speed limit for a good portion of the way back to Mountain View.
Naturally the sun returned as soon as we'd finished riding.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 3:12:55
Mileage: 46.24 miles
Average speed: 14.3 mph (I picked up a full mile per hour over the final eight miles)
Maximum speed: 30.1 mph
Pictures have been posted on Facebook and at:

by Robert Katz on Sun, Jan 30, 2011 @ 4:54 PM

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Playing Catch-up: A renegade ride and Kickoff Pics
I've fallen a bit behind on my updates here. So first things first.
ALC staff posted the pictures that John and I took on their Facebook page last Wednesday (just before the SFAF closed up shop for their pending move). The complete set of my pictures are posted in two sets on my Facebook page (there were lots of them) and at:
The next day, Sunday, there wasn't that much on the training ride calendar but a small group of us, mainly Positive Pedalers, decided to do a short renegade ride from Mike's Bikes in Sausalito up to Fairfax and back. The weather was so glorious that there were tons and tons of other people out riding. The sole official training ride passed us in Sausalito as we were getting ready to roll out. It was such a balmy day I didn't even need to wear arm and leg warmers. I really didn't take very many pictures; I just had a good time.
Today's stats:
Ride time: 1:36:13
Mileage: 21.92
Average speed: 13.6 mph
Maximum speed: 36.0 mph
What few pictures there were are on Facebook and at:

by Robert Katz on Sun, Jan 30, 2011 @ 4:34 PM

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Kickoff Party
Yesterday was the ALC Kickoff Party. As was the case last year, John and I served as "official photographers" for the day.
Also as was the case last year the event took place at Mezzanine in downtown SF. Fortunately, unlike last year I was not hobbling around with a bad back, contemplating emergency car shopping. And the weather has continued to be terrific.
Turnout was enormous for the party this year. I won't say too much about the party since I was mainly busy taking pictures. I did get to see some old friends and meet some brand-new folks as well. Actually the highlight of the day was getting to meet Neil Giuliani, the new Executive Director of the SF AIDS Foundation. He has a terrific personality, perfect for heading an organization like the Foundation. Neil arrived early on; Barbara Kimport, who'd been acting director, introduced us. As the Foundation's director he will be following in the footsteps of Pat Christen and Mark Cloutier by riding in ALC. We started out talking about bike shopping...he'll need to buy a bike if he's going to ride. Neil had first come to prominence in the late 1990's as the first openly gay mayor of a big city; he'd been mayor of Tempe, AZ back then. I recalled having heard him speak at some event at that time but couldn't remember what the occasion was or when it was exactly; he reminded me that he had spoken at the 1997 Frameline Film Festival (I knew it had been something going on at the Castro Theatre).
The theme for this year's party was "Red Dress Day in January." Wait until you see the pictures (that's all I'll say for now).
Because of my status as one of the event photographers, I will hold off posting my pictures until the ALC staff decides which ones they want to use on the ride's Facebook page; stay tuned for them.

by Robert Katz on Sun, Jan 23, 2011 @ 9:38 PM

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Distance Training Ride #1...
...also known as the Cat 3 series kickoff, even though the first two rides have been posted at a lower pace. And even though I did this ride a week ago and for got to do a blog entry about it.
As horrendous as the weather had been on our Sonoma County ride a week earlier, that's how gorgeous today's ride was. Crystal clear sky, nearly 60 degrees even at ride-time and it only got better. Thirty-nine riders showed up for this ride, apparently a record turnout for this particular series. There were also three sweep vehicles.
One of the fun things about Chris Thomas's rides is that he tries to vary things. The first few miles of today's route was along familiar streets, but in the opposite direction from what we've done before. We headed south to Sunnvale before looping around and heading back northwards to Foothill Expressway. We stayed on Foothill as it turned into Santa Cruz Avenue and Alameda de las Pulgas until we reached Woodside Road, which we climbed instead of descending.
There was a bit of road construction on Woodside Road, though nothing terribly stressful. It was getting sufficiently warm that I had to stop and shed some layers. I'd made my way to the front of the pack so I stuck around for a bit to photograph some of the people coming up behind me.
Little did I know that while I was shedding clothes and taking pictures, my rear tire was going flat. As usual I didn't realize it right away. When I decided to get back on my bike something felt "off." I stopped, checked to make sure I hadn't picked up any gravel in the tread, found nothing, started again, and again something wasn't right. Too bad I didn't try squeezing the tire!
Things went fine with changing the tire until we tried to get it back on the bike. It just wouldn't go. It only took four people to figure out that one of the two springs that holds the rear axle in place was gone! As close as I can figure it must have been missing since Day Seven of ALC 9.
By the time I got started again the sweep rider had shown up. We continued up Woodside Road, past Roberts Market into the depths of the town of Woodside and looped back around through side roads to return to the market where we had our lunch stop. At this point most people had already eaten and were ready to leave; fortunately I'd volunteered to sweep the next part of the route. Apart from one of the drivers I was pretty much alone all the way along Mountain Home Road, Portola Road, Alpine Road and Arastradero Road into the Arastradero Preserve where I turned over sweep duties to the final sweep. There were four of us; I motored on ahead along Purrissima (again in the opposite direction from what I'm used to) to Elena, El Monte, past Foothill College, then around a golf course on various residential streets that eventually turned into Loyola Road, which ultimately led back across Foothill Expressway and finally back to our starting point. According to the car it was over 70 degrees when I finished. In January! I love living in California on days like this one.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 2:49:31
Mileage: 42.69
Average speed: 15.1 mph (so much for the supposed Cat 2 pace)
Maximum speed: 30.8 mph
Photos are on Facebook and at:

by Robert Katz on Sun, Jan 23, 2011 @ 9:27 PM

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First Ride of the New Year
After another weekend off due to bad weather, the second week of January was rainfree. I wanted to a change of scenery and there was a Cat 2 ride on the calendar out of Windsor, which is just a bit more than an hour's drive. The lunch stop was supposed to be at Jimtown Store in the Alexander Valley, where I'd stopped during the summer on a Seismic Challenge training ride and I knew the scenery would be pleasant. And it was only a 26-miler so I figured I'd be finished early.
The only downside to the day, really, was that, despite the weather forecast, it stayed cloudy, foggy and raw all day. And by raw I mean REALLY raw. I've ridden in colder temperatures and not been as uncomfortable. Only six of us were insane enough to ride out (one person wisely bailed at the last moment). We headed north on Old Redwood Highway, which becomes Healdsburg Avenue not far outside of Windsor; this is a road I'm somewhat familiar with from previous Positive Pedalers rides. We kept going north after reaching Healdsburg, turning right onto Alexander Valley Road, which becomes Highway 128. It was just breezy enough that, combined with the chill, my hands got more and more numb, even though I was wearing two pairs of gloves! First they went numb, then they started to HURT.
Robert Kavanaugh and I arrived at Jimtown Store only to discover that the store was closed for cleaning. There really is no other place out there to stop for lunch. While we were stopped Robert was able to get my hands back into some semblance or working order, at least for a while. The rest of the group caught up with us and we headed back out on Highway 128. Last summer's ride had taken us up and over Chalk Hill, through Windsor and then up to Healdsburg; the remainder of our route for the day went the same way.
Chalk Hill is not a small climb; nothing I can't do but a fair amount of work. Given the weather this might even have been a good thing, since it got my heart rate up and my blood circulating at least a bit. I rode ahead of the rest of the riders with Stephen Zilber, another of the ride leaders. The far end of Chalk Hill Road is actually in Windsor, which meant we were practically done. It did take some time for everyone else to catch up with us.
I don't think I've ever been so happy to be back in my car at the end of a ride as I was today. A couple of my fingers are actually still tingling a bit (and I'm writing this four days later!).
Fortunately the coldest weather seems to finally be past; this coming weekend is looking pretty promising with sunshine and high temperatures near 60.
It occurred to me just this afternoon that as of the end of the year my total training miles were just about exactly the equivalent of the week's mileage for ALC.
Totals for the day:
Ride Time: 1:49:08
Mileage: 26.27
Average speed: 14.4 mph
Maximum speed: 29.9 mph
Photos are on Facebook and at

by Robert Katz on Wed, Jan 12, 2011 @ 8:59 PM

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Incentives, milestones, and the year's final training ride
Thanks to those who got me over the $1,000 mark before December 1 and over $1,500 before December 31. I don't ride or raise money for incentives of course, by they're nice to have. The first one, which I've already received, and which I debuted yesterday, was an official AIDS/LifeCycle wind vest. The second one, which I haven't gotten yet (not sure if it'll come next month or at Orientation) is an official AIDS/LifeCycle anorak. The nice thing about them is that each one is practical.
Crossing the $1,500 threshold means I'm more than half way to the minimum I have to raise in order to ride, and 20% of the way to my goal.
The weren't any official training rides on the schedule for this weekend or for next Friday and this weekend's forecast was anything but promising anyway, but thanks to the wonder of Facebook, four of us arranged to meet up at Seal Point Park in San Mateo for a casual 30-ish mile ride to close out the calendar year.
We headed west from the shore into Hillsborough, where we intersected with Crystal Springs Road. Riding up Crystal Springs Road always brings back memories of California AIDS Ride days when we rode the entire length of it, up to Crystal Springs Dam. That's not possible at the moment since the dam is undergoing seismic work and the bridge will be closed for the next three years. This of course led to speculation as to how we'll reach Highway 92 on Day 1 of the actual ride. I guess we'll just have to wait until later this spring, when it will all be revealed.
Crystal Springs Road turns off to the right; going more or less straight ahead puts you on Polhemus Road, which gives us a substantial, though not overwhelming climb to where it crosses the freeway portion of Highway 92. From there we turned right, descending by bike path to the footbridge across Interstate 280 and onto Canada Road. A ceremonial photo was taken. From there we headed south along Canada and the reservoir to Woodside Road in Woodside where we stopped briefly, mainly to use the facilities. I'd had it in my mind to perhaps grab a sandwich, forgetting that it was Christmas Eve and the store would be jammed with people shopping for their Christmas Eve and Christmas dinners.
Since one of us, at least, had more pre-holiday prep to do, we decided to take the most direct route back, down Woodside Road, across El Camino Real, into Redwood City (some improvisation was needed because the heavy traffic made turning left a challenge). From there we headed to the Bay Shore Trail which took us back to Seal Point by way of Redwood Shores and Foster City, passing through the Oracle campus.
The weather held out until after we'd all finished riding. All in all, an excellent way to wrap up riding for 2010.
Totals for today:
Ride time: 3:59:12
Mileage: 32.77
Average speed: 13.0 mph
Maximum speed: 38.4 mph
As usual, there are pictures (only a very few) on Facebook and at

by Robert Katz on Sat, Dec 25, 2010 @ 4:47 PM

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Peninsula Fall Startup Series Ride #9
What happened to rides number 6, 7 and 8? They were rained out. Today it did NOT rain, though the roads were wet (and my bike is now FILTHY). About 20 of us headed out the usual way from Peers Park in Palo Alto, down to Foothill College, north parallel to Highway 280, through the Arastradero Reservoir, and west on Alpine Road. Because of the added distance, we kept going and had our lunch stop at the original Roberts Market in Woodside. After the stop we continued north along Canada Road to Highway 92 and Skyline Drive. Skyline is closed for construction at Bunker Hill Road so we turned east again. The uphill was kind of taxing and was followed by a steep and winding downhill with stop signs...kind of frustrating. Bunker Hill dumped us onto Polhemus Road for another climb; at the summit, Polhemus becomes Ralston Avenue and descends. Once at the bottom we were at Avenida de las Pulgas, which we once again took to Valparaiso, through Menlo Park, and then returning by way of the Bryant Bike Blvd. Other than a couple of flat tires everything went fine. Lots of people will be cleaning their bikes tonight and tomorrow.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 3:23:15
Mileage: 46.69
Average speed: 13.7 mph
Maximum speed: 40.2 mph (down Ralston)
Photos are on Facebook and at:

by Robert Katz on Sat, Dec 11, 2010 @ 4:37 PM

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The World AIDS Day Ride
This coming Wednesday, December 1, is World AIDS Day. My fellow-rider and ALC photographer Brian Hodes came up with the idea, several years ago, of having special rides in honor of the event, consisting of one mile for each year of the epidemic. There are now World AIDS Day Rides in numerous cities throughout the US and the world (wherever the weather permits), generally on the Saturday or Sunday closest to the actual date. This year marks 30 years since the first reports of what would eventually come to be known as AIDS, so this year's rides, held today (Sunday, 11/28) were established at 30 miles in length. San Francisco's ride is of course managed by Positive Pedalers, with assistance from ALC staff and numerous other volunteers.
In keeping with tradition, we met at McLaren Lodge, at the entrance to Golden Gate Park at 8 a.m., for a 9 a.m. ride-out. In keeping with tradition, it was quite chilly, though sunny. We had a turnout of about 80 riders, place ALC staff. In keeping with tradition there was...a certain amount of drama. Nobody'd bothered to tell us that there was a foot-race going on, for which the SFPD was closing Fell Street (the road into the park). At about 8:30 a motorcycle patrolman appeared and told us we'd need to move. We were able to find space adjacent to Stanyan Street, south of Fell and Oak Streets. It was a bit less sunny but we managed. It actually worked out better in some respects. In prior years we'd ridden over the Golden Gate Bridge to Mill Valley, adding miles to keep the total correct.

This year the decision was made to do it differently. We stayed entirely in the city, passing by locations significant in some way to the progress of--or the fight against the AIDS epidemic. Because the route was rather complex, with some treacherous stretches involving streetcar tracks (there unfortunately one injury), a significant portion of the ALC Moto Crew was on hand to direct us and watch over us.
Our route took us up Parnassus Street, past the UCSF Main Campus, where so much of the early research on HIV and AIDS was done. We then headed out almost to the ocean, turning south, passing the SF State University campus, where the first AIDS support groups were organized in the mid-1980's. From there we headed east towards Bayview and Hunters Point, two neighborhoods hugely impacted by AIDS, and then past the new UCSF Mission Bay campus, where research continues. There was a rest stop overlooking the bay.
After passing through Mission Bay we turned west towards Potrero Avenue, then south to San Francisco General Hospital. SF General's Ward 86 was where many of those with no other treatment options went, early in the days of the epidemic. General provided--and continues to provide--a supportive environment for those who need care and treatment. General was first hospital in the country to create units specifically devoted to the treatment of those with HIV.
We then proceeded west into the Mission District, another neighborhood heavily devastated at the height of the epidemic, and then, of course, into the Castro, where we stopped for free coffee at Peets on Market Street. Our final leg took us back to the park. In order to meet our goal of 30 miles we had to ride out towards the beach once again, before turning around and finishing at the AIDS Memorial Grove. Volunteers watched our bikes while we were offered flowers to be placed at the Circle of Friends in the Grove.
We said our goodbyes, gave each other hugs, and headed for home.
Today's totals (including the ride to and from home):
Ride time: 3:07:40
Mileage: 34.9
Average speed: 11.1 mph
Maximum speed: 31.3 mph
Photos are at:
I was able to edit them all quickly and get them all posted there and on Facebook.

by Robert Katz on Sun, Nov 28, 2010 @ 10:06 PM

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Peninsula Fall Startup Series Ride #5
This week's ride was was pretty similar to last week's but with even better weather and a few more miles.
We departed as we did last week, down Foothill Expressway to El Monte and along the Foothill College bike path to Elena. This time however we turned right at Robleda, to pick up Purissima Road at the beginning. One of our riders missed the left turn, so I set out to get them re-oriented. I kept going, thinking I was following another of our riders but apparently I was mistaken. So I added a couple of "bonus miles."
This week, instead of turning down Woodside Road we continued across, onto Canada Road until we reached Jefferson Avenue; after a bit of climbing the route reached its summit and there was a nice downhill to Alameda de las Pulgas. Because Jefferson winds rather more than Woodside Road does, I didn't get to go as fast I did last week but I can't really complain. The views were nice and Jefferson doesn't have anywhere near as much traffic.
Once back on Alameda de las Pulgas, we returned the way we'd gone last Saturday, through Menlo Park and Palo Alto using the Bryant Bike Boulevard. Since we rode out a bit earlier (and on time) we actually finished at the same time as we had last week.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 2:30:32
Mileage: 34.84
Average speed: 13.8 mph
Maximum speed: 29.0 mph
Photos are on Facebook and at:
One milestone this past week: Thanks to Ken and Will, I'm now 11% of the way to my fundraising goal.

by Robert Katz on Sun, Nov 14, 2010 @ 5:10 PM

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Peninsula Fall Startup Series Ride #4
This Saturday's ride had more miles (just a few) more climbing (just a bit), more riders, more training ride leaders, and much better weather than last week's. Add a bit of fall color and you have a perfect day of riding.
To add the miles and climbing we first headed south from Palo Alto a bit further down Foothill Expressway, to El Monte, which took us to Foothill College. We hopped on the bike path there (which was kind of weird actually) and then onto Elena, so while we ended up on Purissima again, he hit it further north, and from the opposite direction. There's a good bit of climbing on Elena but it really isn't overwhelming; quite appropriate for a Category 1 (beginner) ride.
We again stopped for lunch at Robert's Market in Portola Valley and headed for the other Robert's Market in Woodside, then down Woodside Road to Alameda de las Pulgas. Instead of riding directly back to Peers Park we turned east and rode into Menlo Park for a bit. We then returned to Palo Alto, traveling down a portion of the Bryant Bike Boulevard, before veering off and approaching Peers Park from the northeast side.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 2:08:48
Mileage: 29.3
Average speed: 13.6 mph
Maximum speed: 37.5 mph (no flat to fix on Woodside Road and no wet roads to deal with, so the downhill was breeze!)
Pictures are on Facebook and at:

by Robert Katz on Mon, Nov 08, 2010 @ 10:18 PM

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Peninsula Fall Startup Series Ride #3
Since I am STILL over riding across the Golden Gate Bridge, I agreed to help Jeanne McArthur with a Cat 1 series of rides out of Peers Park, near the California Avenue Caltrans station in Palo Alto. I had decided to skip the first week; and last Saturday's forecast was so doubtful that I just kind of...well...blew the ride off. The result was that I had not ridden in three weeks.
The weather forecast for today was also very questionable. It was still showering on and off as I headed for Palo Alto but the rain stopped shortly before I arrived (on time despite Google Maps' attempt to send me through a barricade. Now I know what to do instead of following their directions).
We had a small group of riders; the leaders were Jeanne, Cyclist Rep Russ and myself. There were mainly first-timers on this ride, though Chris Thomas decided to show up as well. Once we rode off he wasn't seen again.
The route took us through Palo Alto, down a piece of Foothill Expressway, then up to Purissima (parallel to Highway 280). I'd never approached Purissima from this particular direction but once there I was entirely familiar with the route, which took us up and over Arastradero Road, up a piece of Page Mill and back onto Arastradero through the preserve, then up Alpine Road. We stopped for lunch at the "new" Roberts Market in Portola Valley before continuing on along Portola Road and Mountain Home Road, past the original Roberts in Woodside, down Woodside Road to Alameda de las Pulgas, and back by way of Santa Cruz Avenue, Junipero Serra and Campus Way, passing through the Stanford University Campus before returning to the park again.
We really lucked out; I hit more showers on the way home but since the actual ride was dry, everything was just fine.
Today's totals:
Ride Time: 2 hours, 18 seconds
Mileage: 25.88
Average speed: 12.1 mph
Maximum speed: 31.0 mph (going down Woodside Road)
Pictures will appear on Facebook bye and bye; they're already posted on Flickr at:

by Robert Katz on Sat, Oct 30, 2010 @ 11:34 PM

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How could I have forgotten the Cowbirds Ride?
Looking back on my blog below I cannot believe I forgot to do an entry on the Cowbirds Ride out of Bodega Bay.
For the past five years, John Hershey and his partner Ted have opened their home in Bodega Bay for a potluck following a ride. The first year we rode the day after Thanksgiving; it was only John, Beau and myself. The following year we made we had a better turnout, and the year after that we decided to make the ride earlier to avoid getting rained on, not always successfully. I'm actually the only one who's ridden all five times.
Since I've been remiss on writing about it I've copied the description that accompanies the Flickr album for the day:
First ALC 10 training ride of the year for Northern California and the first Positive Pedalers sponsored ride of the season. As we've done for the past several years, we met at John and Ted's home in Bodega Bay. There were three options, though only two of them were exercised. The longer ride (which I did) was a 38-mile loop down Highway 1 to Bodega Highway, to the Wild Flour Bakery in Freestone, up Bohemian Highway and down the far side to Monte Rio, out to the coast, and back to John and Ted's house. The shorter option went as far as Occidental and then turned back. Apparently nobody cared to excercise Option 3--to Occidental, followed by a climb up Coleman Valley Road. It's a stiff climb and an extreme descent.
Not an extremely sunny day but no rain either (last year the ride was moved to mid-September and we STILL got rained on!). The payoff of course was the potluck afterwards, and a chance to soak in the jacuzzi. On the way home I stopped to visit Ken and Will in Sebastopol. They were out on their mountain bikes when I arrived, so I had the rare opportunity to photograph Ken on his bike.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 2:32:09
Mileage: 38.56
Average speed: 15.2 mph
Maximum speed: 35.2 mph
Photos are on Facebook and at:

by Robert Katz on Wed, Oct 20, 2010 @ 9:33 PM

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The Kickoff Ride
Northern California training for AIDS LifeCycle 10 got off to a good start on Sunday, 10/10/10, with our annual Kickoff Ride. Actually there were two rides (40-ish and 20-ish miles) and a beginner clinic. Since I helped lead the shorter rides last year, I opted for the longer ride this time. We had a huge turnout--over 100 people for each ride! Despite the early-morning fog, the weather was actually superb for cycling overall.
I'm still less and less enamored of crossing the Golden Gate Bridge as time goes by, and things will become even more harrowing when the lane normally reserved for cyclists shuts down for several months, but today it didn't really get to me too much. There weren't any major mishaps and only two flat tires. Of course they happened during the time I was sweeping the ride (meaning I was at the very back), but all of us still managed to return before the appointed hour of 2 p.m.
Following the ride there was a brief opportunity to shop, followed by announcements, acknowledgements, a drawing for prizes (once again I did not win anything) and, most importantly, snacks.
Now that I've taken a bunch of indoor pictures with somewhat disappointing results, it occurred to me to check the setting possibilities on the still-new camera. Guess what? There's an "INDOOR" setting! Who knew???? Maybe I'll remember to use it next time (say for Opening Ceremonies and stuff).
Today's totals:
Ride time: 2:48:17
Mileage: 37.94
Average speed: 13.5 mph
Maximum speed: 34.1 mph
Photos are on Facebook and at:

by Robert Katz on Tue, Oct 12, 2010 @ 6:29 PM

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Thank You Ride and BBQ
The final event of ALC 9, or the first of ALC 10, depending on your perspective.
A huge number of folks RSVP'd for the ride, so I signed on at the last minute as a training ride leader. The ride was not the important thing; just a 20-mile quickie from Crissy Field, through the Richmond District, past the Cliff House, down to Lake Merced and back by way of Golden Gate Park. Julie has altered the route a bit so we didn't pass by the Palace of the Legion of Honor. We also skipped the annoying hill on the way to the Legion of Honor, though we had to climb all the way along Clement Street.
Although the weather was basically very good, it was a bit foggy in the Bay when we set out, and quite chilly and gray along the Great Highway. On the other hand, the gradual clearing, especially around the Golden Gate Bridge, gave me some terrific pictures.
And of course there was the barbeque, which was the real reason for us to get together. Plenty more folks showed up, including some first-timers registered for ALC 10. All in all, a terrific day.
Today's totals:
Ride time: 1:40:41
Mileage: 22.03
Average speed: 13.1 mph
Maximum speed: 34.3 mph
Pictures are on Facebook and at

by Robert Katz on Fri, Oct 08, 2010 @ 9:50 PM

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Summer Rides--What I did on my vacation--Part 2
You know that summer's coming to an end when ALC training ride leader classes start. This year they began early. The first crop of new leaders was trained on August 14 and 15; for us veteran there was an abbreviated session with a bit of cycling skills workshop led by Lorri Lee Lown. Some photos of my tried-and-true compadres:

Ride number 3: Healdsburg-Cloverdale-Alexander Valley, 8/21.

As is apparent, none of the rides so far has involved crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. I'm really tired of dealing with the afternoon tourist traffic, which is going to be made even worse by upcoming seismic retrofit work and painting. Riding across the bridge is a fun thing to do...once. Ten years ago it wasn't bad but as cycling traffic has picked up it has gotten downright scary.

So instead, I agreed to lead a ride on a route that had been put together by a North Bay Seismic participant. Since he wasn't a training ride leader, leaders were solicited and I volunteered. Our group was quite small once again and included Robert Kavanagh and Greg Hill, who rode ALC for the first time this year and will be training ride leaders for ALC 10.

The route was really, really, REALLY nice. We began just north of downtown Healdsburg, rode west to the end of West Side Drive and turned north along Dry Creek Road, eventually ending up at the south end of Cloverdale, a town which I'd previously seen only by car. We then turned south, stopping at one of the wineries to use the facilities (no drinking of wine). It was very picturesque and I ended up with some very nice photos. We continued south to Geyserville, where we picked up Highway 128, turning eastward and riding through the Alexander Valley (another prime grape-growing area). Lunch was the Jimtown Store, out in the country...a fun little place, very touristy but friendly and with excellent sandwiches. We diverged from Highway 128 shortly afterwards, turning onto Chalk Hill Road which included our main climb for the day...not really all that bad but definitely a bit of work. We then headed through downtown Windsor, stopping to chill out just a bit, and continued first south on East Side Road and then across the valley to West Side Road for the return to Healdsburg. Another spectacular day.

Ride number three totals:
Ride time: 4:15:27
Mileage: 62.89
Average speed: 14.7 mph
Maximum speed: 36.9 mph
Ride photos:

Ride number 4: Mike's Bikes-Cheese Factory-Point Reyes Station and back by way of Nicasio Valley

For the beginning of September a ride approximately 70 miles in length was needed. I put this one together myself, after Lindsay Browne agreed to serve as co-leader. I couldn't really find anything in the library of routes that was of suitable length and that didn't involve crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.
An existing route sheet existed that, when reduced to account for a starting point at Mike's Bikes, ran to only 62 miles; Lindsay was not thrilled with the idea of riding along the portion of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard west of Lagunitas, and I couldn't really blame him; this part of the road is in very bad shape with a great deal of car traffic. I found that if I altered the route to make it return along Nicasio Valley Road--the same way we went out--the distance came to 67.5 miles. This did mean that there would be a bit more climbing than otherwise so I offered the option of avoiding Camino Alto on the return leg and substituting a mini-Tiburon Loop, which resulted in 73 miles but with less climbing. In the end I don't think anyone exercised this option. I have no way of knowing of course since I never saw most of the riders once we headed out. The result was 67 miles of riding with eight significant climbs (or ten; there is a shorter but not inconsiderable second climb along Nicasio Valley Road north of the main ascent).

In contrast to previous rides I was the only one NOT doing Seismic. Since Lindsay lives in Mill Valley and expressed a preference to return directly there instead of going back to Mike's, I volunteered to sweep. Despite the fact that I'm not normally a big fan of sweeping, I actually had a very nice time with the two slower riders, Ross and Miel. Both of them were challenged in their own particular ways but it was a very nice experience to spend the day with them. Wind played virtually no part at all in the actual ride and although there was dense fog on the bridge (another reason for excluding it) and in Sausalito at ride-out, the fog ended after we'd gone only a couple of miles and the weather was stunning for the entire remainder of the day. I spent a bit more time than I usually do watching over my charges so I didn't take very many pictures but I had fun anyway. And that's what counts.

Ride four totals:
Ride time: 5:36:58
Mileage: 67.49
Average speed: 12.0 mph
Maximum speed: 38.7 mph
The few photos are at:

Next weekend will be my first official ALC training ride and I've already ridden almost 254 miles. I guess I'm off to a pretty decent start (though of course some of my friends have been riding like maniacs all summer long. I salute them!).
And now...I have to start fundraising.

by Robert Katz on Sun, Sep 05, 2010 @ 11:52 PM

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Summer Rides--What I did on my vacation--Part 1
On thing I did NOT do immediately after returning from ALC 9 was come down with a cold. This was, in itself, a refreshing change of pace, since it seems to happen more years than not (and that's when I don't get sick on Day 6 or 7). The cold didn't hit until the second half of July, right after I'd been certified as a training ride leader for Seismic Challenge, the Foundation's other cycling fundraiser.

I did recover though, and began leading Seismic rides at the very end of July. I did the same thing last year; the difference was that most of last year's rides were on the short side and half of them ended up being canceled for one reason or another. So I'm already ahead on my training miles for the coming year.

Had I been a good and dedicated diarist I'd have done a better job of writing about these rides when they took place rather than waiting. But it's never too late to start reminiscing.

Ride number 1: Silverado Trail on Saturday, 7/31.

Silverado Trail starts in Napa and runs along the east side of the Napa Valley. It's about 27.5 miles long from one end to the other; there is one stop sign and the only traffic light is at the south end. It's also relatively flat and one can rely on having a tailwind in the morning (the downside comes in the afternoon on the return leg).

The ride is always fun for a variety of reasons, not the least of course being that the absence of hills allows one to clock some incredible average speeds; at the end of the first leg (mile 28) my average was 19 mph. I never REALLY ride that fast.

Turnout was quite good; we had over a dozen, three or four of whom were even registered for Seismic Challenge. The remainder were either off-season ALCers and miscellaneous other riders. There was an interesting twist too: When I was a beginning rider in 1998, before California AIDS Ride 6, Larry Hall was one of the veteran training ride leaders; we did numerous rides together early on and he helped me a great deal. I had not seen or ridden with him in quite a number of years so it was a very pleasant surprise when he showed up. He's also super-fast. I barely saw him after we rode out.

Julie Brown and I were the ones who proposed this particular ride; I was a training ride leader when she was a novice. Dan Dodd also came along for this particular ride; when Dan was a first-year rider, he did many training rides with Julie. So there was this whole multi-generational thing going on. It was fun. My friend Andrew showed up with our friend Ricardo who actually kicked ass on his bike despite riding with flat pedals (no toe cages or cleats). I hope he decides to do ALC this year; it'll be fun having him along. He DOES need to learn about nutrition; he got an early lesson in what it means to fuel left in the tank; I had to pace him into lunch to make sure he didn't pass out on the road. Next time, eat breakfast for attempting a long ride, Ricardo!

The route itself allows for a number of variations; it can be done as an out and back with lunch in downtown Calistoga or it can be done as a partial loop, with a stop in Saint Helena instead. We opted for the latter, giving us the opportunity to chow down at Taylor's Refresher (now known as Gott's Refresher but the street sign hasn't changed yet). While we were eating lunch, the Napa Valley Wine Train pulled in, making it a total country experience. The return route took us down Highway 29 for a ways before we crossed back to Silverado Trail for the final stretch. The end of the ride was marred only by the inevitable headwind on the return portion of Silverado. Despite that (and despite having been off of my road bike since Day 7 of ALC), it was the fastest 56 miles I've ever ridden. And it was a nice sunny day in the midst of a cool and cloudy summer.

Ride time: 3:17:48
Mileage: 56.44
Average speed: 17.1 mph
Maximum speed: 33.2 mph
Photos are at:

Before my second ride, I helped out at the Marin Century's lunch stop. ALC has provided volunteers for this stop the past two years at least, and while I'd thought about doing the ride, in the end I decided to skip it and hand out food for a change. It was fun.

And I did take a few photos:

Ride number 2: Sunnyvale-Mount Eden, McKean Road (South San Jose) and return via Santa Teresa Road, 8/8

This one was organized by David Gaus, who lives in Hollister; naturally he tries to focus his attention on the South Bay. The starting point was in Sunnyvale, where the South Bay ALC Cat 2 series starts. In contrast to the Silverado Trail ride there was a good deal of climbing. We rode to Foothill Expressway, then south through Stevens Canyon to Mount Eden Road, climbing Mount Eden, with a second jog up Pierce Road, and into Los Gatos for our first stop. The next segment of the route took us up Shannon Road, another substantial climb that I've done a few times, most recently on a springtime Cat 3 ride. From there we continued towards and down Almaden Expressway, then east along McKean Road past Calero Reservoir. There was an unscheduled re-group there, while we waited for the sweep and our slowest rider to catch up. This section of the ride had a noticeable headwind, contrasting to the northerly wind we usually experience when doing this route in the late winter. We turned and climbed Bailey Road (not that big a deal) and continued to Santa Teresa where we caught the upside--a stiff tailwind that blew us up to our lunch stop at over 25 mph. Fun thing was that we maintained our tailwind, blowing in from the valley, until we got close enough to the coast to encounter another headwind in the opposite direction. Tim Huang humored me by riding along with me for a considerable distance even though he's way faster than I am. Our route took us through Los Gatos again, where we were detained by a street fair that blocked our planned return route. We doubled back for a bit, picking up Highway 9 and returning by way of that, and Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road, Stelling, McClellan (a short steep final climb) and back up Foothill and east on Fremont. We dawdled quite a bit and didn't finish until nearly 5 p.m.

Ride two totals:
Ride time: 4:41:14
Mileage: 66.83
Average speed: 14.2 mph
Maximum speed: 33.8 mph
Photos are at:

by Robert Katz on Sun, Sep 05, 2010 @ 11:07 PM

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