Mittwoch, 22. Mai 2013

Club Ride VI and Packing up

So today is my last ride and tomorrow I will “ride” the plane back home. But today there is still the Club Ride on the program and Paul selected a really fire cracker track with lots of climbing and fantastic view on Sonoma County.

Start (and end of course) is in Sebastopol at Ragle Park.

We started out 16 and “lost” 6 riders on the way due to blown out tires and blown out lungs.

Back in Santa Rosa it was time to clean the bike, disassemble it and then pack it in the transport suitcase.



So my Californian Dream comes to its end. After some 1200 Miles (1900 km) on the bike and 3500 Miles (5600 km, not very ecological I know...) by car all my expectations have been surpassed. I had 2 days of fog (which cleared at noon) and one day of part cloud coverage, the rest was immaculate blue sky. Every single ride has been fabulous and I felt absolutely at home in Santa Rosa. I am happy to go back home and still I wouldn’t mind to stay for a week or two more.

I certainly will be back sometimes... and may be sooner that later.   

P.S. You might notice that there is sometimes a strange "Tail" in the Club ride tracks. These tails are the wrong routes I always seemed to catch and I got a kind of a reputation for always missing at least once the right turns.

Dienstag, 21. Mai 2013

Bolinas - Muir Overlook

Today the ride is short and relaxing at the beach is long. I started from Bolinas, which is at the far end of the Bolinas Lagoon and therefore close to Stinson Beach. The place has some really nice houses and a beautiful beach, but more of this later. 

The wind is extremely breezy today, however luckily it will be tailwind for most of the climbs today. First the loop goes round the Bolinas Lagoon, where the seals take a sunbath on the sand banks and the white egrets are fishing in the shallow water.  

Here a view of the Lagoon from the climb to Muir overlook with Stinson Beach separating the Ocean from the Lagoon.

As you can see there are not many people at the beach, first it is Tuesday and second the wind is really intense with very strong gusts. However, for the moment it helps for the climbs.

The road is similar to the one between Jenner and Fort Ross I rode yesterday, which one is nicer? Impossible to decide!

On the descent, now with headwinds, the gusts may have had some 60-90 km/h speed and as much I like love my SLX 01, it is super sensitive to side winds. At some point it nearly blew me off the street into the roadside ditch.  

After a Granola Bar at the only Market in a radius of maybe 20 Miles I returned to Bolinas.

The whole time here I did see only very few Surfers, however at Bolinas they seemed to group as the parking lots were filled with cars having surf boards on the roof or in the trunk. However times change and the cars are not VW Beetles and Bullys anymore, but Lexus, Touareg, Audi or Porsche Cayenne SUVs.

According to my experience surfing is to 99.9% waiting for the perfect wave, which for many of those guys seems never to come. To take a picture of a guy actually surfing requires really great patience. The guys standing on the board with the paddle, are much more active. They paddle out ride a wave, paddle back and in 1 minute later ride another one.  

I looked for a wind protected spot and spend the afternoon observing the surfers and advance with the reading of "Moby-Dick" which I now nearly finished, what will the end by like???

Actually my reading performance as really very, very poor...

... but this actually might be a good sign.

So this was my second to last ride, which will be tomorrow with the Santa Rosa Cycling Club.

Montag, 20. Mai 2013

Bodega Bay - Fort Ross II

Today was a “review” of a route I had done at the very beginning of my stay here in Santa Rosa. Along the Highway Number 1 from Bodega Bay to Fort Ross and back. The weather was just absolutely perfect, warm but not hot and the wind not too breezy, a bit of haze but no fog.

The scenery... ...unbelievable

The ride... ...fantastic 

Fort Ross... ... Closed

Lunch... ... Best Fish and Chips ever  (Boat House / Bodega Bay) and the location (Arced Rock Beach) top notch

The company... ... a bit rusty 

All rides I did out here were just great, but this one is the Best. I have written this before, but it cannot get possibly any better than this. 

Sonntag, 19. Mai 2013

Bay to Breakers / Armstrong Woods

As indicated yesterday, I had two options in mind for the program of this day. The first was to take it easy and watch the “Tour of California” who’s final stage would end today in Santa Rosa City Square. Actually already yesterday some of the roads were closed there. The second option was to ride once more through San Francisco and this was the option I chose. The reason is, that today is the famous “Bay to the Breakers” run from Embarcadero at the Bay to the far west end of Golden Gate Park were the Breaker Beach is located. The route of the run is 12 km and the whole western part of the City is a huge party, you see lots and lots of costumed people heavily partying everywhere and I have the feeling only few of them really participated at the run.

So I left home already before 8 o’clock and arrived at Fort Baker at 900. The weather is gorgeous, immaculate blue sky, clear, warm but not hot and light wind. The ride starts with the inevitable Hawk Hill Loop. 

The across the Golden Gate Bridge over the “Camino del Mar” and to the Golden Gate Park.

Some have reduced their “costume” to the max, wearing boots and a hat (if you do not consider piercings, tattoos and painted flowers as part of the costume). Of course I am much too shy to take a corresponding picture, not mentioning posting it! San Francisco at its best.

Next up the Hill of St. Ignatio...

Down to Civic Center and Markert Street...

The cold cleanliness of the skyscrapers contrasts with the view of “destroyed” people in street and the occasional smell of urine you catch at the corners. Riding down Market Street always leaves me with very mixed feelings, not because of fear or so, but of the ridiculous richness and the devastated poorness not two arm length apart from each other.    

The Transamerica Pyramid marks the end of Financial District...

... and Columbus Street (which means little Italy) begins, which will take me passed countless Italian Restaurants to the wharf...

... and there it is again time to rest my bones, before I need to confront the breezy headwind to get back across the Golden Gate to my car. 

On my way back home I made a little detour to Guerneville and rode up to Armstrong Woods again. This time with the legs still a bit hurting from yesterday, I left out to climb to the summit of Armstrong Woods Rd with its 20+ % grades. The wood itself is like a cathedral in which the trees and the light make everything “vertical” and fleeing to the sky.  

Riding amongst giants...

Samstag, 18. Mai 2013

Echelon Gran Fondo Sonoma

Today the program of the day is clear. Got up at 530, drove to Sonoma and arrived at 700 to get ready for the 75 Mile / 6600 feet climb (120 km / 2000 m climb) ride. There will be more than a thousand riders taking at the 11, 50 or 75 Mile tracks.  

0750 and 10 minutes till the “race” will start...

Looking at the people around me and the bikes they ride I really reconsider, if this is right for me and indeed the pace on the first few, flat miles was horrendous and the bumpy routes did not really help. Well I was in the very first section of the “peloton” and I thought if this goes on like this, the 120 km will be very great “fun”. But I must say that riding in a peloton like group with some 100 riders is really special. The first very light climbs near Napa however assured me, that everybody here is only cooking with water and although I am really a terrible climber I found out that most people here are even worse ones.  
I am sorry that I do not have more pictures of the ride, but in racing mode there are no Photo-stops scheduled. Most of the route I have actually already ridden before! E.g. I now have have climbed Mt. Veeder from both sides and also Bennet Valley Rd in very familiar to me. There were some sections like Trinity Rd and Mt. Sonoma Rd that I had on my wish list and now I have finally ridden, so it was very complementary.

After 5h 5’ with all stops the course was done and according to the ratio overtaken/been overtaken I am quite happy with my performance.

The after ride party in the city square was great too. For the 75 Mile riders there was a hot buffet with Curry, Macaroni an Chees, grilled Chicken and Pasta Bolognese which really tasted great (the hunger after the ride might has influenced my judgement here!) and one should never underestimate the refined taste that an ice chilled beer can develop.

My time here in California draws inevitably to its end and though I am looking forward returning back home, the bike-lifestyle could really be addictive to me ( Four more days to go, Wednesday is booked for the Club ride. Tomorrow Sunday there is the option to watch the “Tour of California” final stage here at Santa Rosa City Square or to go to San Francisco and watch the “Bay to Breakers”. As my legs do not feel too tiered I think I will say “good bye” to SF. This means two days remain; one is reserved to the SF-Stinson Beach Loop which I absolutely need to ride once more. So only one day, which is not yet defined, remains, but most probably it will be Bodega Bay – Fort Ross.

What will I miss? The weather, the views, the lifestyle, the freedom...

and the "bike chicks", a very abundant species around here... Seriously, really many women living up to the true "road bike spirit" here. 

What will I not miss?

Pot holes the size of platters and 10 cm or  (much) deeper. 

“Rough” might be an adequate adjective to describe the surface of sand paper, but is a joke when referring to the structure of many back roads here. Actually I think that I can trash my rims after my rides here...   

Price question: "Is it just the color comming of the welding joint or is it a full grown crack of the inner rim ?" Need to check with a bike mechanic here...

Freitag, 17. Mai 2013

Wednesday Club Ride

Again I went for a Club ride of some 64 km and now it is time for a giant Hamburger to pack some calories for tomorrow. The bike is cleaned, pumped up and lubricated. After an hour of Siesta I will head to Sonoma for the registration and packet pick-up, so that I do not need to stand in cue for tomorrow. The race starts at 800 in Sonoma, so I will need to get up 0530 or so. Hope my legs will feel o.k.  

New Career?