Archive for the 'bicycles' Category

Street Free Kick Specialist

Thanks to for turning me on to this guy.

If you know about the public loaner bikes in Paris, you can be really outraged!

Take soccer to the streets! Turn up the volume, and enjoy more of Remi here!

Bodega Bay and Coleman Vly Rd

Our last ride of the week in the wine country, Sherie and I went from the condo on country roads to Graton, zig-zagged south west to the Bodega Highway. We zoomed to the coast, and had lunch at the Sandpiper in Bodega Bay. After a 6 mile detour out to Bodega Head to digest over a view of the surf on the coast, we went north on Hwy 1. Too many cars, not enough shoulder, but lots of great views of the coast. Then the fun began…

… as we turned right up Coleman Valley road. Immediately, one is on the climb up Irish Hill. The Tour of CA went up this road; there is evidence of the tour with painted greetings on the road. Maybe a mile and a half, relentless climb, maybe 800 vert feet at 12 to 15%. Of course, today was the warmest day of the spring so far, so we were drenched when we paused in the cow pasture at the top to enjoy the views back down to the Pacific below. Now there were easy rollers up on this perfect bike road, very few cars, endless ridge views both north and south. Then back down to Occidental, Graton road, and zig-zag back to Windsor.

This was a great ending to our time away in the Sonoma wine country. This last ride was of course beautiful, with the bonus of the ocean. While we had talked about doing the King Ridge loop some ten miles up the coast, it was wise of us to save that for a later time when we are a bit more fit.

Of course, so many potential places to ride, so little time. So make the best of the opportunities.

66.3 miles, 4621 vert feet, 12.75 mph ave

Geyers Ride

Drove to Geyserville, then ride to Cloverdale, up Geysers Rd. Big headwind on first leg going into Cloverdale that slowed our pace. Once on Geysers Road, Sherie and I energized with the absolute beauty. From the north, this road has lots of one lane, some gravel sections in old washouts, but we saw less than ten cars on the road in the next 10 miles. The stream flowed at our side, we ascended nearly 2000 feet from the oaks and grassy hillsides, some chappall, then into the pines mixed with buckeye, bay etc. The hillsides still green with grass, lupine, poppy, and more abounded. On this leg, we saw turkey vultures eatiing a road kill rabbit, Ben saw a bobcat at about 50 feet until he hid in the rocks beside the road. A hawk circled at about 25 feet above us looking for a thermal.

Eventually, about 12 miles up, we could see the pipes on the hillside leading to the power turbines. One set of cooling towers vented steam to the blue skies. Old mine buildings dotted the hillsides, and then the larger road connected on our right.

Well, this grade is as tough as advertised. It does seem like a mile, although it may be a touch less. However, it is all 15% to 18% for this stretch, luckily with two full lanes plus decent shoulders. And almost no cars. Just your leaden legs trying to keep the crank turning, standing to slow the pace. Ben made some slow loops in the three turnouts to keep the heart rate only at maximum. Sherie paper-boyed much of it. But we both rode it to the top.

After this, it levels out for a bit, then a down, then another uphill. After this, a short traverse leads to the highest vineyards above Alexander Valley, for Geyser Peak Winery. Anyway, when we got here, there was a poster warning of delays for a film company shooting a Gatorade commercial. Sure enough, around the next corner, there was a sheriff that stopped Ben. When Sherie caught up, he lead us down about a half mile through the “movie set” where there were road side camps, kilometer markers, French villages on the road side. There were bike barriers with posters, a French TV van, etc. to make this big climb above the valley look like the Tour de France Once to the bottom of the “set,” we saw the crew having lunch under tents. I would guess there were about 50 people hanging out. Kind of fun to see.

Anyway, this downhill leg is shorter, with more sustained climbs, than the long climb up Big Sulpher Creek that we did early. A good direct climb, a great training climb ala Diablo. Many places at least 12%.

After that, a short jaunt back to Geyserville and the car, and a stop at the country store for deli sandwiches and drinks.

45.31 miles, 4086 vert feet, 12.2 mph ave

Lunch in Calistoga

Again this morning we left straight from the condo, but headed east to the old Redwood Hwy to take us south toward Santa Rosa. We tried to skirt around the east side of the town, and discovered that a short leg east on Mark West Rd to Reidli Rd kept us out of town. While Reidli has a few steep steps, it led to a valley where Wallace Dr led us south. Going east on Badger, we found a beautatous city park for a potty break. Here “Charlie Brown” greeted us with crazy talk as we remounted for the short leg on the Calistoga Rd east.

Now I knew that the Calistogo Rd would have too many fast cars. What I didn’t know was that it would start right in with about a half mile of ten to fifteen percent switchbacks and curves, with very short breaks! “Sorry Sherie!” We both soldiered through, glad it was still cool, me waiting at the pullout at the top of the ridge. Man, we both baked the legs on that one.

After a quick down, we turned right onto the St Helena Rd (Spring Mtn on the Napa side) that would lead to that famous valley to our east. How pleased we were, as we saw the last of the wine grapes for a few hillsides for grazing, but then the forested hillsides rising from a flowing stream. We followed the stream for miles, steps up through oak forest to pine, with some redwood groves along the creek. This is a small country lane, barely two cars wide in most places, with some traffic for the homes along the road. It was bike heaven for the filtered sunlight through the trees, the scent of the forsts, the sound of the flowing water, the splash of the lupine and poppy. We eventually climbed out of the trees to a big vista near 2000 feet where the pavement improved to perfect at the Napa County line on the ridetop.

After a quick break, we descended down Srping Mtn road past wineries and fancy homes. Man, the money shows in Napa County. I had read that this was a steep road, and indeed there was about 2 miles where glances at my computer showed -12%. Perfectly bank corners, easy site lines, great pavement, little traffic, big fun for Ben. After another mile or two of flatter roads, and we were in St Helena

After 40 minutes up Silverado to Calistoga, Sherie wanted lunch at the Wappo Bar and Bistro. Fancy lunch in a sunny garden in our sweaty bike clothes. Very relaxed, quite a good lunch, but we passed on the wine, although we lingered a bit in the sun to digest a bit before the climb back out of the valley toward the west. After a half mile on Petrified Forest Rd, Sherie yelled at me from behind to get out of the traffic and take the side road. Which we did, up Franz Valley School road, much quieter but requiring an additional climb and some extra miles. Boy it was worth it to be back on a lane with the spring greening the hillsides, and the sun warming us up the climb. I stripped out of my leg warmers and vest, rolled down my sleeves, and enjoyed some sun between the trees. This is a great bike road, the best of rural NorCal scenery with mostly older funky homesteads instead of all the new McMansions that have sprouted too widely.

After the downhill, back to Mark West Rd to return to Santa Rosa. This is scary narrow with too many fast trucks and cars at times, but sometimes with a decent shoulder. Sherie and I both saw (me tucking ahead at speed down the hill) a lone bicyclist tight in the draft of a small motorcycle heading up at a good clip. He was in white and blue, but didn’t look at me when I waved, staring only ahead. We both swear it must be Levi Leiphimer drafting on his wife’s pull, although we couldn’t prove it.

Soon back to the condo, a great and beautiful day.

56.93 miles, 4473 vert feet, 12.2 mph ave

Russian River Ride

First full day in the condo. We got out the door a bit slowly, after some slow time recovering fromm the rides near home yesterday, the drive, the full bottle of Bluenose Zin at dinner. Beauty rolling out into Windsor from the condo. Once we got west of town on East Side Rd (of the Russian River) north toward Healdsburg, the reaization of a great day on the bike lifted our senses. Sherie’s cadence picked up, and I fell into her draft to sail along viewing the blooming trees, the color of the Lupine and Poppies, the first leaves on the grapes. Several groups of riders came south out of Healdsburg, looking like 50 people on a club ride in various pacelines and singles, waving and smiling to us.

Once in Dry Creek, Westside Rd, going north, we were rewarded with even a better bike road in the perfect spring landscape. The little lifts and falls of the road, winding around the little corners of ridges descending into the valley floor, rewarded us with effort and pace variety. Equally stimulating were the ever changing views of old Zin gnarled rootstock set in the green hillsides, the newer and older growers houses, the barns and sheds of the wine grape trade. Yes, we smiled a lot, lifting up to stand on the pedals over the little rises then reaching for the drops on the little falls of the lane. Youkum Bridge brought us back across the rolling waters of Dry Creek before the short climb over toward Geyserville.

I stopped in a little old graveyard just across from Pedronicelli winery to relax and explore the tombs dating 100 years to the present. Oaks sheltered all kinds of tombstones with Italian family names mostly. Then on to lunch at a deli in Geyersville, where a young woman greeted us as we dismounted at the lone picnic table looking over the main junction in this small town. She suggested the Reuben for lunch, which Sherie and I shared to keep our stomachs from being bloated. Good pastrami it was, melted cheese and a few salty chips hit the spot. Then back on Hwy 128 with some traffic, we took the pleasant route detour onto Red Wine Rd that avoids most of the traffic to Jimtown.

I don’t need to bore you with the details of the vineyards in Alexander valley going south, as it is just a more open landscape but very similar to the other side of the ridge in Dry Creek. Lots of bicyclist at Jimtown at the too cute store, many deciding the route back after the climbs up Pine Flat. The consensus of that group was to go the flat way through Healdsburg, and save the climbing to others who hadn’t already blown their legs. I had a good conversation with Jeff on the front bench, while Sherie was in the store. He was strong, mid sixties but looked as young as me except for the gray hair. Told of his plan to ride old Route 66 from Santa Monica to Oklahoma for his high school 50th reunion. From the looks of him, and his stories of workout routines and personal trainer, he should be fine on that journey.

When we road back to Windsor over Chalf Hill, I was grateful that there is very little of the new money houses and fancy winery tourist stuff. Lots more ramshakle and old school vineyards, and meadows with horses and flowers. Just a lovely country road, bending around and rolling over the terrain instead of cutting through it. Just how bike roads should be. A bit of climbing, and we were soon on the outskirts of Windsor, skirting town to the east against the edge of the hills above most vineyards until crossing 101 on Shiloh and back to the condo. I called it a recovery ride, Sherie said she was hammered. Of course, she had ridden the Cinderlla yesterday almost 70 miles with her various BART connections.

47.06 miles, 1701 vert feet, 14.41 mph ave

Car Down Hillside Followup

Well, I rode the same loop again on Sunday, as Sherie was not yet ready to ride the “big bikes” and she had scheduled lots of events for us that day. (They were fun, too. No regrets from me.) So I only had a couple hours, and decided to ride the same loop as Friday.

More interestingly, a cyclist named Anton pulled up beside me on SP Dam road just after the business district. We rode quite steadily together all the way to Inspiration Point, chatting about all kinds of things. We have made plans to be in touch. But really, the point of this post is follow up to the car in the ditch I last reported.

On Sunday, the car was gone…

On Monday, the poison oak rash had started on my left elbow, my right knee, both my ankles, and I feel itchy all over. O well, I guess sometimes we suffer for doing the right thing…

Bike Ride Roadside Wreck

As Sherie still is sore on her knee, I rode alone today. Just a short loop around to SP Dam Rd, up Wildcat and back through Tilden and down Spruce.

Uneventful after a stop at the Ped in El Sobrante to check on gift ideas, until going up Wildcat Canyon Rd. I was passed by a cyclist (yeah, I am a bit out of shape now) who I then saw five minutes later on the side of the road. Another guy also had stopped his bicycle there. This was about 200 m passed the gate into the pasture label Power Line Gate on the handmade sign, so about 400 me before Inspiration Point.

Anyway, I asked the guys if they were all right. The one guy said “Look, there’s a car down the hillside.” Sure enough, there was this white car down there, half buried in the blackberries and brambles. I asked the guys if there were people in the car, and they said that they did not know. After a minute of talk, I decided to go down to be sure there wasn’t anyone in the car that may need help. So down I go in my road shoes, big cleats and all, down the dirt, over fallen wood, breaking anise and other branches that I assumed was poison oak. I get to the car, and can see the back half of the car ok, but the windows are tinted dark and it is hard to see inside. So I decide I better just do it, so I use my bare hands to pull the nettles and blackberries back from the drivers door to peer inside. Sure enough, no one in the car at all. How relieved I was that there was no medical emergency to deal with!

So I scramble back up the slope, and talk to the guys. Neither had a cell phone signal, but I did! So I called information and got connected to the Orinda police. After way too much time on hold, I give the location and license number of the car, and the dispatcher looks in the “big computer” to tell me that the car had been reported stolen “just today.”

So I tear home to wash my body and clothes, just hoping I am not about to get a poison oak rash.

I sure hope someone would trample through poison oak if they suspected that I was stuck my car…

Bike Path for Cars

In all of its wisdom, Albany has rebuilt the Ohlone Way bike path crossing at a few streets near our home. Of course, this was done with some money (maybe I will research what money later) to make the intersections more convenient for autos, and more dangerous for bicyclists, joggers, dog walkers, and the like.

The old bike path was kept separate from the ped path, so that it crosses Washington (and a block away, Portland) about 20 feet from the corner. This kept the bikes away from the peds, but made the cars yield twice in the 20 feet. In effect, it was two cross walks 20 feet apart. Now, at countless thousands of dollars, the city has funneled the bikes to merge with the sidewalk at each intersection, instead of staying separate. So that it is more likely that a bike can blind side an old lady with a walker and a dog on a leash at the intersection.

Oh well, those that know me, understand what I think: A bicyclist is safer on the street where he doesn’t need to stop, then come out between parked cars, at every block. If one stays on the street and takes up a full lane of space, he is very visible at the four way stop so cars don’t run him over.

Anyway, I will still job off the path, on the dirt, and probably ignore the crosswalk anyway.

Alhambra Valley Road Trash

I rode my bike solo yesterday, as Sherie is still recuperating from her knee tendon sprain. Up Spruce, Wildcat through Tilden, Bears Backwards (counterclockwise), south again on SP Dam Road, backtrack up Wildcat to home. ~37 mi, 3300 vert feet.

It is different riding by myself, as I tend to ride in a different way than when I am being social with Sherie on her bike. I tend to ride a bit faster, without stopping, just to a pace that keeps my heart feeling a bit challenged. Especially yesterday as the rains came, very lightly at first, when I was about as far from home as the loop required when it started. That is, between Papa Bear and Momma Bear, the drops got thick enough to get the pavement wet. By the time I turned left on Alhambra Valley Road, my glasses were very spotted and my legs were getting pretty wet.

Anyway, once again I was upset by the roadside trash on Alhambra Valley Road. I keep wondering when and if they will ever bust the jerks who continue to dump trash on this road. So I feel I should publicize what I do know.

Last spring on a solo ride going East on Alhambra Valley Road, (can’t remember date/day) I saw a red full-size pickup with an old couch in the back. I think there may also have been a couple full garbage bags. Anyway, the pickup passed me, and disappeared around a corner. As I rounded this corner a minute later, I saw it with brake lights on turning into a pullout on the South side of the road. It then accelerated away down the road (presumably when the driver saw me in the mirror). So I started wondering, is this vehicle/driver the Alhambra Valley Roadside Dumper?

Of course, it was too far away to see a license plate number. But I kept thinking of this as I rode. And sure enough, about another mile up the road, I saw what looked like the same couch in a turnout beside the road, along with some other trash.

I continue to wonder if the red pickup is the party that continues to dump trash here. The trash is eventually picked up and hauled away, I would guess by the county. But more trash continues to reappear in its place. And so the cycle continues.

Who else may have seen anything out here that could be a clue? Has anyone ever reported anything to the authorities?


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