May 27, 2019

Twistin' 'n Turnin'

Without a route sheet, it was important to stick with the leader, and so I chose the slower of two groups today.

So many turns (!) as we wound our way through the residential streets of Almaden.

At the far end, we passed the remaining cabins of New Almaden, built along the creek when the nearby hills were mined for cinnabar (mercury ore). As many times as I've passed “Casa Grande,” I didn't realize it houses a museum devoted to the local mining history (until today).

We rode as far as the Almaden Reservoir, and saw a few fishermen casting their lines despite the signs posted to warn that the fish are contaminated. (Mercury, hello.)

Wait a sec ... reservoir? Drinking water? Mercury-contaminated fish?

Out there, I could have made a right turn and taken a (difficult) shortcut home. But that wasn't the point, today; socializing and spinning on a sunny day, that was the point.

I kept it flat: 38 miles, 875 feet of climbing.

May 9, 2019

Engineering Cyclists

Today marked the 25th anniversary of Bike to Work Day in the Bay Area; for me, number thirteen.

Every year packs a few surprises. This year my new co-leader brought Penny (in her pink goggles).

We had the best lighting, ever, for our traditional group shot. This would be the first time I led an all-male group on Bike to Work Day.

There were about two dozen of us, including one guy on an “electric unicycle.”

When we swarmed the Cupertino Energizer Station, they told us we were early this year. [We're famous. Or infamous?]

Later, as we passed a construction site, a hard-hatted worker in a bright orange vest smiled and high-fived every one of us.

This would be our first year without my usual co-conspirator. We missed his smiles (and his mobile donut rig), and he missed riding with us. To commemorate the occasion nonetheless, he designed and 3D-printed bespoke tire levers as gifts for the group. [Engineers! I love 'em.]

Our organization's all-hands meeting was in progress when I rolled in. [Who scheduled that on Bike to Work Day?!] Luckily, I was not too late to score a jelly donut.

Nor was I too late to find a place for my bike on a rack in our building. (Whew!)

Two guys joined me for the return trip at the end of the day; somehow it always seems shorter when I have some company.

In all, 37 miles, 800 feet of climbing, and no rider left behind. [I do need to live up to that inscription on my (personalized) tire levers!]

May 4, 2019

Wine Country Century

Racers have an expression for this: It's known as getting “chicked.”
You made me pass you,
I didn't want to do it,
I didn't have to do it.
What's worse than being passed by a chick? [If you're a guy.]

Being passed by a chick with gray hair and a flower tucked into the back of her saddlebag.

Maybe I was a little naughty. Or playful. [But they started it.]

I get irritated when a bunch of guys pass me and then ... slow down. I mean, I'm slow enough, don't block the road and make me ride slower. Especially when I have some momentum.

I pulled around, called out “On your left!” and started passing. That was enough of a blow to one vulnerable ego that he stood and applied some serious power to the pedals. [Whomp. Whomp. Whomp.]

I have seen this movie before, but this time it played out differently.

I had momentum. He didn't. I held my lead.

When a friend suggested we sign up for the Wine Country Century, I agreed. In 2007, it was my first century. [It's an easy one.]

As the date approached, she reached out again. Would I mind dropping down to the metric (100km) route, instead? She had misunderstood the other women who'd enticed her to sign up. [Sure, no problem.]

The first time I did this ride (in 2004), I rode the metric. New to cycling, I was the stoker on a recumbent tandem, which was handy for picture-taking.

What do you see on this ride?

Grapevines, mostly.

And colorful rest stops, with treats for every palate.

Lots of cyclists. Too many, maybe.

Also, some old friends (who relocated up here). I was focused on the snacks, not the volunteers, until I heard my name!

The first time I visited this area, I was astonished to ride past acres, and acres, of grapevines. Translate those into actual grapes ... All for wine? Some grape juice, maybe? No raisins, or table grapes, or jam?

The Santa Rosa Cycling Club does a great job with this popular event, no question. The riders? Not so great. Too many close calls involving groups of cyclists oblivious to their surroundings, riding three or four abreast, chatting with their friends.

It's a gentle route—only 1,770 feet of climbing over 61 miles. Flat. Some rolling hills, sure. Basically, flat.