Sunday, April 18, 2010

Old Frenchtown Road Makes the Effort Worthwhile

Seven Peloton Group riders started out on what was a new route for most  us. It was slightly chilly at the start, but warmed up nicely. Lisa Haas designed this route based on past experience, and some additional guidance from Steve Ward to help avoid some traffic and increase safety. We soon found out that Steve's recommendations typically involve a hill or two.

We rode out to Latrobe Road and then onto Cothrin Ranch Rd. I'll blame it on the beautiful scenery, but we all missed a turn that would have kept us on Conthrin Ranch Rd. The result was a pretty tough climb to the ridge. I've since heard reports that the grades throughout that area were 14-15% and up to 18%. We re-grouped at the top and got our bearings with a trusty Google Maps app. Soon we were back on track, heading toward French Creek Road.

It seemed that everything was awash in the emerald green that only Spring can bring. Trees overarched the road; their shade kept slight chill on our skin. A small farm-raised dog threatened to tear us all limb-from-limb as it scampered back and forth behind the wire fence, barking ferociously as we passed.

As we finished up Old French Town Road, Lisa, Ron, Ryan, and Brian took a bypass to Green Valley Rd., while Joel, Kevin and Stan continued up Motherload Rd. to Missouri Flat. Both groups agreed to meet up again at the Rescue Fire Station, but the latter group had a few more miles to cover and a couple of hills. After a quick stop for water at Safeway, Kevin, Joel and Stan were on a mission to get to the Rescue Fire Dept. Thinking that the others might move on without them, they arrived at the fire station to see Lisa and Ron returning from pizza joint across the street, holding a big ol' ham sandwich with all the fixings---and freshly fried potato chips!

After the "nutrition" break, we made our way back on Deer Valley Road and back out to Green Valley. From that point, we usually would take Green Valley all the way home, but Lisa plotted the route to return via Malcom Dixon Road. It was a pleasant surprise. We've gone out on Malcom Dixon the other way several times, but never experienced the road in the other direction. I think I liked it better. This hills go mostly down in that direction, not up.

In the end, we covered just over 58 miles with just under 4500 feet of climbing, all in about 3 hours and 51 minutes. The ride definitely worked up our appetites---perhaps prompted by the ham sandwich at Rescue. A separate Facebook post by Kevin revealed that he stopped for an In-and-Out Double Cheeseburger and a Shake on the way home. Well-deserved.

Thanks to again to Ron for the photos. Visit Ron and Lisa's "Team Van-HuHa" blog for more photos and additional commentary on the ride.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Folsom Lake Loop: First goal ride of the season for the Peloton Group

And what a ride it was! Several riders from the Performance Group joined us for this one and we had about 26 riders in total yesterday which made for quite an impressive site heading out from Folsom. I kept looking for the support cars and the camera helicopter flying overhead with Versus’ Phil Legit and Paul Sherwen voices in the background announcing the ride!

Leaving Karen’s we headed out on Auburn Folsom Rd to E Natoma St then left onto Salmon Falls Rd. Now Salmon Falls starts out as a nice winding route with gradual rollers but don’t be fooled as soon you find yourself cranking up several gradual climbs as a warm up to what’s to come! The group started out together for the most part but once the steeper climbs start in it doesn’t take long for those stronger riders to slowly break away and form a group of their own.

Our first stop for a short break was at the top of a climb across from Zee Estates.
After a short water and refueling stop, we regrouped and were off to Pilot Hill the “official” water and regroup stop.

Several of the faster riders headed out first and after some reminders about how narrow and fast the road will get, we head out and soon you find out just how fast the ride down Salmon Falls really is.

Riding down Salmon Falls Road with its steep curves and no shoulder to speak of, means your riding 2 to 3 abreast in between cars. For me, I love these fast grand prix style turns hugging the corners right behind a car. In fact on a bike you can actually handle the turns faster than the cars can and find yourself having to slow down just to avoid hitting the car a few feet in front of you!

When you get down to the confluence at the bottom and look up to the right at the Auburn-Foresthill Bridge soaring 730 feet above the river, you get a sense of just how far and fast down the hill you’ve come.

Turning right at the El Dorado St/Old Foresthill Rd tee put us on yet another long steady 12% - 14% grade climb up to the approach of what is the 3rd highest bridge in the U.S. and the tallest in California!
From there we rode thru Auburn, got a bit off track at High Street but soon found our way to Auburn Folsom Road and back down into Folsom. Oz, thanks for doing another great job of keeping us "slower" riders on track and riding at a pace that keeps pushing us!

Once passing Indian Hill Road, the group of 10 or so broke up into two and for most of the return ride back to Folsom we attempted to take "short pulls" up front and keep riders rotating out. It gets a bit dicey though on Auburn/ Folsom with its busy traffic and narrow to no shoulder at all to keep a steady pace line going will frequently rotating riders up front.

This ride lived up to being our first goal ride for the Peloton group of the year. I can really fell the group improving not only on the climbs but on the rollers and pushing the pace on the flats. Thanks everyone for a great ride!

I had this one at about 3 hours 21 minuets ride time with about 4500 feet of climbing for a distance of just over 54 miles.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Iron Serpent Modified: This one still has a Bite!

Oz and Brian from the Performance group lead a smaller group of us than usual as a lot of the CycleFolsom group was riding in the Party Pardee ride down in Ione. Today’s route was a modified Iron Serpent route that included less climbing than the original but still packed a potent bite of its own!

We started out from Karen’s as usual and had just worked up to a good warm up pace across the Folsom Lake Crossing when Stan calls out “I’ve got a flat”. Once we all got stopped to help out he mentions that he put new tires on a couple of weeks back and has dealing with chronic flats ever since caused by what he described as a metal thread from the tire rubbing against the tube that he couldn’t get rid of. So he decided to turn back and have the shop take a look at it. Turns out he did have sharp piece of gravel or glass that caused the flat and didn't realize it 'til he got home. A visit to Bicycle Planet fixed him up and he was able to restart his ride from there up Mt. Costco, to Beatty to Serrano, out to Bass Lake Road. Looking back on it I’m surprised we didn’t end up crossing paths as that’s just about the same route we took and we could have met up on Sophia Parkway or Bass Lake Road. Still, it sounds like he got a decent climbing ride in.

Meanwhile we continued over to East Natoma and Sophia Parkway and up to the top of Beatty Road. Just as we crest the top, John, who usually rides with the Performance Group and wears the Folsom High kit, met up with us and rode with us until we came down Appian Way on our way back to Folsom.

From here we continued up the rest of Beatty Road down to El Dorado Hills Blvd up Serrano Parkway all the way to the top where it meets Bass Lake Road. Now, here’s where it gets interesting because little did Joel and I know we were heading for the south side of Hwy 50 and what turned out to be a 20%+ grade climb up Boulder Ridge Road. We rode right past that buffalo ranch that you can see on the right driving east up Hwy 50 just before Bass Lake Road. We continue under Hwy 50 and up a short climb on Marble Mountain Road. As we get close to the start of the big climb, Oz tells all of us “make sure your in the lowest gear you’ve got before turning the corner up here because once you start up the climb you won’t have time to shift” – great, sounds like this is gonna be fun, not!

And he was right, that left turn onto Boulder Ridge does come fast and immediately you’re starting the climb up. As I start digging in, Oz calls out the percent grade, “12, 14, 16…” that’s when I interrupted him by saying “Ok Oz I’ve heard enough” as I look up the climb looks like your going straight up. No kidding folks, I felt my front tire coming off the road a couple of times as I found myself pulling up on the handle bars just trying not to fall off the peddles! As you get to the top of the ridge it takes a left turn and guess what, yep another climb! Thankfully, it’s a short climb and we regroup at the top before heading back down to Bass Lake Road.

Once we got the north side of Hwy 50 on Bass Lake Road, we take a left and ride down Hollow Oak Drive to a much needed water stop and short break. From here we head back up Hallow Oak to Bass Lake and over to Serrano Parkway. From here Oz takes the group thru the entrance to the Serrano Country Club and we ride thru the Serrano gated community with its big homes and great views of Folsom Lake and the surrounding areas. Exiting the gated community we met up Appian Way which some of us had ridden up to the “water tower” during a mid-week ride on Thursday which turned out to be a bit of precursor to this climb fest!

From here we continue down Silva Valley Pkwy across Green Valley down Lakehills Drive to Guadalupe Drive and more climbing, great! At this point I’m just about climbed out but surprising fell pretty good about the fact that we’ve ridden what I consider to be a challenging route for the Peloton group. Continuing on Guadalupe connects to the “back side” of Francisco Drive and El Dorado Hills. Its here we take a slight detour and make a pit stop at Oz’s house for a much needed “bio break”! Thanks Oz

The rest of the ride was pretty standard stuff, down to Green Valley over to Folsom Lake Crossing and back on the American River Bike Trail. Thought I heard some mumbling that Joel wanted to head up to Beales Point before heading back but gotta say at this point I was glad we skipped that last climb and headed straight back to Karens.

Sorry about no pictures for this ride, it was all I could do to hang on without having to fumble with my cell phone camera. Here’s where we missed our “unofficial/official” group photographer Ron!

This was a great climbing work out and after the Thursday afternoon ride on much of the same roads didn’t seem too bad. Overall about 4,350 feet of climbing over 46+ miles for a total of just about 3 hours of riding. Not too bad boyz, not too bad at all!

See ya next week