Sunday, May 23, 2010

Getting back to basics brings out new comers.

This weekend's ride was intended to give a welcome break to Peloton ride leaders who completed a few major goal rides over the past couple of weeks, and to inspire new comers and re-entry riders to come out and give Cycle Folsom a try. The destination was William B. Pond Park, approximately 30 miles round trip. The ride description indicated that the pace would be a bit more tame than usual, which proved successful as we had 4 new comers, 3 re-entry riders, and 3 regulars.

There was a slight chill in the air at 8am when we started, but the wind was fairly calm and the sun was seemed ready to warm us up fairly quickly.

Our pace varied from time to time, but stayed in the range of 17 mph. It was enjoyable to hear---and take part in---discussions throughout the pack.

Ross Del Ducra took the lead of the pack for several miles as other leaders moved up and down the line in the group. As we road within striking distance of the bridge before W.B. Pond Park, Stan called for a sprint across the bridge. In typical fashion, he did this only after he gained plenty of speed and caught everyone totally off guard.

After a brief break, we headed back. Our pace was about the same. At Sunrise Park, we crossed the river and did a quick up-and-down on the small hill on River Dr. The goal being to show new riders a way to incorporate "repeats" on small hills on an otherwise flat trail, and begin to build some strength to take on larger hills.

As we headed back toward the ride start, every one was made aware that the stronger riders would likely up the pace as they got closer to the finish. The prediction held true, after passing a lot of runners and walkers that were part of a fun-run event, four of us pushed pretty hard all the way to the end.

As we all re-grouped in the end, it seemed that the goal of the ride was met. The newer riders didn't seem shell-shocked, the re-entry riders had a bit more confidence in their smiles, and the regulars enjoyed a great ride with a little less pounding than normal.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Weekend Ride: TOC Stage 1 Finish

[Posted by Stan Schultz] Phil, Jeff, Kevin, Joel, and Stan met up at Karen's for a ride down to Sacramento to see the Stage 1 finish of the Tour of California. Don and Kim of Team Juice Plus also joined us. The pace was comfortable out to Nimbus Dam, where we picked up Cesar and Jeff.

As Kevin moved out front, the pace gradually picked up. Then, it seemed, as each rider had something to show as they moved out front to pull. Kim kicked the pace up to 23 mph and pulled several miles before handing it off to husband Don, who wasn't about to let up. I was behind Don, and next up to pull. As we moved within a few miles of W.B. Pond Park, relief set in. I knew we would make our normal stop there. I wouldn't have to pull nearly as long or hard as the animals before me.

Mind you, Phil and Jeff had ridden the Davis Double Century the day before, and Joel had ridden a Century with 11,000 feet of climbing, so they were justifiably grumbling in the back of the back. The pace slowed down a touch the rest of the way, but not by much.

We arrived downtown to a festive atmosphere and plenty of vendor stands to peruse before the finish of the race. A few in the group split up and met up with other friends. We bumped in to Team Van-Hu-Ha (Ron and Lisa), who had ridden the Davis Double the day before and opted to drive to the race and bring a couple of family members along.

Four of us staked out a good place to see the finish. We found a spot that allowed us to see a Jumbotron for updates. We reveled in the knowledge that we often ride the same roads that the pros were racing on today. It was interesting to have a sense of the grades and challenges the riders faced as we watched them on screen. We stood about 20 feet from a 90° turn on the course and were awed by the tightness of the pack as they sped around it.

We were about 50 yards past the finish line, which was fantastic because we could watch the finish on the Jumbotron across the street, followed by Mark Cavendish coming to a stop about 15 feet away from us, greeted with hugs by team reps and teammates. Other high profile and well-known pros also cruised by after the finish at a comfortable pace, including George Hincape, who the crowd went wild for.

After it was all over, we picked up our bikes from the free bike parking area, hosted by the Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates (Note: If you're not a supporter of SABA, you should be). We agreed that we would tame the pace for the ride home, which meant around 19mph. We all made it home with a healthy appetite, just in time for dinner. For me, that meant a couple of rolls and a beer at Sushi Unlimited. Great ride. Great day. Looking forward to seeing the rest of the race unfold.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Are You Tougher Than A 6th Grader?

Well, that's a tough question to answer when the 6th grader you're up against is Connor Ellison. On May 8th a small but merry band of Cycle Folsom contingents joined other area cyclists in a fundraiser for a local young man with a passion for bicycles. I hate to say it but being chased by a 12-year old over the likes of Beatty Hill and Cothrin Ranch Road is a humbling experience.

What is impressive about Connor is that he has a congenital liver disease severe enough to warrant an eventual transplant, but it doesn't stop him from setting (huge) goals. Although he faces very real odds of life-threatening illness, even at this young age he has realized he can do something to fight back. He joined Team Donate Life and aspires to complete the Ride Across America in June. Read all about his campaign here:

Although we all ride these country backroads on a regular basis for free, it was heartwarming to witness the cycling community come together in support of this young lad. Several Cycle Folsom regulars turned out for the event and helped to sponsor Connor's epic adventure. All in all there were nearly 200 riders and it was estimated he's raised over $6000 so far. I've been mighty unmotivated to saddle up at times, but when the likes of Connor, his cause, and his determination cross my path, it's time to rethink how lucky I am to even have a bike or the health to move it forward. Thank you Connor for your inspiration. All of us from Cycle Folsom will be with you in spirit next month!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Yet More Tour de Cure

Finally got around to adding my post, better late than never I guess

The weather for this ride was almost perfect, especially when you consider that last year I’m told everyone had to ride in steady rain and wind!

I had a couple of goals for this ride, one was to improve on last weeks Wildflower Century time of 6 hrs, 43 minutes and to break the 6 hour mark. I was also trying out Perpetuem from Hammer Nutrition to see how that worked for me during this long ride. With Jeff and Joel pulling for most of the start of this ride I figured this is going to be a cinch! Ya right, there are always those damn hills, and I hate climbing!

Jeff from the CycleFolsom Performance group was leading & pulling most of the way with Joel right on this tail. We also had a several other very strong riders who rode with us in the pack who rode with us on the Folsom Lake loop ride.

After the 50 mile rest stop at the fire station, I decided I’d try to maintain the pace these stronger riders had established and get them to pull me up the dreaded climbs to come. And for a while that plan worked. At one point they dropped me for a short period then I was able to catch back up and actually take my turn at pulling at the front, all be it for a short time before the entire group passed me like I was Grandma on a beach cruiser!

Slowly but surely, I lost sight of the tail end of the group not long after turning onto Bancroft Road at the Halsey Forebay reservoir turn. Then I managed to get myself lost and ended back up at the Halsey Forebay reservoir turn. Great, extra climbing! Just as I pulled out the map Stan, Lisa and Ron were coming down Christian Valley Road to make the turn onto Bancroft Road at the reservoir. After some good natured ribbing and directions from a couple of the SAG volunteers, I was off again back down Christian Valley Road.

After making up some lost time down the climb I had just come up, I was back on course and rolling down Bowman Road along Hwy 80 where I should have been all along. Soon after making the turn onto Auburn Ravine Road who should I see but Stan, Lisa and Ron again! This worked out great because I was able to ride along with them conserving my energy while I sucked off their wheels. The four of us along with one guy on a “fixie” (fixed gear bike) and several other rides formed a new pace line and were soon back up to a 20+ MPH pace on our way back to Roseville.

It’s just about at this point that I noticed my elapsed ride time of about 5hrs, 40 mins and start thinking “ok, if I’m gonna break the 6 hour mark I gotta get up front with Stan and another rider who seem to be hammering it back. So I jumped in front of the pack and started hammering it myself to catch up with them in hopes of getting them to pull me back in before hitting 6 hours. It worked, I caught up with them and then took several turns pulling myself before I had to confess to them, “I’m done, that’s all I’ve got” and dropped back behind the two of them for the reminder of the ride to the start at HP Drive.

Did I break the magic 6 hour mark, well almost! Total ride time was 6 hours 1 minute and 23 seconds. Not too bad considering I had gotten lost and added in what seemed like an extra 5 miles of climbing.

All and all this was a great ride with great riding partners for a great cause. As Stan mentioned when he and I got together late last year to plot out what rides we wanted to do this year, this one was one of those “got to do rides” and after Saturday, its got to be on the list for next year as well!

Monday, May 3, 2010

More Tour de Cure

[contributed by Lisa Haas]
Yep, it was a beautifully calm bright spring day-- perfect to put my good health to work for the benefit of those in need. Usually on our regular Saturday jaunts I meet up with a group of cyclists with set jaws and pockets full of bananas. But this was a special morning in that the gang gathered under a big inflatable red Tour de Cure arch representing at least 4 separate charity teams yet riding together as the Cycle Folsom cohorts we've become.
We rolled out of the starting line and chatted it up the first 26 miles, proving that indeed there is such thing as a "conversational pace" after all. Once we settled back into pace after the first rest stop a tug of competition hit the front end of the group while I hunkered down for the climbs. Not bad strategy given we arrived at the 50 mile stop in time for a send off to Joel, Jeff, Kevin, and Kirk for the next leg of the journey. At that rest stop I'm sure somebody secretly changed out my tires for velour-- the climb out was a beastie grind and a reminder of how much riding I haven't been doing lately. But experience has taught me every long-suffering climb has a rewarding descent, fabulous scenery, and the thrill of accomplishment. As we rolled on through rest stop 3 we collected a hardy pack of gentlemen to form a brisk paceline back to Roseville. The afterburners kicked in for the strong front end as the town came into view: 22 mph and increasing. At mile 93 I let the boys race home without me, clocking myself in at 6:09. It's worth mentioning that even though we were dropped by the elite Performance riders, a scant 3 participants got past the tenacious Peloton crew over most of the course and we finished in front of the lion's share of 100 mile starters. I owe the credit of my progress to Da Boyz.
Geez... I had no idea there was a goal to finish in under 6 hours, but what else would I expect from my Cycle Folsom brethren but to set the bar just beyond my fingertips?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Tour de Cure Makes for a Good Early-Season Challenge

Each ride leader who rode in the Tour de Cure will be contributing commentary for this week's blog:

[Contributed by Stan Schultz]
Back in January, Kevin and I decided it would be useful to plot out goal rides for the 2010 season. These goals would help keep our training focused, and us motivated. We agreed that this would also help us as Cycle Folsom ride leaders, too. After doing my first century last summer, I set a goal to do 5 centuries this year. The Tour de Cure represents the first of the year for me. Kevin also did the Chico Wildflower last week, so he's one up on me already! 

The ride started with a group of 7 CF riders and 3 or 4 others starting together. After a nice several mile warm up, the pace started to pick up. Everyone held together in a well-structured pace line. After the first water stop we were to face our first set of hills. One group pretty quickly turned into two, and after a moderate attempt to keep up with the lead group, I realized that I would be better off settling in to a slower pace and enjoying the ride. I'm glad I did, the weather was perfect yesterday and the scenery was spectacular.

Oak trees were everywhere, covered with bright, tender spring foliage. The field grass was tall and lush, punctuated with dainty, colorful wild flowers. A few small lakes on the course were full, feeding the many creeks that ran alongside the route. The hills were somewhat stair-stepped, which I appreciated. The views from atop the hill climbs made the effort worth while.

My goal was to finish in under 6 hours. In the end, I rolled in at 6 hours 1 minute. Call me a cheater, but I think I'll chalk it up as a success.

[Contributed by Joel Brandt]
First of all...a HUGE thank you to all who contributed in helping raise money for the fight against diabetes. Regardless of the outcome, each rider should be proud of raising the $150 minimum needed to enter this years event. With that said, a special thank you is in order to Jeff T for putting us all on his back and carrying us through the first 50 miles...and then some...

The event couldn't have had better conditions with sunshine and a high in the low 80's. Last year's event produced thundershowers and winds gusting up to 15-20 mph making this year's event seem like a pun intended! 7 CF riders along with a couple of riders who joined us on the Folsom Lake tour a couple of week's ago, embarked on a 100 mile journey.

With the pace being set around 15mph to start out, I could tell Jeff was itching to up the ante and get things rolling. Once we were out of the city limits of Roseville, the heat was turned up on the weather and the pace (could have just been my HR making the weather hotter, who knows?) We took turns leading a pace line of around 12 riders that helped keep an average around 19 to the first rest stop. After a few adult beverages of water and Perpetuem, we headed for the hills. This is where the fun began! Our group seemed to pick off the early starters one by one and by the time we reached the 2nd rest stop at the 50 mile mark, we discovered that Jeff was the 2nd person to arrive! The main group of us "dropped" riders arrived around 3 minutes behind him, so we did ourselves proud over the first half of the century. 

After filling up on more adult beverages of G2, H20 and Perpetuem, we headed for the hills of Crater Hill and Bald Hill Rd. This is where the pack dispersed in a hurry. 8-15% grades have a tendency to do that, however each individual persevered through tough climbs, missing road markers and beautiful scenery and made it back to the 3rd rest stop around mile mark 70. From here it was mostly a well deserved descent back into Lincoln and the Roseville finish. With each of us having our own personal goals, it was great to see that our hard training over the last few months have paid off.

Jeff finished in 5:28 (believed to be the 1st 100 mile finisher), Kevin and Stan finished at 6 hours and I accomplished my goal of getting below 6 hours by hitting a riding time of 5:49. Without the support and advice that the CF gang provides I know I never would have come close to hitting this time. Last year took me over 7 hours to complete! It was truly a joy riding with Jeff, Stan, Kevin, Lisa, Ron and Kirk...I look forward to future rides and new journeys!