Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Postman....

Wow, I saw just about every weather phenomenon today. I started off in the snow at home , rode through high winds, rain, sleet, hail and even a brief moment of sun. Perhaps a career in the Postal Service is in my future.

It's been a really wet week, no outside riding and work in the shop has been wet and cold for the better part of the week. It was a bit of an off week after this ride last weekend:

I had my field test on Friday and killed it, almost a whole mile an hour faster than my last test and 3 beats per minute higher. I averaged 180 bpm over the 20 minutes, that hurts a bunch for an endurance athlete who's used to trying to keep my heart rate at the lowest possible rate for the longest period possible. I woke up Fri morn and was up a bit before I checked my heart rate, 41 bpm after I've been up for 20 minutes is a good sign I'm not overtrained yet.

Today was a bit rough though. I hate riding in the cold and rain and today brought both. I was dressed in all my gear, waterproof pants, jacket, gloves and socks as well as shoe covers and a beanie as I headed out the door. It was pretty apparent that I had not recovered from Fridays effort pretty quick. Heavy legs and not much motivation to ride for 6 hours in the rain were the theme of the day. Luckily the recent rains had all the little creeks flowing and there was water in places I hadn't seen this winter which has been pretty dry by historic standards.

Water coming over the spillway at Camp Far West

I made my way out to Camp Far West and the Spenceville Game Refuge for some dirt road riding, we've had over 12 inches of rain at the house this week so trail riding was most certainly out, at least for me, there were idiots parked at the trailheads.....

 It was quite pretty in the refuge, I forget how nice and quiet it is here and how much wildlife is out and about. I saw many hawks, a coyote, lots of geese, ducks and egrets as well as cows and horses as you get closer to civilization.

Quite the menagerie.....

I made my way up to the pavement on McCourtney Rd and headed up towards Grass Valley and Lime Kiln Rd. I got a little misplaced and missed my turn, the end result was a 10 mile stretch of busy Hwy 49. Everybody was cool, but it was pissing down rain as cars were wizzing by at 55 mph which is a bit unnerving!
At Lake of the Pines I headed out Magnolia Rd and down to the Bear River on Dog Bar Rd, no pictures of the raging Bear River as it was raining pretty good, which was better than the hail and snow I encountered as I crested the hill and headed into Meadow Vista. 

By the time I hit Meadow Vista the "fun" had finally worn off. I made a bee line for the truck in Auburn and called it a day. Final tally was 84 miles and 7500' of climbing in a little under 6 hours on full knobbies on the mountain bike. The 14.1 MPH average was pretty pathetic....

 Man I was really soaked as I peeled off my clothes at the truck, a raw ass and feet were the end result of being wet and sweaty for the better part of 6 hours:(

Made it home just in time!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

End of an era?

Well the 20th Annual Cool Mountain Bike Race is officially over. Mary and I have been a part of this race for 18 years of it's existence. We raced the 3rd, 4th and 5th years on our tandem and have done most of the structural work of putting the race on for the last 15. Working together with Lisa at Auburn Bike Works has been a great experience.

 Mary has had the tireless job of organizing the volunteer base and handling anything related to personnel and race day jobs or co-ordination. This is really a tough and time consuming job and I am thankful she has done such an incredible job, she has just the right balance of personality and organizational skills to make it happen flawlessly.

My job by comparison has been pretty easy. I secure the permits, meet with State Parks, get the infrastructure stuff going, do the course layout and the staging area set up. Nuts and bolts stuff, just what I'm really good at.

These are the behind the scenes stuff that nobody knows about unless you do something like this. We enjoy doing it in almost an anonymous capacity, we've never done it for the attention, it has always been a labor of love. I would hope that those of us who worked behind the scenes for so many years, some in not very easy conditions, will also take pride in their accomplishments.

 I'm always amazed at how much people give to this event, we have had a fairly consistent group of volunteers for the past 15 years, some have been to every one, many have been to at least 5, for that we are eternally grateful, our jobs would have been so much more difficult without these wonderful people. I always give a silent chuckle to people who think they know what goes on behind the scenes in the making of this race. "Wow that went really smooth!" they say only because they have no idea how much stuff went wrong that they will never know about. I just smile and say, "Yeah, it just runs itself...."

This year has been a bit of rough go to say the least. We started this endeavor to make sure the original intent of the race, as a fundraiser for the construction and continued advocacy of multi use trails within the Auburn State Recreation Area, continued. The race has raised tens of  thousands of dollars towards that goal and we feel much pride in that. Without monies from the race it would have been very difficult to build the Foresthill Divide Trail and the Connector Trail, wonderful additions to our park and a real benefit to the local MTB community.

The function and personalities of the race have changed and the benefits of the race really don't match what we feel are areas worth the considerable time and money that we voluntarily contribute. I think both Mary and I wanted to make it to 20 years, well we made it and it's likely time for someone else to take the reins. I think we may have said this the past few years on Monday morning, especially if it was a wet year, but this may actually stick this time.

It was great to see all the racers and it ended up being a pretty nice day, I was completely soaked from setting up the course in the early morning rain, but by the end of the day the sun managed to poke out a bit and I think I even saw my shadow, a rarity for the Cool Mountain Bike Race.

Perhaps that's the way I'll always remember it....

Friday, March 2, 2012

Why the rest of the world hates California........

Got out today for a 5 hour ride after working a bit this morning. Computer troubles put me a bit behind my desired starting time which wasn't all that bad, it allowed the temperature to get a little above freezing by noon, whoohooo! I bundled myself up for the ride to town, we've had snow and a decent amount of rain this past week so I knew I'd be off to ride the canyon dirt roads instead of trails today.

 I settled into a reasonable pace on my way to town, I was supposed to keep the heart rate at a mid tempo rate on the climbs  which was not a problem since I'm a bit tired. I made my way to town and headed down Yankee Jims Road, the original 49er route from Colfax to Foresthill. At Shirttail Canyon I made the right to head up towards Iowa Hill, I knew there would be snow towards the top but figured I could make it most of the way. At about the 5 mile mark I hit snow, muddy and slushy was the theme for the next mile or so. As I approached the top of the dirt road I came upon a mini-van sideways into the ditch, not good....

I made my around the van as it was mostly blocking the road. As I came around to see if anyone was inside, the sliding door opened up and two very relieved ladies stuck their heads out. Turns out they had been there since yesterday morning and were not relishing the thought of spending another night in the cold. As they opened up the door I could see another gentleman in the front passenger seat, turns out he is an 80 year old blind paraplegic.

O.K. now it's a bit more serious.

I check to make sure they have water and the car will run and has gas, all is good on these fronts. They want me to get them a tow truck, but I'm not real comfortable with leaving and hoping some tow truck driver saves their ass. I tell them I'm going to ride back down and up to Colfax and give the Sheriff a call and let them figure out the safest way to deal with the situation.  We say our goodbyes and I assure them they will not be spending another night out there and head off down the slippery slope.

As I get out of the snow I see an approaching SUV. I flag them down and explain the situation.

Me: There's three older folks up there stuck in the snow and someone needs to call the cops to help them out.
Him: What, there's cops up there?
Me: No there's some folks up there blocking the road and they've been there 30 hours and they are blocking the road.
Him: Well Fuck, I'm not going up there, they are not going to ruin my fucking day!
Me:Stunned......I don't need you to go up there, I just don't want you to not be able to turn around, could you go to Foresthill and call the Sheriff?
Him: I'm not calling the fucking Sheriff, fuck I can't believe this!
Me: More stunned..... Look asshole, karma's gonna be a bitch if you ever need help.....
Him: Wait, what,  listen you fucking.......
Me: Look I'm gonna go get help, I'm out of here.

So there you have it, perfect Californian, can't go out of his way to help three 80 year old people who have spent 30 hours in the cold in the middle of nowhere. I really was stunned and couldn't really believe I was experiencing this, it felt surreal almost.

So I busted my ass down Shirttail knowing this asshole was trying to get turned around and had time to get more pissed about his lot in life and likely run my ass over just for the hell of it. I knew I was safe going down, I've gapped dual sports on this road, but I had a 1200' climb on the way up to Colfax. I'll tell you what, I was surely out of my heart rate zone trying to get to the pavement before this asshat decided it would be fun to pinch me off in the ditch, or something even worse. I generally feel really safe on my mountain bike, but I had a really bad feeling about this, even if he didn't care about me, he seemed the type to be hauling ass around blind corners without any regard as to what was on the other side.

I finally made it up to cell phone service and got a hold of the Sheriff, let them know the situation and they were on it . A call awaited me when I got home, apparently someone must have come along and pulled them out as the Sheriff was unable to locate them. I had taken a picture of their license plate so I passed that along to the Sheriff so he could check to make sure they were O.K.

I finished up my ride out onto Ponderosa Road and down Drivers Flat to McKeon Ponderosa, saw the river 4 times today which is always a tough day. 52 miles with 7,700' of climbing in 4:26 is a good day!

This is my second bad experience in the past year. Last fall I blew a bearing out on the front hub of my road bike about 15 miles out Mosquito Ridge Road. Mary was with me so she took off towards home to get the car and come back and pick me up as I walked back towards Foresthill. I walked for 8 miles and was passed by over 2 dozen cars, only one stopped....... a couple of really nice old hillbillies in their Ford Explorer loaded to to roof with firewood, man the bumper was just about dragging. I was passed by Suburbans, $50,000 dollar Ford diesel trucks and all sorts of other nice cars, not one stopped or slowed down. I think the worst part were the  two roadies who came screaming down and didn't say a word or stop either.

Now I wasn't waving people down or jumping in front of cars to get their attention, had Mary not been coming for me perhaps I might of, but I cant count the number of times I've turned the car around to make sure someone was O.K.

Karma isn't working for me on this particular item......

So there you have it in a nutshell. I think this is a perception that many outside California have of us. Too many news stories of people walking by looking the other way while someone is robbed, beaten or worse...I guess they may not be that far off:(