Friday, April 27, 2012


This town is full of people on bikes. I got mine today, Cube AMS 29er with nice components. Carpentari bike shop in Torbole was super, helpful and fast!

Sitting at a cafe at lake marina, people sipping cappuccinos and skinny mountain bikers flying by. It's noon and a party next to us open a bottle of champagne. People actually look at each other.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Rental car: Renault scenic. Can't figure out how to turn Navigation on. Electronic dashboard does not show km traveled, only liters gasoline used (4280). Gas gauge signals empty so we stop at Shell to find out it was full. Attendant does not understand "restroom" but eventually gives us change for toilet fee. Espresso from a vending machine tastes better than Starbucks. Great dinner in a fancy Chinese restaurant where we were the only guests. Onto Brenner Pass to Austria and Italy today.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Long Distance Weekend

Both Marketa and I were quite busy with preparations for the April 21-22 weekend: her mostly dealing mentally with tapering before the San Louis Obispo Marathon, which meant no running for three days and worrying about various body parts that gave her trouble on past long runs. It also included a hope that her new Hoka One-One shoes, tested on one 24 mile run, will be a smart choice for 26.2 miles of pavement.

My anxiety stemmed from the fact that I had just one chance to test my road bike touring setup, which I intend to use in second half of May on a multi-day tour through California and perhaps even a bit of Oregon. I chose a Topeak aluminum rack and two yellow waterproof Ortlieb panniers. The mounting system on Ortliebs is very clever and worked as advertised. For tires, I used 32c Vittoria Randonneur, mainly for their triple puncture protection, but they barely fit through the brake calipers. And as the picture below shows (taken with a flash), they have reflective walls!

So off we were on Saturday, driving south on 101 in a 95F heat. The weather was supposed to cool down somewhat on Sunday, but this was the first heat wave of the year and we both worried as we have done no training above 70F. But on the marathon Expo grounds in SLO, it was pleasant 75F.

The plan for Sunday was for Marketa to hop on a bus shuttling runners to the start and me leaving the car at a hotel nearby the finish, then taking off on the bike. Meeting point: Monterey's Cannery Row.
We are both up at 1:30AM, then again at 2:30AM. We make coffee (the Vagabond Inn variety, yuck!) and she is ready for it at 4AM (two hours to the start).

There is a dense fog outside and the temperature may be 55F, feels freezing. While Marketa tries to keep herself warm at the start area, I find a 24hr IHOP and decide to have an international breakfast.

Hmm, one might think we are in France... but then I settle for a 4-stack of pancakes with bananas and strawberries. The "fruit" and the "syrup" on the pancakes smells really awful, no wonder, these things are petroleum products. It took me good 30 minutes to consume this "food", presumably worth 760 calories.
I got going around 6:30, wearing all warm accessories I brought for this trip, except a Gore rain jacket. In fog and drizzle, I stuffed my dark sunglasses in the jersey pocket, thinking that by the time I get to the coast, it will be sunny. Fourteen miles later, at Morro Bay, I'm soaked, water dripping from my helmet, and I am cold. Highway 1 north towards Cayucos is almost flat, so no hills to warm up. I pass a town of Harmony, pop. 18, as well as Cambria, resisting to check out the huge Cambria Bike Outfitters store, on my way to San Simeon.

The weather continues to be gray, but the drizzle stops eventually and it is not too unpleasant. The coast starts to get rugged and the road goes up and down somewhere around Ragged Point.

 There is a little traffic, basically I see a handful of cars and motorcycles, and after a while I realize these are the same vehicles, their tourist owners make frequent stops and then pass me again. I am glad I am going north,  though. It means I am on the "mountain" side of the highway and if a car or an RV gets little bit too close, I don't have to be riding two feet from the cliff, like the riders going south. There are no other bicyclists in my direction, but plenty of people going south. The weather is perfect by now, 65F and dry, although the marine layer is thick and occasionally I am being enshrouded by the fog at higher elevations. I make couple of stops, one at Gorda, another one at Big Sur, for coffee, hot chocolate and muffins.
Then all of the sudden, just north of Point Big Sur, the fog clears, opening beautiful views of the coast.
 Wind starts blowing, too. From the south, lucky me! I gave Marketa a rough estimate of my arrival at the Monterey Aquarium, but I am way faster, with strong tailwind doing 22-23 mph even uphill. I make Carmel Heights in no time and leave Highway 1 just past Point Lobos to ride around the peninsula, but somehow miss the 17 mile drive, only to find it again and climbing what seems like forever, before dropping down to Asilomar Beach. The last ten miles are painful, my (famous) butt is not too happy about the broken pavement and stops in heavy people and car traffic.

I arrive around 5:30PM, after 150 miles and 9500 feet of climbing, ready for a nice seafood dinner.
Marketa's marathon time was 4:28, way to go baby!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Run - Bike - Ski

Three days, three different sports, all made me feel pretty good. Friday, it was an out and back run on Sawyer Camp Trail, which would have been 12.6 almost all flat miles, but the obsessive part of me pushed me 0.5 mile further to make it a 13.1mi. Time: sluggish 1:54. But that's six minutes faster than my 2010 Kauai half marathon! Well, that course is very hilly.

Saturday, a road bike ride over the hump (aka the Skyline ridge) to the Pacific coast. First, warm and sunny Canada Rd and Woodside, then a nice climb on OLH, fantastic views descending the western part of Old La Honda Rd, big push into hurricane winds coming to San Gregorio, but rewarded by the bucolic California farmland sight on Stage Rd:

A mandatory stop at the Tunitas Farm bike hut:

Then entering the green and brown refrigerator of redwoods along the Tunitas Road climb, with the Tunitas Creek raging after recent rains:

and finally back down to the warm valley. GPS track here.

Sunday: skiing at south lake Tahoe, namely Sierra at Tahoe. A foot and a half of almost fresh snow, but that "almost" turned it into a deep slush. Warm, sunny day, tough skiing off the groomed runs, finished off with a great cup of latte at Cosmic Cafe in Placerville. Life is tough....

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My Butt Is Finally Famous!

On Easter Sunday, I went for a bike ride with Jill Homer, whose blog I follow. Jill is an author of several books, an adventurer, and her ultra-cycling and ultra-running resume is too long to list here. Her blog has about 1300 followers! Her rides are an inspiration for me, although I know most of them are out of my reach due to my physical limitations and old age.
So first, I was stoked that she joined me for a bike ride, I think mainly because she was still recovering from her recent extreme snow biking race in Alaska. You can read all about it on her blog, but I cannot imagine being so tired that you need to take power naps in the middle of a bike ride and yet plan another 5 hour "recovery ride".
We started up Windy Hill, on a steep climb where I usually walk a few sections. We rode the hills at human pace, the difference being me completely out of breath at the top and Jill showing no oxygen deficits.
Secondly, she took this picture of me on Windy Hill and posted it her recent blog entry, thanks Jill!

Besides the fact that I enjoyed having company on a sunny day ride, I gained more confidence that the "Ronda Grande" distance of the Garda Marathon (86.6 km and 2705m vertical) should be doable.