nekoballs

March 30, 2010

Marin = good riding

Filed under: cycling, ride report — Tags: , , , , , — nekoball @ 9:55 PM

I rode up to Novato a few weeks ago to pickup my WRX from LIC Motorsports and get a taste of some Marin riding. I had a sprint workout in San Mateo earlier that morning so in the interest of time, I took Caltrain from Millbrae to SF.

I planned to ride with Phil, but he wasn’t feeling great. So after stopping by his place, I headed toward the bridge solo. I  wasn’t that feeling fresh either after the sprinting so I was thankful that the wind (and traffic) wasn’t too strong on the bridge.

After riding through Sausalito, I got on this nice path that leads you right to Mt.Tamalpais. I’ll have to check out Mt. Tam sometime. Lots of cyclists were out riding: roadies, mountain bikers, and tourists on hybrids.

I passed by some body of water. Was it a lake, reservoir, or part of the bay? I had no idea because I kept getting lost. I checked my iPhone approximately three thousand times during the ride.

Following the water, I made a left turn and came across this nice stretch of road. The twisty and nicely paved road made me think of touge… except this was closer to a hill than a mountain.

Touge with bike lanes!

On the way back, I checked out the hills near the North end of the Golden Gate Bridge.

It looked like such awesome riding… I wish I had time to explore more.

This is how much higher I was compared to the bridge. and there was plenty more elevation to gain.

The view was great too.

We are spoiled by all the good road riding on the Penninsula, but there definitely is some good riding to be had North of San Francisco. Here is the route.

I’ll have to check out Mt. Tam sometime.
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March 25, 2010

PV Field Workout: Going up and coming down + Dosa

We had another clinic this Saturday – for climbing and descending. I’ll briefly summarize what we went over:

Climbing

  • Keep cadence above 70rpm minimum
  • Alternate between sitting and standing
  • While seated: hands on tops, use hamstrings, open chest for better breathing
  • While standing: rpm above 70rpm, hands on hoods, do not stick out butt, head and shoulders up high-not hunched over, arms should be mostly straight, bike can “dance” a bit, on the down stroke, keep feet flat instead of toe pointed downward

Cornering

  • Look ahead, eye on apex and exit.
  • Hands on drops, tucked very low for more weight on front wheel and control of front wheel.
  • Exaggerate knee leaning.

We rode over to Canada College for our clinic and the backside has a surprisingly nice and short climb and descent. We started with 4 climbs from the bottom, near Canada rd. to the parking lot at the top. The first climb, we climbed mostly seated and stood up once when we were told. On the second climb, we stood up twice when instructed to do so. On the third climb, we went together as a group and this hurt me the most trying to keep up with Dexter and Peter. Finally, for the last climb we went up at our own individual pace. We focused mostly on technique and posture. Some of the advice is obvious, but you hear the advice differently when you have someone shouting at you when you are doing something wrong. Anyone who got caught standing and pedaling with toes pointed downward was deemed a ballerina.

We planned on practicing the descents on the Southern most side of Canada College, but because the inside of that turn had loose gravel, we practiced on the same road as the climb. We went over technique, but my main problem was my cornering speed. I have known that my cornering speed is slow and because I am not very fearless, so I will have to slowly work up my confidence and comfort to increase my speed through corners. We ran through the corner about 16 or so times.

After the clinic, we rode as a group back to HWY92 and from there, I did a solo aerobic ride to SF to meet up with Nyanko for lunch. My route was tracked by Mr. Garmin. Since we were in the area, we headed over the Mission to grab lunch. For some reason, I thought Ike’s Sandwiches were in the Mission, but they obviously weren’t (ok ok, it isn’t that far from the Mission, but we had a really good meter free parking spot on Valencia!) so we ate at Dosa instead. We have walked past Dosa more than a few times, both on Fillmore and also on Valencia, so today we decided to give it a try.

We assumed their dosa and uttapam would be different from the traditional type (not that we really know anything about traditional Indian food), so we ordered a chaat, dosa, and uttapam.


Dahi Batata Puri Small hollow crispy breads filled with Strauss organic yogurt, potatoes & mint & tamarind chutneys

Honestly, I had no idea what this would be like, but key words that made me order this were small, crispy, potatoes, and puri. Yes Puri, which apparently is not pronounced “pu ri” like Japanese, but “purr ee”, like an American trying to read furigana. That was how the waitress pronounced it, but she could be wrong! When they arrived, we were told the best way to eat them was with your bare hands because, as I soon found out, they sort of crumble and implode into themselves. They were very hollowed little pastries that were filled with all sorts of yogurt, potatoe, and chutney flavor. I liked the idea and the pastry, but I thought there was a bit too much filling, and a bit too many flavors. More potato could have helped too.


Paper Masala A thin, pliable and crispy variation, served with spiced Indian potatoes, onions and cashew nuts

I really liked their dosa. As advertised, it was very thin and crispy and came in one long rolled sheet. The potato filling was on the side and tasted fairly standard, but the dosa tasted great with the coconut chutney and sambar.


Sunny Side or Over Easy Uttapam Tomato, onion & chile uttapam topped with two organic eggs, sunny side up or over easy

The uttapam that we have had in the past was more like a stuffed thicker dosa, but this one had a texture similar to an chinese potato pancake. Although in general it was good, the spiciness was not mixed out well and some pieces were much spicier than others, so much so that it overwhelmed some flavors. It did however go nice with the egg.

Conclusion: Dosa is very flavorful, but it is a bit on the spicy and pricey side.
Post ride satisfaction:  6/10

March 22, 2010

PV Field Workout: Sprint till you’re sick

On Saturday(two Saturdays ago), Clark held a short sprint clinic with the Performance Team. I woke up later than I intended to, so I drove to 92 x Canada to be on time. Since the WRX was getting fixed, I drove the corolla and somehow tetris’d the bike into the backseat. I had originally planned to ride there, but there were plenty of miles to come that day… After a quick chat, we headed South on Canada. Since a few of us drove there, we did a nice long warm up – a proper long warm up is very important for sprint drills.

After our warm up, we stopped just a few meters north of the Edgewood x Canada intersection. This is where we started rolling. The course was simple. From the start, we headed northbound cruising at around 20mph. Once we got to the bicycle Sunday sign, we started our (uphill) 250m sprints. How do you know when you’ve reached 250m? On the shoulder, the ground was marked at 100m, 150m, 200m, 250m, and 300m in small white text. When you hit the 250m, shift to your small ring and keep pedaling.

The goal was to aim to sprint to 250m, but minimally sprint to the 200m. A few things I remember us discussing were:

  • When standing for your jump, your hands should be near the end of the drops so that your pinky sticks out to get maximum leverage.
  • Use your jump to accelerate and when you spin out, sit down and increase rpms to continue accelerating.
  • Try to stay aero when you sit down, obviously.
  • Find the right gear for the course. It may take a few tries for you to find the right gear. Too low and you will spin out, but too high and you won’t have enough power to push it.
  • Never sprint on your hoods. If you Clark catches you sprinting on your hoods or tops, you owe him $100, seriously! (and not in girl scout cookies)

We planned on doing sets of 4 sprint efforts with 4 minutes of rest in between each. At the end of the set, we rested for 10 minutes and did a second set. Clark had some comments about our sprints. For Martin and me, we had “zero jump”- Ouch. For others, the jump was too wild (front wheel moving around too much). My average top speed for the 6 out of 8 runs was 29.2 mph and my fastest sprint to 30.9mph occurred on the sprint immediately after the 10 minute break. By the 6th run, I was not far from wanting to throw up. On the last run, we did a group sprint with Clark leading us out… except he sort of just took off and dragged us along. Overall, it was a potentially vomit inducing drill, but I felt like I was holding back a bit since I had to ride to Novato after.  To properly do the drill however,  you shouldn’t be holding back so maybe a bit being of sick is inevitable.

Route is of course uploaded.

March 16, 2010

March PV Field Test Protocol and Jack’s Prime

The first Saturday of every month, the team performs a Field Test Protocol (FTP). This test is another piece of data to help gauge our fitness and to evaluate our training. The goal of the FTP is to estimate our lactate threshold heart rate.

Our FTP consisted of two approximately 6 mile long time trials along Cañada Rd. The starting point was the Pulgas Water Temple, and the turn around point was the Oak tree at the top of the hill heading South on Cañada. The end point was at the top of the hill slightly past the Water Temple. The time trials were ridden as hard as we could maintain and lasted between 15 to 20 minutes each. We rode one time trial, rested for ten minutes, and then rode the same course again.

For the 1st effort:
Avg. HR: 157
RPE: 7
Time Recorded: 16:49
Distance of Lap: 5.68 miles
Time Adjusted: 18:21 (adjusted proportionally from 5.68 miles to 6.20 miles)

And the 2nd effort:
Avg. HR: 151
RPE: 7
Time: 18:56
Distance of Lap: 6.2 miles

During the first effort, I started my lap timer late, so I rescaled my time based on distance. At the end of the second effort, we were interrupted by a group of riders, which messed up the flow at the end of the course.

Based on those values, Clark calculated training HR zones based on the numbers from the two efforts. From the two HR values, he took the average of the two and called that the OBLA threshold (or Z4). For me, my OBLA value was 154bpm. For Z3, he took 86%-95% of OBLA, 71%-85% for Z2, 60%-70% for Z1 and 105%+ for Z5. Interestingly, the Z4 and Z5 were very similar to zones calculated from the lactate test, but Z1-Z3 had lower numbers in the FTP compared with the lactate test. I’m not sure what that meant, but I expected the lab work to be more accurate. This however provided a baseline to compare future FTPs to.

Route is on Garmin.  If you look at the map and compare it with the HR graph, it is obvious where the route begins and ends. The team also rode an endurance ride after the test, but I ended up doing a solo ride at my own pace. To be honest, I was pretty toast after the two TTs.

…So to recharge, I met up with Kris to pig out at Jack’s Prime. Yes this is a ride report AND a restaurant review. I don’t even remember what we originally were going to eat, but after that ride, all I wanted was meat. Meat and fire. Kris was shocked that I had never been to Jack’s Prime and insisted that it was good, so in the interested of time, he picked me up in downtown San Mateo and we headed over.

It was a nice day so we sat outside in the sunny, but breezy weather. And the weather would have been just fine had I not decided to order a shake to drop my temperatures. And since I did order a shake, noting the “burgers & shakes” under the Jack’s Prime logo,  I followed that decision by moving us back indoors. I ordered a coffee shake and Kris got a vanilla shake. I must have forgotten that I preferred malts, but the shakes were good. We then ordered two burgers to split.

Maytag Blue Ribbon

Key ingredients for this burger are the Maytag blue cheese and the caramelized onions. As a regular hamburger, it was good. The meat was cooked well and the bun was slightly toasted. As a supposed blue cheese burger, I could have used a lot more blue cheese and onions. The onion rings were just normal.

Phoenix from the Flames

This burger came with pepper jack cheese, poblano chilis, jalepenos, red onions, and chipotle mayo. I chose to have my jalepenos fried and I just noticed that “extra fire” is available option, one that I would have chosen.  I didn’t really have any complaints about this burger and I enjoyed the poblano chili and the fried japapenos.  The fries were also pretty standard.

Although I thought their Maytag burger lacked blue cheese, to their credit, it was also slightly cold by the time I got to eating it. Jack’s Prime did have good burgers and I would come back to try some of their other burgers. Kris also claims that the sweet potato fries were good, but I didn’t want to pig out too much and I don’t really like sweet potato… Anyway, Jack’s Prime satisfies that post-ride meat and fire craving.

Post ride satisfaction:  9/10

March 10, 2010

Riding Eastbayway to Mountain view with angry clouds

I was in Alameda on Sunday and I wanted to ride into work on Monday. Instead of wasting an hour BARTing back to Millbrae, I decided to just ride directly from Alameda to Mountain View. The ride distance was surprisingly short (38 miles versus 32 miles from Millbrae) so I wasn’t too worried about the ride. I WAS however worried about surviving both Oakland and EPA solo.  I headed out at 7:30AM and was annoyed to find that my Garmin was out of batteries, depriving me both the ability to monitor my heart rate and to upload my route post ride. Fortunate for me, I had been staring at my HRs all week long and therefore had a rough idea what zone I was in based on my perceived effort.

To minimize getting lost, I made myself a cue sheet:

and taped it to my stem.

Not having ridden in this area at all and having no expectations of the route, I was pleasantly surprised by how bike friendly the route was… up until Hesperian. Bay Farm Island in Alameda was very bike friendly and had plenty of bike lanes and off street paths. In fact, most of the time I was in a bike lane or shoulder until I got to Hesperian.  Hesperian did have some sections of bike lane, but a majority of the street was similar to el Camino – three lane wide with a 35-45mph speed limit.  I would definitely avoid that next time. If I was riding with someone else, I would have been open to do some bay trail exploring.


Before I got to the bridge, I stopped to blow my nose and take some pictures. I thought I was pretty much at the bridge and on my way to Mountain View. Little did I know! Going down Paseo Padre seemed a lot longer then it looked on the map and going up Marsh Rd. to the Bike/Pedestrian walkway seemed to take forever. The road was very bumpy and Marsh Rd. turned West, right into a strong headwind.


Those clouds were sprinkled in the sky all morning long, but the weather the getting warmer and the sun was coming out… until I got to Dumbarton Bridge. When I started climbing up the bridge, the sun disappeared behind the clouds. While the sun was gone, a single angry rain cloud decided try and stop me from crossing the bridge. So it pelted me with raindrops-icicle cold and sharp raindrops. The thick rain created standing water on the road and blurred my glasses and soaked my jacket. It wasn’t supposed to rain today! I tucked myself in and hammered to get off the bridge, and when I finally started descending, the rain let up. By the time I was off the bridge, it had stopped raining.

The rest of the route was the normal Bayway and since I took it easy most of the way, I wasn’t feeling fatigued or sore. Dumbarton was not fun, but I would do it again-rerouting around Hersperian.

Route via Garmin Google maps

March 7, 2010

SF2G Bayway plus Gmap for bikes

Filed under: cycling, ride report — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — nekoball @ 9:32 PM

Missing out on rides all week long, I did a FFFF SF2G bayway to work on Friday. We rode a standard Bayway route and skipped the BTN. At 7:40, I joined the first two riders:  Gavin and one other. At the water stop we waited for the rest of the group. There were 27 riders! I joined the first group of 5 that left. Eventually, it shrunk down to just me and Gavin, who offered me breakfast courtesy of Google.

By the time we got there (9:40), there was not a lot of food left.  There were mostly donuts, bagels, and fruits left. I went for the bagel, toasted!, instead of the donuts.  While eating and chatting, we asked to participate in a video to promote google maps for bikes.

We rode around in a few circles, got filmed, then almost got run over by the “conference bike”.

Route on Garmin …and yes. My HR stayed in Z2/z3.

March 1, 2010

getting lost via Hillsdale Mudway

Filed under: cycling, ride report — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — nekoball @ 3:38 PM

I was not able to convince anyone to explore San Mateo dirt with me on Sunday, so, not wanting to waste a nice day, I headed out solo to explore the Ammon dirtway route. The plan was to start at Hillsdale Caltrains, follow the trail to Cañada Rd., and then turn back toward Millbrae. I took a few glances of the map and the route and emailed myself directions. I figured that if I got lost, I could easily pull out google maps on my iPhone or look at my directions. EXCEPT. I forgot my phone-But, I had my camera!

Heading West on Hillsdale, I made a left turn and was immediately lost. Luckily or miraculously, I remembered that I was looking for Laurelwood Dr., which led to the entrance to Laurelwood Park. As you can see on the map, I tried three different directions at the intersection of Fernwood St. and 36th St. before I found Laurelwood. After climbing up into the park, I continued upward and tried two exits to the park. I couldn’t really see where else I could go, so I headed up De Anza Blvd, which seemed incorrect because there was no dirt.


Looking down toward Laurelwood Park

Going up De Anza, I turned around at HWY92, because I knew that was wrong, and again at a deadend, because I couldn’t go any further. Eventually, I headed back to the Park and considered my options.  I didn’t have a phone so I couldn’t check for directions or call for someone to get me if I ran out of daylight or ability. So I decided that I should head home… soon. Overlooking the park, I noticed a trail opening on the other side of the grass field. Lets see where it goes!


Mud mud muddy mud.

As soon as I rode past the mountain lion warning sign, I knew I was back on track. Key point: MUD. Not having any idea where to go, I stayed right every time the trail spilt and eventually got to a completely unridable section. I dismounted, hoping to walk through it and got to this:

That picture does nothing to show how steep and sloped that was. I didn’t think I could even hike much further with my now very muddy shoes and decided to head back. I climbed back up De Anza again and headed to Sawyer Camp Trail. With a mile to go, I stopped to make use of my camera, to make up for-not being able to use my phone.

Bike got dirty again.

Compare my route vs Ammon’s route. Next time get lost less please! (or remember to bring your phone)

February 26, 2010

SF2G: Bridge to Leaders

Yesterday was a great day to ride to work. SF2G had four different rides via three different paths: Bayway, Skyline way, and Half Moon Bay way. I decided to go with the 6:15AM Skyline group, well aware of the pace of the xtons and Gaimans of the 6:30AM Skyline group.

Since they were leaving at 6:15, I estimated they would arrive at Millbrae around 7:30. In the morning, I was also tracking Eric via Google latitude. Around 7:10, I saw that he going up the hill on Skyline near Daly City. They were still a while off, so I took my time while monitoring their progress. At 7:25, his location suddenly jumped to South San Francisco. Um, maybe I should get going now! I climbed hillcrest at a hurried pace and intersected with Derrick and Space at the top. Did I barely catch on? I saw a group of about ten mostly familiar faces gathered at the entrance to the Sawyer Camp Trail: xton, Mike Gaiman, Jonathan, Eric, Derrick, Space, Scott, and others. Moments later, another group with Ted, Judd, Mark, and others arrived. We had a nicely sized group… the 6:15 and 6:30 groups must have combined.

Ted, and others stopped at the top of the hill for water, and a few of us headed down the trail first. I followed Jonathan with two others and we cruised to the other side of the trail. It seemed that some of the guys turned around and took the quicker, freeway option because they were already waiting at the exit of the trail for a regroup.

After another short break, we rolled out again. We went up two hills and when we came down the second decent to Canada, the speed of the lead group picked up and the lead group was off. I probably should have been clued in to the acceleration when Scott flew past me on the descent. As we started Canada, Derrick passed me and gave a valiant solo effort to bridge to the lead group. He got really close! Jonathan passed me and I grabbed his wheel. We eventually caught Derrick and we worked together to catch the lead group. By the time we got to Edgewood, Derrick had dropped a chain and the lead group was out of sight. By Woodside, we had caught two riders and Mark had caught on to us. The “leaders” were adding a full Portola Loop to their ride, but we decided to take the path of least resistance down Whisky, Sand Hill, Foothill Expressway, and El Monte. I got to work at about 9:30.

Garmin has my route.

February 22, 2010

Race Report: Ronde van Brisbeen Criterium

Ronde van Brisbeen Criterium
Elite Cat 5,  8:00AM
Team Mates: Dexter, Dean, Martin, Brandon, John, Peter, Dan, Charlie
Place: DNF

I was reasonably prepared for my first real (USCF sanctioned, non Early Bird, and non twilight) criterum at Sierra Point/Brisbane. Last weekend, I rode out to preview the course. Even though I previewed the left turn after the hairpin incorrectly, I had an idea of the flow and bumps of the course, and I knew I would struggle from the hairpin and the two corners following it.

The Men’s E5 race started at 8:00AM, which, luckily for us, meant that we would just miss the rain. I staged close to the front of the start line near the other 8 PV members. Even though the field had a full 50 racers, it seemed small compared to the Sierra Point cross race field of 150 a few months back. The first lap was a rolling, mentor paced lap, and apparently the second lap was the first race lap. I was caught off guard by the acceleration and fell back slightly during the first race lap.

I was very uncomfortable during the first race lap. There were lots of accelerations followed immediately by decelerations, especially leading up to the hairpin and the following left turn.  During the first few laps, I was passed every time I came out of the hairpin. I also felt uncomfortable going through the narrow left-right section after the hairpin. Eventually, I was spit out the back, and I joined a ~5 man group. Shortly after officials pulled us off the course to (rejoin) restart with the pack.

I was not thrilled about the first restart. The officials did not give us the “go” to rejoin the pack until nearly the entire pack was past us. During the Early Birds, we were up to speed well before the pack reached us. The group of us struggled to accelerate enough to catch and stay with the group. Eventually, I was pulled to restart again, and this time I saw teammates Martin and Dan pulled aside as well.

The second restart, they started us before the leaders reached us. This was much better, except I had some trouble getting integrated back into the fast moving group. Although, I got better at hairpin turns toward the end of the race, I was still much slower than most people going into and out of it. I finished the remainder of my laps working together with a Folsom Bike rider.

Overall, I thought the course was technical, but fun. I felt I could have pushed (a lot?) harder, but I felt unconfident making the tight hairpin turn and riding more than 2 abreast through the narrow left-right section. I think I gained a lot of experience for next year’s Brisbane race.

Race mapped on garmin

More pictures on flickr

February 17, 2010

SF2G style II, with a bit of testosterone

Filed under: cycling, ride report — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — nekoball @ 10:40 AM

Yesterday, I missed the SF2G group by just a few minutes (I was there 65mins after they started), so today I got there earlier (50mins after their start). I ended up waiting about 20 minutes for them to show. I’m still getting used to the meet up time, but it seems to vary based on the day and the group. Yesterday was very foggy and today seemed worse.


San Francisco Airport

Today was fast and I was barely hanging on for some segments. I was only able to catch up thanks to stop lights. On straights, it felt like we were doing 22-23mph. I don’t think I ever saw the speedometer drop under 19mph in the pack. Xton was at the front pretty much the entire ride. This pretty much summarizes the ride:

It was fun, but I’m pretty beat. On the way to work, we saw the plane crash in EPA, which apparently took out some power. We were hoping power would be out so we wouldn’t have to go to work…

Route via Garmin

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