Day 2 – Bay in Two Days – Oct 4, 2009

Posted on October 6th, 2009 in Century Rides,Photos by lane2train

Bay GPS RouteRuss and Sheila, outstanding members of the Almaden Cycle Touring Club, lead a 2-day ride around the San Francisco Bay at least once every year.  Since I was riding Levi’s Gran Fondo on day 1, I met them in Novato to ride with them and 25 other club members down to San Jose on Sunday, day 2.  The group of us had dinner at the restaurant attached to the hotel and I had my favorite pre-ride meal again: spaghetti & meatballs.

After another restless night at the luxurious EconoLodge of Novato, we had a great breakfast thanks to Russ.  The night before he bought various cereals, milk, bread, yogurt, breakfast pastries, and other tasty goodies.  Joanne, the queen of rider support, said to meet at 6:15 in her room so my roomate, Ben, and I were there at 6:13.  I’m sure she appreciated the promptness.

Following breakfast we hit the road at 7:15 to see some beautiful California scenery while we churned out 100 miles back home in the South Bay.  The ride was casual which was good for me after the 100 miles the day before.  Joanne did a great job supporting the ride and swapping off with other riders driving her fully stocked truck so she could put in some miles on her bike, too.

As usual, Russ and Sheila ensured that everyone had a fun ride and made it home safely.  There were mechanical problems here and there with loose lights and flat tires but all were resolved quickly so we could keep working our way south. 

By the time we made it to mile 80, my legs were feeling the 180 miles and we were hitting the toughest part of the ride: the 10-mile climb up Calaveras.  Russ and Sheila kept me company as I suffered through every stroke of my pedals.  I was so glad to see the top of that climb.  My knees were both hurting more than normal for some reason.  Ouch.

At about mile 95 I parted ways with the remaining crew as they headed back to Russ’s and Sheila’s house for sundaes and their cars.  I gingerly pedaled the remaining 10 miles home and was glad to finally make it back.

A few photos from the ride here. .

Levi Leipheimer’s Gran Fondo – Oct 3, 2009

Posted on October 6th, 2009 in Century Rides,Photos by lane2train

GPS Levi RouteLevi decided it would be a good idea to stage a ride similar to an Italian Gran Fondo.  I’ve ridden in two Gran Fondos in Italy and for the most part he and his crew did a decent job.  It’s pretty much impossible to replicate a Gran Fondo in a U.S. town since nearly the entire population of the Italian town gets involved one way or another.   Besides the mass involvement of the local populace, Gran Fondos are hardcore one-day races.  Levi’s Gran Fondo was a bike ride and not a race.  But it was a lot of fun.

One of my good friends, Ken (Mr Fixie) Emerson, drove another good friend Steve (Mr GPS) Saeedi and me up to Santa Rosa the afternoon before the ride so we could register and get a good night’s sleep.  At the registration area the similarities to a Gran Fondo became evident with several tents with good deals on bikes, biking gear, and nutrition items.

After a nice meal at Luigi’s (I had my favorite spaghetti & meatballs), we headed back to the hotel for another restless night before a big ride; I can never sleep well before a ride.  That morning we biked the two miles over the ride start where Ken met up with at least 50 people who know him from hither and yon.  That guy knows more people than I’ll ever meet.

Next came more Gran Fondofication: a mass start of 3500 riders through the streets of Santa Rosa.  The Gran Fondo (135 miles), Medio Fondo (60 miles), and Piccolo Fondo (35 miles) riders were all launched at the same time which led to massive traffic jams on the streets of that fair city.  I looked for letters to the editor in the local paper Sunday and Monday but noone complained.

I was glad to be riding the Medio Fondo since I had another 140 miles planned the rest of the week-end.  It was a great ride from Santa Rosa along the Russian River, out to the coast, and back to the city.  Levi does train on some beautiful roads.  Ken and Steve rode the Gran Fondo with the big boys and girls so I didn’t see them after the start.

Back at race central there were hundreds of people, food galore, a band, along with rows and rows of tents with even more goodies for sale than the night before.  At an Italian Gran Fondo that kind of activity goes on all week prior to the race but not much English is spoken.  Saturday, I didn’t hear a word of Italian besides Gran, Medio, Piccolo, and Fondo.

After my “free” lunch I hopped on my bike to ride 40 miles down to Novato to meet up with some folks for a Sunday ride down to San Jose, only another 105 miles.  A fun week-end on the bike.  Photos here.