Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rose Valley Ride

Well, on Tuesday Steve was nice enough to round up some of the local guys for a ride that he calls Rose Valley. I pictured riding through pristine valley covered in wild flowers, but as it turns out, we never even go to Rose Valley on this ride, we just turn around at the road that goes to there. That being said, it was an amazing ride!

We started from Patagonia in Ventura, so roughly sea level, and started to head inland and upward. The early miles were rolling, but all pretty much tilting up to some extent, and once we had ridden about 15 miles or so, the real climbing kicked in. Mark rode alongside and stressed that I should take it easy and pace myself as the climb proper would take about an hour, but even that was hard to process, not sure I've even been on a climb for that long? Well, he wasn't kidding, after a short steep section at the start, the grade settled down and we quickly split up to climb at our own pace. While it was easy at first to spin a 19t cog, as the miles wore on, I found myself working my way up to the larger cogs as the miles and elevation piled up. By the top, I was using that 28t quite a bit more than any of the others!

I regret now that I didn't stop a couple times to take pictures, the scenery from the numerous switchbacks was incredible, but I was worried that if I stopped, I'd have a heck of a time getting going again!

Here's a shot of the road to Rose Valley, aka our turnaround spot at roughly 3500" of elevation, and Ben, Steve and Mark waiting for the rest of us slowpokes! Chris apparently didn't get enough climbing, as he's in the distance heading up a bit more of the remaining climb.

Steve rolled in a just a bit after I got there, not looking too much the worse for wear. After we all regrouped, it was time for the downhill back home, and that was a BLAST! I should have kept track of how long the climb took vs. the descent, but my GPS was acting a bit sketchy in the canyons yesterday. It sure didn't take long to get back down, and even after we got off the mountain proper, most of the way home was downhill as well, so we were making pretty good time.

Unfortunately, with just a couple miles to go, Steve flatted his front tire just before a quick turn in the bike path, and he took a tumble right in the middle of the group. Thankfully, there didn't seem to be any serious injuries, and no one else went down either, so that's good. Above is a shot of Steve checking to make sure everything is still where it's supposed to be!

Nice fist sized hole in that jersey though! There's my brother laughing at the poor guy! ;-)

As we were loading the bikes back up in the car, we noticed that Steve had skidded right though his rear tire trying to avoid the "other" Steve's crash. That tire is toast!


Monday, November 14, 2011

Riding in Southern California

I've managed to escape the fast approaching Wisconsin winter by heading out to visit my brother Steve in sunny Ventura, CA for a week. I've been to Ventura quite a few times in the past, but I've never had my bike with me to try any riding out here, so this trip is a first in that respect.

When I got here on Sat afternoon, I had just enough time to get my bike unpacked and back together in time for a quick shakeout ride with Steve. It was kinda gray and windy, and we got sprinkled on a just a bit as well, but it still felt great to be riding in the warmth.

As for Sunday, the weather cleared up and as you'll see in the photos, it was beautiful and sunny for our whole ride. We got together with Steve's friend Mark around noon, and headed out toward Santa Paula and later Fillmore on 126. The wind was blowing in off the ocean and so we had a decent tailwind pushing us inland, and it also doesn't hurt to have Mark pulling, as he's a Cat 1 racer on Team Clif Bar! Once we hit Fillmore, we turned right and started heading for Grimes Canyon, and what had been a pretty flat fast ride was about to get quite a bit more vertical...
As soon as the road started tilting skyward, Mark dropped Steve and I like a bad habit, and about halfway up Grimes Canyon we stopped for photos and I took this quick shot of Steve in his snazzy Ellis kit.
Near the top, I stopped again to take a couple more quick shots of the winding road up the Canyon. Now I probably didn't have to stop, but taking a photo was a nice excuse for a break from suffering on the climb for a few moments! After plummeting off Grimes, (one of my strong points, seeing as how I weigh about 30-40lbs more than Mark and Steve), we continued our loop toward Balcom Canyon road, and while it was certainly shorter than Grimes, the last bit was much steeper! I needed to go to my "Suitcase of Courage" for this one, and luckily I had just enough to get to the top. Once again, Mark dropped the Wages boys, but he was nice enough to wait for us at the top.

Here's a shot of Mark and Steve waiting to head down from the Summit of Balcom Canyon Road. I will admit that I'm glad we came up the south side of Balcom, because the north side looked pretty darn intimidating, and Mark warned me as we rolled away to be careful...

If you look to the right of the photo, you can see the downhill that we're about to do. There are some really steep pitches near the top, and I was riding my brakes for the first half of the way down just to be on the safe side.

One more quick shot of Team Ellis before the descent!

Once we got back down to the valley, we took a quick detour through a Limoneira , (a lemon orchard). A beautiful old building, and it is amazing to see all the rows of fruit trees heavy with green lemons.

By this time, both Steve, myself and Mark were all starting to feel the affects of the long ride, so we slowed it down a bit, and Mark pretty much pulled our sorry butts the rest of the way back to Ventura! When we left, I thought the ride was going to be around 40-50 miles, and I figured that would be plenty, as I haven't been doing many long rides as of late anyway. It turned out that when we rolled into Steve's condo, my computer read 62 miles, just a tad more than I had anticipated, and we were both pretty wreaked!

My last shot of a huge Eucalyptus tree just as we were leaving the Limoneira.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Winter Bike

The old cross bike is setup for the crappy weather to come. I fitted up a set of Honjo fenders along with some 32c Vittoria Randonneur Hyper's to deal with the sketchy road conditions, and I added a front and rear light for those nights where the sun sets at 4:00pm! I managed to get out for a couple rides, and while it's not the fastest bike in the world, it still has plenty of get up and go. I sometimes forget how much I like this bike.

Once I get some winter shoes, I'll switch the pedals for some SPD's, but other than that, I hope I'm pretty much set to go.