Friday, June 29, 2012

It's THAT time again! Lets get ready to rumble!

Holy smokes....July is HERE! Well, almost. I can't BELIEVE the TDF starts TOMORROW! I am SO unprepared.

Work has been unusual...we have more and more work dropped on us, with fewer people and assets to DO the work. So I've been somewhat stressed as of late. Pretty much have NO time for anything BUT work (GASP!). I'm SO not used to this...usually by now I'm stoked and ready...but not this year. Sadly, I have no idea what's been happening in the cycling world...and I mean even less than last year!

No idea at all who to pick or even root for. Andy's not riding and he would have been my choice. I'm not really a huge Wiggo fan (maybe it's those sideburns that just irk me for some strange reason). Cadel...well, what can I say...he came thru last year and I can't take anything away from him, but I wasn't really rooting for him (I REALLY wanted Andy to stay away and get his time back!). Don't really see any sprinters winning the overall...I'd say my top rider will be Horner, tho I'm not sure what shot he realistically has at the top podium spot...not that I wouldn't love it if he made it. If he falters on RSNT, it will fall to Klodi...who has the creds also but not sure how high up on the GC he can place, even w/ full team support. Who else....Sanchez, just don't see it. CVV...gosh, that would be cool...but as much as I'd like it, not sure that I see it....but just making podium would be HUGE.

So lets top few GUESSES (in no special order): Cadel, Wiggo, Horner, CVV, Sanchez, can't forget Levi with his new team....not sure how that will turn out, but he is certainly a podium candidate... and hey, maybe Menchov (is he even RIDING this year?) If he is, he has the stuff to make top 5...just needs a few lucky rabbits feet or something (as does the entire RSNT team!)  And don't forget Ryder Hesjedal...he has the stuff too. It would be something to see Frank Schleck somewhere up there, but he STINKS at the TT, and there's a LOT of that this year. So he's out I think. But as high mt support for Horner or we're talking! Just not sure how he will play out. Not sure if anybody is picking Voeckler to be up there somewhere in the top 5...he sure surprised a LOT of people for a LOT of days last year, that's for sure!He and Mr. Barb wire Johnny Hoogerland will be fighting tooth and nail for the Polka dots I think.

As for the sprints, it will be interesting to see how Sky handles having both Cav AND Wiggo....Cav is used to having an entire team at his disposal....sure won't be getting that this year if they truly think Wiggs will have a shot at the GC win. Maybe he's been watching old videos of Rocket Robbie...he won SO MANY races with almost no support....just being in the right place on the right wheel and making his move in JUST the right matter which team it is, a leadout is a leadout. Sad that Robbie won't be there...those days when P&P would be looking for him, nowhere to be seen and suddenly there he was eeking out of the peleton...those were surely exciting races! Anyway...w/ Sky riding primarily for Wiggs, it should really open up the sprints for the others...maybe Tyler can score more than one this year. And Griepel and  Renshaw  and Goss will surely be nipping at the front. And Sagan...he proved a lot at the ToC (the one that I was six THOUSAND miles away from, dang it!) I figured Boonen wold be a threat for the green, but he won't be there either. Concentrating on the Olympics...hmmm....what better training is there than racing?

In the TT's, I'd sure like to see Spartacus come thru...he is SUCH a class act! Wiggo will surely be a threat..he's proved that already. Tony Martin will surely be a threat there too. And don't forget Sagan who cleaned up in the ToC!

Maybe this year a new star will emerge....a wildcard. Remember out of the blue when Contador stepped out of nowhere? If Horner can't do it, then maybe I'd like to see a new star step up into the grandest stage.

OK...well, hang onto your's Tour time! I hope to get jazzed quickly...I upped our Dish Network package just the other will get the entire month of July w/ NBC Sports...( many titles will this channel have? OLD, Versus, now NBCSports? What's next?) I just hope they have some great wacky Bobke commercials! I missed those last year!

And of course, I must root for BIG GEORGE! Maybe a stage win? I still get goosebumps on that day when he stayed away and won the queen stage...that was quite a thrill! I have to think this might be his last very sad that will be if true.

I'll prob be up early tomorrow watching the prologue, then need to get out for a RIDE! I am in the WORST condition that I've been in since I started road riding! W/ all my travel this year, it's been hard to get any kind of rhythm's been real hit and miss. I know I really enjoyed the ride up at Davis last weekend (and it was my longest ride of the year by 42 miles!), but I  really wanted to stay with the fast group a bit longer (like the entire WAY!). It was a pretty flat 100...just 2 years ago I would have been up there hammering. Oh well..lots of excuses...but the simple fact is I'm not getting the saddle time. And our weather...sheesh. June is supposed to be all Gloomy (June Gloom is what we call it here in the Central Coast). Can't get the gloom when the wind is's like the wind found out I was away on travel and just waited. Lucky me. But at least I have my ace in the Mt bike. If the wind is howling I'll just hit the dirt. There...take THAT stupid wind! (tomorrow is forecast to be around 15mph...sounds like knobbys are the ticket AGAIN!)

OK..need to get to bed early if I'm to be up at 5...I always forget how tired I get in July, getting up early even on the weekends....and then w/ the Olympics coming up...urgh. I need to take the entire month of July off of work...boy wouldn't THAT be something! Watch the Tour early, then go for a long ride EVERY DAY! What a dream that would be. But alas,a dream is all it is.

So there, I have nothing more to say at this moment...Let the Tour BEGIN!


Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Before you even BEGIN reading this post I'll just give you a'd best get comfy and hopefully get a cool beverage in your hand (and even better would be having a cooler nearby with you're gonna need em'!)

And so, ON with the story!

The BIG weekend (that I have been waiting for since LAST July) is over and done. In the history books. Finito (not that I know how to spell Finito, and neither does spell-check it appears). It was a HUGE success by any measure. The weather was GREAT! Not too hot, not too cold, not too windy, no rain, hail, tornadoes, hurricanes, or even a dust devil. Just a fabulous weekend for a ginormous brew-ha-ha with thousands of people and bikes, in an amazingly bike-friendly city.

But the weather nor the town isn't the story here. Team Fatty is. To put it simply, we ROCKED! The overall fundraising for the event was down a bit this year. I believe Davis brought in just over ONE MILLION dollars in 2011. This year it was down to just over $900,000 as of Sunday morning as we gathered for the ride.

But consider this: Team Fatty raised over 10% of that total! Yes, we were over $90,000 as a team. No WONDER they take such good care of us! And to be fair, Fatty raised well over $50,000 of that. Which is pretty darn impressive. A guy with a blog. Isn't that something? He is constantly amazed and astounded at what this has become.

As to the weekend events, Greg and I drove up Friday morning (he drove north a bit over 2 hours to my place, then WE drove the 5 hours to Davis, which is right up near Sacramento). We get there in time to check into the hotel (what I call "Team Fatty Central", as a lot of our team stays there every year). Angie, our adopted sist'a (aka Rocket-Girl) calls and will arrive late as usual (claiming traffic once-AGAIN.... alert: lame excuse!) The Hall of fame shin-dig is supposed to go down at 6pm. She has again reserved the entire Cycling Hall of Fame just for Team Fatty. As in: we OWN the place! (OK, here's where I cut you some slack Sist'a for being late AGAIN).

So....She suggests that Greg and get over to the HoF to help David who is already there and setting up to cook Brats for us lucky Fatties. So we walk quite briskly over to the HoF from the hotel (prob a 10 minute speed-walk), and haven't been there very long at all when Sist'a calls back yet AGAIN that she is somehow at the hotel...the traffic magically parted like the red-sea and her trip is over. So we briskly retreat back to the hotel and help unload bikes (she had stopped by Santa Rosa and picked up the loaner bikes for Fatty and the Hammer on the way down). Then we jump in Angie's Big Red Diesel Truck and time-warp over to a safeway. It's quite a thrilling ride to be in the BRDT when Sist'a is running late. Curbs are not an issue. Traffic clears from her path in fear. Greg and I hang on and nervously crack jokes as the big diesel engine roars.

We get the necessary supplies for our HoF evening (all of this is Angie's treat btw...she is MOST generous!) and time-warp back to the Hof. Greg and I are still in an adrenaline rush from surviving a NASCAR-truck event and we quickly unload the supplies. Most of the team is there as it's well after 6 by now. But we are heroes cuz we have the beer and wine AND cake (again, ALL Angie!). Yes, cake. Team Fatty thrives on stuff like that (duh!).

Here is David preparing the brats with Fatty standing by with a suspiciously empty plate.
If you ever read the comments at Fatties, his commenting-handle is davidh,marin (and his wife's is wife#1...I'm sad to say that I haven't got to meet her yet as she doesn't come down to this event). He is a wonderful person and just a joy to chat and hang-out with. Also SUPER-DUPER generous, as he wouldn't take a dime for his brats and fixin's. AND, he rode a tandem with a friend for the ride. 

Here we are inside the Hof having our private tour.
I talked about this last year but will embellish it even more this year, as it is just SO fascinating to me. This is the 6-day race display.  Here is the information that's posted about this most amazing of all bike races:


Created in England in 1878 with little fan-fair, the six-day race did not find it's niche in the cycling community until New York's Madison Square Garden decided to hold it's own in 1891. With cycling enthusiasm at an all-time high in America in the 1890's, MSG's six-day race became one of America's most popular sporting events.

Individual cyclists from around the world would ride around the track for as far as they could go for six days straight. Riding up to 400 miles in an entirely sleepless day, riders would eat their meals on their bikes from whatever they could balance on their handlebars or hold in their hands.

In a New York Times article it was reported that Charles Miller's diet in the 1897 race consisted of "three pounds of boiled rice, one pound of oatmeal, one half pound of barley, five dozen apples, a few grapes, an orange or two, five dozen pints of kamisa, twenty quarts of bottled milk, and three gallons of strong coffee."

America's cycling governing body at the time, The League of American Wheelmen, customarily held Sunday's as nom-racing days. Therefore most six-day races began a little after midnight and ended on Saturday nights.

To help ensure fans had every opportunity to see all the racing action and for promoters to ensure their star entertainers got proper rest, some events had an informal stop time each night for riders. This helped make the evening sessions the most entertaining sessions of the week with it's sprint finishes and bone breaking crashes. It was not uncommon for the 15,000 seat MSG to sell out it's evening sessions.

Even with it's informal stop time, some riders would take the opportunity to gain laps on their competition  who left the track, but not without a price. While no rider had to leave the track at the agreed upon time, it was largely frowned upon by other riders. Even to the point where some riders would re-enter the track and cause the offending rider to crash to make sure his evening was complete.

Wednesdays and Thursdays were commonly the hardest days of the race. These were the days exhaustion would set in, muscles would cramp, riders would want to quit and trainers would  encourage riders to continue. Miller was again quoted after winning the 1897 race saying "About Wednesday it was a hard job to keep at it. All I could see was the black mark ahead of me and a dim wall around the track. Every little obstacle, even a railhead jammed me fearfully, seeming to shake my bones apart.

In 1898 the New York State Legislature passed a new law protecting cyclists from riding for more than 12 hours a day. This lead to the two-man team six-day races at the turn of the century, reaching it's height in the 1910's and 1920's.

While the last six-day race at Madison Square Garden took place in 1939, MSG's mark in cycling history lives on. Today the Madison, named after the Madison Square Garden races is a fixture in all major cycling events around the world. No longer consisting of six-days, the Madison still utilizes the two-man team format. Up to 30 teams can compete at one time during today's Madison, with one team rider racing and the other team rider resting on the track. Winners are no longer determined by the number of laps completed, but by the number of points won. Certain laps are designated as sprint laps with points awarded in order of placement.

And now you know as much about the historical 6-day races as I do!

Can you imagine being a solo rider in a smoky building riding a bike for SIX DAYS STRAIGHT? It's beyond my comprehension. Talk about the iron-men of cycling!

Here we have Davis Phinney's race leader jersey from the Coors Classic race. I can only ASSUME everybody has seen the movie "American Flyers" w/ Kevin Costner (many times I hope, as I have!). That movie was filmed DURING the actual race! The actors rode right in with the racers, and there were 2 helicopters: the one for the race, and the one filming the movie. They actually changed all the banners and such for the movie so that the race was called "The Hell of the West". I think this picture is interesting because if you look close, the "7-ELEVEN" was cut out of a team jersey (I'm guessing) and hand-stitched into the red leaders jersey, probably fairly quickly! You can see the hand-stitching if you click on the pic and get a larger size. And also there are many many little slits in the jersey..front and sides. I have no idea for sure, but think they might have been done on purpose for cooling? (I believe this is a wool jersey).

At the Saturday Award banquet. We were all called up on Stage while Fatty gave his speech. Then he was awarded all the awards except for one (they made a new category this year: "Small but Mighty", which can only be won by a team with less than 25 people. I guess the other teams are tired of us winning everything year after year). Here you see Fatty with all the trophy's, while Lisa (aka THE HAMMER) looks on and is now likely blinded by my flash (Sorry Lisa!)

Here you see yours truly holding the Team Champion award (hey, I'm part of the team!). It's kind of like when a team wins the Superbowl, or the Stanley Cup...ALL the players get a chance to hold it.

Sunday morning, 7am. The starting line. Team Fatty has been busy. Turns out, Team Fatty likes pie...
who knew?

Fatties gathering in the start-chute before our Team Picture. 

This is Joe. He was our wonderful host at the Cycling Hall of Fame AGAIN. He is VERY knowledgeable about the history of cycling, and is a real nice guy too! If you EVER get the chance to swing thru Davis, I'd suggest you leave about 2 hours for a tour. And tell him Team Fatty sent you!

After our team photo under the start/finish banner we backed up in the chute. Here is what it looks like. They don't mess around...everybody who starts and finishes crosses under this. You feel like you won the Tour de France! And no matter what time you finish, there are TONS of people clanging bells, clapping, shouting, whistling, and the announcer reads your name over the PA. It's AWESOME!

Dave and his son Rob. They are doing the 40 mile ride (I think). Rob was in a bad car accident years ago and Dave (his dad) built this special bike that they both can ride together. They did the ride with us last year also. We have some WONDERFUL people on our team!

We're on the road now, maybe just a mile or so out, and us Fatties have already spread out the field. I took this shot over my head (that's my helmet you are looking over). That is Fattie's head in the silver helmet just behind me, and his wife Lisa (aka THE HAMMER)to the left of the picture (and some guy from another team in black coming up behind her).

Our paceline is loosley forming. Directly in front of me is Andrew (in the white w/ pink logo Fatty jersey). This is the only time we saw him, he pulled out of our 'fast group' and went on ahead (you can see the highway patrol car ahead in the distance, at this very moment we are the very front of the race (ride). Andrew went on ahead and the HP car had to speed up, and he followed the car the ENTIRE way without stopping, clocking in at 95 miles in 4:17 (which is just AMAZING!). He then went back out on the course twice and rode in other groups of Fatties. He is my hero!

This is what it looks like behind our fast group just a few miles out of town. Nobody (except that one guy, and he wasn't with us very long). I'm at the tail-end of the 'fast group' just now, and seems that I was in that spot a LOT for the 45 miles I was able to hang with them. I was a wheel-sucker EXTRAORDINAIRE!

Our paceline is still together, but we've lost a few already. That's Greg directly in front of me, and Hammer to his left. I think Fatty is at the front doing the pulling in this shot.

I really like this shot...we rode right past a big line of these flowering hedges.

 We're almost half-way now, and this is Mike. He and I are alone in this shot, having dropped off the back of the 'fast group'. Not long after this shot even Mike dropped me. However, there is a story here that must be told, or everybody would just be thinking that I was weak or something.

You see, I had purposely dropped off the back of the Fast Fatties as I had a hunch there was danger lurking ahead. My spider senses were a-tingling and I had to act. So I let them all go while I sorted out just what it was that had my hair standing on end. It was around mile 62 that my hunch was proven right. Using my keen vision I spied a band (herd, flock?) of WILD BOARS just off to the side of the road, lying in wait to pounce on unsuspecting riders. Our Fast Fatties must have slipped by before they were organized, but now they were a very unruly looking bunch, and obviously a HUGE danger to the other riders!

Knowing that I had teammates coming up from behind, I bravely slowed down, pretending to be near cramping. The ruse worked, as the boars LEAPED at the opportunity for a tasty snack. I made a great show of repeatedly pretending to be in distress, and the boars were literally nipping at my heels. The course suddenly turned left, but I knew that I needed to lure them away from my friends, so I continued on straight on Meridian Rd, all the while continuing to heroicly ride slow enough to keep the boars focused on me so they wouldn't turn back. I continued this life and death game of wounded-bird for the next 4 miles, where I finally encountered the freeway.

Sensing an opportunity, I blitzed over the overpass in an awesome burst of speed and power. At the bottom of the overpass the lane turned sharply left as it was about to merge with the freeway. It as there that I LEAPED off my bike into the bushes with surprising agility, and moments later the frenzied pack of hungry wild-boars flew past, so intent on their prey that they didn't see that big truck in the right lane. They were all immediately turned into shredded pork by the 18 wheeler.

Knowing that my team was now safe, I turned around and rode the 4 lonely miles back to the course. All alone, I dropped my head and soldiered on into the crosswinds, having lost about a half-hour of precious time in my heroic struggle with nature.

Not long after I was back on course a group of Fatties flew by, having no idea I had just saved their lives. I quickly jumped into their paceline, but moments later I thought I saw another boar peeking out of the brush, so I again pretended to be cramping up and pulled out of the paceline. I stopped by the side of the road, putting on a nice show like I had a cramped hamstring, all the while intently scanning the area ready to burst into flight. Alas, no boars came out, seems like a false alarm.

Alone again but quite proud of my protective instincts, I continued on towards Davis. Just a mile or 2 ahead the Fatty group that I had just left was stopped waiting for another rider. I calmly slipped back into the group and made small talk as we waited, staying alert for any further wild-boar danger. A few minutes later the rider arrived and we departed once again.

We had a nice paceline giong, however we were now in the portion of the route where the shorter rides all have converged in the closing miles with the 100 mile route. We flew along, each taking pulls as we dazzled the lesser riders with our high-speed prowess and technique. At the final SAG stop over half of the group stopped for a quick break, while the rest of us flew on, knowing we only had ten more miles to victory. Sensing there was no further danger to the team I felt free to fly with the others. We were down to four now, but our pace slowly increased in anticipation of the tasty pie's awaiting us back at the Team Fatty tent.

We entered the outskirts of Davis, blazed around the few remaining turns, and suddenly we were there. The FINISH line. As we shot across the line there was a cacophony of ringing bells and adoring fans. The announcer humbly shouted something about how awesome we all looked as we flashed by his podium, but it was all a blur to me, almost dream-like. Ahhh yes, another GREAT day in the saddle, another GREAT day for Team Fatty.

It was now time for PIE!

And that is how I choose to remember those last 40 miles.

 Here is our tiny group of four that I finished with.

 Here is David (davidh-marin is his commenting name).
He is also my hero! 
(and btw: he rode the 100 on a tandem...earning further hero status).

A few of us hanging around well after most everybody else had gone. I just didn't want it to end!
And Finally!
After showering up, our small band of Fatties met for a final dinner on the town. 
Clockwise from the left, we have Lisa, Fatty, Angie, Rob, Christine, Greg and I.
Christine probably doesn't know it, but she has been sort of adopted by our little wacky group. She seems very quiet and reserved, but is really fun to be around. She and Angie rode together most of the ride, further entwining her into our little mob of fun. And Rob (his comment name is Zeeter) is an absolute HOOT to be with! AND btw, he's just completed (or soon to complete) his US Citizenship, as he's originally from South Wales.
And I'm pretty sure you know all about Fatty and Lisa.
That they don't run and hide from us is pretty encouraging!  

And now you know "the REST of the Story". It was once again just about as much fun as a person can possibly have. I was SO glad that Greg was able to come up again, as we just don't seem to get very much time together. And meeting up with our friends from all over the country from prior Fatty teams, and all our new ones just pushes the good-time needle right off the scale. I truly look forward to MANY MANY more fun-filled and DOING GOOD THINGS years with Team Fatty.


The end.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

My FAVORITE ride from home, Tepesquet Canyon

Today I FINALLY brought my camera and took a bunch of pictures of my FAVORITE local road-ride: Tepesquet Canyon (pronounced Tepis-kay). I do this ride this from my doorstep, so I have to suffer thru about 4 miles of traffic.... stop-lights, business entry-ways and such, though it's nothing that I'd consider life-threatening (I live in a town of about 90,000, and after just those few miles I'm on the outskirts of town). Not that I haven't ever had a few idiots who think they need to zoom by me and then quickly slam on their brakes and turn right (it's called the "Right Hook" maneuver). But I"m wary of this and keep a sharp eye out when I'm in traffic (cuz I HATE riding in traffic). That's why I LOVE Mt biking actually. But I digress.

Two miles south on Bradley Rd, I turn left onto Clark Ave. From here the next 13 miles are part of the Solvang Century ride which happens the first Saturday in March every year. I cross over the 101 freeway, I'm home free and in the country. An easy climb up Clark hill and then a zoom down to Dominion Rd where I turn right. From there about 2 more miles takes me to Dominion Grade, though I'm going downhill so it's quite a fun ride. Dominion T's into Palmer Canyon road which was recently re-paved (THANK THE GODS, it was HORRIBLE!) while I was on my travel sometime this year. Palmer takes me to Foxen Canyon, and from there I get out to Tepesquet Rd, which encompasses my first 15 miles (ie: my warm-up).

note: I must warn you now, this got quite LONG with a LOT of pictures. I guess that's what happens when I'm taking you on a virtual tour of my fav ride....hope you're comfy, and maybe you should have a canteen of water...OR an ice chest w/ a nicely chilled 6-pack or'll need it!)

Fair warning. On with the ride!

Here's the altitude profile from my Polar. I've edited it to show key points in the journey. And of course, the hill really isn't THAT steep, it just comes off that way in the Polar software. But it does get your attention, depending on how hard you ride it (and the temperature). The green line with dots is the temperature graph.

I'm about to turn left from Foxen onto Tepesquet. That's the canyon directly ahead at the far end of the picture, and we're looking over some of the Riverbench vineyards (Foxen Canyon has about 40 world-class vineyards on it). I'm 15 miles from home at this turn, the warmup is over. It's time to get serious!

The Tepesquet bridge. This was washed out when I first started riding Tepesquet years ago and I had to come in via a totally different route. The bridge was finished in 2009, and spans the Sisquoc river (not that there's any water in the river unless we just had some huge rains). The riverbed is QUITE wide, and once in a while we do get biblical rains and this will have water bank to bank (I've not yet seen it that high in the 10 years we've been here). At the far side of the bridge I zero my timer beginning my 'climb time' (what I consider the start of the canyon climb). To this  point from home I'm usually around 50 -55 minutes into my journey of fun. The climb to the saddle takes me between 45 and 55 minutes, depending on my level of 'suckiness'. Today my level of suckiness is at an all time high, so I'm taking pictures instead of racing.

About a mile up from the bridge I run into Santa Maria Mesa Rd (the way I came before the bridge was completed). It comes in from the left down a wicked steep pitch, and if you're on a bike you pass-thru this intersection at about 30mph, HOPING any northbound vehicles actually do stop.

The climb in the lower canyon takes me right past Kenneth Volk vineyard. 
Their wine is SUPERB! (and pricey). It was right at this spot in prior years that I've magically been out on the 'day of the spiders'. I'm not sure what's going on, but the brown tarantula's seem to ALL come out of their hidey-holes on the same day and MUST cross this road. Right here in this stretch I rode thru HUNDREDS slowly making their way across the pave. And on the way back 2 hours later there were sadly HUNDREDS of squished spiders. The first few I saw I'd use my front wheel and 'flip' the spider off the road (in the direction it was going, so that it wouldn't feel the need to go right back across). However then I started seeing more and more, so gave up that plan. I'd have been there all morning.

 Looking up the canyon. The road goes to the left of the double-peak seen behind the telephone pole. We've got a bit of SWEET riding to do before then though.

 This field was just bailed (as in Hay-bales) last weekend. Typically the home of LOTS of deer (I've counted as many as thirty). Today there's none as there's nothing to eat or lay down in.

 This field is just up from the last one, and was bailed a while back and has started to re-grow. Here you can see 3 does and a fawn (the one lying down, 2nd from the left). I see deer pretty much every ride here. I've even had them jump the fence right in front of me and clip-clop across the road and jump the next fence. They make jumping a 4 or 5' fence seem quite easy and graceful. They can also go pretty near STRAIGHT UP an embankment when spooked. I love the sound of their hooves on pavement!

 Half way up the climb is the Colson Cyn turnoff (it goes to the right, however I go straight on this ride). This is an all dirt road and goes up and over into another canyon, which will connect with a huge dirt ridgeline road called Sierra Madre Ridge. I've ridden over 50 miles of that ridge (in two different rides, as each has HUGE amounts of climbing involved). A few years back we had a huge fire back there in the Wilderness, and they were running the big air-bombers and water-dropping Sikorsky helicopters out of our little airport in Santa Maria. They fought it for over a week, and I rode Sierra Madre the next was amazing the amount of scorched land that a big fire can create.

 There are lots of "Horse People" in this canyon. I've heard there is some lady who breeds world-class Arabians somewhere on Tepesquet, though I've no idea which ranch is hers. Here you see I'm being watched as I ride. I love horses...wish we could have some. Though I'd still ride my Mt bike too. I know Jeannie would KILL to have horses again (she grew up as a "Horse-Girl" back in Ohio, didn't get her drivers license until she was 18 cuz she never needed it...she had a Arabian even).

 I've seen lots of things on this ride over the years, but THIS is a new one. A lady pushing her stroller DOWN the road, with a big German Sheppard on the leash. Not that there's anything wrong with that, however maybe she isn't privy to how people drive here. There isn't much traffic overall, some-days I hardly see any vehicles. Today I saw lots. It's a popular tourist route, and the motorcycles LOVE it. The locals drive their pickups a zillion miles an hour, sometimes pulling trailers. I've had a few scares as they are sometimes cutting corners, taking up more than their lane. And if you can see, she is walking right down the middle of her lane. Brave lady...I hug the shoulder and I'm still scared sometimes.

 Lots and lots of canopy as I ride. Also the temperatures in this canyon can vary wildly. In the winter once you pass Colson Canyon it can drop quite dramatically and be in the 40's up here in the upper half of the climb. In the summer it goes the other way and gets hotter in the top half. Today it's been rather decent....started in the 60's at the house, and low to mid 70's during most of the climb (I left the house at 8am today btw).

 A rural road water crossing. They don't bother with culverts...they just make a big concrete dip, and the water of the big storms runs right over the road. I've been up here in January a day or 2 after a big storm and it was flooded clear across (about 15' or more), and well over a foot deep, moving quick. It was quite scary to ride across actually. But we don't get rain much here, typically our rainy season is Dec, Jan and Feb. After that any storms are just a blessing.

 Out of the canopy for a while, it's getting hot quick. Temp is now suddenly in the 90's.

 The final turn before the top: the big switchback. The turns on this road typically have a bunch of gravel flung all over the apex from idiots who can't seem to drive on the pavement...but all my rides here thus far this year the road has been spic-n-span clean (which is AWESOME for the descent!)
 Out of the switchback, the road then veers left which is the FINAL turn before the summit. The pavement is actually pretty decent on this entire road, however recently they've done some repairs and we now have a bunch of "Tar Snakes", which can be deadly when the temps hit triple digits.At this very spot I saw my only Mt lion 3 years ago. He was loping along on the left edge (headed uphill) and seemed unconcerned with my presence, his long tail swishing as he loped. Then suddenly he (she?) went right up that embankment (and over the barbed wire fence at the top) as easily as I walk up 2 or 3 stairs. That bank is about 30' high and nearly straight up btw, the picture doesn't show the scale very well. Then next year after the rains I was seeing 2 sets of lion tracks on these upper parts of the climb: a big set (mama) and a little set. They'd go right up the shoulder for a ways and then disappear. Any Mt lions in this area must be quite wary and avoid people and livestock, or they'd be quickly hunted and killed by the locals. I think it's real cool to know they can live here in harmony with the people.

 And this is the top of Tepesquet (I call it "the saddle"). Woo-HOO! The orange pylons are sectioning off the road to just one lane off to my right, where the winter storms from this year (which I missed as I was in England) washed out the bank right up to the edge of the pavement. Not sure when it will get repaired, hopefully before our next rainy season! The top is right at the V in the middle of the picture. The altitude at this point is around 2100' (Foxen Canyon is about 700' down at the base of the canyon).

 Looking down the other side, where it gets REAL FUN! The climb up from Foxen is 10 miles, with the majority done in the final 5 miles. On THIS side it's a 3 mile descent of 1100 feet, then a 2 mile ride to the turnaround point.

 Speaking of the turnaround point, here it is...where Tepesquet "T's" into Hwy 166 (which is NOT a good place to ride a bike, at least not if you like to live anyway). Notice how there aren't ANY pictures during the descent. That's cuz it would be hard to stop from 30mph or so to take one, let-alone to be gawking around at the scenery as you descend a super-windy steep road with HUGE embankments to fly off of.

 Heading back towards the climb after the turnaround. Notice the windmill on the right...don't see very many of those anymore.

As I had stopped to take the picture of the windmill, I heard some noise behind and to the right of me...and these 2 wild turkey hens just climbed right up the bank and crossed the road (arguably to get to the other side?) They seemed not to notice me at all, as I was just standing there quiet with my camera. I see wild turkeys all the time on this ride. 

I even have a pretty good "Tom" turkey call, which makes the turkey-boyz come-a-running during THAT time of year. I've seen cars stopped on the upper reaches of the climb as a few hens are browsing over 3 or 4 toms, all fluffed out and marching around trying to impress the ladies, smack-dab in the middle of the road. Seriously...I've got a pretty good "gobble-gobble-gobble". But it involves flinging my face back and forth quickly, making my 'jowels' flap around (much like Hooch flinging drool all over the place in the Tom Hanks movie "Turner and Hooch") which is what creates my extremely authentic turkey-talk . If there's ever a turkey-call contest, I think I'd do quite well. Maybe I should apply to one of those talent shows (or not). Don't think I could bear to having Howard Stern criticize me (THAT would be the ultimate 'Pot calling the kettle black'!) Not really a Howard Stern fan, and it bothers me since XM and Sirius merged to think that he's getting some of MY money (I've had an XM subscription for about 10 years now). Oh well..can't blame him for getting a huge gotta love Capitalism and a free country!

 And here we are at the start of the climb back to the saddle. It gets somewhat steep from here, averaging about 6-7% grade for the 3 miles to the top. And during the summer months once you leave this canopy it gets HOT HOT HOT! Today it's right at 99 as I start the climb (about 10:30am).

 Just past the signs is the first switchback. This climb isn't messing around, tho it's a great climb and a BLAST to descend (ESPECIALLY since there's no road debris in the apex's of the turns this year!) If only I could be assured there were no vehicles! (the tighter the turn, the more honest you need to ride it, as there could so easily be a vehicle cutting the inside as it descends...I've had one or two SUPER scary moments here...but never an actual incident). I can't fathom why a vehicle would cut the another vehicle on a blind-turn when you're in their lane and it's game over, probably for BOTH of them. Yet they still do it.

 A view of what it looks like with no canopy and the temp now at 103. Thankfully today I'm taking pictures and doing a "just smell the roses" ride (mostly as I was sick all week, and the bug is still in my I'm just out to get in a ride and hopefully fling out some goo on the way).

About half way up, another good switchback. Again, typically LOTS of gravel in the apex but NONE today once-again!

 More full-sun climbing, nearing the top now thankfully. The tar-snakes are alive and well suddenly, as the temp is holding at 101 (meaning the blacktop is MUCH hotter than that).

 Here's a shot looking down at some of the twisties near the bottom of the descent.

 VERY close now to the top. Ahead the road turns left at what I call "summit-turn". Once you get there your pain is almost at an end, as it's a nearly straight shot to the top.

 Just past Summit Turn, nothing but tar-snakes to stop you now! I typically do this 3 mile ascent in 20 to 22 minutes. Today that was not the case, but I did enjoy the climb (stopping for pictures was a good idea!)

And I'm back at the top (in a mere 100 yards I mean). I always pull off the road on the left in a small blob of shade after this climb, to eat a snack and drink about a half-bottle of water. After this begins the descent back down the front-side, the top 5 miles of which are an absolute BLAST! There's only 2 turns sharp enough that I need to come out of my aero-bars and use brakes on, the rest is a blitz at whatever speed I can maintain (depending mostly on the wind). If there's no headwind coming up the canyon it's near 40mph most of the way. However I've descended this at 18-20 due to horrid winds, and when they are high up this far it bodes VERY BAD for the return once I leave the canyon and turn west for home.

 I'm now out of the canyon and past Foxen Cyn onto Palmer Cyn rd. Here they again laid some new blacktop while I was away. THANK YOU GOD! This section was absolutely of cobblestone intensity before the new surface. Every year there is a road-race on this very road, the Sisquoc Classic. It's a bunch of college teams, and they do laps until somebody dies (I think). The road was THAT BAD! They will be pleasantly surprised the next time they race! I know I'm almost always fighting the wind during this leg and bad pavement is just adding insult to injury. Now I only have the wind (and my lack of conditioning) to blame. If only we could lose the wind...I'd LOVE to be able to lament that my lack of conditioning was the ONLY reason I'm slow thru here.

 Nearing the end of Palmer Cyn (at least as far as I go anyway) and the beautiful new blacktop. After this it's pure CRAPTOP for the rest of my ride home.

 Here you can see the CRAPTOP pavement. This is Dominion Rd (and Grade) which turns right from Palmer Cyn. This little grade is always a soul-crusher after fighting the wind the last 7 miles or so...but I've only got about 8 miles to home from here!

At the top of Dominion Grade this herd of cows is always hanging out. You just don't see many cows (of the female variety) with horns anymore. Not sure sure exactly what kind they are, but I am assuming they are milk-cows. Which means this rancher is very brave! I think if I were milking cows, I'd want them with NO horns. And these aren't just any horns..they're a pretty good span, and SHARP.

 Turning left off of Dominion onto Clark Ave. My home stretch. Clark Hill has about a 3% grade, which is no big deal, except for a 10+ mph cross/head-wind nearly every time I ride. It's the Hand of God pushing you back, slowing you down. It's very frustrating I can tell you.
 In case you don't believe me about the wind...this is just off the road to my right (so I'm pretty much riding directly into the Hand of God as usual).

 The false summit and real summit of Clark hill. You can't see the final summit (up past the trees) from the Dominion / Clark only see this false summit. It's crushing to get up here in all that wind and see you aren't actually at the top. False summits (and the wind) are PURE EVIL!

 Just below the real Clark Hill summit, looking back. That's Tepesquet Cyn nearly dead center in the pic, a brown hillside slanting down left to right with dark brush and such above it (which is on the hill on the other side of the cyn). In this pic it looks a LONG ways off...but in reality it's only about 10 miles from here.

And my final picture: looking down the other side of Clark Hill into civilization. Near the bottom of the picture there is more new pavement, which crosses the 101 freeway... and just like that I'm almost home. Cresting Clark hill is quite a thrill to my weary legs, as this downhill is a 30mph burner, even into a head/crosswind. The only danger here is turning REALLY need to keep an eye on them! From here it's only 5 miles to home, and it goes by VERY quickly! In fact, I've timed this section and it's 12 minutes to my driveway, depending on how many red-lights I catch.

And there you have it: a pictorial review of my most best-est road-ride (that I can access from home anyway). I've been meaning to do this for years now, and today seemed like a good day. My little bug I picked up last weekend is still with me, residing in my chest yesterday and today. I feel much better though, only the coughing is the problem. I believe I finished today's ride minus one lung, part of my liver, and also missing my pancreas, gall bladder AND spleen...all of which have been hacked out somewhere on the pave. But I feel better tonight than I did this morning, so maybe going out into the heat doing 60 miles is a good thing.

I hope to kick this bug completely during the coming week, as next weekend is LIVESTRONG Davis! My brother Greg and I will be driving up next Friday morning, getting there in time to help our "Sist'a from another Mist'a Angie do her grocery shopping for our Team Fatty takeover of the Cycling Hall of Fame (which goes down Friday evening). Saturday will bring a fun short ride somewhere, along with much coffee and hanging out in the LIVESTRONG Village, and then the Awards banquet Sat evening. I don't know if I'll be going to the banquet for sure this year or not...I didn't do very good in my fundraising, being gone 4 months of the year thus far. But I've done what I can (and I won't stop fundraising after Davis either...I keep putting out my Muffins, Bagels, Fruit, and Yogurt at work all year long with my profits going to LS). And Sunday is THE RIDE. This year they've cut out almost all the climbing (WHY?) on the's under 1000' now. I don't get it. Who wants to do a FLAT century? I might just ride the metric with my Sist'a Angie (while I'm assuming Greg will get in a FAST group and shoot for a sub-5 hour 100 miles). I'm just there to have FUN! And eat PIE! And BRATS! And re-aquatint myself with Team Fatty..which is a WONDERFUL group of people!

And so...a few things before I close this GINORMOUS'ly LONG post. I see they (USADA) are going after Lance. I won't go into that much here, as there are so many places that discuss stuff like this (especially over at Rant's place!)...but WHAT a waste of our tax dollars IMO. And I'm constantly flabbergasted by people who are ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN he was a doper. I mean, I can see having 'suspicions' and such, but to be SURE? What is the evidence? You know, that pesky thing called PROOF? I sure hope I'm never accused of any crime and THESE people are on my jury...I'd like to think in THIS country we are innocent until PROVEN guilty. And obviously he's never been proven guilty, or this wouldn't be happening cuz he'd already be in jail and had his TDF titles stripped. I say everybody needs to take a chill pill and wait and see what's PROVEN. Just a thought. No vigilante hangings please!

And FINALLY...the Tour Divide race is still on-going (here is the link again):

OMG is this SUCH an INSANE race! The 2 leaders are past Rawlings Wyoming today and going strong, so far on pace to beat last years mens record. And Ester Hornayi...she is on pace to KILL Jill Homers womens record set back in her 2009 ride (of which Jill wrote an AWESOME book detailing her struggle called "Be Brave, Be Strong"). I peek in on the map a few times a day and just MARVEL at the inhuman-ness of these folk. The 2 leaders are riding almost 180 miles a day...which is just BEYOND INSANE! They will be entering Colorado tomorrow (where it gets REALLY hard!), having passed the half-way point (around 1300 miles) sometime yesterday. I just peeked...they're over 1550 miles and going strong (at 11:35pm Wyoming time btw!). I used to think the TDF (and the Giro, and the Vuelta) were the hardest races in the world. I've changed my mind. THIS is far and away harder. And it's SELF-SUPPORTED! Carry your own stuff. Find and BUY your own food. Fix your own bike, or carry/push it to a shop (wherever that might be) if it breaks. Ride as long as you want. Sleep (or NOT apparently) when you want. And try NOT to die. Just amazing!

And with that I bid you good-day (night).