Bicycle

South Texas: North McAllen Short Loop

So, I’m in the Rio Grande Valley visiting my family this weekend.  I didn’t want to get behind on my training so I borrowed a Kuwahara mountain bike from my aunt (no one rents bikes here). 

I visited a couple of local bike shops (Wally’s Bike Shop and Bicycle World).  They all told me about Team McAllen’s bike rides and Mission Trails mountian bike trails.  I initially wanted to ride South to the border (10 miles away) but my mother convinced me that I’d get shot, so I decided to ride north.  Here was my 18.5 mile route.

http://www.mapmyride.com/route/us/tx/mcallen/442126669243653281

The flat landscape is flat and populated with crop fields.

I ran into a cyclist that encouraged me to do 6 mile laps with him but I decided to keep exploring.

Maybe I should have joined him.  A few minutes later, I got attacked by two dogs!!  They ran out into the street and started snapping at my feet.  I freaked out and paused.  They gained more control.  I swerved to the other side of the street hoping they wouldn’t follow me. I screamed at them at the top of my lungs, “NO, NO, STAY BACK!”  They still were barking and snapping at me.  One of them bit me (not breaking skin) and got me by the sock!  I decided the only way to lose them was to ride faster, and I was right.  I should have never slowed down to begin with, they just caught me off guard.

A passing car shouted at me “Necesitas un látigo!” (You need a whip!).  I imagined what it would be like to ride a bike and use a whip at the same time.  I have often been afraid that dogs might attack me on my bike, but this was the first time they actually did.  I wonder what other people do about it besides try to out speed them.

After this, I decided to head back.  I wasn’t sure where there might be more dogs.  On the way back, dogs that were fenced in large lots of land would aggressively chase me along the fence until it ended. Sheesh!

I made it back to my parent’s place safe but I think I’ll ride more in developed places this time, perhpas I’ll even ride to Mission Trails and check it out.  Hopefully I can squeeze another bike ride in.

Bicycle

Twin Peaks: Sketchy Tire

Yesterday I rode up Twin Peaks with Lynn.  I rode on my holy tire patched up with inner tube patches and made it up and back safe.  Later on in the day, I got a new tire and tube at Box Dog Bikes and am waiting for a spare in the mail from Terry Bicycles.

This ride was for Jen who I met outside of ALC and found out she was a roadie!  Thanks for your support Jen.

Bicycle

Paradise Loop

Thank goodness for 3 day weekends.  Monday, Presidents Day, I decided to ride around Paradise Loop using the CATSeries route.  I have done the half loop in the past and it is from the opposite direction.  It felt like a completely different ride.  Since I was alone, I thought this would be a good time to bring along the PStyle, a way to help cunted creatures pee standing up.

I feel like it’s really hard to use the restroom when I’m on long bike rides alone with all my gear and  the bike I don’t want to leave alone.  I thought the PStyle would be easier and more stealth than popping-a-squat somewhere along the ride.  I ended up having to pee a few times on the trip but only actually used the PStyle once.  It felt like everyone and there mother was riding Paradise Loop this President’s Day holiday.  I also found myself wondering which rich person’s front yard to pee in.

Paradise Loop is beautiful, so I stopped at a place with a nice view to use the Pstyle.


I was standing here peeing and pretending to look at the view longer than expected!  Cars and bicyclists passed by.  I think they knew exactly what I was doing.  As I was packing my phone and Pstyle away, cyclists asked if I was okay and had everything I needed.  I really chose the wrong spot to go!  Next time I’ll try to be a little more discrete!

Other than that, the ride was lovely.  I’ll give the PStyle a formal review after some more testing!

I went home and cleaned my bike and finally replaced a folded inner tube on my front 24″ wheel.  The tube ended up exploding twice!  I looked closely at the tire and realized that there was a hole large enough to cause the inner tube to pop.  I immediately ordered a tire from the Terry website.  I also patched the tire itself with an innertube patch in hopes to make it up Twin Peaks in the morning.


Bicycle

Hawk Hill at Sunset

I decided to do a shorter ride today up to the Marin Headlands and Hawk Hill.

http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=3476041

(still figuring out the best way to map routes)

I left my place round 4:30pm.  Unable to pull myself away from a Brothers & Sisters marathon, I got off to a late start.  Just in time for sunset!

On the way there, the bridge swarmed with tourists.  It’s always a challenge dodging people enamored by the view.  Though the climb was challenging, the traffic was more frustrating than the hill.  What a beautiful time to be at 830ft above sea level.

I <3 SF.

Bicycle

Twin Peaks: Zero Visibility

Yesterday, I woke up to the sound of cars swishing on wet asphalt.  I wondered if it was too wet to ride but decided to gear up anyway.  I used to be really resistant to spandex because I saw it as a barrier to people riding bicycles.  Though you don’t have to wear spandex or Lycra to ride a bicycle, it can have some magical effects!  Right leg warmer, left leg warmer, right arm warmer, left arm warmer, shorts, undershirt, jersey, socks, ratchet cycling shoes, yellow neon reflective jacket that’s a whole lot of gear and once it’s on I better be going for a ride!

Air misty, roads wet, drivers crazy (as they always are in the rain), I headed out on my ride up to and up Twin Peaks sponsored by Carnal Nation, a San Francisco based sex positive news and entertainment website.  (Check it out, they’re cool!)

Compared to the previous day’s climb up San Bruno Mountain, Twin Peaks was easy!  The weather effected the number of people usually on Twin Peaks.  I saw a jogger, a man walking his dog and no one else! Usually there are tourists checking out the amazing views.  The weird thing about yesterday was that there was no view and I could barely see 20 feet in front of myself.

I’ve never seen it that way.  I found myself wondering “Does anything exist beyond this fog?”  It was hard to remember what it looks like on a clear day.  It felt like a different place.  Trippy!

Thanks again Carnal Nation!  I’m still looking for my Twin Peaks rides sponsors for next week!

Bicycle

San Bruno Mountain

I am embarrassed to admit that I have lived in the Bay Area for 8 years and only heard of San Bruno Mountain a few weeks ago.  Lynn’s roommate Terra, took a ride up there recently and described the climb as a challenge.  I unexpectedly got today off from work and decided to go for a ride.  I picked up my Bay Area Bike Rides book for inspiration on where to ride and found a ride for San Bruno Mountain.

Bay Area Bike Rides sucks because it gives you directions on how drive your bike somewhere to ride.  This doesn’t help me at all, I would just like a route from somewhere in SF to San Bruno Mountain.  I cross referenced the San Francisco Bike Map, the Krebs South San Francisco Bay & Monterey Bay Areas map and the SF2G Bayshore directions to figure out a route there.

I did well until I got intimidated by the traffic on Bayshore.  I ended up going in circles to avoid it.  I got frustrated and on top of that my heart was a little heavy thinking about some recent sad news about a friend.  I almost gave up 15 times but something kept me going.

I took Bayshore to San Bruno to Guadalpe Canyon and up to the summit road Radio Road. Oh my, they call it “Radio” for a reason!  There were so many towers, antennas and dishes, I swear I could feel my brains frying.

The view up there is amazing!  I tried to take pictures as ominous gray clouds started rolled in.  I imagine you could see the whole bay area from there!

The descent was steep, windy and cold.  Brrr… I was so cold I sang a song about being freezing, hoping it would warm me up.  The descent felt like it went on forever.  I wondered how the fuck I climbed that far to begin with.  I decided to get back into SF by way of Carter to Geneva and Mission.  I’ve always hated riding down Mission.  Traffic sux!

San Bruno Mountain was definitely challenging in many ways and I hope to go back sometime with company!

Bicycle

Twin Peaks

For the past couple of weeks, I have been riding up Twin Peaks as part of my AIDS/LifeCycle training.  It was Lynn’s idea, she lead the way my first couple of rides up (kicking my ass, of course, cause she’s so good!)  I’ve gone alone the last two times and I’m beginning to really like it.  While on the Tiburon ride I came up with a fundraising strategy and tweeted it.

“Just realized, a $60 sponsor for every ride up to Twin Peaks for @AidsLifeCycle would meet my fundrasing minimum. Takers?”

Theresa Ikard replied, “Take a picture of yourself with view in background at top of Twin Peaks for every sponsor & you know I’ll be the first to pay!”

I took her up on it and prepared to ride up Twin Peaks for her sponsorship this morning.  Before I left my apartment, I made a little sign that said “Thanks Theresa!” on it to include in the picture.  I even practiced taking a self portrait with the sign using my iPhone (the design iPhone sux for self portraits).  I almost left without a spare tube or a pump but decided to run back in and grab a 700cc tube and a pump at the last minute.

I’ve been trying to follow the same route that Lynn lead me on the first time.  I’m unsure of the best decent but I’ve missed a turn down Burnett, recommended by Lynn, every time.  Maybe I’ll try to hit it next time.

Half way up Twin Peaks on Portola, I got a flat in my front 26″ wheel, even though I read somewhere online that the chances of getting a flat in your front wheel are way less then getting a flat in the back.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have a 26″ tube w/ me or a patch kit.  I decided to fold up the 700cc and keep going, motivated to fulfill the ride and terms of the sponsorship.

While fixing my flat, a passing bicyclist said “you should just walk your bike to a store to get it fixed.”  I said I was fine but really, I was nervous.  After pumping up the fixed flat, I yanked the valve out of the pump and broke it!  Part of it just came right off (it’s still in the pump). Good thing the air stayed in.  I hopped on my bike, made it to the top and took a picture for Theresa.  I ended up at work safely and on time!  This ride is getting easier every time.

Would any one else like to be a $60 sponsor for my ride up Twin Peaks to support the AIDS/LifeCycle? 33 more rides up Twin Peaks to go.

Bicycle

Tiburon

Today I joined an ALC training ride facilitated by The Positive Pedalers across the Golden Gate Bridge and around the bay to Tiburon.  We followed the CAT Series Tiburon 30 mile route (39 miles from my apartment.)

Unlike the crazy rainy days we’ve been experiencing all week, today was gorgeous.  Our ride pulled in a few riders from yesterday’s rained out event which made this the largest group of people I’ve ridden with so far (at least 30 people).  Bicycle traffic was a little hard to negotiate throughout the ride, especially at the beginning.

Though we all heard the safety speech and guidelines about riding in big groups, other groups on the rode didn’t follow similar etiquette.  I’m used to riding in small groups (5 or less) and in my experience, the more people involved the larger role ego and competition play.

I definitely felt pushed to keep up my speed today.  I was determined to stay with the front group.  Since there were so many of us, we were riding in a single file line.  I don’t get caught up on placement in that line since we’re all essentially going the same speed.  Many times on this ride, someone would struggle to advance a place in the line only to cut off the person in front of them.

I can’t decide if it’s more annoying than when the people who make it to the stop light last cut in front of the line of cyclists waiting for the light. The person who cuts to the front usually holds everyone up when we get rolling again.  We’re all forced to pass them until the next light comes. The only time this doesn’t bother me is when the person is really faster than everyone waiting.

At first, I was a little disappointed about how short the ride was.  I decided to ride hard and fast to make up for the lack of distance.  (I even think I rode the fastest I’ve ever ridden, down the Sausalito Lateral at 33.4 mph!)

At the halfway point, Shark’s Deli, I tried to convince a few people to do an extra climb with me up the Marin Headlands or Twin Peaks.  No takers, so I decided to keep the break short (less than 10 minutes) swallow a Clif Bar and head out with the guy who was the fastest to get to the halfway point.  He really helped me keep up my pace (though he did wait up for me a few times at lights).  I had the easiest (though not easy) time of the Sausalito Lateral.

I stretched on every break during the ride and I spent about 10 minutes stretching at the end.  I think I want to do at least 20 minutes next time.  When I was done with that, I bought some cycling socks at Sports Basement.  I can’t wait to try them out!

During the ride, I fantasized about riding up Twin Peaks at least twice a week.  Then started playing with numbers.

  • 17 weeks till the ride
  • 34 rides up Twin Peaks
  • $2000 more to raise

If I could only get people to sponsor me for 60 dollars for each ride I do up Twin Peaks to Train for the ride, not only will it encourage me to keep up my training, I’ll make my minimum fundraising goal.

I think I’ll update my AIDS/Lifecycle donation page to put it that way.  I might even tweet it right now!

I guess it’s worth a try!

Bicycle

San Francisco San Mateo Partial Loop

Today, Lynn and I expanded on our South Bay ride, Sawyer Camp Trail to Woodside followed the SFtoG Bayway route backwards.  This time, we went a few miles further to the Milbrae BART station to complete a 60 mile ride.

It was much like before but took less time. We knew where to go and didn’t need to stop and look at the map.  (Thank goodness, since I forgot it at home!)

This time, I got some pictures of the cats by the San Mateo Bridge and more info about them from a sign on the trail.  Apparently, an organization exists, The Homeless Cat Network, to care for and control the population of these cats.

We also passed by a few golfing facilities including Mariner’s Point Driving Range.

Since we beat the sunset this time, we got to check out more amazing landscapes.  I really want to go back with more time and a better camera.  (Also, check out how neat this area is from a satellite view.)

On this ride, I became inspired to step up my training for the AIDS/Lifecycle.  I think this means two longish rides on the weekend and some shorter rides during the week.  I never made it to the spinning class.  6:30am is a little early for me to do anything.  I did however make it up to Twin Peaks before work one day this week. We’ll see!