Marshall Wall

Yesterday I joined the ALC training training ride to Marshall Wall, the last ride in the CATSeries!  One of the reasons I haven’t gone on more group training rides is because they start REALLY EARLY in the morning.  I understand that the route opens early during the actual ALC ride, but it’s hard to get up at 4:30 in the morning during regular life hours (people got shit to do).

So, yesterday, I woke up at 4:30am to meet up with the group at 6:15.  I drank some coffee and tried to force some food down.  This was difficult, I wasn’t hungry.  I rode to Sports Basement (about 7 miles) and was annoyed that my food hadn’t settled yet.  Blah!  I got there a little late, the group stretch had just begun.

After stretching there is usually some kind of motivational, “this is why we ride” speech that always makes me cry.  This time, someone who works on the HIV hotline that the foundation supports, talked about a recent call from someone who just tested positive. I cried all the way to the bridge. I think it’s a combination of the way this epidemic has effected our community and the world and emotions about the ride being so close.

This ride began like most rides. Cross the bridge, Marin Bike Path, Camino Alto, Fairfax, Nacasio, Cheese Factory… blah, blah, blah.  The most nerve wracking part of this ride was the anticipation of “The Wall”.  Apparently there was this hill somewhere that got the nickname because it was so steep.

I began to anticipate “the wall” as I turned onto Marshall Road.  We were on this road for quite some time.  All there were were small rolling hills.  I began to question the existence of this “wall” and began  creating an elaborate story about how this was all a big joke on the newbies.  The wall didn’t really exist!  They just wanted to psyche us out.  I kept waiting for this hill and finally I got to it.  It wasn’t a joke.

It was a really long climb, and there were definitely some steep parts, but I wouldn’t call it a “wall”.  Maybe it was easier because of the disco support vehicles blasting ABBA, The Bee Gees and Gloria Estefan’s “Turn the Beat Around” (which I got stuck in my head for the rest of the ride).

The iPhone pic app has never really done justice to the views I see riding in the Bay Area, but here’s a view from the top of the wall right before it got even more beautiful. (P.S. If I can find a new camera before the ride that mounts on a bike/helmet, I’m going to get it!)

This ride felt great over all.  The disco support and our other support vehicle encouraged me along the way.  I also ate and drank very well, did yoga at very rest stop (!), and had a lighter more aerodynamic setup.

I didn’t really start feeling the miles until I hit the Marin Bike Path (about 15 miles from home).

This was amazing, the best I’ve felt on a long ride yet.  I take it as signs of getting stronger and learning how to take care of myself on the ride.  I’m super excited/overwhelmed for the ride.  All I have is a few Twin Peaks rides to go!  Whoop!


Getting Ready

14 days till the big ride!

I spent the last week taking care of logistics:  shopping for necessary gear, lightening up my bike, getting a tune up, finding a return trip for my bike. (That reminds me, I need to find a return trip for myself!)


I pretty much have everything I need by this point.  I love to camp, so I’m set in the camping gear department.  There are a couple of things I still want to buy.

I’d love an extra pair of cycling shorts.  I have two that I love and one that seems promising (I guess I’ll have to try them out on the ride).  My problem with shorts is that I don’t like a lot of padding.  I think it gets in the way.  Everyone kind of looks at me funny when I say that.  I think it’s because I have the BEST SADDLE IN THE WORLD!  The Selle Ldy.  It’s specifically a woman’s saddle, but so many men were using it that they now have a “Man” version (which looks the same, maybe a bit longer, and says “Man” on it).

I also thought I’d pick up an extra jersy, if there’s a good deal on one.  I’ve always wanted to try out the wool jerseys… but they’re hella expensive.  I think I’m destined to wash some of my gear on the road.

Lightening Up Bluey

New bike setup

My bike, Bluey, is a 2003 Terry Symmetry.  I originally installed a rear rack so that I could carry gear for bike camping!  I’ve been training with that rack and one pannier this whole season.  I love to over pack and feel a sense of safety from just having extra room to stash stuff.  This week, I decided to lose the weight and the wind resistance.

Simplicity is beautiful.  I removed the rack and added a medium seat wedge pack for my tubes (I need to carry 2 because I have two different sized wheels), patch kit and multi-tool.

So far, I have only used one water bottle in addition to my CamelBak , so I installed another water bottle holder and sawed off the top of an old water bottle to make another storage compartment.

I also figured that I have a lot of space in my CamelBack to put any extra layers of clothing.

I still have my Bento Box snack holder, which I carried my snacks and cellphone in (though I may want to consider a different place for my phone, since my Clif Bar got stuck to it all the time).

I’m seriously considering a small handle bar bag because I’d like to take pictures on the ride and want a handy place to keep my camera and or phone. I’d also like a handy place to keep a route sheet besides my snack bag.

More details on stuff to come.  I’m still gathering!

Tune up!

Earlier this week, I called around looking for tuneup availability.  Because I waited ’till the last minute, everyone was booked for at least a week and some ’till June 3rd!  This wasn’t going to work for me.  I still needed to train and needed some time to ride around and evaluate any changes.  I tweeted for some guidance and got a few good responses.  My new roomie, Mo, suggested a new bike shop he saw open recently, Treat Street Bicycle.  It’s a small single mechanic run shop with same/next day service.  How absolutely wonderful.  I love supporting the little guy.  Ben, the owner/mechanic was super nice and got my bike back to me in less than 24 hours!  Awesome.  If you need a mechanic with a quick turn aroud, Ben’s your guy!  Take cash, he’s cash only.

There are more logistics I have to take care of for the ride.


Training Rides in Review

I’ve been so busy training and moving apartments that I haven’t been able to update my blog.  So here’s a brief summary of the rides I’ve been doing in the past month or so.

Twin Peaks

Point Reyes – 80 miles, April 18th

I decided to skip the last day of International Ms. Leather to ride to Pt. Reyes with Lynn to train.  We were going to do the 80 mile Tour de Cure ride at the beginning of May, so this was a good precursor.  The most lasting memory of this day was the intensity of the sun.  We bought some spray on sunscreen, but it was too late.

ALC Day on the Ride– 70 miles, April 24th

The day on the ride was really cool!  We went on this great route to the south bay and Canada Rd.  I wish I still have the route sheet, cause I’d do it again.  There was a significant amount of climbing and people who have ridden in ALC before said it was harder than any day on the ride.

Tour de Cure– To Benefit the American Diabetes Association Ride May 2 80 mi

Lynn and I rode in the Tour de Cure with the SF Citadel team.  I was pretty stressed out from moving apartments and the logistics of getting to Napa, finding a place to stay, and driving a car.  Once we got on the ride everything was great.  The sun was really really intense, but we were pretty vigilant about applying sunblock.  I drank a lot of water but I still got dehydrated.  The most unfortunate thing about the ride was the use of plastic water bottles.  This broke my heart every time I loaded up water into my CamelBak and water bottles.  I ended up with about 3 plastic water bottle carcasses at each rest stop and the beginning and ends of the rides.  I must have used 14 bottles of water.  This really upset me.  I need to give some serious feedback.

Other than that, the ride was great.  Near the end, I started getting some cramps in my feet and needed to stop and stretch.  After that I decided to get some Specialized Body Geometry footbeds for my cycling shoes, and they’ve been working great!

Fairfax and Tiburon loop- 63 Miles, May 8

Last weekend, I went on a solo ride to Fairfax and back around through Paradise Rd.  I ran into a lot of people training for the AIDS/Lifecycle.  Some of which just started training that day!  They looked strong, I’m sure they’ll be fine.

Point Reyes/ Cheese Factory– 93 Miles, May 9

Getting back on my bike for a 93 mile ride after riding 63 the day before was a little bit challenging.  I was sore and not as quick as the day before, but I had a lovely time with Lynn.  We snacked along the way including buying some cheese at the Marin Cheese Factory.  Unfortunately we accidentally got cheese that was supposed to be ready in 90 days, but we ate it anyway!

Petaluma- 101 Miles, May 15

I’m happy to have completed my fist century ever! Lynn and I followed the CATSeries route to Petaluma.  It was incredibly beautiful and hilly (climb of 8059 ft).  There was a section called Wilson Hill where I actually thought to get off of my bike and walk.  My relationship with hills has changed a lot since training for the ride and this was the first time since I started training considered walking up a hill as a viable option… Bu there was no way I was going to walk it.  I just kept at it and eventually met Lynn at the top of a beautiful vista.  It was like a fairytale.  I remember asking “are we still in California?”.

18 more days!


Marin Headlands and Bicycle Mirrors

My intention was to make it to the ALC training ride to China Camp.  Last time I rode to China Camp  I under ate, got a sun burn and really burnt my eyes.  I was going to use today’s ride as an opportunity to have a more positive experience on the ride.

A couple of days ago I started feeling congested and I have been sneezing a lot.  I wasn’t feeling so hot, so I decided to wake up when my body wanted to.  This meant that I missed the group training ride.  This was good though, because it would allow me to get ready at my own pace and do some basic maintenance (lube my chain, fill tires, etc) before heading out.

I left my place at about 11:30am.  It was completely overcast and kind of sprinkling.  Before heading over the bridge, I headed to Sports Basement to pick up some snacks and a rear view mirror for my sunglasses.  I picked up the Third Eye bicycle mirror because it was pretty cheap and I’ve been considering this accessory for a long time.

I thought it might be useful when riding with big groups and on the Golden Gate Bridge.  I surveyed people about their thoughts and the number one reason why people put down mirrors was because they look dorky.  Of course they look dorky, but doesn’t all cycling gear kind of look dorky? (in a sexy way, of course!)  One person did think it could become dangerous to rely just on the mirror and not your other senses or turning your head to look for traffic.  All the other feedback was positive.  Everyone who was wearing a mirror loved it.

Lynn sent me a link to an article making a case for the glasses mounted mirror.  I was reminded of the time when an RV drove way to fast and close to me (an article Lynn wrote for Sierra Magazine ) and thought about how a mirror might have helped me feel more in control.

I decided to give it a chance.  I looked up some DIY examples and hoped to build my own.  I just didn’t get around to finding the supplies before making it to Sports Basement.

The 3rd Eye mirror was kind of hard to work with.  I had a hard time adjusting it to the place where I wanted to actually see.  The mirror was so close to my face it was hard to focus while paying attention to what was in front of me.  It did help me see a couple of cyclists that quickly gained on me and passed me on the bridge, but I was still startled by a few.

I’ll give it a few more tries but I’d also like to try the Messenger Mirror or make something similar to it.

Back to the subject.  I wanted to go for at least a 40 mile ride today but the sprinkling and my congestion was a little discouraging.  I decided to ride up to Hawk Hill and back.

When approaching Hawk Hill, I reached a road block.

So I decided to turn down McCullough and loop around through Bunker, Alexander and back on to the bridge.


I rode a little shy of 20 miles and wished I would have gotten in a longer ride today.  Looks like it will be pouring all day tomorrow .  I’m going to have to come up with some creative cross training!


Marin Headlands and Short Loop

Saturday morning, Lynn and I raced out to Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands to wave off her sister as she began to run the Golden Gate Headlands Marathon.  Once we were out there we decided to ride a short loop up Camino Alto and back over Alto Hill.  After that we rode back to Rodeo Beach to congratulate the runner.

She didn’t win the chicken purse but she got a shiny medal!

We then headed back to the city to retrace our steps another time.  We ended up riding about 53 miles with a 2871 ft ascent.

Check our our route here!


Good times.


Training Recap

Oh my!  I’v been so busy training, it’s been hard to find time (or engergy) to blog!  I’ll take this opportunity to list what I’ve been up to the last two weeks or so.

Twin Peaks sponsorship rides.

I’m still riding up Twin Peaks for sponsorships and I have to say, I love riding up Twin Peaks!  The last sponsors were my Grandma and Grandpa and Daddy Jane!

Death Valley

A few weekends ago, I traveled to Death Valley to celebrate a community ritual, a friend’s birthday celebration called Smoldering Woman.  We rented a Ford Escape and drove down to the Mojave to camp and dance in a field of rocks with our amazing peeps.  I can’t remember the last time I drove a car but you know the saying “it’s like riding a bicycle,”  I felt very comfortable behind the wheel.  I brought my road bike with me with a new universal car rack that works for both SUVs and cars. I was worried about the bike but it stayed on the car even in the most crazy back road routes.

We camped about a 30 minute drive off road of the main street, West Side Rd, close to Furnace Creek on off Trail Canyon Rd.  The night after we drove in, I decided to drive out to the main road and ride in the direction of Badwater.

Badwater was about a 10 mile ride from where I parked.  I took a restroom break and checked out the scenery.

The weather didn’t seem to be bad, but it was dry and sunny.  Five more miles out and I ran out of the water in my 70oz Camelbak. There were no water sources in sight and all I had left was my 24oz water bottle.  I decided to turn back!  I figured I could ration the water out.  The 20-30 MPH headwinds (along with up to 45 MPH gusts of winds) caught me by surprise on the way back.  I found myself praying for each mile marker as they came up on the road.  I eventually ran out of water and considered flagging down a car to see if they could spare some drops.  It took me twice as long to get back to the car than I expected and I was pretty beat up by the wind.  I  made it back to camp to find out that my tent had blown away and my friend rescued it and staked it down for me.

The next day, I convince a friend to drive into Furnace Creek with me and rent a bike from the brand new Furnace Creek Cyclery.

We then rode a short climb up to Zabrisky Point, a few miles back and returned to Furnace Creek (about 15 miles round trip).  This trip I packed my PStyle, a pee funnel, and I found it very useful and amazing.  I might have even been a little too liberated by the PStyle and decided to pee right at the view point at Zabrisky Point.  I later felt a little bad about it… but not too bad!

Just before sunset was the perfect time to ride in Death Valley.  The wind was manageable, the sun was comfortable and the view was absolutely amazing!  I can’t wait to go back.

Lagunitas Out and Back (52mi)

Last week, I joined an ALC Lagunitas ride. I intended to take the ride slow but somehow ended up at the front.  While in Marin, a fellow ALC rider tailed me pretty closely and I stopped without warning at a red light.  Realizing how close he was following, I swerved to the right and he grazed my left pannier.

We were both fine and ended up buddying up for the rest of the ride.  I feel like we kept each others pace up.  He pushed me on the flats and (perhaps) I pushed him on the hills (which I’m starting to feel great about, BTW!).  I rode at a faster pace than I had ever gone for a sustained amount of time, maybe too fast considering I was going on a longer ride the next day.

China Camp (62mi)

I love China Camp.  It’s the first place I ever bike camped too a few years ago.  This time I went with the ALC training group and looped back around through Paradise Drive to make it back home on the China Camp CAT Series route.  I was missing Lynn, since the last time I was there was our crazyfun winter camping experience.

I intended to pace myself on this ride and somehow got caught up in the fast front group.  I was pretty exhausted from the ride the day before and fell behind the front group.  I was pretty isolated from the other riders and somehow missed the lunch stop!  This was a mistake.  I did eat a Clif Bar and stretch a little but I don’t think this was enough.  I dragged through the ride until I finally sat down for a meal after about 2/3 ways through the ride.  I also didn’t have sunglasses or sunscreen and the sun really did a number on me!

I learned my lesson and picked up a bento box frame bag to encourage me to snack next time and some sunglasses to protect my eyes.  I also promised to never do that to myself again!

Tiburon Loop (40mi)/ALC EXPO

This past weekend, I participated in the ALC Expo which included a 40mi ride and an event that had discounted gear, bike fitting and tuning from Mike’s Bikes and a raffle for really cool stuff (that I didn’t win).

The ride was the CAT Series Tiburon Loop.  My goal for this week was to pace myself.  I hooked up with a group of riders that generally waited for each other and did the ride with them most of the way.  I had a good time riding with them and getting to know them a little.  I decided to cut my last break short so that I could get back home and get ready for my self suspension bondage performance at the Art of Restraint, a fundraiser for Femina Potens, later that night.

Back at the expo, I got a quick fitting from Mike’s Bikes and adjusted my seat forward and down a bit.  The guy fitting me was nice, patient and explained everything. Even gave me some posture tips that I had heard before but never really could do with my seat too high.  I applied his advice and tips from a fellow rider on my next ride and felt even more amazing about climbing hills!

Nicasio Loop (68mi)

It was super hard to get up at 6:00 after performing late at the Art of Restraint the night before.  I may have to cut down my late night obligations for training.  After some coffee, I felt okay and ready to take on the day.  The ride to Nicassio was beautiful and I felt super strong climbing Camino Alto, White’s Hill and that hill up to Nicassio.   I was feeling pretty tired around mile 55 and realizing I still had to ride up Sausalito lateral to make it home.  In the end, I made it and stretched a bit in the Sports Basement parking lot.  I went home and pretty much plopped in bed and played online.  I really didn’t have much energy for anything else.  Hoping to get even more riding in in the next week!


Two Bird Cafe, San Geronimo, CA

Yesterday, Lynn and I rode up to Two Bird Cafe in San Geronimo, CA.  We used the CAT Series route to Lagunitas.  Our route included the notorious White’s Hill, a one mile 8-9% grade climb.  The last and first time I rode up White’s Hill was on my old Frankenbike weighted down with gear for camping at Samuel P. Taylor State Park.  With my improved shape, less gear and a lighter bike, the hill was definitely easier than I remember it.

Soon after the hill, past Nicasio Valley Rd, we reached San Geronimo Valley Drive and the Two Bird Cafe.  After sitting down for a yummy breakfast and way too much coffee, we headed back to San Francisco.  Instead of getting right back on Sir Francis Drake Blvd, we took a the very scenic San Geronimo Valley Drive until it met back up to Sir Francis.

God, I wish I took more pictures.  I guess I’ll have to go back!


In the past week or so…

… I’ve been a bit busy:  Work, San Francisco rope bondage events, attending an Ultimate Surrender (NSFW) live show, racking up some mileage…

3 Twin Peaks rides (22mi)–  Each 765 ft climb was sponsored for $60 to support my frundraising efforts for the AIDS/Lifecycle. Thanks Moe, Joe, Mom and Dad!

Marin Headlands (38.5 mi)–  I just got off my bike from a ride up to Hawk Hill and a week ago today, I continued down the steep Conzelman Rd to complete a headlands loop. (very close to this mapping //

The road down from Hawk’s Hill was very steep and fucking beautiful.

South Bay To East Bay via Dumbarton Bridge (60mi)-

Lynn and I modified our southern ride to cross the Dumbarton Bridge. At first it was hard to figure out how to get onto the bridge’s bike lane.  We rolled through a lot of mud and finally found a crooked set of crazy looking stairs that lead to the bike lane on the bridge.

The ride across the bridge included a sweet view of the bay and interesting marsh areas.

Looking forward to a ride up north tomorrow!


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.


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.


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.