Smooth(ish) Sailing


I might not have had time to test the new bike fully on Saturday, but you can bet I took full advantage of the long weekend to test her out Monday. And man, what a great ride it was! Hilton, Julie and I synced up with Mike (who sadly missed our early weekend adventures) at the Safeway in Menlo park for a 21 mile Woodside-Portola Valley loop. This was a new route for all of us, and I have to say… we really enjoyed it. There were no major climbs, but we passed the access points for at least two that could be easily added to make the ride more challenging (some other day). All but one road had a large shoulder, and the scenery was great. Highly recommended!

After a minor mishap involving me, a brand new bike and a dropped chain 500 yards out of the parking lot, we started with a baby climb up Sand Hill Rd. True to form, Hilton all but sprinted up the thing, leaving Julie, Mike and I to follow along behind him and varying speeds. We reached the summit and were treated to fresh roadkill deer (ew) and a nice decent. Or, more accurately, a descent that would have been nice had a minivan not raced up behind me and honked loudly for… existing (at least as far as I can tell). Asshat. Because startling and knocking over a cyclist going 30mph or so who isn’t even in your lane is such a good plan? Apparently he thought I should take a major highway on-ramp in order to better stay out of his way. Grrrrrrrr!!

Moving on. I spent most of the ride focusing on two main things: learning my new shifters and chasing Hilton’s tail. I’ve heard you improve the most when struggling to keep pace with people who are faster than you. I’m not sure if it’s true yet… but trying to catch him – or even just trying not lag too far behind – was certainly more challenging! The new bike was both fantastic and frustrating. I’ve never had a smoother ride (oh how I love thee already carbon frame!), and the bike felt very responsive on those “I can almost get him, or at least stay ahead of the guy pulling the baby in a cart” sprints… but I was *really* struggling with the stupid half-click front chain ring positions. In some ways I felt like I was back in time two years, trying to how to learn how to shift all over again. At least I didn’t have to re-learn how to clip too!

Beyond some terrible gearing noises (and a second dropped chain just before we ended), there isn’t much to complain about. California apparently realized that Memorial day is traditionally the start of summer and gave us absolutely beautiful weather. All the roads we hit were nicely paved, and everyone was riding pretty strong – if a bit strung out (definitely still some wildly different speeds). I tested and shared a few new food/drink samples and actually found a couple winners! (I seem to be cultivating popularity on rides by bringing enough snacks to share… even when they kinda suck. Guess I’m not the only one who likes to try out new eats!)

Brand Flavor Rated (1-10) Notes
Food
Clif Bar Mini Chocolate Chip 8.5 Possibly the highest rating I’ve ever given a bar. Clif took some of their classic flavors and shrunk them to roughly 1/3 of normal size. I already liked the flavor, but *really* dig the tiny form factor. I’ve never managed to eat even an entire half of a Clif Bar… so this is perfect for me.
Clif Shot Chocolate 3 Clif giveth and he taketh away. I don’t want to chew my gels – ever. Chocolate toothpaste might have sounded cool to me as a kid, but as a cyclist looking for a quick, easy to eat snack? Not so much. The flavor didn’t compare to the GU version and the texture was terrible.
Luna Sport Moons Pomegranate 8 I expected to hate this. Pomegranate just sounds too… rich for a successful cycling food. But I have to say that I was shocked at how much I liked the flavor. Super tasty tart-but-not-too-sour goodness and the exact same nutritional goodness of a Clif shot. I’ll be stocking these.
Drinks
Clif Electrolyte Drink Lemonade 2.5 I think I’ll just rule out the rest of the Clif energy drinks out now. Same problem as the apple from last week – decent upfront flavor (actually slightly better than the apple) and a crushingly salty aftertaste. If I can’t do Gatorade, there’s no way I can do these.

We celebrated our ride success and the holiday with the traditional Memorial Day meal – P.F. Changs – and vowed to hit that same route up again soon. As it turns out, we’ll be riding it again tomorrow!

OH! And for all my data nerds: Garmin is in the process of shutting down MotionBased and migrating to their new site, Garmin Connect. Most of my activities have already been moved over, save a few larger ones that will lag a few weeks. The new site is pretty awesome — I love the look and feel, and the player functionality — so I’ll likely be uploading all my rides there going forward (MotionBased is actually shutting down for good later this year… I’m just trying to stay ahead of the curve!). That said, GarminConnect does not yet have any ViewPorts that I can export for this site, so for now you’ll have to deal with screenshots from my dashboard. Never fear – they’ll still click through to all the ubergeek info! Check it out!

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What do we have here?

An often sarcastic, occasionally humorous journal of my training adventures in preparation for the Livestrong century ride. I took up cycling back in '07 in hopes of meeting new people, and, with the help of Team in Training, making my small positive difference in the world -- and haven't stopped spinning since. Follow along as my Trek road bike and I try and hash out our differences, hopefully with me upright and in the saddle.

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