Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The San Francisco Randonneurs' Fort Bragg 600km brevet: A history and stats

The Fort Bragg 600km is not the most frequently run SFR event and it isn't the one with the most participants in a given year, but as there is a notion of progressively longer events within our 'PBP Qualifiers', the Fort Bragg 600km has some luster as a 'signature' brevet.


The route from SF to Fort Bragg and back is attributed to Daryl Skrabak though it is listed on the RUSA site as submitted by Todd Teachout who was the SFR RBA when route numbers were first assigned to existing and new routes. According to RUSA records, this route was first run in 1999 with Daryl Skrabak as RBA. Much like PBP itself, though not for the same reasons, the Fort Bragg 600km was not run every year. Daryl ran the brevet once in 1999, and after that it was next run in 2004 under 2nd year RBA Todd Teachout. Todd listed the event again in 2005 through 2007. After a gap year in 2008, the event was again run, this time by 2nd year RBA Rob Hawks with subsequent versions run from 2010 through 2018 (which was the longest consecutive string of years for the event).

The FB 600k has been run as early in the year as April 10th (1999) and as late as July 7th (2004). Since 2009 it has always been held in May.

The start time varied in the early years, with a dual start time in 1999 of midnight or 04:00 depending on the speed of the rider. Though the start time in 2004 is unknown, as of 2005 the start time settled in as a morning start, varying between 07:00 and 09:00 until 2009 when it was changed to 06:00. In 2012, to avoid conflict with the Amgen Tour of California the start time was 05:00. In 2013 the event returned to the 06:00 start time where it has remained.

The route

The route has been changed little since 1999, but thankfully, many of the miles of highway have been repaved in those years including long portions of CA 128, including the famous Tree Tunnel section. Two changes to note are that until 2015 the start and finish were at the Golden Gate Bridge visitor plaza at the south end of the bridge. In 2015 the finish was moved to East Beach at Crissy Field which allowed for a much nicer reception for the riders and much calmer place for those waiting to greet the riders. In 2016 following a widening and repaving of Sir Francis Drake Blvd, the return from Point Reyes Station to San Geronimo changed from a route through Nicasio to a route through Olema and over the Bolinas Ridge via Sir Francis Drake Blvd. This actually shortened the route enough so that the start was also moved to East Beach at Crissy Field.

The route is rumored to be the most difficult (paved) 600km route among the four Northern California brevet clubs (Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Davis and San Francisco). Ridewithgps lists the total climbing at 19,353'. This reputation seems to hold true if one looks at finish times as they are generally longer than those on other local 600km routes, but the elevation gain on the Fort Bragg route may not be as much as Ridewithgps advertises as many riders record between 17,000 and 18,000 by the finish of the route.

In the early years, there were no staffed controls on the course. Since 2007 there has been a staffed water stop. In 2007 this was so unofficial that it was not listed on the route sheet and was only organized the morning of the start. Since 2009 a staffed water stop has been an official feature of the brevet though it is not a timed stop. Until 2013, that stop was at Paul Dimmick Campground, less than 7 miles from the coast. Since then the official water stop was 15.5 miles further east, near Philo, CA at the Indian Creek campground. Now, the term 'water stop' pretty much undersells the true nature of that course feature. When first set up in 2007, it was not much more than a water stop, having been devised and deployed on the fly the morning of the event. Two volunteers pretty much asked the riders what their favorite ride food was and made a list of the answers, did their best while shopping at the Healdsburg Safeway and then drove up to Paul Dimmick campground. In 2009, that water stop was formalized as noted above and began to offer both hot food, and tents and sleeping bags for those riders wanting to punctuate their ride with some sleep. Even though the location did move, the 'water stop' is as deluxe as a campground can be with a wide menu of hot food and drink, a campfire and multiple tents for sleeping. In 2016, the radio podcast Nocturne recorded a two part episode that does a deep dive into randonneuring in episode 23, and then in episode 24 visits the Indian Creek campsite and features how the randonneuring community works together to see riders finish.

Weather and scheduling

Weather is always an issue on this ride if for no other reason than that the riders are out for roughly 25 to 40 hours. Day time vs. Night time temps always range widely even on good weather days. Weather was likely most a factor on the 2007 version when it began raining on the riders around the 50 mile mark in Petaluma and it continued for perhaps 20 more hours. Since 2009 the event has generally been favored by 'good' weather (no rain, moderate winds) but even then the temperatures ranged from ~100F to 45F on the same day. This can happen quite quickly too. In 2012 in the span of less than 35 miles (from the Yorkville Highlands to the junction of CA 128 and CA 1) the temps ran that complete range as riders left temps of 99F at the Sonoma/Mendocino County line and 49F when they reached the coast in wind blown fog as the sun set. Wind is often present at some point on the route and most typically so on the stretch between Healdsburg and Cloverdale where riders get 'relief' from the wind by climbing up to the Yorkville Highlands. Headwinds return for the crossing of the Anderson Valley and then riders once more get a break, this time from the Tree Tunnel. Once clear of the Tree Tunnel headwinds return once more where the route meets the coast at the mouth of the Navarro River and slow the riders on the run up to Fort Bragg at the nornern terminus of the route.

In 2018, the date for the event was pushed later in May hoping for a little better overnight temps and possibly less wind. That effort was a failure. While the very early morning temperatures were not any lower than in any previous year, they were low for a much longer period of time. Similarly, the wind was no stronger than any other year, but it was strong for much longer.


There have been 447 participants on the event through 2018. Since 2016 when this history was last published there has been a bit of a shake up on the list of most frequent participants. Bob Buntrock broke the tie with Richard McCaw as the riders with the most completions, but Bob had to miss the event in 2018 owing to a broken hand and everyone moved a little closer to him on the list. Here are the most frequent riders of the FB 600km:

( There are 15 riders with as many as 4 Fort Bragg 600 finishes, and 25 more with 3 completions.)

Name # of finishes
BUNTROCK, Robert 10
MCCAW, Richard 9
HAWKS, Rob 8
POTIS, John 6
MASON, Aron 6
ROSS, Roy M 5
UZ, Metin 5
GERNEZ, Raphael 5
KILGORE, Bryan 5
DUQUE, Carlos 5
LYNCH, Theresa 5
BRIER, Bill 5

For women completing the Fort Bragg 600km route, here are those with the most finishes:

Name # of finishes
LYNCH, Theresa 5
COLEMAN, Juliayn Clancy 4
BANKS, Debra 3
HONDA, Nicole 3
ASTRUE, Elaine 3
ARNOLD, Megan A 2
ANDERSON (nee FRIEDLY), Gabrielle 2
TUNUCCI, Veronica 2
BONNETT, Karen 2

Ride times

The Fort Bragg 600km brevet has been ridden by a wide range of randonneurs. Of the 447 finishers, 55 have been women (12.3%). The youngest rider to finish was 18 years old and if I recall correctly he had celebrated that milestone event in the weeks just before participating. No data is available for oldest rider but I know several that were in their 60s at the time of finishing.

Max Poletto, Bill Brier and Carl Anderson hold the shortest elapsed time at 23 hours and 33 minutes. This is the only finish time under 24 hours, and there are only 4 other finishes under 25 hours (three of those occuring in 2018) and a grand total of 13 finish times under 27 hours. Tom Haggerty holds the current longest elapsed time and he is unlikely to ever relinquish that time. There is a story behind this time and Tom's record is 40:00.

Geoff Hastings and Peter Burnett used to hold the record for multiple finish times with the largest difference in time. Both have their shortest and longest times over 9 hours apart and that spread is still noteworthy, however Tom Haggerty now holds the record of widest margin between shortest and longest finish times: 28:53 done in 2014 and the above mentioned 40:00 from 2007. Michael Bloomfield is perhaps the most consistent finisher. All three of his finish times are within 7 minutes of any other of his finish times.

Here is a chart showing the break down of finish time ranges for all 447 participants:

Finally, here is a table of the starters per edition from 1999 through 2018, NB: RUSA doesn't have DNF numbers available to RBAs prior to 2009:

Date # of Starters # of Finishers # of DNF riders First Finishing Time Mean Finishing Time
1999/04/10 13 33:15:00 37:10:00
2004/07/10 5 32:23:00 33:35:00
2005/06/04 13 28:50:00 34:56:00
2006/04/22 9 26:51:00 34:03:00
2007/04/21 24 28:18:00 35:33:00
2009/05/30 33 32 1 29:12:00 34:16:00
2010/05/22 58 52 6 28:06:00 34:49:00
2011/05/07 67 58 9 24:50:00 34:46:00
2012/05/12 35 28 7 27:34:00 34:05:00
2013/05/11 40 39 1 28:36:00 35:09:00
2014/05/10 52 44 8 26:22:00 34:00:00
2015/05/09 66 53 13 23:33:00 33:40:00
2016/05/14 29 23 6 27:50:00 32:42:00
2017/05/13 28 21 7 28:25:00 33:37:00
2018/05/19 39 34 5 24:15:00 32:45:30

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Lots and nothing at once

Looking back, it has been a dog's age since I've last posted to this blog, and in the intervening time a lot has happened. Mostly, that 'lots' that has been happening has caused kind of nothing to happen from the perspective of a a largely cycling oriented blog, and there I probably tip my hand as to what that 'lots' will mean.

So the last post prior to this one was a write up of Paris-Brest-Paris 2015. In spite of the episode of hives taking away some of the luster of the last kilometers of that ride, or rather shortly after getting that all of out my system (head included) I came back to California and continued to ride and by the end of the year I hit my annual mileage goal of 10,000 miles. 2016 began well with good rides on the early season brevets in January, in particular a pretty good time on the Napa 200 for a day that was rainy for most of the day and especially on the San Francisco Randonneurs' (SFR) Pierce Point 200km. That ride has always been tough for me. It has 8,500' of elevation gain even though there are no monster climbs that stretch for miles which means you are climbing frequently. Death by a thousand cuts? For that route I had seldom finished under 9 hours (one time I finished in 8:55). In January of 2016 I managed to finish in exactly 8 hours, feeling really great so 2016 was off to a really great start. Or so one would think.

The day after riding the Pierce Point 200km, I had one day left to get my highest January mileage. At that time, it was (and remains) 938 miles in the month of Janaury. I needed a nice recovery ride, and I had Sunday afternoon, the 31st, free so I took off to ride in the Berkeley/Oakland Hills on a really nice, warm winter day. My route was up to The Steam Trains, and a bit beyond. I was trying to get 25 miles in. On the way down from The Steam Trains there is a section of swoopy S-curves. On my way around the first big bend just as the roadway temporarily straightens out there is a dirt section on the verge where a number of motorists have pulled off the road way over the years. I still had some speed going, but I was riding the brakes out of caution. As I arrived at that spot, a truck is off the road and perpendicular to the pavement and in the next instant the driver guns it and begins to cross the road. I assume he had looked my way (his left) and then looked to the right and then pulled out but by that time I had cleared the curve. He stopped short, blocking the entire roadway and I had two options: go down on the pavement and hope I stop before hitting the truck, or, well, hit the truck. I hit my brakes, and I recall working to control the rear wheel trying to squirm away, and I tried to steer to my left at the only spot that might get me around. It did not work and it really had no chance. I slammed into the drivers side door, busting off the entire mirror and leaving a Rob sized dent in the door panel.

My bike was wrecked, my knees were in agony, my chest hurt from the impact of the mirror, and I was having trouble assessing if I had more injuries than those which were making themselves most known right then. Turns out everything I noted then would be ok in a *relatively* short time frame, and only the next day did I realize my right wrist was damaged and feeling worse. X-rays the next day showed nothing broken but an MRI several months later revealed fraying of the tendons with an increase in 'noise' on the imaging of that area, and to this day I still have some periods of pain in that wrist, but mostly I can manage things ok. I rode much of the rest of the year with a brace on my wrist til the point came when the brace was actually holding the strengthening back.

Even with the brace on my wrist, I had some good rides through the spring and summer including my first sub 28 hours 600km and first sub 12 hour 300km. Through August of 2016 I had continued my R-streak and had gotten up to 92 consecutive months. That September I had a four day weekend show up on my calendar so I convinced two friends to join me in going up to Yosemite to ride Tioga Road on the weekend after Labor Day weekend (when our guess was that there would be much less traffic, but still some good weather. We were right.) The ride up from Hogdgon Meadow to Crane Flat and then out and back to Tioga Pass via Tuolomne Meadows was fantastic. So was the hike the next day. What wasn't fantastic was that on the drive home I developed excruciating pain in my right heel. There had maybe been some warning signs with stiffness in the heel in the mornings before hand, but the ride folowed by the hike followed by sitting in the car for several hours triggered a full blown case of plantar faciaitis (PF). Labor Day weekend and the Tioga trip passed and it is now getting late in the month. SFR had a populaire planned for one of the remaining weekends and just like that I was out of options to fit in another month with a 200km RUSA event. So ended my streak of 92 straight months with at least one 200km a month. That really didn't bother me so much, but all this was a rather rude welcome to turning 60.

At the end of the year I was still getting PT for my wrist, and now I had to get my heel treated. My primary care doc recommended wearing a cam-boot to follow up all the other changes I was to make to address the PF: better shoes, more stretching. I was skeptical of the boot, it just didn't make sense and it really didn't feel better to use it. In fact, it felt worse, but when I conveyed this I was told this was the best option. Through the first four months of 2017 I juggled treatment on my foot with riding and trying to stay in shape. I was loosing fitness slowly, even though I would still have a number of pretty good rides. In fact, through that time riding was my only relief from the heel pain. The pedaling motion was gentle enough to not put much strain on the heel and with my heel never touching the ground I was never antagonizing the inflamed plantar facia. Alas, in late April while on a short walk with our dog I had an misstep crossing the street and a blinding pain began in my foot. I was unable to walk at all for days and finally got sent to podiatry where I got a cortisone shot. The idea was the cortisone would give me a break from the pain and allow the PF to heal. For a week it was great, for the next week it was still pretty good and after that it went right back to square one nearly overnight. With that development, I was ordered back into the boot (despite my arguing against that) for a minimum of 6 weeks. I managed to keep riding, even with the boot, by putting an over-sized pedal on my commute bike, but my daily mileage was dropping fast.

Dropping fast. I was about to find out how fast. And how hard. In late May, on a commute home from work on a Friday I stopped short of crossing an intersection to wait for the next light cycle and in circling back my rear wheel got caught and while my bike stopped dead, I did not and I landed hard on my right elbow. X-rays confirmed a non-displaced fracture of the radial head. Now I could not ride and I could not walk, and this is where the 'nothing' part of the title comes in. For the next two months I could find no outlet for exercise and I began to gain weight at a rate of more than a pound a week. The only silver lining in this is that the forced time off the bike allowed my wrist to get a bit better (still pain every once in a while). All this coincided with an absolute shit environment at work that caused a lot of lost sleep and a lot of stress. The only positive development during this time was that I was finally beginning to get some relief from the constant heel pain. I had started EPAT treatment and felt immediate lessening of the severity of pain. The pain never went away totally though and after many treatments I reached a plateau that was short of complete healing.

It is safe to say that May, June, and July pretty much sucked. Out the other end of that meat-grinder, I was finally cleared to begin riding a bike in mid-July. This was a mixed blessing though because while I was clearly happy to have the medical restriction removed, I had to confront a distinct loss of fitness, and some pretty intense elbow pain after only five miles of riding. Each ride saw the threshold for pain pushed further out, and some PT addressed the loss of range of motion in the elbow (I still can't straighten my arm as fully as I could before). I had missed doing the full Super Randonneur series again this year (I'm stuck at 9 and have been since 2015. I missed my 400km last year and missed the 400 and 600 this year) and missed the Double Brevet weekend trip, and missed a whole bunch of other rides but getting back on the bike, albeit slowly, in July meant I still had a shot at recovering enough to do the 2nd annual Tioga Road ride. My friend DHK helped by riding with me on one of those first short rides, and I joined Scott, Anne and Mark for my first 200km after the injuries in late August. I did make the Tioga Ride and while I was the slowest rider there, I still had a good time. The Davis DART at the end of the month was my return to brevet riding via a team event, and slowly but surely I'm putting the puzzle pieces back together. I still am concerned though that I won't get back all of what I've lost. My best days on a bike may no longer be ahead. That is sobering and saddens me.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The third time around

I had been planning this trip to participate in Paris, Brest, Paris (PBP) since August of 2011, and back then, still buzzing from the experience of completing the full PBP route for the first time I had no idea of what would change for me before PBP 2015 would arrive and what I'd have to go through to get there. On the departure day for the trip, I found I was way behind in preparing despite ample time to get ready, and a mountain of good intentions to be ready. That left me feeling very stressed and uncomfortable.

Elaine Astrue had promised to do all the route finding for a pre-PBP shake down ride out to Rambouillet (a destination I hadn't visited on past trips, despite trying) once I arrived in France, and Jim Bradbury joined us for the day. That ride was fantastic. All the built up stress washed away and the route took me on entirely new-to-me roads and had the advantage of getting us out into rural landscape so much more quickly than does the official PBP route.

Despite that wonderful ride, plus another short ride over to Versailles (checking off another new experience) during the days leading up to PBP I felt off, so much so that I skipped joining the big group that rode out to Gambais along the official route on the Friday before the start. I had noticed some small bumps on my arms which at first I thought was poison oak or the French version of that and over the next few days those spread to my ankles and shins. I found out much later that there is no such French equivalent to poison oak, and at the time I did not directly connect this to my feeling "off". Mid-afternoon on Friday I finally roused myself from the torpor I was in and got out on the bike for my own short, Garmin directed recon of the first part of the course.

I was treated not to the sunshine of earlier in the week but instead to a passing storm cell, but it was timed such that I could wait it out in a small bus shelter out near Jouars. I was not alone in taking a late ride that day and ended up sharing the bus shelter with another rider, Robert, who was also from the Bay Area. I didn't mind the rain so much because I could see it would pass in minutes and I also had noticed that I wasn't enjoying direct sunshine so much anyway. Another data point that I'd fail to connect.

As in 2011, the bike check on Sunday was dramatically calmer than that the day before held for the 80 and 90 hour riders. The 84 hour riders are a much smaller group, and all the details of processing the riders had been worked out by then. I would spend the day resting, watching the day time starts for the 80 and 90 hour groups, eating a leisurely meal and then packing and getting a full night's sleep before my own 05:00 start on Monday. All the excitement of that Sunday was something I could watch and record but I was not compelled to participate, which was just fine with me.

Early Monday, a fair sized group of SFR riders gathered for the first wave of 84 hour start. Todd Teachout, Metin Uz, Gabrielle Friedly, Barry Schwartz, Rafael Gernez, Grant Haidinyak, Kris Jones, Elaine Astrue and possibly others were all in the same group, all close together, not quite at the front. In the dark we rolled out of the Velodrome driveway, on a tangent off of the traffic circle and through a sleeping St. Quentin and were cheered not by the hundreds and perhaps thousands of spectators of yesterday but by a few scattered dozens of spectators. I know this lack of fanfare will pay many dividends later, but while I see this as an advantage others see it as missing out on the very nature of what PBP has grown to become .

Despite best intentions of riding as a group, our knot of SFR riders got spread out among the other 300 riders in our start wave and we lost contact, then found only a few miles down the road that we were within yards of each other all along. I felt ok, but not great. I could certainly roll along and keep up with others but there was  no spark to my riding. My legs weren't dead or leaden, just lacking an ease of motion that should have been present on a peak event.This didn't alarm me because I knew that on a ride of this length, there will be many low points all followed by high points, both emotional and physical. There is always a high point ahead. I could have used more to eat early on that morning  but I made it to Mortagne-au-Perche where riders wouldn't need to get a stamp in their brevet card but where I knew there was food. A bowl of Purée, a plate of Potage and a Jambon and I'm topped off. Barry and Kris were outside ready to roll and I hurried to join them and we three rode together for many more miles.

I'm not really keen on the segment between Mortagne and Villaines la Juhel (seemingly busier, less rural roads) and I found I needed to work just a little harder to keep the pace but it wasn't above a level I couldn't manage. One thing on my mind was the anticipation of the food. On a particularly hard ride my body may burn up to 10,000 calories a day. Food, and tons of it, will be very important for the next several days on PBP. In 2011 I had arrived in Villaines with the memory of 2007 and expected not to find anything to my liking. In 2007 I had left there not having eaten enough by half and it made the rest of the ride harder. Well no, it made it impossible.
In 2011, to my utter delight,  I found the food to be fabulous and (discreetly) ate piles of it. The difference between 2007 and 2011 was me of course, by 2011 having set aside my narrow food tastes in favor the need for fuel. In 2015 I was so looking forward to eating well again there and that is exactly how it turned out.

Up til then I had only handed out one or two of the SFR pins but from this point forward I kept a supply handy in a pocket and took the opportunities to pass them out when they came. In Villaines the dining hall set up is that local school children are tasked with carrying the tray for the rider and finding them a place to sit and using the opportunity to practice speaking English. I look forward to the controls as a place to interact and observe riders from around the world and Villaines has become my favorite control town for this reason of course but also because of the interest the town shows toward the riders.

Between Villaines and the next control in Fougeres I knew the terrain would get hillier but it also got much more scenic. Cost and reward. Before leaving town I had to stop though to put on a cover for the leather saddle as it had started to lightly rain. I never did don full rain gear, only the saddle cover. Leaving Villaines after a few kilometers there is a pretty long climb and I was happy to trade a small amount of being damp for the freedom of not wearing rain gear. Before Fourgeres I got caught in about 45 minutes of very mild rain, never falling hard enough to convince me to stop to put on a jacket or rain shoes.

I could tell that the rain would stop soon if I could just get out from under the edge of that little rain cell. The rain gods just toyed with me for some reason. I recalled as I tried to ride out from under that cloud that for three editions running, I had experienced rain on that same segment, but this time was the easiest to deal with. 2007: hours of dreary, wet skies before and after with the rain never heavy, never light. 2011: Biblical level downpours with enormous rain drops vaporizing upon impact with the pavement and black clouds and lightening showing you exactly which way the route would turn. 2015: light rain and the clear edge of the rain cell just 200 meters ahead. An ever moving 200 meters. It took 45 minutes to ride those 200 meters, as if Lucy Van Pelt controlled the clouds.

In many controls, the actual recording in the cards (handwritten times and a control specific stamp) is done in one place which might have a small cafe adjacent, but the main cafateria and dining for larger crowds of riders would be elsewhere. The Fougeres control might be where there is the most physical separation between those key locations. Most riders would get stamped first and then ride back to the cafeteria, but not all. I did not keep that in mind and on the slight down hill roll back to the cafeteria I began my left turn into the bike parking area just as another rider was speeding up to pass on the left. A small nick on my elbow and scuff on my shift lever was all that resulted from my fall, with the other rider staying upright. In the middle of his apology he stopped to say 'hey, nice bike by the way'. The collision was certainly half my fault and I feel I got off easy with the nick and minor scuff. Once upright and sorted out, I went in to the cafeteria and through the food line, ate and then decided to go through once more. Doing that allowed me to eat with Elaine, Michael Sokolsky, Barry, Kris, Gabby, Eric Norris and others who all arrived in Fourgeres a bit later than me.

Eric and I left together after what was for me an 2+ hour stop and we picked up Elaine at the edge of town and we three kept more or less together till well past dark. Fougeres is a long way from the half way point and yet very quickly we 84 hour starters (frame plate groups X, Y and Z) began to pass a number of riders from the S and T groups which had started 9+ hours before us. There were quite a number of them and they all were wearing what must have been every garment they had with them. They did not acknowledge us as we passed. The 'Thousand yard stare' would have been an improvement over the expressions they carried on their faces. And yet they rode on, and we would see many more of them later as we put Brest in our rear view mirror the next day. By Tinténiac, the weather had cleared more completely and I stopped just short of the control to perform a costume adjustment and to don reflective gear, letting Eric and Elaine go on while I got picked up by Kris passing by moments later in the last kilometers before the control. Another meal, of slightly larger than modest proportion, and we kitted up for night riding and set off in twilight with a very slight crescent moon setting.

We all skipped stopping at the non-control food stop in Quédillac and in the darkness a larger, international group formed. Conversation died off as both the group grew larger and the darkness became more complete. Riding at night always feels faster than you actually travel and I kept invoking the back light on my Garmin just to be sure. We did have a fairly nice pace going though, thanks in large part to two members of the group that filtered up to the front and were content to stay there and pull the pack at a pretry good clip. I credited Elaine for finding just the right peleton for this leg of the route. Robert Sexton had joined us earlier and after Eric had stopped to shift fluids Robert dropped off too and I tailed off the back where I felt a little safer and less of a hazard to others, but keeping Elaine in sight the whole while. Things would get a little chaotic when our pack would catch another and we would need to sort things out as we passed. This always required a short sprint each time when I would suddenly realize a gap had formed. In 2011 this segment was the scene of very intense and troubling thunderstorms for the group I was in (Jack Holmgren, David Walker, Ed Yu and myself) but this time the sky was littered with stars. Four years before this segment hammered me, but this time I rolled along much more at ease. Around about La Chèze Kris and Barry caught our group. First Barry and then Kris would roll off ahead and then fall back and rejoin us. We were much nearer to Loudeac now and I was content to maintain a steady pace for the rest of the leg. Part of that contentedness mentioned was because I knew I was well ahead of 2011's pace. Once in the control at Loudeac we split up with Barry and I getting drop bags and heading off to rooms at the Hotel Voyagers, spotting Andrew de Andrade and Anton Brammer before leaving. Those two were on their way out of the control around 01:30. This arrival time for me was several hours earlier than four years before and I intended to spend all that time gained by sleeping longer this time.

After nearly six hours off the bike I returned to the control just after dawn to see if I could find any familiar faces and Eric and Elaine were there and we left town as a group. I continued to use my arrival and departure times from 2011 as a yardstick of my progress and while I was leaving Loudeac a little later than in 2011, I felt confident that I'd make back all the extra time that I had spent sleeping. Perhaps the hardest leg on PBP is the segment between Loudeac to Carhaix in either direction, because the hills are more frequent and while never long using Bay Area standards, they are steep. Our group handled them well. In Saint-Nicolas-du-Pélem we needed to stop as this was anot outbound  secret control and I took the opportunity to have another Jambon. Finishing up business before departing I ran into Theo Rolfe who was on his return to Paris. Theo gave me an update on several other SIR riders that I knew and after wishing each other well we each went our own way.

For what seemed to me to be the only time on the entire ride it began to warm up a bit as the fog of the morning began to clear. Carhaix, the next control, was another chance to eat which we took and our group left town and passed the point where the outbound and inbound routes separated. Though hillier, this portion of the route was a big (and welcome) change from the agricultural landscape we had traveled through before. From Carhaix we went northwest toward and through Huelgoat which passes park land along the way. Elaine challenged me to pronounce the name Huelgoat, but I knew better than to even try. Chris Selby Smith from the UK, who had joined us earlier came through though and nailed the pronunciation. The route would later rejoin the inbound leg as the outbound leg began the modest climb up to Le Roc Trevezal in the Monts d'Arrée. Earlier in the day I had finally noticed the return of the spark in my riding and I decided to let it fly on the climb and then descent into Sizun. On the climb and descent is where the 84 hour riders can catch a glimpse and yell hello to friends doing the 90 hour start. I saw quite a number along here including Lois Springsteen, Peg Miller, Kitty, Gabe and Ian riding together, and several others whose jersey I could spot but I wouldn't make the connection until comparing notes long after the finish.

That spark I now felt in my legs would stay with me the entire way back to Paris, and I flew on the way into Brest. It all seemed downhill but it was a little maddening being able to see the destination from the hills outside of town and then have it take an eternity to finally reach the control as the route seemed to meander through the outlaying villages. Crossing the foot bridge with the landmark Pont de l'Iroise to our right was a kick but there was still more miles to ride before I could stop. In 2011 I was pretty disappointed with the control set up in Brest, and even though this was a new location (I think actually a return to a location used in the past) it was a lackluster dining experience. The food was the most expensive at this control, and by far the least appealing (though keep in mind I did say I was a fussy eater). I found Kris and Barry there, just ahead of me in the food line and Eric, Elaine and Chris S.S. came in just a bit later. The latter three and I left the control as a group and climbed back out of town together. After a few miles though it was clear we weren't climbing at the same rate so I let my legs find their comfort zone and I pushed ahead. I had a motive for doing so. In 2011, riding with Ed Yu, I had stopped in the town of Sizun and had a beer at the Cafe. I had arrived in town with that one thought which baffled me then but it turned out to be the perfect thing. This time, I was unsure I could convince any of my fellow riders to stop for beer so going ahead allowed me to zip in, down a glass and hopefully exit in time to catch them for the climb up Le Roc. Chris and Elaine managed to get by as I stopped but Eric was outside when I came out of the cafe. He wasn't quite ready to drop into the rolling pace so I went ahead to catch the others. By the time I reached Elaine though I had a good head of steam going and I just kept at it. The climb was just as easy this year as in 2011, but this time I knew where the summit was whereas in 2011 the ease of the climb was a surprise.

On the descent I passed a group of riders and noticed one I had supported when I worked the last DBC Gold Rush Randonee two years back. I had set as a goal the objective of seeing more, interacting more, doing more on this PBP so I slowed down to let the group catch up and I chatted briefly with the rider from St. Petersburg. It was only much later that I realized that a couple of riders in her group were from Ukraine (make of the mixing of Russians and Ukrainians in today's Eastern European international climate what you will) but down the road when I next saw the iconic Ukrainian trident on a jersey I slowed down again to chat. (My wife is Ukrainian-American, and had only days before returned from a trip to Ukraine). Yaroslav informed me that owing to my wife's heritage she must be the perfect wife. We exchanged information about the groups we were with and I then rolled on.

Going into Carhaix I finally caught Chris S.S.. We rolled into the control together and then exchanged intel on the other riders we had spotted that we both knew. Chris decided he really wasn't hungry and took off and Kris, Barry and I later rolled out together to ride across a landscape painted in the light of the golden hour. Four years before it was full on dark when I left this control so I had regained time those extra hours I spent sleeping the night before. The stretch ahead was the reverse portion of what many consider the hardest section, which would be made harder by it being dark. I was still feeling really good and after a time our group spread out and lost contact with each other, first as we caught other packs of riders, then as our respective paces became out of synch. As the rollers hit and then got bigger I left behind a number of packs and for a while I'd be concerned that the groups behind were using my tail light to inform them of the route while I myself was only 80% sure I was going the correct way, so I had to pay much more strict attention to the route markers. After a while I bridged the gap between the large clumps of riders and could then follow their lights. There became so many riders that it was slow going trying to pass. In the dark tired riders began to let their guards down, too much in my estimation. Very often, I'd see a rider far to the left, well over the center of the road and invariably they'd turn out to be from the UK, Japan, Australia or some other country that drives on that side of the road. Perhaps in their weariness they sought comfort in that placement on the roadway, forgetting they were no longer home. Other riders, too tired to think properly, would just stop in the middle of the road and become the boulder in the middle of a stream as the current of moving riders flowed around them.

I arrived in Loudeac at 00:40, nearly four hours ahead of my 2011 pace and headed straight to the hotel. I was surprised to find Kevin in our shared room. With Kevin in the 90 hour group, and me in the 84, we assumed we'd never meet. Coming into town I had noticed that there was a welt on the back of my neck and one on my right cheek. I thought Kevin said it looked like a sty which confused me as I thought those were related to eyes. Either way, it was getting painful. Once he left and I set about cleaning up I found that I had red welts all over my arms and legs and across my lower back, basically anywhere there were gripper bands on my cycling clothes or a particular point of close contact with clothing. I wasn't happy about this, but the thing was I still felt strong and was riding well so I crashed for the night.

The next morning I dropped off my bag and rolled out of town feeling pretty good. I mis-played a couple things with my Garmin and had to restart it once more (restart in Brest because I thought I had very little power left but in fact had 82% charge, and a reset in Loudeac when I hit the stop button in error and could not remember how to back out of that). I passed Kris and Barry along the way and heard they had gone off course the night before adding 9 miles to their total. Our paces were not a great fit so I rode on. Early in the day I came across Yaroslav, the Ukrainian rider from the day before. He was looking very forlorn and was convinced he would not make the finish. We spoke for a while and I offered him a caffeine pill which at first he declined and then realized it was silly to pass on that. Within about 15 minutes I could tell he was a different rider. In a short while were were hopping on to pace lines and he had much more spark in his riding. We stopped at the food stop in Quédillac and while topping of the tanks we were interviewed by Damon Peacock, again this year making a video of PBP. He recalled my name as a Facebook friend and we spent some time chatting. A short while after leaving the control we were passed by him on motorcycle filming along the way.

Yaroslav and I parted company after the Tinteneac control and from there on I would ride solo though I'd see other SFR riders along the way. I had hoped to have a meal with someone at Fougeres but no luck, and took a quick nap on the berm between the bike parking and driveway outside the cafeteria. This need for a nap happened much earlier than in 2011, but I felt it would do me good. I recall from 2011 having a huge burst of energy leaving Fougeres and charging up the hills as the route leaves town. It took a bit longer but that same fire came back this time too. I looked forward to the unofficial crepe/postcard control up ahead, and even though I wasn't hungry it was a chance to mingle and interact. A crowd of riders were there and I convinced Andy Stockman and Elaine to stop and enjoy it. I found the SFR postcard I had sent years before among the other US postcards. That was sort of a kick spotting that.

The route from Fougeres makes its way back to Villianes via the same big hills encountered out bound and this terrain had a tendency to first bunch up the riders and then spread them out on the ensuing descent. I had passed and called out a hello to Greg Merritt along the way who looked to be having a fine ride. The closer I got to the control though, the more my thoughts turned to food and once there I found Ryan Thompson and Bill Green in the dining hall and sat with them for the meal. Upon leaving, I decided I needed some sleep even though it was full daylight out. I had a big time buffer over my schedule so spending an hour sleeping was an easy sell. In 2011, I left that control in the dark along with hundreds of other riders. This time I was nearly alone in the late daylight. After a modest climb there are a couple of small villages that we passed through, each with hand made signs of support for the riders, some offering a cot or refreshments. There were also groups of locals clapping as riders passed by. Like all the other spectators I had seen before, I waved and greeted them which always caused an increase in their animation. It was like magic and it gave me energy right back. I rode up the somewhat steeper hill leaving the second of those small towns and partway up the climb realized that there were a couple of things I could address back in the village that I might not get a chance to do for a long while. So I turned back down hill and upon arriving I totally confused the group I had just waved to minutes before. I tried to convey to them my needs, totally botching the pronunciation of Toilette, but I really knew where to find it from passing through moments ago and I went there as I heard them tell me Paris was in the other direction. Once all that was taken care of I rode past once more and this time simply said "doublivee say" and this time there was mutual understanding.

I didn't like the stretch ahead when outbound because of the traffic, and even with out the traffic I didn't much care for it in the darkness so I focused on finding a good pace and interacting with other riders when I could. The latter proved unattainable as conversation diminished the later and more dark it became. I knew it would get hillier the closer I got to Mortagne-au-Perche but this time there were many more locals on the side of the road, which I attributed to it being earlier in the evening than when I passed there four years before.

Along this stretch I figured I passed 30-40 riders for each rider that passed me. It was only upon reaching the control and stopping that I realized the cool night air was what kept my skin from driving me nuts. I spent quite a while at that control eating a pile of food, chatting with Tim Woundenberg, Ron Smith, and Jenny Oh and trying not to scratch my arms and legs. This control was packed and there was a line for cots and simply no space on the floor in the cafeteria or hallways to lay down. I did two circuits of the entire indoors before I finally found a spot at all and it really turned out that it was perfect: no light and enough space for me to lay down and still be well out of the way of foot traffic. I got a fairly long nap and that plus all the food was plenty to get me to the next control. I recall being pretty hammered upon arriving in Dreux in 2011, as well as having an extremely tender behind. This time though I was far more alert and energetic relatively speaking and I had no saddle issues, just this maddening rash and welts to deal with. That was beginning to get the better of me, and is what prompted me to ride on with out eating (I wasn't hungry at all but wasn't turned off by food). I had bought two big cans of Orangina, but only drank one and gave the other back. I returned to my bike and left Dreux before daybreak and got outside of town before it became light enough and just outside of town I was up high enough to spot a weather cell chasing us. I could tell it was rain and wanted so badly to outrun it but that didn't happen. The drops were minimal at first and took a long time to build but build they did.

Just before Gambais I came up on a group of SFR riders, including Jenny, Eric Larsen, Metin, Theresa and perhaps someone else. My skin and the rashes were ruining my mood and if I stayed with them the only thing I'd talk about would be the rash and who the hell would want to listen to that so I sped around and decided to try to reach the medical tent at the finish as soon as I could, thinking that might provide relief. I met Jon Beckham along the way and we briefly chatted before I rolled on again. The closer to the finish I got, the more it began to rain and the more we'd go through villages with cobbles and traffic islands and other hazards so I slowed down a bit to better and more safely traverse those sections. At one traffic circle I had caught up with a group and knowing full well they were going off course I still followed them as if I were linked to them, but with just a little uncertainty that I might be wrong. Nope, they were, and my impulse was right. They all turned around when they saw me do so but I never saw them again after I regained the route. Out once more in open fields on straight roads I noticed the motorists passing the other way would wave and salute the riders they knew were so close to the finish of a very long ride.

The final section into the finish is considerably different than in years past, and considerably better. The route heads through a park of sorts and uses a closed road to reach the velodrome from the backside. At the very end, down a gravel path on the way to the bike corral was the chip reader that would record my finish but just as I turned on to that path I saw Julia Walker. It was good to see a familiar face and know that someone I knew would see me finish. Beyond the chip reader the bike parking area was chaos. It was raining hard and everyone was trying to find a place under the roof to park their bike. I could only find a spot on the sloped ramp for the BMX bikes and didn't know first what to do. I solved that dilemma by sitting down to have a good cry. Getting that out of my system, I went over to the velodrome, got my stamp, surrendered my card and looked around for someone I knew. Gabby and Carl and several others were on hand but soon I was on my own again and after figuring out how to get out of there I found the medical tent. Earlier, I had been told by others that what I had were bed bug bites and that I'd need to boil my clothes if I wanted to save them and toss out my luggage. I had dark visions of all the work I'd be doing before leaving for home and the hassle I'd have in getting a new room and the worry I'd have thinking I was just exposing myself to more bed bugs. The rash turned out to just be an allergic reaction, possibly triggered by stress (remember the departure from the Bay Area?) and heat and humidity which I'm unused to in the Bay Area.
Days later, the welts are healing and I only had a few marks to show for that small misery, but all the good memories of my riding companions over the days and even more so all the people I interacted with along the way will last a lot longer. Seeing the kids out there supporting the riders was a huge boost. I loved that. I also got a big charge out of waving hello to *all* the spectators along the way.
I posted on Facebook that I think I'm cured, cured of wanting to do PBP again. Nobody bought that then, and less than a week later I was pretty sure I'll be back for at least one more go at it. Today, I'm certain of it.

This banner absolutely worked! (photo by Jenny Oh Hatfield)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Model ride

It is now April and I've managed to go more than three months without riding a permanent route. That is three months in Winter! The San Francisco Randonneurs and Santa Rosa Cyclists offered nearly a dozen different rides in those months, keeping me so busy I didn't need to ride a perm to get any RUSA events in. A while back Kirk had suggested a camping weekend up in Mendocino to ride a perm route along with a bunch of other friends. That never came to be, but we kept the idea of riding a perm together alive and in the end we settled on the one way route from El Cerrito to Davis via St. Helena and the Model Bakery,and a return via Amtrak. The route first began life as a DART route when The Davis Bike Club hosted their first ever DART event in November of 2012. The route morphed into a permanent route later that year and in the coming year it will be a brevet route, part of another SFR double brevet weekend (used mostly to help train up for PBP).

The route has some nice stretches, once it clears the residential sections of the East Bay and Vallejo, CA. Wooden Valley for one is a gorgeous stretch, and Napa Valley can be scenic. CA 128 from the Valley all the way to Winters, passing by Lake Berryessa is both challenging and a treat for the eyes. Food wise, the center piece is the Model Bakery in St. Helena. Fantastic pizza there, to be sure.

On April 12th, Kirk, Marisa, Barbara, Erik, Mark and myself met up at the Starbucks in El Cerrito and with a slightly late start we rolled off under cover of the marine layer of fog. Barbara and Mark both signed up just days before as RUSA members in order to participate. Mark took things at face value, but Barbara took most of the ride to convince her there was a point to these rides. At one point she and we too pretend we've done so. The group was a revolving array of riders with some riders rolling off in front, others tagging behind and then a reshuffle. The Bakery is met with enthusiasm and everyone found something on the menu that met their needs and after a long lunch we rolled off to tackle the more remote part of the ride.

Estimating what time our current pace would deliver us to Davis, I figured we'd miss the next to the last train and then need to wait around for a bit and not arrive home until 10pm or so. Barbara had other plans and the tougher part of the ride was tackled with more ease than anticipated, so much so that we had extra time to hang out at Berryessa Brewing Co. for a pint or two. Even with this stop our pace had quickened enough that we had just enough time to catch the early train after first grabbing some food in downtown Davis to take on the train.

Ride date: 4-12-14

Host Club: RUSA

Total km: 212

Km remaining needed for K-hound: 7,888km

It might not be raining up ahead

Despite the threat of rain, 75 riders lined up to do the 2014 version of the SFR Hopland 400km. As per usual, my goal is to ride with someone for the day rather than spending time alone, and yet in the hubub of the start I can't locate my intended riding partners. In the early miles of the Lower Marin maze I follow Max and Aron through the chain of small towns but various traffic controls work to set me back and they speed on ahead. The threat of rain became more ominous as we climbed Camino Alto and turned into a reality as we were still in the very early miles of the route. By the time most riders cleared White's Hill, the rain was pelting down pretty good. So much for skirting by the weather cell.

Northwest Marin is mostly open grazing land and without the obstructions of suburbia we can often catch glimpses of the other riders on the brevet. I was impressed by Jon who seemed to not even notice the rain and powered along Chilenos Valley Road not yet wearing a rain jacket as most others seemed to have put on. In that regard, today was an experiment for me in that I was using a Mavic Vision rain jacket. The rain jacket version of this garment has the same reflective patterns but is intended to be water proof. Alas, instead this kept water from leaving my body as well as keeping the rain out and instead of heating me up, I felt chilled all during the rainfall. As we splash along there is far less chatting and far more focus in staying out of the rooster tails of water coming off un-fendered bikes in the various pacelines. Beyond mile 50, the Valley Ford rollers even on nice days never make me all that happy and this day I was not getting any less grumpy at the one-two punch of rain and pointless climbing.

Food is a magical substance, hot food doubly so, as it has the power to change moods and the Bodega Country Store serves a nice bowl of chowder. I sort of lingered here quite a while and the loose group of riders that arrived at the control has fragmented and a much smaller group leaves for the roll up to the signature climb for the day: Joy Road. This road always seems to just go on and on and today is no different. I wondered as I always do if I'd reach the top without stopping. Today: yes. As most hills do, Joy Road spread out our group and I ended up alone for the long run into Guerneville where the next control and lunch was. The rain had slowed almost to a halt as we had reached Bodega, and on the early part of the climb up Joy, before the trees closed in, we could see of to the west that the weather would be improving and this left us with a rain free descent and general drying conditions all the way to G'ville. The Safeway deli was not yet overrun so the wait for Spicy Asian Chicken and potato salad was not overly long. Michael and I joined up again at this point and ended up riding the rest of the event together.

Once clear of River Road and now on Westside Road we are afforded views well off to the north and east. The skies don't look so bad. Not clear mind you, but we so no evidence of active rain cells and the cloud ceiling seems to have risen nicely. Our stop in G'ville was not that long ago but nevertheless I can't seem to go through Cloverdale without stopping at the mini mart just north of the city limits. Erik was fixing a flat at that very city limit sign as we passed, and alas, we'd pass him at least once more as he dealt with flat tires. The climb up CA 128 is going fairly well, but at one point I had to stop to eat rather than doing so as I rolled along. Despite the stop back in C'dale I seemed to have gotten behind on my fueling, not hard to do on rainy rides. We regrouped as we began the segment on Mountain House Road. Just a few weeks before we had passed through here in the opposite direction and the landscape showed all the signs of California's drought. On this day, though, water was gushing everywhere with impromptu water falls dotting the climb up to the ridge and infusing the landscape with green. I wouldn't kid myself though that this rain fall would do anything to put a dent in the drought, as wet as I had felt earlier.

Somewhere along the way before Hopland Michael and I caught up to Todd, who would be part of our group all the way to the finish. As we arrived at the Hopland Valero, the third group was making noises about saddling up and leaving. There seemed to be a lead group of two (Max and Aron), a chase group of two (Carl and Bob) and then this sizeable next group with Jesse, Megan, Metin, Greg, Matthew and Roy. I could not get through there without consuming some of the cheese pizza they sell and keep warming on racks at the checkout counter. The stuff is crap and is always just want I need at that moment: warm, salty and full of calories. I am not the only one falling off the nurtitional bandwagon here, but Jason, who arrived just behind us, is not one of those joining me. He heads off on his fixie as we clean off our plates. South of Hopland there is a very short warm up run along another River Road, then a crossing of US 101 just where it transitions into a town road, but in our southward direction it is a limited access highway with a wide paved shoulder and a general downhill slant.

Along the way here we catch glimpses of the Russian River, a river we've crossed many times during the day. The river is hugely swollen with rain water runoff and rocks and stony shores normally in view are all under rushing water. The skies still haven't yet cleared and yet we can still see what seems to us as progress in that direction. After 8 miles we leave the wide paved shoulder and resume riding on country roads that finally flatten out near Cloverdale. It is in these miles that I have two flat tires, and after the second one Michael and Todd insist I change out the tire with Todd's spare and use a cartridge to inflate the tire. I seem to gather they can't stand the old man noises I make as I use a pump on the tire. Past Geyserville, we leave CA 128 once more and head up Chalk Hill. At this point we are treated to the best light show of the day. The setting sun and clearing skies to the far west have joined forces and cast golden hour light on the still wet hillsides north of Windsor. This display is just stunning.

Chalk Hill has some climbing before a final run down toward suburbia and Windsor where we begin our circumnavigation of Santa Rosa. Michael can't get his headlight to work as he rides along and even with stopping to deal with it it proves problematic. I've ridden this route each year since 2007 and this is the first time I have made the outskirts of Santa Rosa in daylight. Considering this is a March date, and not April there would be even less daylight so the accomplishment is not lost on me. The sun does indeed set though and after getting pipped for the Petaluma city limit sign, we cross the freeway and head toward McDonald's for more calories. Jason rolls in after us, shoves food down his piehole, and then leaves ahead of us. Our group makes the stop in Petaluma official by stopping at the control at Safeway where we once again meet the same fellow we've met each of the last several years who is just getting off work, stopping off for a few things along the way and chatting about riding with us. The last 50 miles until the finish begin with a double climb out of Petaluma and the climb once again spreads us out. From the top of the climb before Hicks Valley I can see a large swath of sky dotted with stars and yet on the run down to the valley we are pelted by ice cold rain, lasting long enough to chill us. Nicasio Valley allows us to regroup as we roll and Dixon Ridge causes no problems this night. As we roll toward White's Hill we tell stories of past rides in the dark through that area. Despite having close to 20 miles yet to ride, the crest of White's Hill signals to us all that we are done. I'm not sure why this happens because there is the little matter of Corte Madera Grade and the climb out of Sausalito, each long enough and steep enough to more than get your attention.

Todd, Michael and I finish after Midnight, after 19 hours and 15 minutes of riding. This is the best I've done on this route, and I'm sure the rain added significant time to our day, not to mention the multiple flat tires.

Ride date: 3-29-14

Host Club: San Fancisco Randonneurs

Total km: 400

Km remaining needed for K-hound: 8,100km

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cycling mileage spreadsheet (using google docs)

Several years back I was looking for a good way to keep track of my annual cycling mileage and a little Googling resulted in finding this website and it's link to a downloadabe Excel spreadsheet for keeping track of cycling mileage. Mark Pankin, who created that Excel doc annually updates the document and makes it available to the public. I think the document is great and I've used it for several years. One issue I did have with it though was gaining access to the document remotely. I kept it on my computer at home but sometimes I wanted to update it when I was not at home or just pull data from it, again when I wasn't at home.

I had had some email exchanges with Mark to ask about certain features of his document and this led to a discussion about porting the document over to Google Docs. Mark was not a Google Docs user but he didn't mind at all if I created a document using his Excel spreadsheet as a model. While there is some ability to import and export Excel format documents on Google Docs, Mark's spreadsheet was too complex to import intact, so I started from scratch, but as mentioned used Mark's Excel version as a model. I've added a number of features to the Google Docs version on top of what Mark had in place, and for a number of other functions, I had to recreate them using the Google Docs syntax. While Google Docs spreadsheets are not as robust as Excel, I think a very functional document emerged from the work.

In the Google Docs spreadsheet I created, there is a tab for 2014 mileage, and also I've gone ahead and created the 2015 tab as well with links between the tabs so that the previous year and previous best columns are auto populated beginning with 2015. It is fairly easy to create a new tab for each year. There are a handful of functions to either move from one cell to another, or to update. The demarcation between months was done by using thick borders in the Excel version, but on the Google Docs version I've used shading. Either works, but for each new tab I'll need to edit the shading for each month first (as Mark did with the borders).

The enhancements I've made include the table and chart of average weekly mileage at the bottom of the document, as well as some automatic shading in column A, the current monthly totals column.

I retain all rights to the document. You are free to make personal use of a copy of the document. No commercial use of this is allowed without permission.

Below are some details about the document and how to use it.

The Google Docs Spreadsheet is presented in view mode to anyone with the link. You can copy the document to your own Google Docs and begin test driving it. You only need to add your daily mileage under the appropriate dates (except columns C and D on the '2014' tab where you'll enter some historical data if you have it). All the rest is automatic.

Take a look at the two tabs, '2014' and '2015', that come with the initial version of the document. Both tabs will initially have all the formulas and functions active, but no data has been entered. On the '2014' tab, find cell H4 (this is where your mileage for January 1, 2014 would go), and enter the value 52 there. Note that not only did the contents of that cell change, but also all of the following:

  1. the weekly total for that week (cell M4)
  2. the running totals for the year (columns N and X)
  3. cells A7, A8 (current month's tally and # of rides)
  4. values in column B (cumulative miles)
Note also that the shading of cell A5 is now Yellow, and A7 is now Green. In Column A, the name of the Month is highlighted when the total for that current month exceeds the total for the same month in the previous year. The total mileage for the month is highlighted green when it exceeds the previous best total for that month. In this case, the previous year's total for January (column c) and the historical best (column d) were both initially set to zero. Take a quick look at tab '2015' and you'll see that columns C and D have changed, with the data from tab '2014' carried over to tab '2015'. If you change those zeros on tab '2014' in cells c7 and d7 to 53, you'll see the highlighting in column A disappear and cells in columns C and D change on tab '2015'.

At the very bottom of the spreadsheet, there is a table and a chart which include data about weekly averages. When tab '2014' cell H4 was set to 52, you saw that the table had averages calculated through the end of the year and the chart showed the graphical representation of those averages. While cell H4 is 52, go to cell G4 (the last day of the previous year) and enter 10. If you look at the values in M4 and N4 (total for the current week and cumulative total respectively) you'll see that those still show 52. However, on the table of weekly averages beginning in cell B61, you'll see the averages start with 62 miles. It only makes sense that any given week for the weekly averages is comprised of 7 days, so we will count mileage from December 30th and 31st, 2013 for the first 'week' in the table and chart at the bottom of tab '2014'. For these weeks that split over two years, I include the 'week' in with the year which has the most days of that week, so for the last two days of 2013 and the first 5 days of 2014, the 'week' is included on tab '2014'.

Please feel free to comment. Thanks.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Early repolarization, or, in other words, a change of plans

Yes, I admit, I'm way behind on entries for the K-hound series on this blog. I plan to catch up, and maybe even continue. About that maybe part. Well, there has been a change of plans forced on me. Here is the deal. In late May I rode a permanent on the 24th with a bunch of SFR club members. The next day I came down with a very bad cold that kept me from work a full week, and worse still, I then missed the SFR Dart (and a great opportunity to ride with Deb and Drew and Ken and Daryl), then I was still too sick to even volunteer, much less ride, the Santa Rosa 600km. Right there 800km of planned RUSA events missed and the clock ticks on.

Finally I get close to healthy again, and then the bottom really drops out. Last Saturday I went to volunteer for the Santa Rosa Terrible Two Double Century. My son and I have volunteered there every year since 2008, and I also volunteered in 2006, all at the Fort Ross rest stop, just across CA Highway One from the historic fort. This year we were all set up and the first riders had come and gone, and then I had a terrible pain in my lower abdomen, followed by nausea, profuse sweating and dizziness. Next thing I know my vision is closing down like the screen fades in silent movies and I'm on the ground surrounded by people, one of which is an EMT who is giving me a saline IV and is hooking me up to an EKG machine. I'm later told my BP dropped to 60 over 30 and I had no distal pulse (nothing in the wrists but of course a pulse in my neck). The EKG readouts alarm him and a med-evac helicopter is called in to transport me to a hospital with a heli-pad and Cardiac Center. Once at the hospital a 5th (at least) EKG test is done and the cardiologist reads it and sees this event for what it is. I have an abnormality in my heart that displays itself in an EKG as early repolarization. The condition apparently (after some Googling) is present in 1% of the population, and more commonly found in athletes (a group in which I do not feel I number) and is benign.


Nevertheless, there is still cause for close medical observation of the condition because I also have aortic valve regurgitation, but I've had that all my life. I was released about 2 hours after I got to the ER and was home by 8pm. Not surprisingly though, I just didn't feel like riding the SFR Lucas Valley Populaire on Sunday. Now I'm 900km short of my planned rides and a full month has disappeared from the calendar, and after tests and dr. appointments on Monday and Tuesday, I know I'll be missing another full month of riding when I have (minor) surgery to fix the source of the abdominal pain in August. I'll miss at least 900km before I get to the point of regaining the fitness I will lose during that layoff. Hopefully the stone I'll be pushing up hill toward the goal of the K-hound award will weigh less than 15 lbs, because that is what I'll be limited to in mid-August. Wait, I'll need to get a new and very lightweight bike for medical reasons!

The work toward clarifying the heart conditions is just beginning. I had an echo done today and tomorrow I'll get a Holter Monitor for a 24-hour EKG. I'm guessing I'll be cleared, but we still need to confirm that.

UPDATE: The Holter Monitor and Echocardiogram results have come back and all is clear. I've had a heart murmur all my life and that will continue to be monitored but is *not* an issue. I'll have an echo done every two years or so going forward, but there was no 'cardiac event' that happened. I'll have surgery to fix the abdominal issue, but not until August and until then I'm clear to ride.