Posted in 2016 Northern Tier

Final Countdown?

Yesterday I took the bike to Sonora Cyclery.  They boxed it and took it to FedEx where it will start its first journey across country today.

I will head to the post office soon to ship my backup batteries so they will be waiting for me. Found out lithium batteries must go by ground.

In the next week I’ll be packing up the rest of my gear and shipping it to meet me in Bar Harbor.

Today I am also trying to update this blog just using the iPad. So the photo has nothing to do with my comments other than I needed something to test it out.  So far I can only see how to post one photo per blog.  Aha!  I see how to post more pics.  Next is how to place them within the blog.  Maybe tomorrow.

2016-03-20 07.30.30
AT the Modesto Run

the first photo is aerial view of the salt ponds in Newark, California.  The one with all those people?  The ones facing the camera are all part of my Most Wonderful Family.

Posted in 2016 Northern Tier

Last One

Today was The Ride For Mom which took place in Modesto.  It is the last of the organized rides I’ll be doing before the trip back to Maine.

My bike buddy, Brett, went with me today which made for a very pleasant ride in spite of the rain we encountered.  He and Debbie gave me a place to stay last night so I didn’t have to get up at 0 dark thirty to drive to the ride.  I overheard other riders talking about the potential for rain during the day, “The latest report says less than 30% chance, we’ll be fine.”  So, I didn’t bring my rain jacket.  The reality was I didn’t want to wear my backpack which would have housed the jacket.  Hey, my choice.

Well, we had dry roads and wet roads and dry roads.  Just as we were returning to the end location, it started raining again. I’m glad they had tents covering the tables so we could eat our lunch and not get water in the food.

The bikes were filthy.  We were filthy.  Thank goodness for showers although it took some extra scrubbing to get the dirt off my legs.  The bike got a quick rubdown but will need a deeper cleaning tomorrow after I’ve had a good night’s rest.

The bike gets shipped to Bar Harbor Bike Shop next week.  Flurry of activity coming up as I get ready to go!  Woohoo!

Posted in 2016 Northern Tier

More To Be Done

Things seem to be falling into place but there is more to be done. Some of it has to do with the actual ride but other things keep popping up.  I am slowing down on the training, intentionally. I want to enjoy the ride not have it feel like a job.

Yesterday I was able to borrow a different iPad. Susie and I sat down and set it up just for me. This will make using it on the trip easier as I’m practicing now.

After my electronics lesson, I did get out for a ride.  Decided for a shorter but hillier ride so began at Priest Station Cafe. I’d been considering driving to Moccasin to start from there but the Old Priest Grade was closed.  That helped me make up my mind as it would take longer to drive down the new grade.

When I arrived at my start location, I had no water. I went into the cafe to beg with the promise that I’d be back later and buy lunch. They had pity on me and filled the water bottle.

This ride starts on an undulating road which eventually loses a lot of elevation.  So even though I ended up at a lower elevation, I still had to work to get there. As usual, I stopped for a break in Coulterville.  Ate a bar, used the restroom and then did the climbs on Hwy 49.  At the top of these hills, I’m rewarded with a long, smooth road which takes me past Moccasin.

Right next to Moccasin is a state fish hatchery.  I went there to take a break and refill my water before the five mile ascent back up to the cafe.  Since the old grade was closed, I was concerned about the amount of traffic I’d have to deal with on the climb but it wasn’t too bad. I am pleased with my average of 11.1 for the day.  26 miles

By the way, I did have lunch at the cafe and had Dan meet me there too.  So, they got paid for their kindness.

Posted in 2016 Northern Tier


I am testing out the iPad a friend has loaned me for the big adventure. Apple technology is new to me.

Most of last week was spent in the house.  I am changing my email account and what a hassle that is!  I spent well over a day advising everyone I could think of about the change.  To make it more fun, I’m also changing phone numbers.  I keep running across someone else to tell and I haven’t even sent a note to all my email contacts yet – ay yi yi!

The other part of indoor time was calling and planning for bike packing, shipment, and re-construction and the timing involved.  Then, silly me, I am using mileage points to get to Boston and then have to switch to a local airline to get to Bar Harbor and I didn’t give myself enough time to get my luggage off one airline and to the other.  So, I’m going to have to ship all my stuff.  In a way, that’s good as I’d have to ship any luggage back home if I were to haul it on the flights.  Again, trying to figure out timing was an issue.

I did get to ride on Saturday with Greg and Debbie. It was a beautiful day.  Still a little cool but I only needed arm warmers and a vest to get me through it.  It was one of our ‘usual’ rides from Miller Ranch to Evergreen Lodge which puts us in the Stanislaus National Forest and right next door to Yosemite National Park.  Not too bad, eh?  So many wildflowers – number and variety!  Nice to still see some snow on the high mountains. 22 miles


Sunday’s ride was the Delta Century which started in Lodi.  It is one of the flattest rides I’ve ever done but that was why I chose it.  We lucked out with the winds, they were mild. Just the day before, the winds had made all the news stations they were so bad. A unique part of the ride was taking a ferry across one of the waterways.  Most of the roads were traffic free but the price for that is rough, rough roads.

route of Delta Century

I ended up drafting off five different men during the day.  One of them, on a carbon fiber bike, started the conversation, “So, are you feeling every bump in the road with that bike?”  “Probably.”  My Colnago is steel which is known for not providing a smooth ride especially when compared with carbon fiber.  Such islife.

My last draftor was Roberto. He actually pulled me along two different times and we had a nice conversation at the last rest stop.  He would ride along about 17mph then slowly pull it up to 20mph then drop it back to 17.  I liked that much better than the pulls that just stayed at one speed the whole time.  If it weren’t for the help I got along the way, I’m sure my average would have been a lot less than the 14.6 I got for the day.  100 miles

Monday I met Greg for another of our ‘usual’ rides.  This was around Pine Mountain Lake.  Its about a 10 mile ride but includes about 1,000 feet of elevation gain.  Yeah, my knees were still feeling it from Sunday so I took the climbs slow and easy.  Today – rest day off the bicycle.  Instead I’ll be on the back of the BMW.

Oh, I think the ipad has something wrong with it, it keeps going black while I’m still working.  I only got a few sentences done before switching back to my PC to finish this post.

Posted in 2016 Northern Tier


Am I getting lazy?  I’ve only ridden four times since the Primavera and they’ve been rather short rides.  Jimmy cracked corn and I don’t care.

April 20 – Through connections here in town, I was put in touch with someone who needed a leader in Yosemite Valley.  Turns out there was no one to lead but I got a pleasant ride around the Valley.  18 miles

April 21 – Met Wayne at Sonora Cyclery. We rode 10 miles before meeting up with Melissa F and Holly for a country road ride. Went down hill on some nasty, bumpy roads. I commented, “If my bike can handle these roads, it can handle anything.” Nice day, no way of knowing if a storm is supposed to come in tomorrow except for the weather forecast.  29 miles

April 24 – Greg surprised me with a text a few days previous.  He wants to ride!  Its been a long time since he’s been able to get out so we opted for one of the ‘flatter’ routes in the area. Wayne joined us at Moccasin and we rode toward Chinese Camp and then Jamestown and then headed back to where we started on Jacksonville Road.  29 miles

April 26 – Spoke w/Steve G (our local CHP) about the Triathalon he’s heading. He gave me the bike route so thought I’d try it out today. Started at the Marina inside PML, rode to Elder, took that to 120, headed east. Took Old Hwy 120 (nasty climb at the end of THAT road). East on 120 again to East Sprague where I took the side roads that lead to Smith Station Rd. Which led me back to 120 (east). I’d forgotten about Hamilton Station Road being part of the route so I turned left onto Ferretti and followed it back to the stables where the bike ride will end. Ummm, I left out about six miles. Anyway, I rode from the stables back out to Ferretti, took the short cut through someone’s backyard and worked my way through PML back to the Marina. Cool day but with leg and arm warmers and a vest, I was comfortable enough.  20 miles

Tomorrow its supposed to rain so I’m taking the bike into the shop for the once over before the big trip.  Gotta remember to ask about putting larger tires on for this adventure.

Posted in 2016 Northern Tier

Rides with Friends and Not

Let’s see, what have I done since the Cinderella?

Well, I went out on a solo ride and it turned out warmer than I thought it would be.  So, as I’m riding up Hwy 120, I decide to stash my jacket and knee warmers in a tree thinking, “I’ll come back this way via bike to add some miles to the day.”  And… that’s what I tried to do until I got a flat.  So, I’m by the side of the road working on changing the tire when someone pulls up.  Turns out it was Eric B. who wanted to know if I needed any help.  I lied and said everything was fine.  He said something that reminded me we were both riding the Primavera the next weekend.  So we made plans to meet there and at least start the ride together.  Eric left and I had to admit, the spare tube wasn’t going to work.  I needed a long stem tube but had a standard length stem on the spare.  Took off the tire, patched the long stem tube I’d taken off earlier and put it all back together.  Decided not to go look for my stash but just get back to the car before I had another flat.  Once I got the car, I drove to where I’d hidden my stuff and got it back.  Lesson learned:  double check the tubes to make sure they’re the right ones for your rims.  Miles: 35

corner of Sims & Red Hills Rds.

Didn’t get out for any further rides but did go to Dan’s daughter’s place to help her box up her stuff as she was getting ready to move.  That took up two days and then it was time for the Primavera.

I didn’t think it was that warm, but apparently these two did:

Eric B. and I did meet at registration and did start riding together.  Very pleasant.  Then we came to the first climb.  I told Eric to go ahead as I knew I’d be much slower than he.  That was the last I saw him that day.  Since I knew the whole route, I knew where the “tough” climbs were. I think I psyched myself out on some of them because I’m much stronger now than I was when I rode them in the past.  Anyway, it was a beautiful day for a ride.  I saw several of my friends either working at rest stops or riding so that made it even better for me.  Miles:  63

After the ride, I went to Lake Elizabeth to meet family for a farewell party for my daughter and son-in-law, Jenn and Eric.  It was a nice relaxed event but I should have taken a nap.  I’m still glad I went.  As I drove home that evening, I stopped to eat and then took a 45 minute nap in the car.  When I woke, it was dark.  I started driving but the lights from the cars coming toward me was really bothering my eyes and they were hard to keep open.  I finally called my sister-in-law as I was going though the town she lives in.  She said to come over.  I spent the night.  So glad she was there!

Then I had an interesting phone call from a friend.  He knew someone who needed a cycling ‘leader’ to ride in Yosemite. That’s all the info he had.  I called the number he gave me and eventually spoke with Liz.  Liz needed someone to lead a family around the Yosemite Valley floor from where they were having a picnic to where they’d be picked up in a car.  I tried to get out of it but Liz sounded desperate.  I’m such a sucker.

I showed up on the appointed day.  Turns out the family had stayed up too late the night before and messed up the day’s schedule.  So, I ended up riding around on my own which is always a pleasure in such an awesome place.  Not a lot of miles, not difficult but very satisfying.  Miles:  17

Then, yesterday I met Wayne S. and we did a 10 mile section before meeting up with Melissa and Holly. This was more challenging because of terrain and because of the other cyclists.  I had to work hard to keep up the pace.  It was good for me.  Some of the roads are in such bad shape, I commented, “If my bike can take this kind of beating, it can take anything.”  I’m not sure why the others laughed at that…  Miles:  29

Today was forecast for rain.  Forecast was right.  Tomorrow is supposed to be dry.






Posted in 2016 Northern Tier

The Cinderella Story

4/9 – 94 miles riding from Jack and Sandy’s house, participating in the Cinderella Challenge and back to Jack and Sandy’s.

Jack and Sandy graciously opened their home to me so I could spend the night in Pleasanton where the Cinderella Bike Ride begins.  Jack is a cycling buddy I’ve known for many years and many rides.  We had fun talking bikes/rides.

There is a rain gutter drain by the window of the room where I slept. Although it didn’t keep me awake all night, I did come to conciousness several times and listened to the water run.  It didn’t sound any less noisy when I awoke for the day at 5:05am. As I dressed, I added rain gear to my ensemble. When we opened the door to the outside world, it wasn’t raining as hard as the drainage pipe sounded. That gave me hope but I still wore the rain gear.

It was more a heavy mist than rain as I left for the Pleasanton Fair Grounds,  When I went to get in line to check-in, the lines were six to ten people deep. The registration was set up alphabetically.  Turns out there was NO ONE in my part of the alphabet – I went right to the front, got my wrist band etc. and was out the door.  As I was walking out, Becky and Sydney were walking in so we said a quick ‘hello’ and then I headed to the bike.

As I rode through the rain/mist, it seemed to be coming down more as rain.  I think because I was moving though it, not because it was really raining harder. Riding solo has its advantages, I could go at my own pace and stop when I wanted.  Since my glasses kept getting hard to see through with all the raindrops, I stopped often to wipe them dry – which lasted about 10 feet. The first part of the ride was part familiar/part where-the-heck-am-I. Eventually we got onto Concannon in Livermore and I knew where I was again.  When I came to The Decision Point, I turned right and made my commitment to the longer ride.  If I hadn’t told Becky I was going to do it, I might have made a different decision.

The extra 20 mile stretch should have been a pleasant, if difficult, part of the ride. It was until we got to Patterson Pass Road.  Apparently, there had been an accident or something on the freeway so people were taking “our” route to get around the problem.  Semis with 40’ trailers went hauling past spraying me with mud. The cars and trucks weren’t much better.  Speed limit is 55.  That is the speed limit not the speed people were going.  There isn’t enough shoulder on the road to feel comfortable with that kind of traffic.  I was so glad when we got to Cross Road to get off Patterson Pass Road only to find the gasoline/diesel powered vehicles were turning there too. Cross Road is a steep climb – not fun with traffic racing by and having to keep a straight line on a steep climb.  Finally, the motorized vehicles were gone and I was back on a quiet, country road.

When I got to the lunch stop, I was seriously debating going off course and heading straight back to the Fairgrounds.  Then I thought of Gayle’s post from the day before. She was going to ride even though the forecast was for rain because she has been training for it and was going with friends.  OK, change my attitude and just keep going.  I’m not the only one riding in the rain (big baby).

Reward:  a lemon drop from The Lemondrop Man at the top of the last (major) climb.

Eventually, the rain stopped. I’m not sure exactly when.  It was nice to ride without rain on my glasses.  Before I got back to the Fairgrounds, it started raining again. By that time, I didn’t care so just kept going.  Who needs to see when you’re on a mission?

After the after-ride meal, I went back to Jack and Sandy’s place for a nice hot shower.  Couldn’t believe how wet my clothes were!  A day later, and they are still hanging in the garage drying.

I drove home (two hour drive) but stopped in Manteca for dinner.  Called Dan to let him know that I was leaving Manteca.  Had to stop and take a nap as I was getting too drowsy to drive.  When I awoke, I just started the car and came on home.  When I got there, Dan said he’d expected me about an hour and a half earlier but figured I’d stopped for a nap.  All’s well that ends well.

Posted in 2016 Northern Tier

Party Pardee and More

Still catching up with ride reports:

4/2 – 66 miles Party Pardee is a ride I paid for. Starts in Ione and rides past three reservoirs: Comanche, New Hogan, and Pardee.  Lots of rollers on the ride but nothing of consequence. I enjoyed the ride and the people, however, I was surprised that we had to stand in line to get food at the rest stops. The meal at the end of the ride had potential but failed.

4/3 – 64 miles with Bay Area bike buddies, Al R., Phil and Kevin. Started at El Cerrito del Norte BART station and ended at Bothe-Napa State Park near Calistoga. Spent the night camping at the park.

I will digress at this point to tell my BART story. Concerned that I wouldn’t be on time, I left early and arrived at the Union City station in plenty of time – they hadn’t even opened the station.  Several other folks were waiting too.  Once we got inside, an employees told us the ‘usual’ platform wasn’t open so we needed to go to the other one.  I asked about the elevator – it was out of order.  So I had to haul my FULLY LOADED bike up the stairs. That must have been a sight, me leaning against the railing to keep my balance while pulling the bike up the stairs one step at a time. OK – I’m on the platform and moved down to where I think the last car will stop so I can get on to that one. The electronic sign says “TRAIN WILL NOT STOP” and it didn’t but then I realized all the people were over on the OTHER platform (the one we were told not to use) and the train came through, stopped and picked up all the riders.  So, I realized I missed the announcement that the regular platform was now open and I missed the train I was supposed to take.  I reversed my procedure and got the bike down the stairs, went over to the other set of stairs and must have looked forlorn because two of the construction workers (the ones who were causing the elevator to be unavailable and the platform problem) took pity on me and hauled the bike up the stairs for me.  So – now I’m on the usual platform for catching the train to go north.   Only they’ve switched back and now I need to be back on the first platform!  Again, one of the construction workers took pity and carried my bike down the stairs with me providing some support so he didn’t have the full weight of the load.  Now, I’m looking up those stairs about ready to give up but the BART worker was there and he was willing to help support the bike as we took it up the escalator.  Home free, I think.  As I’m standing there waiting for the next train, the electronic sign says “TRAIN WILL NOT STOP” – nooooo, Groundhog Day. Fortunately, the sign was wrong, the train did stop and I finally got a ride up to the El Cerrito del Norte station.

4/4 – 62 miles back from Bothe-Napa to El Cerrito del Norte BART.  Crossed over the Carquinez Straight too.

This was The Day of the Flat Tire. As we leave camp, glibly I comment, “Everyone have air in their tires?” As we headed down to the highway, I thought the bike was handling a bit funny but ignored it until I couldn’t any longer. By then we were on the highway so I hollered out the obligatory, “Flat.”  Kevin was with me so he stopped.  Since it was the back tire and the back of the bike was carrying all my stuff, I chose to try the ‘pump it up and ride fast’ trick.  That got me into St. Helena where we were stopping for breakfast. As I came out the front door of the Gillwood Café, there it was…totally flat back tire. Three of us started working on it. Phil held the bike while Al released the center-pull brake. I took the wheel off the bike. After we changed the tire and filled it, we put the wheel back on the bike, and then tried to close the brake.  Couldn’t do it.  Everyone tried.  Decided the rim was in the way. Had to let some air out of the tire. Then we could maneuver the wheel so the brake could close and then had to re-fill the tire. Whew!  It was a good fix and we were on our way.

4/6 – 13 miles with Dan T. from Moccasin to Priest Station and back. This ride includes a five mile climb.

Today’s story is about Dan’s flat…There were CalTrans workers on the new Priest Grade cleaning out the drainage ditches alongside the road. So, they were stopping traffic and then having a lead truck take the traffic through.  Dan and I stopped to wait our turn and when we started following, his bike was sounding strange. Turns out he had a flat.  So, he stopped to fix it and I continued on to find some of the crew to let them know why we weren’t coming through.  I did and then waited, took some photos, and waited some more. Finally decided to go back. Found Dan flicking his tire off the rim using an Exacto knife!  Someone had stopped to help and that was all he had.  Dan had forgotten to put his tire iron in his seat bag and was trying various ways to get the tire off until the knife showed up.  It worked so he went ahead and put a new tube in. Then I offered to fill it so I could try out my bike pump, which I’ve been wanted to do, and was pleased that it still works. I’ve never seen someone use a knife to get a tire off and don’t think I’d recommend it but…any port in a storm.

The boys and I at Carquinez Straight overlook:

Tomorrow, the Cinderella story.

Posted in 2016 Northern Tier

Training Update

I have been remiss in posting.  Since the Poole Station ride, I have put in over 500 miles. I have been having a great time with the training rides, especially those with friends:

3/19 – 55 miles from my little town of Groveland to Evergreen Lodge via Cherry Lake Road.  Lots of climbing ‘cause I live in the Sierra foothills.

3/24 – 34 miles on Willms Road outside of Knight’s Ferry.  I’ve been wondering about this road since we moved to Groveland six years ago. Finally went out and rode it. Good time of year – not too hot, green, wildflowers. Cows and horses too but they’re there year round.

3/25 – 27 miles from Sonora to Priest Station. Dan and I drove into town to meet friends for breakfast. I took the bike so I could ride it back home. The stretch of Hwy 120 between Priest Station and Big Oak Flat is narrow, twisty and steep (did I mention steep?) so I try to avoid that whenever possible. Dan came and picked me up at the Priest Station Café.  He’s a good man.

3/26 – 28 miles with Wayne S. and Brent from Sonora Cyclery. Afternoon ride from the shop into the countryside and back. Helped me get another portion of the area in my brain map.

3/30 – 42 miles Priest Station to Chinese Camp to Jamestown. Came back via Jacksonville Rd. This has become a ride I do often when I’m solo.  I usually stop at Here’s The Scoop for lunch.

3/31- 23 miles with Wayne S. from Moccasin to Coulterville and back via Hwy 49.

That’s enough for now. More tomorrow.



Posted in 2016 Northern Tier

Poole Station Road

Driving to Copperopolis had me thinking what a beautiful area. So green. So inviting. I want to live here. Oh, wait. This is only during the winter. In another month or so, it’ll all be dry and brown and hot. Never mind. I’ll just visit.

However, for today, it was perfect for our ride. Wayne and I met and headed up (yes, it truly was up) Hwy 4. The first part of the ride had plenty of shoulder but then that disappeared. We had to ride for about a mile and a half with no shoulder and traffic going by at 55 to 65 mph. Finally! Turned onto Poole Station Road.

I’ve been wanting to ride this road ever since we rode it with the motorcycle group. Some of the road was more chewed up than I expected and some of the climbs were harder than I expected. Just goes to show, you don’t necessarily get the full picture until you do it. On the other hand, some sections of the road were newly paved and wonderful to ride on.

Water was flowing everywhere – even across the road in several places – not a lot, just enough to get the bike dirty. Even so, it was nice to see and hear the water rushing in the creeks since we’ve been in a drought for several years. From what I can determine after searching the internet, we were riding along Bear Creek and Calaveritas Creek.

When we arrived in San Andreas, there was a deli almost right at the corner. After a yummy lunch, we turned around and headed back. Total distance was 37 miles but with plenty of climbing. According to, I was almost 3300 feet of climbing. I got a good workout.