Three Groups Become One for Ride to Discovery—for a while anyway!

For today's ride, Cycle Folsom's Peloton Group, Performance Group, and even a couple riders from the Endurance Group met at Karen's Bakery at 8am for a ride to Discovery Park in Sacramento. I never got an accurate count, but I think we had between 17 to 20 riders at the start. It was a beautiful day, just a bit cold when we started, but manageable.

Prior to the ride start, Steve informed the collective group that the ride would likely split apart along the way, with the Performance Group pulling ahead and the Peloton Group holding a slower pace behind.It was an accurate prediction. Knowing that we had a total of about 60 miles to ride, several Peloton Riders dropped the 24 to 25mph pace down to a more reasonable 17 to 20mph.

We arrived at the first rest stop, William B. Pond Park, to see the Performance Group. As they prepared to take off again, a few cyclists who had accomplished their goal of keeping up with the faster pace until they reached the first rest stop decided to hold back to join the Peloton Group for the balance of the ride. We averaged a steady 18 to 19mph the rest of the way to Discovery Park. At Discovery Park, it happened again... we picked up a few more riders who had been riding with the Performance Group, but who were now willing to drop their pace a bit to ride with us.

Somewhere along our ride out to Discovery, we picked up a cyclist who had been riding on his own, but latched on to the Group's wheel as he saw us ride by. Turns out, he's a very well-conditioned triathlete on a race team—a Machine. As we departed Discovery Park, he ended up out front. Aside from a few miles here and there, he pulled the group pretty much all the way back to Folsom. Having someone pull that long is a bit of a blessing and a curse. While it's nice to benefit from a draft all the way home, part of our conditioning requires that each of us take turns "pulling" to help build our respective strength. Nevertheless, today, I was quite content to simply reap the "blessing" of The Machine's willingness to keep pulling.

On the way back, the testosterone seemed to slowly start to flow again. The pace slowly inched its way up to a range of between 22 to 24mph. With such a big group and so much traffic on the trail, alertness, use of signals, and verbal call-outs become so very important. Fortunately, every one seemed to be aware and alert of the safety issues.

Eventually, the Group split into two again on the way back, although I have to confess I'm not sure where. Six of us reached the Hazel Bridge and realized we were on our own and had dropped a number of riders. We continued on, feeling a bit guilty, but also knowing that everyone was quite capable of making their way back. As we neared the ride start at the Folsom Bridge, five of us added an optional up-and-back to Beale's Point for good measure. The Machine—who was still with us and happy to pull—didn't disappoint on the slow, steady grade up to Beale's. Chuck and Joel attempted to sneak an attack ay the top of the hill in to show The Machine that they still has somethin' in them, but a couple of quick clicks of The Machine's gears and a huge burst of energy from those quads of his kept them in check. Meanwhile, Stan was gasping for air at least 100 to 200 yards back.

All in all, quite a ride. Definitely the biggest Cycle Folsom Group ride I've ever been part of. We had a few new riders with us, as well as a relatively new rider. I'm hopeful they enjoyed it as well. They looked great during the ride.


Midweek afternoon ride into the hills

(Preemptive Disclosure: use of the term attack, and fast pace is relative. Look at the four of us and I think you'll know what I mean)

A few of us exchanged e-mails and set up a "slow and steady" midweek ride today, beginning at 3:30pm from Karen's. The route included Mt. Costco, Beatty Hill, over to Serano/Silva Valley, out to Green Valley, E. Natoma, and a run up to Beales Pt. before returning to Karen's.

Kevin and Joel got a jump on Costco and held a pretty good pace, but Stan landed a surprise attack on both of them to grab the sprint points. No one cried foul—but they could have considering that Stan was the one who first suggested that "we should take the ride slow and steady."

We all made it over to Beatty Hill where we met up with one of the Performance Group Ride Leaders, Ozero Lee. Oz is one of the Grandfathers of the Peloton Group, having led the Group for more than a year. He's a great mentor in the hills, however, Stan intends to inspect Oz's bike very closely next time he rides with him. He's confident Oz has an electric motor or two hidden in there somewhere. Oz makes those hills look waaaaaay to easy.It's amazing. Joel kept up with him though, leaving everyone else behind, especially Stan, who was in the waaaaayyyyy back cursing and muttering "Yeah? I beat you all on Costco though!"

We all made it up Serano/Silva in good shape, after which the pace picked up. Kevin surprised us all—throughout the ride—with a pretty brisk pace. But the real dark horse of the ride was Rob, who saved plenty of gas to grab the sprint points at the top Beales Pt., and then again on the way down to Karen's.

Slow and steady. Pfft! Not today.


Threat of Rain Good Excuse for Some

I'm guessing that most riders took a pass on today's scheduled route due to forecasted rain. Stan Schultz and Joel Brandt showed up based on reports of just 30% chance of rain for most of the morning. It turned out that we made the right call. With the exception of mild to moderate headwinds in a few spots, it was a great day for a ride. We rode to Hagen Park & back, followed by a run around the Mt. Costco Loop, which includes Costco Hill, Beatty Hill, and Beales Point. We also ended up tacking on a loop around Lake Natoma for good measure.

We held a moderate pace out to Hagen Park and back, anticipating that we would struggle a bit on Costco Hill, Beatty Hill, and Beales. I'm happy to report that Joel and I both held a respectable pace up Mt. Costco. It was gratifying to catch and pass two riders on the way up the hill who had passed us quite a bit earlier on the trail. We both speculated that they probably had stopped at Costco for a hot dog, which didn't provide optimum energy. We were pleased with how quickly we recovered as we made our way over the top and on to Beatty Hill.

Beatty presented a bit more of a challenge, but we finished strong—challenging one and other to the top. Joel ultimately claimed "King of the Hill" points victory for the day by about 2.5 feet. I snapped off a quick photo to catch him in his glory at the top. We're always careful to hold our "official" King of the Hill challenges when it's just the two of us, so at least one of us can win!

After continuing on to Beale's Point, we both agreed that we had enough time and energy for a loop around Lake Natoma to cap off the ride at just over 55 miles.

It started sprinkling very lightly at the end of the ride as I neared Coffee Republic for lunch on the way home. My little iPhone app from The Weather Channel seemed to be right on the money today.

For future rides, feel follow "CycleFolsomPelo" on Twitter for ride status updates. We usually ride if light rain or sprinkles are expected. We'll bail if showers or high winds are expected.

Next Week's Ride: Discovery Park and back via the American River Trail.


Spectacular Day for Millertown Road Ride

It was just a bit chillier than a typical Spring morning as seven of us gathered together at Karen's Bakery for the Millertown Road ride. The group was made up of a few regulars, a few riders that join us on occasion, and a few new riders. We agreed to hold a bit easier pace up Folsom-Auburn Rd. to Auburn, but that road seems to challenge you at any pace.

About half way up Folsom-Auburn, we got word that one of our regular female riders, Lisa Haas, was trying to catch up to us from her home in Roseville. Normally, we wouldn't hold back and wait for a rider that wasn't there for the start, but Lisa's been a great asset to the Group so we agreed to extend our break at the top of Folsom-Auburn. Just as we were getting a bit antsy to get rollin', Lisa came whizzin' by and yelled, "Whada ya' stoppin for! There's no stopping!" (As an aside Lisa Haas and Ron Vanhuuksloot just complete a 375 mile ride in Puerto Rico that looks like an incredible journey. See Ron's blog for photos and detials. Next week, they'll both be riding in the Camino Real Double Century.)

Shortly after that we made our way over to Millertown Road. What a great day for a ride on such a beautiful rural road. Lush green hills, lots of trees, and a meandering brook. It's where I envision my summer cottage should be. It's mostly downhill at that point, which makes for a really fun ride.

Overall, there was a slight disparity between riders, but the stronger riders exercised some friendly patience at times while also placing the bar just high enough to push the pace, but not make it unreasonable. Overall, the Group held true to our goal of working to improve our fitness while inspiring those who may need it. We regrouped at the tops of most of the climbs, including Indian Hill where the skies were so clear we could see all the way to the old Rancho Seco Nuclear Power Plant (roughly 45 miles away, as the crow flies).

The pace was extremely brisk down Folsom-Auburn. Unfortunately, a poorly-timed red light split the group into two groups of 4 riders. In the end everyone made it back to Karen's Bakery with smiles on their faces. Three of us added an optional loop around Lake Natoma for some additional miles.

Note: We've started a Group on MapMyRide.com. There, you can see the stats for this and other rides. The Leaderboard feature also allows you to compare your mileage and workouts against others who are participating. It can be a great motivator to get you in your saddle so you don't get left behind on weekends.


Rescue Ride, plus an optional loop around Lake Natoma

Six of us showed up for the ride to the small Gold Rush era Town of Rescue. We were a mix of riders who had some mileage and hills under their belt and others whose training is in the earlier stages. The ride to Rescue is almost like doing moderately challenging hill repeats for roughly 30 of the 35 mile out-and-back ride. We took a break to re-fill water bottles and use the bathroom at the Rescue Fire Station.

Our paces varied a bit, but we re-grouped at the tops of hills and everyone made it back to the ride start able to hold their heads high. Three of us continued on for an optional loop around Lake Natoma (kind of building a piggy bank of excuses for drinking a couple more beers during the Super Bowl later in the day).

Next week's ride: Millertown Road. The most challenging part of this ride is getting to the top of Folsom-Auburn Blvd. After that, there one other good size grade, but we'll be riding on some beautiful rural roads after getting through Auburn.


Sunday, January 31: The "Disco" Ride

Sunday turned out to be a great day for a ride to Discovery Park from Folsom (a.k.a. The Disco Ride). There were ten of us. In addition to our core group of 4 or 5 riders who show up like clockwork, another 4 or 5 riders from Team Bicycle Planet joined us. The ride was intended to be a relatively easy ride for them, as some were recovering from a race, and others were prepping for a major race next weekend. Great bunch of guys and very enjoyable to ride with. They reinforced their sponsor's hard-earned image for friendly, approachable expertise. We'll all continue to recommend Bicycle Planet.

There were also a couple of new riders that split off on their own early on due to a disparity in pace.

The pace turned out to be a bit more brisk than we expected, with an average speed of 18 mph over the course of the 58 mile route. Generally, everyone enjoyed the pace, but most of the regular Cycle Folsom riders admitted that they were pushing themselves. Given that it's still early in the year, it was an impressive effort by everyone.

Next week's ride: The Town of Rescue Plus and Option Loop Around Lake Natoma