Discovery Park: Flat City!

[by Kevin Harris] The Performance and Peloton Groups rode together today out to Discovery Park and back for a Long Slow Distance ride. But it didn’t end up that way!

We had a good turnout today for our combined Group Ride, plus two new riders came out for a new "Grupetto" ride around Lake Natoma, led by Stan. Good to see new riders out. All three groups started out from Karen’s this morning for what promised to be very enjoyable ride. The weather was great.

The Grupetto Group dropped back pretty quickly, but the Peloton and Performance Groups pretty much stayed together. As we reached William B. Pond for our first scheduled stop, we collectively made a quick decision to skip the stop and push onto Discovery Park. However, once the group got to about Sacramento State, Phil called out “flat” and several of us stopped to help out. This naturally broke the group into two. Tuned out it was Ryan with the flat, and the first of what would be two for him for the day! Once that was taken care of, Phil discovered he had a slow leak himself and decided to go ahead and change out the tube just to be safe. By the time we got going again we knew the others would be far ahead so we pushed the pace a bit to make up the lost time.

Just as we got to the outer edge of Discovery Park, the first group was coming the other way. They decided to turn around and return with us back to the water stop at Discovery Park for a regroup.

We were pleasantly surprised to see Kirk Stanfield, one of our Peloton riders from last year who we haven’t seen out for several weeks due to an old knee injury. Turns out he had left Karen’s not long after the combined group had departed and just beat us there by only a couple of minutes. Nice riding Kirk!

Before leaving Discovery Park, several Bicycle Planet riders joined us on the ride back to Karen’s and helped push the pace up to about 24 MPH! We ended up with about 12 or so in the group and soon reached William B. Pond for our schedule return stop. But once again the group decided to push onto Karen’s without stopping.

The pace picked up again just before the bridge and the group broke into two separate groups. A couple of us ended falling back a bit and lost sight of the faster group. We soon started to work together and just before reaching Sunrise we spotted the faster group again. Tim departed at Sunrise and I continued to push on to catch what I thought was the entire first group. Turns out they were Joel, Jeff and Phil by themselves riding at a slower pace. The four of us continued onto the Fish Hatchery then stopped for a water refill and to wait a bit for the others to catch up. After about 10 minutes we continued on back to Karen’s, taking the north side route around Lake Natoma.

Once back a Karen’s we found out later that Ryan had his second flat of the ride (the rear tire again!) during the return ride. All and all a very enjoyable ride with fantastic weather and good company

Next week, the Folsom Lake Loop which promises to be quite a challenge for the Peloton riders.


Rescue Ride: Head For Them Thar Hills!

As we move out of primarily building base miles, our routes are gaining elevation and preparing us for the challenges of the cycling season. The first weekend of spring was heralded in by a few more riders joining both the Performance and Peloton Groups to begin their training. New to the Peloton was Ryan, who just finished a half marathon last weekend and wanted to try his hand at hanging with the Cycle Folsom gang. And a fine job he did, too!

We left at 8am (sharp!) for a warmup with the Performance Group over Folsom Dam Crossing, then our routes parted as the Peloton headed east on Green Valley to the scenic Malcolm Dixon Road. This stretch poses some challenging rollers that did a great job preparing us for the workout along Deer Valley Road on the way to our water stop at the Rescue fire station.

Amongst our band was the irrepressible, enthusiastic triathlete Danny, who shared his hill attacking strategies with us. You’ll know Danny when you meet him: he has exquisite style on the bike and endlessly dishes up support and encouragement to the other riders.

Once we refilled our bottles at the fire station we put our newly learned hill climbing skills to the test on the undulating Ponderosa Road. Along the way we crossed paths with the Performance riders and traded a friendly “thumbs up” as they headed towards Rescue. What ensued was a nearly futile downhill chase for Stan and Joel’s wheel all the way back to El Dorado Hills.

Thankfully a red signal or two thwarted their getaway and helped us regroup before the final leg up to Beal’s Point and back down to the start point.

From there, Stan, Joel, and Danny took on the optional loop around Lake Natoma where the too-hot-to-handle Joel answered every challenge Danny presented with a serious reply. Stan joined the fray and the threesome finished the day completely igniting the rest of the route. Good thing the spring grass is so lush and green – but even this early in the season these guys are a fire hazard!


Fast Foxes and Hungry Hounds

[Written by Phil Blay] It was billed as a "Fox and Hound Ride." The Peloton Group starts about 20 minutes earlier than the Perormance Group, with the latter hunting them down like hounds after foxes.

The morning started out strange....Met up with Gary at Karen's 8:12am and no one else was there to support the Performance group in the chase for the Foxes! Until Jeff M. came out to join us. Thanks Jeff! So The three of us started out at 8:20am. We were not too confident we could chase down a big Peloton group of 9-11 riders. Also, Curtis showed up to ride with the Peloton Group (our luck Curtis would not join the Performance Group for the chase). Curtis changed the course to Irish Hill Road for the route back.
The three of us rolled out and decided to start at a maintainable pace and try to keep the pace as high as possible without anyone blowing up. Jeff stuggled a little the first few miles warming up. Gary and I would start to push too hard and Jeff would go off the back. He asked us to just go ahead but we knew that a third man was needed to have any chance at all of catching the Peloton. Made the turn onto Jackson Highway and blew right past the old water stop in Murrieta. Felt like a tail wind heading towards Ione road (not good for the way back). Made the turn onto Ione road and Gary picked up the pace on the slight down hill and we really started to put the hammer down. Jeff was helping as much as possible but Gary and I wanted him to get the most rest to help later in the ride. (This would prove later to be a good strategy). A few miles in I was leading and saw some riders on the side of Ione road.
It was Stan, Lisa, Ron and Joel. Stan flatted and was in the process of pumping up the tire. According to Stan's group the breakaway Peloton Proup with Curtis was about five minutes ahead! Lisa and Ron took off to get a head start while Jeff, Gary and I waited for Stan to complete the repair. We decided to give them a pull to catch up with the breakaway (we would learn later that this was not possible). We three were just too strong and kept losing Stan's group and slowing for them to catch up to our wheels. Finally we pulled the plug so to speak and put the hammer down. (sorry Stan and group but we were on a mission)
We made the turn onto the golf course road and kept up our speed heading in to the water stop (The average MPH can go down quick when slowing for a stop). As we were just turning into the driveway the breakaway group was just leaving! The surprised look on their faces was worth the effort we put in the last ten-twelve miles! We made as short a water stop as possible and got right back on the road.

We ramped the pace up on Irish Hill road hoping to make up time on the breakaway Peloton Group (They had other ideas....can you say Curtis had other ideas......). When we made the left turn back onto Jackson road were greeted by a side/headwind. Gary and Jeff started to slow on their pulls on Jackson so I took the lead for most of the way back to Murieta. Where was the breakaway group? Were they that far ahead? I started to feel little leg cramps coming into Murietta from the effort on Jackson road.
We made the turn onto Sloughhouse climbed over the "Hump" with Jeff riding right past Gary and I up the hill! Jeff won the KOM honors! Then Jeff started to pull us like a sleddog down Scott Road. He whipped up the speed to where Gary and I were having a hard time staying on his wheel. Both of us were feeling the twinges of cramps on each uphill section of Scott road. Our average had dropped to 18.9mph. Things were not looking good. NO catch of the breakaway Peloton Group and the average speed dropping! I was not feeling like I could keep the motor running, so to speak. But Jeff kept pulling and Gary and I kept in his draft all the way to Prairie City road. As we neared Whiterock the average moved back to 19.0! We started feeling like the next winners of the Tour De France! We made the turn onto Whiterock and Gary took the lead to keep the pace high with me slotted second and Jeff taking a well deserved break. The turn onto Prairie City was one of desperation, we had dropped back to 18.9mph. We had to either catch the breakaway group (not going to happen this late in the ride) or get our average back up to 19.0 to save the Performance Group's Ione ride!
Gary's and Jeff's average MPH was a few ticks slower than mine as I had kept up a faster pace in the Irish Hill section. So the decision was made for Gary and Jeff to lead me out and sacrifice themselves so I could get my average back up to 19.0. Just after the 50 over pass Gary and Jeff ramped it up pulling me at speeds up to 26-29mph. My average peaked at 19.1. Yea! All I had to do was ride no slower than 19mph  the last couple of miles! Gary dropped off the pace line exhausted. Jeff kept the pace up with me staying in the draft, Jeff and I rode into Karen's and I stopped the Garmin averaging 19.1 for the ride! This included the ride from my house to Karen's to meet up ror the ride.  
We found out the Peloton group had averaged 18.5mph for the ride. It seems Curtis helped them keep the pace up. To make matters worse.....Scott McKinney joined the group somewhere on the way back and helped. Gary, Jeff and I did not feel so bad not catching the breakaway Peloton group today with those two strong guys helping them out. The .6mph average speed is not enough speed difference to make up 17-20 minutes of lead out with Curtis and Scott lending a helping hand!
Kudos to the Peloton Group for their awesome ride today.


A Big Thank You to Lisa

[Posted by Stan Schultz] A friend of mine who is considering getting back on her bike after a hiatus showed some interest in training for the Livestrong Challenge, so I was gathering some info for her on the Livestrong Challenge site. While doing so, I stumbled onto the fact that Lisa Haas, one of our Peloton Group ride leaders, quietly donated $100 each to Kevin Harris' fund raising account, and to mine.

I just love those little surprises. So here's one for you, Lisa, join the Cycle Folsom team and I'll contribute $100 to your fundraising account. Dude, er... sweetie?, we NEED you on our team. You could ride the Century route twice if you really feel a need to do another one of those wacky double-centuries of yours (of course you'll miss the festivities after the ride 'cause I'll be stopping for the food, the beer, and the band.)

Anyway, thank you, Lisa, for your very generous contributions. They will motivate Kevin and me to keep working to build Team Cycle Folsom and raise funds. I'm confident others will join us for this great event.

For anyone else considering it: 10, 50, 65, and 100 mile routes are available. The event is incredibly well-supported with food, fun and a band afterward. The routes are manageable, each with one signature hill to make it worth doing. Click here to visit the San Jose Livestrong Challenge site. Need more info? Tips on training for various distances? I'll do my best to point you in the right direction.

The Fox and the Hound. ...and the sheep.

Also see the Performance Group's first Blog entry about this ride: Visit the Performance Group Blog
[Posted by Stan Schultz] It started as one of the Peloton Group's early-season goals: do the 75 mile Ione Loop. It morphed into a friendly challenge that seems to have brought out most everyone's best performance. It's called a "Fox and Hound Ride." The Peloton Group starts the route about 15 to 20 minutes before the Performance Group. The Performance Group then tries to catch and pass the Peloton Group on the same route. The event was stoked up a bit when Steve Ward placed a bet for pizza and beer that the Performance Group couldn't hold a average pace of 19mph over the course of the whole ride.
My account of this ride, unfortunately, was focused primarily on mechanical problems. Multiple flats and tire problems forced me to limp back from Ione, stopping to pump up my tire every 5 to 7 miles. Thanks to Ross for sticking with me, and for giving up his tube and CO2 cartridges.

Follow-up e-mails from others attest to a great ride that brought out a great performance by the foxes and hounds. Stan, Ross, Lisa, and Ron all added one more element to the ride: sheep. A combination of mechanical challenges and a century ride the day before for Ron and Lisa left us behind, like sheep. Fortunately the hounds had more interest in Foxes than Sheep.

Here is a temporary post that I extracted from a follow-up email from Lisa Haas, who justifiably chose to cut the ride short and head back to Folsom with Ron from Rancho Murietta (...by car...oye, long story). Kevin or Lisa will likely write-up a more complete account later, but for now:

[Lisa Haas] This morning as you recall we last saw a tight and well disciplined peloton under Curtis’ tutelage heading northwest towards Irish Hill Road. Not far behind were Feloniously Fast Phil and his pack of hounds nipping at their back wheels. Then Ron and I decided to change our route to an out-and-back in Ione; the wind, Patterson Pass and Palomares really taxed our legs yesterday and we thought it best not to overdo it.  We split off of you and Ross at Irish Hill and returned to Rancho Murieta at a decent pace, but with purpose. Once back at his car Ron and I chose to backtrack the route home for the scenery.

Halfway up Scott Road on the way to Folsom we spied 2 riders up ahead. We figured that with the timing information we had from the CF Ride Library it was likely the Performance group well satiated from gobbling up the foxes. As we got nearer I realized it was Kevin and another rider I couldn’t identify (sorry—I still don’t know everyone yet). They were peddling like fiends, grinning away as we passed and waved. I thought, “Holy cow, they’re out here with nobody else in sight! Where’s everyone else?” They were riding so furiously and were clearly so superhumanly stoked I thought, “Maybe they got a break and are still being chased!” As far as the eye could see there were no other cyclists on the road, so I figured these guys somehow got a lucky break and were having a really good day. Nonetheless, I was duly impressed by the amount of heart they were throwing into their task… and making dang good time!

As we made our way back into town we finally saw other cyclists heading north across Iron Point. Although lots of other riders were on the road today, I had an unsettled feeling I would know who these guys were. As we continued up Sibley  we watched them pull further away from us (remember we’re in the car)—they hit every light green while we stopped at each one, just barely keeping them in view until they disappeared into Old Folsom.

At 12:03 we arrived at the parking lot across from Karen’s Bakery. Standing calmly by the gate with bike stacked up along the fence was Joel whittling away at a snack. Surrounding him were Gary, Phil, and three others whose names I unfortunately haven’t learned yet. All I could think was that blood spilled on Irish Hill Road and the peloton blew apart like it was hit by a nuclear explosion. By the way Curtis was nowhere in sight in the parking lot...I surmised he was already home and showered with a tasty cold beverage in hand. The group agreed.

So let it be known Phil really is feloniously fast—his computer clocked in a preliminary 18.9 mph average with his accomplice felons coming up with similar data. The group handily sliced and diced Ione Loop in a touch over 3.5 hours. I rarely rarely bag a ride, but this was quite an experience and I’m glad I did just to get a first-hand commentary on how the morning played out. On days like these all the behind-the-scenes hard work and training these athletes regularly put in gets a chance to shine and I have tremendous respect for them. It is this dedication that brands Cycle Folsom’s reputation in the community. I’m guessing Steve owes a handful of his riding pals pizza and beer!

More to come about this ride a littler later.


Midweek Afternoon Ride on the South Canal Trail

With the weather improving and the days getting longer, the American River Bike Trail is getting more crowded. The Peloton Group agreed that we need to find an alternate flat route for some of our rides. This afternoon, 4 of us met for an exploratory ride on the South Canal Bike Path. We were joined by three Performance Group members.

From left to right in the photo above: The Amazing Oz, Jammin' Jeff, Feloniously Fast Phil, Kevlar Kevin, Stanley Steamer, Laid Back Lisa, and CycloRon.

As he usually does when he finds out we're trying out something new, CF founder Steve Ward provided us with a great overview of what to expect via e-mail yesterday, as well as several safety and convenience tips about the path.

The path is in great shape and provides a relatively unobstructed ride for miles (we traveled about 10 miles and didn't come close to its end). There are a couple of roads that you have to get across, which can require a bit of patience in the interests of safety, but not too big of a deal.

Given that we had the Performance Group guys with us, we knew we weren't going to get off easy. We faced a moderate headwind on the way out and held a pace of around 18 to 20mph.
After a few miles of double pace line riding (two-up riders, both riders peel off at the same time), we decided to try a revolving single pace line (two-up riders; the left pace line slowly drops back while the right pace line moves forward; as you reach the back of the pack you move right and start moving up, and as you reach the front of the pack you move left and begin to drop back). This was a new technique for the Peloton riders, except for Lisa (and maybe Ron). It took a while to get into sync, but it was very cool one we got the hang of it. We really covered some ground with very little time pulling. It's experiences like this that make me appreciate Cycle Folsom even more. You don't get too many chances to try different pace line techniques on your own, or even in most groups.

On the way back, we had the wind at  our back. We got into our groove and really started movin'. I mostly saw 20 to 22mph when I looked down at my computer. As we came within a few miles of the Nimbus Fish Hatchery, the Performance boys kicked it into high gear in an effort to test each other a bit. I jumped on and held on for all it was worth—giving it a respectable effort for a Peloton level rider—but alas, I had to peel off after a couple miles. In my opinion, it's these little challenges that help you elevate the expectation you have for yourself.

This ride gave us a great taste of what's to come as the weather warms up and the days get longer. I expect that we'll be seeing more mid-week group rides forming.

Thanks once again to Ron Vanhuuksloot for his photographic efforts. The poor guy will race ahead and take pictures as we roll by, leaving him to pull himself back into the pack with a lot of effort. It's appreciated.

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.


A point of reference for those who may be thinking of joining us...

We've been getting more inquiries about our Group as the weather begins to warm up. In addition to the weekend ride re-cap posts in this blog, I thought I would post part of a response I sent to a recent inquirer: 

"...Everything is relative, so it's difficult to label hills as easy or hard. I usually refer to the hills that the Peloton Group tackles as "moderately challenging." Like you, I also rode the Folsom Cyclebration Metric Century last year. For reference, that route would serve as one of our most challenging rides around the May to July time frame. This year we might be ready for it a little earlier.

For another reference point: At this point in the season (late Winter / early Spring), most Peloton riders are comfortable with, but still challenged by our "Mt. Costo Loop Route." Many of us use it as a weekday hill training ride. Most of the time, we make it up Mt. Costco and Beatty without fear or concern, but we're still huffing and puffing pretty hard. We recover at the top of the hill pretty quickly with little or no break. 

Hopefully, you'll be familiar with some of these roads: It starts at Karen's Bakery in Old Folsom, down Folsom-Auburn to Iron Point, up over "Mt. Costco," left on Empire Ranch/Sophia Pkwy., right on Alexandria, Right on Beatty Road for and up-and-down, back out to Sophia Pkwy, to Green Valley, to E. Natoma St., over the Folsom Lake Crossing Bridge, up to Beales Pt., and back down to Karen's Bakery. Our average speed over the entire course of this route, including all hills and flats, is usually 14 to 16 mph. (here's a link to it on MapMyRide; Disregard the little jog on Oak Ave where I live)."

Hope that gives a little more perspective for those who may be interested in riding with us. Regulars of the Cycle Folsom Peloton Group, feel free to add your comments in the comment section if you have something more to offer.


Callison Road — New Route Didn't Disappoint

As he burns up and down hundreds of miles of roads throughout the region, Cycle Folsom's founder, Steve Ward, kindly captures and documents rides that he thinks would work well for our Peloton Group. His suggestion of the new Callison Road route didn't disappoint anyone.

This ride is similar to other rides that the Peloton Group has done before, so many of us had done most of this ride. But two slight diversions, Callison Road and Shirland Tract Road, offered a pleasant, peaceful change to the traffic that would otherwise be found on Taylor Road and Folsom-Auburn Road. Mild to moderately challenging hills are scattered throughout the ride, with the toughest probably being Indian Hill. Steve was right when he said, "Callison Road is probably what adds the most charm to this ride." But I personally thought that Shirland Tract Road was pretty cool, too.

Seven of us showed up for the Peloton ride today. Five were regulars and two are "becoming increasingly regulars." I was impressed throughout the ride how each of us demonstrated the effects of our early season conditioning. There was pretty consistent strength, but each rider also showed great strength or sustained power at one time or another during the ride. Seeing this each weekend is what keeps motivating me to keep getting weekday rides in. Very cool to see everyone making incremental gains each week.

It didn't hurt that Mother Nature gave us a big ol' heaping taste of Spring today. The sky was blue, the temp was cool, but comfortable, the fields were lush green, and cherry and other fruit trees were in full bloom. I fall in love with this area all over again when I ride on a day like today.

Thanks to Lisa and Ron for their photo journalism gymnastics during this week's ride.

We'll post a detailed link for this ride route  soon.

Some of us added a loop around Lake Natoma and an up-and-back to Beales Point to so we could tack on a few more miles (A few of us are using a "300 miles in 30 days" challenge on MapMyRide.com to help motivate us).

I'll end my comments here with hopes that others who were on the ride will join in and share their "favorite ride highlights" comments in the comments section of this post. Please be sure to read their comments. They're usually a hell of a lot funnier than me.