Not this year…

I retired from full time employment in 2007. Since that year I have had plenty of chances to ride my bikes (all 4 of them, including the tandem). During those 11 years I have averaged 8,600 cycling miles per annum, with a high year of 9,200 and a low of 8,200. I put more miles on my bikes than I do on my Honda Element!

I consider 8,000 miles a kind of floor and I always expect to reach that total unless I have health problems of some sort. Well I am happy to report that my health is good, but my mileage total is ailing a bit. I’m at just under 6,700 for 2018.

I’m behind pace for a couple of reasons. I had a very busy walnut season: 30 straight days of 9 to 12 hours ‘counting nuts’. This put me about 300 miles behind last year. I also lost a week with a summer cold which I acquired at a most unfortunate time: 10 days before I headed off to the Alps. I recovered well enough to feel good when I got to France, and ride the rental I ‘liked so much’. I’m still irritated at Air France for misplacing the Tarmac.

With over 7 weeks in the year left it might be possible to get to 8,000, but Stoker and I are going to do some travelling to non cycling destinations. I looked at the calendar and counted 32 opportunities for me to ride between now and New Year’s Day. So I would have to ride 41 miles on each of those days to make it. And if I took any days off or got rained out (which we all should hope happens a lot, and soon) I would have to do even longer rides to catch up. It isn’t going to happen.

My friend Bennie could do it. We don’t call him ‘lonerider’ for nothing. He spends a lot of time on his bike, more than almost anyone. Thus he finds himself riding alone a lot: few of his riding friends want to spend that many hours in the saddle. His other nickname is ‘long rider’ and he racks up some incredible totals. He once rode over 4,000 miles in ONE MONTH! Over 130 miles a day, everyday. One year he did something like 120 ‘centuries’, i.e. one hundred (or more ) miles in one day. But his annual total that still stuns me is that in one year he ascended over 1,200,000 feet (1.2 million feet?!) on his bicycle. That is the equivalent of 345 cycling trips up Mount Diablo in a single year.

But I’m not Bennie, so I’ll keep to my normal winter schedule of 150 to 190 miles each week when Stoker and I are home and when it isn’t raining. I sure hope I get rained out a lot, and starting soon. That should get me to over 7,500, a post retirement low. Wait until next year…

The Numbers Add Up, But They Don't Add Up to Much!

 

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No Puedo Hablar….

…but I suppose I had better learn.

Que es esto?

I have an orange tree in front of my house that the SJ County Ag Department likes to use for an insect trap. Sometime almost every year I get a knock on my door and a nice employee asks if they can put the trap in my tree, and I am happy to comply. We always converse in English.

Since I am now busy counting nuts (see older posts for an explanation) this time I missed the trap placing person’s recent visit. But they were nice enough to leave an informative paper on my front door to tell me what they had done and if I had any questions whom to contact. At least I suppose that is what it did. It was in Spanish. And there was no English version.

If you live in California you are certainly used to seeing Spanish and English side by side everywhere. My bank has more signs in Spanish on the walls than English versions. Drive into Stockton on Waterloo Road and you will see billboards and business signs that are entirely in Spanish with no English necessary. The highest rated TV station in Los Angeles broadcasts in Spanish. You get the idea: California isn’t quite Canada, which has two official languages. But in parts of our state English is definitely a second language.

I have assumed until now that while official government communications may be printed in multilingual versions, an English script would always be available. Apparently the Ag Department has concluded otherwise and considers the Spanish version sufficient for official government communications.

I am very much out of touch with the political currents in our Golden State. But rather than get angry, I see the humor in the silliness. And when an government entity adopts a “Spanish first and only” approach to documents, silliness abounds.

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How Low Can You Go…

…and not faint?

Walnut season is here, which means I un-retire for six weeks and take a sabbatical from doing Stockton Bicycle Club rides. But I don’t stop riding entirely, I just squeeze in spins whenever work allows. Shorter rides to be sure, but I do some focused interval training so that when the season ends around November 1 I haven’t lost much fitness and can get back to my typical 4 rides a week with my fellow club riders.

No Wonder I Felt Dizzy: Post Ride Blood Pressure Reading

After working Saturday morning, I went out for an afternoon solo spin. I did a 40 mile big loop from my house to Clements, then north to Peltier Road and back into Lockeford and then home. I was riding at a pretty quick pace (for me anyway), and I was feeling really good. It was a lovely afternoon, warm but not hot, and with very little wind.

After 28 miles, I got stung by a wasp or something. This has happened several times over the years and is a hazard of cycling. I’ve had stings/bites on my bare pate, on the bridge of my nose, above my eyebrows and on the tip of my index finger. But this bug got me somewhere new: up ‘high on the thigh’. Specifically on the inside of my right thigh about a foot above my kneecap and about 2 inches from what would have been a really bad situation. Think of the part of your body where you would least like to have a stinger lodge, and you’ll get the idea. This was a close call.

But that is all it was. After the initial pain I was able to keep riding and I was still feeling good. I rolled through Lockeford and onto the wonderful new pavement on Jack Tone Road between Brandt and Kettleman Roads. But when I reached Harney Lane, a mere 5 miles from home, I started to feel less well. My neck was really hurting me and I was feeling much weaker. I kept up my good pace until I reached Eight Mile Road. Then I pressed ‘End Ride’ on my Garmin to preserve my fairly decent time for the 38 miles, and allowed myself to ride the last 2.5 miles home at a very easy pace.

My heart rate went down right away, but I was still feeling weak and my neck was hurting even more. And I was beginning to recognize the signs of something that has happened to me before. When I finally got home and got off the bike I felt dizzy, and there seemed to be a shimmering bright light along with a narrowing field of vision.

If this had been the first time this happened to me, I would have been slightly panicked. As it was, I simply laid down and put my feet above my head. I took my blood pressure just to confirm what I already knew: It had dropped low enough to cause me problems.

As I said, this has happened to me before. Most recently in 2017 in France after a long and hilly tandem ride. That time was much worse: I really scared Stoker and our guide John and I guess I must have looked terrible. This time after about 30 minutes my vision was normal and the dizziness was gone. I took a nap and woke up feeling fine.

I have high blood pressure which I control with medication and cycling. Sometimes the combination works too well. When I go on week long trips where I am doing long rides with lots of climbing every day, I do not take medication (with my doctor’s blessing). And I bring my blood pressure monitor so I can confirm that my readings stay normal. I could get off the meds completely if I would just ride 5 hours a day, every day, the way we did in the Alps. Since that is not possible, I’m going to have to keep taking pills and turning pedals to keep my blood pressure at a healthy level. And when the combination over corrects remember to lay down and put my feet up!

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Air France Apologizes..

"Rush" and "Priority": Did Not Happen! But AF Paid for the Rental Bike.

For the 15th  time. All of them read from a script and insincere.

In my last blog I wrote about how my bike and I went to Europe but never got together. The Tarmac spent the trip in various airport luggage handling areas before being returned to Brumby Road 4 days after I got home.

I filed a claim form. I wanted a cash payment of $1,000. I paid AF a $150 extra luggage fee to fly the bike with me. I had to spend $350 on a mediocre rental bike. And I wanted $500 in compensation for ‘loss of use’. In cash, not in a travel voucher.

Today Delta Airlines (who apparently handle AF baggage issues in the US) contacted me. They are going to refund the $350 rental fee in cash. They are going to give me a $500 travel voucher than I may or may not be able to use. And incredibly, they are not going to refund the $150 fee I paid to put the bike on the plane. Extra bag fees are not refundable if your bags are delivered to you eventually, even if you never see them while on the trip.  I’m surprised AF didn’t try to bill me another $150 to ship the bike back to California!

So I really didn’t get what I wanted. And I’m afraid I did not react well to the 15th insincere apology. I called AF twice a day in France and daily at home until the bike reached me, and every call ended with the agent reading the same “we’re sorry”. They aren’t.

What to do in the future? I am planning future cycling journeys to Europe. Stoker and I are planning another May in Malaucene. And all 6 of the riders on the Northern Alps Tour I just returned from are planning an adventure in the Dolomites in August 2019. I’m going to want to bring my bike. And I will try to do so. But I’m going to be very nervous and I’ll keep my shoes and pedals with me in my carry on bag. Maybe my saddle too.

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Tarmac Travels

"Rush" and "Priority": Did Not Happen!

I said goodbye to my Tarmac at the Air France check in counter at SFO. Then I pulled out my credit card to pay the $150 extra baggage fee to have the bike case fly to Europe with me. We were both excited and looking forward to a week of cycling in the Northern Alps of France.

The trouble started with a delay of over an hour boarding the flight to Paris. I had a two hour connection to Geneva at Charles de Gaulle Airport, and the late departure meant my comfortable 2 hour transfer morphed into a 40 minute mad dash to deplane, get through Immigration, through a second security check, and relocate from the International Terminal to the Domestic Terminal, which the airline magazine said would take over 20 minutes alone.  It was going to be tight, but I wasn’t excessively worried; I knew there were two later flights to Geneva and if I missed my connection I could get on one of those.

2 Weeks Stuck in a Box: The Tarmac Tours European Airports

But I made it to my original flight with about 10 minutes to spare. When I arrived in Geneva I was not especially surprised to see neither my bike nor my checked bag had arrived with me. Just what I needed after almost 24 hours in transit: I had to file a lost luggage report.

Which I did, and then took the shuttle to my hotel. No change of clothes, and no toiletries. I did have a toothbrush and toothpaste from my Air France on board comfort packet, and the hotel provided a shaving kit. I had my cycling shoes and pedals and a jersey and pair of cycling shorts in my carry on bag. The pedals and shoes turned out to be an excellent idea.

I still wasn’t really worried. I assumed that my luggage would be on the next plane, or the one after that. They would be delivered to my hotel during the night and I would be off with the 44 | 5 van on our journey to the tour start at Alpe ‘d Huez.

However, no luggage appeared at the hotel during the night. I went back to the airport and showed my ‘Property Irregularity Report’ to the agent and asked where my bags were and how they were going to be delivered to me. We were going to be riding through the Alps and changing hotels every one or two nights. Now I was starting to get nervous. Really nervous.

The agent took my claim ticket and we located my checked bag. At least I had all my cycling kit and toiletries and some clean clothes to wear to dinner. But the bike was nowhere to be found.

My 44 |  5 guides John and Gerry made some phone calls to a bike shop owner they knew at Alpe ‘d Huez and found me a bike to rent. It was the right size. We expected I would need the rental for the short warm up ride that Saturday afternoon and perhaps Sunday’s ride up the famous Alpe ‘d Huez climb, but that my Tarmac would show up sometime Sunday before we had to check out Monday morning.

But no bike showed up either Saturday night or Sunday. A fellow guest suggested that since it was unlikely the bike would be delivered to the relatively remote hotels we would be staying at over the next week, perhaps I should tell Air France to just send it home to California and accept the fact that I would have to ride the rental. Sadly, I had to admit to myself that he was correct and after lunch Sunday I called Air France and told them to send the Tarmac home.

The rental was a decent but very average bike. It was a low end Wilier and it was very pretty. I hated it. It was the right size, but the geometry was a little different from what I was used to. The Wilier weighed almost 20 lbs., compared to the 15.1 lb. Tarmac. Since I was climbing over 44,000 feet during the week I really felt the difference. The shifting had some issues. The wheels and tires were much rougher riding than my Hed Ardennes wheels and Schwabe tubeless tires. I didn’t like the saddle either. Overall I did not have a single really comfortable moment on the bike.

I did have my own pedals and cycling shoes: remember I brought them in my carry on bag. I always do this when flying with my bike. Lots of people put these items in the bike box which would have added to my complications and expense. As it was, I had to pay $350 to rent the Wilier, so with the Tarmac baggage fee I’m out $500 and on an inferior uncomfortable bicycle.

I called the Air France baggage customer service (that’s funny!) number once or twice a day for the rest of the week. I also followed the Tarmac’s adventures on the Web. As far as I can determine, the bike stayed in Paris until Wednesday. Then, despite my instructions on Sunday to send it back to California, the bike flew to Geneva. Then it somehow got shipped to Zurich! And according both the Web tracker and the customer service agents, the bike changed airlines from Air France to Swiss Air and was scheduled to fly from Zurich to SFO on August 31. And now the bike disappeared from everyone’s radar for 5 days. Air France could not track the bag because it was on Swiss Air. Messages sent to the various airports where the bike was supposed to be went unanswered. No one could tell me where the bike was for certain or when (or even if) I would see it again. I was beginning to get very worried, and since the baggage claim limit is $1500 and the Tarmac is worth a lot more than that, it would be quite an expensive loss.

Finally on September 5 I got a text from Air France. This was the first communication from them since I lost my bags; I had to call them for information multiple times and they never called me. This text had the nerve to say my bag was supposed to be delivered Sept. 5 and could I confirm that I had it? Since I didn’t, I sent them a negative reply, and amazingly did not use any profanity. But another text arrived with a phone number for a delivery service, and at 6 pm the van driver called and said the bike was on its way, but he was just leaving SFO and had lots of deliveries and he would get to Brumby Road at 10 PM or a bit later. Quite a bit later: at 11:30PM the van pulled in and the Tarmac was finally home.

My Alps trip was great. 44 | 5 is my favorite touring company and their Northern Alps adventure was filled with wonderful roads and amazing scenery and terrific food and wine. And a mediocre bike that makes me appreciate just how good the really good cycling stuff is.

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A Prize for the Pies…

…and the fruits and vegetables, the coffee, the sandwiches and the cookies and scones and turnovers. And the pies!

Ralph and his 'Luke"

The Pacific Italian Alliance awarded their 22nd Luke Award to Ralph and Denene Lucchetti, the owners (very hands-on owners) of The Fruit Bowl, our local favorite fruit stand and bake shop. PIA presents an award each year to individuals or organizations or businesses that  contribute to the Italian Culture.  According to the award dinner program: “From continuing to foster and nurture the Italian language to keeping the family run Farm Stand (The Fruit Bowl) tradition alive and growing, The Lucchetti’s exemplify for a younger generation what it means to be Italian.”

Rest Stop Asparagus: From Jersey Pockets to the Grill

I’ve known Ralph for a long time. When I started farming with my dad I used to see him at grower meetings and when I delivered cherries to Blue Anchor.  My nonna and nonno knew Ralph’s parents Ina and Frank. They even sold some peaches to Ina for her to sell at their fruit stand on Waterloo Road.  The Fruit Bowl opened in 1947, and in those days it was just a small kiosk in an unpaved yard. Today it is a much larger shop, with many wonderful products grown or produced locally. There is a bake shop where you can get all kinds of goodies (coffee too), or gelato, or order a sandwich for a light lunch.

Small Statue for a Big Honor!

The Fruit Bowl pies are famous and delicious. Last year the Stockton Bicycle Club hosted a “pie ride”. We did a 30 mile flat ride starting at The Fruit Bowl, and afterwards the club provided free pie and coffee to the riders. The ride was really popular and we had a turn out of around 35, far more than an average Sunday club ride. On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving there is a steady stream of cars arriving to pick up pies for the holiday the next day. Order in advance!

Diane and I went to the awards dinner, which was very well attended. The Pacific Italian Alliance could not have picked a more deserving couple to receive the honor of a Luke Award. The Lucchettis are keeping a family business with a long history going strong. And for hungry cyclists seeking delicious mid-ride treats, The Fruit Bowl is an oasis. Grazie mille Ralph and Denene!

 

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Paradise Lost…

Look what turned up in my Facebook Newsfeed this morning: some very bad news to start a Sunday.

Paradise Lost: A Casino Ruins Some Great Riding Roads

Harrah’s Northern California Casino will be located on the Buena Vista Tribe reservation land in Amador County, approximately 1 mile south of the town of Buena Vista, 5 miles southeast of the city of Ione, 28 miles northeast of the City of Stockton, and 32 miles southeast of the City of Sacramento. The location is complementary to Caesars Entertainment’s existing portfolio and is expected to generate strong visitation and excellent financial returns.

This casino has been in the works for years, but until now a combination of over saturation in the gaming ‘industry’ and local opposition has managed to give cyclists hope that the project would never be built. Hopes that look dashed by today’s news.

The casino is going to be located on Coal Mine Road, about 7 miles south of Ione and literally in the middle of some of the best cycling roads we ride. It looks like a large project. The press release release states “The 71,000 square-foot property is expected to open in 2019, and will include 950 state-of-the-art slots, 20 table games, one full-service restaurant and three fast-casual dining concepts.”

The area boarded by Highways 88, 12, 26 and 49 contains Comanche and Pardee Reservoirs. There are some pretty quiet and lovely cycling roads in this area. South Comanche Parkway, Chili Camp Road,  Campo Seco Road, Jackson Valley Road, North Comanche Parkway, Curran Road, Reservation Road (oh, the irony) and Stoney Creek Road. And of course there is Coal Mine Road itself.  And the new casino is almost in the center of all this quiet country. All of these roads can expect huge increases in traffic, turning a quiet cycling mecca into an area to avoid on two wheels.

I have ridden Coal Mine Road in both directions at least 25 times a year since 2007. Our Thursday Club ride does it almost every week. From North to South it is a short but steep climb, with wonderful views of Jackson Valley to the West. This road carries so little traffic that I am certain that once the casino opens I will encounter more cars during one ascent than I did in all my previous climbs  added together.  Assuming I even try to deal with the increased traffic instead of seeking more placid pavement.

I don’t mind if people want to gamble, but the crazy interactions between Federal, State and Tribal law allow a huge enterprise to be built in a completely rural and pastoral setting. No other large business would ever be permitted in this location; the rural zoning would not allow it. Why not build the casino closer to the customers? Doesn’t anyone care about the carbon footprint of all the Sacramento and Bay Area gamblers driving to this remote location? How about an environmental impact report? Open space issues? Wouldn’t downtown Stockton be an excellent location for this type of business?

The people at Caesars Entertainment are not stupid, they expect this casino to succeed, and it probably will. One cost of that success is that some bucolic cycling routes are being destroyed.  I’m really going to miss those roads.

 

 

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Peace and Quiet

My last blog was about drivers behaving badly. Passing too close, too fast, leaning on their horns, giving cyclists a ‘smoke out’ or a one fingered salute. Shouting at us to get off of ‘their’ roads. Stoker even noticed; she said that people are getting ‘more vicious ‘.

No Car Conflicts: All Smiles at the Finish

Incidents have been happening to me (and us) on so many rides this year that I am beginning to dread heading for the hills in Amador or Calaveras counties. Every car that approaches has me on edge. Literally; I pedal as close to the right side of the pavement as is safe and pray the motorist gives me a little room and a little forbearance. I call out ‘car back’ as soon as I spy oncoming cars in my mirror, and hope my friends ahead will move to ride single file to facilitate passing. Even though I’m nervous I’m still heading up to the hills: those anti-cyclist drivers can’t get rid of me quite that easily. I keep my hands on the bars and don’t yell back, but I’m trying to get licenses and report violations of the 3 foot law or dangerous driving or threatening behavior.

So having said all that, our last two tandem rides in the hills were completely incident free. Drivers passed safely, and the only horn I heard was a polite tap to make sure I knew the car was behind. Of course with my mirror I had seen the car well before the gentle reminder. A couple of drivers waved at the tandem, with five fingers raised instead of one. There was a propane truck that passed us so carefully that when we saw the driver stopped at a delivery up the road I shouted “Thanks for passing us so safely!”. He smiled and waved.

I would like to think that my recent blog had something to do with this. After all, it was printed, in print, on the editorial page of The Record. But I’m pretty sure it was just luck, and that incidents will continue. But Thursday and Sunday the  ‘share the road’ spirit prevailed.

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Anger Issues…

Not All Drivers Agree...

That is what my friend Ilya said is going on.

On Sunday, as Stoker and I were laboring up the big hill on the north side of Pardee Dam, the driver passed me and told me “Ride on the white line” on the right side of the road. Never mind that that particular white line is on the edge of the tarmac (no shoulder) and there is a 2 inch drop off onto gravel. Never mind that Stoker and I are laboring at 5 mph on a 9% grade, and at that speed a tandem is hard to control and needs a little space to maneuver.  Never mind that we are riding within 2 feet of the edge of the pavement and that the road ahead is perfectly clear and the car could pass easily and safely without giving me advice about my proper place on the road.

In fact he is wrong. I have the right to use the road on a bicycle, tandem or single. I am required to ride as  CLOSE TO THE RIGHT EDGE OF THE ROAD AS IS SAFE. Not ‘as close as possible’, but ‘as close as is safe’. Cars passing cyclists are required BY LAW to give us a 3 foot margin. Or, cars are allowed to pass cyclists closer than 3 feet IF they slow to 25 mph or below.

This has been a bad year for bad behavior towards me as a cyclist, and there have been three memorable confrontations, yesterday’s being the least threatening. In January the tandem got yelled at by a woman sitting in the passenger seat of a big pickup pulling a big horse trailer, telling us we didn’t belong on this road.  But more threatening was an encounter with a black Jeep while rolling down Old Sacramento Road, again on the tandem. Here is the report I sent to the CHP:

On Saturday, February 3, my wife Diane and I were riding our tandem bicycle on Old Sacramento Road. We were about 2 miles west of Plymouth heading towards Hwy 16. We were with another cyclist, Steve Frentress. Both my wife and Mr. Frentress are witnesses to what happened.

We were riding single file, with traffic and to the right side of the road as close to the edge of the pavement as was safe. There was no oncoming traffic and we were not impeding any motor vehicle traffic. We were riding in a completely legal manner

We were passed by a black Jeep CJ type with very wide tires and a soft top. We believe the license is ______.  We are not 100% sure of the license. There was one passenger and the driver in the Jeep.

The vehicle slowed next to my wife and I, about 2 feet to our left. Closer that the ‘3 foot’ rule for passing cyclists. That is a traffic violation. The passenger leaned out of his window and yelled “Get the f… off the road”. The Jeep then sped past us.

When the Jeep was about 150 yards ahead the driver came to a complete stop in the middle of the road. The driver opened his door, got out and turned toward us. I slowed our tandem bike but did not stop. When I was about 50 yards behind him he yelled “I’m going to kick your ass”. Then he got back in his vehicle and drove off.

I would like to file an official report of this incident. If I need to come to your office to do so I would be more than willing. I would also be happy to speak with a deputy on the phone, feel free to call.

I believe it is important to report this even if your office does not have enough information to issue a citation or pursue criminal investigation. I doubt this is the first time this driver and passenger have harassed cyclists, and I would like this report on file in case a more serious incident occurs.

I don’t know if the threat “I’m going to kick your ass” constitutes “Making a terrorist threat” but this definition might apply:

1) Willful Threat: Someone willfully threatens to commit a crime that will result in death or great bodily harm. This means that the threat obviously has to be of a highly dangerous nature. Threatening to slash someone’s tires, for instance, would probably not be sufficient. However, the threat can be made in writing, verbally or electronically transmitted.

CHP actually responded. A very nice sergeant called me. It turns out I had the license number wrong. Not surprising, since I was concentrating on not crashing the tandem and trying to decide how best to deal with a stopped Jeep and a dangerous driver. Too bad; the sergeant said that if the license had matched the description he would have contacted the owner for a talk.

Most drivers pass safely and calmly and don’t cause cyclists trouble. But occasionally we get flipped off, yelled at, passed too close or too fast or both, ‘smoked out’ (a big diesel pickup pulls right along side, then slams on the accelerator to leave a cloud of black smoke for the cyclist to ride through). A truck once passed our group, then pulled off the road and spun out in the gravel to raise a cloud of dust for us to breathe.  Drivers passing us lay on their horns, or honk repeatedly. So much anger.

If you are inclined to this type of behavior, you are unlikely to be reading this. But those drivers should be advised I’m trying to get your license and I’m going to report you. You probably won’t be cited, since it will be your word against mine. But do you really want a visit from CHP?

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A Good Day for a Great Cause

5 SBC Riders at Mile 40 Rest Stop

Saturday was the 10th Pedaling Paths for Independence ride, a fund raiser for the Community Center for the Blind in Stockton. I am friends with Joni Bauer, the driving force behind this ride. Joni works with ‘clients’ at the Center, helping those with sight impairments learn to function in the world.  A noble vocation, and the Stockton Bicycle Club is happy to support her efforts with funding for the ride. Many of our members also sign up for the event. I have paid for Stoker and me to do every edition, although the February weather is usually not to Stoker’s taste, so she stays home while I ride. I have also helped Joni ‘mark the course’ for 7 of the 10 editions. I drive and she puts down the route arrows which tell riders which way to proceed at intersections. Marking takes the two of us about 6 hours and Joni manages to fill up most of the time with a verbal stream of consciousness about what is going on with her life and with everything she has to do to put on the event. Her friend Doug once gave me a pair of earplugs to help me concentrate on driving.

10 Years of Metric Fun!

Joni wasn’t always a cyclist. She taught spin classes, and someone said she should try riding on the road.  Back in 2002 I was on her very first ‘real’ road ride with the Stockton Bicycle Club, and while it was obvious she was a strong rider is was also obvious that she had quite a bit to learn about long hilly rides. Not only did she learn, but she discovered she had a talent for long rides. Really long rides, like double centuries, 200 miles in one day, and not on flat roads either.  She had done over 60 of these monstrosities since that first Club ride, which is over 60 more that my total of zero. I can take credit for her nickname ‘Bionic Babe’, and her complete nickname is ‘Bionic Babe PF Double Century Girl’, or BBPFDCG. What ‘PF’ stands for will remain a secret unless she reveals it. She calls me ‘Sir Richard’ for reasons I don’t understand, but I take it as a friendly term.

Back to Saturday: the morning was quite cold and there was a wind from the Southeast, which meant mostly headwind for the first 25 miles. I was signed up for the Metric Century (64 miles) and I arrived at the start not feeling especially well; I had kind of a dull headache and I wasn’t looking forward to the ride much. So naturally when I got on the bike and started riding my legs felt great, and I rode hard pretty much all day. At the Farmington rest stop the SBC riders who started at 9 am regrouped, and we stayed together for most of the last 50 miles. There were about 11 of us, and I did a lot of the pulling on the front. I was feeling really good. Rafi did a couple of nice pulls too, and when we regrouped at Hwy 4 he said I was becoming a good flatland rider. I’m not; fast flat pace lines are difficult for me and Rafi is a master at them, but yesterday I was going really well.

At the finish, after 64 miles and 3:37 of riding, I still felt great. I wasn’t even tired, but I was certainly hungry, despite enjoying the excellent provisions at the three mid-ride rest stops. The post ride meal at De Vinci’s took care of that: the roast chicken, pesto pasta, salad and focaccia were delicious . The total time of the ride was a little more than last year, but this year the wind was more of a factor, and it shifted to the Southwest, which meant that we had to fight headwinds both going out and coming home. The course was modified by taking out some high speed riding on Hwy 26 and replacing it with about 1 1/2 mile of unpaved road. It was perfectly rideable, but we were only doing about 12 mph, which brought our average speed down considerably.

At the post ride feast my friend Lauren told me I rode really well and thanked me for all the time I spent pulling on the front. I really appreciated that; she is a strong rider (and a CA Cyclocross Champion too!). If she thinks I’m going fast enough to sit on my wheel rather than head off on her own, I feel like I’m riding pretty strong. And on Saturday I was.

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    Rich Freggiaro

    Richard Freggiaro is a Stockton area native who grew up on his family’s farm. After an nine year detour to Davis for College, Washington DC for work, and Iowa for graduate school, he returned to San Joaquin County and spent the next quarter century farming with his father. He has been married to Diane for 31 years. He is (mostly) retired which leaves him plenty of time to ride each of his 4 bikes, and he is an enthusiastic and passionate cyclist. Read Full
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