The Logo is a No-Go…

The Stockton Bicycle Club has a new club jersey. A BIG THANK YOU to Greg Lozaga, who shepherded the project through the design, ordering and distribution phases. He did a tremendous amount of work and thanks to him we have a fresh and stylish club kit.

And what I discovered was that sometimes good intentions can be misunderstood.

My Favorite Touring Company

When the jersey was being designed the club was looking for sponsors who would pay a nominal sum to have their logo displayed. I had what I thought was the brilliant idea to put the logo of my favorite bicycle touring company, 44 | 5 Cycling Tours, on the jersey. I thought that the 44 | 5 logo was really simple and classy and a little bit exotic and would be a good addition to ‘sponsors row’ on the back of the new jersey. 44 | 5 gets its name from the latitude and longitude of Mont Ventoux, and if you ever want to do guided rides or tours in Southern France you should check them out. Isn’t that a clever logo and wouldn’t it look good on any club’s jersey? I had no idea this would cause a controversy.

When it was proposed and later discussed at the annual club meeting reaction was, well to put it, umm strong.

Some club members reacted as if I was proposing to put a Confederate Flag with the caption ” Make America Great Again!” on the jersey. There were loud objections and threatened boycotts. As soon as I realized that this was going to be an issue I hastily withdrew my proposal and made meek nice noises to all concerned.

In retrospect I find the whole incident entertaining and somewhat perplexing.

First Rider with the New Jersey. Moi!

All of this took place during walnut season when I spend my days counting nuts and not attending club rides or functions. I did not attend the club meeting where this was discussed and perhaps my idea would have been better served if I had pitched it and answered any questions myself.

Some of the comments and objections were made publicly on Facebook, so I feel comfortable sharing them here.

Objection #1: 44 | 5 is located in France.

This is true. I was unaware that jersey sponsors must have a local connection.

Objection #2: Members may not purchase space on the jersey

I did not know this was the case. In fact, members have purchased space on the jersey to promote their own businesses. But apparently there were objections to a member (me) purchasing space to promote someone else’s business.

Objection #3: Few club members have interest in traveling to France

This one is not really accurate. There are 14 current and former club members who have been clients of 44 | 5, most of us more than once. Since our  paid club membership only adds up to 60 or so, 14 clients might be considered more than ‘few’.

And by far my favorite: Objection #4: 44 | 5 is a ‘bourgeoisie’ touring company.   ‘Bourgeoisie’ can mean ‘middle class’ but in the Marxist context it means the capitalist class who own most of society’s wealth and means of production.

Now it is true that bicycle touring in Europe is not cheap, especially if the touring company uses 3 and 4 star accommodations and feeds you in nice restaurants. 44 | 5 certainly does that, even though they are not the most expensive touring company by any means.

Overall, I think my suggestion didn’t come across as I had hoped and the club lost an opportunity to include the logo of a great touring company on our new kit.

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Testing, Testing…Part 2

On January 2, I went to AthletiCamps ( https://www.athleticamps.com/) in Folsom for  VO2 Max and Lactate Threshold testing. Bruce Hendler is the owner of AthletiCamps, and I was looking forward to seeing him again after following his business on Facebook for years.

The Curves Shifted Left: Lower Power in 2019

Back in 2004, I signed up for a 3 day training camp with Bruce. He had just started AthletiCamps and this was one of his first events. There were about 7 of us staying at a hotel in Rocklin. Back then Bruce didn’t have his own testing equipment, so we spent the first day doing testing at the UCD Sports Medicine Clinic in Sacramento. After a year of training since my 2003 VO2 test,  my weight was down and my power was up and I felt really happy about the 2004 result. For the next two days we did rides on the road with some intervals and SFR’s (big gear weight training on the bike) and discussed a training program tailored for each of us to improve.

Fast forward to 2019: Bruce has his own testing equipment and a really nice space in Folsom. Plenty of room, nice lighting, and a shower to clean up after sweating through a test. It is great to see him still in business and he provides a really good service for athletes (and me). He offers coaching, sophisticated bike fitting, and performance testing.

With that background, it is time to compare Rich age 62 in January 2019 with Rich age 48 in July 2004:

I’m Fatter: 

My weight was 169.6 lbs. compared to 164 lbs. back in 2004.  And my body fat% has ballooned to 20% from 15%. Looking at myself in the mirror I have a hard time believing these percentages are right. But I do have the ‘Avansino thighs’ from my Italian nonna’s family. They are pretty large and it isn’t all muscle either.

I can probably get down to 168 lbs. with a little effort. More riding in the spring and into summer should do the trick. But I think 164 lbs. is an impossible target, and an unnecessary one. From a health standpoint my weight is fine, but from a performance cycling standpoint I’m above optimal. Bruce put my ‘ideal’ cycling weight at 159 lbs., which is out of the question unless society collapses and there are food (and wine) shortages.

My Maximum Heart Rate has declined:

In 2004 my heart rate got to 173 beats per minute (bpm) at the end of my VO2 test. Last week I only reached 163 bpm. There is an old approximation of Maximum Heart Rate as ‘220 minus your age’. This is a terribly inaccurate estimate, which is part of the reason I wanted to do the testing. But there is no question that for most of us, our maximum heart rate declines as we age. I’m 14 years older and I’ve ‘lost’ about 10 beats.

My Power at key thresholds has declined:

Power at VO2 Max: 2004 was 325 watts, 2019 was 300 watts (-7.7%). Power at Ventilatory Threshold: 2004 was 270 watts, 2019 was 237 watts (-12.2%). My Lactate Threshold in 2005 was 240 watts, and now it is 215 watts (-10.4%).

I realize I’ve risked losing most of my readers by writing about all this technical jargon and doing numerical comparisons.  But for those who are still here…

Conclusions:

The major conclusion I draw is that I need to evaluate my riding a little differently. The training zones I established back in 2004/05 are a little too high and no longer appropriate. My engine is not quite as big. So instead of thinking I should be able to do 260 watts for an hour if I ride all out, I need to dial my expectation back to 235 watts or so. My 20 minute FTP test (sorry, more jargon) is probably going to be 270 watts or lower, compared to 290.

Testing can’t turn back the clock or make you younger, but it can tell you where you are and help you set reasonable targets. As Bruce told me at the during the consultation he provides after the testing, “There is room for improvement”. Whether I make the effort or not is up to me.

 

 

 

 

 

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Testing, Testing…Part 1

2019 is here, and it marks a 20 year anniversary of sorts for me. In March of 1999 I had my annual physical, and I hit the scale at 190 lbs. That was a high for me and a kind of wake up call. Soon after that I started riding with the Stockton Bicycle club. On my first ride in the hills, I got dropped and was hopelessly far behind. I remember going home and telling Stoker (who was 7 years away from getting that nickname) that the 5 other riders on the ride were very nice, but they were much stronger than me. I told her there was no chance I could ever ride with them. I simply was not strong enough.

Me in 2001: Before Dr. Testa

But on my second club ride the route was much flatter, and there was a bigger group with a few riders that I could at least see in front of me. I got dropped by everyone, including Shig, who was in his early 80’s at the time. Gary Johnson was very nice to me and encouraged me to come back for more rides. So I did, on and off over the next 4 years. I got better and lost some weight, down to 177 lbs.by March 2003. Then I took a step that changed my cycling life forever. I went to see Dr. Max Testa for a VO2 test.

I was already riding with a heart rate monitor and was constantly surprised that other riders had much higher heart rates than I did. They would say they got into the 180 bpm range, and I never saw anything much over 150. Since most of them were also much stronger than me, I was wondered what I was doing wrong and why I couldn’t get higher heart rates.

The UCD Sports Medicine Clinic in Sacramento offered VO2 Max testing to anyone who wanted to pay for it. So I made an appointment and was delighted to find that Max Testa himself did the test and post test consultation.

I was pretty happy with my 177 lb. weight, but I was in for a shock. After doing a caliper test to measure body fat, Dr. Testa said I should lose another 10 lbs. I hadn’t weighed less than 170 lbs. since high school!

Jan.2, 2019: VO2 Max Testing Fun

After that we did the test. A VO2 test is a test to exhaustion. They put a breathing tube in your mouth and pinch your nose so they can measure how much oxygen your lungs can deliver to your muscles. The test typically starts at 100 watts (higher for elite athletes, which I’m not) and goes up 25 watts every minute until you can’t do any more. It isn’t much fun if you do it right and really push through the last couple of levels. You finish gasping and with your heart pounding hard and fast in your chest.

What I learned from the test was that my maximum heart rate was only 170, and that my anaerobic threshold was only 156 bpm. Dr. Testa gave me a set of workouts to do based on this test. When he suggested I do 5 minute intervals over 156 bpm I thought to myself that was impossible: from riding with a monitor I felt anything over 150 for more that a few seconds was all out.

But guess what; it turned out I could do those workouts. It took time and they were hard and not much fun, but I started to get much better on the bike. I was keeping up with people who used to drop me. And with all the added cycling intensity and a few eating modifications I dropped those 10 lbs. down to 167 by July 2004. I’ve stayed in the 165-170 lb. range ever since.

So to kick off my 20th year of serious cycling I decided to repeat the VO2 test and do a lactate test as well.  I had the tests on January 2. I thought the comparison with my 48 year old self might be interesting and enlightening. And it was. I’ll share the results in my next post.

 

 

 

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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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