Cogal Report: San Francisco Cogal 2012

Cogal Report: San Francisco Cogal 2012

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@Nate organized this gem up in Marin, California. Where are all you people out there? At least he was not taking you over three mountains in the French Alps. I did not attend either, disregard my name above.

VLVV, Gianni

@Xyerz’s take-

Wow, what to say? Today’s ride was awesome! I found myself riding with three awesome Velominati, and found myself being a Velominati Sweeper. As promised, I was last up every climb. This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the climbing. In fact, I really like climbing. I need to practice it more. I believe that once I find myself in compliance of Rule #47 (and get either a standard or compact double), I’ll see my climbing speed greatly increase. Of course, getting my steed in better compliance of the rules (no EPMS, etc) and getting my weight down further will help immensely. Self-flagellation aside, let me tell you about the ride…

The weather at the start of the ride was cold, dreary and dismal. I woke up early and arrived at the park in Corte Madera almost an hour early. After taking time to find some breakfast and fill up my gas tank at the nearby Chevron, I headed back to the park and decided to get into my kit. Since it was about 15C outside, I got my full spring kit on, including base layer, arm warmers, and vest. It was about this time that Nate pulled up. We chatted it up for a bit while getting ready and Dave came riding up. Just as I took a photo of the both of them, Brooke got out of his car and managed to make it into the shot. This brought our group to four. A few more moments of getting ready, and our ride started sometime around 9:0V. The pace was very much casually deliberate to begin with, and the we managed to keep it together through some of the most…interesting city streets I’ve had the pleasure of riding. Not what I was used to, but fun. Our first climb up Fawn Drive took me completely by surprise, and I found myself dropping to my triple far sooner than I expected. This was the guys’ first experience at my l33t sweeping skills. If there was a broom car on this ride, I’d have been sucked under more than once. But it was a pleasant climb. More in-city maneuvering brought us to Lucas Valley Road for a lovely ride past Skywalker Ranch and on to our first categorized climb, ~22 km in. Knowing we still had 130 km to go, I dropped into a comfortable cadence and met the guys at the top of the hill. They’d only been waiting for a few minutes at this one. The descent down to Nicasio Valley Road was fun and helped recharge the batteries a bit. I tried to keep up as we got to the rollers past Nicasio, but quickly found myself dropping back. I guess I’d overdone it a bit earlier… Either that, or I really need to start learning how to apply Rule #5 to more of my rides and stop being such a pussy. At 63 km, in the quaint hamlet of Marshall, we turned and started up the our next categorized climb, known on Strava as the Marshall Wall. Again, I settled into a comfortable cadence and slowly trudged up the hill. This time the guys had only been waiting 5 minutes. Their encouragement was ambrosia to my ears, but I felt guilty knowing that these top-of-the-hill waits were only going to get longer. More rollers (and likewise, more waits for the guys) brought us to lunch in Nicasio at the 97.6 km mark. Lunch at the Rancho Nicasio Restaurant & Bar was a pleasant affair. I really wanted a burger, but decided to go with the Breakfast Tacos instead for something a bit lighter. I still think I ate too much.

We started off again at 14:30 after an hour break. I’d ditched my arm warmers and vest by this time, and applied liberal amounts of sunscreen to the arms. (Yes, I’m still white enough that I burn easily, even with my meager Rule #7 tan.) 113 km, we arrived at the turn off to the Main Event: our climb up Mt. Tamalpias. This was the part I’d been looking forward to the most, yet was dreading above all else. By the time we got here, I’d mostly burned off the Red Bull I chugged back in Nicasio, and we still had our biggest climbs to come. Looking on Strava now, the climb from Fairfax to Pine Mountain only took me 33 minutes, but it seemed longer than that. It was a very comfortable ride – until it got hot. I stopped in some shade about halfway up to put on more sunscreen (yup, still white and burn-y). The descent down to the reservoir was a lot of fun, and riding over the dam was a real treat. The only other dam I’ve had the pleasure of crossing was Hoover, and that was not on a bicycle. Climbing up to Ridgecrest from the dam was pleasantly shaded. I felt really bad for the guys, who’d been waiting at the top for me for quite some time – long enough to cool off completely. At this point, we all donned our arm warmers and vests and got ready to tackle the Seven (tortuous) sisters. This was the most painful part of the ride for me. I had burned through my energy reserves, was wearing all my clothing, and was boiling in the sun on the last of the sisters. I slogged and trudged, but I made it through all seven without stopping. At the top, we took more photos and proceeded to descend into Mill Valley. I can say that I baked my cake AND got to eat it too! This descent was more fun for me than either Mt. Hamilton, Mt. Diablo, or CA Hwy 9 from the Hwy 35 down into Saratoga. It’s definitely going to rank as one of my favorites. I *will* go back and ride that one again some day. From Mill Valley, we climbed Camino Alto up and over the hill back to the start. This was the easiest climb of the day. After Mt. Tam, it felt good to touch a climb that didn’t require me to wuss out and hit my granny gear.

Post-ride nourishment was found at the Marin Brewing Co. in Larkspur. A good time was had by all, and I’m very much looking forward to next year’s event. Thanks to @nate for putting this one together!

@Dave R’s take-

A fantastic day on the bike! Thanks to the Keepers for the inspiration, and thanks to @Nate for organizing the Cogal. Marin County has world class riding that should be a go to destination for any Velominatus. I’m fortunate to be able to regularly visit from my home in the mountains near Lake Tahoe, and making the drive for this was a no brainer when I saw the route Nate had selected – a classic of the area with some cool variations I’d not ridden. The weather was just about perfect. Our group of four was a nice mix, both spirited and compatible. @Xyverz inspired us with his story of riding his way to almost 100 pounds less body weight and with his steady perseverance on the climbs. Brooke inspired us with the easy, liquid style that only comes to one who, as he said, has “been riding for a long time.” And @Nate, true to his role as Cogal organizer, inspired us by riding fully Rule compliant on his sublime Pegoretti and laying down some serious V, doing his time in the wind and going sur la plaque on some improbable climbs. Chapeau all.

@Nate’s take-

The San Francisco Bay Area Cogal was inspired by the sublime ride @sgt organized in Santa Barbara last March. When @sgt told me he’d be up here in mid-July plans began to take shape. Marin was the obvious location; though there are many fine riding roads around here, the only thing I knew that could approach the magnificence of the Santa Barbara route is the stunning riding along the flanks and ridge of Mount Tamalpais, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Stinson Beach. Alas, work intervened for @sgt and @frank as well; I was honored that he planned to make the trip down from the PNW but it was not to be. Another time, gentlemen. As I drove across the Bay on Saturday morning Mt. Tam was entirely obscured by a low cloud dropping to 300′. So much for the sun, which has been fairly abundant this summer. I arrived at the parking to meet @Xyverz. @Dave R rolled up shortly thereafter, down from Tahoe and ready to go. And Velomilurker Brooke appeared just before 9 and was ready to go with impressive alacrity. We rolled through some more urban parts of Marin to start, and avoided picking up tickets from Marin’s Finest, who have been out in force lately, stamping out the lawless scourge of cyclists rolling through stop signs. Before long we turned left on Lucas Valley Road, leaving suburban Marin behind, and facing the first real climb. At the top we admired George Lucas’s Big Rock Ranch, and decided to not find out whether it is guarded by Imperial Stormtroopers, Ewoks, Wookies, bounty hunters, etc. Lucas Valley Road was called that long before the director owned his property there.

From the top, a long swooping descent past more of Lucas’s property (Skywalker Ranch), and a nice, relatively flat segment where we settled in to a nice formation and shared pulls. It even looked like the sun might come out, but then we reached the coast where it was gray and a headwind off the water assaulted us. My zest for taking pulls diminished considerably and I began to be grateful to sit in the slipstream of Dave R’s Sierra-altitude tuned engine. Before long we tackled the next climb, the Marshall Wall, on the remote Marshall-Petaluma Road. This section was something of Marin’s answer to Belgium: repeated short, steep climbs, on rough pavement (not cobbles), with lots of cowshit on the road. As if on cue, some dude in a Quickstep jersey appeared in our midst. Then the sun came out and it got hot. Suddenly conversation turned to water; we’d done 70 or 80 kms and not refilled. We stopped to regroup at a junction where a large-ish group of Spanish-speaking riders in older pro kits and on some very nice bikes (I seem to recall a Look with deep section carbon wheels) was also having a rest. A minute later their sag wagon pulled up to replenish their bidons and ours as well. Thanks, guys. Passing back thru Nicasio we stopped for lunch on the deck at the very hospitable-to-cyclists Rancho Nicasio to fuel up for the big climbing to come on Mt. Tam. Highlight of the lunch was probably Brooke’s announcement that “Beer Is Important.” Before long we were baking in the sun on the lower slopes, then swooping past Alpine Lake and over the dam, and climbing in the trees to the ridge, where the sun was struggling to break thru fog and it was probably 15 C colder than at the start of the climb. @Dave R set a challenging pace up the climbs. We regrouped, came out into the sun, and had a brief look out at the cloud below over the ocean. Then we attacked the last obstacles, charitably or in mixed company called the “Seven Sisters,” seven short, sharp climbs on the ridge. With no traffic late in the day we could ride them two-up. I briefly considered big ringing them before realizing such foolishness would cause me to black out. From the last sisterit was Rule #85 all the way down to Mill Valley, a last short power climb over Camino Alto, and recovery beverages at the Marin Brew Co, where I selected the Black and Orange Ale in honor of the V-colors.

Thanks to @Xyerz, @Dave R and Brooke for joining the ride, @sgt for being the impetus, and the Keepers for making this possible. Going out on a big magnificent ride with like minded bike nuts is great fun.

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// Cogals

  1. Thanks for the report guys! I’m jealous of the beauty of the west coast, especially northern California! It looks like great riding.I live as far opposite as possible (New England), but I’m gonna have to find my way out there, seriously awesome looking. You all looked sharp in V-kit, too. Chapeau

  2. Excellent, well done fella’s!

  3. Just noted the comment on @Xyverz and his weightloss, awesome job! I’m too fat to climb, so that is inspiring to read.  Well done, mate!

  4. Awesome job all of ya.  It must be quite a feeling to reach summit and be above the clouds.  Absolutely breathtaking view which for me would make the descent that much hairy-er?  Seven Sisters, the name alone tells me I likely don’t want anything to do with such a stretch of tarmac.

    I seen the gilets recently in person, and that is a piece I need to add.  Looks great, and would come in handy already here in Boston.

  5. Nice one Gianni – I can just imagine the sinking feeling you experienced in the car park around the time you took photo number 1. Those two skinny fuckers are not my idea of ideal hilly riding companions.

  6. @graham d.m. This is me summer of ’09 (when I was still massively overweight – now I’m just Too Fat to Climb) and earlier this year:

    Lately, I’ve been sliding backward, but I dug up that earlier photo for a bit of encouragement to remember from where I’ve come. I never want to be there again.

  7. (Goddamnit! Resizing, why you no work?)

  8. @Marcus
    Forgive the typo, @Xyerz’s header disappeared in the posting. That was not me, I was safely an ocean away but yes, from the Keepers Tour I can say riding with these young fit types is depressing and demoralizing. How dare they!

  9. @Gianni

    @Marcus
    Forgive the typo, @Xyerz’s header disappeared in the posting. That was not me, I was safely an ocean away but yes, from the Keepers Tour I can say riding with these young fit types is depressing and demoralizing. How dare they!

    Thanks for clarifying – I couldnt quite work that out but thought you must have been there but unseen – kinda like the second shooter in Dallas. I know you would have caught them on the descents anyways. 

  10. @Xyverz

    Good on you! You do your lycra proud. Climbing with little skinny people sucks, I feel your pain. You hung in and completed the mission, that’s all you can do. I don’t subscribe to the high end Strava but you can parse the riders by weight, then at least do battle with people of the same gravitational handicap.

  11. @Xyverz that’s awesome man! I have a long way to go, but I’m getting after it.  I’m always reminded of this when I ride with a particular friend who races locally and is pretty strong; on flats and even rollers I’m ok-ish, but get to the climbs he drops me like a brick. It’s good inspiration to work harder and apply more V. At any rate, thanks for sharing and keep the great work.  Those pics are a great testimony to your success and the transformative power of the bike. VLVV

  12. @Xyverz Nice work on the weight loss. Your hair and specs make you look like Ricco’s big brother. Il Grande Cobra?

  13. @Gianni

    D’awww *blush!* Thanks!

  14. Thanks for getting this up Gianni!

  15. great riding, guys, and what a superb route.  I’ve been around Mount Tam on a mountain bike but being out there on the road must be hors categorie.  Any chance that you stopped by the Pelican Inn?

    By the way, them’s some serious guns.  And good on you Xyverz, flab to fab.

  16. Nice ride boyz! That is my old “hood” and have logged in many many Kms there. The seven sisters are affectionately known as the seven B**ches as after 130km or so they tend to make folks wince..however Nate, the Marshall “wall” is nothing like Belgium with the exception of cow poop.

    Xvyverz Proficiat on your weight loss! I bet you flew down those descents.

    Next time add in the Bofax climb from Stinson Beach to the Ride road and 7 sisters. It’s a beautiful 6k climb with very little traffic.

    Ciao!

  17. Looks like beautiful riding! Richmond native, here, though I haven’t lived there since I was a wee bairn. Mrs. PITY and I were riding in the San Juans last week AND WE WERE TALKING about driving down to ride that area next summer.

    Jesu, there’s some evil-looking guns in the first photos. And Xyverz, bravo! You inspire me to keep dropping weight. (I’ve told myself another 4-5kg, and I’ll get back into 33-compliance.) Let’s keep up the fight.

  18. Good work, lads! Enjoyed reading this & would love to do some west coast riding at some point.

    Xyverz – Good work on finishing the ride & all the climbing upgrades via body size downgrades. That’s awesome! Keep up the strong work.

    Nate – is the Pegoretti now yer #1?

  19. @farzani, @PeakInTwoYears, @Ron, @xyxax – Thanks all! Still working on losing it (mostly), but enjoying the journey. =)

    In case anybody is interested, I used LoseIt on my iPhone (now using it on my Android) to track the calories and lose the weight. It’s also available on the web: http://www.loseit.com

  20. +1 on the LoseIt app, especially if you’re not putting in the miles that would allow you to eat like a fish and drink like a pig.

  21. Great job boys! And fantastic work @xyverz. A masters racer here locally started riding his bike when he was ~160K and whittled his way down to 80K. I’ve talked to him about it, and he struggles sometimes, but when it gets hard, he just rides more. Chapeau! Keep up the good fight!

  22. @xyxax

    Pelican Inn’s down in Muir Beach.  Since you mentioned it, you probably know it’s famous for being a place where long rides die by getting drowned in pints.

    @farzani

    I can’t claim to have ridden in Belgium so my comment on the part after the Marshall Wall was more impressionistic than anything.  Thanks for setting me straight!

    @Ron

    Yeah, come ride out here some time.  And the Pegoretti is now #1.  The ride, geometry and fit are pretty awesome.

    For that matter, if anyone finds themselves in the Bay Area with a bike and wants to ride, look me up.

    Finally here is my Strava for the ride:

    http://app.strava.com/activities/13412457

  23. @scaler911

    A masters racer here locally started riding his bike when he was ~160K and whittled his way down to 80K. I’ve talked to him about it, and he struggles sometimes, but when it gets hard, he just rides more.

    Wow.  Whether it’s cranking the watts or dropping the kilos, there’s always somebody out there putting my little struggles into perspective.  That’s brilliant.

  24. @PeakInTwoYears

    @scaler911

    A masters racer here locally started riding his bike when he was ~160K and whittled his way down to 80K. I’ve talked to him about it, and he struggles sometimes, but when it gets hard, he just rides more.

    Wow.  Whether it’s cranking the watts or dropping the kilos, there’s always somebody out there putting my little struggles into perspective.  That’s brilliant.

    The guy’s actually kind of a dick, but I do respect what he’s done and others that have that struggle. Funny thing is I never worried about weight; I’ve always been 70K or lighter regardless of training, beer consumption whatever. Then a few years ago, in my early 40’s, I’d get up over 80K in the winter, and that shit didn’t drop with ease in the late winter/ early spring like it used to. I actually have to work at being a skinny little Schleck now. Sucks too, ’cause I love beer.

  25. @Gianni

    @Xyverz

    Good on you! You do your lycra proud. Climbing with little skinny people sucks, I feel your pain. You hung in and completed the mission, that’s all you can do. I don’t subscribe to the high end Strava but you can parse the riders by weight, then at least do battle with people of the same gravitational handicap.

    Climbing with skinny people sucks? You mean it sucks more right? Because, as much as I love it, if climbing doesn’t suck, you’re not doing it right.

  26. @Xyverz,  @graham d.m.

    Nice work on the weight loss – keep at it, don’t let yourself slip too much. To me, anyway, its much harder to take it off than put it on. Especially the last few kilos…

    Really gutted I missed this, but work beckoned and I do have to keep the wheels on the bus in the end…

    What a ride, and right by Skywalker Ranch! So cool!

    @Nate – I’ll be doing this ride with you, one day. One day…

  27. @frank

    @Gianni

    @Xyverz

    Good on you! You do your lycra proud. Climbing with little skinny people sucks, I feel your pain. You hung in and completed the mission, that’s all you can do. I don’t subscribe to the high end Strava but you can parse the riders by weight, then at least do battle with people of the same gravitational handicap.

    Climbing with skinny people sucks? You mean it sucks more right? Because, as much as I love it, if climbing doesn’t suck, you’re not doing it right.

    I love climbing. That doesn’t mean I’m very good at it. I’m slow, but Rule #10 will prevail in the end. Especially now that I’m Rule #47 compliant, no?

  28. @Nate

    Ah, I see from your Strava that you weren’t really near Muir Beach at all.

    Back nearly 30 years ago now, post-college, I lived in Berkeley not far from your present location (near Ellsworth and Dwight) delivering pizza for Domino’s, as one does.  I have vague memories of soft summer light and amber beer at the Pelican Inn.  Sigh.

  29. @scaler911

    Funny thing is I never worried about weight; I’ve always been 70K or lighter regardless of training, beer consumption whatever. Then a few years ago, in my early 40″²s, I’d get up over 80K in the winter, and that shit didn’t drop with ease in the late winter/ early spring like it used to. I actually have to work at being a skinny little Schleck now. Sucks too, ’cause I love beer.

    Ah, you’re one of Those.  My beloved Mrs. PITY annoys the hell out of me by eating and drinking as much as I do (well, I outdrink her, I can drink like a talented amateur, at least) and always staying under 50kg and then complaining if she gains a gram or two.  Take Le Blaireau and stuff him with brandy and paté for six months and don’t let him ride and then squash him so he’s a few cm’s shorter, and you’ve got me.  Without the legs or heart or lungs. Italian ancestry, raised on pasta and gelato by a loving mother.  Fucking hopeless.

    And…and…yeah…then come one’s 40s, and Christ help you shed any pounds you let creep on.  I’ve done fairly well so far this year, getting back down to 75kg from 80. But my racing weight [sic] was always at least another 5 kilos lighter, and those last five are pertinacious bitches.

  30. @Xyverz

    Nice before and after dude! Keep it up!

    I “like” climbing in that even though I’m slow and it hurts, I feel so GOOD after a real climb. I don’t know if it’s some sort of post-climb endorphin rush that is still cascading in my brain, or just a general sense of accomplishment combined with a “damn, glad THAT’S over with!” feeling.

    Sometimes I give into my laziness and do a flat ride, but that just doesn’t feel like a real ride, at all. A good ride needs some roads that someone on a cruiser bike can’t easily get up…

  31. @mcsqueak – That’s exactly how I feel… Well, that and excited about the fact that I get to go all Rule #85 afterward. I *love* descending.

  32. @frank

    Skywalker was for you, pal.  Hopefully the ride happens again sooner rather than later.

  33. @Nate

    @frank

    Skywalker was for you, pal.  Hopefully the ride happens again sooner rather than later.

    *knife in, twists*

  34. @frank – We forgot to mention that there were Stormtroopers standing guard at the gate that day. It was win. Sadly, our cameras weren’t able to get those photos. I’m guessing that those weren’t the photos we were looking for…

  35. @frank

    @Nate

    @frank

    Skywalker was for you, pal.  Hopefully the ride happens again sooner rather than later.

    *knife in, twists*

    That was a blaster, not a knife.

    @xyxax

    Yeah, I’m in North Berkeley.

  36. @frank

    Climbing with skinny people sucks? You mean it sucks more right? Because, as much as I love it, if climbing doesn’t suck, you’re not doing it right.

    Pretty sure you’ve just described climbing as the opposite of sex.

  37. Sorry to have missed you gents riding in my backyard…but July 14 was the Markleeville Death Ride and I felt the need to suffer in the mountains and prove to myself that I am still too fat to climb

    Hats off to anyone who starts the day climbing Fawn Drive and ends it on the Sisters.  Come back soon and we can ride from coffee shop (Java Hut) to  bakery (Tomales)  to bakery (Bovine) with a quick stop in the middle for oysters and a short beer at Nick’s Cove. 

  38. @beatarmy

    Make sure you join us next time!

  39. This is a short fire-road ride near Lucas Valley. By itself, this ride constitutes nothing more than an oddly branching out-and-back ride. Unless you’re merely curious about riding at this location for the first time (as I was) or you’re looking for a short ride because you’re out of shape or an accompanying rider is, just doing this ride by itself might not be very attractive. This route would be more useful as part of a longer loop in this area, possibly extended to Big Rock Ridge across the Lucas Valley Road in Lucas Valley Preserve.

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