Monthly Archives: May 2012

“It’s too late, baby”

I love Carole King’s song “It’s too late.”  Jason thinks that my love for music from the 70s is a form of aesthetic developmental delay.  This song reminds me of one of our patients.  She was a very nice woman, who had a number of issues and she provided us with some difficulty from time to time.  However, everyone liked her, she was always nice and pleasant to us, and I am glad to have known her.  One day, a couple of years ago, late in the evening, she came in for chemotherapy after having seen the doctor, but we were unable to start an IV.  A number of nurses each tried a number of times.  She was very patient, but being stuck multiple times with needles is tiring and painful.  Despite the pain of the multiple needle pokes, she really wanted her chemotherapy, the treatment she hoped would save her life.  After many IV start attempts, we simply got too close to closing time and we had run out of veins to attack.  It had gotten too late.  Two of the nurses, Jenny and Diane, spontaneously broke into song, singing Carole King’s “It’s too late, baby.  It’s too late.”  The patient seemed pleased by the singing and it relieved a lot of the tension.  We rescheduled the patient’s treatment for the next day.  She died last year and neither of the nurses work with me anymore, but I love this song.  It reminds me of a very sweet and difficult moment where everyone was at her best and I was glad to have witnessed it.

Davis Double Ride Report

I have done Davis Double once before and the experience was miserable.  Beyond hot.  Too hot.  Felt horrid at the end- heat exhaustion-hot.  Spent the day pulling over to the side of the road to cool down under trees, trying not to fry my brain- hot.  Until yesterday, I haven’t done it since and I was not going to start this year’s ride if temps were predicted above 100, but the predictions were for mildly hot conditions, so I did it.

My facebook staus for the ride was: ” Cardiac was lovely, Honey was ok, Cobb was hard, and Resurrection was soul-sapping. I think that the Davis Double is worth doing just for the joy of reaching the rest stop at the top of Resurrection.”  Reaching the top of Resurrection is such a fabulous feeling.  I was overwhelmed with a sense of joy for having reached it.  The joy was probably mostly from the relief of the pain from climbing resurrection.   Resurrection is just a harsh climb.  It is hot and exposed and a slightly miserable experience.  Yesterday wasn’t too hot and we had a occasional cooling breeze, which really should have made for nice conditions.  However, Resurrection is still hard, even when it really isn’t overly hot.  I think that the expanse of open wide road road, being on a highway, makes the grade appear less than it is.  I can still feel the grade in my legs and the hot sun on my back, even with the occasional cooling breeze.

I spent the first 42 miles in pacelines, which is unusual for me on doubles.  I don’t really like pacelines on long rides.  My average speed for those 42 miles was 20.7 miles, a record for me.  Jason and I haven’t even gone that fast on the tandem for 42 consecutive miles.  I skipped the first rest stop in order to stay in the group and did not stop until mile 53 at rest stop two.  I was in a sketchy paceline at the very beginning of the ride and the big guy I was behind and I jumped a paceline lead by two tandems. We went from doing 21 to doing 27.  That paceline slowed, but it remained too fast for me.  I had someone behind me, so I was anxious about being dropped and causing him to be dropped, too.  I felt much better when the wheel (big guy) I was following fell off and I turned around and realized that the guy on my wheel was long gone, too.  We then followed a white jersey guy and the white jersey guy pulled us onto the 508 guy.  The 508 guy was fantastic.  He was steady like rock.  It was the perfect paceline.  His only problem was that he was extremely fast through the corners and would drop us all and we would be clamoring back on.  Eventually, after one corner, I gave up, realizing I would not be able to jump on.  The big guy said “he’s something in the corners. Let’s get him.”  He was able to catch him, but the white jersey guy and I weren’t.  We got on another line and everything was good again.

I stayed in pacelines until mile 42 when the headwinds blew me off.

Lots of people I know passed me and said hi.  Throughout the day, I kept being passed by the same people over and over again. That was really nice.  I liked being able to recognize people and I liked the feeling of everyone being in it together. I like riding alone, but I really like seeing people as I ride.  Everyone seems so nice and supportive.

Cobb was okay.  It was slow, but at least twice as fast as the last time I did it.  I was happy about Cobb.  I was riding on and off with a SF Randonnuer guy, whose name I never caught.  He told me that the last time he did Davis Double and went up Cobb, a guy standing on the side of the road in Cobb offered to sell him some Meth.  Wondering if it would help his performance, he considered buying it for  moment, but was able to resist the temptation.

The descent down Cobb on Seigler Canyon contained a large and nasty dip.  The dip was freshly painted a fluorescent orange when I went by, but it was not painted until after 5-6 people crashed.  I could see the fluorescent paint, but I could not really see the dip until I was close to it.  The pavement was sunken down, but it was not cracked, so it was difficult to see.  At the top of Cobb, we were warned that people were crashing on Seigler and to be careful.  At that time the people at the rest stop did not know what was taking people down, they just knew that people were crashing.

Chris of GPC crashed on Loch Lomond when he flatted going fast down the descent.  He was so happy that he was not badly hurt.  He finished the ride.

My favorite part of the ride occurred about 2 minutes after the start.  I had parked on the street along the high school a block away from the start.  The course went right by my car, so I was able to stop and turn off the dome car lights I had left on.

I bonked around mile 150, going along highway 16 though the Cache Creek area toward Guida and the Cache Creek Casino.  The ride to the Guida rest stop was slow and very painful.  I thought that I would never get there and I was dreaming of food.  I hadn’t eaten breakfast, because I didn’t want to have to get up before 3 am and is the meal you eat at 3 am really breakfast?  Isn’t that just a late night snack?  Honestly, who thinks that getting up at 3 am for a bike ride is reasonable?  (or before 3 am, if I were to eat?)  What was I thinking?  I skipped lunch, because it was hot at that rest stop, I didn’t feel like eating, and the last time I ate before going up Resurrection, I spent much of the climb chanting “Don’t puke, don’t puke, don’t puke.”  I wasn’t really surprised that I felt lousy at mile 150, but that knowledge didn’t make me feel any better.  My on bike temperature for the day also reached its maximum during that section.  I saw 101 at one point.  (The on bike readings are always higher than regular air temperatures.)

I sang the Merry Minuet to myself over and over.  I haven’t heard this song in years.  My mom would sing it too me when I was a kid.  I learned this song at the beginning of the Iran religious takeover and hostage crisis in the late 70s.  At the time, I was stunned that lyrics seemed so timely for a song written in the late 40s/early 50s.  My mom had said that people don’t change.

By the time I got to Guida, mile 162.8,  I felt pretty bad.  I felt like I was starving, but all food was unappealing.  I ate a peanut butter and banana sandwich, which was quite unappealing but I ate it anyway.  I had a can of V8, because it was the only thing that actually appealed.  I paced around the rest stop, hoping to feel better, but I never really did, so eventually I left.  I don’t sit at these later rest stops, because I have a hard time getting going again.  I feel very faint and become unable to get back up.  My blood pressure seems to plummet.  I do better if I keep moving.  I am like a shark.

CASINO!  The last time I did Davis, I rode by the Cache Creek Casino in complete darkness, which was horrible.  Dreadful.  The traffic was heavy, the road was narrow and I was blinded by the lights from the constant stream of oncoming cars.  I couldn’t see the side of the road, so I rode further into the lane than necessary.  Riding by the casino during the daylight is not that bad at all.  I can see the road and the traffic is much lighter.   The lane is wide enough for most cars to pass me without problems.  The difference was night and day.

I threw up along this section.  I have never actually thrown up while actually still riding and I was really happy that no one was behind me.  Pierce referred to it as a moving violation, a quip I appreciated.

I hung around the last rest stop, looking at food with a combination of longing and disgust.  After I while, I grew tired of circling and left with Steve, Alfie and Pierce.  Hanging on their wheels was great.  Eventaully we hit a headwind and I was blown off the back, dropping from 19 mph to 13, but I was feeling better, so all was good.  I was slightly confused at this point and completely alone. I was glad for the road markings, because I wasn’t really able to deal with the route sheet. I got on someone’s wheel for the last few miles, which was great.  He seemed to be happy that I was with him and I got in two minutes before sunset and everything seemed fantastic.

I was eventually able to eat again.  I ate slowly, but got down some beans and a coke.  I am fond of beans.  I needed the coke, in order to drive my self back home and not fall asleep.  I visited with LisaJ, Tony, Alfie and LisaLisa, Steve, Jim and Pierce.  Steve showed me how to operate the spot tracking system I had been carrying around all day.  JasonMc had wanted me to use it, but I couldn’t figure out how to turn on the tracking in the 15 seconds of consideration I had given it in the morning before starting the ride. Steve told me to turn it on for the drive home, so that when I drive off the road into some bushes, they would be able to find me.

LisaLisa tried to die last year when her aorta dissected.  She was at home when it happened, Alfie called 911 immediately, the ambulance responded quickly, she had the surgery at Summit for the repair and she did not die.  The odds weren’t in her favor and she is lucky.  She is facing possible more surgery in the future, a scary prospect for them both.  LisaLisa did a little over 40 miles today.   Steve’s regular riding partner, KenE is in the hospital recovering from coronary bypass surgery after his heart attack last Saturday.  He went into cardiac arrest while on a bike ride and was found by an off-duty nurse, who did CPR.  The ambulance came quickly and he also lived.  LisaJ did 46 miles today, riding out to the first rest stop with her husband, Tony, and Steve and then retruning to the start.  She is having surgery on Thursday and will find out then the stage of her cancer.

I only have a limited number of riding days left to me and I was glad I did yesterday’s ride.

The most questionable part of the whole day was the planned ride home.  If I felt sleepy I was going to stop in Dixon and stay the night there.  I am not a good driver and I once feel asleep driving home after a 300k.   I did fine and didn’t even feel sleepy as I drove along the highway in the dark, singing old disco songs along with radio.

2010 Tour of California race report

I wrote the following report in 2010:

Wed May 19th. HA! Did Mines on my own. : ) According to common bike club wisdom, one shouldn’t do Mines without at least a couple of companions or, better still, a sag vehicle. Doing it on my own was fun. I have ridden alone in more remote areas and, in reality, Mines rd is full of people riding motorcycles, who in a pinch can be of some use. The Tour of California for Wednesday was: San Jose, Sierra Rd (!), Calavaras, Sunol, Livermore, Mines Road, Del Puerto Rd, Patterson, and Modesto. I decided to take the BART train to Dublin/Pleasanton, ride out Mines Road to the Junction Bar and Grill, eat lunch, watch the race go buzzing by, climb Hamilton and then finally ride through Freemont to the train station and take BART back home. In the end, I did not climb Hamilton, but instead did an out and back on Mines, which is about an 81 mile round trip from BART.

I was somewhat disappointed to not do Hamilton. Climbing Hamilton is so much more impressive than just doing Mines and you get to be on top of the world up there. However, the sky decided to rain on me and I feared worse weather on the mountain, since higher elevations often have worse rain, wind and cold. Further, I wasn’t all that keen on descending Hamilton in the cold and rain. I hadn’t brought a rainjacket, despite the slight chance (20%) of rain, because we have already taken off my fenders and I am of the belief that the removal of fenders prevents further rain for the season.

Mines was gorgeous. Flowers, hills, green grass, bushes, trees, birds, etc, etc.

Flowers on Mines Rd

Really, we all have been to places like that. Pretty pretty pretty and it never gets old.

I used to hate Mines Road. The long slight grade for 25 miles out to the Junction was demoralizing and hot. On and on, that road goes, ever so slightly climbing the entire way. The return is oddly worse. The climb out of the junction is steep and longer than it seems. I now love Mines, for I have learned the secret to Mines rd: Don’t do Del Puerto or Hamilton before climbing back out of the Junction. AHA!! I have never just done Mines before, I have always done it in conjunction with Hamilton or Del Puerto, which is second only to Jamison in my book for annoying climbs. (My book, by the way, does not include Sierra rd.) The climb out of the Junction is fine if you are not already completely exhausted and you haven’t stuffed yourself with a hamburger from the Junction Bar and Grill. I liked Mines road. The climbs are fine.

People were camped out on the side of Mines at the tops of the little climbs and they cheered me as I rode by.

The Junction parking lot was full of Santa Clara Sheriffs, sheriff department cars, sheriff department motorcycles, and department dirt bikes. The dirt bikes were a surprise to me. The locals in the bar were quite offended by the spectacle. They were offended that people they didn’t know were showing up at the Junction, they were offended at men in lycra (“the bar’s turned gay”), and they were offended at the presence of the sheriff’s department. “Today would be a good day to rob a bank. Look at them out there. These hills are full of marijuana fields being grown by Mexicans and the cops are just sitting here.” They blamed Obama for this travesty and spent a lot of time talking about wasting tax payers’ dollars. In general, they seemed to be having themselves a fabulous time complaining as they drank beers at noon on a Wednesday. I, myself, was working only a two day work week that week, and was greatly enjoying myself as I ate my bowl of chili and blazingly eavesdropped on these men’s discussion.

After a while, the men bored of only complaining amongst themselves and so took themselves and their beers out to the parking lot where they sat on the back of a pick-up truck and amicably teased the Sherriff’s department cops in person. The cops seemed pleased by this diversion as I think they were tiring of standing around and looking official and they took the good-natured teasing well. “If I paid taxes, I would be really pissed at the waste of money,” one of the bar guys said and everyone thought this quip quite amusing. When asked straight out why all the sheriffs were there, one cop replied that they were there to protect the cyclists from “you.” “Me?” “Yes,” the cop replied “you.”

Amicable discussions

After a while, about a dozen California Highway Patrol motorcycle cops showed up. They paraded into the parking lot, each one following the other exactly as they made an unnecessary loop around the parking lot. They then all lined up and then back up in unison, like the Rockettes on wheels in Cop uniforms. The beers-at-noon-on-Wednesday guys were stunned and unable to speak for several minutes after this spectacle. The sheriffs were highly amused and pretty soon everyone was in agreement of what a waste of tax-payers’ money THAT was.


CHiPs in line

After a while I took myself off to stand in the street corner to see the action better, if it were ever to appear. Mines road has no cell coverage, so we were all in the dark about where the cyclist were. The cops seemed only slight better informed and kept us updated as they learned more. The people out were all pretty diehard fans and talked happily about all the other Tour of Californias they had seen and where they had stood to see them fly by. One man bragged proudly that he was going to see the stage at big Bear and everyone sighed in envy.

Many of the spectators had seen either the start or Sierra road and then drove like crazy to get over the mountain to this site to see the cyclist one more time.

One man was one of those people obsessed with time and distance. He was very interested in different ways to get places and what the travel time versus the actual number of miles each route would entail. I was with him for about an hour and he spouted out those types of numbers repeatedly. Now since I am a cyclist, this type of discussion is exactly the type of conversation I can get my teeth into and I argued with him amicably about some of the distances, both of us convinced of our own numbers.

One extremely fit looking couple spent the hour waiting bemoaning gleefully that they were neglecting their children. They had taken the past 3 days off from work to see the race and had been leaving their children with neighbors. I was sure that I had seen the man before. They clearly looked like cyclists and were in fact avid cyclists. I kept trying to place him – I knew from somewhere surely. I finally determined that I did not know him. He was one of those men who simply look like a cyclist- very Lance Armstrong looking. -lean thin man, deep lines around his mouth despite not being that old, light brown hair that once was blond, tanned skin- you know the look. Personally I see the look all the time. The woman was deeply tan herself and her hair was fried from too much sun. All in all, they both looked terrific. They had driven over in their car and were wearing civvies, but they brought their bikes just in case a group ride broke out.

This woman did a lot of name-dropping. They were friends with Horner. They had gone to a dinner and got to meet a bunch of the cyclist. “Cavendish was so nice. They all were so nice.” Her discussion reminded me of my friend James who would complain that people should not give more attention or value to people who are famous. He argues that our own friends are actually more valuable to us and we should not idolize people who really mean nothing to us. She was so happy, though, and arguing against such happiness is hard. -Especially hard coming from me, who hung around the junction for 2 hours waiting for a bunch of cyclist I don’t know to go by- simply because they are faster and more famous.


Cops, motorcycles, and support vehicles preceded the riders by about 25 minutes. Eventually an announcer van came by booming out the current race situation. The break had a 5:20 lead and the announcer listed off the teams represented in the break. That announcer was great. I was so happy they did that. We were all clueless otherwise.

The break went by- no pictures- I was cheering too much and then about 5 minutes later the main pack. So, after waiting for 2 hours they went by in a little over 5 minutes and I got rained on. I then rode myself back home. On the way I helped a cyclist with a flat tire who had been dropped by his buddies and he lacked a pump (!?). I got home before dark and, though I got a bit wet, I wasn’t cold. The ride home was lovely. The greens were all muted by the rain. All in all, I was really glad I went and I had a good time.


Mines on the return after some slight drizzle

Total time: 11 hrs

Race time seen: 5 min 30 seconds.

How not to train for Terrible Two

The Terrible Two is a very hilly double century run by the Santa Rosa Cycling Club.  Its main hills are Trinity, Geysers, Skaggs, Rancheria grade, and Fort Ross.  The climbs are double peaked, steep, exposed and hot and the descents are dangerous and scary.  I plan on walking the Rancheria grade next time I do it.  I really have no business signing up for this ride.  I have only a slim chance of making the strict time cut at lunch at mile 110.  However, at the end of last year, I was feeling slightly cocky, riding a little faster than normal, and I decided to give the Terrible Two a try.  I figured that if I had a good day and it was not too hot, I might make the 110 mile cut-off.  I thought my chances to be about 10-20 percent and I decided I might as well try.  If I had a really good day, I might hit the mark and it is a lovely route, beautiful really, if you ignore all the climbing and you do it over a couple of days- instead of one.

However, my training has been totally inadequate and I am now simply finding the idea of training for the Terrible Two just stressful.  I am worried and not happy.  Biking is supposed to be fun.  I am not big on planning.  I don’t really make goals or make plans.  I just go along, doing what I want and sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t.  I believe this will be one of the not-working-out incidents.

Since December, I have had 7 weeks off the bike.  Two of the off-bike weeks were a planned vacation to France and I just got back from this trip.  The other 5 weeks were due to 2 separate bad colds and a very mild back spasm.  Each event was not very significant, but each was a small step backwards, getting a tad slower after each and taking about a week after each illness to get back onto the swing of cycling.  I am just a little slower than I used to be and doing the Terrible Two no longer seems to be an option.  I hate the idea of spending the next 4 weeks training for this ride with the specter of likely failure haunting each pedal stroke, so I am not going to train for it.  I will start it, since I have already paid my dues and Jason says he will ride with me, but I not training for it anymore.  I will do the rides I want to do and maybe it will work out, but more likely, it won’t .

Not in training: Me, by the Seine in Paris