Archive for the 'Biking' Category

Feb 13 2011

Tour de Palm Springs 2011

I just got back from my second Tour de Palm Springs Century bike ride.


Here are some stats:


Avg Speed: 15.0 mph
Max Speed: 38.3 mph
Time in Motion: 06:35:36
Actual Time on the Ride: 08:33:40

I had a small data problem when my bike computer got paused for about 4 miles after the 50 mile lunch and get-a-new-tire-installed stop. Full Garmin stats here.

Compared to 2010:

Average Speed: 14.1 mph
Max Speed: 36.9 mph
Time in Motion: 7h 10m
Actual Time on the Ride: 9h

It was a little chilly, like last year:


There were four of us riding:


Dante, me, Kitchen, and Mike. I’d ridden with Kitchen and Mike last year. This was Dante’s first century and, despite the lack of sunscreen, he finished great!

Just as I was about to ride out in my wave of people, I got a tap on the shoulder. I turned around and a dude says, “You’re Declan!” I said, “yep!” while trying to figure out where I knew him from. I finally asked, nicely, “who are you?” and he said this was his first ride and he’d found my ride post from last year and it helped him a lot. Very cool! Except by then, my riding buddies had taken off and I was all alone! 😉 I caught up with Dante pretty quickly, and ditched him trying to figure out his new SPD shoes and pedals. Eventually I caught up with Mike and we stuck together during most of the ride. We never saw Kitchen until we finished. He was riding a fixie, so we knew his pace would be a lot different from ours.

The ride was just like last year, except for more accidents. I saw a really bloody crash in the first few miles of the ride. And I saw at least five others. I wonder of there are just too many riders. The whole ride seemed crowded, and that’s either from the 3000 more riders than the 7800 last year, or I was going a bit faster and keeping up with the pack more.

I’ve been pretty lucky in terms of mechanical difficulties on long rides in the past, but my luck ended at the mile 50 lunch break. There is some dangerously potholed road just before the break, and I felt my bike having trouble as I pulled in. I looked down at my back tire, and it was all swollen in one area. Mike and I had teamed up with another rider named Guido, and he said it looked like the lining in the tire was bad. I took the bike over to the mechanics area, and Guido was right! I was hoping my ride wasn’t finished just half way through, so I asked how much a new tire would be. $10!!! WOW! That works!


KHS Bicycles ran the mechanics stop and I’m very grateful for the low cost repair. And the no cost service! It took about 15 mins to wait for the tech to get to me, then about 5 mins for the fix! Yay SAG stops!

Here are Guido and Mike at mile 72:


After the mile 92 SAG stop, Guido and I ditched Mike and shot out ahead. I was dog tired and just wanted to get to the end. Guido eventually got ahead, and we all finished within 40-50 mins. Guido even waited to cheer me on!


Then my real cheering section yelled at me to come hear them!


That’s Dante’s fiance Mercedes, Elaine, Erin, and Elaine’s mom Donna.

Kitchen got to the end about 15 mins before I did, then Mike showed up about 15 minutes after me. We never knew what happened to Dante, but I think I spotted him today:


Elaine rode the 56 mile ride and did great! If she ever blogged or tweeted, you’d hear ALL about it… 😉

5 responses so far

Jun 07 2010

LA River Ride Century

EDIT: Awesome! Kitchen just posted the Garmin log:

Time: 07:22:09
Moving Time: 06:02:09
Elapsed Time: 07:22:11
Avg Speed: 12.9 mph
Avg Moving Speed: 15.8 mph
Max Speed: 32.8 mph

I survived my second century ride, the LA River Ride!

That’s 100 miles on a bike… and I’m feeling all of them today 🙂 I really should have taken the day off of work, but I didn’t know I was riding before my Monday had already filled up with meetings. I was going to pass on this ride until I remembered that my buddy Tom lives right next to Griffith Park in LA where the ride begins. Tom and Jen just had a new arrival 7 months ago, Charlie:

Mobile Photo Jun 7, 2010 9 55 32 AM

Charlie’s the pudgy one with short hair… 😉 He’s a delightful kid who was a lot of fun to play with. So’s Tom! Sorry, Jen, I didn’t get a good picture of you… 🙂

Anyway, they let me crash on their couch on Saturday night after another buddy, Terri, cooked us a wonderful pasta dinner.

Sunday came too soon and I was up at 5am with cool SMSs from work friends wishing me well. I got outside and started putting the bike together:

then waited for Kitchen to show up. Of course, he set his alarm wrong and was way late, so I biked the 2 miles over to the park alone to get my registration materials.


The ride was well organized and I had my bracelet and cue sheet within minutes. On the ride over, I’d noticed that my bike computer was dead, so I borrowed a way-too-big screw driver and got it open in about 20 minutes. It all worked when I shifted the battery around, then promptly died again when I snapped it back into its holder. Damn computers… Kitchen has a fancy pants Garmin bike computer, so I’m counting on him to give me the route and all the stats. Well, I should say he SHOULD have one, but he left it in his car, so when he showed up at 7:30, we picked it up as we started the ride:


Then we were off on this almost totally flat 100 mile ride! Except they forgot to tell us that the first 4 miles was a climb up the big hill in Griffith Park. That got the heart pumping, especially Kitchen’s as he was riding his brand new fixed gear bike! He had to zig zag up the hill, but he make it! Throughout the ride, people were very impressed with his bike and the effort. They didn’t know he had a motor hidden in the tubes… 🙂 not.

Once we were through the park, we got on the river path:


The LA River is a concrete bank with water running at the bottom. It runs for miles and makes for a great bike path, but man, it’s kinda ugly. In some places, enough silt has backed up to support trees and bushes. I was surprised how much bird life I saw. Sand pipers, some kind of white hawk, kestrels, and ducks. It might be an interesting place to go up and photograph. I’ll have to go learn about why it was built the way it was. At the very least, many parts of it are a lesson in why to think about aesthetics when you design a city.

Mobile Photo Jun 7, 2010 9 53 56 AM

There are a lot of scary creatures in there too:

Mobile Photo Jun 7, 2010 9 53 43 AM

I liked these bridges:


As a spoiled San Diegan, I mostly find LA pretty ugly:



Mobile Photo Jun 7, 2010 9 53 15 AM

but Seal Beach was pretty nice:


Long Beach was the halfway point:


A mess of bikes:


Friggin’ hipster:


More riding:

Mobile Photo Jun 7, 2010 9 53 56 AM

More posing:


Then finally, after seven hours, it’s over!!!

Mobile Photo Jun 7, 2010 9 52 49 AM

Time to grab the tshirt and go find a shower!

Mobile Photo Jun 7, 2010 9 52 35 AM

I got some great support on Twitter and Facebook! Thanks for that!

2 responses so far

Feb 15 2010

Tour de Palm Springs – My First Century Bike Ride

Published by under Biking,Declan

I’ve considered riding a century (that’s 100 miles in one ride for my non-biking buddies) for a few years now. There are metric centuries, 100km or about 62 miles – but I’d done that during the Ride Across California. 100 miles as a goal has loomed out there, beyond the edge of what I thought I was capable of. I held that fear until about mile 65 of the ride this weekend. In fact, I wouldn’t even buy the ride jersey before the ride because I seriously questioned if I could finish.

A barcampLA buddy, Jeremy Kitchen, tweeted something out a few months ago about getting ready for the Tour de Palm Springs, an annual bike ride made up of a number of routes. Here’s Kitchen:


The timing was pretty good for me to start thinking about training for their century ride. I ride nearly every weekend, but usually only 20 to 40 miles, mostly with this crew:

Jen, Grace, Peter, Brad, and moi.

I’d need to ramp that up to get ready for the century. I didn’t know if I could do the 8-10 hours on the bike, and I’d never ridden that terrain before. Tracey from work had ridden the course last year and got me some route and elevation info. Here’s the official Tour de Palm Springs route map:

The scary part of any ride is the elevation and how much effort that will take to climb. Here’s the elevation profile for the ride, taken from the awesome Veloroutes site:

So, a lot of climb at the beginning of the ride when my legs will be fresh, followed by a lot of downhill, then a gradual climb to the finish. I was having a hard time comparing it to my hardest regular climb, the 1.6 miles and 440 ft. at the Torrey Pines grade, because the distances are so different, so I started plotting out rides around San Diego with a lot of sustained climb. I combined my regular run from Penasquitos (PQ) and up the coast with a leg inland to Escondido to form a box back to PQ.

View Larger Map

I rode this route the first time just to see if I could do 50 miles without much prep, and it went well. I was dog tired after, but I really didn’t eat or hydrate well. I rode the route again with Peter from work a few weeks later, and it felt good, even with a stop at Churchill’s Pub in San Marcos for a beer and a sammich in the middle! 😉

The thumb is Peter’s. He likes to get into the shot a lot:

That was a ride we did up to Pt. Loma – a fair amount of climb. Peter has a lot of experience with long rides and gave me great advice on ibuprofen and caffeine use to make the ride a lot more tolerable.

I realize I’m writing a lot about the pre-ride, rather than the ride itself so far, but I think that’s appropriate because the only way I survived this ride was because of the preparation beforehand. But, let’s get to the ride itself!

Elaine and I took Friday off to make it a super long Ride, Valentine’s, and President’s Day weekend. Nathan kindly agreed to come home from SDSU and keep an eye on Erin (or vice verse?), so we were free to take off. It’s nice getting old and having kids who can watch each other! 😉 Kitchen was arriving on Friday too, so we got together for a beer and plotted out the ride. Kitchen and I had never ridden together, so I was stressing about slowing him down. I’m a big dude and it takes some time for me to get up hills. He also had another buddy, Mike, who I’d never met, which added another variable to the mix. Elaine and I were staying in Palm Desert, about 30 minutes from the start of the race. Kitchen had gotten a room less than a mile from the start, so we decided to meet in his parking lot in the chilly, 46F morning of the ride.


I had the bike in pieces in the trunk, so I got my pretty hands dirty:


You can see Kitchen has a much heavier, touring bike. He’s getting ready for Ragbrai, a week long ride in Iowa, so he carried a pannier too. Mike also had a heavy bike, so this helped us all keep pace on the initial climbs. We bid farewell to Elaine and biked over for the 7am ride start. There were thousands of riders at the start, so we were let go in waves. We met up with Mike and got released to start at about 7:30a.


I set my trip odometer to zero:


and off we went!

We worked our way out of Palm Springs, crossed the 10, then started climbing and climbing and climbing… 😉 Actually, I train on hills a lot in San Diego, so I felt pretty good. I quickly shed my long gloves, outer shell, and thanked Kitchen for talking me out of wearing the Under Armor shirt I was planning on. I got down to just a jersey and was very comfortable for the rest of the day. Jeremy took a great shot as he passed us at one point:

There were 5 SAG support stops on the ride, and we arrived at the first at the end of the initial climb, at about 15 miles. The support was great on this race! They had water in bottles and big coolers, Chex Mix, peanut M&Ms, fig bars (this IS date country, after all), and an electrolyte drink. Each station was run by very nice people who took great care of us.


I’d been training to continuously eat on a ride this long (ok, I’ve been training for that all my life, but HERE it was appropriate… 😉 ). I’d brought a bunch of gel blocks, both regular and with caffeine, to keep me going. I’d also broken up 8 Trio bars (nuts, fruit, cane juice) into two bags, one of which I put in my newly acquired Novara Quick Draw Bike Pack (it’s just like the Bento Boxes that some of my friends have):

This bag turned out to be great! I wasn’t fishing around in my back pockets for food, and having it in my line of sight kept reminding me to grab a bite every 10 or 15 minutes. I packed WAY too much food, eventually only going through one bag of Trio bar pieces, one normal gel block, and one caffeinated. I kept refilling the Novaro bag at all of the SAG stops with Chex Mix and guilt free M&Ms and this was enough to keep me going. The SAG stop at 50 miles had simple sandwiches so I grabbed one of those and felt no hesitation in slathering it with mayo! 😉

There were a number of routes in the tour, including a 55 miler that my friend Kevin was riding. We met up at the second SAG and I gave him trouble for taking the easy way 🙂 When I finally finished my ride a long while later, he was already home in San Marcos! 🙂

I tried to get 10 or 15 minutes of rest at each SAG stop. I was very worried about running out of steam all of a sudden, so I kept fighting the urge to join fast pelotons as they sped by. I did my best to stay with Kitchen and Mike to make sure my pace didn’t wear me out, but I have to admit that the downhills were too enticing to hold back. I zoomed on ahead as we neared the 50 mile mark and waited at that SAG station for Kitchen. Mike was still fighting a cold, so he’d faded back a bit and arrived just about as we were to take off again. He hung out at the SAG and we got moving. Mike’s in the back left filling up his water bottles:

I got Jeremy to shoot me being cute:

At the 70 mile SAG, we met up with Elaine in La Quinta and she shot a few pictures:


Mike caught up and then we were off again!



I had 30 miles left and was feeling pretty good. I was dropping ibuprofen every four hours, and I think I’d had half of a caffeinated gel block package. I was feeling almost no fatigue and I wanted to see what I could do. My average speed was about 11 miles per hr so far, but I knew I’d been holding back out of the fear of bonking. After about 5 miles, Mike and Kitchen seemed to be doing great at their pace and I decided to punch it up. We were on a relatively flat part of the route and I started pushing at about 19mph. I got to the 90 mile SAG point,


stopped for a few minutes for water and electrolytes, then zoomed on without stopping until the trip meter on my bike computer said exactly 100.0 and snapped a picture.


Then I wound my way through the rest of Palm Springs to the finish line!


Kitchen joined me soon afterward, and talked some group out of a beer:


Then Mike made his triumphant appearance!


Elaine met us at the finish and got a nice shot of me with the ride tshirt:


Some stats:

    Average Speed: 14.1 mph
    Max Speed: 36.9 mph
    Time in Motion: 7h 10m
    Actual Time on the Ride: 9h

Lessons learned:

    Don’t overdress. It’s so easy to overheat.
    Don’t carry so much food. Or rather, become very familiar with exactly what will be provided on the ride.
    Don’t be intimidated by scary elevation charts. Ok, this ride isn’t all that strenuous in terms of climb, but I almost let the chart scare me out of trying.
    Top-tube-mounted bags are awesome, even if they look kinda dinky. I kept my engine running at top speed from just nibbling out of the bag every 10 – 20 mins. It scares me to think how often I’ve done that riding a couch rather than a bike.
    Get a room closer to the start of the race. The morning logistics meant I had to get up 45 minutes earlier than needed.
    If a ride has thousands of riders, don’t sweat the 7a start time. It’s ok to be a little late.
    Unless you’re going for performance, don’t be at the front of the pack. I was amazed by how many people I saw pulled off to the side, changing tubes. I was also happy there was a huge crowd ahead soaking up road debris 🙂
    Tweet out your progress. I got wonderful support in real time from Twitter and Facebook as I was riding! Thanks folks!!!
    Get a small camera that can go on the bike. I should have more pictures, but the iPhone camera mechanisms are a joke when you’re on a bike.
    If the ride is in Palm Springs, bring your own beer. Man, that town suffers from the lack of craft brews. Babe’s BBQ is a notable exception, and the Tap Room had Dogfish Head 90 Minute and Spaten Optimator. Their parking lot was impossible tho.
    Ibuprofen is your friend. Before, during, and after the ride.

One more picture!

There was a rogue photographer (, my favorite kind!, on the ride who got this image:

13 responses so far

Mar 15 2009

Playing with Instamapper

I turned on Instamapper as I was about to bike the Silver Strand:

GPS tracking powered by

I need to play with it more… I KNOW I went over 11 mph 😉 Not sure why there are so few data points. The phone was in my saddle bag, under the metal seat, and the big rider – so maybe that’s it 😉

One response so far

May 27 2008

Awesome Bike Ride with the Grosses in SF

Published by under Biking,Declan,Friends,Fun,Photography

So many times I visit a city and think, “man, I wish I had my bike!” Well, with a little planning and the generosity and height of Joe Gross, I was able to borrow a bike and we did 55 miles from the Mission district, across the Golden Gate Bridge, then through Sausalito, past Larkin, then along the Paradise Loop.

Here’s the map from Motion Based:

Here we are by the bridge:

Here I am crossing:

I call this one: Find the Bike:

It’s a study in vertical lines and horizontal curves. 😉

Thanks so much to Joe and Lorah!

2 responses so far

Oct 05 2007

5 Cities Ride Picture

Published by under Biking,Photography

Brad, German, Gabe, and I ran into Patrick Nehls taking pictures down by the South Bay Salt Works on the SE of the San Diego Bay. He snapped a nice shot of us. Notice that I’m the only one working hard enough to sweat… 😉

No responses yet

Jul 09 2007

Fun Ride with Joe and Kevin

Published by under Biking,Declan

Joe, Kevin, and I took the train up to San Juan Capistrano and biked back.

Joe got a dude to take our picture at Swamis:

Just LOOK at that form!  🙂

Joe also rode all the way down from San Francisco earlier in the week.  Click here for his pictures of that ride. 

2 responses so far

Jul 04 2007

I Ride Fast. Too Fast?

Published by under Biking,Declan,San Diego

Today was the Scripps Ranch Old Pros 50 mile ride.  I’ve ridden it for the last three years, and today was my best time yet.  3 hours and 29 minutes!  I was hoping for 3 hours even, but I’d need some pretty good liposuction for that.  Or a proper diet.

I looked down after descending the hill on Camino Cristobal and noticed this:

That was dumb…  and beats my fastest by about 10mph.  I was going so fast that I had trouble even bearing right when the road turned, but a little braking and I was ok.  Scary!

One response so far

Mar 27 2007

Ride4Aids Route

No responses yet

May 08 2006

New RAC Map

I wanted to make a map of the ride that uses real GPS data and would work with just a web browser and not require Google Earth.

Check this out:

This uses Google maps with an overlay of the route we took. The data comes from a rider’s GPS device, so it is very accurate.

All of the roads we took are marked and you can zoom and pan over the whole ride. Click on Satellite view or Hybrid to get a neat view of some of the terrain.

2 responses so far

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