Celebrating 5 years of Ironman participation


Ride Report: Giro di Pacifica

10,000 ft of climbing + 100 miles + 106 degrees = Giro di Pacifica Century Ride.

I joined my friend Katya (also racing LP – and she also lived in Delmar!), a few of her friends, and my friend Rachel for this organized bike ride around the South Bay.  The ride started in Pacifica, went down the coast along Rt.1 to Pescadero, then climbed over the mountains towards Palo Alto (view full route).  While we’ve cycled these roads before, this was a new overall route and we were excited about a fully supported ride (aid stations, SAG support).

The Highlights:

Not only did we go through the new Lantos “Devil’s Slide” Tunnel on Rt. 1, but Katya’s friends won the “First Through the Tunnel” option and the small group of us got the whole tunnel to ourselves.

I discovered POTATOES.  When you cannot stomach another cliff bar or Gu, try a boiled potato!  White potatoes have a high glycemic index so they provide a quick energy burst and are easy to digest.  They even keep in your jersey pocket.   I’m thinking about adding some to my special needs bag for IMLP.  Overall potato intake: Roughly 7 halves of small white potatoes.

I remembered to DRINK while climbing.  I made it up Alpine road – the toughest 7 mile climb on the route – with no trouble, thanks to my consumption of nearly 2 bottles of sports drink.  Much better than my attempt at Brockway Summit in Lake Tahoe with half a bottle of GuBrew that left me ready to vomit.

The Challenges:

The HILLS… never… ended.  There was a climb on Pescadero Creek Road leading up to Alpine.  There was a good climb between the aid stations at miles 65 and 80.  Oh, and just when we thought we were done – in Pacifica, turning back onto Rt. 1 with a mile to go – yup, you got it, one more little hill.

The heat.  Seriously.  106 degrees?  As one other cyclist said after our major descent, “It felt like I was cycling straight into a hot hairdryer.”  Most of the aid stations had no shade or tents.  I don’t know why I keep cycling in this heat.  Right now, it’s close to flooding in the Lake Placid region.

Finally, the organizers did a pretty good job, but I do have to say it was disappointing that one aid station was not set up as planned and the aid station at mile 80 had run out of sports drink.

I’m hoping I can get in another 100 miles+ this coming weekend, with a lot less heat and hills!



Motherlode Century

It’s funny what you willingly sign yourself up for sometimes.  Take the Motherlode Century bike ride, for example.  The website does little to hide the fact that it will be hilly.  And, by hilly, I mean close to 10,000 feet of climbing!  Seriously, that’s like hiking on your bike.  And, the ride was starting in Lotus, CA – that’s right along the South Fork American River in the foothills of Gold country outside Lake Tahoe – where it is HOT.

So, knowing full well, it would be a long, hot, hilly day, I signed up for the Motherlode, packed up my gear, and joined my friends to tackle this thing.

Motherlode century start

Ready to go!

The ride was not too bad to start.  And, we were enjoying the full support with aid stations every 20 miles or so.  Who can resist soda, jelly beans, and salty chips on a hot day?  Soda count: 1

It was around mile 40, that things got interesting.  First up – Mosquito hill.  And, yes, the hill was named appropriately.  At times I could see the mosquitos sitting on my arm snacking away, and I could do nothing to stop them.  Surely taking even one hand off the handle bars would have led to me falling over on the steep climb.

Next, we all wore out our brakes on the steepest descent down a one lane road that ended with crossing over a wooden bridge.  Oh, and then we had to climb back up, of course.

Mosquito Hill Bridge

Mosquito Hill Bridge

We were still in pretty good spirits, especially after the lunch stop.  Per Kelly’s advice, I loaded pickles on my sandwich.  Rumor has it they help prevent cramping.  Seemed like a good idea.  Soda count: 2.5

Mile 71 brought the most interesting and challenging element of the ride.  We cruised down a winding road only to find the road slowly breaking up – first gravel, then dirt, then a creek.  Yes, we had a water crossing.  The ride organizers had a volunteer there to serve as a bike valet.  CK got a lift, and we waded through the water and cooled off a little.  Did I mention it was in the 90’s by this time?

motherlode river crossing

motherlode bike valet











Leaving Weber Creek was one of the toughest, steepest climbs. From a complete standstill, you had to climb something so steep, all you could do was stand, pedal, and look at your front tire.

While that was challenging, it was the final climb up Salmon Falls that nearly did me in.  Totally exposed with the sun beating down on us from miles 75-87.  An extra aid station part way up the climb was essential for my soda intake.  Soda count: 3.5

The ride finally came to finish with an easy 4 miles back to the Earth Trek Campground.  Showers, the river, a band, a BBQ – perfect!

We recovered enough on Saturday for an 8 mile run near Folsom Lake.  Our spirits had improved enough that everyone was willing to participate in a little synchronized swimming lesson from yours truly.

post motherlode synchro

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Holiday Tri-Guide

On behalf of Triathlete’s Choice (a new site for gear recommendation for triathletes), I compiled a “wish list” for Old St. Nick.  Looking for a great gift for a triathlete you know too?  Whether the person is a novice or a seasoned Ironman, I selected these items to suit any type of triathlete.  I also highlighted some cool finds that will help your triathlete juggle work, family, travel, and training.

Stocking Stuffers

 Arm Warmers: Season Five’s Atmos 1.0 arm sleeves are waterproof and super warm – perfect for winter cycling.  Castelli’s lycra arm warmers are great for more moderate climates, where you need more than just a jersey and less than a jacket. ($25-50)

Race Belt: Why bother with safety pins when you can easily attach your race number and adjust its position with a race belt?  Choose a color to match the team kit. ($7-$12)

Water Bottle Stuffed with Nutrition: Clean Bottle’s  ($10) unique design allows you to remove the base for a thorough wash.  Our recommendation: Take one Clean Bottle and fill it up with energy bars, gels, shot blocks and other nutrition.  Share the holiday spirit by including some of Cliff Bar’s seasonal flavors including Pepermint Stick, Iced Gingerbread, and Spiced Pumpkin Pie.

Kiehl’s Cross-Terrain UV Face Protector SPF 50: Sun and wind protection all in one.  Essential for cycling, running, or any cross-season snow sports. $26

Out of Sight Socks: We’re not talking about a case of the missing sock, but rather the Hidden Comfort socks from Balega  ($12) that have a low profile that keeps the socks out of sight, and still prevents ankle rubbing.

For the Traveling Triathlete

Single Serving Sports Drinks:  These individual serving sized packets are easy to pack.  No more fuss with measuring cups or plastic bags.   ($1-3 per pack)

Workout at the Westin:  Westin Hotels have teamed up with New Balance to provide shoes and clothing during a stay for $5 USD.  Give a gift card for a Westin stay and make packing a little lighter.

Find a Route, Track Goals: Sign them up for Map My Run, Strava Premium ($60/year), RunKeeper or a similar app to help them find running routes in new cities or keep track of workouts and mileage.

TriBike Transport: Help your athlete get his or her bike to the next race safely.  Sign up for shipping via TriBike Transport. ($300 per race)

Patagonia Merino Base Gloves: Pack light with this pair of universal gloves – perfect for a morning run and subtle enough to wear to the business meeting.  ($35)

Bicycle Wine Rack: If travel means mixing business and pleasure, this leather wine rack holder will be essential for those rides from Napa to Italy.  ($34)

For the Gear Head

Garmin Forerunner 910XT: More than just a GPS device, this device tracks swim metrics, cycling cadence, running pace, elevation gain and more.  ($450)

Rapha jacket: Style and substance all in one.  These jackets will keep you warm and dry through year round training.  ($150-$450)

Yaktrax Run: Keep your footing in snowy and slippery conditions by adding these grippers to your favorite running shoes.  ($40)

Race Day Wheels:  Give the gift of lightweight wheels.  Purchase a gift card or reserve wheels for your athlete’s A race.  ($150)


For the New Triathlete

Reading Essentials:

The Triathlete’s Training Bible

Multisport Training Plans

 USAT Membership:  A year-long membership is essential for any athlete racing in USAT sanctioned races.  Plus, membership provides more discounts and resources! ($45) 

Garmin Forerunner: This straightforward and fashionable watch accurately measures distance and pace without an array of overwhelming and unnecessary features. ($130)


To Zipp or Not to Zipp

About 4 years ago, I invested in some new wheels.  Easton EA 90TT.  To be honest, I didn’t do too much research.  I just trusted a few friends who swore by Easton. I’ve been happy until this year, and now these wheels make me down right nervous.

In the past 10 months, I’ve broken 3 spokes on my rear wheel. When a spoke breaks on CK (my Scott Plasma bike), I’m totally out of luck.  The wheel doesn’t turn.  I’m stuck.  Thanks to these broken spokes, I’ve hitchhiked in the East Bay, called friends for rescue rides twice and this past weekend was sagged in the last 10 miles of the Marin Century ride.

Why is this happening?  And, what do I do if a spoke breaks during IM Canada?

I asked a few of my buddies who have been in the cycling industry for a while for their advice.  Turns out Easton wheels have a bit of a bad reputation!  They are known for having some structural problems, including broken spokes.

So, here are my options for IM Canada:

  • Risk it with the Easton Wheels
  • Put the original Shimanos back on the bike
  • Rent Zipp 404 Firecrest Carbon Clinchers for the race

I think I’ll look into renting the Zipps!


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Product Review: DeSoto 400 mile short

I have been in dire need of a new pair of cycling and/or tri shorts for a few weeks.  With my longest ride to date scheduled for this past Saturday, I figured it was finally about time I made my way to Sports Basement to find a new pair of shorts. It seems I’m not the only Ironman athlete who finds gear shopping an acceptable way to spend a Friday night.  I bumped into two other IM Canada folks at the store.

I may have tried on every pair of shorts in the tri department.  Zoots have an awful leg seam and rough edge on the padding. TYR shorts have a ridiculous design that makes it look like I put a leotard over my bike shorts.  Sugoi were cut very small.  And just when it seemed like I would suffer the same fate as Goldilocks, I found the shorts that were just right!  De Soto 400 mile is it.

Why I like them:De Soto shorts

  • The padding actually extends into the legs a little which helps provide more coverage and protection against your bike seat
  • While a cycling short first, it can actually be used in triathlons
  • The pad actually floats and stretches – you can feel it move with you as your position changes from climbing a hill to being in aero
  • It has a great back pocket

I was a little worried that the shorts were a little sheer, but friends assured me they were ok.  I wore them for the Marin Century on Saturday and had no complaints.  I think I found a winner for Ironman Canada!

I did add one more item to the wish list once I found the shorts (thanks to talking to the other IM athletes).  It’s a rather unusual piece of gear, but I covet an M-dot diamond necklace.  That may be my first post-race purchase!  I may “owe it to myself” when I complete this third Ironman.

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Alpine DAMN!

Saturday – 60 miles – all hill.  That’s the Alpine Dam loop.  Or, as you climb up to Alpine Dam, then up again, then up over the 7 sisters of not so rolling hills, all you can say is “Damn! when will this be done!”

Check out the Alpine Dam route.

I love CK dearly, but a tri bike is definitely not the right type of bike for this ride.  Thankfully, the scenery is just right to quiet my screaming legs.  The climb through the woods was amazing, and the view of Stinson Beach – see for yourself!

Stinson Beach - Alpine Ride

View from Alpine Dam Loop

Alpine Dam Loop Thanks to my new GGTC teammate Tracy for showing me the route!  It was a great way to spend a Saturday morning.  I think I earned all the bacon at my cooking class on Saturday night.

I’m off to Lake San Antonio this coming weekend for Wildflower training.  Let’s hope the hills are a little easier there.

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No Sleep Till P’town

On Saturday, June 27th, I joined my crew from Wheelworks for the annual “No Sleep’till P’town” bike ride.  This was the ninth annual ride from Boston, MA to Provincetown, MA.  My teammate Jon led a great ride, and in his honor, I must re-post his great summary.

Bikes at the start: 11.5 (including our first recumbent)ptown group ride
Bikes that joined us halfway: 3

Miles on the trip odometer: 134
Flats: 0
Lost riders: 0
Suicide divebombing caterpillars on Plymouth’s Long Pond Road: 0
Drops of rain that touched us before we boarded the ferry: 0
First-timers: 10
Arrival time, in minutes, at the Sagamore Friendly’s before the infamous breakfast cutoff: 1.5

Round of beers at the Beachcomber: 1*
Ocean Break at the Beachcomber

Delay in ferry boarding time, in minutes, because of a bogus boat fire investigation: 27

Organized rides to P’town taking place the same day as ours: 2
People who cheered for us as we rode by: 12
People who cheered for us who didn’t think we were the lead pack of the MS ride: 2
Matching Cape Cod sweatshirt/sweatpants combos purchased in P’town: 3

Matching Post-Ride Sweats

Awesome sunsets over Cape Cod Bay: 1

People on the Cape who were told by Woody from BTT that we were just kidding about riding on our bikes all the way from Boston: At least 6


Cape Cod Sunset