Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hop, hop, hippity hop!!!

Sorry haven't gotten results up. Technical difficulties. Have the new Grashopper Adventure Series web page so stay tuned in. Geysers/ Pine Flat will be a hero's journey. 1st to the top takes the Golden Spike! 1st man and woman.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Marshall Madness

40+ riders showed up Saturday for what turned out to be a hard, but not quite epic day. The early morning flooding on Hwy 1 South of Tomales and Valley Ford Cutoff were down to just a few inches by the time we arrived. Was kinda hoping for an upstream finish, just for the story books. No time for me to warm up and I assumed (wrongly so) that people would start out more mellow since we were a smaller group. Numbers were down from last years 300+ and noticeably lacking was the full Bissel team along the Cal Giant and the days' fastest rider Andrew Talansky. Though I had hoped for a mellow start I know our dedicated NorCal group and had no doubts that the days' group had showed up to serve a heapin' helpin' of tough love. I surprisingly made it to Hwy 1 with the main group and thought I'd get a nice tow to Valley Ford. I tucked into the middle, then drifted near the back, then the VERY back and then on my own. I didn't bury myself too deep to hold on and hoped the Boyler and Kent would do me the kind favor of picking me up. No luck. I rode from the riser past Bay Hill turnoff to Tomales Bay solo. Luckily managed to catch up to Colby Pastore and Scott Nydam's brother (Bob?) and hung with them until we picked up another cracked threesome on the flats approaching Wilson Hill. We enjoyed the wind to our back, especially since I knew we'd be paying for it as we headed west on Chileno Valley. Jim Keene and NorCal gave us a sweet water and food hand-up at the base of the climb and onto the long march back to Joy. Our group of 6 worked well together and didn't come apart until Middle. We lost one on the decent and then another on the little climb up out of Freestone Cut off. Myself, Royce and Colby took turns to Joy and then finished with a solid climb up the devils back. Picked up Matthias who was struggling to ride his 39x17 due to a broken rear cable. Overall the ride was a great reminder of the parallels of biking to the bigger challenges of life's ups and downs: High in making the split. Low; being dropped and spending "forever" alone. Dreading the headwind and considering the comfort of a warm coffee shop. High, catching a group and to ride with, safe challenging ride the rest of the way home. No major cramps up Joy. Was a pleasure to be out with friends again and see smiling faces at the finish. Until next time.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Marshall-Chileno Hopper March 26 , 2011

Weather report: Scattered showers. I know this cuz it's what's happened each of my last four rides. Remember the Hoppers happen rain or shine. There's no bad weather, just bad clothing. If you need to update your Winter gear or buy one extra layer don't forget to stop by NorCal and check out their newly remodeled shop. This Hopper is 100% paved road.

The ride will begin at 10:00 in Occidental. You will need to sign a Grasshopper waiver AND a County of Sonoma Waiver. Cost: $20. This is new so please make sure you sign both. We will be staging at the Old Camp Meekers Rd.(just down Bohemian Hwy. past Graton Rd. ) in order to avoid blocking Bohemian Hwy. If the numbers are large we'll be starting in two waves: Pro 1,2,3 and then everyone else. Like last year we will head up Coleman Valley Rd. and will finish at the top of Joy Rd....:) Last year stats were about 80 miles and 8,000 ft of climbing so plan ahead.

There will be porto-poties at the Union Hotel Parking Lot and the Community Center so please use them. Also, don't forget to pick up a coffee and snack from the Union Bakery. If you haven't had one of their hot, fresh fruit turn overs with a Capucchino you're missing out!

Also, Fork Catering will be at the finish from 2-4 so don't forget to line up early for your tasty morsels.

NorCal will have a neutral feed and aid station at the halfway point atop Wilson Hill. If you want to leave food or water with Jim see him at the start. Please pick up your discarded items at the Occidental Community Center after the ride. I'll will bring the bottles that I have from previous rides. Gnarly ones have been recycled!

Remember these are training rides and not races. You must ride responsibly, never cross the center line and obey all rules of the road.

No sag or support. As always, you will be given a laminate with a map and course directions. You are presented with world class ride and awesome companionship on the road; as well as the start and finish, but there is no aid or emergency services on the route. Not a bad idea to bring a cell phone and some money for a coke and a snickers if you need help making it home!

Rubber side down and dress warm.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hopper has hopped to new web page...

Check it out at Gianni Cycling!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

2011 Poster/ Levi Leipheimer Interview

Chances are Levi will be out for the first Hopper. I had a chance to ask him a few questions about cycling in Sonoma County and the Hoppers. Don't forget to sign up for the Gran Fondo. It will fill up fast!

Q: How long have you been living in Sonoma County? I moved to Sonoma County in December 1996. I had just signed my first professional contract with a small domestic team Comptel-Colorado Cyclist and two of my teammates Kirk Willett and John Peters lived here and convinced me to come check it out. I’m glad they did! I drove a small truck packed with everything I had at the time and never left.

Q: As a professional cyclist who races and trains around the world you have said that Sonoma County is one of the best places to ride and train. Why is this and what other places are in the top three or five? Sonoma County is unique, there’s no denying it. Northern California is a rugged and treacherous place that is both beautiful and daunting at the same time. Everyone remembers their first time on a road like King Ridge, a road that exemplifies those qualities. I remember riding Skaggs and the Ridge on a wet foggy day about a month after I moved here. I’ll never forget that feeling of not knowing what lay around every corner and not seeing a car for hours. The best part is that we have more roads like that than anywhere I’ve ever been. That’s not to say I haven’t been able to enjoy some spectacular places around the world like the Alps, Pyrenees, Dolomites and islands like Tenerife and Mallorca.

Q: There has always been a solid group of professional cyclists living and training in Sonoma County, both road and mountain bikers. Many come here to train and others create a home. With the Amgen Tour of California and Levi’s Gran Fondo how do you see Sonoma County growing as a cycling destination? There’s a rich cycling history in Sonoma County, from the Coors Classic to The Amgen Tour of California to The Gran Fondo, each inspiring the next. Along the way, Sonoma County has built a solid reputation as one of the best places on earth to ride your bike, any bike! We have an amazing opportunity right now to capitalize on that reputation to improve our cycling culture and infrastructure. We just need to do our part, no matter how big or how small. Take Bike Monkey for example, here’s a group of people extremely dedicated to the sport and more importantly to our community. They have invented a way to make their living promoting cycling and build something meaningful. In most cases, they left behind their careers. They’ve provided us with a high quality magazine to call our own, fantastic events like Boggs 8 hour, SoNoMas, Howarth Park Dirt Crits and the Monkey Cross Series. Together, we’ve got big ideas for the Gran Fondo and how it can improve Sonoma County. I feel very lucky to be a part of the same community. If you’re wondering what part you can play, you can start by supporting Bike Monkey and their events. Your participation or volunteering will go a long way in making Sonoma County the gold standard.

Q: There are a lot of strong riders in our area. Many top cyclists in the area work full time and many are raising kids and still find time to train. Many pro’s retire and never hang up their bike. There is a dedication and passion for cycling in our area that is like a fever. Can you comment about the passion for cycling that you see and feel in our area? The cycling community in Sonoma County is tenacious, committed and ambitious. I’ve met too many people to count who build their lives around the bike, people who soak up everything this county has to offer and then give it back in some way or another. They are Doctors, Lawyers, Dentists, School Teachers, Wine Makers, Restauranteurs, Contractors, Builders and the list goes on. There are also an awful lot of people who make their living from the sport here, from professionals like myself to bike shop owners and employees to ProTour team managers and staffers to manufacturers to coaches to event organizers to publishers, designers and writers. This community has been able to come together and start Sonoma County on a path towards something great. We are just getting started on that path and we are going to innovate and then inspire others along the way. In just 3 years, this extraordinary community has been able to build the largest mass participation event in the US that will host 7,500 cyclists and generate well over $250,000 in charitable proceeds for 2011, I think that says it all.

Q: The first Grasshopper I remember seeing you at was 8 or 10 years ago when you were riding for U.S. Postal. You came out with Mark H. and sat in for the first half and and then headed back to the flat lands for some motor pacing. The field size and depth has grown but many of the characters remain the same. I know you like to make it out for as many Grasshopper training rides as you can fit in. Why do you think the rides are unique or special? The Grasshoppers are cycling at it’s best; they’re fun, adventurous, social and more than a little competitive. They’ve grown over the years despite their underground nature. Where else can you show up to a 250+ person group ride and see people on cross, road and Mt bikes for the same course? The Grasshoppers run through the heart of Sonoma County, they “knight” you as a true Sonoma County Cyclist.
Team NorCal "All Blacks" on the day Lake Sonoma was canceled

(Nothing canceled this year!)

Q: Lastly. You built up a sweet cross ride for Hopper number one last year and I know we’ll see you out there this year for Old Caz. What’s the perfect bike set up for the first Hopper? Last year was my first Old Caz Hopper so I took a lead from guys like Roger Bartels and Shane Bresnyan who have ridden a few over the years. They’ve traditionally done it on Mt Bikes but convinced me to get a cross bike. I’m glad i did, there’s a lot of pavement despite the epic off road sections and the cross bike rolls better than a Mt Bike for most of the course. (So if you still don't have your cross bike dialed in, still time to swing by NorCal and get a new one! ...or get yours ready for the party)

Thanks Levi, hope to see you out there!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Option B: Road Bike

Road bikes can go anywhere. There's nothing you can do on a cross bike that can't be done on a road bike but there are a couple of limiting factors. First is tire clearance. If you run your road bike for Hopper #1 use the biggest tire that will fit, and put on new ones. Not sort of new, or a kinda new but brand spankin' new. Or don't and just ride more carefully and be prepared to fix flats. No matter cross or road I would bring two tube, tube patches, and tire boots in case of a side wall blow out. Also, if you are a CO2 person this is a ride where you want to have a frame pump. If not for you then for your friends who are bound to forget theirs. Specialized makes a great selection of tires. Last year I road All Condition Elite 25 but I'd suggest something larger. The All Condition Armadillo comes in a 28c and is puncture resistant. If you have crazy clearance or want tire that is mostly road with some side traction try the Burough CX Pro.
Second: Put on a climbing gear. If you have anything stiffer that a 36x28 you'll be hurting. Whatever you ride you'll have fun and if you get passed by your buddy on a cross bike you can always pick up one of these

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Old Caz: Cross,Road,Mtb?

I've never been a tweaker when it comes to bikes, components, weight and geometry. That being said, I've been lucky enough to ride some of the best custom steel bikes hand built in Sonoma County and lately super-duper science fiction carbon fiber.The intrigue of talking about the latest and greatest lost it's appeal after my first couple of years racing. Now a days I just like to ask Glenn or Shane at NorCal and check out their latest dream machines. I began riding mountain bike in 1988 on a Stumpjumper that was too big for me and later "upgraded" to an REI Ponderosa with XT before buying an Ibis SS. After that came several Mojos and then a fiery affair with my Soulcraft. The last few years I've been reunited with Specialized and am now on my 2nd Epic. Whenever possible I've tried to buy XTR when building a new bike but have often settled for XT. We all know how well it works and for the price difference.

My first road bike was a Team Miyata with friction Dura Ace and downtube shifting that I began racing right away. A few years later I upgraded to a used Trek before I was honored when Leo Autuori built me a custom steel bike. This was the first bike that was new with a complete Dura Ace kit. These were the days when $500 was a lot for a set of wheels. If you ordered a Dura Ace kit you bought Dura Ace wheels. Before every bike came with Mavic Aksium wheeels cuz they knew you would then return to buy wheels that cost half the price of the bike. I was in love with my Autuori and my first carbon fork... until the fork snapped in half just above the headset and I ground my chin into the pavement. We were mile 80 into a 100+ ride with a large group that had headed out from Duncan and Nathan's place in Healdsburg, a great winter tradition. I was mid-pack on River Road when a small branch was kicked up ahead of me and found a home in my front wheel. Mountain bike reflexes caused me to quickly shift my weight back behind the saddle, if only slightly. The stick broke twelve spokes before settling in at the top of my 1" carbon steer Reynolds fork and snapped cleanly in half. My drop to the earth was so quick the brunt of my fall was on the back of my hand and my glasses! Amazingly no one else crashed around me and I hung out while waiting for a ride home. This was my call to upgrade to 1" 1/8 and a sweet Soulcraft.. I had never been fit on a road bike, or mtn. and just road them, trusting they would fit. For my current Tri Cross and Tarmac I was fitted by Jeff at NorCal and made some significant adjustments. What a pleasure to drop 5 lbs. on my road bike, improve my fit and find some long-lost fitness. Last year was a blast, and this year...we'll see.

So what bike should you ride?

Let me start by saying that there has been a first place finisher on a road bike, a mountain bike and of course a cross bike. I've ridden all three but this year I'll be on my Specialized S Works Tri Cross...again.Shane,Glenn and Duncan are on this years version, Crux, and love it! NorCal/Bike Peddler have been huge in helping me upgrade my bikes the last couple of years and my cross bike is my dream bike. NorCal is the underwriting sponsor for this years Hoppers so stop by to get your bike dialed in, new tires and clothes, a new bike if you need one, and all your Grasshopper needs. They will also be donating product that will be raffled off at each event. When I make specific suggestions for tires and equipment, clothing and shoes, simply mention that you read about it on this blog and you will get a 15% discount. How sweet is that!? Chances are you'll be buying new gear anyways, so I'll give you some suggestions for each ride to make it simple. Gear is personal and there's 100 ways to skin a cat but we're not talkin' taxidermy we're talkin' Hoppers, and some things work better than others, period.

It's time for a new drive train so I'm going as big as possible in the back with a Red 11-28. The S Works cranks are 36-48 so it's a sweet gear. Some might like the gear options of a triple but with 10 speed you can almost get the same range. For the Super Sweetwater it's likely I'll put on a 10 spd. mtn cassette with an XX deraileur for an even better climbing gear. Another upgrade for this year will be Specialized stem and carbon bars. I've been enjoying the carbon bars with flat top on my Tarmac Pro so much I'm going to set up my cross bike the same way. Last years Old Caz Hopper was my first ride on tubeless tires, Hutchinson Piranha. What a ride! I've always run tubes and 100 psi to avoid flats. The descending and bumpy roads on 60 psi 32c tires is bliss! If you don't have the option of riding a cross bike and will be setting up your road bike or mtb....stay tuned and I'll give you some suggestions. Happy trails, Mig