Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Boothby Challenge

The Boothby Challenge

I didn't know it at the time, but my first 300k was Donald Boothby's last 300. It was one of those things you just couldn't say no to. I had just ridden across the country for the second summer in a row and landed at Donald and Mimi's house again. I had met Donald the previous summer (as mentioned in this blog) and was introduced to randonneuring for the first time.

I called Donald before crossing over Stephen's Pass and dropping into Seattle to see if I could stay with him again. I had just ridden 500 miles in four days and was ready for a rest day. Not only was I ready for a rest day, I was ready for some company. I had spent the previous 2 months cycling solo with no company but myself.

Donald took me on a long tour around the city before we pedaled our way to his home for the evening. By the time we landed at the house, Donald had convinced me to stay and rest 4 days through the week, ride a 100k on Saturday and then a 300k on Sunday to Portland. 300k? Are you crazy?! I had never ridden a bike that far in a day! My longest day so far had been 150 miles in Montana a few weeks back. But I was heading to Portland anyway, so.... why not?

With an experienced wheelman to follow, I anxiously agreed. In the meantime, I was fortunate to enjoy the good company of the Boothby household.

First, we rode "Don Boothby's Herding Cats" 100k around Seattle on Saturday July 2, 2011...

Donald told me about this R12 thing. It's a RUSA randonneuring award for riding a 200k every month for 12 consecutive months. Then he told me he had set a goal for himself to ride a 300k every month for 12 consecutive months. I asked him what the award was for doing that. He explained that there wasn't one but the 300k's would still count towards an R12 award. Interesting, I thought quietly to myself...

Donald and I set out from Seattle at 4:30 am if I recall on July 3, 2011 for Portland. Donald did not let me rest for long. In fact, he imposed time limits on our stops. Despite the time limits, I do believe I managed to have a cup of coffee or some coffee product along every stop. And yes, I did enjoy the obligatory donut early on in the ride.

At the end of the ride, I drank more coffee...

I wasn't sure I wanted to get back on my bike the next day ride another 100 miles. Donald explained that randonneurs harden up and get back on the bike on day 2 (and day 3, and day 4) and keep riding. I thought... that's crazy.

I returned to North Carolina after finishing the cross country tour of solitude. It didn't take me long to get thirsty for the camaraderie I experienced with Boothby. I wanted it. Fortunately, I fell right into an active group called the NC Randonneurs.

Since setting out with Boothby on what seemed to be an unreasonable bike ride, I have had the time of my life pushing the limit a little bit, and a little bit more, and a little bit more. And sometimes, not pushing the limit at all but just going for a pleasant stroll with some good friends. We call that a randonnĂ©e.

So the Boothby Challenge, as I understand it, has a few parameters...

The rider must complete a minimum of 300k per month for 12 consecutive months.
The rider must consume a minimum of 1 donut or 1 piece of pie per 300k ride.

Any takers in North Carolina???

Friday, April 26, 2013

Achilles Tenacity

Achilles what? Achilles tenacity, yes. That is, persistent determination to ride a bike despite the obvious presence of achilles tendinitis. That is why I went to physical therapy in April 2012 after completing my first 400k. That is why I am back in PT this April. Well, more accurately... I am back in PT because of my tenacity and ability to tune put pain and discomfort. Hoping it will just go away... because I am strong enough... paying no attention to why these things are occurring.

 First of all, let's start with warning signs... When your achilles starts to feel like a dried up piece of leather that's being over-stretched every pedal stroke, you got it.

Causes... Weak muscles. I only have achilles tendinitis in my left leg. Why? My right leg is much stronger. The left leg gets tired, the muscles are tight, they stop working. The muscles are too tight (because you NEVER stretch) and therefore something has to give every time the pedal is extended. If the muscles can't stretch, then what does? The Achilles tendon. Enter achilles tendinitis.

 Saddle height too high. Yup. The first time I contracted this nasty disease, I had somehow managed to have my saddle ~5cm too high. I had been using Grant Peterson's method of approximate saddle height:

 If you aren't familiar with how to measure your Pubic Bone Height (PBH), here's a good tutorial by Rivendell

Rivendell's chart didn't fail me, my PBH height measurement (or memory) did. For some crazy reason, I thought I had a 91-92cm PBH. Wrong, it's 87. No wonder I had to have my bars SO high up to be level with my saddle. doh.

 In January 2013, I got a Ritchey Breakaway Cross. This was to be my travel bike. It was super affordable considering travel bike options. It seemed like a no brainer. The geometry worked... or so I thought. I was sure not to make the same mistake this time... I set my saddle height (center of BB to top of saddle) at 77cm and set out. First ride was to the top of Mt Pisgah with my buddy Andy; no problem. Next ride was a 300k in the first week of January. "Hmmm, something feels off..." I thought the next day... nah! Couldn't be. Let's go ride Andy lunch loop, the Lake Lure 100k populaire with Andy. After the 100k, I was sure there was a problem. I did my research and realized the differences in geometry from my Rivendell to the Ritchey... the Ritchey has a 73 degree seattube angle and my Rivendell has a 72 degree seattube angle. The more forward seattube angle put me further forward over the bottom bracket even though the saddle height was the same and I was using the same post and saddle with the saddle slammed all the way back on the post. I did some research in trying to determine whether or not I could get the Ritchey to work and determined it wasn't gonna work. I was already using the seatpost with the most setback that I could find (Velo-Orange 30.2mm setback post). I could have tried a different saddle with more clampable rail length but... saddles are a very personal thing and I wasn't about to toss my Brooks B17 aside. I even talked with an experienced framebuilder who recommended trying a setback post but there weren't any better options than what I had. So, I sold the Ritchey and put a deposit on a new custom frame that I will have soon.

While a new bike will be welcomed and I believe is a part of the solution, it's not the solution, darnit. Don't you hate when solutions to life's problems are not always bike related? The real solution is strength training + stretching. More to come on that later....

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


108 miles from Fort Bragg to Bodega Bay campground

Found a wallet on the road yesterday. The owner was going to get a new
passport this afternoon until he got word that it had been found. When
I met him, he told me this and the he was immigrating Costa Rica in 6
weeks. He was thrilled to get his passport back. Felt great to make
someone's day like that.

Made fast friends with my host in Fort Bragg over dinner and saw her
again in the coffee shop in Mendocino. I split from the family trio +
Lee (physics teacher in Berkeley) as we left Mendocino only for one
final showdown in point arena. I said farewell to my friends only to
meet several new ones up the road. Riding along these organized routes
is like a party in motion. There is someone new everyday, it's a
blast. I met a guy named Ryan from Portland who is going to SF for a
coop conference. Dinner St a nice little Indian spot in Jenner
(location of the first Mansen murder-not the restaurant, the town).

Logged 5,000 today.... Woo hoo!

Next day....
Relaxed day. On my 3rd cup of coffee as Ryan and I keep stopping in
all these nice little towns. We had coffee in Bodega Bay which was a
nice little bay town. Now we're in Point Reyes; nice little spot. We
won't see all of Point Reyes because we're on bikes but I hear it's a
great spot to visit. Maybe I'll be back out here with my mom- she'll
be flying into SF tomorrow! I'm ready to see some family. What a treat
to end the trip.

Next day...
Landed in San Fran last night and hit 5,100 miles! Camping around the
bay area seemed a little sketchy plus Ryan had a friend in Oakland who
was willing to put us up; hard to pass up a warm shower.

Yesterday's ride, and all of the coast for that matter was gorgeous.
When we hit Tomales Bay, I told Ryan that I had a required Art History
class in my senior year which required me to not use beautiful,
gorgeous, and pretty to describe art. I found myself using all of
those words and feeling their inadequacy to describe their worth. It
was a natural mobile poetry festival from thence forth. "The golden
grass of the rolling meadows envelope the winding river as they meet
the cliffs edge at the edge of a whole other world: the Pacific Ocean.
The blue hues jump from the ripples atop the bay ..."

Not only is the coastline GORGEOUS, uh huh that's right, but it has
also been some of the most enjoyable riding all trip. Lots of good
climbing and sweeping descents which cut in and out of the coastline
for a roller coaster effect. The last day may have been the best of

I heard my echo thru Ryan's voice. He said he was intrigued when I
claimed to be excited about my future. Well of course I am! I feel
certain snout the direction I am headed. While there is always
uncertainty about the future, this trip has shown me, if nothing else,
that everything always seems to work out so long as I am willing to
put forth the effort. Willingness and effort; simple, not easy.

We had a thrilling descent into Sausalito.
"table for 2?"
"no thanks, I'll just dine with my dog on my lap" Ryan said as we
waited at a stoplight. I glanced over to my right and began sighing
uncontrollably when I was a diva dining with her dog on her lap.

This area is hilly, no joke. We crossed the Golden Gate just after 9
at which time peds are prohibited due to the high amount of suicide
jumps from the bridge. It was so foggy that I couldn't see up, down or
around. We crossed into the city and the rest is history.

Sent from my mobile device

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sunshine at last

For today anyway. We've been traveling predominately along the 101
which took us inland where the sun is. After the supposed dreaded
Leggett climb, we'll drop back down to the coast where the fog awaits.
I'm more worried about the fog than the climb. It will be a regular
circus with all the on/off of jackets, armwarmers, and gloves that
climbing and descending in fog will bring.

Thanks too my new friends, I have finally slowed down; something that
is a challenge to me especially when not on bike tour. While it's only
for the last week of my tour, it will be a pleasant way to bring
closure to my journey rather than with a screeching halt. Less than 60
miles today. AT this point, I'm no longer shooting to make at least X
amount of miles per day. Now, my goal is to make no more than 60 miles
per day.

By 11:30, I had ridden 4 miles, savored coffee at camp and at a coffee
shop, and enjoyed a few pastries. That's what I call a successful
start to my day. Ilunch was enjoyed by a cove along a river which we
swam after eating. Taking and slow and loving it.

Quote for the day: "the road up and the road down are the same road."

At our first stop in the coffee shop, I asked if there were and plugs
where I could charge my phone. The shop owner angrily explained that
he wasn't willing to risk ruining my electronics by charging them for
me and that he didn't have any plugs anyway (lie). When he left, the
barista offeree to plug IT in but I declined because I didn't want her
taking a guy on behalf of me. The next spot we stopped in, I asked the
same question and he said that IT wouldn't be a problem. Meanwhile,
Morris, not missing a beat and glowing with gratitude, profusely
thanks this man who just served us smoothies for being nice to us.
Unfortunately, it seems like an odd thing to do. We typically expect
nothing less than top notch service from a minimum wage worker and get
angry when we don't get it. But coming from an earlier experience of
being treated poorly for no apparent reason to me, I understood and
appreciated the general kindness this man had. Without a second
thought, I left with the crew and forgot my phone. I turned back 5
miles later when I realized it after and van had gone by us and
honked. 2 miles later, there was a cloud of dust in a turnout where
that van had just pulled off and the man who served us smoothies stood
there with my phone and charger. He said he normally would have just
left it there but since I had asked for permission to plug it in and
our crew had been so nice compared to other tourers, he didn't mind
taking a drive out of the park to deliver it for me. All I could say
was thank you and that this favor would surely come back around to
him. Be nice, it will come back to you or vis a versa.

Sent from my mobile device

Friday, July 30, 2010

Touring 101 cont...

I accidentally dropped the phone into the fire pit and pressed the
send button when I was frantically brushing off the soot. Fortunately,
no damage.

So they haven a theme to their trip, "what is love?" They ask people
they run into along their travels this simple question. After the
trip, they will compile their video responses into a documentary and
mail them out to people they have met. Pretty cool little project. I
look forward to seeing it.

Touring with the trio slowed me doooown; in a good way. We enjoyed a
field of clovers beneath the redwoods and also took a detour to what I
believe is the 2nd biggest tree. It's circumference is 40feet. We even
stopped AT a blackberry patch to some sweet snacking and a produce
stand for blackberry pops!

Touring 101: slow down. I think I only did 58 miles today.... Whoa.
We're camped in the redwoods along The Avenue of the Giants road.
Thanks for reading

Sent from my mobile device

Touring 101

Stop and taste the cheese.

I stop at the crossroads. Do I take the detour thru Loleta or stay on
the 101? I heard a while back that the Loleta creamery was better then
Tillamook so cheese became my motivation. While they had some
intriguing cheeses, I had no choice when I saw the cheese curds. I
scurried of with my tasty, squeaks in your mouth cheese to the post
office to mail home a print of Mother Teresa in Calcutta that a my new
friend, Peter, gifted to me in Arcata. Before I could get to the Post
office, I see 3 bikes outside of a cafe. I initially hesitated to
approach. My apprehension was that they might be like some other smug
tourers that seem inconvenienced when they have to tell you where they
going from and to. This trio was a treat to bump into: Morris from
Scottsdale, AZ and his 2 daughters Casee and Dalton.

The questions came without hesitation. What is a book that you have
read that changed your life? A movie? What has been the best part of
your life? The worst? If you could pinpoint one issue in which we
could all come together to fight for or against, what would it be?

Last year, the theme of their bicycle your was "what is passion?" this
year's theme is "what is love?"

Sent from my mobile device

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Started off yesterday off with a 4am thunderstorm. Apparently this is
a rarity on the coast on the summer. I was just glad to have been
staying with Tom and Misti and not be stuck in my tent. For breakfast,
homemade granola and homegrown strawberries. And what better way to
start the day than with a few miles of road thru redwoods and a 5 mile

I stopped in Klamath as friend in Asheville who is following my
travels whom I haven't even met yet suggested I do if I wanted to find
some smoked salmon (say that 10x fast). When I saw that this stuff was
$54.99/lb, my eyes said "wow!" I've heard the Northern Cal pushes a
lot of product by the pound but I can't imagine spending that kind of
cash on some fish. I asked for a $5 piece and he gave it to me for
half price. I got the feeling that those prices are for the
vacationers travelling in their Porsche convertibles and staying in

I climbed into the Prairie Creek Redwoods and ate my still overpriced
smoked salmon and Tillamook cheddar under the redwoods. Marvels of the
day: a tree 3x the length of my bike and a hollow tree big enough for
me and my bike to fit inside. This redwood forest was right along the
coast and it was freezing! Apologies to all my east coast friends and
family... I know it is sweltering hot over there. Well, it is
unseasonably cold here. I'm tempted to ride inland just to get some
sun but then I'd miss the coast. Almost every morning, I can see my
breathe and need to wear all my cold weather gear.

My hosts, Kathy and Dick, were also hosting a group of
6 guys riding down the coast with a sag vehicle. So when i arrived at
the house, there was a crowd on the porch with a feast on the table...
dinner was served and I got there right on time 92 miles later. Those
guys had a wreck that day from pacelining that ended the bikes and
bodies all over Hwy 101 and one person in the ER. They were fortunate
that there weren't any cars near when they crashed. The injured is now
driving the sag car.

Where can you find someone to tension your spokes by the tone from
plucking them? Eureka! I told Dick I needed to find a bike shop to
work on my wheel since I broke another spoke today. I was wondering
why it felt like I was dragging a cinderblock all day. I didn't notice
the broken spoke till I sat down for a snack. Anyway, when Dick
started plucking my spokes, I thought, "oh no, here we go. This isn't
going to end pretty." But i didn't want to be rude and tell him to
stop because he had already been so kind to extend his hospitality to
me. I figured if worse came to worse, I could pay a shop to fix it if
he made it worse. "DING! DONG! plunk...." went the sound of my spokes
from Dick's fingernail. As I watched, I started to ease up. Dick
seemed to know what he was doing and played my spokes like a harp. In
a short 10 or 15 minutes, my spokes were all tight and the wheel was
true. Only in Eureka.

I'm less than 300 miles from San Francisco, my destination, and I have
6 days to get there after my rest day here in Eureka/Arcata area. Do
the math... less 50 miles per day. So we'll see how that goes. Maybe
I'll go inland to stretch it out a bit. I think I heard that the
cycling hall of fame is in Davis, CA. Eureka has been great so far,
people are great here, very hospitable. Sitting here in a coffee shop
on a Thursday morning while a middle aged women is strumming and
singing the blues trying to come up with a succinct description of the
town. Maybe 12 more hours will give me a better idea. I know what
you've heard about Eureka. So far, I haven't seen any hippies on the
corner burning funny cigarettes. It brings to question the matter of
social deviance. Are people more inclined to behave outside of
socially acceptable behavior if it is harshly punished or not?