SpinAdventurers: Please pardon my interruption and welcome back!

By Michael Collier

Howdy SpinAdventure followers. I am so glad to be back after a few months leave, and I plan to begin posting again in the coming days and weeks. The new year has passed and now it is time to get on the bike, stretch out, practice your core strength exercises and build that vastus medialis oblique muscle — the quad that bulges right above your knee and makes you look like a professional track racer.

For endurance cyclists who have been reading SpinAdventure since it began in 2013 and are familiar with the site, you know that I will include posts on how to make the most of your training as you pursue your for cycling goals in 2017.

If you are a rider who is new to SpinAdventure, welcome. Hop on your bike and get going on your plans for an awesome, challenging riding season. Build muscle and ride hard when possible. It makes a difference when a rider is well-trained by early Spring.

My first endurance goal is to finish a double century  (200 miles). I plan to register and complete the Joshua Tree Double Century on March 11. For those of you who aspire to complete your first century ride this year, there are dozens of good ones to choose from across California and beyond. We focus mostly on California endurance rides. In the California Triple Crown series alone, there are more than two dozen events, and each of them will challenge even the hard-core cyclists.

Getting ready for an ambitious riding schedule will be tougher than usual this year because the very wet, cold weather that has been sweeping the state is showing few signs of letting up. Train indoors if needed. Turn on Zwift and ride virtual with your pals. Cycling is a collective activity. Ride with your buddies as often as possible.

Set your sights on being strong enough by Spring to ride even more events than you had planned on tackling. If you find yourself overly tired, that likely means you have not had enough recovery time. It takes more than a few glasses of chocolate milk to get back to normal.

See you on the road, my fellow spinners! And please give me feedback. What are you interested in as a cyclist. What help do you need to up your game?

 

 

Corsica spinning: Le Tour in the land of Napoleon

 

The view looking west from near the top of the Col de Teghime, which rises more than 500 meters from the Mediterranean coast. Photo courtesy of the French bureau of tourism.

The view looking west from near the top of the Col de Teghime, which rises more than 500 meters from the Mediterranean coast. Photo courtesy of the French bureau of tourism

By Michael Collier

In late June of 2013, the 100th edition of the Tour de France began on the Mediterranean island of Corsica, the birthplace of Napoleon and officially part of France since the late 18th Century. This year, on a two-week trip to the island, my wife and I hiked in Corsica’s majestic mountains and swam in the cool waters of the sea.

Two days before we departed for Italy, I made good on my promise to ride a bike on an 86-mile route around the Cap Corse, the finger-like landform on the northern tip of the island. I rented a bike from a touring company in Bastia and shoved off on what would be seven hours of breathtaking beauty, enchantment, lost-in-translation moments and a grand finale of a climb that kicked my toosh. It was a great experience and I will return to the island for more rides. Corsicans are bike-friendly people — another reason to go.

 

California Challenge: Healing wounds of war for disabled veterans

Michael Collier rides with disabled veterans along the Pacific Coast Highway. Photo courtesy of Ride 2 Recovery.

Michael Collier rides with disabled veterans along the Pacific Coast Highway. Photo courtesy of Ride 2 Recovery.

By Michael Collier

Riding down California’s Pacific Coast Highway with a group of 200 disabled war veterans opened my eyes to the courage, determination and resiliency of the human spirit.  It was a much different kind of multi-day bike tour — one that moved me and one that I will not forget.

Click here to read the full story, posted on Adventure Cycling.

The Himalayas in my back yard

Mount Tamalpais casts a golden sunset over the San Francisco Bay Area, home to three peaks of 2,500 feet elevation or more. Photo by Michael Collier

Mount Tamalpais casts a golden sunset over the San Francisco Bay Area, home to three peaks of 2,500 feet elevation or more. Photo by Michael Collier

By Michael Collier

Imagine this: Hopping on your bike and climbing more than 29,000 feet  — the equivalent of walking vertically to the top of Mount Everest — in 20 days or less.

And this: Completing the challenge without leaving your home turf. In my case, home was the San Francisco Bay Area, and specifically in the hills of the East Bay, right across the bay from Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, which rises 2,500 feet from the Pacific Ocean.

In early November, I signed up for the Strava Climbing Challenge, along with thousands of others across the globe who use the fitness and social media site. The challenge was to climb at least 8,848 meters, or 29,029 feet, between Nov. 7 and 27.

I made that goal — with room to spare — with eight rides, none of which went beyond a 25-mile radius from my home in the East Bay. Most rides involved climbing between 2,800 and 4,100 feet, and most of my courses were variations of a small number of segments.

By varying my rides a bit each time, I warded off boredom. And on one ride, I came upon a teenager who had crashed his car into a retaining wall in the woodsy enclave of Canyon,  just east of Skyline Road in Oakland. The kid was okay but he thought his life would be over once his parents found out what had happened. The car was a high school graduation gift.

I spent the better part of an hour, as the afternoon sun began to fade, telling him how every teenager I know, including myself, crunched up a car at least once before turning 25. Then his parents arrived, I told them he was a good kid and I went back to my climbing.

After every ride toward my goal this month, I measured my total elevation gain, watching it increase as I anticipated my next outing.

My total after 17 days: 29,747 feet. I was tempted to push my total past 30,000 feet but stopped myself because it was Thanksgiving morning, the final day of the challenge, and it was time to engage with my family.

Still, my total elevation gain was in the top 13 percent of the 47,000 riders participating in the challenge. In addition, the Everest-like elevation I completed marked the first time I had climbed so far in a month where I was not training for a double century ride.

And the best part is that I did it all from the hills just beyond my front porch.

Hey, coach, wake me up

By Michael Collier

Do I look relaxed? At the same point in the Knoxville Double in 2012 I was ready for the support wagon. In 2013, I nailed it, thanks to strength training to my core muscles. No leg cramps as I reveled at the beauty of Lake County the upper Napa Valley.

Do I look relaxed? At the same point in the Knoxville Double in 2012 I was ready for the support wagon. In 2013, I nailed it, thanks to strength training to my core muscles. No leg cramps as I reveled at the beauty of Lake County and the upper Napa Valley.

The first day of summer was nearly two months ago. But in many parts of California, it feels like summer has yet to shed its mild and moist mantle.

Good news: We are about to enter the de facto summer in Northern California, which begins in the last two weeks of August. With the start of the “Indian Summer” weather patterns, we enter a fabulous, warmer riding season in coastal California.

That means it’s time to get ready for a wave of epic events, including the Knoxville Double Century on Sept. 27, the Bass Lake Double Century on Oct. 11 and the Solvang Autumn Double Century on Oct. 18. No matter your condition, it’s time to get on the bike and enjoy the most beautiful time of year.

Just like your bike may need a tune-up, you may want to tune up your body to make you more fit for your final rides of the year. You also may want to deal with some of  your limitations — say, you want to improve your climbing or descending skills.

If that’s the case, call Coach Collier, a USA Cycling certified Level 3 coach who specializes in helping cyclists of all ages take riding skills to a higher level.

For more information on Michael Collier’s coaching services, go to the Coaching page of this blog.

When Robin Williams met his bike-maker

By Michael Collier

In the wake of Robin Williams’ death this week, his love of cycling has become part of his story. He was a big fan of the top races, and he went to the Grand Prix in San Francisco and to the Tour de France. He also was seen riding his bike regularly in Marin County.

One of the most interesting accounts of Williams’ love affair with bikes and cycling, written by Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal, was about the actor’s  meeting with the man who built his bicycle, Dario Pegoretti.

Read the story